St Catherine's Bramley. 2013 entry

(23 Posts)
Informed3 Fri 29-Aug-14 17:57:31

Having just pulled my daughter from St Catherine's, i can honestly tell you I would never send any of my children there again. The school needs to get their act together. There is a horrible amount of bullying of which the school do not deal with in the right way. I could name many girls who have had to leave because the bullies have not been dealt with in the correct way, yet surely this should be the other way round, with the bullies leaving, not the victims.

The school is also falling apart- many of the old buildings, the school blood in particular is in extremely bad standards as well as the lunch hall area. The middle school boarding facilities are so awful that my daughter and her friends could not have been payed to even stay there one night.

My daughter was happy for the first 3 years, she found a nice group of friends and there was the classic small fights that you would expect at any all girls school. The teaching was ok and she was doing ok at school. My daughters friendship group expanded and she flipped between friends as she began to find out who she wanted to be. However, as the years went on my daughter became more and more unhappy. The level of anorexia and bulimia as well as self harming at St Catherine's is unbelievable. When you look around the school you may see a happy group of girls, this is not the real. My daughter had too many friends stop eating and become anorexic. Not only were the girls clearly unhappy, but because there was so many unhappy girls, the unhappiness began to spread- my daughter and a large group of her year soon too began to feel the effect.

St Catherine's has such a bad pastoral care system. Perhaps if the girls knew that there was somewhere they could go at any time, any day of the week the amount of self harmers, bulimics and anorexics wouldn't be so high. The school fail to understand this. The food that is supplied, which is beginning to change doesn't help. Many of the boarders are either anorexic or obese because they struggle to maintain a well balanced diet with the food that is provided. If you went into the school and asked any girl what they don't like about it, 99% would tell you the food. Its simply appalling.

Although i know this sounds very negative overall, my daughter did have a great first 3 years, but it got progressively worse to a point that i was so scared that my daughter wouldn't be able to cope, like some other girls. We've moved her into a co-ed school and she is so much more happy, i finally see my daughter happy again and with a smile on her face. I agree with panther300, I'm 100% sure your daughter would be happier else where.

bambino37 Sat 21-Jun-14 11:41:26

sounds ok Even if rich in general

RolloRollo Fri 20-Jun-14 21:46:22

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'.

Kenlee Fri 20-Jun-14 15:15:58

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..

MillyMollyMama Thu 19-Jun-14 09:53:40

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!

shank2 Thu 19-Jun-14 08:10:07

Could you say what you think the school could have done differently to make the pastoral care better?

panther300 Sun 15-Jun-14 15:15:10

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.

WhatWouldCaitlinDo Thu 15-Aug-13 16:44:19

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! wink

Happymum22 Fri 12-Jul-13 20:08:37


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.

victoriaplum123 Wed 10-Jul-13 08:12:38

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.

mummytime Tue 09-Jul-13 13:28:20

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.

victoriaplum123 Tue 09-Jul-13 10:38:16

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!

jensun Sat 11-May-13 17:15:23

It is a good school with great results. My neighbours daughter goes there and she loves it. Wish I had sent my dd there.

TreeLuLa Fri 10-May-13 06:55:26

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.

mummytime Fri 10-May-13 06:49:45

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).

chukamchun Fri 10-May-13 00:18:02

Mummytime - could you tell me what had been changed about St Catz?

mummytime Thu 09-May-13 22:50:24

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.)

Pusspuss1 Wed 08-May-13 17:09:00

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.

nutterbox Thu 25-Apr-13 21:38:24

HI Issy
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.

Issy Mon 28-Jan-13 11:34:00

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.

Schoolcircles Sun 27-Jan-13 15:58:30

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.

Labro Fri 25-Jan-13 20:05:29

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.

Schoolcircles Thu 24-Jan-13 16:45:29

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?


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