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Is it really true? - private schools in Surrey are the best in the country?

(98 Posts)
arizonagirl Mon 26-Jul-10 14:02:09


We currently have our children in a private prep school in Surrey. (Don't want to get into a private/state debate - due to husband's work, this is the right choice for us).

But Surrey is so expensive. However, everyone keeps telling us that the private schools in Surrey are the best in the country with the best selection.

I want to hear whether everyone agrees with this or not? And if not, where are the big clusters of excellent private prep schools in the south (1.5 hours commute to London). Did look at Winchester way but it is just as expensive and didn't really like the look of the prep selection; really want to keep them in co-ed.

Even my husband now is brainwashed into believing we would be mad to leave.

Thanks for your thoughts.

marialuisa Mon 26-Jul-10 14:33:38

What do you want from the school and are you looking for a traditional prep (up to 13) or do you just mean a private primary?

I think I've been spoilt for choice by the private schools in my area but it depends what you're looking for.

pointissima Mon 26-Jul-10 14:48:40

Lots of co-ed in Kent and Sussex: Ashdown House, Brambletye etc etc. Not much cheaper than Surrey though.

twolittlemonkeys Mon 26-Jul-10 15:01:18

I have to say having been brought up in Surrey (privately educated for secondary) and now living in the Midlands after moving round a bit I am inclined to agree that there are far more to choose from in Surrey and many of the best secondary independent schools are there. I kind of wish I'd never left as there's no way I can afford to move back there now. Yes there are other excellent private schools elsewhere in the country, but if you move you may not have much choice.

arizonagirl Mon 26-Jul-10 15:03:46

Hi Marialuisa,

We are looking for prep schools up to 13 for now which have a good academic record - ds is doing really well and likes to be pushed. But I also want to find a school which feeds into really good private secondary schools. We have the RGS in Guildford which is really well respected and the Guildford High School for girls and Tormead which have excellent reputations but it is just such an expensive place to live. We have just come back from abroad and to get a mortgage (nothing that grand) we are looking at about 600,000! I know school fees will be consistent around the country and that is fine : )

Got me curious as to where you live : )

Pointissima - thanks for your advice too. Did look at Kent but grew up there and not so keen to return - long story. Sussex is an area I only had a quick look at and didn't find much but will look at the schools you mention.

Thanks for your support.

arizonagirl Mon 26-Jul-10 15:07:53

Thanks twolittlemonkeys (great nickname : )

Interesting thoughts - would you mind me asking which part of Surrey you grew up in? I am wondering if there are cheaper areas in Surrey we could look at. I do think Guildford is very very pricey. I know areas like Farnham or Woking might be a bit cheaper but not sure what they would be like and not sure if there are many prep schools that way. I know, I know - you can't have everything ; /

YetAnotherIssue Mon 26-Jul-10 15:12:24

What a load of nonsense. There are very few schools I would even consider for my DC's in Surrey if looking for the very best prep or feeder school. The best preps are found in Berkshire/Hampshire/Oxfordshire and send a huge amount of boys to Winchester/Eton etc.

What type of school are you looking for - is it co-ed all the way through? If so then co-ed senior schools are generally less selective except Oundle which is a great school. Many preps feed to Oundle from superselectives to rural non-selectives so it would not matter where DC's were educated.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Mon 26-Jul-10 15:21:56

I think its a bit of a generalisation to say that all the best independent schools are in Surrey. There are good schools, both state and independent, all over the country, as well as dire ones.

In my opinion, you should be looking at schools that suit your children and their personalities, rather than going solely on the school's academic record. I have a DD at a school which usually comes in the top 10. She loves it. However, despite her passing the entrance exams with flying colours, we didn't send DD2 who is a completely different personality and who would not have been suited to the academic competition there at all.

Are you looking for boarding schools? Rugby has a great reputation for suiting the needs of all sorts of children.

TheReturnoftheSmartArse Mon 26-Jul-10 15:22:28

Sorry, I should read posts properly! You want prep, not secondary. I'll put my thinking cap on again.

Lizcat Mon 26-Jul-10 15:46:16

West Berkshire we have a massive choice co-ed Brockenhurst/marlston house, Thorngrove, cheam to name just a few all with entries to top secondary school (Eton, abingdon, Down house etc). Single sex choice is even greater and some single sex are 3 -18 with excellent GCSE, A -level and uni entry.

Ewe Mon 26-Jul-10 15:48:19

I live in Epsom which is cheaper than Guildford for property and has a good range of prep schools, some to look at are:

Danes Hill
Kingswood House
City of London Freemen's (starts at 7)
St Christopher's (only goes up to 7)
Linley House - in Surbiton so heading bit further into London

I think Surrey does have a really good selection of private schools, are you constricted by needing to commute into London or anything? What would be your budget for a house because if you don't need a station I think Surrey can be pretty reasonable as most of the demand is from commuters.

YetAnotherIssue Mon 26-Jul-10 15:49:54

Brockhurst/Marlston and Thorngrove are second rate schools and no one in their right mind would send DC's there if they wanted a top school.

I agree with Rugby and Oundle being about the best co-ed senior schools and most preps feed to them. If you lived in the Midlands or North Cambridgeshire you could get a lot for your money and the preps would feed to these schools.

YetAnotherIssue Mon 26-Jul-10 15:51:16

Meant to add that Rugby is 45 mins on the train to London. The town is not great but their are plenty of nice villages outside.

ladysybil Mon 26-Jul-10 15:53:42

i think surrey has a really good selection of schools. period.

Ewe Mon 26-Jul-10 15:53:49

Just saw that you do need to be in commuting distance of London although a lot of places that are commutable in the South won't be any cheaper.

Also, it doesn't really matter if someone else thinks private schools in Surrey are the best (I'm not sure I agree FWIW) it seems to me there are just loads of them here, that doesn't mean they're any better than schools elsewhere.

You don't need a big cluster of prep schools really, you just need one that's good and right for you and your family.

Ewe Mon 26-Jul-10 15:57:08

Oh and best is really subjective, for some it's sporty, for others it's the academic rigour.

My rather rambling point is, ignore what everyone else thinks grin

Fiddledee Mon 26-Jul-10 16:10:21

If we could I would live around Oxford, second around Cambridge (a bit flat though), but we can't. We have also looked at Winchester - have you looked at Twyford a co-ed prep school but big problem little choice at secondary for boys if you don't want boarding. Surrey makes the most sense for us but particularly as DD is showing some talent in gymnastics and that has probably swayed us against the Winchester area as the guildford schools are great for gymnastics.

Big problem with co-ed is that it may suit one child and not the other which is what we have found so we are opting for single sex, although still considering co-ed for DS (thats probably why co-eds often have so few girls!)

arizonagirl Mon 26-Jul-10 18:28:08

Some really good thoughts - thank you. Just been looking at Oundle school - looks nice but it has a real emphasis on boarding which I want to avoid - 850 boarders compared to 250 days. I agree with Fiddledee that although co-ed is good, it might not be the right school for both. Did look at the website for Twyford but it emphasised boarding a lot and dare I say it, looked a bit depressing. The building oozes history, I really do appreciate that, but it just looked a bit grey and downbeat. Sorry - just personal opinion. And yes, the senior school option is very limited around Winchester. Will look at Cambridge way. We looked at all the Epsom schools mentioned - they were fine but weren't so keen to move nearer to London. Sorry, I sound so fussy!!!

Fiddledee Mon 26-Jul-10 19:04:28

The conclusion I came to is that if you want a good co-ed you are extremely restricted to where you can live. Ditch that idea and many more places are available but if you want cheap housing and easy commute to London and a good co-ed private school then i would say thats impossible but would be very happy to be proved wrong.

YetAnotherIssue Mon 26-Jul-10 19:55:49

I wouldn't worry about being a day pupil at boarding school. Also, Twyford is a nice school and there are more day than boarding pupils but it's still not the best school around.

You could consider the Cheltenham areas as Chelt Coll, Dean Close and others are co-ed and their is always Chelt Ladies if you change your mind later on. Then there is Clifton and Badminton in Bristol.

I still think that somewhere in the Midlands will give you better value for money housewise and there are usually a handful Public Schools that offer day and boarding:

Uppingham (not sure if it's just boarding)

omnishambles Mon 26-Jul-10 20:03:02

Is there any real point in looking at senior schools though at this stage - your prep school headmaster will advise you where your ds should be going based on his abilities and temperament.

Or are you looking to move elsewhere but scared of moving away from your current school? Am a bit confused.

twolittlemonkeys Mon 26-Jul-10 20:16:37

Hi I grew up in Woking and went to Guildford High for Secondary (though there is a Junior department). It was number 7 or 8 in national league tables at the time.

Prep schools... there is Greenfield which is co-ed, Hoebridge & St Andrews (boys), Halstead (girls), probably more too but I'm not terribly au fait with the prep schools round there. It's not far to Guildford (15 minutes drive) where there are lots more.

this link may help with identifying schools in the area.

I have no problems with Woking - it has some horrible areas as most towns do, but plenty of nice areas and a couple of very posh areas eg The Hockering and Hook Heath, and Woking is generally a little cheaper than Guildford whilst being close enough to go there to school. HTH

Lilymaid Mon 26-Jul-10 20:23:39

Cambridge: Kings College School; St John's College School, St Faiths, Perse Prep, Perse Girls Prep (amongst others)
Under 50 minutes on train to Kings X, longer to Liverpool St - but within your 1.5 hours limit.

snorkie Mon 26-Jul-10 21:25:31

Cambridge isn't really much cheaper for housing than Surrey though.

Is a very selective school important to you? I think they tend to do well simply because they are very selective, whereas a good school with a broader ability intake may do just as well by its individual students.

arizonagirl Mon 26-Jul-10 21:26:12

Wow, thank you so much for all this advice.

Omnishambles - we have children in a pre-prep at the moment and aren't that happy there - complex. And we have looked at the schools in the area for afterwards and are struggling for boys' options. Lots of girls options though although I would much prefer co-ed until secondary and these are pretty limited too. So we kind of decided that there is no point being so cash-burnt out to live in an area which we aren't too happy in. We have only just returned back from abroad last year so are only renting but want to buy soon - so it seems a natural time to move on.

Will definitely look at the Midlands. We were also going to look at Woking, but as you say, we kept hearing bad things about the town which put us off - but will look at the areas you mentioned - thank you. Have also thought about Cambridge - but it seems to be just as expensive as Surrey. Sorry to keep rambling on - just kind of brainstorming : )

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