Is Farnborough Hill school any good?

(30 Posts)
Crazyx4 Thu 27-Sep-12 18:41:46

I am going to an open morning there next week and was wondering if anyone has any first hand experience of the school. Any advice on what questions I should be asking? DD is in state junior so I have no experience of the private sector and am a bit unsure what to expect.

Chicky2 Fri 28-Sep-12 23:20:14

Hi, my daughter has just started year 8 at Farnborough Hill. She's having a great time and we're really pleased with the school.
She was at St Nicks in Fleet form reception to year 6 but we found it too small and cliquey. At FH there's approx 100 in a year divided into 4 classes so a much better mix of girls.
I particularly like that the school is relaxed is some areas, ie hair only has to be tied back for lessons where it matters like DT, science, PE, food tech etc rather than ablanket rule that hair must always be tied back. I feel they like to pick their battles. The pastoral care is excellent and the head is a warm smiley lady. There is also quite a large number of male teachers for a girls school which I think is a positive.
Have a look round and see what you think, the building is amazing although a little bit scuffed around the edges, but I'd rather have that with warmth and care for the girls than something that looks perfect but has no depth. I feel that FH finds the girls talents and supports them rather than pushing them to fit a mould.
We aren't religious but I've found that the religion aspect isn't pushed very much.
We haven't regretted our decision at the moment.

Chicky2 Fri 28-Sep-12 23:25:03

She started in year 7 and has now just started year 8, just realising it sounded like shed only been there a few weeks

Chicky2 Fri 28-Sep-12 23:25:33

She'd

Crazyx4 Mon 01-Oct-12 11:54:28

Thanks chicky. One thing that does concern me is the fact that while we are not poor, we have 4dc to put through, with only 2 school years between each of them. I am very conscious that I don't want to send her to a school full of super rich children that go on fantastic holidays 3 times a year. I don't want her to be somewhere she feels out of place because she can't compete. What are the children/parents like at the school? I get the impression it's full of quite "normal" people which is something that attracts me to the place. Is this the case?

Lifeisontheup Mon 01-Oct-12 12:30:17

My DD left FH 2 years ago having been there since she was 11. She loved it, we are definitely not a rich family and have very old cars and have never been out of Europe on holiday (camping normally in France) and have never been made to feel out of place.
DD has still got a circle of friends that she met there and still sees regularly. I can't speak too highly of it.

vixsatis Mon 01-Oct-12 17:13:13

I went there many years ago and still go back to help with the odd careers event. It was and still is an incredibly diverse school: I have never come across another with such breadth socially, academically and in all sorts of other ways. It takes each girl as an individual and does well for them. It's also different and colourful: a school with a really unique tradition and character. I moved there from a state primary and one of the first things that struck me was the comparative lack of materialism: some of the girls were quite grand but nobody cared that my bicycle was second hand and it was positively expected that one would wear cast off clothes. It got me into Oxford; I had enormous fun; I learned some really solid values; I made some great friends

Lifeisontheup Mon 01-Oct-12 17:47:23

The expectation of cast offs is still there, most of DD's friends, some very wealthy and some not, shop in charity shops.
I am very thankful that we were able to send her there ( with the help of a bursary).

Crazyx4 Sat 06-Oct-12 13:50:58

Thanks everyone for the advice. We went to the open day and I fell in love with the place. More importantly, dd loved it too. In fact she has gone from saying she wants to go to the same school as her friends, to saying she really wants to go to FH!

Chicky2 Mon 08-Oct-12 18:29:15

It's true that there are some wealthy parents at the school, but there are plenty who seem very ordinary. I would class our family in that level, but the girls really don't seem to mind.
The school does have a wonderful atmosphere and I believe as the other posters have said that the school will find your strengths and nurture them rather than trying to mould you into their way of being.
Our daughter didn't want to leave her friends and go to FH, then she was in the building for 10 minutes and totally changed her mind.
She's had a brilliant year 7 and is loving year 8 so far. She travels to school on the train from Fleet and really enjoys the independence. (the train is way cheaper than the school buses)

Oldie1 Sun 02-Dec-12 15:04:10

My daughters both went to FH and my youngest still attends sixth form. I can honestly say that there are people of all "income brackets" who send their daughters there. One look at the car park and that is obvious. The atmosphere is happy and well balanced and one of the greatest strengths is that the school will take on girls that other schools will not...Catholic ethic perhaps? Again, we are not Catholic but that has ever been a problem.

jeraysha Tue 22-Jan-13 19:37:24

hi there, I am currently studying at farnborough 6th form college, having left Farnborough Hill in 2010. Although I did enjoy my time at the school, mainly from the friend aspect I do not recommend it. My sister also went to Farnborough hill, leaving in 2008, and she shared a similar experience to me and the only reason my parents sent me there was so that it would be fair. In all honesty, FH is very cliquey, in my school year, 3 girls out of 100 fell pregnant. This is not necessarily a reflection on the school itself but I am just mentioning this point so that incase you think that by sending your daughter to a private school she will not be mixing with some of the people you may find in a state school you realise that is not the case. If anything it can be worse as the girls, majority of them coming from wealthy families think they can get away with drinking alcohol and doing drugs all the whilst expecting that they will also have the sorts of families they grew up in when they are older. I had many friends at tomlinscote whilst I was at FH, and i truly know that if i were to do this all over again, i would have received a very similar education there. The fees are expensive; being roughly £4500 a term and getting more and more expensive. I remember the open days where the headmistress would be all smiles with all the girls and you would see the fantastic grounds of the school and be in awe. but the truth is, the girls at these open days are hand picked and if you are not in the top of the year, you dont stand much of a chance of being able to stand up there with your peers. I am not catholic, and though they pride themselves on not forcing religion at you, there were countless times when a few friends and I would be told off for not receiving communion or approaching the alter. We would be perfectly respectful, silent and appreciate their religion but still would be in trouble. My parents were also thoroughly unimpressed in yr 10/11when the time came for FH to pitch their 6th form to you. Instead of focusing on the 'merits' of their own 6th fo,rm they would fault others ie the 6th form college. we thought this was in bad taste and a reflection on the pettiness of the school. All in all, i am not saying that FH is an awful school, however, i am saying that the reason you would pay for your daughter's education is to get a bit more back from the establishment in comparison to other state schools in the area. There is no aspect in which farnborough Hill particularly excels which in my opinion stands to question, why pay for education in an elitist snobby institution?

Tommy Tue 22-Jan-13 19:44:54

I don't know the school well but I have a good friend who works there. If you think "the religious aspect is not pushed too much" then I think you will be surprised. It is a Catholic school and run as such

Ubique Wed 23-Jan-13 20:38:45

My daughter started Farnborough Hill In Sep 12. She joined year 10 having previously been at Bearwood College in Wokingham. Despite her initial reluctance to go to an all girls school she settled in really quickly and absolutely loves it there. I don't know why the ex FH girl is bitter but from what my daughter tells me there are no real cliques and everyone seems to get on well together. There are. as in any school, groups of friends but they don't form cliques. As far as excelling if you compare the results to all the other schools in the area you can see that they must be doing something right.

I work in a Catholic comprehensive school which has far more religious services and teaching. It is not pushed too much at FH and at no time has my daughter been told off for not receiving communion.

All in all we are extremely happy with our choice and I would recommend it to anyone.

Atacama Wed 30-Jan-13 21:31:21

I don't normally write on forums but having read the rubbish spouted by 'jeraysha' I feel I must add something - there are so many falsehoods I can only assume the person is either trying to get a kick out of rubbishing the school, or has some other axe to grind. My dd also left Farnborough Hill in 2010, so would have been in the same class as 'jeraysha'. I showed her the entry above and she laughed out loud - she knew of no one that fell pregnant in her year, or any other, in her time at the school - she can't even recall any silly rumours to that effect and said that if anything it was probably a group of friends trying to show off to each other, or at the worst some trouble a girl might have got in to after she left the school.

She also told me that no one ever got shouted at for not taking communion, in fact the opposite - only the Catholic girls were not permitted to take communion - non Catholics had to go to mass, but no more than that. As for open days, she remembers that one whole class in the first year took it in turns to show parents around and were certainly not 'cherry picked'.

As for the fees - they were not even close to £4500 a term then, and a quick enquiry to the school confirms they are not near that now.

What really made me cross though is that the 'ex pupil' who left in 2010 claims to go to the Sixth Form college. I'm afraid that, if like my dd, she did leave in 2010 she would by now have left the Sixth Fom college and would be in her first year of university.

My dd enjoyed her time at the school. There were friendship groups, but you would expect that anywhere. The school was caring, helpful, and did everything for my dd and her friends. They all got fantastic GCSE results - and FH get some of the very best results in the county every year. My dd did her A-Levels elsewhere, but that was more a change in our financial arrangements. Many of her friends stayed on at the school and got great A-Level results.

My dd left as a confident, happy, and thoroughly well rounded young lady. She never felt that Catholic side of the school was forced on her, and she had great fun in her time there. Both my dd and I agreed (though she never had to pay the fees!) that it was money worth spent - every penny. My dd finished by saying, "I've no idea who that person was, me and my friends loved 'Fanny Hill' and we still do - I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else".

I urge you all ignore the rubbish written above and go and see the school for yourself.

Sorry - rant over!

Lifeisontheup Thu 31-Jan-13 06:36:38

I would agree with Atacama My DD left the sixth form in 2010 after a fantastic time there and does not recognise the school described by jeraysha.
Yes it's a catholic school but there are a lot of non-catholics who cannot take communion.
I do not recognise the fees quoted and as I paid them I think I would know. My DD had a lovely friendship group all of whom she still sees. None of these girls are rich or on drugs/drinking masses.

Crazyx4 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:55:46

Just rediscovered this thread I started an age ago. Wow, Jeraysha really didn't like the place! There does seem a few discrepancies though, like the fees for a start.
Another question I have is about the scholarships at FH. my dd is in year 5 at the moment and is currently on 5c for maths and a 4b for literacy. I know this is quite good for the state school she is currently at, but I wonder how it compares with other applicants. Will her grades just be ordinary by FH standards or could we put her forward for a scholarship?

Any advice is gratefully received. Brochures and open days are great but there is nothing quite like advice from someone who has been through this already.

vixsatis Fri 01-Feb-13 11:23:32

It's a very long time since I left; but in my year a girl did get pregnant: these things happen. What is telling is the way the school reacted. She was not expelled. Her parents withdrew her in order to save the school embarrassment; but the staff went to her house and taught her so that she could take her A levels and go off, with her baby, to University. No charge for any of this.

This very kind culture continues and is actually the most noticeable manifestation of the Catholic ethos.

Lifeisontheup Fri 01-Feb-13 19:59:59

I think, from memory, that you sit the entrance exam and based on the results for that, get called back for a scholarship paper so no need to worry about putting them forward for it. Not sure what levels are necessary though.
Don't take my word for it though, my DD was 21 yesterday smile and things get blurry over time.

LIFEGOESON1066 Sun 24-Mar-13 21:05:23

I left Farnborough Hill in 2012 having stayed from year 7 until the end of A levels. At the end of the day- I came out with more than sufficient grades to get me into the university of my choice and I do have some lovely memories. Some of the teachers went absolutely above and beyond their call of duty to help and were massively caring and approachable- particularly the german, history and geography department as well as the senior members of staff. However, at the end of the day- it is a school and like anything, it's never going to be perfect. Being initially very quiet and shy it was quite nice to have much smaller classes than I was used to at primary school, however I do feel that there is far too much emphasis and pressure put upon results tables, particularly with regards to comparisons with the 6th form college or salesian for example (understandable I know, because at the end of the day it is a business although on the odd occassion, it could have been done in slightly better taste), when in reality there are far more important things in life. Up to year 11, I would definitely say I benefited from being at Farnborough Hill, although as with anywhere there are definite aspects of cliques- particularly being in an all girl environment which was quite often competitive and resulted in a bit of mean-ness if you weren't one of the 'it-girls' (I definitely wasn't- I had the same school skirt from year 7 till year 11 and even then, when I left year 11 it still reached below my knees!!! :-) )- but I suppose you just need to grow thick skin and at the end of the day, this happens everywhere and is very little to do with the school itself! The teachers definitely do put in lots of effort to get good grades (one particularly teacher gave me 2 one-to-one extra lunch-time lessons a week throughout year 10 and 11 to help me where I was struggling and due to this, I came out with an A* and a total motivation to work hard). So up to year 11, I would definitely recommend Farnborough Hill. However, I don't feel that I enjoyed the 6th Form half as much- although the tiny classes (ie- there were 4 of us in some lessons) were brilliant from an inclusive and learning aspect, I think there needs to be much more emphasis on doing it yourself. There is far more to life than A-levels, and whilst I understand it is a school and thus that is their role, the school also prides itself on 'educating the whole person', I do think learning that life doesn't always go the way you think or want it to and being practical and capable of living and thriving in the big wide world isn't necessarily highly on the cards with the schools little bubble.

Lbklbk Mon 20-May-13 00:25:03

I'm a pupil at the school (FH), and I only made an account to post this message.

That user up there ^ is totally lying about 'three girls fell pregnant' in her year. I would have known about it seeing as I have been at the school when this girl attended, as she would not have been more than two years above me. Total rubbish, don't let this user sway your decision about sending your girls to this school. It isn't at all cliquey, everyone I know has friends and are happy, and bullying is highly condemned by the staff AND the students (which is a rare, but brilliant thing).

didi99 Thu 13-Jun-13 22:44:59

In my experience I wouldn't recommend that anyone sends their daughter to Farnborough Hill My dd went left in 2009, and her and some of her friends were bullied by groups of girls. This is not unsual in secondary schools, but in such a small school it is sometimes difficult to find a peer group to relate to. BTW the fees at FH are £4,040 a term, fine if you can afford it but I would not advise anyone to stretch themselves to pay this, especially if their girls are bright. Most comrehensive top sets are at least as good as private schools. If their daughter has any kind of learning difficulty such as dyslexia, again a comprehensive would be better as they have more funding for special needs.

Panpudding Sun 30-Jun-13 09:54:16

I have just joined mumsnet purely because of the posting made by jeraysha last year which was drawn to my attention! My daughter joined in year 8, we are not catholic......we moved her from a good state school where she had a hideous time with cliquey girls etc. farnborough Hill has been fantastic, not a pregnancy to our knowledge! Discipline appears to have been firm but fair, their mantra is educating the whole person and that most certainly is what they have done for my daughter. She is sad to be leaving but thanks to FH she is going on to wonderful things with a bright future, sending her to FH is a decision I am proud of and worth all the financial commitment,(missed holidays and new carpets)they have given her a great foundation for the rest of her life.

ATDRG45 Wed 10-Jul-13 11:43:02

I'll start off by admitting I've got the wrong sort of chromosomes to qualify for the "mums" part of mumsnet - but hopefully that's not too much of an issue!

My wife and I have got a bit of a dilemma re Farnborough Hill, about which I'd like to ask for a little help.

We've seen a few all-girls schools in the area (we're both convinced that single sex is the best way to go), looking at places for our daughter who's just 10 and in Year 5 (young in the year). She's bright, but sits right on the boundary of whether she'd be likely to get into Kendrick; her year tutor quite literally says it'd be 50:50.

Having visited Kendrick with her, I think she'd find the atmosphere intimidating, and she'd at best be in the middle of the pack in terms of ability. She's not the most confident of children, and I'm not convinced she'd thrive there.

Her year tutor seems to have no doubt she'd get into the Abbey, and not suffer by comparison with other girls there, but it's also got a fairly "sink or swim" ethos. Plus, the logistics aren't brilliant.

We were quite keen on Farnborough Hill - the girls we met at the open day were extremely impressive, and my daughter loved the place on a subsequent "busy bees" taster day. But the comment from her prep school (Yateley Manor) is that she might not get enough "push" academically there.

So, what I'd like to ask those of you with experience of Farnborough Hill - is it the right place for a girl with good academic potential, but is a little inclined to "coast", but would probably respond well to being one of the better children in the year? Would the school respond to that by giving her the right sort of work, or am I better sending her to a more rigorous school, even if the pastoral care etc. isn't so good?

vixsatis Wed 10-Jul-13 12:36:42

Long time since I was there; but I'm still in touch with the place and it still has the same sort of very mixed intake- I help with some of their careers stuff and there are girls heading to Oxbridge and med school alongside some who are really not at all academic.

They are very good at treating children as individuals: coasting will be spotted and dealt with, as will a lack of confidence. I think that there is less of a "lost middle" than at some other schools. There is also the fact that because they are not very selective they have to milk their talent a bit harder- I don't think lack of "push" will be a problem.

I was not at the top when I arrived but ended up at Oxford; and I was ecstatically happy throughout. There are lots of more recent leavers with similar stories

Oldie1 Mon 21-Oct-13 11:25:48

I have had the privilege of sending both my daughters to Farnborough Hill. I also do not comment on forums, but Jeraysha must have been at school with my eldest. She describes a completely different school! We are Baptist and I did fear that they would be uncomfortable. On the contrary I have come to respect and appreciate the Catholic ethos which does influence the school but only in that it underlines the family feel. Indeed the deputy head is absolutely great and she is not Catholic! As for pregnancies, I have had daughters there since 2004 and I have never heard of one..I am sure they happen but the school's middle name is discretion.
My daughter stayed for the sixth form and loves it - the grades speak for themselves. However, I honestly believe that what you see is what you get. The school is not perfect but I do not regret a penny of what I have paid in fees and the school are not as money orientated as most of the others (my daughters both went to private junior school too so I hear stories from the parents of their friends who went on to other private schools).
Visit the school, it is glorious. If you love it your daughter will do just fine...if there is just something you cannot define but you are not happy, then carry on looking at other schools....
One thing no one has mentioned - it is chilly during the winter due to the age of the building...but how many other children get to sledge down that hill when it snows!

thedirac Sat 09-Nov-13 10:14:10

I went to Farnborough Hill many years ago. Looking back now I would say that the academic environment was very impressive and really, really motivated me. I went on to get a first class degree, MA and PhD. I'm now a university lecturer and thoroughly enjoy every second of my job.

Suepooh123 Mon 11-Nov-13 14:19:35

Thought I might as well offer my opinion for what it's worth! Our daughter started at Farnborough Hill last year and despite our initial misgivings we feel we definitely made the right choice. Myself and my husband looked at several options within reasonable travelling distance for us and looking at the list of potential contenders Farnborugh Hill seemed to be ahead of the rest. The only snag we could see was that we are both atheists and were a bit put off a first by the fact that it's a catholic school, worrying that our daughter would be feel under pressure in such an environment. Fortunately we have friends who also send their daughters there - one family like us who don't have a religion, and one family who are Muslim - and were reassured that there was no forcing of religion on pupils if they have a differing or indeed no particular belief. So we took the plunge and are so glad for our daughter's sake that we did. There's no pressure at all over religion with a refreshingly liberal live and let live attitude pervading the issue, and the education provided is proving to be second to none. Daughter had a tendency to coast along at her previous school, being bright enough to have worked out the minimum amount of work she could get away with doing(!), but Farnborough Hill has succeeded in engaging her interest so that she has a chance of achieving her potential whilst also encouraging her to enjoy her time there, so no danger of 'hot housing' thank goodness. She's also made some good friends and is involved in the many extra-curricular activities there, such as the various sports and dance clubs.
That's our take on it anyway. Hope that it's of assistance to anybody else who's trying to pick their way through the thorny issue of secondary schools :-)

anneboleyn36 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:40:54

Does anyone know how many questions there are on Farnborough Hill's Verbal Reasoning entrance exam? I have heard that the questions on all the papers are 'easier' than those on the GL Assessment Papers. Could anyone shed any light on this?

Suepooh123 Thu 14-Nov-13 08:11:47

Not sure I'm afraid, asked DD about the number of questions on the verbal reasoning but got an inconclusive reply - I guess a year ago is an eternity to somebody her age! As for how 'easy' the papers are I can't judge - sorry. Open days are good for an informal chat with the teachers if that's any use, the staff at Farnborough are very approachable.

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