Berkhamsted School vs Newlands College(15 Posts)
My son is in year 5. He has been offered a place in year 6 at Berkhamsted Prep. Whilst we are very pleased that he has been offered a place we are unsure whether to take it as we haven't decided on senior schools between Berkhamsted and a brand new school called Newlands.
If we decide on Berkhamsted then moving him to Berkhamsted Prep makes a lot of sense, but I do not want to move him from his current school and then move him again a year later…
He is very quiet and shy, having had hearing problems when he was very small and is not at all sporty. He is very good at Maths and Science and not too bad at the other subjects.
Newlands college does IB and is a much smaller school and has smaller classes - which would be great for the shyness and quietness but IB is not so good if you want to continue in sciences as far as I can see
Does anyone out there have kids at either school that could tell me what they are actually like for the kids, not the open day waffle?
I have two reasons for not liking Berkhamsted despite it being literally on my doorstep.
Firstly it's a total money pit. Everything is an extra which will be added to your bill. Don't get me wrong they do some amazing trips and there are endless extra curricular activities on offer so in some respects this is awesome. Not, however, if you're like us and there isn't a bottomless pit of money.
2) There is a huge amount of competitive parenting there and this rubs off on the kids. The children are expected to meet high academic standards (again this is great), but it feels really pushy and overly competitive even on the smallest little thing.
For the child who thrives in this sort of environment then it's great. For the more sensitive child then I would worry a bit about how they would deal with this sort of peer pressure (and whether you can cope with the behaviour of the other parents!!!!)
I didn't feel this sort of environment was good for small children but it matters much less when they reach 11 and you have a better idea of whether or not the school is a good fit.
There are limited places for external candidates at the boys school at 11+ so moving him for Y6 would be very sensible.
Don't get me wrong, I liked the secondary a lot more than the Prep, it has great academics and so much going on. There's just something underlying that doesn't sit well with us and that's, I guess, just down to personal preferences. I have many, many friends with children at the school and on the whole they are very happy.
I don't know anything about the other school.
I assume Newlands College is a new school on the Newkands Park site in Chalfont St Giles. It is a gamble because it has no track record. They may not attract children who are bright enough to do the IB. They have the Dr Challoners Grammar schools on their dorrstep so getting the brightest children may be difficult. It may just attract people who believe all the jargon on the web site. Other parents with money in that area will look for the big name schools for their boys, eg Harrow.
Berkhamsted has a long track record and is not overly academic when compared to the nearby grammar schools or the highest performing schools in Hertfordshire, for example.
These two schools are not comparable in any way in my opinion. Newlands is clearly pushing for overseas students to make up the numbers. However, there is no boys independent day school in that area so it could work for parents who cannot afford boarding schools for their boys. I think most people with bright boys would still opt for the Grammar schools in Bucks if they get the chance and Newlands cannot compete with Wycombe Abbey or Pipers for the girls. In small schools the quality of sport, drama and music is often compromised.
For any child who is an all rounder, the Middle Years Program (11-16) is fantastic. It is education in the true sense of the word and not just teaching to pass a specific and rather narrow exam like the GCSE programme. Additionally, when applying to universities, the IB student has the advantage of not being weighted by their school pass/fail GCSE results. That being said, there seems to be a suspicion about this "new" approach. Schools throughout the UK have been teaching the IB Program for well over 30 years. It is highly respected and is to be welcomed into the local community. It isn't just for international students, but is a portable, continuous system of learning for those children whose families are uprooted every few years by work commitments and moves.
It is impossible to compare apples and pears, so comparing Berkhamsted School with Newlands College is unrealistic. I have worked in both Berkhamsted School and an IB school and the most overriding impression with Berko that it is not culturally diverse and sports seems to be the main thrust for success. The best advice when choosing a school for your child (and in this competitive age, I use the word 'choosing' loosely) is be informed and follow your instincts, if it 'feels' right, it is right. Don't be led by what everyone else is doing and then you will place your child in the right learning environment for them.
I had my child in IB system at the international school and then for a very short period of time at berkhamsted school. And it was the biggest mistake of my life! IB schools is a different word compared to traditional ( and rather boring) schools like Berkhamsted. My child couldn't fit in at all into very old way of thinking at Berkhamsted school. Is impossible to compare newland school to berko.; everything depends on what kind of student you want your child to be. In IB schools child must be interested in learning and have a pleasure from learning ; students at IB system are happy; very intelligent and extremely aware of the world around them. Apart of that I don't think Berkhamsted school offers enough of after school activities . If you don't want to do Lacrosse you are left with nothing.
My son started at Newland College last September and so far I am very impressed. He was at a much bigger school (private as well-not Berko), where he was just a face in crowd. He is very academic and not too keen on sports, which is why he struggled at the previous school. The one-to-one assessment he is receiving at Newland is priceless. I believe that children that go through the IB system are much better prepared for university and for life.
I have friends whose children go to Berkhamstead and they seem to be very happy there. I chose to send my son to Newland because it's a 10-minute drive from my house, oposed 40 minutes to Berkhamstead. In the end I am sure I made the right choice. Despite the small number of pupils, he has made some lovely friends. It's a small school, but the kids really enjoy it, since they're all roughly the same age. There are no small children and no older ones because the school is new.
Newland College (in Newland Park, Gorelands Ln, Chalfont Saint Giles HP8 4AD) opened in September 2015, and was owned by Skola Group, lead by Director Ben Toettcher, with a parent firm then known as ICS Education LLP. International Realisations LLP (formerly I C S Education LLP) was placed into Administration, and Danny Dartnaill and Antony Nygate of BDO LLP were appointed Joint Administrators on 29 September 2016.
Newland College went bust in September 2016, with the parent company going into administration. At the same time two other Skola schools either shut or were taken over: Alexander's College in Suffolk shut, and International community school in London was sold. Companies House records show the transfer of ownership.
In September 2016 Newland College was acquired by Ali Khan, Alpha schools (not Alpha Plus schools- they are a different company). When the school first opened, it was represented as an IB school and students offered places in accordance with the school offering the IB Diploma (equivalent to sixth form) from September 2017. The school has since rescheduled and is now advertising accreditation a year later, in September 2018. What would have happened if you were a student then at the time and needed accreditation to graduate?
The school is not IB accredited at present, you can check on the ibo.org site. It has not had an Ofsted inspection at all to date. The new owner, Ali Khan, has had negative comments from parents at other schools he has acquired - you can check Ali Khan on ratemyteachers.
Evidence that the accreditation was originally 2017
Other parents’ concerns about schools he has acquired
Story on Alexander College closing
I'm commenting to the previous post as a parent of a child currently at Newlands college. It is true that the ownership of the school has changed hands recently and that the school is now owned by Alpha Schools headed by Ali Kahn. The school is on track to obtain the MYP accreditation early 2017 (Middle Years Program the stage before the IB diploma - similar to GCSE before A levels). Newland's currently have students in years 7-10 in the MYP and plan to be accredited in time for those children to transition into the IB diploma program in 2018.
Newland's teaches using the Harkness Methology involving students seated in a large, oval shape to discuss ideas in an encouraging, open-minded environment. The class sizes are limited to a maximum of 14 students per class giving the teacher the ability to know each child's learning style and adapt accordingly.
As far as the comments made previously against Ali Kahn all I can say is that I have met with him personally to discuss the future of the school and came away feeling that the school is in extremely safe hands with a new owner committed to seeing it succeed.
As a parent I have been blown away by the positive changes I've seen in my shy child and his attitude towards learning. He is happy, confident and excited to go to school each day. The teachers are inspiring and the setting is stunningly beautifully creating a relaxing environment for children to learn. It is definitely worth a visit if you are at all considering the school - or just curious to see how innovative and inspiring teaching can be. The next open day is on November 18, 2016 if in doubt go and see for yourself. I for one could not be more pleased with the school and ecstatic that my child has the opportunity to be a part of Newland College.
My son started in MYP1 (Year 7) at Newland College this September. We applied for three other schools also (Claires Court, Ashfold, Akeley Wood) and were offered places in all of those schools. For us there were a number of reasons for choosing Newland. Newland treats each student as an individual which gives each student the chance to learn in the style that bests suits them. My son is dyspraxic and can use a laptop as much as he likes so he can focus on lessons and not on how fast he can write. The small class sizes are amazing - imagine learning a new language with just three in the class. Each class has no more than 14 in it. MYP and IB teaches my son how to learn not just repeat what he has heard. He becomes an all rounder - in half a term I have seen artwork I never thought he was capable of. The nurturing environment with an emphasis on pastoral care of all students means he is friends with all the children at his school and can approach all the teachers with any concerns or questions. His first parents evening and report was excellent with all marks satisfactory or more with clear guidance for further improvement. Work is continually assessed not just at one exam. Children are encouraged to take part in charity and community work. My son volunteers at a club and is doing a sporting challenge for a local hospice. Parents and teachers all work together for the success of the school. It is true that the school did have financial difficulties but with ownership now in a group with 12 other schools there is financial stability and the new owner, Mr Khan is committed to the success of the school in the long term. Please do not just listen to my comments, come and see for yourself, meet the children, teachers and parents and judge for yourself.
Please note my post refers to Mr David Shandley, Head of Newland College, which opened in September 2015 (2017 was a typo).
As a parent looking to send my son to Newland next September, please can you tell me the 3 best things about the college and in your opinion the 3 worst.
"Imagine learning a new language with just three in the class". How awful! This is not financially sound or educationally sound. It is just too small. This school seems to suit children who don't really fit in anywhere else and are somewhat over-protected. Clearly the nearby grammar schools are way ahead if your child is intelligent. If a child is not grammar school, and Berko is too brash, this is a safe haven, especially for boys, because there is no other boys independent school nearby. Every other school a parent might consider has better sport, music, drama, extra curricular etc. Most of all, schools like Berkhsmsted actually mean something . They have a pedigree. Very many parents at independent schools are rather pleased with themselves. You cannot get away from that but you don't have to be best buddies with them.
My child was offered a place at grammar school, and at Berkhamsted. We looked at both before finding Newland College. We wanted our child to achieve their full potential but were concerned that in a big school our shy, but very intelligent child might get lost. Newland College was a risk. It was a new school with no track record. I am so happy to say that it has been the perfect mix of achievement and good pastoral care for our child, and we have watched them blossom academically and grow in confidence.
It saddens me to see Newland College criticised on Mumsnet by mothers who have no first hand experience of the school, and to them I would say visit the school, watch it in action, and speak to the committed staff and the satisfied existing parents.
The two can't be compared. I know of Berkhamsted School as I worked at Heatherton which is part of the Berko group. We regularly had training days there and I've seen how they teach and how it all "ticks" there. It is vastly different to that of Newland College.
My daughter is nearly half a term into being at NC and it's the best things we've done for her. It's small, it's nurturing is first class, and I'm loving how enthused and happy my daughter is when she comes home. Her lessons seem brilliant, her teachers seem to have "sussed" her already and I have a renewed optimism that after a rocky start in another school, she's going to do well with her schooling. The school teaches the middle years programme of the IB and that seems to be a better way of learning for my daughter. It's a lot more investigative. My eldest is at Challoners Girls and has just done her GCSEs. That way of teaching is very much taught AT a child. This approach is teaching WITH a child. The tables are round so everyone is included. The most that is in a class is 14 and my daughter is in a class of 8. Granted, it's early days but so far, I can't fault it. Seriously hard working staff, genuinely caring, they know their stuff, and they seem to have the children eating out of the palm of their hands. The head teacher is inspirational in the way that he speaks, and you can tell that he and his staff team love their jobs. I'm thrilled we became part of the Newland "family" and would urge anyone to go and see it for themselves.
Actually this coming Saturday (4th Feb is an open morning 9.30-12noon) Call them on 01494 875502 and see for yourself. It's all about gut feeling I think, and at NC it feels right.
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