St Catherine's Bramley. 2013 entry(33 Posts)
My DD has been offered a place here and we all like the look of it.
As we are moving to the area from North London I would appreciate some comments regarding the school culture and the achievement and happiness of the girls who go there.
It seems to offer so much in terms of extracurricular activities and it looks like it offers a lot of opportunities for parents to get involved, which would be great for out-of-towners like us. I also like the idea of flexi-boarding for DD (and so does she). Its academics are great.
I'd welcome all general comments, and I particularly wonder the following:
Do the girls themselves feel they miss out being away from town? Are they nice to each other? Are the parents friendly and involved? Is staff morale high? And do the girls get to mix with boys regularly when older?
I have friends with girls at St Catherines, they are really lovely well rounded youngsters, not sure about how much involvement parents have, friends seem to spend a lot of time dropping off and picking up as public bus service can go a bit strange at times. I don't know about the mixing with boys, we're on the 'rural' side of Bramley rather than the Guildford side so the girls I know seem to be more into horses etc. Its about 15 minutes out of Guildford, public bus every half an hour, don't know if they organise trips etc. It doesn't have a reputation for a high turnover of teachers so presume they must like working there.
Thanks Labro we are going to accept the place. It seems a wonderful school, offers so much extracurricular, and we are so impressed with its ethos and pastoral care. It's the right fit for our family we feel.
Hi Schoolcircles: We have a daughter in Y7 at St Catherine's so please feel free to PM me if you'd like to know anything.
We're very happy with the school. Yes, some of the girls who attend the school come from wealthy Surrey families (aga, swimming pool, pony and holidays in St Lucia), but lots don't and, most importantly, the ethos of the school itself is very down-to-earth. I generally like the fact that it's out of town, as I think it encourages the girls to stick around for extra-curricular activities, but I am concerned about the lack of opportunity to meet boys. In Y8 we'll be giving DD1 a hard push towards the very active, well-attended and fun St Xavier's youth group (church in the centre of Guildford) where she can get to know pre-teens from all the local state and private schools.
what are the practicalities for a Y3 girl to use the coach? Apart from the concerns of a long day are there any other reasons that I shoud keep in mind?I am new to this mumsnet , trying to private message you but says"Site is offfline". Will try later.
I went to St Catherines - admittedly I left about 15 years ago. The staff were generally great, it's fairly academic and they're good on extracurricular activities (music, art, sport, swimming pool etc). However, I wasn't happy there socially at all, because there was a very bitchy culture amongst the girls, especially if you were academically successful. Lots of bullying and lots of anorexia. No idea if things have changed (although with 500 teenage girls cooped up together, I doubt it), but if I had a daughter, I'm afraid I wouldn't consider sending her there.
Pusspuss1 - you seem to have an agenda as you are commenting on quite old threads.
I also happen to know that St Catz has changed a lot since you were there. (And I don't have any connection to the school.)
Mummytime - could you tell me what had been changed about St Catz?
Well the most obvious thing is that about 9 years ago they stopped having "automatic" entry from the Prep school to the senior school.
Other things involve lots of changes of staff in 15 years (as well as new buildings).
Again, I am a very 'old' St Cats girl - left years and years ago and as others have said I am sure it has changed beyond recognition since I was there.
I was horribly bullied by both teachers and students and my parents told I was 'too stupid to educate' by the Head. I was moved at age 13 to another school where I thrived, had loads of friends, got all A-s in my GCSE's and have ended up with both a degree and a PhD from a very good Uni.
I am glad that the school has changed as other posters have said, as there were many unhappy girls there.
It is a good school with great results. My neighbours daughter goes there and she loves it. Wish I had sent my dd there.
New to Guildford area and torn between St. Cat's, Prior's Field & Tormead for DD. All insights/pearls of wisdom and staff, pupils, social environment, morale are most welcome!
Victoria - they are all good schools. Do you have a place at all 3? have you visited? Have you looked at extra-curricula activities etc.
I know happy girls at all three.
Thanks so much for your response. We have had a couple of visits to each, received all the marketing bumpf, listened to presentations (all very slick), etc. It's good to hear information that "gets under the glossy skin" of the organisation. Pleased to hear that you know of girls who are happy at each one. Thanks once again. Victoriaplum.
I know all 3 of the schools mentioned well- all 3 very good but very different once you know them well, so I hope I can be of help.
St Cats- The most academic of the 3 you mentioned. St Cats girls mix with Eton at socials and it is the most 'public boarding school' of the 3. Academics are brilliant, so if that is important to you, I would say definitely go for this option. Lots of redevelopment- I'm sure you sure the amazing new building. Your DD has to be keen to join in everything, there can be some very over powering types (but same can be said for all schools I guess). I know from a friend that there is a lot of staff unhappiness, staff are divided as to whether they like the way the school is run. Many leave very quickly, but there are lots of staff who have been there 20 years +. I think your DD has to be a conformist to go here, will do better if she is already confident, rather than become confident here ifyswim.
Priors Field- Lovely, very in-tune with teenage girls but still traditional. Amazing catering (DD was nearly sold on moving to priors field just on the food!), academics are much broader- girls still do well but there isn't the academic atmosphere like at St Cats and possibly Tormead. Really nurturing, if girls aren't confident they will probably be happier here. Smaller and so each girl becomes really well known. Brilliant head who really knows the girls. Lots of great staff and 'extras' like clubs, booster sessions, events. Less impressive grounds (but new building I've heard). Best for if your DD will thrive being near the top of the year group without a pressuring atmosphere.
Tormead- town location unlike the other two. Girls do lots with RGS boys and once older can walk into town so a lot more independence and better transport links! New head a few years ago who has started a renovation project. Academics-wise it is between St Cats and Priors Field. Probably suits a girl who would have suited GHS but doesn't want the intense academic atmosphere. Great school, great results. I have heard moans that the new head is much stricter, but I think that was needed! Hopefully someone who knows more about TOrmead will come along as I only know it via reputation.
Very interested to see this thread as we have just moved to the Guildford area from SW London and are going to look at St Catherine's.
What is the prep school like? What does the admission morning test involve - does anyone know what it involves, beyond what's on the website?
Also, has anyone heard what the A levels results are like yet for 2013? A lot of the schools in SW London seem to have them up online already. Just curious as obviously our daughter is years away from her A Levels!
As I've just left st catherines I thought I would give some good advice to any parents thinking about sending their daughters here.
I felt like I was bullied by some girls and some teachers. At points I had no support at all and there is no pastoral care AT ALL. I hated it there and I know I was not the only one. I think your daughter would be happier elsewhere.
Could you say what you think the school could have done differently to make the pastoral care better?
I am not commenting on this school specifically, but I am very aware that some parents gush about the pastoral care their children receive at a school and others wonder if their children are going to the same school! I have come to the conclusion that many schools give great pastoral care to the easy to deal with children. They only need a little chat from time to time and don't really cause anyone to think about what their needs are. They are assumed not to have any. The challenging children who need a lot of support are usually encouraged to leave or are punished repeatedly.They achieve a reputation in school and definitely do not receive pastoral care as most of us would understand it.
The other big failing I have noticed is that when a normally well adjusted, sensible, hard working and straightforward child has a problem, the staff barely notice. Or if it is a girl, they put it down to hormones and do nothing! There are also a few children who are doted on by the staff because they are premier children belonging to premier families. We all know who they are and their time at school is a magic carpet ride where every minor issue is sorted for them and they are Teflon coated. The rest of us bob along supporting our own children as best we can. You will soon know what group you fall into!
I have a dd in one of these schools and to be honest the pastoral care is excellent as is the food. DD says could do with more East Asian cusine though. They do have a difficult girl and the girls are asked to help her. So to say the school will just ignore the difficult child is not true. I also think its good. The girls get to learn social skills to deal with difficult people.
TBH DD likes her school which I think is more important than anything else. She is not the teachers pet as she is to lazy to try out for the teams..
MillyMolly I have to say though, it can also work the other way.
my DC1 was fairly happy, doing well, good friendships etc etc and never really needed any pastoral care beyond the odd chat about how he was and a friendly supporter. I'd say the pastoral care was average at his school - probably because I never experienced it 'at its best' in times of great need.
DC1 however was 16 when things were really difficult for our family and she needed a lot of support. She started outing out her difficulties adjusting in her effort and behaviour. We experienced above and beyond pastoral care which we cannot fault and were continually amazed by. I wonder what our experiences at this school would be if DC was distinctly average and less 'needy'.
Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.
I have had 2 daughters through St Cat's and all I can say is that I do not recognise what has been said in a very negative way about the pastoral care. My daughters had their issues - most girls do- but at all times I felt the staff really knew both girls individually and went the extra mile to ensure they were happy at school. Grumblings were nipped quickly and efficiently in the bud before they got out of hand. Kindness was something which was encouraged A LOT.
St Cat's is a very friendly environment. Neither daughter was EVER bullied nor did they see bullying which may seem unbelievable in this day and age but is true. Both girls were happy and appreciated they were cared for and in a great environment in which to learn and have fun. I met lots of their friends, none of whom were obese or anorexic (although I am sure every school in the land, including St Cat's does have such pupils).
Neither of my daughters excelled in anything i.e. bright but not precociously so, being general all-rounders, but whatever their interests, they received lots of support and encouragement. I am convinced they achieved better results at St Cat's than had they gone to our local co-ed school (both girls admit I am right!) and they had a happy time too.
We are not a 'premier family' (whatever that may be) ; I always felt valued as did my daughters. Both my husband and I worked to pay school (and now uni ) fees. We found the other parents to be friendly, well-mannered and grounded- basically like their daughters!
If we had our time over again, we would not hesitate to send our daughters to St Cat's.
I've come back to this thread as I was one of the posters who replied to Schoolcircles' original post at the beginning of 2013.
Informed3: I'm so sorry you have had such a bad experience. It sounds as if you and your daughter have had a very tough time and I'm glad she's happier now.
I appreciate that at any school parents and children can have very different experiences and outcomes, so I can only speak from my own experience of St Catherine's and that of a few close friends who have their daughters there. Admittedly we haven't pushed St Cats' pastoral care to the edge - yet - but where we and our friends have had issues, the pastoral care has been excellent. I've raised concerns about both DDs recently; one important, one less so. Form tutors and the house mistress listened to my concerns, took them seriously, agreed and implemented a plan and followed up with me. I didn't involve the Head - I didn't need to - but when I next bumped into her she clearly knew about the more serious issue and the plan to address it.
The buildings seem fine and some of the facilities are astounding. I can't comment directly on the food as I've never eaten it. DD2 likes it. DD1 is unimpressed by it, but she's a teenager and resolutely unimpressed by most things, including my cooking!
We too are sadly not a 'premier family' - D Team all the way - but we have been treated as one.
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