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Prep schools in Tunbridge Wells

(50 Posts)
lulupop Mon 25-Oct-04 11:48:36

Very area-specific thread, this, but I was hoping to gather a bit of anecdotal evidence about the prep schools here. Like any parent, we want DS and DD to have the best possible start in life, and have been thinking that perhaps the best way to get them into the grammar school at 11+ is to make sure their abilities are as well-nurtured as possible at the beginning.

We've seen Rose Hill and Holmewood House. They both seem like good schools. But the fees for Holmewood House are nearly £4,000 per term in the main school. This makes my eyes water just thinking about it. Rose Hill is £3000 per term. The difference for 2 children is quite a lot. We are prepared to sacrifice holidays etc to pay the fees for the best school for each child, but given it is a big stretch for us, I want to be sure we're making the right choice.

The school visits you get are good, but clearly they're giving you the hard sell. I don't know many people with kids at either school so really want to hear anyone's views on them. How much indiviual attention does each child really get? Are you actually only paying for the range of extra-curricular activites on offer? Is it worth it, basically?

stickynote Mon 25-Oct-04 11:59:53

Not sure why I clicked on this thread as I live nowhere near Tunbridge Wells! However, here in Bucks we also have the grammar school/11+ system. There are prep schools in our area but not many, as I think most parents tend to send them to the (very good) state primaries and pay extra for tuition/extra curricular activities as needed. Also, of course, there is no guarantee that your children will pass, even with the very best education, so possibly the money would be better spent at secondary level, sending them to a school more attuned to their (non-academic) needs. Having seen two of my sisters have the most miserable time being bottom of the heap in a very academic grammar school, it isn't the be-all and end-all - much better to match the school to the child IYSWIM.

ks Mon 25-Oct-04 12:05:01

Message withdrawn

lulupop Mon 25-Oct-04 13:02:25

thanks ks, I've CAT-ed you.

Schmozer Mon 25-Oct-04 13:11:16

My DH went to Holmewood House many years ago and then Skinners at 13. I went to one of the state primaries and then TWGGS at 11. I don't recall anyone in my year at TWGGS having gone to a prep school and DH was one of a tiny minority at Skinners, though this may have changed since the 80s.

We no longer live in the area, but from what I can remember, you'd do just as well if you are able to send the children to one of the top state primaries (e.g. Claremont).

zubb Mon 25-Oct-04 13:21:07

Schmozer, I agree. I went to a grammar school in Kent in the 80s and can't remember anyone in my class having been at a prep school. However, I think it must have changed, as where I live now we have grammar schools and the number of prep schools around is astonishing. They all seem geared to getting the grammar places, and most parents seem to think that their children will only be in private education for primary school age.

zubb Mon 25-Oct-04 13:25:34

sorry lulupop - didn't answer your question at all! Have heard good reports about Holmewood House, but not heard anything about Rose Hill. The best thing would be to go and look around both of them to get a feel for them, and ask them about their success at the 11+.

lulupop Mon 25-Oct-04 13:33:30

Thanks all. We do actually live in the catchment for Claremont (although it does seem to get smaller and smaller every yr, so no guarantees ). It has a v gd reputation and it wld be nice for DS to go there as all his school friends wld then be close neighbours too.

On the other hand, we are really relying on the children going to grammar schools as we definitely can't afford secondary school private education. My mum is a Reception teacher in the state system and says no matter how good the school is, a state primary with 30 kids in the class is just not as good as a good private school with a higher teacher-pupil ratio.

Our thinking right now is if we do the private thing at this early stage then the children will hopefully get off to a flying start and will do well at 11+.

When we saw Holmewood, I got the impression that for most of the other parents, money simply is not an issue, and so most of the children go on to independent secondary schools too. I was wondering if Rose Hill might be a bit more down to earth in this respect?

firestorm Mon 25-Oct-04 16:02:42

lulupop, a friend of mine looked into rosehill school a couple of years ago & showed me the prospectus & year book. it looked a lovely friendly school & i remember thinking `if only we could afford that for our two` i did notice in the year book that a lot of children joined the school in year 7 & so only did 2 years there (strictly to get a grammar school place at 13+) would you consider doing that? you could do an awful lot with the extra money you would save?
also have you looked on the isis website? www.isis.org.uk you should be able to link to the school websites from there.

Enid Mon 25-Oct-04 16:56:33

what about sending to local state primary (esp if it is good) and spending money on extra tuition for the grammar? Thats what I'd do personally, especially if you are sure you are not going to send them to an independent secondary - i bet most from the prep schools will go on to independent secondary.

Enid Mon 25-Oct-04 17:10:25

have you asked grammar what their 'feeder' schools are?

geogteach Mon 25-Oct-04 21:17:52

I worked at TWGGS for a while and it was definately common for girls to have been to prep first. For what its worth I didn't enjoy teaching in the Kent system (I also taught at Hugh Christie, so saw both sides) and have been happier in the comprehensive system in Surrey

charliecat Mon 25-Oct-04 21:30:19

My friend has children at somerhill in tonbridge shes very happy with her children there. Is that any help? Probably not but thought id add it! Fellow tunbridge wells girl!

pupuce Mon 25-Oct-04 21:33:09

.... do know of the schools but have no worth while opinion...
I do live in TW too .... and fairly close to Claremont but my DS doesn't go there....

pupuce Mon 25-Oct-04 21:34:43

I should add that I do know several boys at Skinners - all came from state schools, my neighbour just started TWGGS - she went to a state school.

SueW Mon 25-Oct-04 21:41:02

Wow - do people really do prep then state school for seniors?

Most of the people I know up here (Notts/Derbys) who would like to do private ed but are concerned about cash are saving their money for senior school, getting their children into the best state primary they can find and then taking them to extra-curricular activities like brownies/beavers, dancing, music lessons, football/rugby club, martial arts, tennis, Spanish, French, etc. to broaden their education.

pupuce Mon 25-Oct-04 21:48:02

SueW.... I think everyone has their belief (and bank balance!).... there is a little boy at my childminder who is 3, he has a single mom and she puts him 4 days a week (I think) at Holmewood House (the very expensove school Lulupop is talking about)... however because it is so expensive, she has to work very very hard... result is she drives him at 7AM to the childminder who gives him breakfast and then she drops him off at the school. She pick hims up later, feeds him and mum picks him up anywhere between 6 and 8PM with the odd overnight at childminder.
The mother has asked the childminder how she thinks her son is finding it and she told me it is heartbraking but the child is struggling, missing his mom and all... but the mom moved from London because she wanted her son to get a chance to get to Holmewood... and she feels if he starts at 3 he will get in???
She said that he MUST go to this school as it is one of the best.... childminder says (and it is only her opinion of course!).... little boy is not very bright anyway... I feel this is so sad for the mother and the child.... it's a bit lie a whirlwind where the mother hasn't really stopped to think as she is trying to "survive".

lulupop Tue 26-Oct-04 09:01:25

Gosh Pupuce, that story is so sad and really goes to show that however great the school, it's fitting the school to the child that is most important.

Of course we think our little boy is quite bright (who doesn't!) but also having a mum who's a v experience teacher makes me really aware of how important it is to find the right environment for him. I'd love to send him to Holmewood but not sure how well we'd cope with being so far removed from the salary bracket of most other parents there, and also I have been thinking maybe we shld save the money instead to send him to Sevenoaks at 2ary level if he doesn't get to grammar school. It's so hard to think what's best at this stage - he's only 3 for goodness sake!

I know Claremont is great but what I want to avoid is sending him there but then pushing him through hours of extra tuition after school to make up for any shortfall. That seems so wrong. A friend's son recently went from Rose Hill to Judd without any extra tuition at all and |I'd like DS's life to be relatively balanced and not all working for exams. But maybe that's unrealistic?

Where does your son go? Does he like it?

Charliecat, I've heard Somerhill is v gd too but I just can't face that bit of the A21 every day - I'm sure you know what I mean!

pupuce Tue 26-Oct-04 09:16:09

What about Mead school?

pupuce Tue 26-Oct-04 09:23:18

My son goes to Broadwater ... with a handful of Claremont rejects - we didn't apply as I knw we are a tad too far.... it is a 3 min walk from my house and I know that every year they have a handful of kids that go to TW grammar for boys, Bennets and Skinners....
I plan to give myself extra tuition to my son (at that level I know I can) and if he is bright enough (I think he is), I would like him to go to Skinners.

I have to say that I do know two families whose kids went/are at Claremont and both do talk about the level of pressure... what about St James' I hear it is vey good... or St Augustine (Catholic)?

pupuce Tue 26-Oct-04 09:39:01

Lulu.... In my field of work I come across very rich parents who send all 3 kids to private schools already at kindergarten level....
1. They still send them to all sorts of after school activities including Kumon.
2. All the activities with friends tend to be for the better off..... There is all this lifestyle that goes with it (like super holidays, amazing birthday parties,...)

So can you afford that extra school lifestyle/ do you want it ? Will you be happy for your son to go to very rich firend's house and (maybe) asks for that level of toys?.... I often ask myself those questions as I was lucky to be brought up with fairly wealthy parents and I went to a very very good school... it was all so competitive (to start with my own mum who was and still is!) And I do remember having "poorer" friends who were embarassed to invite me at their house as they didn't have a big one .

Enid Tue 26-Oct-04 09:43:55

interesting pupuce - we have been having these discussions ourselves - decided not to send dds privately as I know many of the 'private school' mothers and already they have a lifestyle that I cannot hope to achieve (and tbh don't really want!) - its all the 'extras' that goes with private tuition, the clothes, the skiing, pony riding, toys - help! Would rather my dds feel confident than to be constantly at the 'bottom' of the social scale.

lulupop Tue 26-Oct-04 20:51:53

This is an interesting line of thought. Pupuce, I also went to a v gd private school, although am not from a particularly wealthy background (mum a teacher and dad in army, both gagging for retirement!). I was never conscious of just how much better off most of my peers must have been at the time. As an adult, I can see that their families are all very priveleged, but back then it didn't figure.

Now I discuss these things with my mum, it is clear what a huge sacrifice my parents made. SHe always felt at odds with the other mothers and we certainly never went on the school ski tips etc. I don't really want to start down this route unless we can afford things too. It;s not fair for a child to feel excluded from activites that all his/her friends are doing.

The thing with Holmewood is, all the activites after school are "included" in the fees (bloody well shoild be at that price!). OTOH, if he went to Claremont, I'd be ferrying him round to all sorts, and wld he actually be "sharing " it all with his peers?

Feeling a bit tired and inadequate now with all the reflection on what's best... think I'd better put myself to bed

Barbaloot Tue 26-Oct-04 22:21:35

My kids go private and yes they do mention occasionally that they have the smallest house of any of their friends, but it doesn't yet seem to bother them (they're 10 and 9). They've never harassed me for expensive goods, for example patiently saving for a playstation for nearly 2 years, when most of their friends had them (and far more) already. I'd actually prefer it this way than if they were at a state school and were one of the more affluent kids (which of course we would be if we didn't shell out the fees!).

pupuce Tue 26-Oct-04 22:31:17

So what about Mead (private on Frant Road) or St James or St Augustines?

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