Princes Mead

(30 Posts)
arizonagirl Sat 11-Sep-10 10:38:05

We are starting to think quite seriously about sending dc to Princes Mead in Winchester. Just wondered if anyone out there had any experience of this school?

Thank you!!

arizonagirl Sun 12-Sep-10 01:31:46

: ( Was really hoping someone knew a little about this school - it's at the top of our list at the moment. Anyone?

daberas Mon 13-Sep-10 12:28:06

It should remain at the top of your list! It is a great school – not only is the standard of education excellent (academic as well as life skills), but it also has a warm, welcoming atmosphere which allows the children to thrive. My daughter has just gone into her third year at the school and couldn’t wait to get back after the summer holidays – I think that tells the story! All the best.

arizonagirl Mon 13-Sep-10 12:56:07

Thank you so so much. That helps more than you will realise. Taking the time to reply has very much put it back on the top of our list. We have already visited and I really liked the Head - seemed very friendly. The only thing that really put me off was that it was quite expensive compared to all our other schools on our list and there are a lot more girls than boys (which dh didn't like). One other question: what are the mums like - is it very a middle-class school/cliques etc. Strange question but asked after a bad experience. Thank you!!

wolfbrother Mon 13-Sep-10 17:21:39

I have a friend who has sent her two daughters and son there. The two daughters have now finished and are at St Swithuns, the son is still there. They must be happy with it to have sent all three there I think.

No idea about the Mums in general, but my friend is very nice and her daughters have turned into lovely teenagers.

arizonagirl Mon 13-Sep-10 19:14:59

Wolfbrother - thank you so much for your help. Sounds very promising and remains top of the list. Just a shame it is the most expensive school we have looked at so far. I presume your friend's son is still there - I know there are double the amount of girls which slightly concerns me but my son would probably be very happy with that arrangement as he is a very gentle boy and most of his friends are girls. Think dh was hoping to put him with more boys and toughen him up!!!

daberas Tue 14-Sep-10 15:04:02

Glad I could help. My experience of the Mums has been very positive. In general, they are very friendly and welcoming. You'll enjoy it!

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 16:53:12

One last question for the helpful mums on here (thank you!). Just found out that there are 27 children in year one and only 9 boys. Just wondered if mums have noticed that Princes Mead is very girl-oriented - not exactly sure what I mean by that, ie. are activities predominantly girl-based, clubs etc. And would it bother you putting your son in a class of predominantly girls? We are seriously thinking about going ahead but I am just worried that there will be 10 girls and only 4 boys in his class. Any thoughts?

ShakesPear Tue 14-Sep-10 17:40:20

It is not a good school. I have 5 friends who started their children there and within one year moved them out to Twyford, St Swithun's or Pilgrims. It is not academic and is one of the weakest schools in the area!

As for being girl heavy, most boys leave in YR 3 to go to Pilgrims or Horris Hill.

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 17:45:58

oh sad confused

ShakesPear Tue 14-Sep-10 17:47:32

Arizonagirl can you please tell me how many kids, sex and age. What you want in the long term i.e. top school such as Eton/Winchester, independent day school or grammar and then we can really help you!

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 18:14:08

Wish it was that simple. Two children at school at the moment - one boy in year one, one girl in kindergarten. Looking for very academic co-ed with good reputation. But don't want anything too elite as we may have to move into state at some point and it would be too much of a culture shock. Obviously, we are also looking for somewhere with that back up of good state schools - that is why we homed in on Winchester. Have looked all over (as you know) and have ruled out Surrey as we want to go somewhere a little cheaper. Know Winchester isn't that much cheaper but it would be fine. Looked all over Hampshire - nothing great (apart from Lymington way which is too far - dh needs to get to Waterloo). Looked at West Sussex - nothing stood out. Ruled out Bucks and Herts as we felt more at home nearer Hampshire/Surrey/Sussex. Looked at Oxfordshire - dh wasn't very keen. Looked at Cambridge - too far and wouldn't save anything. Discounted Kent for personal reasons. Thought we had found the answer. Totally fed up now and very confused. We were hoping to move at Christmas. Oh well, never mind. Wish we had stayed abroad - this is just impossible and state schools are all full so that wouldn't even be an option for us anyway.

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 18:16:53

Just realised I haven't totally answered your question. Not sure what we are aiming at in the end - think we have ruled out grammar school areas though. Hoping to stay in private (ultimate would be that I find a position in a prep school and would be able to get a fee remission). Otherwise it would very likely be a very good comp with an excellent reputation and high rankings in league tables.

ShakesPear Tue 14-Sep-10 18:28:49

If you are set on Winchester then my suggestion would be to try and put both into Pilgrims. DD will have to move at Yr 3 and it would be best then to look at St Swithuns or Twyford.

Or just send to Twyford. It is mainly day - I lived in the village - and it feeds to a number of schools including more socially diverse but academically good independents such as King Edwards so it is not elitist although there will always be elite parents at any school. There is a nice village primary in Twyford too and in many of the villages.

I always feel the prep school is key as it will keep your options open later in live. Pilgrims may be less of a culture shock than Twyford but TBH there are lots of privately educated kids in the state senior schools.

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 18:37:55

Thanks ShakesPear for taking the time to reply. Tbh I wouldn't want to put dd in a school which only caters for them until juniors. And I just don't get good vibes off the website or Ofsted report for Twyford - can't put my finger on it. Also, the Ofsted report says about 80% board which totally put me off (obviously that means when they are older but I just don't want that division between boarders and day pupils if there was such a high ratio). Don't spend any more time replying - don't like to waste any more of your valued time and I am just too confused to be able to help anymore. {sad}

ShakesPear Tue 14-Sep-10 18:56:02

I personally wouldn't move to Winchester as your independent school choices are limited.

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 18:59:48

I totally agree with you. We were going to go there earlier this year (Princes Mead) but changed our mind as it was too restricted. Then got frustrated with getting nowhere and so went back to this option as I really liked the look of the school compared to others. But if Princes Mead is not an option I am totally back to square one.

arizonagirl Tue 14-Sep-10 19:09:18

Having said that, I have to remember that other helpful people on here have praised the school - and let's face it, one of them has children at the school. Just a shame that it is so easy to dwell on the bad comments. Very confused.

ShakesPear Tue 14-Sep-10 19:23:38

The thing is that if you have a child at a school you generally do not criticise it. It really is not seen as one of the good schools in the area. One persons idea of what is academically strong may be academically weak to another.

What I would say though is go and look at schools and ignore ofsted reports. My kids have been in schools with glowing reports but the environment is not caring or they rest on their laurels. One is currently in a school that got a mediocre report but the school is amazing. You want to look at isi.net for independent inspection reports. If you looked at Ofsted for Twyford it would have only been in relation to the boarding section hence the 80%. 80% of Twyford do not board!

I have just read the inde inspection and it says 32 pupils board!

daberas Sun 19-Sep-10 21:29:06

I’ve been reading your discussion with ShakesPear with interest and have a few comments to make that may be helpful in making your decision. You mentioned that you found the school expensive – in reply, I would like to say that I believe that the school offers value for money because it includes food as well as transport.

In regard to being girl-orientated, I don’t believe that this is the case. It is a fact that the school has recently established new sports pitches to offer boys more sporting facilities, including rugby. Activities are certainly not centered around girl activities and clubs – boys participate in football, cricket, chess, computers etc. In my daughter’s year, there are more boys in her class than girls and in the other class, there is an equal ratio of boys to girls. In fact, 2 more boys joined the year group in September.

To address ShakesPear’s comment about “not academic” and is “one of the weakest schools in the area”, the facts are that at the end of the last academic year, all the pupils in year 6 gained places in their first choice senior schools. Furthermore, 5 scholarships were awarded – 2 academic scholarships (to St Swithuns and St Gabriel’s), 2 music scholarships (to St Swithuns and Downe House) and a Sports Scholarship to Hampshire Collegiate School. Please note that the Sports Scholarship was awarded to a boy! For more information on the scholarships awarded over the past 4 years, please see “Update Information” under the “News and Information” heading on the school’s website.

In line with ShakesPear's recommendation, a further fact to consider in terms of academic results and the standard of education offered by the school, is the recent ISI Report on Prince's Mead. The opinions expressed in this report are those made by experts in the education field and they judged all areas to be excellent or strong with excellent features. They also fully endorsed the fundamental ethos of the school to care specifically for each and every pupil and the desire that they truly have a ‘love of learning.’ I recommend that you read the Report. It should put your mind at rest that the school is fundamentally sound and of a high calibre.

I therefore disagree with ShakesPear’s statement that it “really is not seen as one of the good schools in the area”. The fact that many families are continually joining the school and that the education experts have endorsed the school’s policies and education methods proves that is seen as a good school in the area. The results speak for themselves!

arizonagirl Sun 19-Sep-10 22:05:48

Daberas, thank you for taking the time to write such a lengthy reply.

I do have to admit - I read the ISI report a few weeks ago and it was that which initiated our choice to visit. We really liked the school, it was simply the boy/girl thing which put us off. One of the other factors for us was one of our motives for moving is to get costs down but living in Winchester and going to Princes Mead wouldn't really do that.

BUT - I still keep coming back to Princes Mead. It is inevitable, however, that when people keep telling you that a school is poor it starts to have an impact. And Shakespear does seem to have a lot of knowledge of schools in many areas!!

I do keep remembering your words about your daughter looking forward to going back to school after the holidays. That made an impression on me as my ds was waking up each night before going back to school crying.

I also am so aware that the state back ups in Winchester, both primary and secondary, are excellent.

So - who knows - watch this space. And I will keep everyone updated after so many wonderful mums on here being so kind to me smile

arizonagirl Tue 21-Sep-10 10:01:49

Well, it is increasingly likely that we are going to give Princes Mead a go - it seems to be ticking most of our boxes. Think I have realised with everyone's wonderful help that the perfect school does not exist!!

Just wondered if anyone else out there had any thoughts on Princes Mead. At present I have only heard one or two great things and a really concerning report from Shakespear.

Any other opinions?

20112011 Sun 23-Jan-11 18:42:23

Just seen the comments from Shakespear. Utter nonsense.

Look at the PM track record of secondary school entrance. My daughter had a great time. They also do a lot of extra sessions to stretch the particularly talented. We turned down offers from both Twyford and St Swithun's Junior for my daughter to go to PM. Never regretted it for a moment. Twyford dos not feel like a day school at all. The only consideration I think would be that there are more girls than boys, but the benefit of this is that the boys get to partake in all the sports teams they want to! There's also a goo number of male teachers for role models.

arizonagirl Sun 23-Jan-11 20:48:14

Thanks for your post 20112011. Still waiting to move over to Alresford (getting a house there is a nightmare!!! Nobody wants to leave). If we go private it will definitely be Princes Mead - don't care too much for Twyford for same reasons as you state. Just debating now whether to stretch ourselves and put all four through private or whether to put our little one in Sun Hill Infants (space permitting) which does seem to be an excellent school. Obviously not the same facilities etc but don't want to embark on something we can't sustain. And so the debate continues .....

surfdude Tue 01-Feb-11 08:42:34

Hi there, you would not be disappointed with Princes Mead. It is not a typical prep school though as the children leave at 11. A fair number of boys do leave at Year 3 if not before. They often move to Pilgrims or Twyford. You need to consider where your children will go afterwards. If you want your children to go to a top public school then PM is not for you. The school is very nurturing and the Headmistress is very good. Pilgrims and Twyford are traditional prep schools with the majority of children moving on to public schools at 13. Pilgrims is boys only and Twyford probably now has slightly more boys than girls. Both schools have boarders. If you are a choirister at Pilgrims you have to board. Twyford has boarders....but not 80 percent!! Not sure where that came from. You do not have to board there but a lot of the children do end up wanting to do it even if for just one night. The hours at both these schools are long (longer at Twyford as they do their homework at school) and both do Saturday school and sometimes have sports matches Saturday afternoon. Sport is important to both schools. Pilgrims has a new Head so watch this space. Twyford had a new Head within the last year or so and he is superb.
Fees at Pilgrims and Twyford are much more than Princes Mead so another consideration. Other good independents in the area are Stroud and Sherborne House but slightly further away if you are thinking of settling in Alresford. You must also consider that the state schools in Winchester are very good too, both primary and senior. It is a minefield but good luck!

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