Queenswood vs Berkhamsted school

(16 Posts)
JohannahTS Sat 02-Mar-13 14:02:21

Ok, so I have twin 13 year old daughters (Kyla and Alexis). We moved over to London from Los Angeles last July and the twins went to Haberdashers Askes' Girls and Aly (7 years old) went to Pembridge Hall Prep School.

Both schools did fine, but Kyla and Alexis were finding it hard to adjust from Californian culture to British culture. So, after a long discussion, we agreed to send in application forms for a LARGE number of different schools (both day and boarding). As parents of twins know, having 2 is hard because there is pressure on them both to not let the other down (we wanted them both at the school for convenience issues considering we have another 2 children and 1 more on the way and we made sure to make this vey clear to them). Anyway, in the end they both ended up getting to evey single one of the show they applied to.

They applied to
-Seven Oaks
-Benenden
-Headington
-The Harrodian
-Queenswood
-Berkhamsted Girls
-Wycombe Abbey
-The Lady Eleanor Holles
St. Paul's Girls

We took them both to look around and spend a day in all of the schools and they made the decision together, and on their own, that Queenswood and Berkhamtrd Girls were their favourite.

My question is, does anyone have any experience of the two schools? From what I've heard, Berkhamsted is more of a town school and Queenswood is more of a campus. That is only what I've heard though. Both my husband and I like both schools and are open to them going to either.

What I would like to know is, what are they like on a normal working day? Sporty or not? Academic or not?

bulletpoint Sat 02-Mar-13 21:52:47

OP Why have you given your dd's names on an internet forum including their schools etc ? Your dc are easily identiiable by anyone living in herts. Far too much information.

The list of schools you've given are quite a variety. Am i right in saying you said your dc got into all of them ? I'm just struggling to see why someone who has applied to St Pauls, Wycombe Abbey, Lady Eleanor would also apply to berko and Queens ? Anyway, what do your dd's like, are they sporty, musical, very academic ??? It seems you're doing this all back to front confused sorry not very helpful.

slipshodsibyl Sat 02-Mar-13 22:48:14

What exactly was the problem with Haberdasher's and how do you think the schools you have selected will differ?

JohannahTS Sun 03-Mar-13 00:59:03

Bulletpoint, on this website I have been referring to all of my children by their middle names.

As for the variety of schools, both girls are incredibly sporty, both were in the A's for lacrosse and netball, both were also in the swim and tennis squads and obviously are still training and competing gymnastics, hence why the variety suited us.

The problem they had with Habs was that they didn't feel like they fitted in vey well, and I don't think that the fact they are twins was great either, nor was their hectic gymnastics training schedual. I noticed that when I would watch them play in school matches they would always stick together and the other girls assumed that they were happy to be left alone together.

I hear that the main grades for new pupils to join a school would be yr7, 9 and 12. Kyla and Alexis joined in yr8, so we thought maybe moving them on for yr9 would be a good start. They've both learned the way British schools differ from American ones and have both learned how to make friends here, so me and my husband and also the girls were hoping that they would have a chance to re-start fresh and put their knowledge to the test.

Back to the variety of schools, both girls are straight A students (so far) but both are also incredibly sporty so we applied for schools that had a reputation of being very sporty and a reputation of being academic in the hope that they would have time to decide if they were going to go for sporty, academic of a bit of both. Their final decision was that sport was the activity that made them happy and so we went for Queenswood (excel at Tennis and Hockey, also do some gymnastics events so the extra training ideas made them happy) and Berkhamsted (excel at Lacrosse and netball and are middlers in the academic world). I have a feeling that the girls both are leaning slightly towards Queenswood as when we looked around it, it did seem to have more of a campus feel and more of a family camp feel that Berkhamsted which was lovely with excellent facilities so if they did decide to go there then that would not be a problem for nor me or my husband however it did have more of the town school thing. I also liked that at Queenswood, it was very mixed race. All of my children have olive colored skin with browny/blacky hair and deep brown eyes as they are Hawaiian, so I was wondering if they might feel more accepted there?

fairylightsinthesnow Sun 03-Mar-13 17:17:32

OP, I work for a School - heads read these boards and they know your kids names. Best not to use them in any form. As to your question. Queenswood is generally less academic than Berko. I have colleagues that work in both and would say Berko is generally the more well thought of amongst those of us that work in the sector. Please don't let the Hawaiian thing sway you - schools take any kind of excluding behaviour based on that kind of thing as a racist incident and would deal with it very seriously (which is not to suggest there would be any in the first place). Are you intending the girls to board full time or weekly or not at all?

toolittletimetoomuchtodo Sun 03-Mar-13 18:27:07

Have you thought of Mill Hill? Academically the head is upping the anti, both full and weekly boarding and very hot on sports. I know they are very supportive if you are in an outside club/squad.

Some people will discount it vs Habs/NLCS but the top stream do very well/as good as the "top 10" schools, socially mixed and the school is very good pastorally. I have met loads of children and parents who went there and generally they all enthuse about their experience.

TwoBoiledEggs Sun 03-Mar-13 19:44:33

My DH is a headmaster of a public school. Definitely don't use any names, even middle ones, on here!
My tuppence worth would be by all means involve your children in the decision, although I would doubt whether that much choice is helpful. But you are the parents, YOU choose. I know so many many many families who went with the children's decisions and it went wrong. You are the parents. You know your children well and you love them. Pick what you think will suit them best and then talk that decision through with them giving your reasons and having a conversation about it.

MajesticWhine Sun 03-Mar-13 21:35:18

Just lost my entire post. I'll try again.
I have a DD at Queenswood and we are very happy with it. Yes, it's quite sporty. Particularly if you are an "A" team type of girl. If you are not into sport (my DD isn't) then there are lots of other activities on offer. Drama is quite strong. Academically, it is not the most academic school, so perhaps not suitable for real high flyers, but the quality of teaching is very good. The class sizes are small, and it is not the type of school where someone slips through the net. It is friendly and nurturing. It is also very culturally diverse, so you would have no problem with that. The only downside for us, is that it is such a long day. My DD doesn't board, but day girls stay until 6pm or later, so she is permanently exhausted.
Hope this helps. Happy to answer any questions you have. I don't know anything about Berkhamsted I'm afraid.

JohannahTS Sun 03-Mar-13 22:18:20

@MajesticWhine - would you mind if we found a way to talk a bit more thoroughly on your family's experience with Queenswood? I have a feeling we are slightly siding towards sending them there.

We are going to the open morning for a school tour next week so wi hopefully be able to get some answers for our questions and meet some of the kids and teachers there to get a more true feel for it rather than outside opinions.

The long day was one of the more major points that worried both me and my husband, and also the twins. They are used to a day starting at 9.30am and finishing between 3-3.30pm and then heading to the gym for a fairly relaxed 4 hour training sessio, and whilst that may seem like a full on day to some of you, it's really quite a calm one to us. The twins are very 'in-love' and passionate about gymnastics and their highlight of every day is getting to train with heir friends, practice their new routines, find out if they qualified for the team they wanted to etc..... so really, going to the gym for training sessions is nothing but fun for them, school is the only big activity during the day for them. If you cut out the gym sessions, your left with a very short school day compared to most schools. We have been very lucky so far with the fact that their previous schools in the US all started and finished at the same time and when we moved to the UK it was pretty much the same. Habs days don't actually end at 3-3.30 but to complete their required training times per week, pulling them out slightly early is the best option for us and has been working well. So, the long days would be very difficult for our girls. We would also have to find a way to fit their gymnastics schedule in with a school 45 mins away from us.

Do all day girls have to stay until 6pm every night or do some leave early for outside of school commitments?

MajesticWhine Mon 04-Mar-13 07:30:08

Yes some girls are allowed to leave earlier for other activities. I'm sure you will get to ask about how well that would work for you when you go to the open day. The school is quite flexible on these things, but as for finishing early every day, I'm not sure. The reason the day is so long is one hour of activities and one hour of study, so essentially they get their homework done at school. Please feel free to PM me if you want to have a chat.

wordfactory Mon 04-Mar-13 10:02:43

Queenswood is single sex. And most of the girls board, especially at the upper end of the school. All girls have to stay for prep whether they board or not. It is in the middle of nowhere and everything happens on site.

It is not at all selctive to get in, so does very well to get the end scores it does.

Berko, is single sex until sixth form when it goes co-ed with the boys school. It is slap bang in themiddle of town and very urban. The kids from both boys and girls are allowed out at lunch time etc from year 9 I believe.

It is a bit more selective than Q, but nothing like Habs.

It is a big school. It's a day school and finishes much eralier than Q.

Both are a lot more expensive than Habs and attract a far more monied crowd.Both are a lot less racially mixed than Habs, but I've never heard of any problems on that score.

Copthallresident Mon 04-Mar-13 12:18:17

You are based in North London and you are considering sending your twins to these Boarding Schools as day girls, and plan to collect them early each day in order for them to fit in a 4 hour session in the gym? shock Have you roadtested the routes to the schools at all times of day, my DDs attended one of these schools and we live 2.5 miles away and sometimes the journey took 45 mins! You are certainly not going to get a continuation of your calm life, and you have another on the way?

Regardless of the chaotic commute, even the day schools would be reluctant to agree to your taking your DD out before 4pm, but for Boarding Schools the long days incorporating extra curricular activities and prep are seen as part of the school's distinctive community life.

I know a lot of DCs who attend London day schools whilst seriously involved in spiorting activities such as rowing, gymnastics athletics skiing and Rugby and in some cases are competing at national level (that includes gymnastics) and whilst they might miss odd days around holiday times for training camps none of them persue a training schedule like this.

Do either of these schools have experience of supporting DCs who persue their sport at that level

I do know of a former national gymnast who had a miserable time at school because her involvement in the sport singled her out as different. Are you sure that this isn't at the root of your DDs experience at Habs? Being a twin can further complicate the social dynamics. Certainly DDs feel that their seriously sporty friends have missed out socially simply because they are not available for social activities as often.

I would say that something is definitely going to give in your plans, either the academic, the sporty or the social, or your sanity!

QueenOfToast Mon 04-Mar-13 13:41:58

OP, you have given away far too much information in these posts and I strongly suggest that you ask for them to be removed.

You have told us your daughters' middle names, their nationality, their school, the year group they're in, the year they started, the fact that they're twins and that they're heavily into gymnastics. This would make them easily identifiable to anyone who has a little bit of local knowledge.

I'm not sure if you've yet informed Habs that you're withdrawing your daughters but they may now be aware!

FWIW, I agree with other posters who have suggested that your daughters' intensive training schedule is the reason that they have not settled down well at their school. They need to be given more time to socialise and build friendship groups whether you decide to keep them where they are or move them somewhere new.

JohannahTS Mon 04-Mar-13 23:04:07

I do think that I mentioned in the statement at the beginning that we do own a house about 5 minutes from Berkhamsted that is currently being refurbished so travel is no issue for us. Depending on which school our girls go to, we will move to which ever house makes their lives easier.

As for their gymnastics, they actually are training a lot less than the other girls at their gym or even a typical elite gymnast. They are supposed to be trainig anywhere from 25-40 hours a week, they are currently doing an average of 24-25 so they are at the very lowest amount of time thy can possibly be spending in the gym if they want to keep up heir fitness and skills and train towards turning Junior international elite next year. They both pick how much they wish to train, they can choose when they want to quit, they pick out the competitions they compete in.

As for the theory that it was partly their training scheduals that was their reason for not enjoying or settling into Habs, I do agree for 50% of that. However, another girl in their year trained at the same gym as them for the same amount of time per day, and the 3 of them were always doing lift shares, having sleepovers on Fridays after practice, walking to the village shop together after practice so even though I agree that it must have been tough for them, the minute they wanted to stop or said they were too tired they would have been allowed to.

JohannahTS Mon 04-Mar-13 23:06:02

Sorry, forgot to add this in. Habs does already know that we are withdrawing them, they do not know however, if they are moving schools or being homeschooled (our last option if we feel that it may work out for the best for a year and then we can see where to go from there).

BlackMogul Fri 26-Apr-13 00:26:53

Homeschooled? Goodness me. What a mess. Just have a normal family life and allow your children to have one too. Plus a normal school life. Most independent schools make concessions for gifted athletes but all of this sounds insanely intense.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now