Prep schools NW or Harrow area ? help

(32 Posts)
nonconformist99 Fri 24-Sep-10 16:38:40

Hello, has anyone had any experience of Radlett prep / Peterborough& St Margaret or Alpha prep? or any other suggestions of prep schools in the NW or pref harrow area? also any knowledge on 4+ assessments? ta

I assume you're talking about a girl. My daughter was at NLCS from 4+ for 4 years (we now live abroad) so we looked at a lot of NW London pre preps (we were harrow based as well!)

Radlett prep is cliquey and really far (don't underestimate the school run - it will rule your life for years to come!)
Alpha is small and friendly.
Peterborough has good facilities and is not pushy (but may be difficult for you daughter to move on to higher ranked schools at 11+)
Have a look at Heathfield, it's got more of a cultural mix than Peterborough and also Northwood College and St Helens are good as they have great facilities and are not too far away.Finally don't rule out Habs and NLCS.
Hope this helps smile

nonconformist99 Fri 24-Sep-10 20:30:10

Thanks a lot! thats a great help, especially the point about radlett, i got that impression myself its unfortunate that a lot of them are quite cliquey and im really trying to suss out these things in advance. im after a more cultural mix rather than just two separate groups. And at this stage i want quite a small school for my daughter. the lady at Peterborough was quite surprised when i accidentally mentioned 11+ slip of the tongue! (i did A trip to radlett today and it ruled my day, already)
advice from someone who has had some experience is much appreciated smile

Changebagsandgladrags Fri 24-Sep-10 20:47:22

Have you looked at Orley Farm school in Harrow? Can't say I know that much about it apart from wishing I had the cash to send DS there.

onimolap Fri 24-Sep-10 21:02:17

A friend's son went to Orley Farm until they moved south of the river. They liked it far, far more than the second prep school he went to. So definitely worth a look.

MammyT Fri 24-Sep-10 21:55:05

The ethnic mix at Orley Farm is quite limited, mainly Indian. My (British Indian) friend wishes it was more mixed! However it seems to be a lovely, friendly school.

puch Sat 25-Sep-10 09:55:41

alpa prep seems like a good school. About 3 of our best teachers have left our catholic school to work at Alpha Prep and they think it is very good. Small classes and lots of activities.

Xenia Sat 25-Sep-10 21:08:45

My girls were at Habs and the other at North London Collegiate but it's hard to get in and most people who apply don't so slightly below those would be St Helen's I suppose and then the others mentioned. You need to decide what you're after long term and where she's likely to get into and when.

Yes Peterb & St is not that pushy ie for the less clever girls but it's like anywhere - there's a pecking order of schools and most chidlren end up at one which suits their own abilities.

mrshomersimpson Sun 26-Sep-10 18:40:54

P&SM have laid off a lot of teachers recently and class sizes are incredibly small now. I'm not sure how long it can be sustained for.

nonconformist99 Wed 06-Oct-10 21:08:53

wow - good to hear all the advice, im new to this so took me a while to find my thread! i was originally hoping for a prep school in order for my daughter to sit the 11+ that way hopefully she'd get a more varied experience. shes very bright ( in know everyone says that!) and her nursery teachers wanted me to put her through for habs or nlcs but i just wanted a different experience for her first school, something smaller, but maybe they are right?! i heard orley farm is good and nice environment also but youre right onimolap there is not much of an ethnic mix. most of the kids at alpha were indian also but there were a few others of varied backgrounds.
i think P&SM would be a no no then hearing that!
puch - thanks for that, good to know the teachers are of good quality from your catholic school, they seemed great when i saw them!
thanks all - dont have friends in the same situation so all the help is appreciated!

alemci Wed 06-Oct-10 21:19:52

i think Orley farm was a lovely school. i went for a job interview there recently and was very impressed. would you consider schools in Northwood?

yellowishpurple Thu 07-Oct-10 12:25:58

my dd is at psm and loves it, very small with a lovely family feel but they won't prep for the 11+ (for obvious reasons!) They have lost a lot of staff this year and the class sizes are small but they're part of a larger trust so are propped up in leaner years. The girls get to be a part of whatever they want to be (netball team, drama club, orchestra etc) that they wouldn't necessarily get to do in larger schools. Ability levels range from the not very academic to those on the brighter end of the spectrum.

I always liked St Hildas in bushey (if you'd go that far) but it was a little too pricey for us (and the mother who showed us round made it very clear she didn't approve of working mothers(!)) but it is far more ethnically mixed that alpha or psm. And the uniform is cute!

alemci Thu 07-Oct-10 12:31:53

if mums didn't work how would people afford the school fees or am i living in a paralel universe?

alexw Thu 07-Oct-10 12:49:32

How about Quainton Hall in Harrow? My dd is there and they're going co-ed up to Yr 6 from next Sept. A lovely family atmosphere. She loved it from the assessment onwards - sat at NLCS but she hated it (and I'm an old girl of the school as well as a teacher there now!)Depends what you want wrt class size etc.

nonconformist99 Thu 07-Oct-10 20:40:05

i just read about quainton hall, mentions theyll have girls till 7+? interesting if they will go further?
has anyone heard of roxeth mead on the hill (thats 7+) doesnt appeal to me that they stop at 7 but i suppose its a backup.
thanks yellowishpurple good to get a different perspective on P&SM, they have an open morning on the 7th november. just looked at st hildas its more pricey you are right but uniform is cutieee! with regards to P&stM how do you feel about it not being co-ed? and how small are the class sizes, do you feel that they address the kids with different abilities, not that one set gets ignored? (sorry too many questions) i still cant find anyone who has kids at Alpha Prepconfused
alexw i am looking for a family atmosphere to continue on from her positive nursery experience - i knw someone who sat for NLCS last yr and hated it but as you say it just depends and it is a great school- the school and the child need to gel and you need to make that decision in a short space of time!
thank you all again

alexw Fri 08-Oct-10 09:43:24

From Sept 2011 they are taking girls rightthrough to Yr 6. The website is in the process of being updated at the moment so some of the info might be out of date. However, it's a lovely positive school. All the staff know who I am and my daughter's name. Parents are encouraged to attend Headmaster's assembly and chapel services if they are around during the day. Roxeth Mead was our back up. Very small. Sweet school. Have to take own lunch though. Having the 'big boys' around at QHS is great - they really look out for the little ones.
My dd not going to NLCS was not on my radar at all (especially as I teach there so nice and convenient!), but seeing how she was very upset by the process I am glad we sent her to QHS where she has only had a positive experience so far.
Uniform is very cute too. You will get a feel for what is right for your dd at the time. If you need any further advice or want to talk then let me know.

yellowishpurple Fri 08-Oct-10 09:50:36

i think the only downside to psm is that it's not coed in the younger years but i didn't really like alpha when i was looking (only because the building is so small and the kids have to walk down the main roads in harrow to get to the park everytime they have a pe lesson) and quainton hall at that time had only just started taking girls and i didn't want dd to be somewhere that was loads of boys and only a couple of girls.

class sizes vary wildly year on year, yr 2 has 14, yr 1 has 9 (because we lost 4 to habs this year!)and reception has about 10 i think.

massive amounts of 1-1 attention, ability tables in the infants (although they won't tell you that, it's not hard to figure it out!) They tell me my dd is bright and she and others on the same level get harder spellings, slightly more difficult maths etc. The less academically able ones also get different work so although they're all doing broadly the same stuff the levels differ depending on ability. I don't know how they'd cope with the super bright but a friend of mine has a dd who started reception at habs this year and she can already read and is can do Y2 maths but is still being made to do all the jolly phonics stuff and the teachers seem unwilling to listen to her read. I suppose in a school like habs where the classes are big there is less opportunity for specialised 1-1 attention.

A lot of parents at psm seem to use it as a prep school and then move their kids to habs at 11. I suppose all the schoolsbroadly do all the same stuff anyway and it's nice (in my opinion) for kids to be given lots of attention at school when they're little. psm gives them the chance to develop at their own rate and at 5,6 or 7 i think that's the most important thing.

anyway advert over! I hope you find the right school for your dd.

nonconformist99 Mon 11-Oct-10 10:35:59

ok great thanks alexw especially as youve had a positive experience so far, i like the idea of the kids being known by all teachers and the parents very much involved rather than the large school approach at this stage, its daunting enough sending kids to school at 4 even if they are confident!
yellowishpurple i will definitely look into PSM now after your comments i am still reluctant to send to an all girls school so early but once i go i suppose i can weigh up pros and cons. i think whats swinging it for me reading through here is the small school/ 1:1 attention. i dont want her to be bored at school because her work is not challenging so good to know that your daughter is getting harder spelling.
oh gosh Jolly phonics! just got my head round it - but to be honest it does work! it means at 3 the kids are starting to read, i wouldnt want her to get to school and have to do it all again (or to be soo bored) i would like her to be challenged and pushed but not in a serious way if you know what i mean? do you feel they challenge the girls?
i wonder how it works with the kids going at 11 though? maybe the parents prep them for exam technique at home? the lady who answered the phone wasnt happy when i mentioned the 11+ so i'll keep that one to myself. do you want to keep your daughter all the way through? (again apologies for the many questions)!

yellowishpurple Mon 11-Oct-10 13:23:52

don't worry nonconformist, ask away.

i'm not sure how much they challenge the very bright. Although my dd is very able, she's still within the range of everybody else (if that makes sense?) They (obviously) match the reading books to the level of the child and the type of maths worksheets etc they do. But with small classes and 2 members of staff they can individualise the work more. And you tend to find that the teachers are hugely approachable and more than happy to chat in the morning or after school so if ever you think the work isn't challenging enough you can always ask them why? In a school like psm where every student is important in terms of fee income (and in other ways too!) the school is always willing to take on board individual parent's requests (within reason).

They do loads of art, school plays, music, languages, lunchtime clubs ranging from playing chess with the head to playing board games with some teachers so there are always options for different interests. I suppose a lot of the challenges come from trying different things. If you want your daughter challenged but not pushed too hard then maybe it's the extra curricular type stuff that will appeal? And also, because the infants department has the equivalent number of kids as a state school reception class they often do things with the three classes joined together (so the reception kids get lines in the nativity etc, they all join together for ballet, the older ones get to be monitors and head up teams on sports day) and you often find that the younger ones love being with the older ones and the older ones develop a strong sense of responsibility in looking after the tiny kids.

I think those that plan on leaving at 11 probably get outside tutoring but you're right, probably best not to mention that at all, they're kind of sensitive about it!

I'm not sure yet what i'l1 do at 11. A lot of it will depend on what dd wants and the kind of teenager she looks as though she'll become. i know that a few years ago i went through a very messy divorce and the level of support both she and i got from the school was incredible. These are the things you don't forget and i like the thought of her spending her teenage years surrounded by teachers who will notice if she's going off the rails! She might not like it quite so much though!

the all girls thing is what is, only you can decide if it's enough of a reason to walk away from one particular school. I always planned to get her involved in activities outside of school so she'd mix with boys. It hasn't worked, she's at the age where they all prefer to be with their own gender. and really, that's probably what happens at school anyway so by sending her to a coed all that's happening is the pool of potential mates is halved because they won't go near the boys. Maybe?

Really i think you'll know when you visit a school if it's the right one for your child. psm just felt right to me the very first time i walked in the doors in a way that none of the others did. And all the kids are happy there. The best way to really judge is to go and see it when the girls are there. I don't know if they arrange ad hoc visits or if you have to go during an open day?

nonconformist99 Tue 12-Oct-10 13:02:02

yellowishpurple called them again this morning, the assessments will be later in nov so she said its fine to come along on the 6th (open morn). parents will have the opportunity to ask questions then. the girls will be there helping out. nice point about the boys being aliens! its true at the momenet boys are normal to her (but that will soon chnage)
i know when i go i'll feel if its right, i had a good feeling with Alpha but not with the others but also felt guilty that they might be programed into being robots and they were not concerned about brightness or ability for the assessment just how quiet and disciplined the chid is!
i see why you love it if they gave you such great support and you can rely on them to keep an eye on her for the future! im still unsure what to do at 11+ but only time will tell i originally wanted to send her to a prep in order to sit 11+ then maybe apply to a grammar/or the right priv therefore a non-prepping school will be a waste but now i jst want her to be in a happy environment with good education. all the forward planning is too much! youve been a great help! really have! thanks!

AnuRai Wed 01-Feb-12 00:14:56

My DS has just been offered a reception (4+ entry) place at St. Martin's, Northwood and Northwood Prep and I am really struggling picking one of the two. I would highly appreciate if anyone has any views or suggestions for me to help me make this decision.

jmf294 Wed 01-Feb-12 05:26:28

My son is at Northwood Prep in reception and has been there since nursery.
We couldn't be more pleased with it and he loves it.
Academically he is progressing well and they work hard.
They have great facilities, excellent staff and an inspiring head.
He does lots of PE, French, music, nature walks. His reading is progressing fast and is writing and numbers are getting stronger.

We feel he is so well cared for, nurtured and encouraged.
He loves school!
I fully recommend Northwood Prep.

lalafifi Thu 02-Feb-12 09:59:10

Quainton Hall is now full Co-Ed and will take girls up until 11. This is a change and there are only a few girls at the school at the moment. Had a look. Its not flashy like Orley but the academics results are amazing seeing as it is not pushy and can't be extrememly selective.

AnuRai Thu 02-Feb-12 14:54:46

Thanks a lot from ur inputs jmf294 & lalafifi

Lisab1979 Tue 07-Feb-12 11:01:14

I had a look at Orley Farm, and although the building and location were great, the philosophy of the school Head did cause concern, as there is a method of dictating what is best for the child. They appear to decide what school the children should apply to after Orley and the parents dont have much say in the matter. Also I got a sense that the Head does not take questioning about his methods well, and ended up with a surprisingly aggressive tone. I do have my concerns here

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