My DD is at another local prep school, but for many reasons we are not happy with it. An opportunity has arisen for us to transfer her to Tormead but it is such a big step, taking her away from her friends that I really don't want to move her from the frying pan into the fire!!
Can anyone help me with Tormead's class sizes in the prep school? Are they a good match for a bright girl who sometimes struggles to focus? Who will ask a lot of questions and has her own unique view of the world! Will she be over looked because she is not the brightest in the class and nor is she struggling?
I notice they don't do sport everyday as part of lessons, how do you think this effects the girls? Is there a good variety of after school clubs and do the children take them up?
Sorry for all the questions and I may think of more!
You can ask all of those questions about class size, extra curricular etc direct to Tormead. They will be able to tell you up-to-date accurate info about all the practical stuff.
I expect someone will be along shortly with the opinion based stuff.
Anecdotally I have heard that Tormead has slid recently in the academic stakes - GHS becomes ever more popular. I would not claim to be an expert though and do t have girls in either school.
From my observation Tormead has got more Academic.
Really its hard to differentiate academically between Tormead, GHS and St Catherine's. People tend to differentiate on the other things.
Tormead used to be less academic, but has gradually risen, which has changed its atmosphere a bit (as have changes in head).
Thank you both. To be honest I am not overly concerned about the academic side of things. My concern is more the fit for the child, something which I have got wrong in the past (hence the reason we are looking to move her). You go round on open days and private tours and the teachers all say similar, very positive, things but it doesn't give you any sort of genuine feel for the school and it is only once you are in there the cracks start to appear!
I suppose I am asking for the impossible (a guarentee that Tormead would be a good match for my child) and I notice that a lot of the prep schools are upping there class sizes in guildford. But I don't want to move her to find she is in the same situation in this news school as she was in the last! So any info on the genuine feel of the school and how inclusive it is would be really helpful.
The problem is that ultimately its not something that can be predicted in advance. A lot depends on each student's personal experience of the school: who is in her class? Which specific teachers she has? How teacher's style and personality interact with the student's? What passions she develops and how these interact with the teacher's she has, the others in her class, and what they think of as important.
In your circumstance I would request an appointment with the Head/or other senior teacher in the Prep school and honestly tell them about the issues your daughter has had so far.
I know Tormead has been quite honest when taking some friends children (saying things like they'll make sure she has a good time in the prep school but she might find it harder in the senior school). I also know that Tormead has taken girls who have specific needs, and may well have not had a particularly nice time in their previous school.
The girls I know from Tormead all have a range of interests.
Mummytime thank you so much for your second response. I think you are absolutely right that I need to talk to the school specifically.
I am just worried about putting her into a similar situation.
It is a worry, and without supernatural powers we can't ever be sure. But if you ask for honesty then hopefully it is something you and the school can work together on.
I hope she has a wonderful time from now on.
Might be worth googling for previous threads as I've seen fairly recent threads about this school and from memory, people were very positive about it.
Thank you BunnyCake! I have goggled other threads and there was one earlier this year. I think I will have a word with someone at the school and discuss how they can provide for a child with low confidence. She had fragile confidence before starting school but two terms at her current prep and it has all but disappeared!
It's a worry isn't it. I've got a dd who lacks confidence. Have you looked around Tormead yet with your dd? Hopefully you'll be able to get a feel for it. Good luck with your decision making. It sounds like the current school doesn't feel right for her.
I agree, be honest with Tormead - their reaction will tell you a lot. If they are supportive, welcoming but realistic about what they can do, whether they can see your DD fitting in etc then you know they'll do what they can to help her. If they are over-welcoming 'of course she will be fine, all our girls are lovely, there is zero bullying or unhappiness here and every girl settles' (not true of any school) then perhaps they are just doing the hard-sell. If they try to put the issue to you then perhaps they don't have the support there or attitude your DD needs. From what I have heard the prep is incredibly nurturing so I'm sure you will get the first reaction. The new head of senior is changing things, from what I have heard trying to make it more a town version of St Cats. It will always be the less-academic GHS but it caters for different girls and in my opinion shouldn't be compared. You have to remember GHS is super academic and in any other town Tormead would be the top, most academic girls' school.
It is very hard as it is the match for your particular child, and all children are very different and few, if any, schools will work for every single child. Most selectives are good at picking the children they know will thrive there, but sometimes it goes wrong. You need to relax though, my DS started off at a prep school which I hated and realised was a very different school to what I thought it was.
If you move her, do your best to be positive and look for the positives as you can't really move her again without knocking her confidence. Remember children grow and change, my DD went through years where she barely spoke at school and years where the teacher had to have a word with me about her chatting and giggling in class. A lot depends on the teacher so next academic year at her current prep may be different. I don't know the specifics though obviously.
Thank you FlamingoSausage we are very clear that if we move her this time it will be the only time she moves school which is why I am trying to get as much information as possible to ensure that it is the right choice (as far as I can). If I am not sure that Tormead will suit her then she will stay where she is while we give her current school another year and hope a new class teacher will make a difference. However, the management of her current school is very poor, in that parents are dismissed and if any issues are raised we are told they have a waiting list and so we can leave if we want to!! This combined with practically non exsistant pastoral care
except for the chosen few means I feel we may be looking for another school in any event.
To be honest we have never considered GHS as I don't think DD has the right personality and I am not sure she would pass the assessment, she is bright but not über bright and has a very quirky personality. I really liked Tormead previously but went for somewhere more convenient for her to get to. If I think they can build up DDs confidence and encourage her then I would be very happy for her to go there.
I am not sure where she will go for secondary as that is sooooo far away yet!!
Sorry I also meant to ask, did you keep you DS at the school you didn't like? If so how long until you felt happy with it? Thanks
Sorry I never finished the sentence about DS - I had to keep him there for a year until I was certain I found the right school as, like you, it was so important to get the move right. It was all quite traumatic as you invest so much in picking a prep school and starting there, so to then find it is far from what you were 'sold' is hard. It is horrible to know it is your child's education and happiness that you impacted with that decision.
The school he was at was quite an unknown prep. We arrived in Sept to find his classroom was actually a hidden away very old portacabin (had been hidden from perspective parents on tours), class sizes were far bigger than we were told with just one teacher for 40 children and quite a few TAs. The reception class was run like a nursery (DS is in his twenties now so back then EYFS wasn't as play based) but with barely any phonics or maths. This was a long time ago and said prep school appears to now be a very different, thriving school. We moved him at the end of year 1 and it was the best decision. He actually went to Lanesborough which is far more selective but thrived on the structure. Ever since I have really valued reputation as I should have paid more attention to it first time round.
I know the schools around here well so feel free to PM me if you want specifics.
I'm answering from a snr school angle - can't tell you anything about prep except that for prep I would have thought the need for space and varied physical actvity was even more important? I would certainly question them quite closely on the sports front. Its ok if your daughter is a gymnast, but you only need to look around the site to see how limited things are for games. They do go off site for swimming but this stops in year 8 I think. Other sports clubs (eg netball and hockey)take place at Surrey Sports Park after school, but unlike other local schools, eg RGS they do not bus girls offsite during the day for games lessons. So they have very little time for standard girls sports such as netball and hockey. A netball court and a sports hall doesnt go far for a whole year group of girls and especially now with all the building work. When exams are on its even worse.
Many girls travel by coach/public transport to get to the school so I dont believe many stay for after school activities. They get a lot of h/w and there have been a lot of staff changes lately. Academically, results are good enough but I wouldn't pick it again if I'm honest. Not a disaster, not bad enough to leave but something is missing. Maybe it will get better when all the building work is over.
Hi, I'm answering from the angle of a junior school Tormead mum whose daughter moved over to the senior school a couple of years ago. Since then there's been a new head in the junior school. The general ethos at Tormead is about having a broad educational experience. There are a lot of lunchtime and after school clubs covering many activities and girls take them up. When my DD was there it was very nurturing and there appeared to be no favouritism for the cleverer girls imo. DD was 'in the middle' and I never felt she was overlooked. There were some issues with other girls at times but the school dealt with them well, although don't know how new junior head works. Class sizes can be 16 up to about 22.
Regarding the senior school, netball club takes place on site (not at the sports park) and the after school club is for all levels. Hockey training (after school) is off site. Lots of girls do after school activities and their parents pick them up if they have missed the bus or they arrange lift-shares with other girls. My DD is very happy there.
Hi tealady and auntymary thank you both for your first hand opinions! They are both really helpful and give me food for thought. I know that issues with other girls occur it is all about how the school are going to deal with them and the approach taken to each child. Especially confidence building.
I know their is a new head but I am hoping the ethos has remaind and the nurturing side is still as strong.
very helpful comments.May I ask what is the current class size in Tormead Junior like year 1 and year 2? I am really keen to know.many thanks.
As an ex-Tormead parent, I too would add a note of caution to anyone considering it. My DD spent 8 years there but we and 50% of her year left after GCSE (Guildford High have a 95% retention for 6th form in comparison).
There were many good reasons for this but the prime one for most parents was the current Headmistress. She had no idea who most of the girls actually were (even after a few years at the school). After she arrived the best teachers left in droves too - sadly the school became a cold and hard place.
Administration was poor (unless sending bills); Careers advice virtually non-existent. Events one would normally expect in the private sector such as Speech days are impossible because they do not have the space or facilities. Class sizes of 24 are not much better than State and in tiny classrooms. They get the grades because they have a bright cohort to start with and motivated girls and parents, however my DD needed additional tutoring in English and French. She had no opportunities to act (since she didn't study drama) or play in a team - terrible sports facilities (unless they are gymnasts) and nothing like the amount of outdoor space a school of this size needs. There are plenty of far better options out there.
I moved to the Guildford area a few years ago. DD1 and DD2 have both been at Tormead ever since. At the time of our move, Tormead was the only school of GHS, St Cat’s and Tormead that had places available in the relevant years of the junior school.
I must confess that, heavily influenced by league tables, our original plan was, ideally, to move the girls to GHS as soon as places became available. We had already dismissed St Cat’s as offering, IMO, rather too much of a Mallory Towers-ish outlook for us.
We have, however, been very impressed by Mrs Foord’s changes to Tormead since 2010 when she took over the headship. She reduced the number of places in each year to ensure that the school’s USP is as a more nurturing environment, whilst also maintaining a reasonable, yet undeniably more diverse range of academic ability than at GHS. There has also been a significant changing of the guard amongst the staff with the recruitment of a raft of enthusiastic, dynamic teachers across all subjects. She has also presided over a major building project that has dragged the senior school buildings into the 21st century.
Since our move, I have also encountered girls who attend all three schools at many different sporting fixtures and met and spoken to parents who have girls at all three schools. Tormead girls are a diverse bunch. They are also open, confident and comfortable in their own skins.
GHS is undeniably the most academic of the three Guildford schools. But this is unsurprising when those girls that under-perform are encouraged to leave, if not directly, then by the relentless rounds of tests in which they are found wanting. There is also more than a whiff of the Miss Jean Brodie about Mrs Boulton who inculcates a superiority complex in her girls.
In an increasingly global workforce, I would argue that EQ, as well as IQ, is equally important and I have seen little evidence of emotional intelligence amongst the GHS girls I've encountered. Whilst the “win at all costs“ approach undoubtedly gets results, it means that those GHS girls who are enthusiastic, yet less able or even, perhaps, just smaller than their peers, rarely get to participate in inter-school competitions. Those who fall into the bottom quartile of their cohort are also left with low confidence despite achieving results placing them in the top 2% in the country.
The school’s approach is perhaps best illustrated in GHS’s annual pantomime, written by the 6th form and performed by the Yr 7s in front of parents and the junior school. This sanctions the ridiculing of girls at the other two local schools (Hormead, anyone?) despite the fact that a significant number of GHS parents have daughters at the other two schools. Enough said.
Second comments that GHS is not the crazy hot house the previous poster made it out to be. It is very similar to Tormead, not much bigger and just as caring. It is just a bit more selective and attracts parents who want an academic, 'you can do anything' approach. The girls at GHS are ambitious, as are Tormead girls, but they are good humoured, caring, down to earth and very 'fun' girls of all sorts of personalities - just like Tormead.
The school does not rigorously test. We actually found it with older DD to be so laid back. Detentions, re-tests etc extremely rare. The girls want to do well and work hard so it almost creates a very different atmosphere where teachers deliver and facilitate and girls take on board and enjoy learning. I can honestly say compared to other schools I have experience of (including inside experience of Tormead) it is just as, if not more, laid back than any other local girls school. There is a huge amount of spirit and fun. Yes the head is very proud and can come across arrogant but she has a lot to be proud of! Heads jobs are to aim for the highest standards (in all areas including pastoral care).
There are always jokes between local schools - GHS gets Guildford Thigh School according to DD so it certainly goes two ways!!
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