Views on prep schools - Amesbury, St Neot's, Hoe Bridge and St Andrew's Woking

(10 Posts)
FiveStar Fri 18-Dec-15 10:17:38

Hi we are relocating from overseas in the next 6 months and therefore looking for school places for our 3 children. Would be super grateful for any advice and recommendations. Need to live within reasonable commute of Waterloo and been looking at Surrey/North Hants. Obviously further out = more affordable housing (family of 5) but longer commute.

DS will be 11 and as we only just found out about move, we have missed the state school application period in October and wouldn't be considered by LEA in any event until actually UK resident (not till July 2016 - so pretty late to be sorting school places for Sept 2016 at that point). Two DDs will be 9 at that point.

So we are now looking for 2 places in year 5 and one in year 7 for Sept, in independent schools.

As we have been out of UK for 5 years, we know nothing about possible secondary/ senior schools. Also very late to party for 11+ exams which seem to be happening in Jan (i.e. 2 -3 weeks from now) and as kids currently in IB international school, not been preparing DS for those types of assessments. All 3 kids academic and pretty sound all round.

Plan therefore is rather than panic to try to get DS into a senior school we know nothing about, we try to find co-ed prep school that has places for all 3 children, to give us 2 year runway to 13+ for DS and 11+ for DDs and give ourselves time to get an idea of where we might send them next.

Limits on our plan: we can't afford schools with highest level of fees, and need non selective school as DS not at all prepared for 11+/entry assessments in 2 weeks. Also need a school large enough to have two classes or more in year 5 as our twins prefer to be in separate classes.

So far, these schools - Amesbury, St Neot's, Hoe Bridge and St Andrew's Woking - may have spaces and are in right areas. Would really welcome any views on them and on living areas, traffic, commuting etc. Also any alternatives we may have missed.

I have a slight concern that with 3 bright children currently all in top sets for everything and ahead of reading/spelling ages, does going for a non selective school put them in a less stretching environment? Or are all these schools good regardless of being non selective? On the other hand, not keen on the extra pressure of school entry exams at very short notice. UK system seems very high pressure when returning to it from a different system overseas.

We are not super posh and prefer a school with a more 'normal' rather than super traditional feel.....also one daughter is tomboy who prefers her friends to be boys, loves playing football etc, and some schools seem to have more traditional gender expectations than others. Not at all sure how we are going to convince her to wear girl school uniform, as where they are now she can wear trousers. What is it with private school girl uniforms in UK - why all tartan and skirt/dress based?!

Thanks in advance for any comments.

MsMargaretHale Fri 18-Dec-15 11:28:00

I would not rule out selective schools if you think your DCs are academically able. Quite a few places open up in co-ed selective preps at 11 because many girls leave at 11 and some boys leave for grammars/other state. Most preps are experienced at dealing with children coming from abroad and will look at the whole child rather than just the test scores. There is a lot of hype about how competitive it is to get into these schools but in the end they are businesses and need to fill their vacancies. Outside London it is much less difficult to get places.
It is also worth while looking for good state secondaries and putting your name on the waiting lists as soon as you get back. Even though you missed the usual allocation round,your application will still be considered and you would be surprised how much movement there is before term starts. You lose nothing by doing this and can potentially get a last minute slot at a sought after school.

FiveStar Fri 18-Dec-15 13:07:36

Thanks for the reply. We started out calling the selective schools and going down that road. The problem so far is that the selective schools I've spoken with are all happy to assess our DS in January (and take the fee to do so......) but can't offer places for our two DDs in Yr 5. For logistics reasons we prefer them all in the same school if possible so it seems self defeating to go through the assessment stress for a Yr 7 while still having no places for the Yr 5s. The schools I've asked about can offer all 3 places and happen to be non selective. So at the moment we are being lead by where there are Yr 5 spaces.

Will bear in mind your point re the last minute movements in secondaries as well. Difficult for us to be on the ground looking to find out which are good schools, as not yet in the country.

nanodragon Fri 18-Dec-15 15:21:12

I have a friend with children lower down the school at St Andrews - they are very happy with the school

Mumtogremlins Sat 19-Dec-15 07:50:28

Hi

I have boys at St Andrews and very happy with it. They are all quite bright and are stretched enough so far. There are 2 sets and extension work available. There will definitely be space in Year 7 but currently Year 5 is full. There is usually movement though and space becomes available - the same for any prep school. The school is very relaxed and informal, not at all posh and snobby, which is why we chose it. Any questions, please ask.

surreygoldfish Sat 19-Dec-15 20:55:23

We've had 2 DS go through St Andrews and onto a selective senior school and DD still there. You also need to be aware that the local independent senior schools pre-test at 11+ for 13+ entry - occasionally there are 12+ spaces ( again for transfer at 13+. Subject to being able to do the pre-tests m, staying within prep until 13 would give an easier transition back into the Englidh system. Those prep schools should be able to give you guidance on senior school admissions for your eldest.

trinity0097 Sun 20-Dec-15 07:21:44

If they are both top set material then the twins will be in the same sets even if in different form groups.

FiveStar Thu 24-Dec-15 14:11:01

Thanks for the replies, I've been sick so not been back on this week but very grateful for the info.

Anyone out there know about Hoe Bridge, Amesbury or St Neot's? Or St Edmunds also in Hindhead?

Many thanks and happy Christmas

mummytime Thu 24-Dec-15 17:39:27

I know a couple of teachers at Hoe Bridge, perfectly fine school. Also have known pupils at Amesbury, also fine (I'd probably prefer to Hindhead as it feeds a range of schools).
I also wouldn't discount state schools, do apply and you may get something you really want, and at least in this area all state schools are comprehensive so there is no 11+ there.
Even the competitive schools (except RGS) are known to take not totally stellar ability children, and often make allowance for those educated overseas.
I would think about where you want them to end up for senior school, because that should affect where you live.

Anotherusername1 Tue 05-Jan-16 09:49:14

I've heard very good things about St Neots. You might also want to look at Daneshill and Yateley Manor.

Also Grey House (private primary school rather than prep so goes to 11+) for your 9 year olds.

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