The Beacon - Amersham?

(12 Posts)
Teacupcakes Tue 17-Mar-15 19:25:58

Hello, We are currently trying to decide on a primary/pre-prep for our ds. The Beacon seems incredibly popular. Whilst we liked it, we don't get the wow factor about it that everyone else seems to! It seemed pleasant enough but crammed in. No playground, only astro turf. No indoor pool so the boys only swim in the summer. 1 hour a week of art. International studies sounds great in principle but 1 hour a week seems minimal and french itself not starting until yr 5. The lunch hall, whilst beautiful, is tiny and I can't imagine how they do it and remain civilised. I have visions of the boys having to eat as quickly as they can so the next sitting can begin etc. We didn't meet a single pre-prep member of staff during our two hour visit, this seems odd. The boys weren't smart but looked happy enough. I'd love it if someone could tell me if I'm missing something. We love that it sends boys to the grammar schools as well as public schools and did like it. Just not getting the wowness of it. Any opinions welcome!

Crispsandwich Wed 18-Mar-15 10:58:46

I agree with you OP. I was not wowed by the Beacon. I thought it had a hard corporate edge to it as well in terms of marketing and trying to get as many boys through 11 plus. I questioned in my mind if it would be supportive if your child fell behind. Where else are you looking at?

Karoleann Wed 18-Mar-15 20:18:01

I looked at several nearby schools, Davenies stuck out for me and I walked around thinking I wish I had gone to this school (unlikely considering I'm female and my parents couldn't afford private schooling). My boys have been at Davenies for several years and it has been a great choice. They do lots of extra curricular stuff and sports, but still manage with the academic stuff.

However, three of my neighbours send their children to the Beacon and they're really happy with it too. I think sometimes you do have to go with the gut feeling.

MillyMollyMama Thu 19-Mar-15 02:15:54

In the other direction there is Berkhamsted School. They have a prep dept. Or Chesham Prep.

Crispsandwich Thu 19-Mar-15 11:39:44

I think it depends on what your intended route is. Berkhamsted goes all the way through. A lot of schools in this area feed the Grammar school (focusing on 11 plus rather than CE)

MillyMollyMama Thu 19-Mar-15 12:04:16

Given that the OP seemed worried about her DS falling behind, I rather suspected Grammar School might not be her first option, so I suggested other schools. The problem is that, in this area, boys senior schools are not in abundance. If you do not want a state secondary then choice is limited unless you board at 13+, eg Stowe. The Beacon is more of an 11+ factory so, frankly, parents are not looking for a traditional prep school with fantastic facilities. They want the grammar school place above all else. This is a Bucks thing. If you want a proper prep school that prepares for CE at 13, and has all the knobs and whistles, then you possibly need to look further afield.

Crispsandwich Thu 19-Mar-15 12:30:28

It was me who mentioned about the Beacon and questions as to whether they would supporting those falling behind, rather than OP.

MMM I agree with your comments on Beacon and also lack of schools

Teacupcakes Fri 20-Mar-15 19:43:14

Thank you for your replies. It is sooooo hard to decide and not be influenced by popularity and latest trends. We also felt we had been through a slick marketing machine but perhaps its justified. Our Davenies tour was by the Headmaster, who we thought was wonderful but is sadly leaving. I was surprised by their class sizes, thought 22 is rather a lot. Ultimately I am probably overthinking this massively and they are all excellent schools! Also need to look at Caldicott and consider sending ds to Godstowe until he is 7 where dd goes and is very happy. Decisions decisions!

Teacupcakes Fri 20-Mar-15 19:43:16

Thank you for your replies. It is sooooo hard to decide and not be influenced by popularity and latest trends. We also felt we had been through a slick marketing machine but perhaps its justified. Our Davenies tour was by the Headmaster, who we thought was wonderful but is sadly leaving. I was surprised by their class sizes, thought 22 is rather a lot. Ultimately I am probably overthinking this massively and they are all excellent schools! Also need to look at Caldicott and consider sending ds to Godstowe until he is 7 where dd goes and is very happy. Decisions decisions!

SundayNight Tue 21-Apr-15 10:55:13

Gateway School in Great Missenden is well worth a look. It is a great alround school.It caters to the individual child's needs.

My son has been there for four years and is thriving. He is very happy, has lots of friends and enjoys the variety of after school clubs.

There is as much focus on the arts and sports as their is an academic achievement, so all children have a chance to thrive. Those that are right for grammar school are as well supported as those that are better suited to a senior school.

Gateway also has the added advantage of being one of only a few co-ed independent primaries in the area.

Whilst the site is small and the facilities don't appear to be great, the school takes advantage of local facilities including the village hall and the local sports centre, so it has all that a child from 2 to 11 needs!

Certainly worth a look.

Millymollymama Tue 21-Apr-15 14:18:45

The Gateway is very much an 11+ factory. I know quite a lot of former parents and there was only one reason they chose it. Relatively small numbers do not go to grammar schools. For girls I think Godstowe is a lot better but it focusses on CE. Different type of parent and destinations. OP - I would look at Godstowe and then Caldicott. You already know Godstowe, so at least you will have two at one school. I think you will find lots of Godstowe boys go to Caldicott. At least they did when my Dd went to Godstowe. Caldicott would have the best destinations list of any of the schools mentioned here and almost certainly superior facilities and sport. Does the Gateway have a playing field? It depends what you want beyond 11 or 13 really.

pennymoney Thu 07-May-15 13:19:58

My boys are at Davenies and have been really happy there. It's a real shame that the Head is moving on because he's fostered a lovely ethos at the school, but the heads of Pre-prep and the Junior school are both great too and both staying. The standard class size is 20 - they occasionally have an extra one or two in a year (which the parents are generally NOT happy about, but usually happens when people say they are leaving and then change their minds at the last moment). The boys go on to a mixture of grammar and private schools. Good luck with your choices - I'm sure wherever you choose your son will be very happy!

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