East Sussex Private schools...

(12 Posts)
golfwidower Tue 22-Jan-13 14:03:33

As a parent of children who were pupils at Vinehall and others who still are there, I feel I must sing their praises. I am not sure where you heard they were closing classes, but the school is thriving and by such a large margin is the best around.

Academically, Vinehall is streets ahead of Battle Abbey, Claremont (who drive everyone to distraction with their saturation of ghastly car-salesman style adverts), and Buckswood. As a parent I know the pupils from Vinehall go to a huge number of different senior schools, probably more than any other prep in the East Sussex / Kent area. In my elder child's year pupils went to Tonbridge, Eastbourne, King's Canterbury, Eton, Benenden, Winchester, Battle Abbey Senior, Lancing, St Leonard's Mayfield and Cranbrook to name a few. I guess it is all about receiving the right advice for each child to find a school where they will be happy and successful. Vinehall just seems to get this right, as there is no pressure from the staff for them to go to any one senior school. Unlike some others, especially Claremont where I am aware from other parents there is huge pressure to go on to their senior school.

Facilities are possibly too good - they simply have everything any child could ever need, but this is perhaps also a strength of the school as it allows every child, however different they may be, to excel at something in their time there.

As for particular non-academic strengths, sport - yes, music - absolutely, drama is fabulous and art is on the up.

So what are the downsides? Well, possibly the fees could be lower, but I do believe you get what you pay for, and as parents we have got so much from them I would gladly (almost) pay it again.

I realise I now sound like I must work there! Sometimes when you have something so good, you need to tell others!

My advice would be to go and have a look round. That is what we did first, and having looked at one or two others, we would never choose another prep school.

HorsePiss Thu 13-Dec-12 19:46:24
Mutteroo Tue 11-Dec-12 23:05:11

Bedes has always been called Bedes by the pupils. Think the name change is an idea by new PR team to reinvigorate the school. Most non Bede parents think its for kids who can't get in elsewhere and to be fair it used to be. Nowadays it's a much more academic though not on par yet with other selective schools. It's pricier than the other schools mentioned but bursaries are available. Fantastic LS department and the facilities are outstanding.

Buckswood has a very high proportion of overseas pupils, Battle Abbey is a small but perfectly formed school. Clarmont is expanding so there's bound to be lots of advertising. I wouldn't write it off and if we lived nearer we may have picked the prep for our DC. Wouldn't touch Newlands in Seaford with a barge pole. Eastbourne College much more of a traditional public school. DS had friends there but none particularly liked it! You then have Brighton College which is pretty spectacular. Still East Sussex, however may be too far away if you're talking about Battle etc.

CowsGoMoo Sat 08-Dec-12 00:55:14

Hi both my 2 children attend Claremont. My ds is in the senior school now and my dd is in year 4. I think it is a wonderful school and has really brought on both of my children. The school day starts at 8.30 and runs till 4.30 at the prep school (which is only up to 13) then there is prep till 6 which is a free extra. There are some amazing clubs running after school such as mountain biking, dress making, art, glee club, musical theatre, music theory, brownies, kick boxing, golf, swimming, singing, music lessons etc. Clubs and extras are not mandatory except on a Friday when formal lessons finish at 3.30 and children join a club. Indoor and outdoor games are free and other clubs are chargeable.
The Senior school (from year 9 upwards) is based in Bodiam and my son gets the free link bus from the prep school every morning and evening. The school day at the senior school starts at 8.30 and finishes at 5.30. My son is so happy there and is positively thriving . They do lots of co curricular clubs there, which focus on service to the community, action (such as sports - my son has been doing water polo this term) and being creative. They also have academic access where the teachers are available to discuss work etc. They do lots of trips out to the theatre in London (seen War horse this term) he's done rugby training with the Saracens in Twickenham. And will hopefully be off to Spain for a weeks Spanish residential and to the schools French property in St. Omer to practice his French.
There is continuity from the prep school to the senior as a lot of the senior school teachers, teach years 7 and 8 in the prep school. Both the prep and the senior school were rated as Outstanding in all areas by Ofsted this year. Quite a few years now , such as my daughters year are full and there is a waiting list in place for places.

As for the other schools you mention. Vinehall is only a prep and goes up to 13. I have friends whose children attend there and they are not aware of Vinehall closing classes or being in difficulty.

Battle Abbey is a very small school. It is very top heavy with a huge 6th form and quite small classes further down. Being boarding it has a huge range of nationalities attending there with the 6th form being dominated by Chinese speaking students. The premises are small and restrictive and they have recently had to rent premises above some shops in Battle high street to be used as classrooms. However their results are impressive though they do make them slog on the run up to exams by attending lessons on saturdays. Their results are better than Claverham, the local state school which is rated as outstanding by Ofsted. If you are Catholic, St Richards Catholic College in Bexhill is state and gives amazing results, better than Claverham and Battle Abbey. Other than those 2 I would avoid the other states in the area. We have a particularly poor offering down here.

Buckswood is a very quirky school and I know of people that have children there now and have had children there who have either performed brilliantly at GCSE or abysmally. I also know an ex member of staff from there. Ive heard very mixed reviews and their SEN provision is non existent. One friend of mine described it as being like marmite you either love it or hate it! I know there are a very large number of foreign students who attend there and Im not sure how you would compare their results against national averages as on paper they do appear to be very poor.

There are of course other senior schools going over towards Eastbourne such as Eastbourne College, Bedes (formerly called St. Bedes - dont know why the St has been dropped!) and Moira House (girls school).

To be truthful, the only way you'll know which is the right school for your dd is for you to visit them all and perhaps get a taster day for your dd to sample what its like. Prospectuses are great but are not as good as a visit. Even better to not visit on an open day as well but to really see the school in proper working action is to arrange to visit on a normal day. Good luck smile


Pyrrah Fri 07-Dec-12 12:56:01

Btw, I believe the results are better at Claverham than they are at Battle Abbey these days.

HorsePiss Wed 05-Dec-12 13:13:55

My DC are at Buckswood, and they love it. We have never looked back, and I will be very sad when they leave. Thriving academically, loads of trips abroad and sports opportunities in abundance. It is an awful lot bigger than the main school house you see from the road. Their results IMO are great considering many sutdents are doing their exams in a subject which is not their native language. So if you looked at the results of the English as a first language, you would see they are just as good as elsewhere. Agree it can get expensive with the extras as it all looks so exciting, they want to have a go at everything!

Jinsei Tue 27-Nov-12 22:53:14

I used to have some professional involvement with schools in this area, and also know a few people who have taught at buckswood. The facilities are great, and it's very diverse, but it really isn't that academic tbh. Not sure about the others - they seemed much of a muchness to me. Claremont often struck me as being very "commercial".

Is private really the best option anyway? I wouldn't make that assumption if I were you, as you might find some of the state schools cater at least as well to your dc's needs. The state secondaries aren't great in that part of the world I know, but I have heard some good stuff about claverham in battle. My knowledge may now be a bit out of date though. smile

mousetours Tue 27-Nov-12 22:43:55

No book deposit at Claremont. Extras are clubs and extra music lessons none of which are compulsory! Friday afternoon is clubs there is one free club and the others range from £30 to £180 per term. There is a yearly trip to France for 2 nights which is about £180. Then there are the regular school trips which vary in price depending on where they are going!
Lunch is included. Children can stay and do their prep till 6 for no extra cost.

Children can transfer from the Prep school at 13 to the senior school. There is a free bus from the prep school. Some teachers from the prep school teach at the senior school so there is continuity there.

Sussexlousie Tue 27-Nov-12 21:18:13

Thanks for those, I've requested brochures, spoken to some re costs etc and will arrange tours soon. Claremont and Vinehall are similar as they are both only go up to 13 at their main sites so that would inlvolve a move, which I'm not sure about. Buckswood looks amazing and I like the international aspect of the education - 17 languages, wow. Does anyone know about extra costs at Vinehall or Claremont? Buckswood have a book deposit of £100 that covers all books and each child gets a Kindle, clubs and extras seem to be extra everywhere - advice please...

Pyrrah Tue 27-Nov-12 16:14:35

I know a fair amount about these... since either I or one of my siblings went to all but one of them! That was some time ago, but I tend to keep up with what is going on through family in the area, begging letters etc

Vinehall has amazing facilities. It is very high pressured and academic. I hadn't heard it was struggling - would be surprised. It helps if you are sporty.

Battle Abbey - is not particularly academic. Lovely buildings and Battle is a nice town.

Buckswood - I've heard it's big on pastoral care, but not one for a very academic child.

Claremont - reputation is great at the moment. I can't remember a time when it didn't advertise everywhere to be honest.

Claremont would probably be my personal pick unless I was aiming for a super-selective at 13 in which case Vinehall.

mousetours Sat 24-Nov-12 07:14:22

I have 2 children at Claremont one in Y6 and one in the nursery. I have been really happy with it. As far as I know they are not struggling but I would agree there have been a lot of adverts recently! With regard to scholarships the scholarship days were last week for - not sure what the process is for applying outside these times. There were lots of children in on these days.
From your list Vinehall only goes up to 13 whereas Buckswood is only secondary. We have looked at other secondary for my eldest but it is very likely she will stay on to Claremont Senior as I lot the feel of the place and the opportunities that they have.
If you have any questions I would be happy to answer them.

Sussexlousie Thu 22-Nov-12 10:33:21

Hello, this is my first posting, so apologies for not knowing the jargon, but bear with... My DD is in year 5 in and excellent local state primary. He is very bright and past the point at which I can help him with maths and literacy. His teacher says he would pass the 11+, but we don't like the idea of a highly pressurised exam factory environment on offer at the grammar schools. So, our next option is scholarships? We intend to go and visit Battle Abbey, Buckswood, Claremont and Vinehall. Acamdeically they all seem on a parr with each other, but I have heard that Vinehall is struggling and closing down classes and Claremont seem a little desperate with adverts everywhere, but that's only a first impression. Any advice would be great....

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