St Benedict's in Ealing

(18 Posts)
alcatraz Fri 30-Oct-09 14:52:25

What is it like for non Catholics

alcatraz Fri 30-Oct-09 14:56:37

There is a dearth of local school places for boys in Ealing. Have been considering St Benedict's as it has a good reputation as a kind and caring school. However although they welcome all applicants it is obviously a Catholic school. So what is it like in reality for those who are not Catholic or even, dare I say it, atheist!

westendgirl Sat 31-Oct-09 15:50:33

I have a DS there, but we are not Catholic. It is very Catholic, so if you were actively anti it would be a good idea to avoid it.

They seem to go to Mass quite a lot, but DS doesn't seem to be sidelined; he's been encouraged to do a lot of the Catholic stuff. (I'm not really sure of the details, but he seems happy enough, although complains that Mass is boring.) I expect him to join in so I have no idea if anyone is allowed to opt out. The faith is central to the school so I can't see the point of sending a child there and then wanting to withdraw him/her from religious activities. I'm sure they would be happy to make their position clear if you asked.

I don't agree with everything they tell DS, but I don't necessarily think that they are wrong - we chat about some of the ideas and I think he is intelligent enough to make up his own mind about the doctrine. I think DCs are exposed to a lot of unproven ideas in general these days and it does no harm for them to have a good think about what is reasonable.

On the plus side, besides thinking that it is an excellent school, which suits my DS very well, I like the way they stick up for what they believe. I also like the ethos of the school: everything is done with an eye to how it impacts on the community, eg a particular talent is expected to be used for the benefit of the school rather than just gathering qualifications, the idea being that it is God-given. Oddly enough, rather than being very 'straight' as I would have expected, it seems to suit the sort of child who questions everything. While prepared to defend their faith, they don't seem to mind a good argument.

The other 'thing' about the school is the Rugby, which, according to who you talk to, sometimes seems nearly as important as the Catholicism. They are very tolerant of non-rugby players, but Rugby is definitely The Game.

zanzibarmum Sat 31-Oct-09 17:19:27

westendgirl - what is it about the school that particularly works for your DS

frakula Sat 31-Oct-09 17:28:41

My brother went there - we are Christian but not Catholic - and thrived. When my parents moved house he had to leave and his new school was nowhere near as caring or supportive. Their SEN support was very good when he was there too.

He thought Mass was very boring but loved the Rugby. He chose it at 11 because it offered Latin (strange boy...). He's quite musical and enjoyed the opportunities the school had in that area too.

bodycolder Sat 31-Oct-09 17:33:51

2 of my oldest friends have children there and def not catholic.Lovely kids though and have all done really well

seeker Sun 01-Nov-09 12:08:28

Julian Clary is an Old Boy!

Judy1234 Sun 01-Nov-09 19:38:55

And do look at this jolly little missive on their web site. ..

http://www.stbenedicts.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2009/10/abbot-parents-letter.pdf

westendgirl Sun 01-Nov-09 20:40:46

I think the fact that they have made no attempt to cover that problem up, indeed, they have kept us informed of the progress of the trial, as well as publishing it on the website, speaks volumes of the school. Nobody knows where the next dodgy character will turn up, but at least we know that this school is alert to the possibility and won't try to pretend such people don't exist.

Zanzibarmum, I think it suits DS because the staff aren't dismissive of his ideas even when they are a bit wacky. They're not afraid to correct mistakes however.

The pastoral care is very good. I know of one boy who is 'a bit of a handful' and without letting him be disruptive, they are both gentle and firm. DS thinks the discipline is fair, and feels as if he will be listened to if he thinks he's been unfairly treated. It feels very much a community.

Although they are taking girls now, it still has that boyish feel to it which some boys, DS included, thrive on. It's hard to explain, but I think there's a slightly 'let's see who can do this quickest' type approach. Oh, and lists. (DS loves a list.) And the clear, spelt-out discipline: expected consequence, then incident over, and good behaviour is formally acknowledged.

There also seems to be a bit of rote learning, not as much as I would like, but the occasional thing.

This is all very subjective. Someone else might read this and say 'it's not like that', but that's roughly how it seems to me.

alcatraz Mon 02-Nov-09 20:20:51

Thanks for all these comments, really helpful. Still feel apprehensive about the Catholic side of things, it seems to become so embedded in people's personalities, not always in a good way. However, that said, as a fee paying school St B's has obviously had to let in various types they would not have considered but for comp from all the free Catholic schools round here.

Xenia where do find this info! I agree it actually shows the present school body in a good light for facing the situation and apologising, quite unusual in Catholic institutions. I remember at least 2 pervy teachers (one of whom was later arrested) at my non-religious state school!

Judy1234 Wed 04-Nov-09 17:11:19

I found thei nformation on their web site. Most schools do not have child abuse like that. I am a Catholic. I support Catholic schools but most do not have something like that in their midst and yes it would put me off. But much more off putting is just that they are nowhere near top league compared to schools like St paul's, Haberdashers, merchant taylors or girls North London Collegiate, Habs etc . They are for the less clever child who wouldn't get in anywhere else.

zanzibarmum Wed 04-Nov-09 19:59:22

Xenia - with views like your (if you haven't got any money you are a failing mum) then if you are a Catholic I am a banana!

alcatraz Wed 04-Nov-09 20:22:01

Well you are right about the league position but as a Catholic surely being 'less clever' than the top league isn't a sin! What are your thoughts on eugenics....maybe people who don't get into St Pauls should just be exterminated!

But seriously my DS is reasonably clever and his sister goes to NHEHS but there is simply no equivalent for boys, the higher achieving schools are really oversubscribed. There are many more options for the girls and hence it's not quite as competitive. If there was an equiv of NHEHS, which was not that hard to get into, but still v sound academically I would def send him there, his sister loves it even though she was deemed not 'clever' enough for any of those top league schools you mention.

Anyhow St B's did manage 10 to Oxbridge in the same year that my 'top league' niece was turned away and not even interviewed there or at UCl despite her crate loads of As and A*s! A few to med school too, so it would seem that you can aim high if you want to.

Relying on you to keep it MEAN Xenia, you're telling it like it is for all the parents negotiating private schools' admissions systems.

LetsEscape Wed 04-Nov-09 20:39:55

It is very worrying that there is such an attitude that if your child isn't in the 'top league' schools then they are a Nobody. There are children of all abilities and of all different interests and talents, needing all kinds of different schools.

I applaud a head teacher such as Mr Cleugh, who celebrates everybody's achievement whether they are straight A students or C's and openly states this at his open day talk and also a school who does not weed out its weaker pupils after GCSE like so many do. St Benedict's is like that. I know many parents with boys who attend and they all say how happy the children are. It is true that it does have a more comprehensive intake, both very able as well as those clearly needing support. This may be because the school has a very strong reputation for its pastoral care and learning support department. But for an independent school it seems to be much more inclusive.

rosieposy1 Mon 09-May-11 15:54:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosieposy1 Mon 09-May-11 22:44:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rosieposy1 Sun 15-May-11 10:44:05

removing both my children from this school this year after 4 yrs of attendance much to their annoyance - we are totally dissatisfied very sad and very disappointed - complaint to the head far from satisfactory. My opinion is far from the caring school it appears.

beccyjo Tue 21-May-13 20:19:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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