Thoughts please... on these schools.
I am still not 100% convinced on the final years boarding at Caldicott - but wonder if Beacon is very 11+ orientated?
My DS is showing lots of signs of being musical, is a bit quirky and seems reasonably academic
I couldn't face the compulsory boarding at Caldicott. The school seemed fantastic at open day though. I would have used it like a shot if it wasn't for the boarding issue.
Not sure how the change of Head will affect Beacon. I haven't been to look as it was always going to be a bit too far for us but DH taught boys from there and said they had clearly had an excellent education.
I have had two sons go through Caldicott. The school is exactly as it appears. But it is like this because it doesnt muck around with boarding/non boarding. Even if you live over the road you will required to board at 11. The boys have a ball tbh. They have been day boys for 4 years and then into the senior part of the school. The confidence they get is great.
However there are a few parents who try and 'fight' the boarding. They dont expect it to work and often it doesnt.
There have been a few boys who have taken the 11+ and they then leave before the boarding starts. Two of my son's friends although they got into RGS cried on their last day at Caldicott.
What some parents look at doing is allowing the boarding for the last two years and then moving to a day school. I better warn you though. I have only known two parents who did this. All the other boys moved onto the big private boarding schools and that is where Caldicott really excels. It gives the boys effectively a 'go' at boarding and they might just surprise you!
If you want to PM I will promise to answer truthfully. You look at them at say 6 and cannot believe they will end up boarding but they do and I have two very different boys...
Worth a quick read
This is an old thread, but I'm also considering Caldicott and Beacon, going to visit both in a couple of weeks so information I have so far is based on their website and MumsNet forums.
DS is 7 going into Y3 this year. Is it correct that Caldicott is also open on Saturdays? Is it the usual school hours? This may be a problem for DS as he's with his dad every other weekend..
Curious to see how people compare The Beacon and Caldicott in terms of academics, French, Latin, focus on music, or arts/drama or sports?
Any insight will be very helpful!
They are two very different schools. Caldicott has Saturday school and is aiming for boarding public schools. Beacon is (for the most part) aiming at the grammar schools. Caldicott has compulsory boarding from 11
I don't think I can bear sending DS away to a boarding school, though may be convinced down the road if I see he really wants it.
Where I stand right now, even with Caldicott option I'm planning for him to enter Grammar school and leave at 11.
Caldicott seems more well-rounded, earlier start on French, etc. and my 'gutt feel' so far is better on Caldicott.
Would it be a good option for Grammar school (even though its primarily targeting public boarding schools)?
Definitely don't choose Caldicott if you want the grammar option. You just won't have the time. Yes, there is Sat school until 1230. No exceptions.
I have two boys go through Caldicott and it's the most fab school. However we did go down the senior boarding school route. It sort of sweeps you along and we didn't have a suitable day option which didn't involve us moving house!
Thanks for the responses.
@Hillingdon, can you elaborate more on not having time in Caldicott for Grammar school. Do you mean the school does not focus on preparing them for the 11+ tests? Or the days are longer than they would be at other schools like The Beacon, not leaving enough time for more tutoring/support?
Caldecott does not prepare for 11+ grammar. It prepares for boarding, public schools at 13.
Caldicott is focused on Common Entrance. They do not focus on or support 11plus. I think you would not have the time to support 11plus prep with Saturday school and all the sport
GXmummy is of course correct. Caldicott in the later years have school finishing at 1800 (so they don't get homework - its all done at school). Saturday school is 08.45 to 1230 and sports for boys who are in teams. The boys do get tired. When would you fit in the tutoring for the 11+?
It 100% preps for the senior boarding schools. Boarding is required 11-13 with NO exceptions. The Head does not like the boys to leave at 11 (not for the reasons you think!). Can you imagine being top dog at the school. Having the young boys look to you as role models. You have some say in the running of the school under the School Council. You are treated almost like a grown up.
That is why when my DS's two friends left at 11 after passing the 11+ they cried! They knew what they were missing out on.
Please PM if you feel more comfortable. The school is exactly what it appears to be. The Head has been in place for a number of years. He knows what he is doing. If a senior school is suggested by him it WILL happen.
However if you are not sure about boarding and definitely don't want to go down the senior boarding route I would look at another school. The Head will confirm that the do not teach and support the 11+. Its not their thing.
Thanks everyone, excellent insight that would be otherwise very difficult to get.
I went to the open day at The Beacon this morning, and was also told that they do not prepare kids for 11+ as none of the schools participating are allowed to. So either way it will need to be additional tutoring at home (perhaps this is well known, but all very new to me!).
Reading your messages, I guess the main point is at The Beacon they would finish earlier and have time for the tutoring, while at Caldicott they'd close later and would be exhausted.
I'm open to considering continuing onto a day public school thats not too far, like Berkhamsted or Merchant Taylors'.
Any advice/experience on allowing 2 years of boarding at Caldicott and then moving to public day school?
Cherie, yes, I have seen that done. Caldicott for 2 yrs boarding and then onto Merchants Taylor at 13. No more than 1 a year typically. Do look at the leavers desinations on the Caldicott website over the years to give you an idea.
I agree Hillingdon it occasionally is done, but it definitely isn't the usual route. Most of the boys at Beacon I think leave for Dr Challenors. Although they may not overtly teach for 11 plus they certainly will be steering in that direction.
Cherie32 choose a school that will be supportive of 11+ route. Caldicott is not designed for 11+ at all, and (I imagine) if you told the head you wanted DS to leave at 11+ he would also tell you it was the wrong school for you.
Also, I really disliked the culture at Caldicott when I visited, though I'm aware a lot of people are happy with it (I have nothing against boarding Preps in general - there are some lovely ones).
Thanks for all the advice.
Funny thing is the new headmaster at The Beacon didn't seem to be in favour of grammar schools much either. When I met him this week he said "its a factory that focuses on academics and not much more, with classes of 30 students, but advantage is its free!"
Beacon is the only school I've visited so far, also visiting Caldicott, Gayhurst and Thorpe House in a few weeks, though so far, not too keen on the latter two.
DS is on waiting list for the Beacon and unlikely to get a place this Sep. Which means I may have to choose out of the other three. He's been in a state school for last 2 years.
Any further thoughts appreciated..
I think Gayhurst is a "marmite" type of school - either you love it or not.
Thorpe - have friends who love it, but their comment is you need to see beyond the fact it is not glossy.
Just to add, Caldicott usually do an assessment day for all boys entering YR3 in the October prior to September entry - so you are likely to be too late for September 2016 entry as all the places will have been allocated.
Would agree with GX. If you are looking for a place Sept 16 you are very late. There are assessments done well before hand. All very gentle because of course the boys are only 6. Also, they want to see the boys themselves just in case there are some needs/disabilities that haven't been mentioned (not just Caldicott btw - most schools do this).
All schools state they have a waiting list. We were 34th on the pre prep school we used. We got a place so I think its all a bit ego boosting. Its very common to pay a registration fee of say £100 for a few schools to keep your options open but you wont get it back if you choose another school.
The best advice I could give looking back on what we did is don't race too far ahead. With Caldicott for example there are clearly people who know EXACTLY which senior their DS's are going to - whether that actually happens is another matter!
A boy at 6 is very different to a boy at 13. Trust me on that one!
You did also ask me about bullying. I really didn't see any. Its taken very seriously. Why do you think that your son would be bullied could I ask. My older son was a very small boy. Looked very cute yet he was NEVER bullied or picked on.
I have paid the registration fee for both Caldicott and Beacon.
On Beacon, it was straight forward, he's on the waiting list (which means unlikely for this Sep). I was told informal assessment can be done if/when they get to him on the list.
With Caldicott even though I've registered I don't seem to be officially on the list. Pre-requisite is for the headmaster to meet (and approve) the parents apparently. If he thinks (and we think) its the right fit then there will be an informal assessment. All a bit vague in my opinion.
Re bullying. Don't have any major concerns about DS, in his current school he has a lot of friends, is quite outgoing etc. But is also super sensitive. So far he hasn't been subject to any bullying, but knowing how sensitive he is not sure he would cope well with it. So curious to know if any of the schools have history/reputation for bullying and how its managed.
Cherie32. If you want to PM me we can have a chat...
on't worry about the Head meeting you. He is very charming. Every morning he is at drop off just in case anyone wants a quick word....
An update here on my original post ... we visited Caldicott and were completely blown away. DS did get in (despite our late application) and he (and we) have loved every minute of it.
It really is an excellent all rounded school, and the advice was very correct that you get swept into the boarding. I've dismissed my original premise of 11+ grammar school and am looking at boarding and some day school options at 13+.
thanks for all the advice!
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