Girls - Private - LEH/GHS/SWPS -others?

(34 Posts)
Looster Tue 01-Jan-13 23:40:17

My DD is Yr 4 in state juniors and we are thinking about her secondary education. We have the choice of an 'outstanding' comp (in catchment) or possibly independent. Thinking of Sir William Perkins (both DSis and I went there...rather a long time ago), Lady Eleanor Holles, poss Guildford High. Will go to the open days but wondering what current views/ experiences are of these schools - or others? DD is bright, top sets (level 4c at end yr 3, which I think is good) and loves maths, science and sport (esp tennis and hockey) but can be sensitive - might struggle in a catty environment - and is a bit ambivalent about girls schools. Would welcome any views or alternative suggestions. We are in Weybridge area - many thanks!

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 02-Jan-13 08:46:20

My DD was at LEH juniors and had guaranteed place offer for the senior school but we went for the OFSTED "outstanding", and in actuality REALLY outstanding, local girls comp. This was not because we had any problems with LEH senior school, just that when we compared our local comp with what LEH can offer, we decided for our DD the differences did not make the financial stretch that would have been necessary worthwhile. Most of her classmates from the junior school went on to the senior school, though, and are very happy on the whole. From what I can gather sport is a big thing, especially lacrosse and rowing (v. expensive kit required for rowing though and big time commitment). I think there is probably a bit less of the cattiness than average for a highly selective girls private, but it is still there. I have noticed that there is a lot less of the more unpleasant over-competitive behaviour in the top stream at DD's comp than she experienced at LEH juniors, though achievement and aspirations seem to be just as high. With her levels to date I would say your DD is likely to have a good chance of getting a place at LEH if she keeps up the progress.

Definitely consider the outstanding comp very carefully as well, you may find it the preferable alternative. Find out if streaming is used from the beginning, as it sounds like your DD would be up there, and ask questions at open days about exam results and leavers destinations specifically for that group. The overall results for the school are less important in a school streamed from the start as your DD will not be taught with those of lower ability. Ask about the specific sports and activities that your DD is interested in and don't be over-impressed by rolling playing fields and lavish facilities that your DD may not really benefit from.

Some of DD's classmates from LEH juniors went to Guildford High. The feedback i have had suggests that the extrovert sporty girls in the A teams can dominate a bit and the quieter ones with other interests can get overlooked. That is their experience, others may have other perspectives on the school.

Anyway, hope that helps.

Laura0806 Wed 02-Jan-13 12:38:55

I dont know about the schools in question but we have recently( as have 4 or 5 of my friends) moved our daughter out of an independent girls school due to the ehtos of the school and also cattiness both from girls and shockingly the parents. I didn't want my daughter growing up in that environment and although she has a big brother I wanted her to mix socially with boys of her own age too. I would also think very carefully about the decison esp if you have a great comp on the doorstep. However, I know not all girls schools are the same and they also change from cohort to cohort. As the previous poster said, have a good look around, speak to the girls and dont be bowled over by the 'speak of the teachers' as I found that in reality the focud was on the lower ability children not the upper ( and this is an academic girls school with a v good rep). My experience however was that they were more interested in getting the lower/average ability children up to scratch as they knew the brighter ones would achieve anyway. very disappointing considering the money we were spending!

holidaysrcoming Wed 02-Jan-13 14:21:18

I am facing exactly same dilemma in nearby area to you Looster, but my dd is not sporty and just cannot see her being a GHS girl, so for us Tormead is a consideration. If you would prefer co-ed indie and I'm guessing you've discounted St George's ? how about CLFS in Ashtead? I am increasingly drawn to the idea of local friends at a local o/s school and beginning to think that sensitive girl in big numbers is no worse that sensitive girl in small cliquey numbers !

LIZS Wed 02-Jan-13 14:23:48

St Catherines Bramley ?

ChristabelChristmas Wed 02-Jan-13 14:32:03

GHS is an amazing school. All the girls are well balanced, extremely academic, sporty, musical i.e brilliant at everything but also very nice girls too. Driven but not iron clad or ball busters! LEH girls are all of the things GHS girls are but much more streetwise and can be rather arrogant / singleminded. SWPS is also a lovely school - not as cut throat as the other two but still very good. I don't think you could really go wrong with these three!

ChristabelChristmas Wed 02-Jan-13 14:34:37

As an aside, do not get drawn in by SHS - not anything like in the se league but does a good job at marketing itself. If your DD can get into LEH or GHS then SHS is not going to be academic enough.

ChristabelChristmas Wed 02-Jan-13 14:34:56

Sorry - the same league!

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 02-Jan-13 18:17:39

What, ALL the girls Christabel? Sounds a little evangelical.

Luciana123 Wed 02-Jan-13 20:43:35

Yep - that's why it's the Independent School of the Year!

Copthallresident Thu 03-Jan-13 09:25:47

I had two daughters at LEH, and I can definitely say that ALL the girls are not the same at any school!! No1 daughter had a great time to sixth form, with a lovely friendship group, in what the school fed back was a lovely year. No2 daughter's year was deeply dysfunctional from the start. A few "strong characters" (in reality deeply insecure attention seekers) subverted the norms from the start and the school has frankly struggled to support / discipline them, and the experience of other pupils suffered as a result. However these characters could have turned up at any West London School, and given their back stories no school would have turned their back on them either.

My advice in relation to LEH is that it is great for girls who are bright AND have a talent / passion, even the sensitive will thrive if they are part of the Holles singers, Lacrosse team, Rowing team or any of the other extra curricular opportunities to excel. You do get a lot of competitive arrogant girls but equally both my daughters have found lovely friendship groups that were more grounded. It is a local school, as well as a "superselective", and classes are arranged geographically so they had local friendship groups that still persist and in time took in boys from Hampton too. The link with Hampton is a real benefit too.

The feedback I have had on SWPS is very positive too, it seems a more encouraging school.

Copthallresident Thu 03-Jan-13 09:39:03

I would add that whilst no parent can control the other peers who turn up at a school the important thing is to chose the school whose ethos and culture your DC feels most comfortable with . It sounds trite but if you trust your instincts then you and your DC will know when you visit which school feels right. No 1 DC knew the minute we walked out of LEH that that was where she wanted to go, though she got into the schools that on paper she had preferred, and which some competitive parents would have pushed her towards.

Happymum22 Thu 03-Jan-13 16:09:42

Can only comment on GHS, i've written quite a few posts in reply to people asking so sorry to repeat. There are lots of threads about the school so just search for more views.

I've had 3 DDs go through/currently at GHS and all are very different characters but love it. Two were not at all sporty, especially with the 'main' sports (lacrosse and netball) but there are so many opportunities to do other sports anything from golf, swimming, fencing, gym, dance, rounders, tennis, badminton.. list goes on.. as well as a lot of opportunities for other activities, which my DDs found they were recognised just as much for. DD went off on a debating competition and was in lots of the school plays and other DD was more 'left to be' dipping in and out of different activities throughout her time there.

The atmosphere is probably very similar at all the schools mentioned- all girls and very academic. At GHS I see my DDs (eldest now graduated and in a job in London) have made life long friends which they value so much and all show genuine care for each other. The school instills a love a learning which is very noticable when they leave. They all are very motivated, ambitious and passionate about their careers but not at all arrogant.
There is a huge mix of girls and all I see are accepted and celebrated in the school community.

Looster Thu 03-Jan-13 21:22:24

Thank you all for some really helpful replies - lots of food for thought! I think we will have to go and look at them all and get a feel as someone said

Looster Thu 03-Jan-13 21:33:07

Copthallresident - when you say they arrange classes geographically, do you mean that DD wd be put with girls from similar area? Didn't know that - but seems a good idea. Agree Hampton links are great, was v jealous of this when I was at sir William Perkins, particularly when I was dating a Hampton boy and was beside myself with the thought of all the LEH girls vying to go out with him!

For those with daughters at LEH or GHS, how wide an area do the pupils come from? Are there likely to be others from Weybridge/Walton/esher area?

DD wd like a co-ed school, but I know less of these. LEH seems like a good compromise because of links with Hampton. Anyone got any views or experience on Surrey co-ed ind schools?

Copthallresident Fri 04-Jan-13 00:12:40

The catchment area for LEH is generally as far as the bus network stretches, it is on the website but certainly girls from Chiswick, Windsor, Weybridge, Ascot, Woking, Esher, Wimbledon, Putney. Obviously they can't get it perfect, especially as girls can give the names of two other girls they want to be in their class with, but geography does seem to be an important factor in how the classes are put together. I don't know of any girls stranded in a class without anyone from their local area, and of course they all mix on the bus, with the boys too.

Co ed, Kingston Grammar School has a very good reputation, my daughters don't know anyone that hasn't been happy there. It is getting more popular all the time, especially with a new young and very switched on and down to earth Head. I think you have to be careful about putting schools into perceived leagues, they all enable their brightest pupils to get strings of A*s and entry to elite unis. I disagree with Christabel, I know of bright girls who have thrived at SHS, and gone on to Oxbridge, for some DCs being top in a not quite top school can be a better environment than average in a top school.

Amerryscot Fri 04-Jan-13 15:51:37

My DDs are at SWPS.

It is a fantastic school and very grounded. It really does tick all the boxes.

Happymum22 Fri 04-Jan-13 17:02:47

GHS is linked to RGS, the boys school down the road. They do music and plays together lower down in the school as well as having discos and socials with them. In sixth form they have general studies with RGS and Tormead. Most of the sixth form girls have friends at RGS (loads go out with RGS boys in sixth form). DD and her friends used to have lots of parties etc with a group of boys from RGS.

It is probably not quite as closely linked at Hampton/LEH but very nearly.

Is SHS surbiton or sutton?
Agree about KGS, have heard great things.

BeckAndCall Fri 04-Jan-13 19:17:22

I also have two none sporty girls in/through GHS and disagree with the view that you have to be sporty there. You don't have to be anything in particular there, at all. No girl is overlooked and any girl with an interest or a talent is supported and encouraged.

My eldest DD now at uni has great friends from there who I imagine will be lifelong friends - and has friends from both Hampton and RGs in equal number, so it's not an exact pairing with the girls/ Boys schools.

I encourage you to look and see how it feels to you

NeedSomeMeTime Mon 21-Jan-13 14:28:31

Thanks Beck&Call and HappyMum, We are nervously waiting for GHS - we expect to know end of this week, by post. She also has LEH interview this week. Daughter has declared she will be "very disappointed" if she doesnt get into either. Meanwhile she has an offer as a day student in a 10-12% oxbridge, 80% boarding school. Everyone I know that has a son or daughter there says it is brilliant cause its all-round development (students must learn a musical intrument (school pays), must play a sport, participate in numerous community events etc.) - they expect day students to do everything but sleep! 8.30 AM -7 PM, 6-days. (she had two sets of entrance tests (maths, eng), vr, nvr, leadership skills assessment etc.). Think she could do with that sort of an education, but torn since GHS/LEH come up tops in league tables (also are all-girls). How do I evaluate options? (assuming she also gets into GHS/LEH)

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Mon 21-Jan-13 19:11:54

NeedSome, the boarding school sounds like hard work for day pupils - I wouldn't fancy finishing at 7 then trying to get home. Also i would worry that day pupils would feel left out.

Copthallresident Mon 21-Jan-13 19:47:22

Where does your DD want to go? DD1 knew after interview that LEH was the right one for her. I must admit to having ummed and arred with DD2 right up until the last minute because I suspected she was making the decision for the wrong reasons, mainly sibling rivalry but also because it was "better" than the other option. I would definitely say place in the league tables is one of the wrong reasons, they are there because they get the girls who are best at passing exams, most years (see this years's dip in LEH GCSE results). She is now enjoying sixth form at the other option.

Fab66 Mon 09-Sep-13 23:07:37

Hi, I'm new in the mumsnet sit, I have a 5 years old dd and she is very able with academic subject, so I was thinking to give her a chance and try LEH for year 3, would you please give me some advice, what do I need to do to prepare her for entrance exam? Thank you in advance.

BeckAndCall Tue 10-Sep-13 10:42:50

Welcome to mumsnet, fab

Can I suggest you start a new thread to ask your question? You'll probably find you get more advice by starting a new one as this one has been around for a while and that might put some people off replying.

sybilwibble Tue 10-Sep-13 22:11:14

Hi If you visit the school they give you extremely detailed guidelines, in an info pack on what they expect the girls to be able to do to across Maths and English. But in general they should be performing at approx 12 months above their calendar age (not school year above)... unless your dd is an Autumn born child.

Schmedz Wed 11-Sep-13 19:59:48

I wouldn't touch LEH with a barge pole. Have not heard one positive report from a number of parents with very different types of girls who went there at some stage over the past decade and as recently as last year (all are now thriving at different schools).
Different strokes for different folks...if you get a good feel for it on your visits there, then it might be OK for your daughter.
I am afraid I am not familiar with either of the other two schools, but know one absolutely delightful young lady who has just started at GHS so there's at least one fab pupil there!

DalmationDots Sun 15-Sep-13 15:24:36

I've heard great things about LEH from lots of parents! We found it very hard to pick between it and GHS. It all is so subjective, go and have a look and see for yourself, only you will know what will suit your DD. Look at the sixth form and think are they the kind of girls I want my DD to turn out to be.
My DD was at GHS and I really do have no complaints, she had a great time there are really thrived. And IMO the pushy/powerhouse opinions aren't true at - it was far less pushy than I expected, if anything it was un-pushy and the girls do have a lot of fun! Really outstanding pastoral care too. If your DD is academic enough to get in and it feels right then she will be fine.

Both great schools, while they look similar on paper I would go and see them as they will have different strengths and emphasis.

Just realised this is quite an old thread that has been revived.

niku Thu 06-Feb-14 08:54:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Shooting4themoon Thu 06-Feb-14 09:17:53

Niku I don't have any DCs at either school but I do know dozens of families who go to LEH. They are all local, genuinely lovely girls who are academically able, sporty and/or musical. They work hard and play hard but more importantly, they are a really lovely group of girls who also care about each other and the place they live.
I have met Heather Hanbury on a number of occasions and think she will bring much to LEH, she has such drive and enthusiasm; (if I'd know when applying for schools last year that she would be appointed new head at LEH I would have applied there too!)
Good luck to your DD, I'm sure she'll thrive at either school, but don't discount LEH on the basis of some of the posts here... wink

jonnyappleseed Thu 06-Feb-14 11:41:30

I have 2 dcs at the school and I really don't recognise some of the gripes in this thread. I think it's a fantastic school. Great teaching, great kids, I feel blessed that my kids get to go there. If it's a good fit for a sharp child who is inquisitive and quick to learn new concepts, then they get on brilliantly there.
Friends with dds at GH report a similar experience - they are both really great - which I'm sure you know. You must have a gut feel for one over the other, surely? Make a list! I'm sure the parents sat on the waiting list would rejoice for a place, so I hope you come to the right decision for your dd soon.

22mom Sat 01-Mar-14 22:53:16

hi I'm new and google brought me heresmile, would really appreciate to get your insight of SWP vs. GHS. My girl got accepted by both school for year 7, SWP has given her scholarship, although she seems in favour of GHS as in her mind (and told by her current school teachers) GHS is higher in academic ranking....; She'll need to take train to GHS whilst SWP has coach services.

I felt she'll feel more confident in SWP and might have more opportunities to grow, which I think is critical in this age more than anything else (higher score etc....). On the other hand, we all agree GHS provides more diversified extracurricular activities, sports and music wise. Or maybe there're more better aspects that we're not aware of. Please help - those of you who know both schools, is GHS that much 'better'? Thank you!!!

Also in our situation, if she does any of the after school activities, it means we'll need to commute to pick her up, as most train 'buddies' will have gone home already, I wouldn't feel rest assured if she gets on train on her own, esp. when it's dark. This would also be a major compromise as we both work full time. Thank you!!

trader21c Sun 02-Mar-14 01:28:47

GHS is certainly one of the top academic schools and girls from DD's juniors who went there seem to be doing very well. It is very close to the train station so I'm not sure that you need to worry about the afterschool activities as there will be other girls making their way there too. But that doesn't mean a bright girl wouldn't do equally well at SWP which is another nice school (though a level down obviously in the league table rankings) and, obviously the scholarship is a plus. I'm sure she'll thrive at either school. I have to say if my daughter got into GHS and was keen, I would be tempted to send her there as its such a top school ... which school is nearer to you?

22mom Sun 02-Mar-14 08:38:29

Thank you trader! SWP is slightly nearer and coach stop is 2 min away. Is your daughter in GHS now?
My girl is not very vocal and tend not to speak up if there are strong characters. I'm concerned she would not have the same confidence as GHS is a lot more competitive? What's your experience?
Cheers.

trader21c Sun 02-Mar-14 19:03:50

HI 22mom I kept my DD in Surbiton High School where she was at juniors (in same girls school group as GHS) ... so don't have first hand experience of Guildford but DD has friends who go there - same for SWP but there will be people along who do ... but you never know, a change of environment might be just what your DD needs to help her become more vocal! She's done very well to get in and it's an excellent school and the girls we know who go there are lovely ...

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