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Cargilfield, Loretto, Fettes prep ?

(32 Posts)
Superscooter Sun 08-Jan-17 22:58:55

Thinking of sending our child to one of the above - does anyone have any useful experience of any of these schools?
Especially interested in class sizes & pick-up times as I've heard the school days are very long...also DD is quite quiet , would this be an issue in any of these places?

Grateful for any insights!

coffeeCamelCase Mon 09-Jan-17 00:14:12

Strongly recommend Cargilfield. Classes have a maximum of 16 IME; plenty of room for quiet children to be encouraged to talk (but with two or three such classes per year and plenty of cross-year contact, enough potential friends too). In the pre-prep (P1-3) pickup is at 3, but from P4 it's 6. I was worried that would be hard, but it was fine - the day has enough breaks and variety of activity that DS quickly adjusted. The way to think of it is that it's like doing a standard primary school day and then going to after-school club, but with the activities differently distributed. And no homework (bar reading, vocab learning etc - nothing written) which is a blessing!

Do you have an idea of plans for senior school for your DD? Obviously if you're firmly intending Loretto or Fettes that's an argument for starting her there early, while if you want to leave options open you really need Cargilfield.

Superscooter Mon 09-Jan-17 09:18:35

Thanks Coffee, that's really useful!

6 does seem very late to finish but I guess it's not quite so bad if there is no homework. Does the school day include the sorts of things which you would normally have to go to after school hours (clubs, private music lessons, sporting activities)?

Slightly random question but do you know if the age intake for each year follows the English system (i.e. Birthdays from September to September in each year so the aseptember birthdays are the oldest) or the Scottish one (I think starts from April)?

coffeeCamelCase Mon 09-Jan-17 11:03:13

Does the school day include the sorts of things which you would normally have to go to after school hours (clubs, private music lessons, sporting activities)? Yes, that's right. Specifically:

- Clubs: they have a long break (separate from lunch) and there are clubs in that. There are also "late clubs" after supper, 6.45-8.00; of course, while your child is new to the 6pm finish those are best avoided! Provisional list here:

- Private music lessons. Typically (i.e. different arrangements apply where it makes more sense in an individual case) they are allocated a day for the lesson, so you know when the instrument has to be in, but the time is rotated, so that they don't always miss the same lesson. Most children play at least one instrument, so getting caught up for what they miss doesn't seem to be an issue - the teachers are used to handling it.

- Games. Every day (and there's a wide variety of things going on, so although in the lower years they don't get a choice as such, at least the rugby-hating child isn't playing rugby every day).

Cargilfield has traditionally taken children in according to the Scottish cut-off dates, but then a large number of children go out to schools that use the English cut-off dates! They handle this by the concept of the "Form 8 non-leaver". That is, if your child is among the youngest in the Scottish year, so that at the end of their 8th year of school (Form 8 in Cargilfield terms, what would be S1 in the Scottish system) they are not old enough to go into Year 9 in English terms, then they can do an extra year in Form 8. This seemed weird in anticipation, but work is differentiated enough that it actually seems to work (and for those heading for very competitive scholarships, it can work very well: their workload is completely individual by that stage anyway). Everything's flexible, though - there have been children not in the "right" year according to that guide at Cargilfield, and also children who according to that would do a second year in F8 who actually just go on to their senior schools. I also heard something that made me wonder whether the head was considering switching to English cut-off dates throughout - don't know whether it's true, but it might be a thing to ask about.

Go and visit! Term starts Wednesday, I expect there's someone in the office already.

(This all sounds as though maybe I work in their marketing department, reading it back. I don't: just a very happy parent.)

EdinburghPS Mon 09-Jan-17 15:54:13

Although we are actually at another private school in edinburgh, I've heard great things about Cargilfield; especially if you intend to do boarding school in the future with them.
I have friends with children there and they absolutely love it.

Haggisjack63 Mon 16-Jan-17 04:20:18

What about Steiner to add to your look.

Amazing kindigarten.

Can't just drop off and pick up at 6 though, but no homework help until beyond 7. Just good wholesome food and early restful sleep.

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 10:44:21

Also looking at Cargilfield. Do lots of girls leave at 11? If so,where do they go? Really like the look of it but want to be sure. Do any go to Mary Erskine's? I like the smaller classes and less children per year group of Cargilfield for primary but wonder if it's madness to then switch to Mary Erakine's when could start there and not switch. Any advice?

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 10:44:59

Or do most girls also stay until 13?

EdinburghPS Wed 25-Jan-17 12:26:58

I don't have any personal information about cargilfield but according to my friend a lot of them go to Fettes or to other boarding schools.
Mary Erskine is a much bigger school than Cargilfield so I assume the environment would be much different.

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 12:35:13

Thanks EdinburghPS. Yea, we've been to look at both and really like both - even though they are completely different. We've kind of decided Cargilfield but I have this nagging at the back of my mind that for girls, the offer is a bit different. That could be totally wrong!

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 12:36:59

Coffee, thanks for sharing the extra curriculum list. Do you know if these are billed for additionally or included in the fees?

coffeeCamelCase Wed 25-Jan-17 18:36:39

Most things are included, and those that are not have always seemed to be very good value. I think all break clubs are included, but some evening ones have a charge. I am actually a bit confused, I find, about what the principles are (policies have changed a couple of times in recent years), but on the most recent bill we have:

- charges for individual music lessons, of course;

- charge of £42 for the term for a games activity that involves going off-site and being instructed by an outside teacher;

- charge of under £30 for the term for one evening club that, again, involves going off-site and being instructed by an outside teacher;

- £13 for a trip

- plus the actual fees;

- but no charges for the other three evening clubs he does, even though two of them have outside teachers. Those two are on nights he boards so maybe they're notionally included in the boarding fee. Hopefully that gives you an idea anyway! Generally Cargilfield has higher base fees than many schools but more is included. No charges for meals, for example, whether it's lunch or it's supper they're only staying for for your convenience.

Yes, Mary Erskine's is a different offering, and not a common destination from Cargilfield. I have the impression that it used to be more common for girls to leave at 11 than it is now. Anything's possible though. We had originally planned Watson's for senior school, and that was our second choice for P1. We decided it was best to go for the school that seemed like the best fit right then, and worry about senior school later. In the event DS is going to board, which I would not have guessed when he was 4! No regrets so far.

coffeeCamelCase Wed 25-Jan-17 18:46:59

About what Cargilfield is like for girls: that's a good question and you need a recent parent of a girl really. Time was it seemed to be pretty boy-oriented and I remember wondering if I'd be unhappy if I had a girl; probably not coincidentally, the top years seemed boy-heavy. However, I think that has probably changed for the better. Certainly the school sends plenty of girls to places like Fettes at 13 when they could go earlier, so the fact that they don't choose to says something! I do notice more sex-segregation in the clubs than I'd ideally like, but maybe that's just how it tends to be when children this age get a free choice. In class, from what I can gather, it's fine: e.g. fine for boys to enjoy arty subjects and girls to enjoy science.

coffeeCamelCase Wed 25-Jan-17 18:49:13

(In support of "it's the age", the pre-prep doesn't, or at least didn't, suffer from the same thing - DS used to adore jewellery club!)

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 19:08:01

Thanks coffee, that's all so helpful. I could really do with someone coming on here who has a girl at the school - just for that final reassurance! I'm agonising about this so much! I really want to get it right.

Shampoodle Wed 25-Jan-17 19:10:13

Sorry Superscooter for hijacking your thread!

Superscooter Wed 25-Jan-17 21:46:58

Don't worry Shampoodle, it's all good!

We are going for a visit to Cargilfield next month, may have more questions after that! Would be interested to hear from the parent of a girl also. Hadn't really thought of that angle.

I have really appreciated all the posts so far, thank you all.

winterland Wed 25-Jan-17 21:51:19

I'm a girl and I went there. All be it a while ago now! I loved it. I boarded from 6 and remember it all fondly.

Shampoodle Thu 26-Jan-17 06:43:49

Thanks winterland! What age did you leave and where did you go (if you don't mind sharing).

coffeeCamelCase Thu 26-Jan-17 07:16:48

tbh, really happy that winterland had a great time, but boarding from 6 suggests it was really a long time ago (I'm guessing it was last century when you were 6?) and a lot has changed even since I first visited the school in 2003.

If your child's already school age, a taster day is a good idea to get a feel for the school. Otherwise, you might ask school whether there's a good time to visit when you might get a chance to talk to some parents, if you're free; eg attending chapel? Following the Twitter and Facebook accounts might help too.

Shampoodle Thu 26-Jan-17 07:36:04

Thanks coffee - we've done the open day and it was really useful. We got a really great feel for the school - just the nagging 'is it just as good for girls as boys' thought at the back of our mind before we sign on the dotted line! Your insights are really helpful too!

Theclockisticking Sat 28-Jan-17 00:14:03

I have a daughter currently at Cargilfield. My son was also a Cargundian.

I have found no difference between them.

If you are considering Cargilfield seriously then it is worth bearing in mind that their primary objective is to prepare boys and girls for the top Public schools in the UK. It doesn't matter what sex your child is, they will prepare them for the best school for them as an individual. The major difference between Cargilfield and the other 2 schools mentioned is that it gives you as a parent and the child options. As your child grows and develops it allows you to see where their strengths and weaknesses are and when the time comes to move on, you are confident you are choosing a school that best suits your child at that crucial time in their life, that school might be Lorretto or Fettes, it might be Eton (for a boy) or Wickham Abbey (for a girl) the point is you have a choice. If they start in an all-through school they will not be prepared for Common Entrance or a Scholarship to another school as it is not in their interest to do so. In a 3-18 school they are also in the same small cohort of pupils without the opportunity to in effect re-invent themselves when they start at secondary school too which in my opinion is a real shame and can feel very claustrophobic.

The draw back of Cargilfield is if you decide your child is not heading to a major public school or independent. The day schools in Edinburgh all have their major intake at 12, as many kids come from state school at that time so you need to withdraw your child from Cargilfield a year before the rest of their class mates or take a chance that a place will become available by going on the day schools waiting list (not ideal as your child then doesn't have the security of knowing their destination school) if you leave them at Cargilfield until they are 13. The Curriculum they follow is also different to Edinburgh day schools i.e Cargilfield - Common Entrance and Scholarships, Day Schools - Curriculum for Excellence.

I am, however, an enormous fan of Cargilfield. I cannot stress enough how fantastic a school it is. From Form 4 onwards the children have separate specialist teachers for each subject (just like high school), the most able are accelerated and stretched whilst the children needing more support have a very nurturing environment. This is a competitive school environment though, competition is hugely encouraged and success is celebrated in all areas, sport, drama, academics, music. It is full on, certainly in the upper school but very enriching

Shampoodle Sat 28-Jan-17 07:27:18

Thank you so much Theclockisticking. This really reaffirms our thoughts. it's great to hear such positive stories (here and on other threads). I really think the school is right, for right now - perhaps we select it on that basis (should an offer be forthcoming!). My DH wants me to stop researching - he says it's clear for him!

Theclockisticking Sat 28-Jan-17 10:49:47

Glad it was helpful.

Have a look at Cargilfield Twitter (sorry, rubbish at links) if you've not already done so. It is constantly updated and you get a real feel for the school from it. It will appear a bit heavy on sporting events but it's just that the teacher who does most of the tweets is a big sports enthusiast. There's always lots of updates on old boys and girls too which is great.

Uconnect Fri 03-Feb-17 22:14:57

We didn't do Cargilfield although a lot of my DD's pri sch mates went there. At sec sch level her old friends at Cargilfield moved to St. Melville & Mary Erskine, a few of them went to Heriot's.
In a nut shell I think Cargilfield is more of a boys ground than girls, but all kids are different esp when it comes to sec sch age;
This is where Sch Open Days became very useful for us to set the ball rolling and at this point I gave my teenager freedom (with some responsibility) to plan with me where she would feel proud and happy to study- her choice was EA (after attending the open days and doing our ground work).
I was forced to abandon my preferences, although confident with the choice she came up with, I took a while wondering if she'll make a u-turn after gcse, but she did not.
DD studied very well. I couldn't ask for more, and I am glad I took a step back to give her the freedom to choose and show some maturity.

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