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From Europa school to the Manor prep - views please!

(21 Posts)
2clueless Tue 08-Mar-16 09:13:37

Hello! We moved to Abingdon a couple of years ago due to work reasons and we have always intended for dd, who was 2 at the time, to go to the Manor prep, which I really loved when I went for a visit. However, then ds came along and we didn't think we would be able to afford nursery plus school fees or 2 sets of school fees. Somebody mentioned Europa school to us, so we applied, just about got in, in the language stream we wanted (which I'm fluent in).
However, dd does not really seem happy about school. I've now heard from her more than once that she "hates school" and "finds it boring". Sometimes she'll tell me in the morning that "she has a fever" (even though she doesn't) and will I please tell the school that she's not coming in.
I always thought that at her age she should be inspired to learn, not dreading to go to school. Obviously, there is no guarantee that she will feel different at a new school but on the other hand it does not feel right to just "wait it out" .
I'm not sure how bright dd is but she does have a strong personality and can be quite stubborn. She loves drama and music, which we have been pursuing outside of school.

She has been bothered by a few boys a few times, which I have mentioned to the teaching assistant. I hesitate to call it bullying as I'm not entirely sure but it seems to be an ongoing thing.

Anyway, my dh has recently been promoted so together with some support from grandparents we will be able to send 2 kids to fee-paying schools.

My question is should I just let my dd toughen it out at the state school or move her to the Manor (which we will be visiting again soon). I suppose there are several things that I need to think carefully about.

1. School leaving qualification: Europa school offers the EB. I always intended to wait and see how dd turns out and perhaps consider her for a private selective secondary so she can do A levels as we will probably be in the UK for the long haul. However, I'm nervous that she might not reach the standard that is required for a selective secondary if she didn't go to prep school. Please correct if I'm wrong!

2. Language path: this is less important to me in the sense that I'm willing to "sacrifice" dd not being bilingual if it means that she'll be happier overall. I do speak to her occasionally and we do go back "home" so she will continually be exposed to it. The problem comes if after prep school we find ourselves regretting the decision (if we find selective secondary private school is not for her) to pull her out as admission to the secondary school in Europa will be more stringent.

3. Curriculum: I'm a bit concerned that because of the bilingual nature of the curriculum that all the other subjects might be "neglected"? I'm particularly concerned about the Maths. Can somebody with children in private schools give me an idea what sort of things they cover? My dd has been telling me that the other day that they've been filling in the missing numbers, which she's been doing in preschool...

I suppose what I'm really interested to hear are any negative issues with the Manor prep that you think I should consider.

Many thanks!

Kanga59 Wed 09-Mar-16 21:34:40

I'm afraid you'll be waiting a long time for negative views of The Manor to come along! It's wonderful in all areas.

You are lucky at Europa with small class sizes (for state) and IB. And it's free. I'd say let her toughen up, it's part of growing up. When's her birthday? Have you maxed out play dates and helping her build her friendships and therefore also confidence at school?

Manor maths in reception was halves, quarters, telling the time, measuring things in minutes/seconds, metres/cm and number bonds to 10

Kanga59 Wed 09-Mar-16 21:39:32

Sorry, just to add, I personally wouldn't get hung up on curriculum. Your child is spending half her time immersed in a second language which has huge benefits and while other subjects may be coming on slower at the moment, remember that it's all still play based learning and the learning will come

What about Manor at 7 if still unhappy?

Where would you send your son? Abingdon Prep is not too popular at the moment so don't assume you'll be happy with it until you look round for yourself.

Arius85 Wed 09-Mar-16 21:44:42

Hi, I don't know anything about Europa so can't comment on that but my children are at the Manor and are exceptionally happy. We moved when my eldest was unhappy at a different school and moving the Manor was a really transformative experience, probably the best decision we have made. We have several friends who have also moved children due to unhappiness at previous schools or just losing interest in school and they have had similar experiences. It is a very happy, caring school. Do PM me if you would like to.

2clueless Wed 09-Mar-16 22:44:36

Hi! Thank you both for your replies.

Kanga59, class size at Europa is 28, so not too far off from the "normal" state school class size, I guess?
She's an August baby but is pretty confident I would say. IB is slightly different from EB (no extended essay or CAS, I think). I'm a bit worried now that you mention all those topics in Maths being covered. I try to do some Maths at home with her and play those Orchard games. I just feel that she should just be chilling out at home instead of doing more school stuff... maybe you're right that I'm over-thinking things. I'm just worried about getting it wrong and I've never had experience with the state sector schooling (having been privately educated).
Yes, I was considering Abingdon prep for my son and would be really interested in why it's very unpopular at the moment?

2clueless Wed 09-Mar-16 22:50:39

Arius85,
Glad to read that your children are very happy at the Manor! It seems like such a great school from what I remember. I'm hoping my decision will be made easier in 2 weeks time after my visit.

Kanga59 Wed 09-Mar-16 22:52:48

My apologies then, for some reason I thought it was 24 to a class at Europa.

LiliaSant Fri 10-Jun-16 20:18:38

Hi 2clueless... I wonder what your decided... Have you moved you dd to the Manor?

2clueless Fri 10-Jun-16 20:39:37

Hi LiliaSant, yes I have! I was actually surprised at what a difference it made to Dd's learning experience. I can pm you details if interested.

LiliaSant Mon 13-Jun-16 23:02:27

2clueless... Please let me know more details!! I would appreciate to know your experience at both schools! We have just visited the Manor and we are also thinking about Europa school! Many thanks.

TheFirie Wed 15-Jun-16 01:34:47

I went to a European School many many years ago in the French stream. It was considered a pretty hard school with high achievement but then again it really depended on the language stream as educational systems vary greatly from one country to another. The Italian one for example was considered rubbish and in my class I had several Italian pupils for that reason as the parents didn't want them to go to the Italian stream.

In primary years, it was a lot about languages, the one you were in and the vehicular one as you needed to be fluent in it for when you arrived in middle school as history and geography were taught in that language.

I don't remember math to be weak, on the contrary quite intense. In senior years, you had the prion of choosing 3, 5 or 7 hours math per week.

But I am talking about the 80's, so a loooooong time ago.

2clueless Wed 15-Jun-16 08:42:54

I can only write from experience, but in the 2 months that my dd has been at the Manor she has learned a lot more Maths than in the 2 terms she's been at Europa. She comes home reciting number bonds, simple arithmetic, also points out different shapes ("Look mommy, that's a cylinder."). Most importantly, she's doing this without me even asking her, which tells me she's more motivated.
Now I don't know whether this is.because of the differences in curriculum or because of class size or if because at Reception in Europa the emphasis is the acquisition of a new language, which brings me to the other point. If you have a class size of 28 and children of different language abilities, I don't think 1 teacher and 1 TA is enough. But this is just my opinion.
I went to an international school and the vehicular language was always English with Foreign languages taught at different levels depending on ability. Obviously there are cost and logistics involved. I'm sure total language immersion from zero ability can work. However, with such a big class size I think the risk of other subjects being "neglected" and/or average or high ability pupils being overlooked is greater.

TheFirie Wed 15-Jun-16 12:32:41

Again it depends on the language stream you are in. Every language follows the educational system from its country. In some, children at reception age do not learn any math or reading/writing, others such at the British one do start this early.

I don't know if the Europa school you are talking about belongs to the European Schools system or just copies its philosophy as there are no European institutions there. A true European School has no financial issue or cost/logistic problems, I can guarantee that. We always had the state of the art and well before everyone.

Anyway I am glad your DD is happy at her new school. At the end of the day, this is what really matters.

2clueless Wed 15-Jun-16 13:03:55

The European school is closing down next year. Europa school is a state-funded parent-led initiative which I think was meant to take its place. It now has accreditation and is allowed to offer the EB. I'm not familiar with the European school system but talking to a German teacher who was working at the European school he mentioned that they could offer teachers in almost every language to mothertongue level to accommodate the families from different countries. But this is fine, as the child would already be familiar with the language.
My point is, I'm not sure whether having a class of 28 children with mixed language abilities and only 1 teacher plus 1 TA will work most of the time. I guess the assumption is that the kids with zero ability will catch up with the others in a few years time. However, this is not even the case as 1 teacher told me. So you will always end with different language abilities plus the different levels in Math, English etc. Plus the child will also have to learn other subjects in the acquired language.
Something will probably have to give along the way.

TheFirie Wed 15-Jun-16 19:41:27

I think we are talking about two completely different schools.
The European schools were created for the children of those working for the European institutions. Each language stream (we called them section) had teacher sent from the country and followed the country system, so in the Dutch stream, you would have teacher coming from Holland, teaching in Dutch, using books that were used in normal Dutch schools. In the Dutch section you would have Dutch kids, in the German, German kids , and so on, so all the kids in the class already spoke the language they didn't have to learn it. The exception were maybe the British and French section where we would have a couple of kids from other nationalities .

Content would vary enormously from one section to the other and sometimes from one year to the other in case of an Education reform in that country and all of a sudden you don't use the syllabic method but the global one for example.

A vehicular language was taught at 6 and at 12 you would have lessons in that languages with students from other section. To explain, I learned German and at 12 , History and Geography were taught in German, with German teacher, using German History books and in my class, I had Dutch, Danish, Italian kids who also had chosen German as a vehicular language and we were mixed for these classes.

The purpose was never the language. The language was already there; iIt was about maintaining the education of a certain country. With its quality and defects. So the French would be extremely strict with 3 hours of homework every day and the Danish were very informal and didn't seem to get any homework at all.

2clueless Wed 15-Jun-16 20:08:19

Exactly! This is what my impression was talking to the German teacher from the European school. Presumably the main raison d'etre was for the kids to be able to go back to their original country and be able to seamlessly continue their education in whatever language.
The Europa school is slightly different. It only has 3 language streams on offer and because it is a state-funded "free school", my guess is that it has to accept pupils regardless of language background as along as they fulfill the admission criteria (which is currently set by the LEA, but this could change if free school are given more autonomy regarding admission).
I guess the other issue is having enough funds and therefore teachers to cover language streaming.
In a way it's a shame that the original European school had to close down, especially as the tuition fees were no way near as high as the local independent schools.

whatatod0 Sat 18-Jun-16 23:58:06

We moved from The Manor (along with 9 others from the same year group) recently. We found it very cliquey with a few girls being picked for all the same opportunities. one parent felt that they got significantly less value for money than other parents who's girls were in the favoured bunch. The year groups are getting bigger and bigger, which reduces the opportunities to share experiences throughout the year group. There are only 2 male (pe) teachers on the whole staff list if that is important to you, and many opportunities to see concerts, plays, or other activities are during school hours - not good if you have to work to pay the fees!
It is also not great with girls who need a bit of extra help academically. But v good with sporty clever, girls. HM claims to know all the girls, but certainly had no idea about mine!!!! We found it all rather in it's own little world, all wrapped up in cotton wool, with the girls being spoon fed everything. Not much reality checking going on. Not the school for us.

2clueless Sun 19-Jun-16 05:43:27

Hi Whatatod, many thanks for your post. I heard a similar story from another poster and we did take it into consideration before the move. I'm aware no school is perfect and I'm certainly open to moving schools if we don't think it's right one for her in years to come.

whatatod0 Sun 19-Jun-16 18:18:23

yes, different families will have different experiences within the same schools. Oddly, someone up thread mentioned AB prep, which we completely loved!!! However ds left last year, but I doubt too much has changed in one year. The thing is, you can never REALLY tell how a school will suit your particular needs until you get in there and settle down, no matter how much research you do.
Senior Schools next!!! Good luck!

2clueless Sun 19-Jun-16 19:38:20

Yes! I'm glad to read you like Abingdon prep. I've heard mixed reviews, but I still need to visit it myself. But then dilemma would be whether to keep ds at the Manor until 7 or move him at 4. At least I have time to think about it!

whatatod0 Sun 19-Jun-16 22:53:47

Apparently (I've heard) if you get in to the Prep School, and are bright enough, you don't have to do CE for the Senior School now. So therefore might be easier to get in at age 4???? Also it may mean you need to check if there is a waiting list for age 4 entry.
Once you get your head around calling the teachers by their Christian names, it all becomes quite natural. It doesn't seem to cause any discipline/respect issues with the boys. Best thing we ever did for ds was sending him to AB Prep. I just wish The Manor had worked out for dd, but hey ho, never mind!!

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