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Surbiton High School

(48 Posts)
MovingMom Wed 16-Jun-10 14:37:57

Is Surbiton High very academic? I am considering the junior boys for dd1 at year3. How difficult is the entrance exam and getting a place in year 3?

Suresurf Thu 17-Jun-10 18:28:14

I reckon Surbiton High is fairly academic in secondary school level, though my daughter studied there for a couple of years during prep school. At prep school, we found that it had all the fancy bells and whistles you get in a private school, such as stylish classrooms, big playground, well packaged expensive trips and so on.

My daughter came from a state school, and had no difficulty in the tests, though she was never anything exceptional in previous school. I had heard a lot of hype that some of these schools' screening process is tough. But in reality, we found that they reject a few children, more to make a point and maintain some exclusivity. These tests dont really distinguish their academic abilities.

Again, depends on how eager they are to fill positions. Recently due to recession, in most private schools in the area, including SH many vacancies keep coming up across all years quite often.

In general, during the few years time we were there, I have found there were children coming in and going out all the time, even during the middle of academic years.

MovingMom Thu 17-Jun-10 21:10:14

Thanks Suresurf. We are also moving dd1 from a state primary, and was not sure what to expect. Did your daughter enjoy her time while she was there? Based on your experience, would you recommend the school?

Suresurf Fri 18-Jun-10 21:55:41

DD did enjoy it, there is no bullying, etc that may happen in a bad state school. And the teaching was fine. But I would have to say, that was that. The price we paid for it was not really worth it, either in academics or otherwise. It is a good school, but only as good as most good state primaries.

At the secondary level, it is indeed brilliant. I would not recommend anyone spending that sort of money before that, especially if it is hard earned. We did it for a short while only till we could get a place at a decent state school, and then moved out.

While we were there, we had high expectations for the price we paid, but we found very little difference at the prep level between the 2 good state schools where she studied, and SH prep. I am sure it makes a difference at secondary school level, but not in lower years.

I can confidently say all this since DD is now in a top grammer school, doing us all proud, aiming at bigger things. And she got there while doing year 5 and 6 at a decent state primary.

For me, DD's education came before everything else, so, I decided to spent the extra money while we were between 2 state primaries, in between our moves. But if I had a choice, I would have saved that money and used it for some better cause for her own future.

Having said all this, if you have rather unlimited funding, or a big inheritance, then why not, give it to her as a gift for her to enjoy, but dont do it thinking it would make any difference to her life.

If it is your hard earned money, consider investing in SH at secondary level, or maybe 1 year before that, just to be sure.

Hope that helps.

beckhere Sat 19-Jun-10 15:37:02

You need to find out a lot more about the real worth of a school than what you get from a 30 minute guided tour, often by a prepped up by an impressive unpaid student volunteer. You wouldnt believe the kind of things private schools do in marketing themselves, I can only alert you not to fall for those. End of the day, it is a business like any other; though it is easy to forget that, when looking at it from outside.

Having worked at three renowed private schools including SH for short temp vacancy assignments, I was amazed to see what goes on behind the scene. Later, I also worked for the ISC, assisting the audit teams that assessed the performance of many private schools over the years. Though I am out of that circle now, I cant say much publically due to disclosure norms.

Only thing I would say, is to take everything that private schools claim, with a bag of salt.

cameraend Sun 20-Jun-10 08:31:41

I dont know too much about the school itself other than usual hype, but having worked as an estate agent in the Surbiton/Esher/Epsom/Ewell/Richmond area, I would advice anyone moving there, to think twice about your finances. You are moving to one of the most expensive areas in the country outside of Central London, both for houses, and other costs. I recently left the estate agency career, so I can be a lot more open than I could have been earlier, if you had walked in through my agency office door.

Having helped many families move into the area, I can assure you it can be taunting to find a place within your budget, whatever it may be, of course, unless you have a lot of money to throw. Unlike in most other places, you cant even choose to live outside the town centres; because then you are too close to the next town. Anywhere from Cobham down to Leather head, I would consider is one similar belt where the house prices are way too high.

I know so many working couples, including bankers, senior execs, who moved in to this area looking at its private schools, only to regret later. Slightest change in your circumstances can have a devastating effect; and before you know, all your fine calculations dont make any sense any more.

Many have lost everything they have, and as an estate agent, it is not the most uplifting experience to help someone move out of the area, financially and emotionally broke, selling at a huge loss. Worst is when it is those same people whom you happily brought in to the area, and oversold the advantages of being here.

Of course, all this does not count if you can afford to take a knock of a few hundered pounds here and there, or if you have an inheritance kitty to dig into, in case you are out of work for a few months. And trust me, there are quite a few in this area.

CAT me if I can be of any more help, but remember I am out of the agency circuit now, I cant point you to any specific houses.

mabelviolet Sun 20-Jun-10 10:42:18

What is wrong with having an inheritance ? Let us not get too patronising here. I think it is a great area to live. I would say, if you have it,..... let it hang about $!

Let us not discourage those who want to take the plunge into the mile high club. For all you know, movingmum is not doing it for the kids, she is doing it for herself, to satisfy her own self esteem. What is the point having money, if you cant flaunt it ?

Whether the kids go to Year 3 or Year 8; as long as it is to a private school, she can show the world that she has arrived. Who is silentsurf to judge whether it is really worth it or not ?

Let me guess; she has a husband who has just begun to earn a bonus that can make Alex Curran squirm with jealousy. She recently made friends who speak with a Russian accent. Instead of encouraging her in her move to the playground of the rich and famous, dont be b*** about it.

True, over the years, if she is not up to the mark, if her husband's bonuses stop or her inheritance dries up, she will get thrown out of the playground and someone else will take her place. That is what makes this game more exciting.

Would she rather get her share of glory and move in the right circles even if it is for a few years, than wait at the gate of a silly state school every evening with illegal immigrants in their astras, or worse, get jeered or even mugged on her way home.

So, come on movingmom, go for it.

MovingMom Mon 21-Jun-10 13:37:07

Thanks for all the comments, and the honesty. This is why I like this site.

No, I don't have an inheritance, it's the hard earned money that both me and husband earn from slogging through the week. dd1 and dd2 are both (touchwood) very academic so far, and as a working mom, my contribution to their academics is quite limited. My thoughts were that I could feel more at ease(read less guilty) if they were at a good private where there potential would be realised.

beckhere Mon 21-Jun-10 22:48:16

Congrats. Well done. Bad thing is that I guess you now need to make a decision now. Good thing is that you are reassured that they can get into a top school if you chose to, whether it is now, or later.

mabelviolet Tue 22-Jun-10 11:39:19

Looks like we got this one wrong. movingmom, I hope you dont end up like those seabirds caught up in the oil spill in Florida.

I did cheer you on initially, but I got strong personal feedback from many moms for bad behaviour on the forum.

Reading thru everything here, I stand corrected. Unless you have a few grand to spare every month after accounting for everything, dont even think of moving in here. I dont want to take the blame for spoiling your life.

geologist Tue 22-Jun-10 12:02:39

I have been following this interesting thread for a few days now. I cant help hold myself back any further, so here we go.

Movingmom seems to be going thru a very similar soul searching I went thru some time back. My reason for considering private school for my kids wasnt academic at all. They are doing ok on that side; I am fairly academic myself. I wanted to help them gain more confidence, encourage their sports, and so on.

I went thru detailed analysis, discussions with 12+ top prep schools in the south of england, spoke to a hundered moms and dads, spoke to ISC, spoke to ofsted; and what not. It helped I was between jobs, I had the time to do this.

I dont want to bore you with all the details of my findings, but in summary, the conclusion was it made no sense to send kids to private school unless they are in secondary school, or atleast year 6. Feel free to CAT me if you wish to know more.

Miggsie Tue 22-Jun-10 12:23:22

I know a couple of girls at Surbiton and they are thriving...the pre 11 years old is a very difficult one as most state schools can offer about the same, particularly around Richmond (DD is currently in state) BUT if you think you child needs motivating, needs lots of teacher attention, may not pass the exams at 11 to get into an academic school, it is worth it.

I know several people with privately educated children and their really no great shakes children are tons ahead of state school children of the same ability, simply due to being pushed and having homework. If those children were at state they may not pass the 11+ entrnace exam, so their parents have sent them there to be SURE (these are generally parents who idealogically would never send their children to a state school).

I have decided to send DD private at 7 and am looking at Surbiton (you can tell?!) and she is on thier list currently. My choice is based on: DD is very VERY bright, she is already, at age 6 at KS 2 and her infant school say if she carries on like this she will be ready for some GCSE at 12/13 and therefore will die of boredom at the juniors as they cannot cater for someone that far ahead.

The other reason for private is if your child is exceptionally interested or gifted in music or sports, as private schools have these things in abundance that cannot always be replicated in extra curricular in state schools.

MovingMom Tue 22-Jun-10 20:32:55

@Geologist: I think you hit the spot there about the soul searching

@mabelViolet: Sometimes, a bit of cheering is good to hear,not to worry, nothing to be sorry about.

@Miggsie: Do you think that SHS helps academically bright children then? Maybe my understanding is flawed, but I was of the impression that those not doing so well would benefit most. And you have alluded to the same as well.

aardvark1963 Wed 23-Jun-10 12:43:39

For what its worth we have been rather disappointed with the junior dept. Our daughter moved from a local pre-prep where she had done very well to join the yr 3. In this year she has gone completely backwards, both in terms of her presentation and motivation. Her teacher seems really disinterested, often does not send home homework on the allocated days, and writes the same comments for everything that is done.
The standard is no better than the local state schools and although they do have excellent facilities we are now struggling to justify keeping her there any longer.

geologist Wed 23-Jun-10 17:28:22

I know many people who have pulled out of SH prep school, having come in from good state schools, especially from the Southeast, where the state schools are very good. Many continue only because they are so deep with all the committments, house, and so on.

However, I dont think it is the fault of SH, they are a decent school. If you expect a safe and fun environment for kids, then they provide that; in many parts of London, that itself is a lot to ask for. If you expect your child to be lifted from below average academic performance to a decent level, you wont be much disappointed, either.

But if you think it is going to make them superhuman, or expect great "personality development" then, I reckon, you would certainly be disappointed. Atleast, the school isnt going to help much in that. Again not just SH, none of the schools would be of any good for that.

Suresurf Wed 23-Jun-10 17:31:18

Completely agree, have heard this many times before from many people.

shawnmills Wed 23-Jun-10 22:38:31

Agree with this one more than any other topic on this forum. I have many friends who would vouch for this, who have sent their children to so called top private prep schools expecting personal development and great academic achievements, only to be thoroughly disappointed. I think we should turn this into a much bigger awareness campaign.

DancingHippoOnAcid Sun 25-Jul-10 11:41:47

Miggsie - have you considered LEH for your very bright DD? My DD is there at the moment, very bright and was quite bored at her pre prep. At LEH she has thrived and she, along with the rest of her class, have achieved astonishing levels in all areas. It is great for the really bright who need stretching and get bored in a mixed ability class.

Not knocking SHS, I have heard lots of good things about it, but I don't think the average ability level of the classes is as high as LEH. A really bright DC needs to be in a class of similar high ability kids so they can work at the level they need to avoid boredom and frustration.

Anyway, just a thought

LondonMathsMum Mon 02-Aug-10 10:18:16

Surbiton High has changed a lot since DD started there 9 years ago with the old head Dr Jennifer Longhurst (J-Lo !) in charge.

J-Lo had high standards and high expectations so the girls blossomed academically. The Ofsted report said that exam results were outstandingly good for the ability of pupils, in fact the word Outstanding came 40 times in the Ofsted report, including Outstanding Leadership from J-Lo. She is sorely missed from two years ago when she retired.

The new head, Principal Ann Haydon, has two obsessions. Painting and decorating the buildings (and herself, including mahogany tan on a low cleavage and an ankle chain. A headteacher wearing an ankle chain!) She seems to think that making the buildings smart improves the education. The second obsession is sport.

Sport sport sport. Sport is the new black.

So she has let all J-Lo’s academic systems and structures just slip away because of her emphasis on buildings and sport sport sport. We notice the difference from when older DD was there. Last summer’s A Levels were very good, that was the last group of girls still feeling J-Lo’s influence and all she did. But the G.C.S.E.’s were bad, lots of B’s and C’s, it was mainly A* and A with J-Lo.

There used to be an academic atmosphere about the place, led by J-lo who had good academic qualifications with a first class honours degree and a MA and a PhD. Miss Haydon has just got a second class degree, nothing else, in Geography, which is what you do when you’re not clever enough to do Maths or Science or Languages.

We are very disappointed by the change in atmosphere in the school and second DD missing out in consequence. If your daughter is very sporty then this will be good for her, but if you are looking for academics then not.

Mark my words. This year’s A Levels will not be good.

Kingstonian Tue 10-Aug-10 09:44:48

2 DDs in Holy Cross Prep, Surbiton High seemed obvious choice for secondary, especially as their older cousins are there. But second thoughts now as academic standards have fallen since the change of head.

I must say that the Surbiton Assembly Hall, which is part of the school, looks very impressive since they did it up last year.


Brother who has 2 girls there asked the old head 4-5 years ago why she didn’t refurbish it. She said “when I move budget items around and get 200,000 to spare, I prefer to spend it on improving academic excellent not on beautifying buildings.”

She’s got a point there!

Bro v worried about DD1 gcse results due next week. He says whole academic excellence idea lost, just sporting excellence. Last year’s gcse very poor. I agree with LondonMathsMum that the head sets the tone of a school, make or break. It’s all very well being utterly charming and have the girls mad about your extensive expensive wardrobe (and ankelchains!), but that’s all external, all show – where’s the academic underpinning in all this?

To add to our worries, year 6 teacher says that girls who before the change of head would have been no-hopers, now get in easily. So academic standards lower in year 7 too – that’s why they have 8 classes starting in September, I suppose. We are now thinking of KGS instead, although we wanted girls. They are bright but not Tiffins or LEH.

Brov has 2 predictions.

P1 gcse and AL results will be poor

P2 the school will spin it by saying how proud they are that their tennis/swimming/horseriding/gymnastics/skiing champions have done so well.

We’ll see next week when the results are out.

Meanwhile - what do we do with DD1 who is going into year 5 in September? Any advice on Surbiton or Kingston Grammar welcomed!

LondonMathsMum Thu 26-Aug-10 15:17:08

So here are the results. From the papers and websites.


A* percents

Guildford High School for girls...43%
Lady Eleanor Holles..................35%
Tiffin Girls.................................31%
Putney High School...................29%
Wimbledon High School..............28%

Surbiton High School................22%

So this new A* for A Level hasn't been too successful in Surbiton High School.


A*-A percent

Lady Eleanor Holles..................98%
Guildford High School for girls...92%
Putney High School....................91%
Tiffin Girls...............................90%
Wimbledon High School...............89%

Surbiton High School................73%

So last in the pack of local girls schools for G.C.S.E and A Level.

And, yes, Kingstonian, their website DOES tell us that girls got great results while doing gymnastics or acting!

More worrying is the rumour that there were several dozen fails at GCSE, in nearly all subjects they had failures, fails in a dozen or more subjects like Maths, English, French, Spanish, German, Latin, DT, Geography, History, ICT and Science. Girls crying when they got their results. Really bad.

Anyone here actually know if this is true, that there were fails in almost a dozen subjects at G.C.S.E.?

Also, if they have fails in the core subjects then they don't get everybody with 5 passes including Maths and English which is the baseline the absolute minimum surely?.

first1 Fri 27-Aug-10 16:32:58

I am an ex-Surbitonian. Went there from 4-16 and left about 7years ago. Though it's changed a lot since I was there (teachers, building, ethos etc), it did me well academically, but there was A LOT of bullying and it's very competitive - more amongst parents than girls mind.

LondonMathsMum Sun 29-Aug-10 08:52:03

Yes, First1, you would have been there with J-Lo for the last 3 years or so. She upped the academics a lot.

Yes, I'm afraid that we are a rather competitive lot! Would you like to see my Dinner Parties Menu Book?!!!

delaware Sun 05-Sep-10 12:21:34

I have to admit you do sound pretty bitter LondonMathsMum.

I really like Surbiton, my DD is there and I think it has a really great atmosphere. Those stats are always a bit misleading I find. I see that Surbiton had more girls with straight A* at GCSE than Guildford High. Thats pretty impressive..

LondonMathsMum Thu 09-Sep-10 15:13:54

Yes - because there are almost exactly twice as many pupils in Surbiton High than Guildford High.

There are now 1,300 in Surbiton, it was said at P{rizegiving last night.

But I'm sorry if I'm sounding too bitter. Good luck to your DD, hope her exam results come out as you want.

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