Falcons Prep School(16 Posts)
Does anyone have a son at Falcon's Prep School in Richmond. We are thinking of moving our son for Year 3. We visited the school last week and liked it very much but would appreciate some parental feedback.
My son went to the Falcons Pre-Prep and spent one year at the Falcons Prep. I cannot recommend it highly enough. The pre-prep is very established and its reputation for being a fantastic school is well known (proven by happy parents and amazing exit results at 7+ for those who choose to leave).
The prep had a couple years which were hiccups, nothing to do with the teaching or the school which have always remained very, very good, but due to 1) a new school starting up in the Richmond area which offered steep tuition discounts to lure parents away and 2) last year's year 4 some parents panicking that the school does not specifically prepare for 11+. However, if these parents had just waited for the 11+ results to be sent out, they would have seen that there were acceptances to Tiffin, Latymer Upper, Colet Court, City Boys, Kings, Kingston Grammar, etc.
Now, specifically regarding the school: it is a very friendly school with a wide range of academic ability which are all well taken care of. My son only spent one year there as he took the 8+ and moved on to Colet Court (the school has excellent results at 8+ with between 75-100% acceptance rates to Colet, Westminster and Kings College). The year group was split into 2 classes and divided informally into tables within the class. All tables were well catered for with the top table (all boys which took the 8+ and all were successful to their 1st choices). When my son arrived at Colet, he seamlessly fit into the top third, demonstrating that he was pushed at an adequate level. Those at the bottom and middle are also well taken care of.
Teachers are all enthusiastic and genuinely caring, and specialist teachers teach subjects from year 3. Latin is taught from year 4. Loads of sports, and the fact that the school abuts Old Deer Park and its facilities is a great resource. Great range of extracurriculars, and built in time to get homework done at school is also good. Needless to say due to it being recently built, fantastic facilities and a very good canteen.
The only negative about the school is the homework level - it is not a burden (less than half an hour a day at year 3-4), but compared to other preps, it is at the higher end. I suppose it is because they want to do the maximum possible to get the boys ready for the top London day schools, which have gotten increasingly competitive to get into.
Another wonderful thing about the school is the parent group - a very laid-back and friendly group. Loads of social events, and very welcoming to new parents.
I highly recommend the school to anyone.
Thank you Falconsparent for taking the time to write in so much detail. It is incredibly helpful. My son will be spending a trial day at the Pre-Prep to see how he likes it and vice versa.
Funnily enough I noticed how full the homework time table was in a Year 3 classroom. But as you say, the top schools are so competitive and I think it is probably necessary. He gets quite a bit at his current school in any case.
We do have ambitions at 11+ and were really encouraged by the Falcons' results so we shall see.
Congratulations to your son getting into Colet Court.
I agree wholeheartedly with the above posting by Falconsparent. This school is awesome. No air of complacency whatsoever. The boys are prepped to a very high standard and all strengths and weaknesses are catered for. Academically, my son is transformed. Not only because of the high standards of teaching, but because of the "can do" attitude that is successfully engendered in the boys. They are given the most precious gift here - confidence. The staff are hugely dedicated across the board and work really hard, often late into the evenings. All overseen by a highly approachable and experienced head, who is very well connected to heads in a wide range of London day and national boarding schools, and seems to be able to make a difference on admissions. The school is new (opened September 2008) so doesn't have a long track record of senior school results, but everything achieved so far has been impressive at the 11+ / 11 pre-test point. Among other things, the school excels at communication. Teachers respond to e-mails very quickly and in a candid and helpful way. I've had responses at 9.15pm and on Saturday mornings before now. The partnership with parents is flawless, which is important to us as we don't live in Richmond and both work. We always feel we know what has gone on in our son's school day even though we are rarely at the school. Falcons Prep is situated less than a minute away from a whole range of sporting facilities, including Richmond Cricket, London Scottish, London Welsh, Pools on the Park and Richmond Athletic. So there's no timetable space wasted in bussing the boys around to sports fields. And, since the school opened, the head of games has done a first class job of integrating the school into the inter-school sporting fixture calendar, and the boys play many matches against other schools in football, cricket and rugby. The homework is pretty heavy, but I'd rather that than not enough. And, by the time the boys get to Year 4, they are largely self-sufficient. The range of clubs is outstanding, and "supervised prep" is offered as an alternative to clubs every night Mon-Thurs. Based on my experience to date, I could not think of a single area in which the school to improve its performance. Nor has there been a single day that my son didn't want to go to this school. I'm so pleased he was not up to the 7+ at the time or he would have missed the opportunity to go to Falcons. It's a hugely positive experience, and I also agree with Falconsparent that the Prep parents are a good bunch. Pretty socialable and pro-active, and no obvious sharp-elbowed behaviour. A nice change from our pre-prep. Music is also a strength, as part of the regular timetable and peripatetically. And there are regular opportunities to perform to large groups of parents, building confidence. The introduction of LAMDA tuition was yet a further positive step, with the boys learning the art of conversation, poetry recital, interview skills, etc with one-to-one expert guidance. In summary, you'd be mad not to bite their hand off for an offer. You won't be disappointed.
Thank you FalconsPrepMum too for taking the time to writing such a glowing and lengthy review. I am really impressed with you Falcons Prep parents! Looking forward to meeting some of you too as we have accepted a place in Year 3 for this September. We are really excited for DS as we think he will love it there. He is at a very traditional - and plodding - pre-prep and really needs to enjoy a more enriched curriculum. I think I would quite like to go myself!
I have to say I disagree with the last post with regard to the Pre-prep. Overall, we have had a very positive experience.
- the headmaster is split between both sites (of the same school) but the school overall is still not that big and easily within the headmasters capabilities. I can't imagine the school group being able to recruit a head of any quality for just one of the sites now, it would not be enough for them.
-there have been some changes with Staff for next year, as every year, (female teachers take & return from maternity leave - shock!) but they all seem positive. Communication of changes can always be improved, but the main problem is people don't like change of any kind, and will see only the negative before checking the positive. I found the standard of teaching to be excellent and the teachers highly qualified. It seems fully qualified teachers have been recruited as TAs, so they are well settled in the school before being promoted to take on a class of their own. I don't think anyone can fault the quality of the staff, and this has been down to the headmaster.
Gossip at the school gates is by nature usually negative, but I don't think 50% are looking to leave. We are all opinionated and like to think it's the schools fault if our sons and heirs are not apparent future prime ministers, but most parents I know are happy overall - especially if you include the community feel of the school and the very active and social PA.
The very excellent Deputy Head who left was exactly that - a Deputy Head. His personality was amazing and the boys (and most of the mums!) all adored him, but those positives did not necessarily make a West London Prep School Head and so he moved on for his own career. The new Deputy Head has only been in his post for 1 term but I think he will bring other positives to the school.
I wonder if the parents who feel they have a right to complain about everything are the same ones who feel they have a right to park where ever they want near the school, upsetting the neighbours by parking in front of their drives and parking in a way that makes it dangerous for young school children to cross the roads?
Perhaps posts about the Pre-Prep should be under a separate thread. This thread is about the Prep School and "sandcrab" and "kitten36" are confusing readers with observations that are completely separate from the Prep.
Huh? Not sure what the deleted message said, but the school is alive, well, and over-subscribed. Must have been one disgruntled poster who did not get exactly what they wanted from the school. Ah well...
MuminLondon - no, the school has definitely not closed. It's over-subscribed and thriving. It's just that the Pre-Prep and the Prep are on different sites (though run as one institution) and some of the posts relate to the Pre-Prep while others relate to the Prep. I think FalconsPrepMum was simply making the point that the posts should be separate. Anyway, both the Pre-Prep and the Prep are great schools. They do well academically and pastorally and there's a really good customer-service mentality vis-a-vis the parents too. You should seriously think about it
Thanks everyone for your comments. DS1 is off to the Prep next week and DS2 is off to the Pre-Prep, so I am very excited for both of them. While I realise there is no such thing as the perfect school, I am feeling confident that the Falcons will be an improvement on their previous school.
And my name-tagging skills are now amazing!
Hello cozzie - I'm doing a bit of homework on pre-prep, as I'm considering sending my son, and just wanted to check how you found Reception class so far this year?
I sense complacency creeping into the Prep these days. It's a shame. Perhaps related to increased numbers. And mercenary..... There's clearly a conflict between parents targeting 10+ / 11+ exits / tests and the school wanting to keep them through common entrance at 13.
How are their pre test results if they are not prepping for a 10+/11+ exit?
They prep of course - the pre testing route forces this - and they do well. Pretty much universal advice is that boys are not ready to leave at 11+. There's a lot of suspicion about references for 10 & 11+ departures though. It's tricky. One things for such, there are many agendas and the rigging is not that transparent to the parents. It's v stressful
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