Best prep schools in Oxfordshire / Berks / Hamps + commutable to City

(28 Posts)
sunnychild Thu 08-Aug-13 18:15:45

Dear all,

We are desperate for inside info on the best prep schools for our son in the above areas which we are considering a move to in order to be closer to our choice of public schools for later. Hubby commutes into Liverpool st so prep would need to be not too far to enable commute of 1.5 hours approx max. Son is due to begin Yr 5 at his Suffolk prep and is in the top quarter of his large year, so needs somewhere which will challenge him academically, offer good rugby but also which is a happy place with nice kids. I think the choice is wide but I would really appreciate your advice - we are getting booted out of our rental house in Suffolk in October so think it makes sense to buy in one of the areas above so we are nearer to poss; Stowe / Eton / Radley for later on rather than stuck out in Suffolk. We have tried both state and independent for son in past and have simply found he's best in independent so please - my head is already falling off trying to sort a new home and school without debate on the private / state issue guys!

Thank you.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:19:03

Bearing in mind your senior schoool choices it may be worth looking at weekly/flexi boarding as well a day. I don't think Oxfordshire (other than Henley and its environs) is commutable in 1.5 hours to Liverpool St.

Berkshire preps to look at are Papplewick, Lambrook, St George's. I can do Windsor (via Maidenhead) to Liverpool St in 1.5 hours.

sunnychild Thu 08-Aug-13 19:20:40

By the way we're keen on a prep with plenty of outdoor space and fresh air rather than a city centre one. Thank you!

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 19:24:10

St George's and Lambrook have acres of space, not sure how big Papplewick's playing fields are. Lambrook has a 9 hole golf course.

Tasmania Thu 08-Aug-13 19:56:04

Only way to commute from Oxfordshire to Liverpool St. in 1.5 hours is through living very close to Didcot Parkway. It would be 45-60 mins (they say 45 mins., but 95% of the time, it's 10 mins. late) to get into Paddington, then another half an hour to Liverpool St.

There's obviously Summer Fields and Dragon School in Oxford which both feed into major public schools.

difficultpickle Thu 08-Aug-13 20:13:27

It is pretty optimistic to think you can get from Paddington to Liverpool St and to your office 30 mins. I did it for years and very rarely was it that quick. The layout at Paddington means you now either have to walk down to near platform 14 to get the H&C or Circle line or walk to Lancaster Gate and get the Central which all adds to the journey time.

Ipsissima Thu 08-Aug-13 20:23:59

St Andrews, Pangbourne.
Short hop to Cholsey Sation, on the same line as Didcot but 10 mins closer to London.

CaterpillarCara Thu 08-Aug-13 20:29:19

Pause the clock and wait for Crossrail to arrive? (sorry, not helpful...)

LaVolcan Thu 08-Aug-13 21:58:37

There is nothing in it when it comes to taking the train to Paddington from either Didcot or Cholsey. Cholsey is on the slow line to Reading which takes 20 minutes, where you would have to change for the fast trains to Paddington which takes about 34- 45 minutes. (Or stay on the slow train and take forever). The only advantage is that you would probably not have to wait for more than a few minutes in Reading, because all the intercity trains stop there so in the morning rush hour there are Paddington bound trains coming in more or less one after the other.

From Didcot you can catch the faster trains coming from Bristol/South Wales, which is 56 minutes to 1 hour 5 minutes, depending on which train you catch. (Or take the same slow train of course.)

And then you have to cross to Liverpool Street, for which a half hour would be ambitious time wise. Last time I did it it took the better part of an hour, but about 45 minutes is doable.

But how about considering the Reading area to live? Still quite handy for Radley, Eton etc.

LaVolcan Thu 08-Aug-13 22:12:21

I don't know the schools, but St Andrew's Pangbourne is as near to Reading as it is to Cholsey.

MumnGran Fri 09-Aug-13 07:58:48

St Georges, Windsor.
Highfield, Maidenhead

difficultpickle Fri 09-Aug-13 09:39:00

The OP may struggle to get her son a place at Highfield considering it is a girls school grin. Also it only goes up to 11 when the OP needs somewhere that goes to 13.

moonbells Fri 09-Aug-13 09:54:21

Try NW London/Bucks/Herts. St Albans is a good place to be in order to get into Town quickly (20 mins to St Pancras) and there are lots of very decent senior and prep schools nearby. For boarding there's Harrow and Aldenham, and day schools such as Habs Boys and Merchant Taylors as well as John Lyon. If your DS ultimately wants to board, then being right on the doorstep isn't too crucial, so I'd move to where you have day school options as well. Stowe is not too far either from that area.

You'd have the Harrow and Pinner preps within range, as well as the prep school for Habs. Very competitive!

grovel Fri 09-Aug-13 09:59:39

Another suggestion that you look at Lambrook. Sensational facilities and grounds. Sends boys to top public schools every year, often with scholarships. Excellent flexible boarding allows preparation (if wanted) for full boarding later on.

The commute from Ascot is 45 mins to Waterloo (but you always get a seat in the morning).

Just in passing - if you are thinking of Radley then I assume you have already registered him.

If you don't mind a Catholic prep there is St John Beaumont in Old Windsor.

LadyMetroland Fri 09-Aug-13 13:33:35

Why aren't you thinking of Cambridge area? Oxfordshire, Berks is really too far to commute to Liverpool Street easily imo.

Inclusionist Fri 09-Aug-13 14:58:39

Another mum on here was looking for Lambrook for her DS for September (Y4 I think) and they told her they were competely full. It has also been in their newsletter that they are now full throughout and running a waiting list so it may not be that straight forward.

Lambrook must be putting something in the water, it suddenly seems to be incredibly popular.

Inclusionist Fri 09-Aug-13 15:03:59

Crossrail is not that far off. In theory you could live in Maidenhead/ Taplow/ Bray and if you could get a spot at Lambrook use the bus that goes from Bray/ Stubbings.

CrayolaLola Fri 09-Aug-13 15:07:08

Ashfold is very lovely; goes up to 13, is in 35 acres of it's own land and is day/flexi-boarding. It is just over the Oxfordshire border into Buckinghamshire and not too long a train commute into London from Thame/Bicester/Aylesbury stations.

fabricmum Fri 09-Aug-13 17:20:11

Crosfields in Reading, Berks.
Mainline into the city 20 minutes.

SoldeInvierno Sat 10-Aug-13 06:57:38

Holme Grange in Wokingham goes up year 9.

Somethingyesterday Sat 10-Aug-13 07:20:10

This October? Awkward. If your Ds was going into Yr 6 I would have said try to find a place at whichever of the excellent Oxford boarding preps suited him best. But in my experience Yr 5 is just a little early. Particularly as he would have no time to get used to the idea.

Would there be any possibility of keeping him at his current school for this year while choosing and applying for a boarding place for 2014? He'll be more mature and will have sufficient time to settle into CE prep.

Inclusionist Sat 10-Aug-13 07:22:12

I wouldn't personally choose a location to buy a house based on a desire to use either Crosfields or Holme Grange though. Lovely if they happen to be your local school.

Inclusionist Sat 10-Aug-13 07:28:15

What about Lockers Park in Hemel?

<diclaimer> I know nothing about London commutes.

Mumtogremlins Sat 10-Aug-13 20:25:54

Thought about Surrey? Woking is 20-25 mins to Waterloo although you don't have to live in Woking! St Andrews still has places in Year 5 I believe

Alad Sat 10-Aug-13 20:30:58

Oratory Prep school. Fast trains from Reading or slower from Goring or Pangbourne. Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty & highly rated school, lovely selection of properties at ok prices. Less snooty than Oxford or Henley. - what more could you want?

sunnychild Mon 12-Aug-13 17:44:56

Thank you all - all your comments have been really helpful. Especially the idea of boarding preps starting Yr 6 thank you for suggesting. We're thinking of moving to France for a year min. to get DS's French up to scratch and start a holiday business, but sending him back here to board if he hates French school would be a wonderful option - and one I hadn't fully considered before.

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