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HCS, Churchers College...where else?

(22 Posts)
Ozcolemans Sun 09-Jul-17 12:34:36

Hi there

We currently live in Melbourne in Oz and have two very happy kids in great school. We're in the process of planning to come back to live in Winchester for the sept 2018 school year (so have a little time). Have stated researching our options and am feeling more than a little freaked out!

Our kids are turning 11 this sept and turning 13 next April so will be grade 7 and grade 8 or 9 (our son would be in grade 8 in oz due to different school age cut off so wld prob look to keep him in that year group).

It's going to be a massive transition - the school system in oz is very different. It's academic but not in a passing tests kind of a way. It focuses a lot on developing kids ability to know how to learn, how to problem solve and is much less focused on early testing. Both kids are thriving in single sex private schools - not the absolute top tier schools but close behind and get great results.

So we went to see Churchers, without the kids as they don't know about the move yet. Really liked it but get the sense it is oversubscribed and hard to get into. I also worry that it will be a very competitive environment academically compared to what the kids are used to. Would love to hear people's views on what other options there might be or really any advice on relocating from oz. I should add that we have been in oz for 9 years and previously lived in winchester before we left.

Hope anyone can offer views and advice...feeling pretty overwhelmed and confused!

SailingWidow Sun 09-Jul-17 17:44:00

Are you set on private?

The Winchester state secondaries are all pretty good (as are the 2 in Romsey). However it would be a point of which school had places as the eldest would obviously not be at the entry point, but the youngest would have missed application dates for y7. And I doubt you would be allowed to place out of year group.

If you are set on private, HCS has lovely grounds and small classes but I don't get the impression it is anything special academically.

What about King Edwards in Southampton?

Obviously for 6th form you have Peter Symonds (state) in Winchester, which is highly respected if you wanted to switch from private then.

Itsmeorthedog Sun 09-Jul-17 19:29:58

I don't know Winchester well (being local to Churchers) and yes would agree with your view of Churchers being very academically focused and competitive from what I know of it.

That would be a fair trek for your children to school (in rush hour) and you might look at local Winchester schools where your children can then socialise more easily with their school friends outside of school hours.

If you're set on a Petersfield school you looked at Bedales?

Therealslimshady1 Sun 09-Jul-17 23:01:47

Both Kings and Westgate are good comps, both get good results and I know lots of kids at both schools who are happy and doing well.

The top sets at Kings are a bit like a grammar school. They do rigorous setting

Westgate comes across as more liberal, laid back, has good pastoral care, and kids do equally well

HCS does not get better results than either school, despite being private. It is a very attractive small scale school, and kids have more opportunities with sports etc. I know quite a few kids,there who are happy, but it is the sort of environment where their peers may not be serious about careers, as they have trust funds and need not worry about money.

KES is a private day school in S'ton, gets very good results (academic selection at the gate), parents RAVE about it. Not my cup of tea (too pushy) but that is personal

Ozcolemans Mon 10-Jul-17 10:34:04

Thanks so much for the info - I really appreciate you taking the time to respond. There are so any details to take in and it's hard to process what's just reputation (good, bad or ugly) and what's real!
Not definitely set on private, just that it's what they're used to over in oz and with the transition they'll need to make I thought maybe they might get better looked after.
Does anyone know what the pastoral care is like at Kings? It seems a big school so would be interested to know how they make sure no one falls betweeen the cracks. Also keen to know what the culture is like - my son is outdoorsy more than sporty but has found his mates who like similar things so it works great here.
Also worry that class sizes might be too big?
If you think of anything else that might be relevant id love to hear from you!

Ozcolemans Mon 10-Jul-17 10:55:52

(When I say details, I don't mean those you have given - they are really helpful! I mean more with looking at websites and hearing opinions from people who don't know any of the schools!)

Also, has considered bedales but both my kids respond well to structure and clear guidelines/expectations so not sure it was the right fit..

Therealslimshady1 Mon 10-Jul-17 11:05:56

I know some sporty kids,who got into sports teams at Kings, it is a bit more "sporty" than Westgate.

HCS offer proper private school sports, but as they are a small school I don't know if they can compete with other schools? No idea.

KES is big on sports, but if you don't get selected for the a-team that's that!

Lots of people here just take our kids to sports clubs after school. So they go to state comp, but do their sport and music outside school.

As to pastoral care, Westgate is a bit "famous" for that, and other schools like Kings and Thornden are now copying their best practice and are improving.

Sorry if I am a bit vague, DH is a teacher at a comp here and my kids go to two different local comps (very different kids, so different schools suited), but don't want to totally out myself grin

My kids were at a private prep (we came from abroad so no local state school place) before going to comps by the way, that is fairly common here. It shows (maybe) the quality of the state secondaries?

Can you go and visit schools? I must say that wether state or private, you'll unlikely go wrong in this area (hence the insane house prices! Have you checked those?!)

Good luck!

Another thought: KES take in kids at y7 AND y9 (prep school kids)

In the end, most KES, HCS, Westgate and Kings kids end up together at Peter Symonds for 6th form!

Therealslimshady1 Mon 10-Jul-17 11:13:40

Bedales/WInchester College and for girls st Swithuns are obviously in a different league from the comps/HCS

Portsmouth Grammar (a private school) also has many points of entry (11+, 13+) all I know is they are big on sports and their rugby teams are impossible to beat (lots of navy kids, with what I imagine big marines for parents grin)

Some of my friends here send their kids to board at Sherborne, also a very nice school, supposedly, with good pastoral care.

SailingWidow Mon 10-Jul-17 11:19:26

A couple of other things:

This may be out of date: Kings streams in quite a visible way, and then sets within the stream. It does mean that it is very obvious who the bottom stream kids are, and I gather it is hard to move between the streams.

Henry Beaufort (Winchester) hasn't been mentioned. Although its results are slightly less good than Kings and Westgate (it doesn't seem to go all out for Controlled Assessments compared with the others, but CAs are mainly going now anyway) anywhere else it would be considered very good. A couple of people I know picked it particularly for its pastoral care and their kids have been happy there.

Perrins (Alresford) also has a good reputation.
Out of the 2 Romsey schools, I think Romsey has better pastoral care, and sounds more like Westgate, whereas Mountbatten is more like Kings.

Ozcolemans Mon 10-Jul-17 17:50:59

So if we decided/needed to go to state schools, how does the process work? Do we need to live in a certain catchment area for the different schools? Sadly I know the house prices situation 😆 But should be ok thankfully.

Therealslimshady1 Mon 10-Jul-17 21:15:10

Ask the school admission officer!

We applied directly with schools, as it was not in entry years (yr R or Yr7 entry go.through council), and it appeared to be up to the HT (some places have waiting lists). We applied for places from Brazil!

But that was years ago!

TeenAndTween Mon 10-Jul-17 21:22:32

You can't apply until you have a UK address.

As all your applications will be 'in year' you basically apply to whatever schools you like, and if they have a space they'll accept you, and if they don't, they will reject. So your best bet would be to ask the LA if any schools actually have spaces for the required year groups.

If all the schools (or even just your preferred one) are full, then you can appeal. At secondary this is about showing that the prejudice to your child by not being admitted outweighs the prejudice to the school by admitting. You show why this school meets your child's needs. It has to be reasonably factually based.

If your children end up in different schools then you can apply for the other one and go on a waiting list / appeal. You can only appeal once for any school in any academic year.

They do have to find you a school place somewhere, and luckily with Winchester and surrounding area all the schools are pretty decent so it is I think unlikely to be a case of being dumped in a rubbish school that no one else wants.

TeenAndTween Mon 10-Jul-17 21:23:35

Ooh that's clever, it used my usual name not my local board one!

PhuntSox Tue 11-Jul-17 10:30:35

There is also Perins and Robert Mays, both worth a look.

thereisabetterway Fri 14-Jul-17 12:28:40

My son has just finished Year 7 at Churcher's College. It's OK but I wouldn't say it's super academic and, as is so often the case, once they've got your £££ they can make up the rules as they go along and rip you off on trips and "extras" that you would have thought would be included. Personally, I don't think it's worth the money but my son is happy enough and it's very convenient for us.

The other thing with independent, fee-paying schools is that they have longer holidays than the state sector so Churcher's broke up for the summer last Friday (7 July) and I now have two months to keep him entertained.

Bohunt (state sector) in Liphook is highly regarded but is not selective, of course. However, they seem to be very much on the ball when it comes to knowing each child. I have friends who are very happy with it. And they are about to open a brand new sixth form this September.

Feel free to PM me - I'd be happy to talk more!

PhuntSox Fri 14-Jul-17 21:03:24

There are grammar schools in Salisbury too.

Ozcolemans Fri 14-Jul-17 21:38:23

Thanks for all the info. Lots of options to check out! @thereisabetterway I'll pm you!

Ta1kinPeace Mon 17-Jul-17 19:56:24

TBH if you are moving into Winchester, the state schools are probably your best bet.
Traffic in Winchester is horrific and UK train / bus fares are eye watering
so going to school near where you live is a definite thing to consider

I live in Southampton and both my kids have been to Peter Symonds (the state 6th form in Winchester) - its three hours travelling per day and costs over £800 a year for the pass

privateparent Mon 17-Jul-17 20:18:44

I'm a King Edward's parent and we're happy with it. I would say it does best with fairly academic kids who are happy to give things a go. Academically the school does well, but is not as selective as people think.

I'm sure that they don't set or stream except for Maths, and maybe French, and not in the first year. There are quite a few children joining in Year 9, but there are often joiners in other years. If you enjoy sport, I think there is probably a team for you: DS had a great time playing for the rugby B team last year. I think the pastoral care is fairly good for a large school.

I don't think I would send a child there who needed lots of particular attention (e.g. Dyslexia) or one who was a total non-conformist but most other children would probably do well there. Happy to answer any questions if you want to PM me.

SurreyLanes Tue 29-Aug-17 08:42:49

Some of my friends here send their kids to board at Sherborne, also a very nice school, supposedly, with good pastoral care.

'Supposedly' but actually, rather poor.

BeachysFlipFlops Tue 29-Aug-17 09:06:35

I'm not sure where you are planning on living (if you are looking at Churchers, maybe Petersfield?), but you should look at Seaford. Good sports and excellent pastoral care. The current head has only been there for about three years and has really changed the focus and feel of the school. It's non selective but heavily oversubscribed at the moment, which is a problem they've not really had before.

Portsmouth Grammar has no pastoral care to speak of and the sports teams are strictly limited to who will do best for PGS. It's not a gentle place at all.

Wink1e Thu 02-Nov-17 00:04:55

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

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