Taunton Secondary Schools - advice please?

(44 Posts)
Alexanna Mon 09-May-11 21:25:50

I am hoping to move from South Bucks to the area west of Taunton (up to the town of Dulverton) and would love some help and advice on the secondary schools available for my daughter (currently yr 6). I also have a son in Year 4 to consider. Anyone who lives in the area and could give me some inside info........Would be great :-)

DELHI Wed 11-May-11 14:07:45

Don't know Dulverton sorry, but Taunton itself has some well-regarded independent schools if you have around 15k per year to spend - Taunton School, Kings School and Queens College. Quite a few international students there. There's also Wellington School, (In Wellington!) a bit cheaper I hear, but also good. Richard Huish is the state 6th form college in Taunton and gets great results.

chocolatemarshmallow Mon 16-May-11 18:02:27

Hi Alexanna, my sister lives in Taunton and her two daughters and son all went through King's College - they were pleased wiht it (both girls went to Oxbridge) but not overall that strong a school academicallly (their girls success was more down to home support and parenting I think) - average only one or two get into Oxbridge per year compared to some much stronger academic private schools. Taunton School is meant to be very good too - and Queens is a bit smaller/more intimate for shyer kids - plus as far as my sister knows they don't do saturday school there as the other private schools in teh area all do which may be a good incentive for the kids!

propatria Tue 17-May-11 10:59:27

Kings of the private schools is ok,the other two arent really worth spending money on but they are academic/social and sporting giants compared to Wellington.

Kez100 Wed 18-May-11 23:20:19

My husband was born in Dulverton! I've a picture of him by the school gates! It was just a primary - 40 years ago! I wouldnt be surprised to hear its no longer there as it looked very tiny in the picture. I dont know that for sure though! His parents moved when he got to secondary age so he didn't have to travel to Taunton. Cannot advise though as too long ago really and they moved in the other direction - toward Barnstaple.

1237cat Sun 22-May-11 17:06:42

I only know that a friend has her two at Taunton School and she is really happy. She chose it after looking at all three of the Taunton private schools and said it seemed head and shoulders above Kings College and Queens College.

Merle Sun 22-May-11 17:11:48

Do you only want independent? My knowledge of Taunton is very rusty but I know that Castle School (state) is on the west side of town and is well regarded.

StellaSays Tue 24-May-11 18:10:25

If your looking for State schools I have knowledge since I went to school close by about 6 years ago as well as knowing others from different schools in the area as well as teachers and having taught in some of them.

Heathfield is very good, would probably be my top choice. Bishop Fox's is also very good (did some teaching there, excellent tecnology department in particular but good overall). Don't know a huge amount about Castle School. Ladymead is average. Avoid St Augustines at all costs.

The colleges in Taunton are excellent, SCAT for technical vocational courses and Richard Huish for A Level.

If you want to go slightly further outside town, Courtfields in Wellington is very good. Kingsmead and Uffculme are in small villages near the area and also have a good reputation.

Bue Wed 25-May-11 10:33:57

I've heard fantastic things about Richard Huish. It's not at all uncommon for parents to remove their children from the independents and send them there for sixth form.

Buda Wed 25-May-11 10:43:11

propatria - why do you say they other two are not worth spending money on?

StellaSays Wed 25-May-11 16:30:25

I don't know a huge amount about the private schoold but I am aware that Wellington school is not seen as being a particularly good one. It is the cheapest in the area though.

Just a bit of trivia but Jeffrey Archer went there hmm

Barbeasty Wed 25-May-11 18:44:18

Ladymead and St Augustine's have combined to become an academy. I don't know much about it, but couldn't see any GCSEs on their website, just btecs in health and waste management.

Ormirian Wed 25-May-11 18:48:25

My godson went to Bishop Fox' - state school. Got 11 A*s so I guess it's OK academically. He loved it.

DB went to Kings College - hated it to start with but settled down and in the end they did very well by him. That was a looong time ago mind you.

Ormirian Wed 25-May-11 18:50:57

He is now at Richard Huish and doing well.

StellaSays Wed 25-May-11 19:38:41

My DM teaches at Bishop Fox's, nice to know when kids do well smile

propatria Thu 26-May-11 09:10:53

Buda-I say that because they arent worth spending money on,they offer nothing worth paying for,they dont rate academically,they dont rate on a sporting level or socially,they dont have great facilities and the state sector is as good in the area so why pay to attend them,they are almost the definition of minor public school.Why anyone would pay to attend them is beyond me but as they survive ,some people must think its worth it,not however the better prep schools in the west country who dont send anyone to these schools,in the end you pays your money and takes your choice..

Buda Thu 26-May-11 10:04:51

Interesting viewpoint.

DS starts at Taunton School in September. DH is a product of Taunton School. We know of lots of people who are very happy with the school. The facilities are excellent. The prep school has a lovely atmosphere.

From speaking to lots of people who have experience of the school they produce well-rounded and confident adults who don't have the sense of entitlement that some other private schools produce.

The prep school has a lovely atmosphere.

Ormirian Thu 26-May-11 10:06:19

I've heard good things about Taunton school to Buda though no direct experience.

When are you moving? Must be soon.

Buda Thu 26-May-11 10:31:06

Hi Orm! It is soon! We leave here on 5th July and go to Florida for 3 weeks and then arrive back on 27 July.

Hopefully house will be finished by then. Well the main bits. We used the builder that had built the house next door in the end as we heard so much good stuff about him and he and his partner project manage so for us doing it from afar it made sense.

DH was there yesterday checking out a few things as he had been in London on business Monday/Tuesday anyway. Dying for him to get home tonight to find out what's what. Am so excited about the house. After so long in rented it will be so nice to have our own house.

Ormirian Thu 26-May-11 10:38:21


Exciting! Hope all goes well.

propatria Thu 26-May-11 12:06:35

Buda,Im sure your DS will be as happy as your DH,its horses for courses,thank heavens we arent all the same and have different expectations as to what a school should be.

Buda Thu 26-May-11 12:25:42

Orm - yes! Very exciting. Currently trying to organise curtains for DS's bedroom and a spare bedroom so that we have two rooms done for when we get there. Will do the rest gradually.

propatria - quite.

ambercat Thu 26-May-11 12:36:25

my eldest starts at castle in sept, seems a good school but huge amount of pupils on not a very big site, everyone i know with children there are very happy with the school. Heathfield also good and bishops fox is the most improved i think. Ladymead and st Augustine have combined to form taunton acadamy, niether were great schools before so i guess time will tell!

Motherhen2000 Sun 19-May-13 18:08:10

I know lots of people with children at Queen's College and it has a fantastic atmosphere - really friendly and approachable and pastoral care is good. Best academic results in the area too and good at arts subjects and sport - go and see for yourself! Think some of these opinions may be out of date - certainly nothing like state schools I have seen!

oftengrumpy Tue 21-May-13 00:08:18

If you are looking at state schools be aware that Castle and Heathfield are usually (very) oversubscribed and, for Castle, in particular you have little or no chance of getting in if you don't live in the catchement.

miranpr Tue 21-May-13 16:32:49

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

PatriciaHolm Tue 21-May-13 17:02:38

Given the thread is 2 years old, I suspect the OP has sorted it by now...

ItsRainingOutside Fri 24-May-13 00:30:00

Surprised with the comments about Queens College who were the highest ranking in Somerset for A'Levels last year. Facilities are great - new hockey pitches, football pitches and new boarding houses to open next term. The atmosphere is informal and the kids are encouraged to develop their personalities and friendships just as they are encouraged to do well academically. Parents are encouraged to participate in school life. There is an excellent drama faculty - head and shoulders above the other Taunton schools. They also run school clubs in the holidays which are open to anyone in the area. The Arts festival they host in the Autumn is fantastic as are the drama productions - the senior production is extremely professionally produced. My DD attends and whilst she isn't sporty, they appear to achieve excellent sporting results. They have a current Olympian who teaches Hockey. The opportunities for extra-curricular activities is vast and very informal. I can't recommend it highly enough and can honestly say I haven't come across a single parent or student who is unhappy with it. That said, Richard Huish is the favoured 6th form direction as it's free and has excellent results behind Queens. Entry is tough and not always guaranteed but why pay a further £30k for two years of 6th form if this is on the doorstep.

propatria Tue 28-May-13 17:04:02

Wasn't going to comment but a couple of things happened,you state that Queens has the highest A level ranking in Somerset,that impressed/suprised me as I have never thought of any of the Taunton schools as very academic,so a quick glance on the beeb and yep Queens has the best A level scores in "Somerset" but then I noticed schools I expected so to see were not on the list and so it became clear that was Somerset lea not Somerset as a county,a further search and up came Bath and NE Somrset and down goes Queens to a distant 4th.
A child I know had a day with his prep school at Queens last week(,the only thing he thought ok was the theatre,everything else was as he put it" so so",there is no point in boasting about future sports facilities if even then they arent as good as he has at his prep school,and I think its safe to say he and his classmates wont be going to a day school that as you yourself say cant even keep sixth formers away from the local state alternative,that is not a school I would spend a pound to go to let alone £15k a year but enough people would it seems.

Yellowtip Tue 28-May-13 22:45:58

So propatria what exactly are your expectations as to what a school should be? And presumably the school your DC attend/ attended matches up?

propatria Wed 29-May-13 09:12:29

Of course the schools my chidren attend/have attended match my expectations,what a very odd question,as Ive said before I wouldnt bother with well over 90% of private schools,why would anyone pay for second or third rate schools,most peculiar,there are many many schools like the Taunton schools,usually Victorian they were built to educate the sons of local shopkeepers,most of them offer very little beyond the ability of excitable local parents to claim they send little flo/max to a private school,they are local schools for local children,nothing wrong with that but when a parent tells you how wonderfull it is but then admits actually the local sixth form college is a better bet for A levels its not exactly a ringing endorsement that is going to lead to massive oversubscription is it?

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 09:22:30

It's not in the least odd question, given your comment. Indeed it's directly provoked by your comment. The Taunton schools are railway schools and so were therefore by definition not set up for the children of local shopkeepers. I certainly wouldn't pay for a second rate secondary school but then again I wouldn't pay for Eton. I might pay for SPGS, St. Paul's, Westminster or Winchester but not much else.

propatria Wed 29-May-13 10:57:06

You might have paid for those schools but you didnt as your children as you have told us many times are state educated,so why you feel the need to comment on a thread about minor private schools in Somerset is beyond me.
One of the Taunton schools is a Woodard,another Methodist and the third was set up for dissenters,zilch to do with the railway and everything to do with the growth of the middle class,there are similar schools throughout the country,some are even in towns without a railway station,
The Taunton schools have always had a very local appeal,as you would expect,they are what they are but sadly some parents at these type of school have delusions,and as often happens make claims that are not really correct..

Interesting to spot this thread again.

We have now been back in Somerset for almost two years and DS is at Taunton school. Last year was very hard as he hated it and us for moving him. In retrospect moving him for year six was not the best idea. But we got through it and the school were pretty supportive. Could have done better I think but it was difficult as DS was doing ok at school but punishing us at home.

This year he is like a different child. Much happier and very settled. He is not particularly sporty. He is not particularly academic. Is doing very well in some subjects and not so well in others. So far we are happy enough although hate Saturday school.

I don't think we have any delusions although I am sure some do. I want DS to be happy at school and to enjoy learning and finding out his strengths and weaknesses in a supportive environment. We are quite happy with a minor public school as I would totally hate the atmosphere at a more competitive school.

So - so far so good. We will know more when he is done is suppose!

propatria Wed 29-May-13 11:38:34

Good to hear he has settled in,glad it he worked out ok

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 11:46:55

Gosh propatria you're incredibly rude about other parents. Is that an attitude bred of the school your DC attend? smile

I've known and know a number of people at the Taunton schools; I'm not sure I should be excluded from commenting.

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 11:48:50

And I only commented because of your uppity attitude, not because of the schools in question.

propatria Wed 29-May-13 12:16:56

If parents at any school make silly claims then Im more than happy to point out the errors etc,if that is rude in your eyes then so be it,your opinion good or bad is of no interest to me.
Buda knows what she has bought and is happy with the school,thats great,The Queens parent on here however made dubious claims and bragged about "great facilities" when in fact they are nothing of the sort and dont even come up to the level of a decent prep but if you are spending 15k a year but admit the local 6th form college is a better bet then I suppose youve got to try to justify your 15k.
You are one up on me as I dont know anyone at the Taunton schools but I wouldnt expect towink,

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 12:29:40

Having a child whose education you want to pay for and whose academic background isn't strong enough for one of the more selective schools (leaving aside the whole question of living in that area and not being prepared to shove your kid off to boarding school) doesn't make them a less decent or necessarily less intelligent person than one whose kids get into Eton/ Winchester etc. I have no problem at all with knowing people like that as well as very pleasant Etonian/ St. Paul's/ Westminster/ local comp parents too.

propatria Wed 29-May-13 13:34:36

"shove your kid off to boarding school" yep thats us couldnt wait to get rid of the little beggars...
" Having a child whose education you want to pay for." .. what a very odd thing to do,doesnt matter what the school is,the main thing is its paid for,now you see to me thats very odd indeed and actually stupid but hey these schools survive so they know the market.
Thought you might like Mr J Meades happy and not all" rude" memories of Kings -Young Jonathan went to school at King's College, Taunton, where he was conventionally miserable. 'I was an academic child, sent to this resolutely philistine school, the idea of which was to turn the sons of Somerset farmers and Devon estate agents into Christian gentlemen. It was hell.
Delighted you have such a wide social circle
I must thank you for prolonging this thread,it made me look at a couple of the schools websites,I particularly enjoyed the sports section of Queens,lots of "the boys will learn a lot from this defeat"not enough it would seem as by the end of the Rugby season they actually didnt give a couple of results just "a heavy defeat" but its ok because it seems "they gave 110%" lets hope that poster doesnt double as a Maths teacher.

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 14:03:46

Any graduate with an ordinary sized social circle living in this area is very likely to know parents with DC at several of the major public schools, several of the minor independents and many at the local grammar and comps. One of the most unhappy people in my village is an Old Etonian who says his life was wrecked by the school. He's late middle aged. A friend's DS is a much more recent OE (early 20's) and was also very unhappy at the school. Then again I know a number of people who loved it. You can find an example of a person who's been unhappy at almost every school up and down the country, it's not of any note to generalise from one particular.

propatria Wed 29-May-13 14:53:54

I wasnt generalising,nothing I dislike more than the "boarding school survivor whingers", it was posted in a smiley face way ,lighten up.
Why do you feel the need to tell me where people you know send little johny and julia,its of no interest to me or I would guess anyone else but obviously its important to you,mind you why would you think telling anyone you are a graduate was important,most peculiar.

Yellowtip Wed 29-May-13 14:59:57

Then put in a smiley face since on his thread you sound sneery rather than smiley.

You made a silly comment about social circles. In the area I live, since it's not London, the fact of going to university simply means you're more likely to have a spread of friends geographically than if you didn't go. No more or less than that, not a big deal, just a fact.

propatria Wed 29-May-13 15:20:00

smile for the hard of understanding.

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