*Chandlings School - thoughts?*(36 Posts)
I am thinking about sending our three children (DD 8, DS 6, DS 6) to Chandlings this autumn. I would love to hear any thoughts/ and or experiences of this school, particularly if anyone has a DC there at the moment.
I know that this is an old thread.... but in case anyone is currently thinking of Chandlings, the current Head of Junior School at Cokethorpe is moving there next term (presumably as the new Head). Mrs Cook is superb, she has created a wonderful supportive, creative, dynamic environment at Cokethorpe - I assume she will do the same at Chandlings.
I have a son in Chandlings in Year 2, who is not yet terribly sporty and reasonably academic. He loves the school and we love it too. It is open and welcoming and the pastoral care is very solid. The backgrounds of the parents are mixed and that makes for well-rounded exposure in a relaxed environment. The children spend a lot of time outdoors and thrive for it. The school grounds are expansive and there is a wide range of co-curricular activities on offer. About a third of the student body is girls and so there is perhaps not the approximately 50:50 mix people might hope for with a co-ed school, but the kids mix around quite a bit so that is not too much of a problem. The before- and after-school care is great, which is important to me as a working parent. With regard to polarised comments, I echo the sentiments of the previous posters. Most people who bother with reviews are either very happy or very unhappy. Go with your gut, and I'd be happy to answer any specific questions.
I don't have direct experience of the school (save that we were thinking about it a couple of years ago as you can see from this thread) but I know a lot of people who do. I would say that their views are just as polarised as this thread if not more so! I have friends who are extremely happy and say similar things to abdabs. I also know quite a number of people who have removed their unhappy children, including several over the past year. Roughly speaking I would say that the people who are happy have very active, sporty, younger boys. The unhappy people generally have older, un-sporty, girls - there may be specific issues here as the girls tend to be from the same year group. That is just a small snapshot but I hope it is useful.
Just thought I would give this thread a bump to see if there are any more up-to-date perspectives on Chandlings. We visited today and were impressed by the setting, staff, students, and the range of activities that appear to be on offer to the children. The previous comments in this thread were pretty polarised but what is the gossip at the school these days?
Moved here from London a few years ago. Been very happy with this school which mixes a relatively relaxed academic offering with a full on, interesting and varied extra curricular offering. Having said academics are relaxed they get results that are very impressive; each year a good batch of offers and scholarships to the top Oxford schools (check out the website for details) New head due to start in Sept 15 and coming from SW London. Expect she will perhaps look to inject a bit more ambition to 'top end 'teaching which isn't quite there in some departments. But a happy, vibrant school, with a can-do attitude and very, very thorough pastoral care from a top notch management team. Ignore some comments above which are I think very out of date. Academic results have risen in recent years, with very positive feedback on Chandling's candidates from school heads across the board.
Also, there is a relaxed mix of parental backgrounds. I found it refreshing and generally down to earth after inner London preps. Would recommend unless you want hot-housing in which case look to North Oxford by all accounts.
My daughter joined Chandlings in Sep 2014 when we relocated to the area. She was previously at an independent school in Cheshire known for its academic record and she seemed happy there. She is academic and sporty and it wasn't until she moved to Chandlings that we saw her really blossom. She is now a relaxed, happy and confident child who enjoys a great all round school life - the previous school environment was high pressure and victorian. I have 2 older children who attended 2 different independent academic schools in Cheshire, one an academic hothouse (GPST) the other less of an academic hot house and more balanced with sport /music/drama, though both children went on to Cambridge university and enjoyed their chosen paths. Comparing all of the above, my vote is firmly with Chandlings. Great atmosphere, with emphasis on the right values (for us).
They have now appointed a new head, who will start in September - she sounds like another young go-getting character, so I expect more change is on it's way. I've got a daughter in year 1 and a son in nursery, and their outside clothes are always getting covered in mud, which I reckon is half the point of being a child. The classrooms are small (Cosy?) but the children are in and out all the time - not only for playtime, PE, science, cooking, library, art etc, but also because they are put into ability groups very early on for phonics and maths, which involves moving classrooms. One of the things I like about the school, apart from the facilities and great teachers, is that there are always noisy children clattering around, who nevertheless stop and open the door for adults. The biggest complaints I can muster are that kit does indeed seem to go AWOL more than necessary (though it generally finds it's way home if labelled) and I don't understand why sport is segregated by gender at such a young age.
moving from london, saw chandlings last week. was introduced to the headmaster, who said he had been there since 1985 but seems he is not the head. all v confusing. does anyone know whats going on? also i was really concerned about how small the classrooms were, i know there are only 12 in a class but how often do they get out of that 'box' room in reality? has the use of the outside learning facilities and woods improved? im concerned as my son hates his london school cos of lack of space and time outside!
Just wondering whether anyone had any more recent thoughts on Chandlings? I hear that Mrs A-J has moved and see there is an acting head but I'd be very interested in hearing any views on how it has changed/what is happening!
Lots of children seem to leave Chandlings to go to St Hughs.
Out of interest Heeron where did you move your child too and how does the new school differ?
Hello, I just wanted to add my opinion as my DS had a year and half stint at Chandlings before we decided to move him.
Ultimately, it is whether your child is the right type of personality for Chandlings. It is a very big school (470 currently) and a quiet shy child who is not sporty may be overlooked or shrink into themselves if they don't thrive in that environment OR they may be happy to "fly under the radar" and not stand out in sport or any other activities.
My DS hated how big the school was and having 4 classes in each year, found it difficult to build and maintain close friendships. Their are a lot of activities and after school clubs (some sports activities are done in lunch hour too) so he would often find one of his friends had gone off to participate in something and he would have no-one to play with. The classes seemed to segregate themselves into the "nerdy, clever ones" and the "sporty" ones. The sporty children seemed to be quite aggressive and fiercely competitive having witnessed some of antics first hand at Sports Days (whispering about putting other children off and other tactics-however I know this is just children). My DS was always in the D/E team for football and rugby and felt that "he was rubbish at everything". There was no flexibility with moving the children around-once you were in the A team, that's where you stayed. He is in the football team at his school now and they don't win every match but his self-esteem has soared.
My experience of the Head, Mrs AJ was not a positive one. I didn't find her very approachable and warm, I wanted to like her and thought she was impressive in what she had achieved but unlike others on here, I didn't find her very hands on with the children. Nearly every speech she made, she always seemed to end up talking about herself, it ended up being quite amusing. When I went to speak to her about taking my DS out of the school, she didn't know who he was (that made me realise I was doing the right thing and confirmed to me that a child has to stand out to be noticed there). I could say much more but it's irrelevant now that she is leaving but I know personally that there will be quite a few parents and teachers breathing a sigh of relief!
The grounds are beautiful but I don't feel they make enough of them-perhaps a few lessons outdoors in the Summer/Forest School? The classrooms are on the small side and the pool is very outdated (but v warm apparently!). The changing rooms are cramped and kit is lost on a daily basis.
However, the teachers my son had were lovely. There are a few stricter, less popular ones but that's the same anywhere. The sports and other activities are plentiful but the children don't always get their first choice (again, same anywhere I'm sure). When you walk around the school, I never found the teachers to be very friendly, they would just blank you-although with such a massive school I don't blame them!
There is more I could add but I won't go on-my DS was just more suited to a small school where he knew everyone and he's very happy now. No school is perfect, it's just finding the one which ticks most of the boxes but most of all, suits your child's personality.
I wish you all the best in your search and hope your children settle happily wherever you choose!
Thought I'd add my views since I'm surprised by some of the very negative, though perhaps out of date, ones.
We've 2 children currently at Chandlings, plus a daughter who was there from Y3-6, so have 'used' all years from Nursery to Y6. All have been there in the 6 years since the Head Mrs AJ arrived so can't compare to the previous 'regime'. However, we've been absolutely delighted with the school, staff, facilities, pastoral care and Head.
One of our children was suspected as having dyslexia by the school, confirmed by an Educational Psychologist, and the care has been excellent- having an extra hours one-on-one tuition each week (no extra charge) with an impressive improvement in English. The London based EP commented to me on how good the care is at Chandlings for kids with dyslexia.
We considered the other local prep schools but went for Chandlings as it's co-ed unlike the Manor. The Dragon was an option but I was turned-off by, what seems to me, a general air of 'North Oxford' pretentiousness of the parents (though we also live in North Oxford...). However, friend's kids are there and they're happy.
Some of the staff did leave soon after Mrs AJ's arrival but that is to be expected when a strong leader is making changes in an organisation- not necessarily a bad thing. I've heard bitchy comments about Mrs AJ, even from parents with kids at other schools with no link to her, and have often thought a lot of this was based on her looks rather than anything else! Incidentally, we heard today that she's leaving Chandlings to head a school in Australia from Sep 14. Their gain- Chandlings loss, in my opinion.
Academically the school website shows that the vast majority of girls go to Headington, St Katherines and Oxford High, and boys to Magdalene and Abingdon- our daughter went to one of those as her first choice. All of these schools are excellent academically as can be seen from the annual exam results tables. I think if you were seriously thinking of sending a child on to board at e.g. Eton, Harrow, Cheltenham Ladies then perhaps the Dragon would be more appropriate- but if not then Chandlings tutors the children to pass the exams they need. As a public school and Cambridge graduate myself (in response to previous comments above) I think Chandlings gets the academic, sporting and 'all-rounder' balance just right.
I believe that before Mrs AJ's arrival sporting success wasn't taken too seriously, with teams not being based on ability. However, my sporty child is in the A teams and they regularly beat the opposition, and my less-sporty child floats around the C/D team level as a perfectly happy trier. They've all done onsite horse riding, golf, tennis etc etc. The range of extra-curricular activities every lunchtime and after school plus during holidays is amazing and significantly greater than when our kids started.
In summary- we've both been delighted with the school and would recommend it to all !
I hope you don't mind me joining this thread (first time post for me!)
I have a DD8, DS5 and DD2 and we are relocating to Oxford for September 2014. We went to visit Chandlings and The Manor which are both in Abingdon.
We really loved both schools which has left us even more confused. I have concerns about The Manor as my son would only be there for a year before having to move again (not sure how quickly he will adjust to the move and if he will cope with being moved again the following year).
Chandlings seemed a bit 'boy heavy' which was a slight concern for my daughter who is very 'girly'. I also have concerns over the ISI report 2009 which highlighted a need to stretch the more capable children (although I have been assured that this has now been addressed and the report was 4 years old)
Does anyone have experience of either schools? I am interested in both Academic and Sports but also how the children come out the other end! Are they polite, well rounded children who are ready to take the next step in Education etc etc...
Thanks is advance for any help you can give!
My children, boy and girl twins left Chandlings this year having done year 5 and 6. This school is AMAZING and we all miss it so much. There was not one single day when they were not excited and happy to go to school. They seem to have the magic formula of bringing out the best in your child, balancing challenging work with fun. Both my children passed the entrance exams for their chosen schools and were totally prepared for them.
The Head, Mrs AJ is fantastic. Wonderful with the children and makes the effort to know each child. She is always on hand to deal with any issues.
I wish they were able to build a secondary school - mine would still be there!
If you are thinking about sending your child to Chandlings, don't hesitate - they will reward you with a well balanced, happy child.
Mrs Forrest left six years ago. Some lads use laptops there. This is outofdate. They have such a nice support lady from Warwick school.
We sent DS and DD to Chandlings after we moved to the area. When DS was 6, he was diagnosed (is that the correct term???) with dyspraxia/ataxia. We talked to several experts, and due to the severity of it, were advised he would be able to use a laptop. We discussed this with Ms. Forrest, and got him touch typing lessons.
Midway through the next term, I picked him up from school, crying because his teacher had forced him to write cursive, which meant he didn't finish the task which he had to do. Later that day, the art teacher told him off for not drawing correctly. Bear in mind this was after the school had been informed he had a condition that made these tasks harder.
We sent him off to Bruern Abbey after this, and DD soon left as well.
If your child has any type of special need, no matter how mild, Chandlings would not be the best place to put your child. Some friends still have kids going to Chandlings with special needs - they are leaving soon too.
Even with dyspraxia and dyslexia, both DS and DD have made it into MCS and Cheltenham Ladies, no particular thanks to Chandlings.
I've been reading through the posts with Interests. I have applied for my daughter to start April 2014. Currently at another prep in Oxford (all girls), but want something different - less "stiff".
I think the boy ratio will do her a a lot of good. Shes can be a bit of an alpha female, strong-willled and will dominate if others let her. I think it will help character and relationship balance with friends. (Put her in her place a bit).
I need some info please on getting to and from the school and knowing if there are any liftshares, private bus schemes, or parents that share runs to and from the school in the local area. Aftercare is stated to run till 5.30. Sometimes that might be a little tight for me. What options does anyone know about - that might be worth considering.
Other questions about what parents do in the holidays- are there holiday schemes, summercamps etc run in the area, or even on site?
All hints and tips and otehr info welcomed. I will be at the school on the 5th November.
Thanks if you can send me all info
ooh and they have a special 'Head of Girls' who seems lovely. Im sure your DD would be looked after.
I think the dynamic of a slightly boy-heavy place is really good for girls. The other way around can be too soft for boys (esp if the bossy girls dominate!)
We completely love the place - the teachers are brilliant and the maths support is superb. I wonder if, having more boys about, brings in more male teachers. There are loads at Chandlings and they are really inspiring in a Junior school.
Thanks so much for your reply. It's really helpful to hear a pupil's view (that's what really matters!)
DD has been to see Chandlings and is very keen. My main concern is that it looks a bit boy dominated. Did you find that? DD is quite 'girly' and I'm a bit worried about her fitting in (she'd rather do ballet and play the harp rather than run round a sports field).
Thanks again for your posts,
And the music department is great as well!! As are the plays - we did Honk in year 6 (the musical of the Ugly Duckling) which was great and the year after us did Merchant of Venice. My bother's year did Wind in the Willows - the plays are always great!!
I haven't been a parent at chandlings but I was a pupil. I had an extremely happy 7 years at the school - 6 with Mrs Forrest, the old headmistress, and 1 with Mrs A-J the newer headmistress. Mrs Forrest was amazing but so s Mrs A-J, just in a different way.
The pastoral care is amazing and the children are always really well looked after and cared for.
Their stats for getting the children into the secondary schools of their choice are, I think, 100% - the year 6s get loads of support and everyone is in it together of course and Chandlings organise everything really well!
Extra curricular activities are great - you can do ballet, judo, gold on their golf course, horse riding, extra sports, and loads more!
Overall, I would recommend the school - my time there was AMAZING!!!
If you decide it isn't for your children, I suggest looking at St Hughs Carswell which is where I went for year 7 and 8 which is also amazing (nursery to year 8)
Sorry for bumping an old thread but I wondered whether anyone had any recent thoughts on Chandlings. We went for the open day and were very impressed with all that we saw (but of course the school is geared up to sell itself). Very impressed with the music/sport/art etc facilities, the atmosphere in the classrooms and play areas, the small classes and the way the staff and children related to each other. We're looking for entry next year for a DD in Yr 3 and DS in reception. DD is bright and enjoys ballet/drama/music but not so sporty. DS is a bit young to say.
The comments above are pretty polarised (which is why I bumped rather than starting again) which is concerning when you are about to commit a huge amount of money for years to come
Ideally I want a school where:
1. pastoral care is strong - DD is quite shy
2. children will be able to get into any of the secondaries of their choice (assuming ability)
3. I can pick them up knowing they've had the opportunities to do all the sport/music/hobbies so we can enjoy evenings and weekends together, rather than driving all over the place to different clubs.
Would be very grateful for any recent thoughts.
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