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Beechwood park vs Westbrook Hay

(12 Posts)
mummyjules8 Wed 03-Aug-16 10:24:40

We are moving out of London in the summer and looking for a co-ed Independant school. Visiting Beechwood park tomorrow and the other option is Westbrook Hay (waiting to hear if they have vacancies). Would be great to get any info on these schools. Do they have good pastoral care like? My son is about to go into year 2 and is bright but really struggles with handwriting and spelling. Coming from a local school I think there may be a bit of catching up to do.
Any info much appreciated.

Zodlebud Wed 03-Aug-16 16:04:37

Westbrook Hay has wonderful pastoral care and is very good in terms of getting children "caught up". Y2 at the school is also handled very well in terms of getting them ready for KS2. They move into a Middle School building so they feel more grown up, get greater playground privileges etc and they are made to feel a lot more independent. They then hit the ground running when they enter Y3.

Both schools have a similar feel and get good results - traditional country preps - although Beechwood Park does feel a bit posher. Westbrook Hay parents and kids like to be outside playing in the mud!!!!

Iamthegreatest1 Wed 03-Aug-16 18:18:24

All depends what you have in mind post primary stage. Work backwards; do you want them to try for top public schools that start at year 9 in future? Neither school has a terribly good success rate to the top ones.

Do you want them to sit 11+ Tests for local senior day schools after year 6? Neither school prepares children well for this stage, they both focus on 13+ common entrance which is their exit stage. The local day indies are terribly competitive.

Do you just want a nice gentle school with lovely grounds that feeds into very average local indy's e.g Berkamsted, st Columbas? Both do this very well.

mummyjules8 Wed 03-Aug-16 19:29:43

We are not looking for top public schools...probably not right for us. We would be perfectly happy with a good local option.

Zodlebud Thu 04-Aug-16 00:30:51

I would disagree that these schools do not have a great track record of getting children into "the top" independent schools.

It is more of a reflection of the fact that parents at these schools want their children to go to local independent day schools or grammars I.e. They are just not applying to these "top schools". There are frequently children who go to Harrow, Eton, Westminster, Downe House, Cheltenham Ladies etc from these schools and even win scholarships. The reality is though that it might be only a handful each year who go, if that. Both schools are very good at meeting the needs and expectations of parents when their children move on at 11+ and 13+.

Also, a great many children, particularly the girls, move at 11+ from these schools and they are well prepared for that. In fact, all the girls leave Westbrook Hay at 11+ and the boys have the option of staying on until 13+, although some leave at 11+. I think the parents of girls at the school would be rather miffed to find out that they would receive no help at all for their daughters when moving on!!!!!

Iamthegreatest1 Thu 04-Aug-16 08:43:48

There are frequently children who go to Harrow, Eton, Westminster, Downe House, Cheltenham Ladies etc from these schools and even win scholarships.

Please where is your data to support this?

Both schools are very good at meeting the needs and expectations of parents when their children move on at 11+ and 13+.

I don't see how they can be good st meeting expectations of those leaving at 11+ when their focus is to prepare for 13+.

Of course most girls will leave at 11 at most 13+ prep schools, that has always been the norm, but where the data showing all the top indies they move on to?

I take your point leavers destinations will be partly driven by parents own choices, but I would expect children from local preps to at least be feeders into the local senior schools e.g St Albans, MT, Habs. Both schools are known for sending the few odd, they are not feeders into these schools and its not for lack of trying. Apart from the fact their leavers destinations page is telling (a list of various schools pupils could go on to, as opposed to more meaningful year by year by school figures) I bump into parents from both schools regularly with dc in the upper years.

They are both beautiful schools, and I'm in no doubt a child as young as OP's will thoroughly enjoy it. But it's usually once upper school starts that it starts to become clear that their academics may not be sufficient in getting children into certain schools. However if OP is not interested in any of these schools there are others (as previously suggested above), although I would wonder since a school like Berkamsted has its own prep why not just go there in the first place and avoid all the drama with 13+ schools. What is the point of going to a 13+ prep school, if top independent schools that start at 13+ are not on your radar?

mummyjules8 Thu 04-Aug-16 09:22:57

There is a waiting list of 15 for Berkhampstead prep.....so not an option and admissions say unlikely to be a place for at least a year.
Thanks for all the info

Zodlebud Thu 04-Aug-16 09:40:00

My data is being a parent at one of these schools and having sat in Speech Day for the last few years hearing where all the children who are leaving are going!!!!! I agree that if your focus is entirely on sending your child to a top academic school then you are probably looking in the wrong place. These are not academic hot house preps and the geographical locations mean that travelling to Habs and MT are not realistic - you don't generally chose to live in the Home Counties and then have your child commute for an hour each way.

They consistently send children to the two St Albans schools at both 11+ and 13+, both of which are surely considered "top schools" for the area. They also have a lot of children who move into the Bucks grammar school system. There is also the fact that these schools are non selective and they do a great job at getting the most out of every child. For many children, St Columba's, Berkhamsted, Abbots Hill, Tring Park etc are EXACTLY the right schools for them when they move on.

People choose schools like these to keep their options open for senior schools. Some believe moving at 11+ is right for their child, others at 13+. There may also be some truth that some of those who stay on for the extra two years do so because they failed to get a place at their preferred school at 11 (usually the case with out of catchment grammar applicants).

They are not churning out huge numbers of super academic kids and claiming they have enormous success rates at these schools. They are also not "feeders" as they place the emphasis on getting the right school for the individual child. I do object when people write off schools like this as being second rate in some way. They do very well at meeting the needs of all children, not just the super brainy.

JustCallMe Thu 04-Aug-16 09:43:29

Ex BWP parent here (I've name changed for this).

It's a great school. I've had boys and a girl there so can comment on the exit at year 6 and year 8.

The girls mostly leave a the end of year 6. A couple always stay on to the end because they're going to boarding school at 13, but it's far from ideal.

The girls are prepped well of their entrance exams. Parents always worry a lot but things work out. Girls always go off to St Albans High, Habs and Abbots Hill in numbers. Maybe one to Birkhampsted (it's not popular with the Harpenden, St Albans parents). Then a few to boarding schools. Ans some to the Harpenden state schools (St George's mostly).

A handful of boys leave at this stage too; usually for state school.

The rest of the boys stay on and are prepped for various exams. Again only one or two will head to Birko. The biggest proportion will head to St Albans and Bedford. A few to St Columba. MT is becoming more popular too. Not many bother with Habs TBH.

Some boys will always go off to boarding school too; Harrow, Oundle, Hailibury (popular as the old head's kids went there so he was a fan), Rugby etc. However, the truth is that the parent body just does not want this type of secondary education. They are not a traditional bunch.

JustCallMe Thu 04-Aug-16 09:45:37

And yeah, my data is the leavers list too.

Iamthegreatest1 Thu 04-Aug-16 11:34:46

The point is OP did not indicate in her first post what type of senior schools they have in mind after prep school. The only information given was that they are looking at 13+ prep schools and have a DS. Most people looking at 13+ Preps for their sons are not looking to move at 11+, so the fact lots of girls leave at this stage is beside the point.

It is also very important that OP is aware both schools do not send lots of children to the top public or independent schools. That is the brutal
truth and the reason OP has come on MN to ask if anyone knows about the schools.

Like I previously said their leavers list for both schools does not show actual numbers being sent to which senior schools yearly. Which is the whole purpose of a leavers list, in short their lists do not tell us anything other than a list of possible independent schools which you can choose from. (If there is a proper leavers list showing accurate information then please link to it).

If the parent bodies of both schools are not interested in top schools (by this I mean very selective) or public schools then it's important OP knows this regardless of what type of education she has in mind for her DS in order to make an informed decision. It was only in OP's second post did she affirm that she is not looking at top public schools.

JustCallMe Thu 04-Aug-16 11:52:40

I think your posts are very inaccurate though.

You have stated a number of things about BWP that are simply untrue.

Hardly any girls or boys go to Berko for secondary. Or St Columba. The mainstay for girls is STAHs and AHS, the mainstay for boys is St Albans and Bedford.

And they certainly do help DC prepare to sit 11 plus exams. Obviously the school would rather you kept your DC there 'til 13 wink but they're realistic about that and help with what you need.

I agree that not many DC go off to Westminster, Eton, Winchester. But if that's what you want, the school will help you. It's just not what most parents want.

BTW the incoming head boy at STABs is an ex BWP boy.

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