Roundwood School v fee paying.. Possibly Berkhamsted

(12 Posts)
moremonkeys Sun 20-Apr-14 09:37:10

Hi mums
I'm not a usual poster so pls bear with it get this wrong!

I've a y5 boy who is academically ok but bottom of top sets rather than top. We've been considering various school options and worry that he might do ok.. but might drift and not perhaps achieve his potential if seen as an average kid in a large state school.. Even a good one (out local is Roundwood). We've local mum friends who have expressed doubts as to whether their non academic sons might have done better in smaller school than Roundwood. I think bright motivated children do well in any school (I did well at a rough old comp) but my son isn't motivated to learn at the moment anyway so I'm struggling to know where might be best for him.

We are also interested in sport, music (he loves both) and pastoral care..

We've considered private schools but ruled out St. Albans boys as probably too competitive/academic. Friends have suggested Berkhamsted School (private) and we have a younger daughter who could go to linked school - but I am really concerned about the commute (long bus journey) and the impact of his social life.

Just wondered if anyone had any experience or had made similar choices regarding bright but not super bright kids and has experience of Roundwood/Berkhamsted or has other suggestions. We recognise he may not get academic brilliance - but we want him to get as good an experience and quals as is right for him.. With good teachers and a positive environment plus extra curricula clubs.

A friend suggested St Columbas but the reviews I read were not highly positive.

I know there is little point considering other Harpenden state schools as we won't get them and I think RW is comparable in any event.

ChurchStretton Mon 21-Apr-14 15:41:12

I lived in Harpenden for many years and I went to St Albans School. I would imagine that a "bottom of top set" child would find SAS rather overwhelming so I agree with your views.

St Georges in Harpenden used to be over-subscribed but worth checking perhaps.

A long trip too and from school for 7 years can take a good chunk out of the young person's life and I would avoid it if you can.

moremonkeys Tue 22-Apr-14 13:15:56

Thanks for taking the time to reply :-)
Did you find your social life was messed up by having a school in a different town?
I'm trying to decide if thus might be an issue?
I think St G is a good school too but it has the faith side which we couldn't satisfy.
Thanks

MillyMollyMama Tue 22-Apr-14 14:39:14

This is a long way to travel for a junior child. Could he not go to a prep school at 11 and look at Haileybury at 13? There are some very good prep schools nearer to home. Also, size of school is not the be all and end all. Larger schools usually have better sport, drama, music and more going on. Small is not always the best idea for sporty boys. Your friends have no idea that small would have been better unless they have directly comparable data on achievement and progress. They may just want an environment where they can speak to teachers on a daily basis.

moremonkeys Tue 22-Apr-14 21:14:52

Thanks MillyMollyMama
I'm going to look at both schools. The pte school I'm told is a bus ride away so school day is 7.15 am at bus stop and 4.15 back in Harpenden - but having had an extended lunch hour with sports etc. I think this is less than ideal and certainly not what I had in mind when moved .. But open to it if truly will be best move. V diff to know.

I will look at school size too. I had on my mind smaller classes but realise I also worried about it being a very large school.

I appreciate your comments and it's certainly not something I'd thought about. It would mean 2 further school changes thou.. Which worries me..
Thanks x

ZeroSomeGameThingy Tue 22-Apr-14 22:04:50

I don't know your local area but I also think a prep school might be exactly what you're looking for. If he's inclined to drift or has become a little complacent the change of school could galvanize him. It also gives him until the end of year 8 to really discover his academic and other talents, hopefully in a very nurturing environment - and it would be the prep's job to suggest the most suitable senior schools.

How soon were you thinking of moving him? It's not impossible that you might find a late place for year 6, but you could plan for year 7. (Though I wouldn't advise a yr7 move to a very competitive class - he would need yr6 to get up to speed.)

Two changes of school between yr5 and year 9 is not at all uncommon.

The main question is whether your DS would be willing to move. Is he excited by new challenges? Does he think he's coasting? And is there a viable prep option?

nailslikeknives Tue 22-Apr-14 22:14:47

Professionally, I know the head of Roundwood secondary. He is excellent. If my kids were old enough and we were in catchment, they'd definitely attend.

nailslikeknives Tue 22-Apr-14 22:25:24

If you're considering Roundwood primary beforehand, they have a very good y5/6 team. Although if you're looking for smaller class sizes, state schools as popular as rw will always be pretty much full.

Au79 Wed 23-Apr-14 09:31:46

In your case I would choose Roundwood. My dd is superbright IQ wise (geek) and it hasn't been perfect for her-because it IS aimed at the academic end of average. Also I think it is better for boys. You get lots of feedback about what they are achieving or need to work on and it is well disciplined. They are not set for English even in year 9 so the bright ones pull along the slower ones-rubbish for the best sometimes but great for the rest. Lower sets in maths get better teachers. The sports is brilliant, lovely new gym, and peer popularity based on sports according to dd. Drama art tech geography PE maths are very good, and the newish inter house stuff is great.

Most parents seem to quietly tutor for GCSE if they want better marks in particular subjects-a thriving business based at the school-much cheaper than private school throughout and no time wasted travelling. It's a winning combination and that's what we are doing with her in important subjects she isn't enjoying at school-in her case maths and French ATM. I think it isn't great for the bottom of the IQ range and for a few outliers, like my dd, the large classes are conducive to bullying in some cases.

MillyMollyMama Wed 23-Apr-14 13:14:23

I know lots of people who have gone to a prep school for 2 or 3 years before moving to senior school at 13. Independent schools are not always full but the early start on a winter morning would be pretty hard I think. Are you not in a position to drop him off at a local prep school? Local, and changing at 13, seems kinder to me than such as early start. I would be surprised if many Harpenden parents send their children all the way to Berkhamsted given there are such good schools much closer, eg Heath Mount, Aldwickbury and Lochinver House. I am sure you will learn more when you look around.

moremonkeys Wed 23-Apr-14 22:28:37

Thanks everyone really helpful especially to hear experience of Roundwood and also idea of prep school that not considered (and need to research as not really up to speed on it).
If he did prep would he be obliged to go independent school from there as guessing few local schools would take at 13?

Is that how it works?

Sorry to be dim! Will look on net too for further insight.

fairylightsintheloft Wed 23-Apr-14 22:39:37

Not obliged to go to independent after prep but obviously there may be limited places available at state in y 9. Roundwood is a good allrounder but it is big. St Albans is v academic and boys that only scrape in can struggle. I think the idea of prep for your ds is a good one - look at beechwood or aldwickbury maybe

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