Best schools in Devon

(58 Posts)
KitKat26 Mon 10-Dec-12 21:05:23

Hello All, We're relocating to the area - near Tavistock/ Plymouth and are trying to wade through the minefield that is schools - help please! Both kids are still little - 3 y.o boy, 1 y.o girl but thinking ahead for feeder schools to good secondary schools, where would you recommend? Probably prefer co-ed but I don't really mind.. Option of boarding may be nice when they are a lot older but Again not necessary - I would miss them too much!
Grateful thanks for any help!

JoanByers Mon 10-Dec-12 21:38:58
IndridCold Mon 10-Dec-12 22:13:01

I assume from your op that you are talking about private in which case Mount House in Tavistock is clear favourite.

Beautiful setting and grounds, they have a nursery for little ones and go up to 13. Children go on to a pretty wide range of schools, the last batch went mainly to Bryanston and the two Sherbornes, with a handful to Winchester and Eton.

KitKat26 Thu 10-Jan-13 19:40:25

Hi, was thinking either private or state if feeds into a good secondary.. Mount house looks lovely, what's people's view of new head and also vs. Kelly college? Thank you all!

propatria Tue 22-Jan-13 09:53:34

Mount House is lovely,worth every penny,The new head is fine,very different from the old one and on first meeting less impressive but is actually very good,few new ideas but nothing very drastic,nothing major to fix, the old head is now head of marketing at Sherborne,a post which suits him very well,I certainly predict that once his influence has stopped at MH that the numbers going to Sherborne will drop.
Kelly-not worth spending money on and certainly not worth spending money going to MH then Kelly,that would almost rank as child cruelty,maybe one or two children a year from MH go to Kelly out of say 30,which as its literally on the opp side of the river tells you all you need to know in how it rates.

stormforce10 Thu 24-Jan-13 12:48:53

DD has some friends who used to go to Kings School in Plymouth. I know very little about it except that they tell me they were really happy and sad to leave so it may be worth a look

propatria Thu 24-Jan-13 14:20:47

Kings Plymouth,not somewhere I was aware of but its website shows it to be a small private primary,it doesnt seem to list its leavers destinations and the selected highlights of its sats results are nothing to get excited about.

MordionAgenos Thu 24-Jan-13 19:14:01

Well, I think we can safely say it's not Stover, anyway.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 07:13:17

To the OP - I do not know anything about Devon schools. However, I feel you need to be warned about some of the posters here. I find it incongruous that posters who live in Cornwall should express such strong views about schools in Devon and then completely off track recommend a school in Somerset, which even my scant geography of the area would tell me was not suitable for someone asking about schools around West Devon (and Plymouth?).

Fwiw I would take what these posters say with large pinch of salt. I would say, as an independent school teacher, go and see all the schools around your area and make your own decision. I very much doubt there would be any real considerable differences in them, so you base it on what you like and what you are actually wanting from a school. You also need to understand that those schools mentioned here are all very different kinds of schools which would suit very different pupils. You need to look at that and be clear about the kind of school you are looking at, the kind of DC who go there and what is offered.

Having, like others looked at the web site, it seems to me that “Kings" is a school similar to the small prep I have selected for my own DS. Now, I suspect this would not suit most MNers. It seems to be a school with a strong moral Christian base. My DW and I selected a school similar for reasons quite separate from what most parents might select upon.

Finally, I am getting quite annoyed, indeed angry at the snippy remarks being made about one school by these particular posters. Maybe they think it is funny. I think they are being b* * * y.... err..... Prejudiced. In the time I have been around and I have seen many comments from these two concerning that school, they have said absolutely nothing to substantiate their views. My feeling as an outsider is that they (or at least one poster) is actually an advertising placard for the school they recommend and nothing else. To do this they6 need to be disrespectful to their opposition. Of course they will fervently deny it. It is just my observation of course.

As a teacher in an independent school I am concerned about those comments. Any one reading may think they are authoritative. As far as I can see they are not. It is not acceptable in my view to make unsubstantiated comments about a school as they do. If it were my school being so bad mouthed without evidence I would be inclined to write to MN moderators. That may sound harsh. It is nothing to do with me, so I will just place this warning here. Be careful how you take advice on this site.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 07:41:29

I correct myself, Sherborne is in Dorset - Somerset boundary. (even further away for someone who is asking about Devon) <shakes head> hmm

propatria Fri 25-Jan-13 09:32:51

Ronaldo,great you are still around,you are happy paying for schools like kings and your own school,I wouldnt,thats my opinion,nothing more,your post is the normal drivel from yourself,you dont even know where schools are but feel compelled to comment,you admit you know nothing about devon schools but feel the need to comment,no one recommended Sherborne as you claim,not of course that you actually even know where Sherborne is.
You however do cheer me up on these miserable mornings so please keep posting,

IndridCold Fri 25-Jan-13 10:44:46

What a bizarre post Ronaldo! The reason people come on MN to ask for advice and opinions is because one cannot necessarily believe a school's own website, which is obviously going to say 'We are marvellous'.

You admit that you know nothing about schools in the region and seem unwilling to believe that there might be one or two which are not highly regarded by the people who do actually live here. It is not prejudice, it is opinion based on knowledge and experience.

MordionAgenos Fri 25-Jan-13 10:49:41

And yesterday's DfES official exam results.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 13:51:18

propatria, you assume too much. I said I do not know about Devon schools
(other than what I have read in the papers about Ivybridge). However, despite my error, I do know Sherborne School quite well.

My point is that if the OP wants a school in Devon she should not be directed to boarding in Dorset. If she wants a boarding school I can recommend many which would be far superior to Sherborne. Not that I would suggest here Sherborne is not an excellent school. I would never bad mouth or make snippy comments about a school (such as those you have made in the past about one school and the comment above by Mordeon Agenos)

However, if I were considering boarding I would not be looking at Sherborne. All schools in the country are open to investigation if you are boarding. However, if looking for a local school then one has more limited choices. That is why the OP needs to appreciate that taking the advice of some MNers is not the way forward.

MN should be a place where parents can obtain support and information - preferably from those other MNers who can vouch for a school from experience. It is not a place for someone who has never sent their DC to a school to dismiss that school ( as indeed you and another MNer have done).

I say the OP needs to do some leg work and look around because the opinions of posters might not be without bias.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 13:54:38

What a bizarre post Ronaldo! The reason people come on MN to ask for advice and opinions is because one cannot necessarily believe a school's own website, which is obviously going to say 'We are marvellous'

I am not suggesting that the OP should look at the web site. Of course you cannot believe the website. Neither though are some posters to be believed when they make comments. They have no more knowledge than I do.

Lets hear from those MNers with DC in the schools please n ot from those opinionated enogught to put around thrid hand and probably old information.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 13:56:13

sp - enough

Third hand ideas, rumours and historical reputations are often misleading. They should not be the stuff of a supportive network.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 14:08:00

And yesterday's DfES official exam results

You cannot alwats judge by examination results. A school which is highly selective should get 100% A* - C pass rates and at least half the sixth form places at Oxbridge colleges and AAB in traditional subjects for the rest of its intake . The intake has been selected to perform that way If it does less then it is failing either in its selection methods or its teaching.

On the other hand a school which is not selective may be doing very well by its pupils if they manage 5 GCSE in any subjects or get university places at all. If such a school were to be getting any pupils to good universities or Oxford and Cambridge at all then they would be doing really well.

I always say it is better to look at a school and ask " what kind of DC will my DC be counting as friends here and what kind of parents have they got"?

For example in my own school which is semi selective btw - we have scholarship pupils aswell as those whose parents are there because they pay - and we take pupils from an area where the 11+ is still operational, we will take many DC who have failed the 11+ , have not made it into super selective schools and whose parents do not want to see their DC in state schools locally. Many of these DC are the children of teachers and head teachers at those local schools ( as well as our share of local gentry, farmers and professional parents ranging from barristers and accountants to engineers and high level civil servants (as well as the local business community).

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 14:10:06

You admit that you know nothing about schools in the region and seem unwilling to believe that there might be one or two which are not highly regarded by the people who do actually live here. It is not prejudice, it is opinion based on knowledge and experience

You are wrong on two counts
a) Thoseposting are know no more about the schools than I do
b) they are highly biased in my experience. .

IndridCold Fri 25-Jan-13 14:12:39

Ronaldo had you taken the time to read the OP properly you would have noticed that her children are very young (1 and 3) and she was asking for information about schools in the Plymouth and Tavistock area. Accordingly propatria and I both recommended Mount House in Tavistock, which is a clear winner.

OP also asked about which schools children went on to from there, and the two Sherborne schools happen to have been very popular among parents for the last couple of years. That is why we mentioned Sherborne in our posts. By the time OP's DCs are 13 things may well have changed quite considerably.

Incidentally, my opinion about Sherborne is quite different from yours. I would have quite happily sent my DS there if he had not won a place at an elite school. That doesn't mean I think that you are wrong or biased, probably just looking for something different in a school from what I look for.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 14:17:02

IndridCold, had you taken the time to read fiurther, the OP asked for secondary schools not preps.

Incidentally, my opinion about Sherborne is quite different from yours. I would have quite happily sent my DS there if he had not won a place at an elite school

IF he had " not won a place at an elite school" .... says it all really that phrase. So Sherborne is not a top school. Its an also ran - as are those you dismiss.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 14:19:39

I think too that the OP might want to consider whether she really wants her DC in a " proper prep" like Mount House or if she might be happier with her DC in a school which follows the more traditional pattern of changing schools at 11 rather than 13. In my experience as a teacher, there are many negatives when transferring at 13.

Ronaldo Fri 25-Jan-13 14:26:26

btw,I am not going to respond further to this thread. The OP requires appropriate answers from those who can so do. Not those already posting.

I have posted my warning and my view. She can make up her own mind I am sure.

IndridCold Fri 25-Jan-13 14:39:26

Really? I was quite enjoying our chat!

I'm sorry, but the OP asks for good schools for young children that will prepare them and feed them into good secondary schools. Mount House fits this description.

propatria Fri 25-Jan-13 15:54:14

"I do know Sherborne quite well" of course you do Ronaldo,you know it so well you didnt even know which county it was in..
Your bore everyone to death with tales of the child genius and how you teach in a school that does better in league tables than Eton,you insist on posting on threads which concern schools you admit you know nothing about but seem to think because you teach in a private school part time that makes everything you say claim other people have no more knowledge of certain schools than you but your knowledge of them doesnt even extend to knowing where in the country they are located,you claim people who live in the area know no more than a person that cant even locate the school,parents post about a school but they know less than the great Ronaldo
Your arrogance is staggering,but very funny
You claim you can recommend many boarding schools which would be "far superior to Sherborne" please do so for a couple of reasons,so far Ive never seen you rec a single school,and given your often stated views on boarding why exactly should anyone take the slightest bit of notice of a boarding school rec by you,that would be like going to the vegan society and asking them for the best butcher in the locale.

IndridCold Fri 25-Jan-13 17:29:37

Quite relieved that Ronaldo works at a school that is better than Eton, but isn't actually Eton...

MordionAgenos Sat 26-Jan-13 08:52:52

There's about to be a shake up in Exeter which might have an impact on other private schools in the immediate and further afield area. St Margaret's is closing. Very sad for the parents there. This will have an impact on other schools, probably. Although likely not as far away as Tavvy.

stormforce10 Sat 26-Jan-13 09:05:45

Oh that's a shame Moridon, I was brought up near Exeter and knew a number of girls at St. Margarets. Presumably Maynards will be one of the first to benefit although (and I don't know if its still going) many parents may choose St. Marys in preference to Maynards. My knowledge of Exeter schools is 20 years out of date grin

stormforce10 Sat 26-Jan-13 09:06:50

Sorry I mean of course Mount St. Marys

MordionAgenos Sat 26-Jan-13 11:30:00

@storm Mount St Marys closed in 1997. I don't think many of the girls from St Margarets will go to the Maynard unless the Maynard actually takes over St Margarets as I think if they could have got in to the Maynard, they would have been there already (IYSWIM). It's very sad for the girls and their parents though, especially the ones half way through GCSE or A level courses.

stormforce10 Sat 26-Jan-13 12:44:35

lol told you I was out of date grin

Narrie Sat 26-Jan-13 14:22:06

Not in Devon, but near enough to Tavistock, to be considered I think, is St. Josephs Launsceston Its now taking boys and girls in both prep and senior school.

Narrie Sat 26-Jan-13 14:22:56

oops Launceston - got an extra 's' in there somewhere.

goinggetstough Sat 26-Jan-13 14:23:26

When is St Margaret's school shutting?

goinggetstough Sat 26-Jan-13 14:28:30

In answer to my own question... The end of this academic year.

LaVolcan Sat 26-Jan-13 15:16:30

I'm just curious because I used to live in Exeter and drive past St Margaret's on my way to work - why is it closing? Is it falling rolls?

Narrie Sun 27-Jan-13 19:55:38

Falling rolls certainly but that isn’t unique as I know another two schools in Exeter are in difficulties. I heard on the grapevine that there had been other problems as well. Of course when schools are trying to be selective they are chasing a very small pool of fish and that is affecting a number of schools. It’s really a case of who goes first (and whether that relieves the pressure on the others if they can pick up the pupils).

MordionAgenos Sun 27-Jan-13 20:09:21

St Margaret's wasn't really selective except in terms of pocket depth. You didn't need to be 'on the grapevine' to know that there were problems - they closed their 6th form, and sacked the head teacher. Ad the were issues with staff. Those aren't the actions of a thriving school. And the results they report are pretty unimpressive also. However - all the girls I have known who have gone there have been lovely. It has a great reputation for being a caring school, with a fabulous ethos - not snobby, not ruthless, nice in the best sense of the word. A lot of good community and charitable activities. So in that sense, it is a terrible shame. Especially for the poor kids in Y10 who will have to swap school halfway through GCSEs. In an ideal world I suppose they'd cross over the road to Exeter school but the obviously hasn't been any sort of facilitating deal put in place for that, or it would have been reported. It must be a terribly worrying time for the parents (the few that I know are devastated). sad

Narrie Sun 27-Jan-13 20:21:36

@MordionAgenos, St Margaret’s closed its sixth form two years ago. The writing has been on the wall for some time. I agree, I do feel sorry for the year 10 GCSE pupils. If I were a parent there I would be trying to get my DC out as quickly as possible to maintain some continuity.

MordionAgenos Sun 27-Jan-13 20:38:14

@narrie they closed it last year. With ine term's notice. They didn't have any year 12 intake in September. There is still a year 13 right now.

Several parents are mounting a save our school campaign. Maybe it will work. It's the year 10s who need to be sorted, obviously. Although if I was a year 11 parent I wouldn't be delighted either, I suppose...

Narrie Sun 27-Jan-13 21:04:17

I am sorry MordionAgenos, but I beg to differ. I was private tutoring a girl in St. Margaret’s sixth form over two years ago and she told me then that it was closing. In fact it was the fact it was closing that led to her getting private tuition. It was either do that and pass her exams or go elsewhere and got back to year 12 in another school. In fact her problems with her course could be said to reflect what was at the bottom of the issues even then. It was known within the school long before it became knowledge outside.

Anyway,lets not have an open debate about this. Think of the pupils and the reputation here.

MordionAgenos Sun 27-Jan-13 21:19:35

Narrie, you can beg to differ all you want. but the 6th form did not close 2 years ago. There is a year 13 right now. There were certainly rumors going round for more than the last 2 years - but many of them were malicious. The announcement about the sixth form was made last April, last September was the first year they didn't have a year 12. The was the point at which the die was cast, really. I know several teachers and parents at the school and it's terribly terribly sad.

Narrie Mon 28-Jan-13 15:39:06

Woodard pulled the plug because they felt the school was no longer going in a direction compatable with thier ethos. That isnt being malicious or aresult of maliciousness. A lot of schools in the area have been assigned malicious rumour regarding their closure (not least of all in MN, as I have read such stories) -much of which was premature in most cases. Not in this one though

TalkinPeace2 Mon 28-Jan-13 16:01:23

"Best School"
every child is different so what is best for one person's child may not be for another .....

LaVolcan Mon 28-Jan-13 18:21:39

So closure eventually became a self-fulfilling prophesy? It just goes to show that OP shouldn't plan too far ahead with children of 3 and 1 because a lot can change in 8+ years.

TopsyRK Tue 29-Jan-13 13:34:31

Plymouth College fantastic school, just love working there

St M's. My old school. For quite a lot of my education anyway. My understanding is that there were issues after a change of head (I was there in the dim and distant pass, and was surprised to hear how low the numbers had fallen - it was larger when I started there, and grew a lot bigger in my time there).

propatria Wed 30-Jan-13 12:07:52

Topsy,if the op had asked for the best school for mermaids/mermen then Plymouth college would be a very strong candidate,but thats prob not what she needs.
PC has done what countless small not very well known schools(including one in Tavistock) have done over the years,find a small niche sport(or two),chuck money at that sport and individuals and then get the pr machine in overdrive,thats fine but the fundamentals of the school dont change,the academic results ( be vague about academics but if possible find a niche subject that very few schools bother with and get the pr machine out)are so so,the other(main) sport fixtures are ho hum,,avoid if possible giving results on the website,the grounds and facilities are not great ,slap bang in the middle of the city,my eldest once said playing rugby there was like playing on a roundabout,boarding relies very much on the overseas market etc
Not even sure its the best school in Plymouth,and the other candidates are free...

duchesse Wed 30-Jan-13 12:16:19

Narrie, Mordion, you're both wrong. They announced they were shutting the St Margaret's 6th form last year (with a term's notice) but then went back on the decision. The head has been sick/ sacked for quite some time and the deputy has been acting head. Last week they announced they would shut the entire school at the end of the summer term. bit of prime St Leonards real estate

TopsyRK Wed 30-Jan-13 13:18:12

I know what you mean in some aspects propatria with PC, swimming and Rugby, but their latest exam results etc are rather good, but like you said some of the others are just as good and free.

Narrie Wed 30-Jan-13 19:27:05

Surprises me that so many do not seem to know what is under their noses and was widely spoken of in education circles. St Margarets was well known to be in trouble three or four years ago. Yes, Woodard have pulled the plug but they have supported the failing school for much longer than a year or so and there is a limit to the depth of the pot. Yes, the site is worth money and money Woodard could spend elsewhere to better effect.

There are more than a few schools after the pupils at St. Margarets too including one who has offered to take them lock and stock. However smug parents should beware, more than a few Exeter schools are sinking (you dont need a rumour machine - look at their accounts). Even the holy grail of Devon preps here, MH is sinking and has been for sometime (shock horror as someone says it).

propatria Thu 31-Jan-13 12:21:28

The accounts for MH are easily available ,I suggest you read them and get someone to explain them to you before you spout nonsense.

Narrie Thu 31-Jan-13 18:50:16

It seems it is always nonsense if you dont know about it propatria. Well, lets wait and see shall we? I have it on very good authority that there are problems.

As someone else said, the picture regarding schools in Devon will be very different when the OP's DC reach school age.

Narrie Sun 03-Feb-13 11:33:18

A little off topic here but as St. Margaret’s has been mentioned. Let’s have a thought for the teachers in that school. Everyone probably sympathises with the pupils, especially year 10 who will find their GCSE to some extent disrupted, although at least three schools have offered to take them and Woodard has offered them Kings Taunton too. At least one of those schools will have a GCSE curriculum which matches their needs I know.

The teachers however will be redundant at the end of the year. I believe the timing of this is in no way accidental. I am not sure but I would imagine, like most independent schools, the teachers have to give one full terms notice. This means they will have to stay at the school until the bitter end. They cannot go and find other jobs, even though a number of posts are currently available (but they are all Easter start or sooner in common with state school rules of giving notice before half term).

Just a thought for those teachers who I feel for. I have been in a similar position several years ago when a school I was in closed. It was difficult times.
The pupils will all find somewhere no matter how temporarily upsetting the move may be. The teachers may well not.

sniggy01 Fri 08-Feb-13 21:49:46

Just been looking through this as I live in Exeter. In case anyone is interested St Margarets has an upper sixth this year - my friends daughter is there. There is no lower sixth as there wasn't enough take up initially.
Children are registering with other schools as fast as they can which will mean places at other schools will be tight this year until it all settles down. Parents are taking up free places in local primary schools and my ads attend Exeter Cathedral School - a really lovely school which hasn't been mentioned and I can't recommend highly enough - the 5 yr old has had 5 girls doing taster days this week and the 10yr old almost as many.

Devonlass1 Tue 10-Jun-14 10:30:39

bet you feel a little silly now? MH is merging as it would have closed otherwise.....

propatria Tue 10-Jun-14 10:55:37

Lets just wait and see shall we...

watchdog4 Sat 14-Jun-14 09:01:13

I'm going to Exeter Cathedral today for their school fete. The weather looks great for this. I'm going with my friend whose son (my godson) is a chorister there; lately there's been a problem with the school boarding, fortunately my godson is a dayboy . I don't know what exactly but two choristers had stepped down due to this boarding problems. So much pressure for my godson to perform and he is not even at the top of the choir. I'm going to give him support for today's Evensong. So, there's so much pressure just to get that discounted fees for prep school. Is it worth it?

narries Mon 16-Jun-14 11:34:49

Re MH - I would have thought this thread dead, but as its here, I didnt want to be the one to say I told you so. I am clearly not. Thanks Devonlass1

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