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Willington or donhead prep?

(15 Posts)
Nbk123 Fri 14-Oct-16 11:18:58


I was hoping for some advice from any mums with boys at Donhead Prep or Willington Prep. We have decided upon one of these 2 schools for our son who is currently at a good state primary.

We are looking for which school would bring out the best in our child overall. (He can be a little more observant and is quite arty although boisterous with boys his own age). We would like to see an improvement in academics as well as confidence.

We do like both schools however were concerned about:

Donhead - my son is quite quiet at first and not particularly sporty. Would he be overlooked at this school due to his nature? We were inpressed by the facilities, ethics, academic nature and the fact it is a part of the independent association of prep schools (how much weight should be given to this?)

Willington - had a lovely family feel however we were concerned about the independent report where it did not do as well....also as it goes to age 13 do they prepare boys for the 11plus?

Any tips on both schools would be appreciated!

DrE678 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:16:00

Hi Nbk, I've just spotted two threads about Willington today! My DS is at Willington so I can answer any questions you have. I have friends with sons at Donhead so I know a little but not much. Willington is lovely and my DS is so happy there so I am biased! It is a real family environment and it feels very welcoming and personally tailored. I would take the ISI report with a bit of a pinch of salt as the new head had only been in place a short while and he has made lots of positive changes. I think it is an excellent school, the teaching has been great and the pastoral care is first class. They don't officially prepare boys for the 11+ but in year 6 all boys have classes that prepare for the sort of exams they encounter. They would all be ready to take it but obviously the school want you to stay to 13. I hope that helps a bit.

DrE678 Fri 14-Oct-16 12:17:18

Donhead is also a good school but I don't think the pastoral support is quite as strong. Willington is also in IAPS, not just Donhead.

Nbk123 Fri 14-Oct-16 13:24:36

Thank you DrE678. That is very helpful! It did have a very lovely feel and the personal approach is what we are after. I suppose I couldn't understand the report and the fact that Donhead has a waiting list and Willington doesn't. Nonetheless I guess you have to choose what is best for your child.

DrE678 Fri 14-Oct-16 14:00:32

That's very true, you do have to do what's best for your child. Good luck with your decision, it's always difficult but what a great choice of schools to choose from. I don't know why there isn't a waiting list, it is surprising. I think the school is shaking off a reputation from a few years ago that it was the non academic back up school, which I don't think is true anymore. It has gone through lots of changes recently and I think it takes time for reputations to catch up. My DD's school conversely slightly coasts on a reputation of old in my opinion!

Nbk123 Fri 14-Oct-16 21:19:53

Thank you! It has been very helpful to get some info smile Will now start thinking about logistics etc!

msupa Tue 13-Dec-16 14:51:54

My DS1, who is not at all sporty and rather shy is at Donhead. He loves it and I love it. He's been there for 4.5 years and I never had a day when he didn't want to go to school! The school's pastoral care is amazing. It is a very caring school.
So I wouldn't worry about sport. The school gives plenty of opportunity for the boys to express their interests: art, drama and especially music are very strong. It has great SENCO support too.
They do give a lot of homework, especially starting from year 3. So be warned.
My non-sporty older son does photograpy and ICT clubs, he did lots of art. In short - it's fab.
My DS2 is also at Donhead in year 1 and thrives.

Nbk123 Sat 07-Jan-17 22:48:37

Thank you msupa that is helpful and are now on waiting lists smile

Jody867 Sun 05-Feb-17 15:20:08

Did you decide on Donhead in the end? What was your final reasoning out of interest because we are in the same predicament for our DGS.

user1479740348 Mon 06-Feb-17 14:44:35

hi Jody867,
we have just accepted an offer from Donhead for 2018 Entry.
we have visited five schools so far, and this school makes me feel that my son will be in a good care.

it is considered as a all-round school, very muscal and sporty, but it does prepare for 11+ too.

Jody867 Mon 06-Feb-17 15:06:08

How many boys in a reception class at Donhead and how many classes per year group. They look like they have more outside space than Willington, Squirrels and the Rowans, but as we are not catholic we haven't put it on our list yet.

Wimbles101 Sat 11-Feb-17 21:36:25

Sorry just wanting to jump on this thread out of interest too.
Msupa - interested to hear re hw from yr 3 - a lot of boys last year went to Wimbledon College last year - don't know how much to read into that - I believe the others went to other indies. Don't know how much to read into that as the preceding year had better results?
We're primarily looking at Grammars for DS2 who is currently at a nearby prep which goes to 13 and doesn't prepare for 11plus - any thoughts welcome!

tourbillon Sun 12-Feb-17 12:48:28

It's not worth comparing Rowans and Squirrels with the facilities of Donhead, Willington etc because children leave at different age points. You may as well compare them with Kings and other senior schools. The prepreps both have ample grounds for the age of the boys they have. When they are growing out of them they move to preps or junior schools and many have excellent facilities and lots of space.

tourbillon Sun 12-Feb-17 12:49:46

Don't all preps effective have to prepare for 11+ given a lot of boys' places are allocated via pretest these days anyway?

DrE678 Sun 12-Feb-17 13:15:06

tourbillon yes, they are being prepared for 11+ by default. The problem for 13+ schools is that if they advertise it as prepping for 11+ they are shooting themselves in the foot as obviously their target is 13+ places. You are right though, the pre test preparation that DS did mirrored 11+ preparation.

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