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Please help to choose between Surbiton High School and Claremont Fan Court School!

(25 Posts)
Leo12345 Fri 06-Jul-12 14:52:16


My daughter is 13 and entering year 9, we need to choose between:

Surbiton High School
Claremont Fan Court School

We live very close to Surbiton High and need 45 mins travel to the Claremont Fan.

From the other side - the girls-only (which is Surbiton High) we see as disadvantage and also we felt the atmosphere in Claremont is more friendly.

But from the reports we saw the results in Surbiton High are higher (not too much, but higher). And also we saw a list of universities to which the Claremont graduates entered: no one entered Oxford/Cambridge and even well known London universities. (We have not seen such list for Surbiton High).

We have two aims: put our girl into a good environment and also get her prepered to enter one of good universities (preferably Oxford).

Can you please advice which school would be better?

I will appretiate any information and any advice. Also: do you know about any latest improvements (or problems) with these schools?

Thans in advance...

ReallyTired Fri 06-Jul-12 16:21:04

Have you considered Kingston Grammar if you want an academic school which is co ed and near to Surbition?

Twenty years ago Surbition High was very academic and got lots of girls into Oxbridge or medical school or vet school or dentistry. I don't know what surbition high is like. Twenty years ago Claremont was the school that rich kids who couldn't get into a selective school went to.

Leo12345 Fri 06-Jul-12 17:31:13

Thanks for your response!

Kingston Grammar told us they are full, no places. There are only these two schools that had a place for us, as we are entering not in standard year 7, but in year 9.

Copthallresident Fri 06-Jul-12 18:46:57

Leo12345 From my DDs friends' experience both schools provide a good environment and your daughter would be happy. The girls that go to Surbiton do seem to fulfil their potential and they do enable a handful to get into Oxbridge each year this year's successful applications uapplication. Six from the cohort in their sixth form doesn't put it into the same league as KCS or LEH but that is only because the ones who would be successful in their entrance exams in the first place would also be more likely to be successful in Oxbridge entry, the same applies to overall exam results and also to Claremont Fan's lack of Oxbridge succes. I don't think it would claim to be the most academic of schools, it serves the niche of parents and pupils who don't want that, and the fact that they do not get pupils into Oxbridge may well be because the parents and pupils who choose it wouldn't choose Oxbridge either. If she is very academic have you thought about LEH, places do come up there and they run buses everywhere.

I would be very careful about setting the bar at Oxbridge though at this early stage. Entry to Oxbridge these days is a bit of a lottery, the brightest kids don't necessarily get in, especially if they apply for the most competitive courses or most popular colleges. Some courses are more prestigious at other universities, for instance if you don't get into Cambridge to read Science there are several courses at other universities more highly regarded than Oxford. Oxbridge interviews are held by the tutors who will teach them so they are going to pick the students they want to teach. With the UCAS process so competitive it is fraught with the potential for unexpected failure I would keep an open mind and let the school support your daughter in developing her own talents and aspirations.

Having said that I have heard some whispers of discontent with the fairly new head at SHS, and a slight dilution of the great support they used to give pupils as the school has grown in size, but that may be because the previous Head was such a hard act to follow.

Leo12345 Fri 06-Jul-12 22:34:27

Copthallresident, thanks for your comment.

I just said about Oxford because I meant to say we would like to do our best with regards to entering to the best possible for us university.

My daughter is one who needs to be pushed. If she is pushed, she does get good results.

Unfortunately I somehow missed LEH; we couldn't afford private school until about couple of months ago when I realised we can.
Our aim is to move out of Hollyfield school where my daughter wastes her time, as academically this school for my opinion is really bad.

I will try asking LEH on Monday, but as it is so close to end of year I am in doubt they have places and we don't want to sit another year in Hollyfield.
I am also not sure if my daughter passes entrance tests to LEH. She did pass to SH, but I believe in LEH tests are harder and she has been in UK only for 4 years, so she is not native English speaker at all.

From your words I undertood that even though the atmosphere is nice in Claremont Fan, but for someone who needs to be pushed, Surbuton High is much better. Also as I understood, Surbiton High is well known academically and in 50 best in UK or so, whilst Claremont Fan is not well known academically and this is important when entering university and later job.

racingheart Sat 07-Jul-12 00:29:10

Very different schools with very different reputations. I have friends with DC at both schools. Surbiton has reputation for being academic and not very supportive of any child who is middling or below. Claremont is the opposite and makes every child feel special and thriving, but doesn't necessarily push for academic best from them. To go to SHS girls need to be super confident and naturally bright. Stories of bullying not being dealt with swiftly or correctly are common.

Another school worth a look is City of London Freemans. It's co-ed and seems to be really strong whether the child is naturally academic or better at sports/drama/arts. Very confident (in a good way) children and jaw-dropping facilities (gorgeous pool, grounds, sports hall etc.)

LEH has brilliant reputation.

ItsRainingOutside Sat 07-Jul-12 14:00:18

Girls at Surbiton are SO competitive and to be honest are so bright, they would pass their exams without teacher input. Don't even think about it unless your daughter is extremely self-motivated by the desire to be the best. Claremont is more nurturing and balances academic achievement with developing as an individual. It depends what's right for your daughter and whether you want her to enjoy her school years or whether the choice of school is just an ends to a means.

Copthallresident Sat 07-Jul-12 15:06:06

I think it is a matter of perspective. My experience is of LEH competitiveness and the Surbiton girls seem very laid back in comparison!! You get bitchyness in any school but in coed schools it tends to be moderated by the presence of boys who don't play mindgames to quite the same extent. Having said that it varies from year to year, my DDs years were entirely different, it was a bit of a shock after DD1 s year were delightful and respectful of each other's difference and then in DD2's year the school had to swing into overdrive to deal with the bizarre antics of a few attention seeking alpha girls who completely changed the norms (and shocked the other years!). It meant girls were intimidated and constantly on guard about how they behaved etc. for fear of making themselves a target, that sort of intimifdation operates at a level that is very difficult for schools to deal with. I did comfort DD2 that she was unlikely to experience an environment like that again unless she ended up in a woman's prison... However there are advantages as well as disadvantages to single sex education, they can tailor teaching to the ways girls learn, none of the obvious distractions when the hormones start raging etc. DD1 greatly benefited from an all girls' environment to GCSE.

I would be concerned with whether your daughter needs or will get support with English as a second language. Both LEH and Surbiton will deal with a mild degree of learning difference but for the girls and boys I know who have a greater degree of need for support Claremont Fan has been a better option than the selectives.

I would also agree that the girls who go to these schools are self motivated and do pass the exams even when the teaching which is usually excellent, hasn't been. Girls who joined LEH from state schools comment not on being pushed more but just on the difference in culture, it isn't (generally) uncool to work, and on the sheer speed at which they go through the curriculum because the teachers are not spending half their time on crowd control (usually!). I wouldn't say either DD feels they have been focused on as an individual except by certain exceptional teachers.

Copthallresident Sat 07-Jul-12 17:45:22

BTW I certainly wouldn't say that sending your daughter to an all girls' selective is just a means to an end! Both my daughters have had a very fulfilling time at school, with all sorts of opportunities to develop themselves by taking part in sport, drama, music, overseas trips etc. , as well as becoming part of enduring friendship groups they value very much indeed. I suspect they would have got the same exam results whichever indie they went to, clever girls in my daughters peer groups have gone to less selective schools and still got a clutch of A*s but they chose the school because it felt right for them. I also certainly wouldn't say you should choose the school because you think the name will be important when applying for uni or a job. Quite frankly attending a Surrey private girls' school is as likely to be a handicap as an assett. Universities are madly trying to level the playing field on entrance, and get their proportion of state school students up. Durham for instance have a scoring system that judges your predicted A* against the average for your school, a LEH A* may therefore be worth less than a Hollyfield A. Of course this, whilst allowing for differences in the teaching, also risks making it harder for a clever girl from LEH to get a place than a clever girl from Hollyfield. Employers too may be levelling the field, whilst the banks etc are still actively seeking to recruit from schools like LEH it is practically impossible for a white middle class girl from a private school and Oxbridge to get into the BBC these days, however well trodden that path used to be. It is certainly harder for medicine too, because they are strenuously trying to make sure they train doctors that are representative of soceity as well as clever. It really should be about which school feels right for your daughter for the next five years, it is what they achieve at A level that will sway universities and what they achieve at uni that will sway employers.

ewee Sun 08-Jul-12 14:05:50

A bit of disinformation here about Oxbridge; they attract the best and, by and large, take the best. Of course, far more applicants will get top grades than there are places so many bright people lose out. Both have special access schemes in place to try to give everyone a fair chance. The standard, or hurdle, is extremely high, however.

Also, be in no doubt that Oxbridge remains the elite as far as the major employers are concerned. How do I know these things? My eldest daughter attended both Oxford and Cambridge! At both universities, major employers contacted her (and everybody else); students were regularly invited to presentations by these big names. Quite simply, Oxbridge graduates have an advantage with these top name employers (you still need a first or very high 2:1, though).

In terms of schools, my eldest attended both Surbiton & Wimbledon High - high regard for both. She feels that Wimbledon had an edge in a number of areas academically but that Surbiton was very good and slightly less intense.

Copthallresident Sun 08-Jul-12 18:46:33

ewee disinformation?! Sorry but it is what I have experienced going through the UCAS process with DD a couple of years ago, and discussing the admissions process with my colleagues at university in London and an Oxford College ( I'm a postgrad student) and years on the milk round recruiting graduates for a management training scheme. DDs year were prepared for the Oxbridge process with a warning that even the students the school regarded as having the best chance of success might not get in. One of the reasons, aside from them having a bad day was that since you are interviewed by the tutors who will teach you, they will choose the pupils they want to teach. Every year there are surprises, bpoth in terms of who doesn't get in and who doesn't, and as it gets ever more competitive there are more surprizes. And so it proved.

The tutors who interview applicants find that with record numbers applying globally they have so many amazing students it is getting ever harder for them to distinguish who gets offers and who doesn't. Cambridge wouldn't claim that they definitively recruit only the brightest, they deliberately advise "While academic strength is a pre-requisite, it does not guarantee acceptance. We are looking for well-motivated students who are well matched for the courses they have chosen." That is part of the reason Cambridge run the pool, where students rejected by colleges but judged to be of Cambridge standard are offered around the other colleges, so they get another chance, though most still don't get picked up. Cambridge actually publish the detailed statistics on number of applicants and offers by college, and by subject area that demonstrate there is a marked difference in your chances of success between courses and colleges. Of course the colleges that were not popular one year may suddenly become more popular as a result of the statistics being published and students applying strategically! This article gives a very interesting insight into the process. So I think describing the chances of your bright child getting in as a lottery isn't overstating it!

And you only have to look at the subject tables for most of the respected league tables, whether they are on based on research or teaching to know that Oxford and Cambridge do not take the top 2 places for every subject.

There have always been shocks and surprises in the university admissions process, my friend got 5 rejections but ended up at Oxford ?? years ago but now, with the process being so much more competitive, parents cannot assume that just because their child is bright, however spectacularly, and they have got them into the "right school" that they are automatically en route for Oxbridge, especially if their child is still only in Year 9. LEH don't start to talk about Oxbridge potential until the end of Lower Sixth.

Perhaps the disinformation is in your comments on what employers are looking for? Firstly it varies hugely according to what sort of applicants they are seeking and for what. My comment about the BBC was based on the experience of an Oxford graduate who not only has a first but was successful in beating extensive competition to get several internships in broadcast jounalism and has spent the last two years building up an amazing CV and getting through tough telephone interviews to testing interview processes for countless jobs but still not even a sniff of success. She is now resigned to a career in marketing / PR. She is quite sure it is because, as she has been informally advised by her contacts in the media, the pressure on the media, especially the BBC, to employ a representative cross section of society mean her private school and Oxbridge education count against her. The above mentioned friend walked out of Oxford into a graduate job in advertising, now on the board she admits were she applying now she wouldn't stand a chance, they are looking for relevent accomplishments, interesting life experiences as well as academic success and set potential applicants a whole set of work related challenges, putting together 7 videos according to a set of briefs just to get an unpaid six week internship that might lead to a job. The successful applicants come from all sorts of backgrounds and unis. I have yet to hear of a graduate recruiter who bothered with the milk round only visiting Oxford and Cambridge! For obvious reasons you do get some employers who only do London unis but if they are going to put together a roadshow in the first place you might as well tout at a few of the best! The most limited I have encountered was a City Law firm who off the record admitted they only considered applicants from six unis and limited their acticities to LSE, UCL, Durham, Bristol and Warwick. And if you want to get into banking then Bath punches well above it's weight in terms of the success rate of it's graduates (because they have developed relationships and designed their courses to give banks like Goldman Sachs and UBS the graduates they are looking for). This is all reflected in the graduate employment tables in which whilst Cambridge is second only to Imperial with an 82% employment rate, Oxford langushes behind LSE, UCL, KCL, Bath, Bristol, Durham, Aston, Glasgow, Cardiff and Warwick (in that order) with 73%.

ewee Sun 08-Jul-12 19:01:35

Copthall; your first few paragraphs do nothing other than confirm what I said. Oxbridge take the best of the best. Sure, at the margins, some are truly unlucky. One could only be 'surprised' by an admission or rejection externally, however, if you had also seen the other candidates, of course.

You may conclude, from past statistics, that entry is easier into some Colleges than others for certain subjects. This may well be true. As you say, Cambridge have pooling, Actually, so do Oxford but in a slightly less formal way. Also, I wouldn't automatically assume that Oxford and Cambridge are better than other institutions at absolutely everything, just most things. At least at Oxbridge, in many cases, students will have very small tutorials, often one-on-ones, with the leading authority in a particular field. Surely, that must be pretty inspiring.

Not surprising, then, that some of the top firms pay special attention to Oxbridge either, but I suppose you can pretend that isn't so as well.

All that said, this thread shouldn't be highjacked. To the OP. my vote would go to Surbiton......

Copthallresident Sun 08-Jul-12 23:22:14

I'm not pretending anything. Just advising the OP that Oxbridge is not the be all and end all, that even if your child is a very bright all A* student they need to be open minded because there are no guarentees they would get in, that people do go on to have successful and fulfilling lives from other universities and age 14 is way too early to know whether she should even try for it!

And whether it is the Durham Physicists responsible for developing the theory being tested at CERN that has resulted in this weeks announcement on the Higgs particle, or Steve Jones tutoring first years on genetics at UCL or SOAS's Frank Dikotter author of the book Mao's Famine that won the Samuel Johnson prize for non fiction last year as well as being a seminal academic work, or my amazing MA tutor when I studied in London, who is now at Cambridge, your daughter will have every chance to be inspired by leading authorities in their fields wherever she ends up. Noone survives in any of our leading universities these days unless they are, nor do they survive poor feedback on their teaching, or failing to make themselves available to their students one on one.

sleepylawyer Fri 07-Sep-12 22:26:45

Hi had three children at CFC. Cant say overall I am very impressed at all. In fact some things still really rankle even three years on from it. It tries to do the nurturing stuff and fails and tries to do the academic stuff and fails. Tries to straddle two stools and fails in both. i also have to point out that previoulsy the Christian Science base had slipped from view but recently , the last 7 years or so it has climbed proudly and triumphantly back on to the agenda. Fine if thats what you want but dont be fooled by the "low church" show that the school gives you at first viewing. When you get in to it you realise that it is all pervasive. Christian Science is not your regular Christian sect. i suggest you do some reading on it on an independent website like Wikipedia and the American Atheist Society. It may make you see CFC in a different light. As to the debate as to Oxbridge versus anyother university, as a parent with children ranging from 20 to 14 i ahve seen it all. i do believe that bright children will do well wherever they go within reason. A boy i know did sixthform at a state sixthform after private secondary. Got three A* at Alevel in maths further maths and physics and was turned down by Oxbridge. You just cannot tell. Moreover some of the John Russell group of top Universities have higher rankings for certain subjects than Oxbridge viz biology. Warwick Uni which 30 years ago was a joke is now in the John Russell Group and very highly rated. Also I find that children when they become young adults will do what they want and will go where they want despite your desires and opinions and wishes that you have for them. At the end of the day your child may not want to stay at the same school where she did her GCSEs and might choose something else for 6th form so choosing a school to go right the way through now may well be a bit early. She might well decide to do mechanical engineering in which case somewhere like Imperial or Manchester would be much better than Oxbridge. I would go with your gut feeling as to her current school. But I would strongly advise you to look at the CFC background before you commit. All the senior managing heads and the governing body are highly committed Christian SCientists and it does affect the way they run the school. they would never admit to it but the few ChristianScience pupils in the school get definite preferential treatment and it definitley comes across as a very tight knit closed group of people within the the confines of the school consisting of the CS teachers parents and students, which I always found slightly unnerving.

lily9478 Mon 03-Jun-13 18:10:05

Hi, just wondering which school you chose in the end as my daughter and I are currently in a similar situation.

flopsygirl Tue 11-Jun-13 11:26:47

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Schmedz Tue 11-Jun-13 20:09:16

Fascinated to know what flopsygirl is writing about Surbiton high! All her messages have been deleted!

papalazaru Tue 11-Jun-13 20:51:40

I read them before they got deleted. She just basically said it was a dreadful school. But seems her only posts were anti SHS and nothing far.

Schmedz Tue 11-Jun-13 22:14:18

Wonder why she disliked it so much...

Harriet6919 Sat 17-Aug-13 10:02:54

Thanks for the advice all above. My daughter has also sat the exam for SH ....I really liked the Head when I met her. I think every girl is so different it's extremely hard to gauge which school is best. I also wondered about Tiffin, but apparently they are full.

Nixx2612 Mon 11-Nov-13 23:35:03

From my experience I think you made a good choice. Claremont Fan Court School's anti-bullying and behaviour policies aren't worth the paper they're written on - they don't apply them. My daughter has been badly bullied there and they take a ridiculous "softly softly" approach to this kind of thing which doesn't bear any resemblance to how they state that they will deal with such matters. They typically try to play it down, hold the victim equally responsible for any conflict and pass it off as "just kids being kids". Their attitude seems to be "if we don't accept that certain behaviours are bullying then we can deny that any bullying takes place here". Believe me it does, frequently - my daughter has witnessed the same thing happen to several other children in her time there and every time there is no protection for the victim or punishment for the perpetrator. If you have a child who is sensitive and potentially vulnerable to bullying do NOT send them to Claremont.

arfishy Tue 12-Nov-13 03:54:19

I went to KGS and the majority of my peers went to Tiffin or LEH (all of the LEH girls did very well). One friend went to Claremont and didn't like it at all - she moved to KGS in the 6th form. It was widely acknowledged as unacademic and also much more zealous/culty about the Christian Scientist faith than it appeared outwardly.

She also said it was weirdly obsessed with Joyce Grenfell grin, I'd love to know if that is still the case.

JaneAusten46 Sat 11-Jan-14 11:22:33

I am new to mumsnet and have done a quick search of the posts which mention the schools my kids have attended or currently attend. There is some very interesting misinformation being put out about Claremont Fan Court. Firstly - it is NOT a Christian Science school - it is a school for children of all faiths and no faith, which was founded by a CS back in the 1920s! We are a catholic family and I certainly prefer this ethos to that of some local catholic schools, which are very catholic but not the slightest bit Christian. The only bearing CS has on the school is to guide the character values programme, and to be fair, it shares these values with all the main world religions such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism etc.
Secondly, do not confuse a wide ranging cohort with being non-academic. My eldest child received 12 A*/A GCSEs at Claremont and was by no means top of the year. Look at last year's Y11 results and you will see most pupils get A*-B in everything. The teaching is strong, class sizes don't go over 20 and I have found the staff all go the extra mile to help your child achieve. Good mathematicians take the GCSE a year early and almost all get A*, but they care equally for the those who struggle with the subject and guide them to the much needed C.
Thirdly - every school has bullying in it and every case is different, it is a sad fact of life and bullying problems are rarely solved over night, especially where girls are concerned. However, it is a small enough school (around 75 per year group) for the staff to monitor any troublemakers like hawks and I like the fact that most staff seem to know the name of most of the children, whether they teach them or not!
I can only talk from my experience, but Claremont does the academic stuff and succeeds and the pastoral stuff and succeeds.

sleepylawyer Thu 23-Jan-14 17:06:54

I have to agree with Nixx and see my earlier post. Can't agree with janeausten at all. CFC is very clever at being Christian Science but pretending it isn't. It was founded by a group of CS people. All its Governors and Heads of school and the Principal (when they had one but that's another story) are/were CS. There are also quite a few staff who are CS. Any child who is CS is given the red carpet treatment eg getting all the school prizes; being made head boy/girl Children of staff whether CS or not are also highly favoured. But they play that down on school tours - but ask about the medical provision an the no alcohol rule! They accept people of all faiths and none but there is definitely a bias against no faith pupils as my children were. They have to accept other faiths as Christian Scientists are dwindling fast as a religion!

lancien Sun 09-Mar-14 01:08:10

Results are more than adequate at any of the schools mentioned here. However, if you want your daughter to enjoy her education, make good friends, have fun and be happy, Surbiton High is streets ahead. Friendly atmosphere, dedicated staff and so many activities to choose from to ease academic pressures. Happiness breeds self esteem and confidence. A short stroll from a major rail station, buses by the dozen, SURBITON HIGH is the best!

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