Moving from state to private - St. Piran's / Highfield / Herries ??

(29 Posts)
MuminBerkshire Sat 14-May-11 06:56:38


Am considering moving my DD to Y5 private school. Has anyone got any advice/experience about this transition? Also wanted to find out your thoughts on St. Piran's, Highfield (both in Maidenhead) and Herries (in Cookham).

Thank you

OP’s posts: |
MollieO Sat 14-May-11 08:14:25

Herries is tiny, very small class sizes. I know two families who moved their dcs from the school because of the limited social opportunities although I think it is a good school though just limited if you only have 6 dcs in a class.

St Pirans has a good reputation and I know parents there who are very happy with the school. When we visited thinking it was the school we'd choose for Ds I was amazed at how much I disliked it. The head completely ignored my Ds for our entire two hour visit (wouldn't answer his questions at all). The teachers we saw in passing didn't say hello. The pupils seemed lacking in any spark - the dining room was silent as soon as the head walked in. We didn't see any dcs being taught - the head kept us in his study so long that by the time we got out it was lunch time (our appointment was 11am). I've subsequently met four other sets of parents who had the same experience. The school itself could do with a good clean and a lick of paint. They have a lovely indoor swimming pool and Ds used to have swimming lessons there. The changing rooms were always filthy (even if there was no school and ds's was the first lesson of the day). We've also been to parties in the sports hall and dining hall and they were the same.

Highfield's head retired. They appointed a new head who was then asked to leave either before they took up the appointment or shortly thereafter. They now have another new head and had a 10% fee increase last year. Not sure if parents are as happy as they were when the school was managed by the old head.

The other school to consider in Maidenhead is the College (part of Claires Court). Historically it didnt have the same reputation as Highfield - lots of parents send their boys to Ridgeway (part of CC) and girls to Highfield. They then send their girls to the senior part of the College (which does have a good reputation).

As for switching from state to private, our school reckons it works two years ahead but I'm not sure how true that is. The only thing your dd may struggle with is French, which is taught from Reception.

EBDteacher Sat 14-May-11 10:26:16

No advice about transition as DS is only 9months! However- I'm already stressing about chosing a school!

I went round the Herries on an open day and thought it was lovely (was only considering it to Y2 as a pre-prep for DS). It is so small though that I worry about it's finances. With so many prep schools going to the wall I wonder how sustainable it is with only 6 or so children in each class. However, if you only want a year it could probably mamage to keep going that long!

How 'private' do you want to go?? There's Godstowe in High Wycombe if you want fencing and ballet?? (That is tounge in cheek by the way- I think it looks like a really good school and toyed with the idea for DS to Y2 until I read there were only about 4 boys in the pre-prep.)

You might also want to watch the situation with the Winbury and the Brigidine? I read in the paper that the Brigidine might take over Winbury and run a bus service between the two schools.

RedGruffalo Sat 14-May-11 23:17:26

They all have their pluses and minuses, so it depends what type of school you are looking for. My personal view:
Highfield used to have a great reputation and all the girls i know from there love it and are very happy there. But lots of change lately and I know a few dissatisfied parents who are a bit underwhelmed by the quality of the teaching, some class sizes. I get the impression it's very close knit.
Herries been through 4 heads in 4 years and not so good inspection report. I know a number of parents who have moved or plan to move their children due to this and limited social experiences. On the plus side it seems a very intimate homely school and the children really seem to get out into the local environment and community
St Pirans the busiest of the schools, as pp says it is a bit shabby in places, I found the pool etc clean though and thought all the children were contented and engaged when we looked around. Looks like they have the biggest range of facilities and opportunities. I personally liked it as it seemed more like a 'proper' school.
The College also seem to have good facilities although schools are split across sites. My personal bug bear about this school is that as it goes up to y12 it has limited (no?) links to other senior schools as it is assumed you will stay. If you want your DD to do 11+, common entrance or would like to consider other schools I don't believe you will find much support.

If you are moving in y5 I think all schools would do a assessment, but I think children are very adaptable so try not to let the emotional side put you off!

MuminBerkshire Sun 15-May-11 06:33:34

Thank you all for your feedback on these schools. It has been really useful in making things a lot clearer and hopefully moving towards finding the right place for DD.

Thank you RedGruffalo for your reassuring comments - My mind keeps swinging in two different directions about whether I am doing the right thing by moving DD so late in the day.

I have an appointment to see a couple of schools, including St. Piran's, after half term so will see what happens then.

OP’s posts: |
MmeBlueberry Sun 15-May-11 07:59:17

Some private schools run buses to Maidenhead so you are not restricted to the schools on your doorstep.

MollieO Sun 15-May-11 08:01:33

The College isn't split around different sites! It is part of Claires Court. There are separate sites for the junior and senior boys schools but there is no movement between the boys and girls schools other than for certain external visits where they get the boys and girls together but it isn't a weekly thing. The College has an indoor swimming pool and large playing field too. Plus it is where after school care and holiday club is based.

St Pirans looks as if it could do with a lick of paint and a deep clean!

Depending where you are the other schools to consider are Lambrook over in Winkfield and St Georges in Windsor. Both have good reputations and prepare for Common Entrance (not sure if they do anything for 11+). The only school I know that definitely prepares for 11+ is Herries.


MuminBerkshire Wed 18-May-11 20:28:48

Does anyone have any other suggestions for good independent schools around this area but not necessarily in Maidenhead?

OP’s posts: |
berkshire Wed 18-May-11 21:12:51

Changed name for this blush, very strong recommendation for St Johns Beaumont, perhaps too far away?.....don't worry about it being a RC school if you are not, many boys are'nt of that persuasion.

Berkshire Wed 18-May-11 21:20:12

Arghh....sorry, ignore my last post about St Johns Beaumont, just realised you said DDblush.

KentMum2008 Wed 18-May-11 22:16:17

Can I just mention something, and I hope you don't mind that I'm being a little cheeky. I went to a private school from the age of 4. I loved it and did really well, I only ever have happy memories of my wonderful school. But something that I wasn't aware of as a child, but i am as a parent is the financial commitments that private schooling comes with. We all know about the school fees, and I know a lot of my friends who, like my parents, could just about afford the fees without it affecting anything else. But what my parents didn't realise, and I point this out to my friends, is that with private schooling, you have extravagant school trips and after school clubs that cost more than they would at a state school. The uniform is always expensive and you can't just buy a skirt from M&S. Our blazer was from Peter Jones and cost around £80 and that was in the early 90's, and we all know how quickly kids grow! Plus when your children go to parties, you have to get great presents!
I would never ever try and put anyone off private schooling, as I know from experience how wonderful it can be for your children, the quality of education is second to none. But if you can just about afford the fees, the other expenses that come with it might just be too much. My parents put me in the local comp secondary as they couldn't afford to continue with private education for me, and that's another thing. A private primary is all very good, but secondary education is equally, if not more important.
Of course this might not apply to you in which case go ahead!! If we could afford it, we would send our DC's to one of the lovely private schools we have near us.
Sorry if that came across as cheeky, just thought I'd mention it blush

orienteerer Thu 19-May-11 11:07:15

Upton House might be worth considering?

EBDteacher Thu 19-May-11 14:15:17

Berkshire, do you know if there are any bus services to/from St Johns? Do you think they could handle agnostics?

LAlady Thu 19-May-11 18:51:52

My children go to Herries so perhaps I can give you an informed view.

Yes, there have been many change but it has been in existence for a long time and has many strong backers. I know the person above mentions the change in heads, but the school has appointed these on an interim measure (certainly the head at the moment was only ever going to be with the school for a year). The school has also acted on everything within the inspection report too. Communication is very strong between the school and the parents.

If you want more information, please message me. We are very glad we chose Herries over and above the other schools mentioned (and we looked at them all before making a decision). I also have views of other friends who have children within The College, St Piran's and Highfield which I can give you, if you would like. (Living in this area for all of my life, I do have a good knowledge!).


LAlady Thu 19-May-11 18:55:59

Also if you are considering 11+, Herrries is very supportive. The success rate was very good this year with one child taking the 11+ a year early and passing.

MmeBlueberry Thu 19-May-11 18:58:49

I don't think there are bus services to St John's Beaumont. The boys are either dropped off by SAHMs or by a nanny/au pair. The earliest drop off time is 8am so very hard for a working parent.

There is a public bus that runs past the school, connecting Heathrow and Terminal 5.

Meerkatp Tue 24-May-11 13:34:36

Hi all,

I've been following this thread, and really want to contribute to it. Trouble so far is that I haven't because I'm a bloke. So, if this offends anybody - please let me know and I'll fade away.... smile

I'm a Winbury parent - and over the past few months the school has been the subject of much effort to keep it open following management's decision that they are forced to close owing to repeated losses every year.

This has meant that we've been looking for alternative schools for our daughter and son.

And I can therefore totally understand a lot of the posts above. Which school?

We've examined in minute detail all the private schools in the Maidenhead area, making visits to those 'top of the list'.

In some respects we liked the idea of Herries, but as has been pointed out, the poor inspection reports, and the prospect of a new head teacher in September, and the fact that there are class sizes which are dangeously small (You really do need at least 16 in a class if you want to break even), has combined to scare us off (for the time being).

Some of the really nice schools are out of our price range.

We thought about St Pirans, but unfortunately we heard a couple of bad stories. (Unverified).

Highfield seemed to tick a lot of the boxes - so we've put our daughter down for that school.

For our son, we think that Ridgeway (The boys' prep school part of Claires Court) offers the best all round educational and pastoral care, combined with acceptable fees.

One point aired above is this...... In the event that you for some reason need to take your son/daughter out of private education, and you need to check out the state sector - you will find that all the good places have 'gone' and that the only spaces available are in the poorest performing schools in the Borough. This means that in considering private education, you really need to be in it for many years - especially if you want to avoid the very unpleasant prospect of having to go from 'dream school' to 'nightmare school'.

I really hope you find the ideal school for your children. But - from our expereince - small class sizes = a dangerous, if pleasant, prospect..... you could end up having to switch schools all of a sudden. And consider beforehand what you would do if your financial situation changed or for any other reason - you were faced with having to go from private to bottom end of the state sector.

Hope this helps......


vernon12 Tue 07-Feb-12 10:44:30

We recently moved our son to Herries and couldn't be more pleased. For us the main attractions were the small class sizes and the 11+ coaching as part of the curriculum. We have seen big improvements in a very short time. The atmosphere is friendly and relaxed despite the high academic standards. For me the fact that it is a small school is a major strength, giving the children confidence and security. The leadership issues have now been resolved with the new head, Sophie Green, coming over from St Georges in Windsor. If you're looking for a caring, nurturing, positive environment I can't recommend Herries highly enough.

nets1 Thu 24-May-12 09:07:44

Moved both my daughters to The College after an on-going nightmare at Highfield - am thrilled with it. Can't recommend it enough.

aliceburl Thu 24-Jan-13 10:07:29

Hi - I am not sure if this thread is still active as it has been a while since the last post but I am thinking of moving to the area (Hurley) and am looking at both state primaries and private preps for my DS. I am going to go to open days for Piran's and Herries as like the fact these prepare them for 11+ as I would like DS to go to Sir W Borlase grammer ideally. Is Herries still as small as it was when this thread was running? Is Bisham primary school well thought of? It seems to have done well on the recent Ofsted report and runs a bus from Hurley to Bisham but wondering if there are any current parents who could give me their thoughts. Any advice gratefully received!!

Babyrooty Sun 17-Feb-13 20:39:23

Hi, I live in Hurley and many friends have children at Bisham (state school). Although one friend took her kids out, the rest are v.happy. Last year's Reception kids in the village mostly went to White Waltham Primary instead.
My daughter is at Highfield and I couldn't fault the school, the girls are happy and confident there. The teachers are fab and very caring. She was at St Piran's nursery, lots of friends love it. It was a bit formal for my taste, but friends rave about it. I looked at Herries, yes, still very small class sizes, but great if that suits you. Have lots of friends at the schools you mention if you want to discuss with them.

Babyrooty Sun 17-Feb-13 20:40:23

Hi, I live in Hurley and many friends have children at Bisham (state school). Although one friend took her kids out, the rest are v.happy. Last year's Reception kids in the village mostly went to White Waltham Primary instead.
My daughter is at Highfield and I couldn't fault the school, the girls are happy and confident there. The teachers are fab and very caring. She was at St Piran's nursery, lots of friends love it. It was a bit formal for my taste, but friends rave about it. I looked at Herries, yes, still very small class sizes, but great if that suits you. Have lots of friends at the schools you mention if you want to discuss with them.

katy72 Mon 11-Mar-13 22:41:24

Hi babyroots,
Do your kids still go to herries? We are considering eend our 5 year old son to a local marlow private and herries seems good for the small class siz3s but so many people are negative online. What do you think of the school.

Love any input

Babyrooty Sun 17-Mar-13 12:06:16

Hi Katy, mine go to Highfield, am really pleased with it. But obviously girls only so not suited to your five year old son! My friend has two boys at Herries and loves it. The small class sizes work for them. The parents that I have met have been delighted. Hope that helps! It's very personal.

difficultpickle Sun 17-Mar-13 12:14:16

I know people who have sent their ds's to Herries (moving from other schools) and are really happy with it. I think that has a lot to do with the head who has been there a couple of years now and is making a difference. Good for a sensitive boy as class sizes very small (still girl dominated though). Not so good if you have a boy that likes team sports like football, rugby.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in