Advanced search - orley farm/radlett prep or quainton hall??

(30 Posts)
tiku Tue 29-Jan-13 00:02:27

Dear peeps,

Am very confused - my son has had offers from radlett prep, orley farm and quainton hall for reception entry. Any thoughts and guidance will be much appreciated......

aceorchard Mon 19-Dec-16 00:20:21

And on that note I've realised it's gone midnight and I have a taxi picking me up at 5 to catch a 7am flight from Heathrow to Berlin for my last work trip of the year. Halle-bloody-lujah! Roll on Wednesday evening 👍🏻

aceorchard Mon 19-Dec-16 00:15:44

EnormousTiger: then I am sorry if I've caused any offence but you seem to be missing the point- I don't think I've mentioned once about OFS being single-sex or not (my comments here were related to Aldenham changing to co-ed but maybe I've caused confusion).

And what has 'earning quite a bit of money' got to do with it? I didn't put my salary in order to show off; simply to show that success (at least financial success) doesn't have to come at the price of being in an uncomfortable situation which makes one feel inadequate, worthless and frankly less than human. My OH went to our local non-fee-paying school and while I'd never consider him 'academically' clever (mostly because he couldn't be arsed with subjects that didn't interest him- take him on a 4 hour walking tour of Berlin and spends the whole time sulking because you can't see the "actual" Hitler's bunker because it's been filled in and covered with a car park 🙈); he showed a talent and a passion from a very young age in music and has been able, through pure hard work and determination, to carve out a really good career for himself earning pretty much on par with me without the 30 grand a year private school education. The money is irrelevant but he understands, not just from me but from my school-friends he has met on many occasions, how special and supportive my school was and after much discussion and consideration, agrees that we should try the boys at Aldenham. Yes, we are in the financial position to do so but my original point was merely to illustrate that an unhappy child does not have to remain an unhappy child and can go on to achieve personal success in whatever form that is measured, be a good person (can't promise I am 100% of the time but I do try my best 😁) AND most importantly, be happy. No OFS was not right for me but I'm not saying it wasn't, isn't, or won't be for other children.

Of course we all want our children to be happy AND be good people and I am glad to hear you say so. At the end of the day, we all just want to make sure our children are in the best possible school to suit their abilities but most of all that they're content. Let's look at it like this: kids spend the same amount of time per week in school as adults do at work. If we, as adults, aren't happy in our jobs for whatever reason; what do we do about it? We look for something else. That is in our power. But for children, especially vulnerable children, sometimes it's too daunting for them to speak up and say they're not happy for fear of disappointing their parents or being seen as a pain. As I said originally- I am not looking to slag OFS off in ANY way and I really hope things have turned around there (and from what you've said EnormousTiger, it sounds like they have) but the point of my post was to help parents see that although on the outside their children may be happy (at whichever school they're at), sometimes they really might not be.

I just want to clarify that you say Aldenham does well for the children who cannot get into more academic schools. I believe Aldenham provides a well-rounded education for every child regardless of their abilities because publishing the list of which Russell Group universities their 6th form leavers managed to get in to isn't the most important factor in the education they provide. I remember after collecting my GCSE results from school on results day I met up with some friends in a nearby pub who attended another independent school (yes we were 16 but that pub in the vicinity happily served underage drinkers 😁) and was told by those friends that the Headmistress of their school went around congratulating all students who had achieved A*s and As but anybody with grades lower than that was ignored and probably made to feel a complete failure. I would HATE that to happen to my kids and if I can remember being told that story over 13 years later; I hate to think how those poor kids with their Bs and Cs must have felt.

What I failed to mention in my original post is that I took, and passed, the entrance exams for Harrow, Eton College and John Lyon and could've gone to any of those but Aldenham from the offset was where I thought I would be happiest. Thankfully I, and my family, made the right decision for ME. I'm not saying it was, or would be, right for every child. Moreover, I hope I am proof that just because one attends what might be considered a 'less academic' school does not mean one cannot flourish, excel and go on to achieve great things as well as happiness.

DeckTheHall: please feel free to drop me a line if you would like to discuss more (I don't know if mumsnet has direct messaging, but you can email me on ace (dot) orchard (at) gmail (dot) com if you wish. I'm more than happy to provide some guidance if I can. I can only speak from my own experience but you can read from another post above that they feel Aldenham still has very much the same ethos and I can say as I have dyspraxia that the support provided during my time at Aldenham was first rate. Like I said before, my 7 years there wasn't a complete bed of roses (but life isn't is it) but I look back on my time there with the fondest of memories, reminiscing on the good times as well as the bad, with my close friends I first met aged 11 and 13 and who I wouldn't be without now because my experiences and my friendships have played a massive part in the person I am today. Please feel free to get in contact if you like.

Merry Christmas and a happy 2017 to all!

DeckTheHall Sat 17-Dec-16 17:40:10

AceOrchard - really interested in your comments on Aldenham. Although my DS is actually quite clever, he has dyspraxia and is definitely quirky. We will need a nurturing environment for him which helps him succeed

EnormousTiger Sat 17-Dec-16 11:00:24

Life is easier if you earn quite a bit of money. I would not be counted by anyone as a pushy parent as I haven't tutored or pushed the children and they can do what they want. Aldenham does well for children who cannot get into the more academic private schools. We all just need to find the right school for our children. My older ones did not go to Oxbridge and nor will the younger ones and they can pursue any career they choose.

I don't subscribe to the school of thought that we only want children to be happy. We want them to be good people (simply pursuing personal happiness is not a particularly moral aim in life) plus be content and fulfil their potential. I suspect most parents would agree with me on that.

Children are bullied in all schools and I don't think OFS whether when it was single sex or now it is mixed is particularly bad at all. So those of us who had good experiences there just wanted to point that out.

Success is mental robustness and freedom from mental and physical illness - I always put that first. Then doing the best with what you have. Having a range of interests in life. We have found those balanced outcomes for our childreni n fairly academic schools. that does not mean you cannot find them in schools like Aldenham of course.

aceorchard Sat 17-Dec-16 02:07:44

Thank you for all your comments.

Arabella: I really hope this is the case and I am very happy you feel OFS works for you and your children. My post was in no way meant to tarnish the reputation of OFS or put off potential parents from sending their children there if that is what works for them; simply to make other parents whose children may have or may be experiencing similar issues of what went on to investigate them if necessary in the same way I was so lucky my family did for me. Maybe I'll go back and visit OFS when the next invitation lands on my doormat, with an open mind and heart. And I'm so fortunate that my experiences haven't deeply affected me and that I was able, in time, to stick two fingers up to those circumstances and better myself because I wouldn't be in the position I am in today had I not done so.

WalkerCreeps: I am so glad to hear you say that. I am still very much in touch with what happens at Aldenham and if anything this has given me even greater confidence on where to place our two munchkins smile

EnormousTiger: I think the bullying was more down to the fact that I was perceived as slightly effeminate (because I was quite clearly gay) and my qualm with OFS was that I was never listened to or given any support when I did speak up rather than whether I was sporty or not. I suppose the one plus point of my time at OFS was that I discovered my passion for music and as a result, the music block became my haven.

We all want our children to be happy and do well- but what is the definition of "doing well"? If one of my children turns around to me in 16 years' time and says 'Daddy, I want to be a dustbin man because that's what I'm passionate about but I want to be bloody good at it and make you proud of me' then in my opinion, that's doing just as well as if my other son becomes the CEO of a multinational company. As long as they're happy, good at what they do and enjoy themselves doing it, I couldn't give a toss how much they earn or how far up a company they go.

I'm afraid I'm not best placed to comment on whether OFS' placement of 13+ suitability is their plus-point as I didn't stick around long enough (I moved to Aldenham at 11). Maybe it is/ was, maybe it isn't/ wasn't.

My point here I guess is that if your child gives a sign or tries to tell you that they're not happy; be this at OFS, QHS, Radlett, Northwood, Aldenham or WHEREVER- just listen to them because actually the most important decision-maker in your child's future happiness/ success is them.

So EnormousTiger: do you want your children to be happy and do well for themselves, or because they're earning a 6-figure salary and you'll be able to big them up around the table at one of your dinner parties in order to keep up with the Jones'? I'd be interested to get your clarification on your comment of 'Aldenham is fine for children of that kind'. What 'kind' are you referring to? The way you have written about 'more academic schools' and your comments which I have already elaborated on above (and I may be very wrong here so apologies if so) points me to the opinion that you fall very much into the 'pushy parent' category whose kids will only 'do well' in your eyes if they achieve the 12 A*s at GCSE, 4A*s at A-level and a 1st from Oxbridge. I look forward to your comments.

I'm not trying to get at anyone here and I know all we want deep down is our babies to be happy and to be successful but just have a think about how you measure success- your expectations or theirs?

EnormousTiger Fri 16-Dec-16 11:31:41

So I too am sorry you had an awful time. My non sporty son was there when you were for some of that time. Music was brilliant. He did loads and thrived. Fact he was pretty useless at sport was neither here nor there and he was never bullied.

I don't just want my chilren to be happy. I want them to be happy and do well. I don't see a contradiction with the two and you can get that at OFS and indeed the other schools mentioned on the thread. Aldenham is fine for chidlren of that kind but we are glad none of our 3 went there but that is simply because because they have done better at different more academic schools. Isn't that an OFS (and indeed QH etc) plus point - that they point you to the 13+ school that will suit you best - Aldenham in your case?

WalkerCreeps Thu 15-Dec-16 20:44:45

Just to add to what ace said, Aldenham is still very much just as you described it. It hasn't changes. It's still a lovely nurturing school that gets the best out of every child.

ArabellaRockerfella Thu 15-Dec-16 18:42:52

Aceorchard - I'm really sorry to hear of your horrible experience at OFS which has obviously deeply affected you. No child should have to endure such damage to their self esteem in a place that should be nurturing them.
And whilst I am very sympathetic, I don't think it's fair to tarnish a school for something that occurred nearly 20yrs ago. Many schools across the country will have been unhappy places for some children. If you were to visit the school now, you would see a completely transformed environment which is very child centred, happy and caring. There have been numerous changes of Head Teacher since you were there, the current Head is young and vibrant and constantly looking to improve outcomes for every child. The staff to are pretty young and vibrant and incredibly dedicated to getting the best out of every child at their own level of capability.
I'm glad you have overcome your demons and become successful but please don't blame the school of 2016/17 for what you experienced.

aceorchard Thu 15-Dec-16 03:15:40


I see this topic hasn't been posted on for quite a while but came across it whilst searching for something else to do with OFS on Google and felt compelled to reply to ScholarshipClass' post.

I'm 29 years old, male, gay and happily married; degree-educated with a combined household salary in excess of 150k a year. Most importantly we have 2 adopted sons who are our absolute world currently aged 1 and 2 and are looking at schooling options after nursery.

I myself attended OFS between 1991 and 1998 and while I respect that this was a long time ago and school culture as well as social attitudes have changed somewhat since then; I can honestly say that my time at OFS was the most miserable of my entire life and I would rather stick pins in my eyes than consider sending my boys to an institution which caused me nothing but misery due to the bullying from other pupils (which was simply overlooked and never investigated), attitudes of the teachers (if you weren't sporty or didn't excel at anything then you were simply dismissed as a failure) and the total feeling of inadequacy I felt as a pupil there.

I myself was diagnosed with a learning difficulty (dyspraxia) at a young age and while OFS had a learning support team in place (extra tuition which came at a price, not that I'm complaining about this as it was actually very helpful to me and my family were willing and able to pay); my parents were told that I would never amount to anything and would be lucky to scrape the basic passes in English and Maths at GCSE.

As a result of my unhappiness I was given the option by my family to move schools at 11 instead of the usual age of 13 (therefore avoiding the dreaded Common Entrance examinations needed at the higher age to gain entry into senior independent schools- bonus!- although I'm not sure whether this is still in place) and took the entrance exam for Aldenham School near Elstree in Hertfordshire (c. 5 miles from Watford) on the advice of a former OFS pupil's mother whose son had done the same a year previously.

I passed the entrance exam for Aldenham and my parents promptly accepted the offer of my starting year 7 in September 1998 and I can tell you hand on heart it was the best decision I and my family made with regards to my education (at every stage of the process I was actively involved in the decision-making, I want to add).

I attended Aldenham from the ages of 11- 18 and while things weren't constantly a bed of roses (bullying still occurs wherever one is if one is singled out as 'different'), I loved my 7 years at Aldenham. The staff were nothing but supportive and caring and the ethos of the school was very much to help pupils find and develop their strength and their passion; regardless of whether it be in music, sport, art, science, languages or whatever.

Aldenham was (and still very much is) a school for all abilities; very different to the Harrows, Merchant Taylors, Haberdashers Aske's of this world to name a few (I want to make it clear that I am in no way slandering these schools as I have friends who attended and thoroughly enjoyed their times there; however there is a much greater ethos on one's academic ability than at Aldenham) and if one did show academic prowess in certain subjects then it was encouraged and one was pushed to reach one's potential; however, those with less academic ability were encouraged to do the very best they could achieve with the best possible support without being made to feel worthless, insignificant and stupid. A number of my friends who would not have been considered 'academically clever' have since gone on to achieve great things in their careers as a result of the encouragement and passion shown by the teaching staff at Aldenham.

When I started at Aldenham in 1998 it was a small independent school of c. 500 boys (with girls only in 6th form) and now the school has expanded as well as becoming totally co-ed starting with a nursery, through pre-prep, on to prep and all the way through to 18 years old. Whilst I cannot say whether this is for the better or worse as I haven't personally experienced it myself, I can tell you that after being dismissed by Orley Farm School as a failure who would struggle to obtain C grades at GCSE in English and Maths; Aldenham and its staff nurtured my potential, brought out my capabilities and invested the time in me and I left aged 18 having achieved 9 A grades and one B at GCSE and 2 A grades at A level in Business Studies and Geography and a B in German and went on to Aston University in Birmingham where I graduated in 2009 with a B.Sc. (Hons) upper-second class (2.1) degree in International Business and German language and am now working for a FTSE 100 company earning more than I believed I would ever have been capable of when I knew aged 9 or so that OFS had no faith in me and had effectively 'given up' on a lost cause because I had a learning difficulty and wasn't in the 'Scholarship Class' (I mean what a way to make a 10 year old feel inadequate by naming the high-performing class as such?!).

The ethos of the school may well have changed and in no way am I looking to discourage potential parents from placing their children at OFS; that decision lies solely up to you and only you know what is best for your child and will make the right decisions accordingly. Because I feel so passionately about this and literally stumbled across this post is the reason I've signed up to Mumsnet (despite not being a mum!) and if I can save one little boy or girl from going what I had to go through then this has been worth the time and effort to write.

Myself and my husband will without question not be considering OFS for pre-prep/ prep school and despite the longer journey, greater effort, larger expense etc. involved we will be placing our boys in my old school and hopefully they will be inspired, motivated and will flourish there without the pressure, expectations and damaging attitudes I had to experience as a young boy.

To the poster ScholarshipClass: I'm not saying you can't be proud of your son or daughter for their achievement (and if they do receive a scholarship offer from senior school then this will certainly relieve some of the financial burden of thousands of pounds of school fees) but please just be aware that this expectation and pride can place an astronomical pressure and burden on a 10/11 year old child. All we want is for our children to be happy at the end of the day and I only speak from personal experience when I say that the best educational decision my family and I ever made was to get me out of Orley Farm as quickly as possible. Just because your child is in the scholarship class does not mean they will go on to achieve great things, and on the flip-side: just because your child has been dismissed as a failure by one group of people in one educational institution does not mean they a) can't be happy and b) won't make a success of themselves and make you proud, in whatever form that may come in.

PrincessRussia Sun 25-Jan-15 23:58:57


I am also confused. There is a new headmaster at QH, and I have offers for both schools. I'm concerned that is at OF (expensive) we will still have to tutor but if at QH (cheaper) and a tutor, it would equate to the same as just going to OF anyway.

Anyone see the new head at QH, and do you think he will improve QH and deliver?

Also to OF prep boys for 11+ or only for 13+?

tisam Fri 23-Jan-15 17:43:07

I was wondering whether you had made a decision?
Venus33 we are also looking at Orley Farm and Durston House. They're in very different locations though so are you planning to move close to one? Sorry for being so nosey but we're in the same boat and are trying to figure out if we want to live right next to a school or brave a commute smile

Hersheykiss Tue 28-Jan-14 23:28:57

Thanks Jin220 and Hi Venus33.

I agree the facilities are great at QH considering they are right in the middle of town! Mr Brown is lovely and I thought it was great that all the teachers knew every pupil.

On balance, we decided to go with Orley Farm in the end. My DS said he preferred OF which swayed our decision too! :D

Best wishes for your decision, venus33 smile

Venus33 Tue 28-Jan-14 18:45:10

Hi Hersheykiss
Have you managed to make up your mind with regards to Orley Farm yet?We too have had an offer for our son, and cannot make up our minds between Orley Farm and Durston House.
It's a tough decision !
Hi Workingmum10 - could I ask if you had any concerns with regards to the high percentage of children having tuitions at Orley when you were making your decision ? We are really impressed with Orley Farm, but have this concern.

jin220 Sun 26-Jan-14 23:33:20

@Hersheykiss - We considered Quainton Hall for our DS. DH was really impressed, especially with the indoor swimming pool. We had arranged a private visit on a school day so we got to observe the classes in session and we were happy with what we saw. The children in pre-prep were active and engaged. Always a good sign.

Mr. Brown the headmaster was very approachable, seemed to have a good handle on things and the school seemed to be in good hands in general. Also liked the fact that though QH is a christian school, pupils are taught to respect all faith traditions of fellow pupils.

Hersheykiss Sun 26-Jan-14 18:42:11

Thanks workingmum10 for your thoughts! It's good to hear that your children enjoy school so that has to be a good thing.

Out of interest, where are the other parents are trying to get their children into for 7+ and 8+ instead of OF?

Does anyone know how OF compares with QH now? Thanks all.

workingmum10 Sun 26-Jan-14 11:25:15

Sorry I should have also said that my two enjoy going to school and have never had one day when they have said they didn't want to go !!!
The music teacher is also exceptional and the end of year productions are very good .

workingmum10 Sun 26-Jan-14 11:20:06

Not sure if OF is the best place for a girl , I have a boy and a girl there.They are both very young still but have heard that they do not tutor girls for 11+ and as a consequence lots of children have tutors, which IMHO is outrageous considering the fees!
The school has great facilities ie sports grounds etc... and pre prep has some great teachers.
The new head seems to be good , only time will tell!
A little on the fence still and have heard a few children are trying 7+ and 8+ exams to get their children out.

Hersheykiss Sun 26-Jan-14 10:38:21

Resurrecting this rather than creating a new thread. Need advice from you lovely mums smile

DS has just received offers from Orley Farm and Quainton Hall. We are torn as they both seem great and I am sure he will be happy at either one.

What I would love to hear about is which one would be better in getting him into a fantastic secondary school. Thoughts? Thanks.

bonkersboo Fri 14-Jun-13 20:21:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ScholarshipClass Fri 15-Mar-13 12:26:22

Dear PrepnoMore,
It sounds like you have had some issues with this school but please do not let it tarnish it for everybody else. We have been at Orley Farm for many years. The teachers are fantastic, smiling, happy and can't do enough to help.The same with all the teams including the ground staff, caterers, medical team and office staff. There is a huge family feeling which has been there for many years. The pre-prep staff are fabulous. They are smiling from the time that they greet your child in the morning to when they give them back to you in the afternoon. This follows throughout the school. The gates have gone up in the school to give more security, this is the same throughout many schools. The teachers and senior staff are very accessible and you can set up a meeting almost with immediacy. The diary report, is a very valuable asset, which is weekly and you get to know how well your child frequently. I have visited many schools and not one has had such a regular feedback system with regards to grading. I have never experienced bad feeling around the school anywhere. There are always happy smiling faces from both staff and children. My children love it there and it has been very difficult for us to find a senior school that we felt the same way about. My oldest, when they left, said the food in particular, never compared to this school. The food is superb. My children have not experienced the language that you have discussed. The drive by system is essential for traffic as the parking is very limited on the private road outside the school. I would urge you to find a better system. It has been well thought out and put in place over many years. I have never found it problem getting through to the bursary, but I must admit I email so have never experienced the phone system.
In short, this school is the best prep school that I have seen in a few miles. To any new potential parent, please come and see our school and make up your own mind. The parents at this school are very friendly and many have made friends for life. I know, from speaking to many parents at the school, that I speak for the majority. I was very upset to see that review and felt compelled to give you another prospective.

PrepNoMore Thu 28-Feb-13 08:51:16

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

sjani Mon 04-Feb-13 12:10:31

Hi Prepnomore,

Thanks for your detailed review about Orley Farm.

My son too received offers from both Orley Farm and Quainton Hall and it helps to have some real reviews from parents who are associated with school.

Tiku / Unsure1234567,

I believe the deadline for Orley farm was 31st Jan. Have you opted for any school?

timmytoes Thu 31-Jan-13 20:50:10

My nephew has just finished Radlett prep. All in all his parents felt he had a great education and I know he really enjoyed it. Given its location the school is about 1 third Asian, 1 third White and 1 third Jewish with all the Jewish holidays celebrated. My sister in law is all for ethnic mixes , she her self is non-white but certainly early on my nephew did become somewhat confused over his ethnic background given the strong bias . Not a negative but something to be aware of.

PrepNoMore Thu 31-Jan-13 15:53:41

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BlissfullyIgnorant Thu 31-Jan-13 14:53:41

(Sorry - directed at 123456)

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