Beyond the sales pitch - Framlingham College Prep and Woodbridge(5 Posts)
We're now trying to decide between the two for prep-school aged children.
Would anyone with knowledge be able to help confirm (or disabuse!) the following views. We've visited each school more than once. Also if you're reading this and are a current parent - would you still chose it knowing what you know now from a user perspective.
Woodbridge (Queens House and the Abbey) just 'feels' lovely - genuinely warm and welcoming. Framlingham Prep feels a little colder on the pastoral side. Is this part of their DNA or were we just lucky/unlucky.
How indestructible is the 'vibe' from each? Will the planned changes (and new Head) at Woodbridge steer it in a more results-driven direction? Or is the kindness thread just woven into the fabric and unalterable? We've met the new head and liked her - but they have had a period of short-staying heads...why did they leave? Did they not gel with the school or was there something in the school they didn't like - perhaps to do with the proposed changes?
Framlingham seems to be on a real mission to elevate its profile. Are serious academic results - or outstanding non-academic success e.g. sport/music - really what they're after. If you're more of an ordinary Joe sort you'll be looked over? Whereas my feeling is that at Woodbridge there's a kindness back-bone which, although success is lauded, it isn't at the expense of the ordinary Joe's just getting on with things.
Other parents... We've seen a wide variety of parents at Woodbridge and didn't notice any sense of there being an exclusive parents club. On the other hand, Framlingham seems to have a bit of a 'club' mentality about it. Of course it may be possible to crack but is it a school dominated by a minority (or maybe majority!) group of identikit families? How easy is it to crack and even if cracked, will you always be an outsider?
Parking - how bad is parking at both at drop off and pick up time (esp. the Abbey).
I'm sure there is more but I suspect this is already a long post! Thanks in advance for any responses.
I don't know much about Fram from a personal perspective but you definitely have the measure of The Abbey- a warmer, kinder school you won't find, it's just gorgeous. The new head wants to make every decision with the children at heart and i can't see that warmth changing. Parents are friendly and inclusive. The previous Head moved on quickly but had also done so from his last school and there didn't seem to be any animosity, and the head before him was there for 20 years. It's a fab school and I don't think the new head will want to change that, she seems lovely. Hope that helps!
On your more practical points parking in a small town is always a challenge but The Abbey has plenty of onsite parking and I never found it a problem , I think when the new developments take place next year parking will be expanded so I don't envisage that being a problem .
There is a very good mix of parents at Woodbridge , helped by the fact that they have a relatively generous bursary policy in the Seniors, I would also say that it's very much a comunity school , the senior pupils go into all the local schools to lead sports activities for example and the school host activities for other local schools as well.
Our dc had a fabulous time at the Abbey , they still talk about it with huge affection .Its a very active school with something for everyone and most of all I think they really put a premium on the children having fun.Academics,and this seem a true at the seniors as well, are very good but do not exclude everything else and they are very keen on the 'whole' child .The Headmaster said at a recent event that just because you emphasise the softer skills it does not mean that academics are less important. It is not either/or it's both and our experience seems to bear this out .Its not just about kindness though , it's also about positivity and being a good team member whether that's at hockey or drama or choir or Young Enterprise , working together and caring about your collegues is valued a lot.
I don't have direct experience of Fram but I would probably say that it is more 'county' and that Woodbridge has a broader cohort from a wider geographical area.Also a big difference is that one changes at 13 and one at 11.
I can't tell you about Brandeston (Fram College prep), but DS1 went to Fram College & a lot of parents were local farmers. While he was there the results were a real mixed bag (he was in Yr 13 when the "new" head took over). Academic students did very well and others were helped to do as well as they were able.
Parking definitely never a problem! Compared to London/Hertfordshire where we also moved from, I've never had any problem parking in Suffolk 😀
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