Cambridge pre-prep schools

(17 Posts)
cammel Sun 09-Jun-13 20:42:59

I've just had a look at our local school's ofsted report and I'm getting increasingly concerned about whether it will be the right place for DD. We live near Royston, so it is a bit of a trek to school in Cambridge, but if we need to send DD to school in Cambridge then we will. My first thought is the Stephen Perse pre-prep in Madingley. However I wonder whether she would be better off at Kings College School, partly due to the commute at prep level and I am not sure about the cross over between independent schools between pre-prep and prep. Obviously we need to start looking at open days etc. We will also need some element of wrap around care as we both work, though I do 80% so can finish at about 4pm. DD is bright (I'm sure most parents say that), active, enjoys music. I am really keen that she develops a love of learning and doesn't get bored.

So my questions are:
Any school suggestions?
Will the commute be too much for her?
How far do children travel to Cambridge schools, will she be the odd one out?


Nimwe Sun 09-Jun-13 22:36:50

We were in exactly the same situation as you, also living a few miles from Royston. We looked at most of the independent schools in Cambridge before making our choice.

After much deliberation we chose Kings College School for our DD. She is thrilled with it and can't wait to get there each morning. It is a fun and vibrant place with a broad curriculum. She is stretched accademically in a lovely way and can't wait to see what topic they will be doing next! Suffice to say, we are extremely happy with it too.

Our journey is approximately 25 minutes to the school in the morning and about 15 minutes home in the afternoon as the traffic is lighter. The journey passes quickly as we chat about her day and we all actually enjoy this time.

She is by no means unique in travelling in from outside Cambridge. There are plenty of children who attend Kings living in neighbouring villages too. I am sure that this will be similar for most of the Cambridge schools. We have friends around here with children at St Johns and St Faiths as well as Stephen Perse (in Cambridge).

Most of the schools offer wrap around care. Kings offers after school care until 5pm as well as plenty of different after school clubs to choose from as you progress through the school.

The best thing is to go and look at them all, you will soon get a feeling of which one will be the best fit for your daughter.

I hope this has been of help, but if you have any more questions, please just ask.

cammel Sun 09-Jun-13 23:41:38

That's great - thank you. Does the wrap around care until 5pm start from reception or only when they are a bit older?

Nimwe Sun 09-Jun-13 23:52:57

The wrap around care starts in reception. (The school day ends at 3pm from reception to year 2, once in year 3 and onwards it ends at 4pm).

MummaBubba123 Mon 10-Jun-13 07:45:43

Near in mind, also, that people like me who send their children to more local schools (usually 8 mins.) in the car, end up with a commute of 30 mins. each way when car park is included into the calculation. So yours doesn't seem too bad, really! Hope that helps.

cammel Mon 10-Jun-13 08:26:12

We have a 3 minute walk to our local school, I'd guess that getting to the Grange Road area would take about 30 min, but the traffic may make it take longer and I would hate to be late either dropping DD off or collecting her. I work near home, so it would be an hour long round trip.

Nimwe Mon 10-Jun-13 09:56:19

Yes, you are correct about the round trip. Most schools have some initiative to try and save time. Many operate a mini bus from trumpington p&r. Kings has a 'kiss and drop' system where you drive in the front entrance of the school , a chaperone opens the door to let your child out of the car and escorts them into their building and you then drive out of the rear entrance! St Faiths has a breakfast club so that you can drive in early and beat the traffic, have breakfast together as a family before the school day starts. There may also be an opportunity to car pool once your child feels established. I agree though, it would be lovely to be near enough to walk to school!

besty27 Wed 12-Jun-13 20:22:12

You could always go against the traffic flow as a number of my fellow parents do and avoid Cambridge completely (straight down the M11 and off at Bar Hill) and take a look at the Phoenix Pre-prep and Prep in Willingham. All staff came from the highly regarded St Colette's Pre-Prep and as it is a smaller school it really does focus on your child and their specific interests and capabilities so your DD's music interests will be nurtured. As it is an independent school run by parents with no commercial or a conflict of interests, parents can opt to move their children into the centre of Cambridge schools once they're older (at 7) and therefore able to cope with the traffic/bustle or stay on at the school until 11, if they prefer the more personal touch. It has Skylarks from 8 with breakfast and Barn Owls with tea until 6pm and the staff go out of their way to support parents with their busy lives if you need them too. The most important thing to the school is family life and as such they have a very loving ethos. We have one family commute to the school from Bedford at the moment.

cammel Wed 12-Jun-13 21:53:49

I think that we would really struggle with getting to Willingham and back as we both work near home so need to be able to get back down the A14 & M11.

We have made an appointment to see our local primary and have our fingers crossed that it would be able to meet DD's needs. If the infant provision looks any good then I think it might be more practical to move her at 7, but I am still a bit concerned that she might be behind her peers by that stage.

thegrowlygus Sat 15-Jun-13 21:02:30

We are at St. John's. Great school & my boys love it, but in terms of wrap around care - very little. DS1 is 8 and is only just staying until 5 on some evenings for after school clubs. Latest the 6 year old can stay is 4pm.
But there are lots of folk there from Royston way!

cammel Sat 15-Jun-13 21:42:29

I've ruled out St. John's on the basis of the lack of wrap around care. I could manage to gat DD by 4.30 from Cambridge, but would need a childminder/au pair/nanny for collections before 4.30 and would rather do it myself.

TinyTalkNatalie Sun 16-Jun-13 08:12:22

Hi cammell, we live just a couple of miles north of Royston and DS will be entering reception in 2014. Kings is our first choice and we've looked at all the schools in Cambridge with the exception of the Phoenix. Would be very happy to meet up and chat about our personal impressions of each school and what I've learnt from friends with children at St Faith's and St Johns. PM if you'd like grin

Thereonthestair Mon 17-Jun-13 08:11:39

Does anyone know anything about disabled access for pre -prep schools. Ds is quite bright but will probably either be a wheelchair user or at best use walking sticks or a walking frame.

ch3398 Sun 23-Jun-13 13:26:52

St Faiths has access for disabled children - worth a look or a discussion with the register

cammel Tue 02-Jul-13 14:22:25

Thanks for the offer Natalie. We went to look at the Stephen Perse in Madingley but have decided that we would prefer DD to go to our local primary. If it doesn't seem right once she is there then we will have a rethink for year 3/prep entrance.

amstelcourt Thu 22-Aug-13 22:11:00

Just to clarify some info about John's and late stay after school. You can always stay for supper and for prep and activities with the boarders on any day of the week. Not sure where the misconception that you can't stay late has come from. Fab school simply can't praise it enough.

juls73 Tue 17-Sep-13 23:35:05


I have just moved my little girl to The Phoenix at Willingham. We have half an hour drive but it is well worth it. I can honestly say that I have never seen her happier. They are a fabulous school despite being relatively new and put a tremendous amount of effort in to cater for your child's individual needs. They have a broad curriculum too with specialist teachers for a range of subjects including French, music, speech and drama and art. The class sizes are small so they can get the best out of your children whilst being nurturing. They are just amazing - I can't recommend them highly enough!! Feel free to ask me any questions and good luck. We looked at many options before making our minds up

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