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Plymouth College v Mount Kelly

(40 Posts)
thirteenplusyears Wed 21-Jan-15 13:19:31


This is my first post here and am hoping someone can help. We are looking at both of these schools and wondered if anyone local or involved with these schools in some way can give us feedback please? We are moving to the area and looking to start for Sept. 2015. Thanks very much!

thirteenplusyears Thu 22-Jan-15 15:12:37

Anyone in Devon that can help?? :-)

saintlyjimjams Thu 22-Jan-15 19:10:50

I'm in Devon, know a bit about the schools but don't use them. Both good for sporty kids, especially fencing at Plymouth college and swimming at either. The grammars in Plymouth get better academic results and I know quite a few who use Plymouth College as a backup for not passing the 11 plus. The children I know who attend seem happy there (but all the kids I know who go there do happen to be sporty).

There are quite a few Mount House (now Mount Kelly) parents that appear on Mumsnet so might be able to tell you more about Mount Kelly (there's a long running thread somewhere - might be in the education, rather than secondary education topic - might be worth bumping that - lots of Mount House parents posted on that thread).

IndridCold Thu 22-Jan-15 19:22:31

The big discussions about Mount House/Mount Kelly really revolved around the prep school, and I gather that OP is talking about the senior school.

Like jimjams I'm in the area and know people with children at both schools, although I have no direct experience of either (my DS went to Mount House prep). In the past I would have said that there probably wasn't that much to choose between them, and in fact there seemed to be quite a lot of movement between them. However, recently Kelly has undergone quite a change, and has appointed a much more dynamic new head to pep things up a bit. He only started last year though, so it may be a bit soon to tell. I think that it will be interesting to see what happens, but I would say that things look promising.

I think that a lot will depend on whether you want to live in Plymouth or Tavistock!

saintlyjimjams Thu 22-Jan-15 19:26:43

Yes I agree it was about the preps, but I thought some of them were coming up to year 7 now so the discussion might have moved on to secondary? Quite a few seemed to have strong opinions about the senior school anyway.

I suppose OP could live in Yelverton and decide later grin Indrid is right though, if you want to live outside the city Plymouth College might be a bit of a pain to commute to. I think they start quite early as well. 8.30am maybe?

saintlyjimjams Thu 22-Jan-15 19:27:51

Although I think Kelly runs buses from Plymouth??

IndridCold Thu 22-Jan-15 19:39:44

I think it was one particular poster who had strong feelings about Kelly smile, but certainly in our time its reputation took a bit of a hit under the previous head. That said, they have obviously made a conscious decision to up their game and improve things, and will surely be worth considering.

I'm assuming that OP wants day, not boarding, but I would also recommend Blundells, who have a fantastic new head apparently. They do flexi-boarding, and children come home at weekends.

cressetmama Fri 23-Jan-15 16:58:50

We have looked at both this year for post 16, so forgive me if this isn't your focus. Plymouth College talked themselves out of the game when they told us that IB sciences were significantly more difficult than double maths and physics A levels, as we were looking at it because they offer the IB. I appreciated the candour, but we didn't warm to the school although I have friends whose children have attended who rate it highly. Have also heard that the head is retiring soon.

Mount Kelly, as we must learn to call it, has a new and ambitious head and two new deputy heads with seemingly excellent academic credentials who have joined or are about to. DC was quite enthusiastic after the Sixth Form Open Day; less keen after a taster day. Boring teaching and the same teacher for both maths and physics were the comments (but with the concession that the classes were getting feedback on their recent mocks).

On balance, I'd agree with Indrid that Kelly is raising its game. I know several families whose DCs have transferred there recently. The A level results are actually rather better than most people seem to think, especially as it is non-selective; 70% A* to B at A level (beating the boys' grammar school in Plymouth which only got 63% at the same level last year). Both schools are good for sports as mentioned above, but I think MK probably has the more interesting outdoor programme for students less fond of team sports. The Asian students' skill at table tennis astounded my DC!! We have not made a final decision as we have one more option to see again -- a new specialist 14-19 STEM school, which has no exam track record yet; the first students will take GCSE this year.

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 15:37:59

Thank you everyone for your help. We have two children who will go into the senior part of the school. Mount Kelly said our DS would go straight into the senior school rather than going to the prep but apparently some children go into the prep - it all seems a bit confusing!

We had a taster day at Plymouth College just very recently and both DC seemed happy. The main thing that stood out to them was how nice and welcoming the children were. The facilities and location if I'm honest isn't anywhere near as nice as their current school but sometimes you have to compromise.

There is a new head starting at Plymouth after April so that is another concern as to what direction the school may take, etc. We haven't had a taster day at Kelly but have one booked - although it's difficult because DC don't actually want to go now!

We are looking for a day place as the main reason for moving to Devon is so that the family is together as currently DH works in the area and travels home on weekends.

saintlyjimjams Sat 24-Jan-15 15:45:20

I think the mount kelly thing comes from the legacy of mount house being a prep to 13 & kelly college having a prep until 11. It's still very soon after merger.

The people I know at PC certainly seem happy with it. Do you know where you'll be living yet? Or where you'd like to be based?

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 15:48:27

Cressetmama the IB is something that appeals to us although still a few years away. I may need to ask questions regarding this now. We actually looked at Kelly College (before the merger) last year but decided to postpone the move. We thought the setting was lovely but we just didn't get the right vibe from the school at that time... although to be fair there were a lot of changes in the works which we were not aware of at the time. We actually met with the old head and it was all a bit odd as we didn't know about the changes/merger.

Very difficult choice as we don't want to have to move DC again as eldest will be starting GCSE's in 2016. We looked at the Grammar Schools but there is only one place available at Devonport Girls.

I'm pleased to hear both schools are quite sporty. Thanks for your help!

Also, is Yelverton a nice place to live? There is a house in Clearbrook (close by I believe) and I drove there to have a look at the area before contacting estate agents but couldn't actually find it!

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 15:52:59

Hi Saintlyjimjams,

DH works in Devonport so area has to be commutable for that. We are thinking Yelverton just to keep options open (half way between both schools!). Although, I really think we will just try to make the school we choose work as can't imagine moving again.

I love the thought of being in Dartmoor which is why the area really appeals. The only area in Plymouth itself that I thought was nice was from having a quick look around was Manamead/Thorn Park. I'm not that keen on the Plymstock/Plymbridge side.

I did notice that there was quite a bit of traffic on the Tavistock to Plymouth road when I did the drive.

saintlyjimjams Sat 24-Jan-15 15:53:40

I like clearbrook. I grew up around that area. Buckland monachorum is a very vibrant village with a strong community of you like that sort of thing.

I've had a lot of negative feedback about DHSG - from current parents (all unconnected) while parents seem happy with PHS (which is weird in a way as DHSG is the harder one to get into).

saintlyjimjams Sat 24-Jan-15 15:56:23

Well i'm partial to mannamead - & my dog likes Thorn Park smile. You might like Stoke village as well (& very close to devonport).

I've lived in the City & a dartmoor village (& elsewhere in the UK & abroad, not a complete janner!) & there are pros & cons to both really.

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 15:58:55

PHS didn't actually have any space when I last contact them unfortunately. We also have one boy and one girl and Devenport boys didn't have space either.

We thought Clearbrook was lovely... it just seemed idyllic although it doesn't look like there are many houses available about the area.

I did drive to Buckland Monochorum but it didn't appeal as much as Clearbrook but it looked like a nice village.

saintlyjimjams Sat 24-Jan-15 16:02:47

We're very happy with DHSB, although the head is changing in September - new head not appointed yet. They don't have many spaces come up.

Buckland's a lot bigger than clearbrook & you're not quite straight out onto the moor. You are at capstone - but no pub & the pubs in Buckland & clearbrook are both good!

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 16:06:15

Hi I'll check out Stoke Village next time I'm down there... I have to admit I've found city centre driving difficult but I'm sure I'll get used to it once I know the roads/area.

I know what you mean about city/dartmoor. City would mean school and activities on doorstep but darmoor means fresh air, space and I imagine a slower and safer way of life.

We live in a very nice village now walking distance to everything including schools so tough one! smile

saintlyjimjams Sat 24-Jan-15 16:10:53

It's not long out to Dartmoor (or beaches) though. I quite like living centrally as we can head in one direction & get onto the moors, and another and get onto beaches.

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 16:18:01

Good to know about the pubs! smile It seems like we like similar areas. I just need to look around a bit more now. We are thinking of renting just to be sure before buying but again not many rentals so whatever is available may dictate location at least to start with.

Every school we have looked at seems to be in the process of changing heads... wonder what is going on! We thought a year on we would have a better idea of situation at Kelly but can't really tell what is going on except that the website has been updated. I think big changes take time and unfortunately we don't have time. Who knows how PC will change as well with a new head coming in.

Also, it's very, very silly but DD really did not like the uniform at Kelly (although decision will of course not be based on that!) smile

thirteenplusyears Sat 24-Jan-15 16:21:12

Yes, DH definitely set on Dartmoor but I (the one who has to chauffeur children around!) am more set on a central location!

I also like the idea of being close to beaches but that seems a more difficult drive in so we don't need to live there just be close enough for a day out - which I guess is very doable anywhere around that area.

IndridCold Sat 24-Jan-15 18:10:33

As the parent of teenage children in this area I can confirm that there will be a LOT of driving around for visits/parties/seeing friends etc. it is only for a relatively short time, and most people just get on with it, but you should definitely include it as quite a major factor in your decision about where to live.

mountkellyparent Mon 26-Jan-15 22:39:44

Ok, slightly biased here, but I have children in both the prep and college at mount kelly. Both have boarded/ been day pupils and it is a fantastic school, very nurturing and they get the results out of the children, great results considering it is a non selective school. Boarding was great too. It's funny, the girls seem to moan about the uniform, but will not have anyone slating it! They do get used to the kilts and they look very smart.
I have a friend who's son goes to PC and she has had nothing but problems, bulling in and outside of school, even on public transport, but that may be a one off case. The new head at MC is certainly doing great things in the short period he has been there and numbers seem to be going in the right direction, which says a lot to me. Good luck!!

saintlyjimjams Mon 26-Jan-15 22:55:28

The reduced driving is definitely an advantage of living centrally. DS2 can (if he can be bothered) get himself pretty much around the city independently if need be. It's very easy for him to meet friends, go into town, cinema, theatre etc. And he gets himself to and from school.

thirteenplusyears Mon 26-Jan-15 23:19:34

I guess we really have to go to taster day at
MK to get a better idea of what it's like although taster days probably aren't a real indication of what a school is really like on a day to day basis. Shame to hear about your friend's son mountkellyparent. I think all schools will have issues but what is important is how the school handles it. Do you know anything regarding this?

I guess the kilts at least keep them warm and you can't really shorten them... You should see how short some of the skirts at DC's current school are! Although personally I can understand at first glance how most teen girls would not like the uniform.

Saintlyjimjams yes I agree. I don't mind a bit of driving but going 30 minutes one way for clubs etc on a regular basis can get a bit much... Especially on cold dark nights.

saintlyjimjams Mon 26-Jan-15 23:26:12

Yup - and you sound as if you have multiple children like me grin

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