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Garden House Girls' school

(24 Posts)
Alpha75 Sat 12-Dec-15 18:18:10

Does anyone have any opinions on Garden House Girls' School? We have friends with children at GH boys' school who are extremely happy but the girls' school seems to have a different vibe to other girls' prep schools we have visited (very 'princessy'). Also the exit results don't seem to be on a par with those of the boys' school (which seems to send a good chunk of boys to top London preps like Colet Court, Westminster Under and Sussex House). Is there a big difference between the girls' and boys' sides of the school and, if so, then why (The different heads? The 8+ system for boys?)? We are looking at girls' prep schools in the area so would appreciate any input / advice.

Out2pasture Sun 13-Dec-15 07:37:48

alpha call and make an appointment for either an open day or to meet with the head. I've been told by family that they are very open in that their aim is a well rounded happy child not necessarily top academic standing. it was emphasized that if the parents focus was academic grades that GH may not be the best fit.

MMmomKK Sun 13-Dec-15 16:32:04

From friends who have daughters at GH girls I hear that they were quite happy with the junior years (Reception-Y2). They had great teachers and overall standard was great. However, for Y3 on - the more academic girls they looked elsewhere as teaching in KS2 is not the same quality.

SquirmOfEels Sun 13-Dec-15 16:42:17

"However, for Y3 on - the more academic girls they looked elsewhere as teaching in KS2 is not the same quality."

shock it's over £7k a term for prep school. Why on earth haven't they got good teaching throughout for that?

MMmomKK Sun 13-Dec-15 23:29:54

Maybe the way my friends phrased it was a bit harsh. I think the point they were trying to make is that GH's reputation is not that of a highly "academic" school - the brightest girls end up at the likes of Falkner, Glendower, etc.
So - they felt that for their highly achieving girls, they needed a place that knew how to properly challenge and push them.

And, as I understand, GH has a lot of really wealthy parents, who do not necessarily want their daughters to be pushed that hard.

So - the comment about the "quality of education" was from the point of parent with high academic expectations. Not everyone has those.

mrsfonz Mon 14-Dec-15 09:22:19

My two girls are at GHS and though I'm not sure where the funny rep has come from, I am sure that it's not true. (I think a couple of vocal critics on mumsnet whose children were at neighbouring schools have not been helping and I'm pretty sure that that's where the adjective princessy has come from. I've never seen anything that would make me feel that the girls were princessy.)

My eldest got into Falkner House and Ken Prep and we went with GHS because our daughter was in Kindergarten there and was incredibly happy. GHS is not a hothouse and they are not in the business of pushing girls into any particular school but they do teach all girls, including the academic girls, very well and all girls seem very happy. GHS sends more girls to boarding school than many other schools in the surrounding area and this may account for a greater variety in the exit stats than at some schools but the London day school big hitters are still represented.

I myself went to the big hitter and then on to the boys' big hitter which takes girls in the sixth form and I've been delighted by the quality and breadth of the education my daughters have been receiving.

For what it's worth I also haven't seen anything of the rumours that GHS parents are more overtly glamorous than others. I think this reputation may come from some big charity nights and ostentatious spending around 2007 but I think that those days are long gone (and it was probably similar at all central London preps) and everyone I've met is very unostentatious.

Alpha75 Mon 14-Dec-15 10:52:05

Thank you for your responses. Mrsfonz - pleased to hear you are happy there. Is the difference vs the boys' school just an external perception? Or internally is it felt that there is a difference as well (and if so, any thoughts on why?).

MMmomKK Mon 14-Dec-15 18:09:42

Mrs - it's great that you are happy there. And it also sounds that your child is still in the lower school there.

All I know is what I hear from parents who have (or have had) girls at GHS. And the 11+ results are not surprising.

It is well known that top London day schools are a lot harder to get into than the top boarding schools. Boarding became the fall back option for the girls who can't get into top day schools. So the fact that GHS send a lot of girls boarding speaks for itself.

And the final bit of info. Our other friends had their elder daughter go from GHS to a top boarding school a few years ago. Their younger girl was also at GHS. A couple of years later that boarding school suggested to our friends that, if they hoped for their younger girl to also come to the same school, they need to move her from GHS to a more academic one, as the standards at GHS were slipping.

So, OP, all I am saying - do your research and visit more schools before you make your decision.

Abriata Tue 15-Dec-15 09:40:26

OP -- I agree with MrsFonz that, as is so often the case, you must take the comments you read on MN with a large grain of salt as many are based on perception rather than first hand experience.
GHS is a truly lovely school -- warm, friendly, supportive, etc. It is a very happy place for children to begin their education. The standards are high, without being pushy and stressful, and the range of extra-curricular opportunities is fantastic.
Many families have boys and girls at the school and I think they have equally high expectations for quality of teaching for their sons and their daughters. The girls have a gentler start (sensibly) because they are not prepared for 8+ exit -- a fact which makes for a much more normal progression of education, in my opinion.
Many girls go to boarding schools not as a last resort (as Alpha suggests) but because their parents are keen on boarding.
From what I have seen over many years, I think a bright girl would be very happy at GHS, would develop good study habits, would come to think of education as enjoyable and would be stimulated. If your goal is a "top" day school -- and your daughter is a suitable candidate -- she would be just as well prepared at GHS as at any other prep school, and possibly would have a happier early childhood.
Good luck with your decision!

nowirehangers Mon 21-Dec-15 11:04:25

I know a bit about GHS, the kind of parents who send dds there tend to want them to board, so that's where the majority of girls go. And it is very hard to get into the "top" London day schools now, though there is nothing at all wrong with the "second" day schools if your dd is not a genius. Possibly it's less pushy than some of the nearby preps, that imvho is a good thing.

Hamptons99 Wed 30-Dec-15 21:47:52

I am interested in this thread as my daughter has her 4+ assessments coming up next month at GHS and a few other schools in Kensington/Chelsea. Mrsfonz good to hear a parents perspective.

Alpha75, also try Knightsbridge Village I found it helpful when I was researching prep schools. It's specifically for Knightsbridge/Kensington/Chelsea/Fulham parents. I got lots of insider info as all the moms in the network actually have kids at the various local prep schools. There's a subscription fee to use it though so only worth joining if you're a local parent, doesn't have much relevance outside RBKC.

Biw Sat 02-Jan-16 22:18:56

Garden House does have a reputation of being fluffy and a little princessy but on the plus side I hear pastoral care is excellent. If you want academic focus, there are much Options available although very competitive and harder to get in eg Glendower & Kensington Prep. The boys school at Garden House is different because many are expected to leave at 8+ so the pace is definitely faster. It has been 5+ years since I visited GH and did my research and my daughter's friends there are all in the senior school so best to get info from mums with children who recently joined. There is a new Head as you may well know who could change things for the better (or worse!). The local website mentioned by Hamptons99 might help.

Hamptons99 Mon 04-Jan-16 20:01:29

I agree with the comment that the boys school has a different vibe to girls. It's still the same school but somehow parents expectations seem higher for boys than girls and maybe that affects results? A big chunk leaving at 8+ does raise standards for the boys. Most girls stay until 11+ and boarding is a popular choice at that point.

Alpha75 Mon 04-Jan-16 21:38:58

Thank you for all your comments, really helps our thinking. My impression from visiting the school twice is that a lot comes from the top down and I found Mr Warland (head of the boys' school) a lot more inspiring than the former head of the girls's school, Mrs Challen. On the tour we asked Mrs Challen what differentiated the school from others in the area (a fairly anodyne, generic question in my view) and her response was that if we needed to ask her then perhaps we should look more closely at other schools in the area! How Mrs Adlard will change things will be interesting but some new blood is definitely needed on the girls' side. I also think the 8+ boys' system is a huge factor, along with the fact that there is more choice for girls' schools in the area (Glendower, Falkner and Ken Prep) than for boys. I wouldn't hesitate to send a boy to GH boys' if I had one (it seems a fantastic all-rounder) but am much less sure about the girls' side. Hmmm.

nowirehangers Tue 05-Jan-16 18:46:33

if you didn't like the school, don't go for it. Gut feeling is everything with such a personal decision

Biw Fri 08-Jan-16 22:34:37

Garden House sometimes get a lot of bad press primarily based on hearsay. Best to speak to parents who actually have children at the school then take a view after that.

user1490307837 Sun 02-Apr-17 23:30:41

I stumbled across this older thread whilst researching prep schools within easy reach of Fulham for my daughter. I wondered - what is the current thinking on Garden House. Seems like a lovely school but when I compared their results (in terms of secondary school destinations) with other girls schools like Ken Prep it doesn't seem to be anywhere near as good.

user1473882712 Mon 03-Apr-17 09:43:23

From what I have heard the girl school is showy & some parents very rich & materialistic, not supposed to be very acedemic

SpotWhat Mon 03-Apr-17 11:26:00

I am researching similar schools and have heard from friends (so just gossip I suppose, not necessarily first hand experience) it is lovely but quite showy and image focused.
Looking around, we found it quite cramped. Playtimes are indoors or organised activities. Academics are OK but as you say, not as strong as elsewhere.
A lot of showy and very rich parents as it is just off Sloane Sq. Staff have to spend a huge amount of time creeping around these demanding parents pleasing them rather than thinking of children's best interests.
Lots of positives too - boys and girls in one community, small classes, compared to other London preps it does have good sports facilities access, great focus on manners and learning about courtesy and lots of events.
We preferred Ken Prep, Bute House and Thomas's which all seemed a little more grounded, more outdoor space and have better results.
Head of Garden House girls' upper is leaving so a change in head may change the academic side a little.

user1490307837 Tue 04-Apr-17 19:56:37

Thanks for posting. SpotWhat, that is my impression too that schools like Ken Prep have more to offer in terms of space and academic development/achievement. Prep school fees are high, Garden House especially so. I would like my daughter to leave with decent results and go to an excellent senior school. I am sadly going off Garden House the more I hear about it. I guess I wanted to like it - great uniform, girls being brought up with lovely manners etc but doesn't seem to have enough substance. What a shame.

SpotWhat Tue 04-Apr-17 21:43:15

user you summed it up well, it is a school i WANTED to like desperately but it just didn't have any real special feature, focus or selling point other preps have. It didn't seem to real have a vision or drive for its pupils. Yes I want DD to grow up supported, well-mannered and having had a lovely broad prep experience but I also want to feel my ££ is well-spent on a school which is going to offer something with a bit more of a buzz and drive (not in the pushy sense). It was all a little airy fairy for me and any questions re their uniqueness were met with a stare as if I should know why they are unique or why am I visiting!?
Very odd.
I'm sure it is lovely and does have this uniqueness I was looking for, they just don't sell it to me!

user1490307837 Wed 05-Apr-17 11:49:00

Indeed SpotWhat! I am beginning to think there is no "uniqueness". I keep searching, asking but sadly cannot find anything compelling to justify the sky high fees.

cdstandingnow Mon 24-Apr-17 17:23:31

I think it depends on your priorities for your daughter. Granted GH is not academically as pushy as some of the other local preps so if you want your daughter to get into a competitive top day senior school eventualy it may not offer the best prepararion. It is however one of the most well established preps in the area. I hear from friends with boys and girls at the school that pastoral care is excellent, the "kindness code" is taken seriously and the range of clubs and activities is good.

user1490307837 Wed 03-May-17 13:25:41

Pastoral care is all well and good but given how expensive Garden House fees are I would also like a little more value for my money! Excellent teaching and admission to a top senior school. The leavers destinations in 2017 seems rather behind the other RBKC girls prep schools.

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