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*Chandlings School - thoughts?*

(36 Posts)
inthedirge Mon 31-Jan-11 22:02:04

I am thinking about sending our three children (DD 8, DS 6, DS 6) to Chandlings this autumn. I would love to hear any thoughts/ and or experiences of this school, particularly if anyone has a DC there at the moment.

lollipopmother Mon 14-Feb-11 22:29:09

Lovely website for that school, but i suppose they can afford it at over £4,000 a term per child!!! If you have that sort of money then I would say at least take a look round the place, it's been graded outstanding by ofsted although most private schools are, but at least it's not a complete dud.

Checkmate Wed 23-Feb-11 22:25:18

Sorry, just saw this.

Chandlings used to be much better under previous head. Its unusual as not a charity, but a profit making business. The weird owner has appointed a really young head who seems to have pissed off many of the staff and also parents (staff and pupils leaving in droves).

Saying that, she has really shored up the pre-prep and made an excellent nursery. Extra curriculas, sport and grounds can't be beaten. Academics are not so good though, not nearly as big a percentage get into the areas top senior schools as the other preps get in. Really bad for SN provision too.

Reputation is of "chavvy" and "new money" parents, which is very harsh and obviously not true. What is true, in my opinion, is that many parents there are from abroad, or British but didn't go to indy schools themselves, and are looking for something a litle different than what other preps offer... such as less of the "prep", homework there is notoriously minimal!

trenchy24 Sun 03-Apr-11 20:51:06

I have 2 chldren who are currently at Chandlings and 1 in the nursery. Whatever the perceived reputation as mentioned above, it is absolutely not the case. The school contains a mix of parents who have independent education backgrounds and others who are in the first generation of the independent education sector. It is true that some pupils and some teachers did leave in the couple of years after the new Head's arrival I would suggest that is because they were about due a change over in staffing. A number of children left from one particular year which was enormous anyway so in fact the year just became more af a normal size. The sports provision under the New Head has improved immeasurably and Chandlings is now in many cases the school to beat in the local area. To answer the prep question, the school managed to get 3 year 6 boys into Magdalen this year with scholarships as well as many others who obtained places, all children obtained a place at at least one senior school of their choice. Perhaps the fact that they study so hard throughout the day means they don't need hours of prep every night?! You should visit the school to get a feel for it. The nursery is superb.

It does not cost 4,000 per term per child.

redBarron Sat 16-Apr-11 09:17:07

I have a child about to leave Chandlings after being there from Reception under both Heads. The consistent policy which has been followed does, without doubt, put the happiness of the children first, and surely no-one could be asking for anything more at this age. Whenever going to pick up or drop off, it is the highlight of my day to walk into a place which has a true feel of joy and enthusiastic business about it. The joy is evidenced most clearly in the music at the school, which is stunning! The singing in assemblies and throughout the week, is full of enthusiasm and fun, and is designed, most importantly, for the children. Sport has become huge, which is great for those who thrive on such things. We have been rather cool on this, but the teachers manage the non-sporties very well. Academically the children are given huge opportunities to try all sorts of things, exactly what you want at this age. Homework - if you care about such things for a child under 11 years old, I would encourage you to think about your priorities for your children - we have been fully in agreement and supportive of the gentle touch on homework. And, if you are asking about senior schools, every child gets to the school which is right for them, and the school takes great care over that. Above all this is a school for children, somewhere they are allowed, indeed encouraged and supported to have a childhood.

thelorax1 Tue 11-Sep-12 19:50:21

so sorry but in many ways have to agree with checkmate 'Feb 11'! I'm afarid the headmistress is still up to her old tricks of 'Pi***ng off the parents although too many are too worried about saying anything, what does that tell you? The gushing reviews are from fans and mum's that quite frankly don't want to stand up for their children and are happy in their own little world of oblivion. As long as little Johnny's happy who cares how the management treat the parents or............the staff! It's a one way street here and people need to be made aware of it. The headmistress is described as young, dynamic and glamorous............I'd say young, cut throat and very good at getting her own way, regardless!

take3 Fri 14-Sep-12 20:53:02

I would take a look at The Manor Prep - yes, only boys up to year 2 but such a wonderful place. Excellent all around.
For boys - Abingdon Prep?

valcoates1552 Mon 15-Oct-12 21:01:43

I don't understand this. I met her and she talked for ages to me and dh about our ds and dd, despite us turning up without an appointment!. She was utterly compelling and balanced. She put me in touch with a nice man on the PTA who basically said that she was formidable but devoted to the children. Nice.
V impressed by results and MCS sent us to meet her saying that she was brilliant and that he loved what she has done for the boys. Our ds goes for assessment next week. Bit nervous.
Dh colleague knew her previous boss where she was head- now a big wig in top London school- and he raves about her abilities. Horses for courses but how nice to have choices smile
Lovedlovedloved the grounds. Lovedlovedloved the buildings. Not sure about the menu... Do four year olds go for chicken curry?!

bubbles11 Wed 07-Nov-12 11:53:14

I saw this thread and wondered whether anyone has any update on views on Chandlings following the above slightly conflicting views
I have one girl (will start school sept 2013) and a boy who is 2.5 - state primary is causing us problems as our local is in special measures and we could afford prep although as I work I would much prefer a single school drop off rather than one at a boys prep and one at a girls prep - Chandlings seems the only realistic option in light of where we currently live
If anyone has children there at the moment please could you give me your honest thoughts as I am on the point of biting the bullet and paying the deposit with a view to sending both of mine - thanks

Valanne1552 Fri 09-Nov-12 21:42:24

All signed up and delighted! Bubbles-I think the conflict is about the Head, not the school. The results, the setting and the kids themselves (happy factor) have been pretty constantly positive about Chandlings. Whether you like the Head or not is a very personal thing. Would your dc like her? I'd say pretty universally yes!!!
(very dynamic and very glamorous but she didn't look that young to me, just not a stuffy headmaster thank goodness!)
I went to weetwood? Hotel during assessment and met some mums there. All they complained about was the size of the carpark. Many gushed about the place. Head knows every child in the school which they all thought amazing and I think very important.
We are thrilled to be lucky enough to be able to be part of the Chandlings family. I would suggest you look at the facts and worry less about the look of the Head ;)
Ask to speak to PTA....

Durkins Tue 04-Dec-12 23:33:18

I have three children, all of whom have been to Chandlings and who have all been there under the new head and the old head.
While it is true that many staff left shortly after she came, many excellent teachers have stayed and the new head has recruited some really great teachers, in sport, music, art, maths....
All my children have been really happy at the school. They have done extremely well there. The two who have left got academic scholarships to MCS. The head of maths and English are outstanding teachers. The drama, particularly higher up the school is ambitious and inspiring. The music is great ... There are small ensemble groups for any kind of instrument your child plays, whether or not they are ready for orchestra. The sport, as has been said, is excellent. The programme for extra curricular activities is really imaginative.
I completely disagree with thelorax1. If I have a problem, I would go and speak to the head. I am not worried a out p***ing anyone off. Nor am I living in a little world of oblivion. Obviously I am not party to her dealings with the staff, but I find it reassuring that many excellent staff have stayed on with her, and that she has brought in some really strong teachers as well. One truly excellent one has even come back after teaching at another school.
I think it's a school that does a lot of things really really well. And when you visit the school I think you will see a lot of really happy children.

Arius Tue 01-Oct-13 12:43:55

Sorry for bumping an old thread but I wondered whether anyone had any recent thoughts on Chandlings. We went for the open day and were very impressed with all that we saw (but of course the school is geared up to sell itself). Very impressed with the music/sport/art etc facilities, the atmosphere in the classrooms and play areas, the small classes and the way the staff and children related to each other. We're looking for entry next year for a DD in Yr 3 and DS in reception. DD is bright and enjoys ballet/drama/music but not so sporty. DS is a bit young to say.

The comments above are pretty polarised (which is why I bumped rather than starting again) which is concerning when you are about to commit a huge amount of money for years to come

Ideally I want a school where:
1. pastoral care is strong - DD is quite shy
2. children will be able to get into any of the secondaries of their choice (assuming ability)
3. I can pick them up knowing they've had the opportunities to do all the sport/music/hobbies so we can enjoy evenings and weekends together, rather than driving all over the place to different clubs.

Would be very grateful for any recent thoughts.

GinnyW14 Thu 03-Oct-13 21:58:59

Hi Arius,

I haven't been a parent at chandlings but I was a pupil. I had an extremely happy 7 years at the school - 6 with Mrs Forrest, the old headmistress, and 1 with Mrs A-J the newer headmistress. Mrs Forrest was amazing but so s Mrs A-J, just in a different way.

The pastoral care is amazing and the children are always really well looked after and cared for.

Their stats for getting the children into the secondary schools of their choice are, I think, 100% - the year 6s get loads of support and everyone is in it together of course and Chandlings organise everything really well!

Extra curricular activities are great - you can do ballet, judo, gold on their golf course, horse riding, extra sports, and loads more!

Overall, I would recommend the school - my time there was AMAZING!!!

If you decide it isn't for your children, I suggest looking at St Hughs Carswell which is where I went for year 7 and 8 which is also amazing (nursery to year 8)

GinnyW14 Thu 03-Oct-13 22:00:31

And the music department is great as well!! As are the plays - we did Honk in year 6 (the musical of the Ugly Duckling) which was great and the year after us did Merchant of Venice. My bother's year did Wind in the Willows - the plays are always great!!

Arius Sat 05-Oct-13 23:15:06

Hi Ginny,

Thanks so much for your reply. It's really helpful to hear a pupil's view (that's what really matters!)
DD has been to see Chandlings and is very keen. My main concern is that it looks a bit boy dominated. Did you find that? DD is quite 'girly' and I'm a bit worried about her fitting in (she'd rather do ballet and play the harp rather than run round a sports field).

Thanks again for your posts,

Valanne1552 Fri 18-Oct-13 13:37:48

I think the dynamic of a slightly boy-heavy place is really good for girls. The other way around can be too soft for boys (esp if the bossy girls dominate!)
We completely love the place - the teachers are brilliant and the maths support is superb. I wonder if, having more boys about, brings in more male teachers. There are loads at Chandlings and they are really inspiring in a Junior school.
All good.

Valanne1552 Fri 18-Oct-13 13:39:01

ooh and they have a special 'Head of Girls' who seems lovely. Im sure your DD would be looked after.

IamMissMaddie Mon 21-Oct-13 09:32:51


I've been reading through the posts with Interests. I have applied for my daughter to start April 2014. Currently at another prep in Oxford (all girls), but want something different - less "stiff".

I think the boy ratio will do her a a lot of good. Shes can be a bit of an alpha female, strong-willled and will dominate if others let her. I think it will help character and relationship balance with friends. (Put her in her place a bit).

I need some info please on getting to and from the school and knowing if there are any liftshares, private bus schemes, or parents that share runs to and from the school in the local area. Aftercare is stated to run till 5.30. Sometimes that might be a little tight for me. What options does anyone know about - that might be worth considering.

Other questions about what parents do in the holidays- are there holiday schemes, summercamps etc run in the area, or even on site?

All hints and tips and otehr info welcomed. I will be at the school on the 5th November.

Thanks if you can send me all info smile

koso99 Mon 18-Nov-13 18:58:51

We sent DS and DD to Chandlings after we moved to the area. When DS was 6, he was diagnosed (is that the correct term???) with dyspraxia/ataxia. We talked to several experts, and due to the severity of it, were advised he would be able to use a laptop. We discussed this with Ms. Forrest, and got him touch typing lessons.
Midway through the next term, I picked him up from school, crying because his teacher had forced him to write cursive, which meant he didn't finish the task which he had to do. Later that day, the art teacher told him off for not drawing correctly. Bear in mind this was after the school had been informed he had a condition that made these tasks harder.
We sent him off to Bruern Abbey after this, and DD soon left as well.
If your child has any type of special need, no matter how mild, Chandlings would not be the best place to put your child. Some friends still have kids going to Chandlings with special needs - they are leaving soon too.
Even with dyspraxia and dyslexia, both DS and DD have made it into MCS and Cheltenham Ladies, no particular thanks to Chandlings.

Valanne1552 Fri 22-Nov-13 21:19:20

Mrs Forrest left six years ago. Some lads use laptops there. This is outofdate. They have such a nice support lady from Warwick school.

zammers Sat 23-Nov-13 07:22:31

My children, boy and girl twins left Chandlings this year having done year 5 and 6. This school is AMAZING and we all miss it so much. There was not one single day when they were not excited and happy to go to school. They seem to have the magic formula of bringing out the best in your child, balancing challenging work with fun. Both my children passed the entrance exams for their chosen schools and were totally prepared for them.

The Head, Mrs AJ is fantastic. Wonderful with the children and makes the effort to know each child. She is always on hand to deal with any issues.

I wish they were able to build a secondary school - mine would still be there!

If you are thinking about sending your child to Chandlings, don't hesitate - they will reward you with a well balanced, happy child.

Mitchell1 Thu 28-Nov-13 13:26:12


I hope you don't mind me joining this thread (first time post for me!)

I have a DD8, DS5 and DD2 and we are relocating to Oxford for September 2014. We went to visit Chandlings and The Manor which are both in Abingdon.

We really loved both schools which has left us even more confused. I have concerns about The Manor as my son would only be there for a year before having to move again (not sure how quickly he will adjust to the move and if he will cope with being moved again the following year).

Chandlings seemed a bit 'boy heavy' which was a slight concern for my daughter who is very 'girly'. I also have concerns over the ISI report 2009 which highlighted a need to stretch the more capable children (although I have been assured that this has now been addressed and the report was 4 years old)

Does anyone have experience of either schools? I am interested in both Academic and Sports but also how the children come out the other end! Are they polite, well rounded children who are ready to take the next step in Education etc etc...

Thanks is advance for any help you can give!

taccy Sat 04-Jan-14 17:44:57

Thought I'd add my views since I'm surprised by some of the very negative, though perhaps out of date, ones.

We've 2 children currently at Chandlings, plus a daughter who was there from Y3-6, so have 'used' all years from Nursery to Y6. All have been there in the 6 years since the Head Mrs AJ arrived so can't compare to the previous 'regime'. However, we've been absolutely delighted with the school, staff, facilities, pastoral care and Head.
One of our children was suspected as having dyslexia by the school, confirmed by an Educational Psychologist, and the care has been excellent- having an extra hours one-on-one tuition each week (no extra charge) with an impressive improvement in English. The London based EP commented to me on how good the care is at Chandlings for kids with dyslexia.

We considered the other local prep schools but went for Chandlings as it's co-ed unlike the Manor. The Dragon was an option but I was turned-off by, what seems to me, a general air of 'North Oxford' pretentiousness of the parents (though we also live in North Oxford...). However, friend's kids are there and they're happy.

Some of the staff did leave soon after Mrs AJ's arrival but that is to be expected when a strong leader is making changes in an organisation- not necessarily a bad thing. I've heard bitchy comments about Mrs AJ, even from parents with kids at other schools with no link to her, and have often thought a lot of this was based on her looks rather than anything else! Incidentally, we heard today that she's leaving Chandlings to head a school in Australia from Sep 14. Their gain- Chandlings loss, in my opinion.

Academically the school website shows that the vast majority of girls go to Headington, St Katherines and Oxford High, and boys to Magdalene and Abingdon- our daughter went to one of those as her first choice. All of these schools are excellent academically as can be seen from the annual exam results tables. I think if you were seriously thinking of sending a child on to board at e.g. Eton, Harrow, Cheltenham Ladies then perhaps the Dragon would be more appropriate- but if not then Chandlings tutors the children to pass the exams they need. As a public school and Cambridge graduate myself (in response to previous comments above) I think Chandlings gets the academic, sporting and 'all-rounder' balance just right.

I believe that before Mrs AJ's arrival sporting success wasn't taken too seriously, with teams not being based on ability. However, my sporty child is in the A teams and they regularly beat the opposition, and my less-sporty child floats around the C/D team level as a perfectly happy trier. They've all done onsite horse riding, golf, tennis etc etc. The range of extra-curricular activities every lunchtime and after school plus during holidays is amazing and significantly greater than when our kids started.

In summary- we've both been delighted with the school and would recommend it to all !

heeron Fri 07-Feb-14 13:04:44

Hello, I just wanted to add my opinion as my DS had a year and half stint at Chandlings before we decided to move him.

Ultimately, it is whether your child is the right type of personality for Chandlings. It is a very big school (470 currently) and a quiet shy child who is not sporty may be overlooked or shrink into themselves if they don't thrive in that environment OR they may be happy to "fly under the radar" and not stand out in sport or any other activities.

My DS hated how big the school was and having 4 classes in each year, found it difficult to build and maintain close friendships. Their are a lot of activities and after school clubs (some sports activities are done in lunch hour too) so he would often find one of his friends had gone off to participate in something and he would have no-one to play with. The classes seemed to segregate themselves into the "nerdy, clever ones" and the "sporty" ones. The sporty children seemed to be quite aggressive and fiercely competitive having witnessed some of antics first hand at Sports Days (whispering about putting other children off and other tactics-however I know this is just children). My DS was always in the D/E team for football and rugby and felt that "he was rubbish at everything". There was no flexibility with moving the children around-once you were in the A team, that's where you stayed. He is in the football team at his school now and they don't win every match but his self-esteem has soared.

My experience of the Head, Mrs AJ was not a positive one. I didn't find her very approachable and warm, I wanted to like her and thought she was impressive in what she had achieved but unlike others on here, I didn't find her very hands on with the children. Nearly every speech she made, she always seemed to end up talking about herself, it ended up being quite amusing. When I went to speak to her about taking my DS out of the school, she didn't know who he was (that made me realise I was doing the right thing and confirmed to me that a child has to stand out to be noticed there). I could say much more but it's irrelevant now that she is leaving but I know personally that there will be quite a few parents and teachers breathing a sigh of relief!

The grounds are beautiful but I don't feel they make enough of them-perhaps a few lessons outdoors in the Summer/Forest School? The classrooms are on the small side and the pool is very outdated (but v warm apparently!). The changing rooms are cramped and kit is lost on a daily basis.

However, the teachers my son had were lovely. There are a few stricter, less popular ones but that's the same anywhere. The sports and other activities are plentiful but the children don't always get their first choice (again, same anywhere I'm sure). When you walk around the school, I never found the teachers to be very friendly, they would just blank you-although with such a massive school I don't blame them!

There is more I could add but I won't go on-my DS was just more suited to a small school where he knew everyone and he's very happy now. No school is perfect, it's just finding the one which ticks most of the boxes but most of all, suits your child's personality.

I wish you all the best in your search and hope your children settle happily wherever you choose!

Phoenix78 Fri 07-Feb-14 15:25:26

Out of interest Heeron where did you move your child too and how does the new school differ?

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