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Beeston Hall

(17 Posts)
Toutedesuite Tue 29-Aug-17 00:00:17

My little 7 year old is really struggling with writing and maths and we are thinking of moving her from her super academic city prep school to Beeston Hall in Norfolk. I have heard that it's meant to be very good for 'Specific Learning Difficulties' is small and fun and friendly. But I haven't visited it. Does anyone know anything about it? There are no threads (that I could find) about it... Would really appreciate any information. It's about an hour from us so she'd have to flexiboard, so I need to be sure it's as nice as it seems...

MaryTheCanary Tue 29-Aug-17 10:42:40

I don't know anything about the school, but how sure are you that your child has specific learning difficulties etc.?

You say that she is currently at a super academic prep school. It may just be that she struggled at a very "pushy" school where children may possibly have been heavily tutored, and that this is making her difficulties look more pronounced than they are.

I would get her assessed properly before making any decisions. It might turn out that she is just an ordinary kid who needs a bit of help with certain areas, or is a bit young/immature for her age, in which case a state school supplemented with some extra privately-paid-for teaching/help/tuition outside school might be better. I would not want a 7yo boarding (even on a flexible basis) unless it was absolutely unavoidable.

GinAndToast Tue 29-Aug-17 10:57:49

Go visit - it's a lovely school and I was super impressed when I went in a professional capacity.

The staff were amazing and kind.

dumbledore345 Tue 29-Aug-17 16:27:30

Boarding at 7 is too young.

leftandaright Tue 29-Aug-17 20:04:06

I know the school very well. Fairly old fashioned in its demographics but finally trying to catch up with local (more successful) competitor prep schools. Very girl heavy and great for girls sports although both boys and girls do well academically. Very much a county school and if not from the top draw, children soon become very self aware that they aren't from that ilk. Many girls have ponies. Boys' daddies own whopping shoots....
Very small school but high proportion of boarders. Boarding done very well. The only Norfolk full weekend boarding prep school to look at.
Has suffered from persistent bullying at all ages but this may change as the new Head beds in - I don't know. Due to small numbers per year group and dominant personalities within.
Locally Greshams prep school (larger, exciting, dynamic) has a far better reputation for learning support but only a handful of flexi boarders.
There is also Witham Hall (small country prep school similar to Beeston) if looking easterly or Taverham Hall prep (firmly middle class at best ) if looking westerly, are alternatives.

leftandaright Tue 29-Aug-17 20:05:36

Switch that east and west! #neverwasanygoodatgeography

MaryTheCanary Tue 29-Aug-17 20:37:48

Boarding at age 7 in a school where "persistent bullying at all ages" has been an issue--hmmm, what could possibly go wrong...?

leftandaright Tue 29-Aug-17 22:37:29

I can't believe there are many parents in this day and age who have their 7 year olds boarding with any regularity however .
I'm all for boarding but my personal view is year 4 and above.
It would be unfair to label Beeston as a school with a bullying problem as I would say most pupils are unaffected - but for those that are, due to the low numbers currently attending the school, it can be hard to get away as you would be able to do in a larger school. All schools have their dominant characters after all. Call it bullying , call it a rite of passage, I don't know but if I had a seven year old that I felt had to board, then I would definitely consider Beeston Hall. It's got a lot going for it. It is a nurturing, if incredibly upper middle class, country prep school.

Toutedesuite Wed 30-Aug-17 15:21:27

Thank you everybody! I will definitely visit. And look out for good Special Needs and an emphasis on kindness amongst the children. I had heard Beeston was GOOD for Special Needs - that's why I started investigating it! Gresham's may be better, but I'm looking for a prep school to eventually feed to a wide choice of upper schools. My little one is an absolute free spirit and we want to find the right school for her at 13+. Having, so far, picked the wrong one. Beeston seems to feed to a really diverse range of schools and seems very outward looking and - for a small school - not intimidated by the big name schools. That suggests to me that they are well placed to match a child to the right school. The school my daughter is at now has no Special Needs (to speak of), is large and feeds mainly to the very academic city upper schools that surround it. That suits my older child but is going to be a disaster for my little one. I wanted Beeston to be a complete antidote to a pressurised city prep where you are surrounded by high fences and arterial roads and have to press a code to get in each morning... Beeston sounds like something out of the Famous Five to me - right on the coast, lots of outdoor activities, freedom for the children to be children... The flexiboarding issue is the price we'd be prepared to pay, if it was as nice as it seems. My daughter wouldn't go till next year, Year 4, and we can drive her every day till she asks to board for a night. Hopefully, she'll like it and ask to do more. But if she doesn't, we have committed to driving her every day. Hence the post: we don't WANT to do all that driving and are trying to get more information on how nice it really is and how likely she is to want to board...

This year (coming) is the first year my daughter's current school seriously look at children for specific learning difficulties. I've been raising concerns since Reception but they've always told me she's too young to assess and not to worry, she'll get there, they all develop at different rates etc etc. Sitting down with her this week, after 6 weeks off, she's forgotten how to form her letters and she misspelled her first name and didn't notice. I don't mind that she can't spell house or tree or even dog (it came out 'pod')... But I do mind about her name. And I worry school are going to come down on us like a tonne of bricks this year, having laughed it off for the last three. Hence the post about moving her somewhere nice with a good Special Needs department...

And finally... I had suspected Beeston might be posh (because of where it is) and don't mind that. But I would mind if it was snobbish. We wouldn't go if it was. It didn't seem to be on the website - but we'll get more of a feel for that when we visit. Thank you, again, everyone.

leftandaright Wed 30-Aug-17 16:14:15

I think beeston will suit your daughter very well then. It is very much as you describe and they do feed all over. Greshams feeds 37/40 into their own senior school. It doesn't do common entrance. Beeston does. Beeston feeds its 15 (?) leavers children into about 10 different schools. Very diverse.
best of luck.
X

MaryTheCanary Wed 30-Aug-17 16:27:40

OP, from what you say about her writing and based on the fact that she appears to be about to go into Y3, it sounds like she is struggling quite badly with literacy.

I do find myself asking what on earth this school has been doing with her for the past 2-3 years...?

For a start, is the school teaching systematic synthetic phonics correctly and consistently? This is the approach which all British schools using the NC are now expected to be doing. Is there an element of...they are kind of wafting through using a muddle of different methods? If all the school's kids come from privileged backgrounds, perhaps the school has got used to the idea that they can just rely on parents and tutors to sort kids out at home.

Also, why is the school "laughing off" her difficulties? That sounds quite shocking to me. They should be taking difficulties seriously, and they should be assessing her and sorting out problems well before Y3! Why is Y3 the earliest that they will take her concerns seriously? That sounds like a load of rubbish. Has the school not carried out the Y2 phonics screening? If they had, then her difficulties would have stuck out a mile and the school would have been forced to take some action.

You say that the earliest you would be switching schools would be Y4. But from what you have said, it sounds like she is far behind with literacy and the school sounds extremely unhelpful and probably not capable of providing any useful remedial work. Surely she is just going to end up wasting another year drifting through in a classroom where she cannot possibly do the work and is also not accessing the remedial help she needs to catch up?

Frankly, I would pull her right now and get her a program of one-on-one tuition with a teacher who will teach her synthetic phonics properly and get her sorted out. You may well find that her apparent "learning difficulties" disappear when she has had some proper individual help with someone who actually teaches her to read.

The outdoor activities and seaside fun etc. at Beeston Hall sound lovely and all, but your daughter needs to learn how to read and write properly, otherwise it is going to affect her life chances. Does BH actually provide proper phonics intervention for children who struggle with literacy and do they actually have a track record of turning reading problems around? If not, then they will be a waste of your money, just like this current prep school appears to be (sorry to sound a bit harsh, but that is the impression I am getting).

skyraider Thu 04-Jan-18 18:14:17

i know i'm a little late to the party here, but Beeston Hall School is in my neck of the woods!
OP - did you have a look at the school yet? Not sure exactly where you are in relation to the school, but they have two minibuses which do a school run - one to Norwich, the other out to Dereham via Fakenham, which might help with transport. I'm sure they would've told you that if you've been to view. (There's an open day at the beginning of March!)
I don't know anything about their special needs provision - but I would suggest that if you think there's something to concern yourself with, persist until you're satisfied! My son (state school educated) has just gone to uni, having only just been diagnosed as severely dyslexic. The school and college insisted he wasn't, though I've been asking since he started primary!! Turns out it's just that he's smart enough to have been able to find a workaround for his issues - if he wasn't, he would've been failing badly. So keep on at the school until they've thoroughly checked everything they can.
As for Beeston - yes, it's posh i guess, but only to the same extent as any other private school. There are parents from "moneyed" families, with all the trappings of that. But there are parents who maybe have less money, but want the best for their kids that their income will provide, and send their kids to Beeston. So I think it's a good mix.
They seem to do lots of activities and encourage "outside learning", particularly in the earlier years. Nice "wrap-around" day thing going on - where non-boarders participate in after school activities with boarders, so lots of mixing it up, less segregation. all seems a very positive vibe. New headmaster 18 months ago. To me, it looks like they encourage individuality (though with conformity too hahaha).
I'd definitely suggest having a look!
hope that helps smile

TheWomanTheyCallJayne Sat 14-Apr-18 13:38:53

I’m even later to the party.
I too know the school very well. Happy to answer any questions you may have here or if you want to pm me I’m happy to go into more detail.

Skyraider- your comment about individuality and conformity is spot on.

Mamatomultiples Thu 26-Sep-19 00:27:27

I have 3 children who go to BH and it’s fabulous! Lots of forest school , outdoor activities and they really do encourage to develop creativity and individuality no matter who the individual is. There are children there who need extra support and they are receiving above what they need as well as inclusivity. Many from a mix of backgrounds but all who work hard to give their children a great start in life. My children are thriving!

Windowboxgardener Mon 30-Sep-19 19:12:59

I looked at Beeston Hall and it seemed lovely. Very-hands-on head (not in the Boris sense, but involved in everything g!). But I am sad to hear about the “persistent bullying” that leftandaright refers to. How many cases was that?

Mamatomultiples Tue 01-Oct-19 07:35:24

In the just over three years my daughter has been there I have heard of 2 cases of bullying that was dealt with swiftly and appropriately.

leftandaright Wed 02-Oct-19 20:01:37

Numbers have increased (in line with large means tested bursaries/“scholarships” handed out left, right and centre) and the tales of bullying have disappeared along with it. A great little boarding prep school. Good at music and 13+ success. Poor recent sporting records (but reflects its small size compared to other schools in the area). I’d still pick Witham Hall over it however as it’s nearest competitor in its field (boarding/13+/major senior school feeder).

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