St. Catherines vs Guildford High vs Tormead

(31 Posts)
Schoolcircles Wed 23-Jan-13 17:30:14

I would really appreciate some more views on these schools.

We are moving to the area from N London and DD has so far been offered a place at St Cats and Tormead and we are waiting to hear re GHS.

DD didn't really like Tormead after the exam day -but I realize we haven't given it much of a chance and welcome any positive views.

My preference (and DDs) is currently for St Catherines - because of the flexi boarding option in DD's opinion, and for me because it seems to allow girls to participate in a lot more activities than GHS, even if they aren't brilliant at them all.

I have formed the (possibly incorrect) opinion that GHS tends to be VERY academically focused and has less time for other interests. My daughter is strong academically, but wants to do drama and sports etc to gain self-confidence outside academics. Looking on their website, GHS only seems to offer lunchtime clubs in most activities and nothing much after school (except for squad sports, and DD is not a shining star at sports but wants to play them anyway). Lunchtime only activities concern me, as I'd actually like DD to take some healthy downtime at lunch and chat with her friends rather than feeling the need to cram in an extra-curricular every day between lessons - whereas an extracurricular after school would be fine.

On the other hand GHS is obviously an outstanding school, doing most things right, more down to earth than St Cats and closer to town ..... And I've heard some rumblings about issues with stress at St Cats - but surely stress gets the better of a minority at all high achieving schools? I am more interested with how well each school deals with stress on its students. I've also heard St Cats is a lot posher. We are not particularly posh but I've never been put off by that. People are people. Just as long as DD doesn't get teased for not being wealthy.

GHS has regular socials with RGS, a great school. St Cats doesn't seem to be paired with any boys schools (is it just 1 social with Eton?). This may be a concern when DD gets older and wants to meet boys.

So, as you can see I am going round and round in circles! IF DD does get offered a place at GHS, the first choice for many, --- would I be silly to turn it down in favor of St Cats? Or will going to GHS mean that DD won't get to practice and learn something new because they will encourage her to play to her (already over-developed at her current school) strengths.

DD is a bright and a gentle soul who is currently in a very supportive group of friends, none of whom are going to any of these schools. She gets on best with bright, sensitive girls and is not keen on "girly girls" or boy bands or the latest fashions etc. (yet!) I am looking for a school that will give her the chance to meet some like minded girls, learn to get on with different personalities, and where she can also improve in drama and learn some new sports without feeling like she's bad at them before she's even begun. But also, of course, a school that stretches her academically and gets excellent grades.

No school is the whole package I know, and these 3 schools are all extremely good. DD is lucky to have such great schools as an option. I would appreciate more insight into each of the schools cultures so I can find the best fit for us. Thanks! smile

123mel Wed 30-Apr-14 10:53:40

Don't discount Tormead! The girls are amazingly grounded, well-balanced and successful in such a variety of careers with a huge emphasis on a truly rounded education rather than a narrow focus. The parents are refreshingly normal (and able to spell definitely) and we were delighted in retrospect to have declined places at GHS and St Catherine's! Playing hockey, fantastic gymnastics coaching were also attractions, along with participating in World Challenge, 6th form general studies with RGS and an emphasis on work experience in preparation for adult life. Lovely school

Pusspuss1 Wed 08-May-13 17:27:39

I was at St Catherines, although I left about 15 years ago. There are a lot of good things about it, and I certainly got a good education, but I'm afraid I wouldn't choose to send any daughter of mine there.

The staff were generally lovely, the facilities are good and it's academic without being a complete hothouse. However, I found that there was a very bitchy culture amongst the girls, with a lot of bullying and anorexia. Although the school talked a good game, there was next to no contact with the opposite sex in reality, which I'm not sure is healthy - there are boys in real life, and you have to learn how to deal with them sometime!

As regards university entrance and careers, looking back I would say that although most of my contemporaries went on to university, careerwise, most of them haven't ended up with particularly great jobs. A few of the most academic girls became doctors, lawyers etc, but most of them didn't end up maximising their earning potential, which is a shame. (I don't mean that to sound mercenary, but I think being able to earn a decent living is a very useful life skill, to help you cope with whatever life decides to throw at you.)

Guilford High is meant to be very academic, and they get great exam results. If I had a bright daughter, I'd probably try and get her in there.

greyvix Sat 30-Mar-13 00:03:54

All the schools you mention are excellent. Go with your instinct.

Dededum Fri 29-Mar-13 13:40:20

I know several mums with daughters at St Cat's - all happy itch school.

springrain Wed 27-Mar-13 22:27:18

Schoolcircles. Well done to your DD and please ignore post above. I don't know school personally but know parents with happy DDs there.

chimaera1 Wed 27-Mar-13 16:14:18

My DD has friends who are currently at St Cats. I am so pleased we decided to send our DD to another Guildford school. If you want a school that will try to crush your daughter and then turn her into a St Cats girl then this is the one for you, if not then look around.

esherry Fri 15-Feb-13 20:33:19

Schoolcircles - really well done to your DD for getting into St Catz - GHS and it are quite different school - both equally lovely from what I hear - so if your GUT tells you that your DD would thrive in one over the other it will ALWAYS be the right decision.

SERENDIPITY at its best.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Mon 11-Feb-13 18:51:27

I do agree with you carrots, completely.

It seems to me that the most important thing is that the child is happy and that the parents have full confidence in the school. That seems to be the case here, great news op!

BeckAndCall Mon 11-Feb-13 18:49:15

Couldn't agree with you more, carrots

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Mon 11-Feb-13 18:43:23

Oh didn't realise that, Beck. Yes, I know its a very good school and know several people very happy with it.

Though I stand by my point that it will not be the best school for every DC so OP is wise to go with her gut feeling of what will suit her DD best.

BeckAndCall Mon 11-Feb-13 07:18:30

I'm glad this turned out well for your DD, OP. I'm sure she will be delighted with st Catz.

(carrots 'the best school in the country'' title comes from the Sunday Times - and it's actually, 'independent school of the year' rather than 'best' - and it's based on their mix of factors not just academic results)

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Sat 09-Feb-13 18:49:55

School - the "best school in Britain" does not really exist - each child is different and there is no universal "best" school. Sure, there are the schools which are top of the league tables, but those results are gained by the individual DCs attending the school, not by the school itself. GHS is very selective and has a lot of very able applicants, so they are able to offer places to the most academically able. Not surprisingly, this able intake get good exam results. However, would this environment be best for your particular DD?

Your DC will be going to the school that you felt from the start was the best fit for your DD and your family. Congratulations, I am sure she will be very happy and will thrive there. smile

Schoolcircles Sat 09-Feb-13 17:59:42

Thanks to everyone for the advice. It's been great to hear positive comments on all three schools. Unfortunately, DD didn't get into GHS - - -which was a surprise to us TBH - - - but sometimes that's just the way things roll. We are so proud of DD for getting into the other two schools anyway, where she did very well in the assessments. The real positive is that this has automatically solved our dilemma! Both DH, DD and myself preferred St Cats because of the boarding option and the after school extra-curricular programme, but we were agonising over potentially turning down the "best school in Britain". (I believe it was that title in particular that was causing us so much angst - how could we throw away an opportunity like that?) Now we don't have that option, we are very happy to go with (what was always) the best fit for our family and our family circumstances, and I'm certain DD will thrive at St Cats. Esherry, your daughter did a great job getting into GHS and its a real shame our DDs won't be going to the same school - I wish you and yours happy times at GHS. I think the upshot is, as Jiddle says, that all three are excellent schools. smile

esherry Mon 28-Jan-13 12:14:25

Schoolcircles - let me know if your DD gets in. My 7 yr old has just been offered and will be going there in Sept from a state school. She will know nobody so if your daughter gets in and you want the children to meet up before hand just let me know.

esherry Mon 28-Jan-13 09:37:49

Hi, does anyone know how many places there are on offer in GHS going into year 3? Thanks

Sticklebug Sun 27-Jan-13 15:52:01

How did she get on with GHS exam? A friend of mines daughter got her letter yesterday. She did not get in - apparently it was one of the strongest admissions they have had.

alison985189 Sun 27-Jan-13 12:11:17

Hi Chiswicklu,
Why was your message deleted?

ChiswickLu Fri 25-Jan-13 21:07:53

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

Issy Fri 25-Jan-13 17:35:46

I have a daughter in Y7 at St Catz and a good handful or so of GHS ex-6th formers have worked for me as summer nannies over the last couple of summers (they've all been lovely!), so I'm very happy to share my experiences via a personal message.

Two general thoughts: GHS, quite rightly, places a big emphasis on academic achievement, and I have heard from ex-6th formers that GHS can be a dispiriting experience if you're in the bottom quartile academically; even if that still puts you in the top few % nationally. We were told by DD's school that she would probably pass the exam, but could end up in that bottom quartile, so we didn't put her in for GHS. If that is a concern, it's not unusual to ask your school to ask GHS where your daughter was placed in that year's entrance exam cohort.

Second, I'm not sure it's quite accurate about the St Catz leavers not getting their grades and so not going on to university. I'm sure that it happens to a few girls (I even have first hand experience of it happening this summer and last summer to a GHS girl!), but given that 73% of St Catz 2012 A levels were at an A or A* and 92% an A*/A or B, I don't think it can be a very common experience.

alison985189 Fri 25-Jan-13 13:16:00

I'd be really interested to know what you decided if you didn't mind sharing. I might be in the same predicament next year!

alison985189 Thu 24-Jan-13 21:35:21

Schoolcircles - plus in St Catherine's into the search box. There are quite a few thread about the school already albeit they are a year old or so.

Jiddle Thu 24-Jan-13 17:08:20

I think they are all good schools OP. Entering at age 11 will mean your DD will join with lots of others so should make friends easily and no doubt would enjoy her time at any of those 3 - lucky girl! I don't know so much about St Cat's but have friends with DDs at GHS and they rave about it. Likewise Tormead is increasingly popular and not just as a fallback for GHS.

Schoolcircles Thu 24-Jan-13 16:57:50

Thanks for all your comments. I'm pretty convinced GHS is an outstanding school. Does it involve the parents much? It's pretty much between GHS (fingers still crossed) and St Cats. I've opened a separate post regarding the latter to see if I can get any more information.

Schoolcircles Thu 24-Jan-13 13:10:49

DD will be going into Year 7 Jiddle.

BeckAndCall Thu 24-Jan-13 11:07:44

It's mostly all been said but I too always reply on a GHS thread!

You are concerned that there are not enough opportunities for activities at GHS - don't be. Activity overload is far more likely!

If your DD is joining at year 7, which I think she is, in the week before term begins she'll have a netball course and in the first half term she'll have a lacrosse course to get her started. And they have loads of teams so lots of girls get to play, not just the firsts and seconds.

Many activities are at lunchtimes rather than after school, that's true, but there is plenty before school too (who else loves 7.30 cross country?!). My DD does something every lunchtime but that still gives her chance to talk to friends - and they're all doing different things, at different times.

The music and sports departments are really important at the school and seem like an equal voice in determining the girls timetables - neithe take second place to the academic programme. And drama is really important too and some really good quality shows are put on - this term will be guys and dolls jointly with the boys school, for example.

The one thing that put me off st cats is the getting home - the coaches don't leave until after prep, so they get back really late ( although if you pick up its probably different). But my DD has delightful and happy friends from all three schools, so I'm sure much is personal preference and how you 'feel' about the schools.

( but why would you turn down a place at the Sunday times school of the year!)

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