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St Marys Gerrards Cross v Pipers Corner - whats the word on the street?

(21 Posts)
Poppledopple Tue 24-May-16 15:10:38

Looking to move my daughter into yr 10 in Sept. She needs a nurturing and inspiring environment - she is not brilliantly academic - so needs to be supported but equally needs to find "her" talent.....any thoughts much appreciated...

Zodlebud Tue 24-May-16 17:49:10

My daughters are registered to join Pipers Corner at 11+ so I can't comment other than one of the reasons we have chosen the school is the focus on "the bigger picture" as opposed to just academics.

All of my dealings with the school have blown me away and make a refreshing change from the hot house academic schools in the area (I live on the outskirts of Herts). Don't get me wrong, I think there is a strong emphasis on making sure you get the best possible grades but they offer so much balance in their enrichment progress. The girls seemed very happy and proud to be individuals as opposed to the school working to produce a specific product.

At the end of the day I want my kids to do their best and be happy and I think this is the school for them to achieve that. It won't be every parent's cup of tea but we signed up there and then.

Don't know anything about the other school.

bojorojo Tue 24-May-16 22:39:40

I assume you have checked that these schools have places in Y10 or have you been offered places at both? I would go for Pipers also. Not sure what their entry procedures are just before GCSEs and they are more selective than they used to be.

I think a lot of schools now offer a wider enrichment programme. This was definitely offered where my DDs boarded in Hertfordshire. I agree it is important and makes the young people much more rounded individuals.

I think you should look at the ethos of the two schools. Which gives you a sense that your DD belongs there? Where does she want to go? She will need to feel she will fit in as she is joining a settled group of girls who have been in the school for 3 years.

Not sure where all these hot house schools are Zodkebud - except WA of course. Pipers is selective and has achievements in line with some girls at the grammar schools.

Zodlebud Wed 25-May-16 13:23:16

Bojorojo, I am in Herts so St Albans Girls High, Habs Girls etc.

Poppledopple Thu 26-May-16 07:38:10

Hi Bo and Zo - thanks for your feedback. We visited PC yesterday and were impressed - visiting St M next week after half term. St M is v local to us so we would save coach fees and with slightly cheaper fees means we would be £3k a year better off which might well be a deal breaker for us. Also there is no late coach from PC so she would not be able to stay to any after school activities as we could not pick her up and there is no public transport option. We know lots of people have put their daughters to PC over the years and are v v happy with everything - even though we have lived v local to St M don't know anyone with girls there.

bojorojo Thu 26-May-16 21:33:13

I think that depriving your DD of after school activities at PC rather devalues sending her there. She may find that proposition rather difficult to accept. It is quite a trek from GX area. On that basis I might stay local.

I do know PC can be quite selective regarding intake so do make sure your DD would get in. Lots of people I know sent their children to the junior school at PC to make sure but now the school does not guarantee places in the senior school to all the junior school girls. Difficult to choose.

Is Chalfonts School your local if you do not get a grammar school place?

I don't think St Albans and Habs are competing with Pipers for most parents. Possibly Berkhamsted though.

Poppledopple Thu 26-May-16 22:05:55

Thanks Bo - we are a few miles north of GX and lots of our neighbours girls go to PC - coach goes from almost outside our door - so the journey not an issue - but as we both commute into city (opposite direction) we could not pick her up if she stayed for after school activities. So a lot of the enrichment would be lost - and more to the point as you say she would be frustrated at that. She is currently at CCC and will be going into yr 10 in Sept - so well past 11+. CCC has served her fine - she is doing well there - top of all tops sets so confident that she would get into PC and St M. At St M she could use public transport to get herself home from after school activities so would not miss our. Money is a concern - but equally don't want to scrimp on £3k a year if that is not a sensible return on investment. Just not sure why none of my neighbours have sent their daughters there. We are visiting St M after half term, so will get a feel for it then.

Andypandy3 Tue 22-Nov-16 20:48:32

Hi there
Would be really interested in the outcome of this, st Mary's versus pipers corner as in exactly the same position and looking at both now.....

Toofewshoes Wed 23-Nov-16 12:27:09

I have a daughter at Pipers (and another one to join) and shes loves it. We feel it has everything, academics and great extra-curricula activities. Facilities are fab, new theatre is very impressive and the school is well run, always looking to improve things.

Not all of the clubs happen after school, there are loads of lunchtime clubs and subjects like dance and drama take place during the school day. Most importantly all the girls seem really happy. The school places a lot of value on wellbeing, the PHSE dept is great running mindfulness sessions and giving them great life skills as well as academic skills for the wider world. I just wish I could send my son there!

Andypandy3 Wed 23-Nov-16 21:04:24

Thanks very much, really helpful.
That's the impression I got looking round on the open day. Really liked it and registered her for entry into Y 7.
My 8 year old liked it too.
My only concern now is the admissions process as she has mild dyslexia and reading through posts on mums net suggests the admissions process is quite rigorous and there is no guarantee of a place. Any thoughts or advice on admissions would be really helpful......
Thank you.

Zodlebud Wed 23-Nov-16 23:32:44

I can only go on what I was told by the admissions staff, but they said the entrance test is looking for "average" ability and above. The interview and report from current school are also taken into account, and all other things being equal, places are offered in accordance with when your child was registered.

A family from my DC's school has a girl who needs extra learning suppport and after speaking to the team there actually feel reassured that their daughter would get in and would be well supported.

Reading between the lines I think they are looking for girls who work hard and will reach their academic potential, whilst also have the right outlook to take proper advantage of all the enrichment activities on offer.

It always used to have a reputation for being a lovely school to send your daughter to if they weren't successful at getting a place at a grammar school. I think this attitude is definitely changing and it is getting a great reputation, but the reality is that you have Beaconsfield High, Dr Challoner, Sir William Borlase and Wycombe grammar schools within a few miles of Pipers, not to mention Wycombe Abbey. A large proportion of girls from the area will invariably go to these other great schools. I do believe the entrance tests will therefore be a reflection of this.

Toofewshoes Thu 24-Nov-16 12:36:47

I would largely agree with what Zodlebud has said but it will depend on the degree of assistance required. Though it is an inclusive school, and there are girls in my daughter class who are dyslexic, I have heard of one girl's parents being told that their daughter was not suitable to go into the senior school because she required more additional support. I am sure this is the case with many schools though.

We want a smaller school for our daughters and so have not gone down the grammar school route but that is not to say that we don't expect them to do well academically. We believe that Pipers will be able to give them a great academic education and girls have recently left to read medicine at Oxbridge, so it isn't all sewing and jazz hands. smile

Zodlebud Thu 24-Nov-16 16:52:58

But how nice if you are Oxbridge medic material that you can get there singing and dancing in the costume that you made yourself........ It's kind of why we fell for the place.

Toofewshoes Thu 24-Nov-16 17:31:09

Totally with you Zodlebud.

bojorojo Fri 25-Nov-16 02:46:48

I know the Oxford medic from Pipers. She didn't like the local grammar. She is from a very academic medical background and not typical Pipers, other than wanted a small school. Jazz hands - definitely not! But every advantage to get to med school!

morningtoncrescent62 Fri 25-Nov-16 18:34:47

My neices went to Pipers, though it's now a couple of years since the youngest one left so my info is probably getting a bit out of date. But I was very struck by how much they seemed to love their school - they always seemed to get more excited about the end of the school holidays than the beginning! They did very well academically (and better than my sister would have hoped for at the start of their secondary school careers) and have turned out as lovely, caring young women with a very positive outlook on life. I don't live in the area, and I don't know anything about the other school.

mumONthego321 Mon 13-Mar-17 17:59:24

Just found this thread. Very interesting as we have just been thru this with our daughter - Pipers or St Marys. My daughter went to a state school in CSP - so i did not know very much about the independent schools. We live in GX and many of my friends whose children went to priviate school in the area seemed to favour Pipers. St Marys is much closer for us but i was curious about Pipers beacuse it seemed to be a more popular choice and the fees are not drastically different. I have to say after visiting both schools on a number of occasions (just to be sure) I much preferred St Marys. Not only because it was local and cut out over an hours travelling every day, but the class sizes are smaller (pepers approx 21 - St Marys no more than 16), the head was inspiring at St Mary's (you don't actually get to meet the head at pipers on the tours - if i am going to spend that much money on a school i at least want to meet the head and get a sense on a one to one of what they are like. St Mary's felt much more part of a community (i know pipers is set in 90 acres of ground and has a forest school/purpose built theatre and swimming pool but i felt it was very secluded). When i asked them about links with other schools -boys schools/local communities I met a bit of a brick wall (well many of the girls have got brothers?!) i felt, particularly for senior school, St Marys offered links with the local community and a much greater sense of place. I could not see much difference in academic achievement - I think they both work very well to bring out the very best in the girls both academically and socially. My friend whose daughter goes to Maltmans in GX told me that many chose Pipers because that is 'where most people from our school go' and as a consequence older sisters have gone there. I guess you can only really judge for yourself and what you are looking for in a school. B interested to know what you chose in the end

MrsTempest Wed 03-May-17 11:09:47

mumONthego321 ditto - I just found this thread as I'm looking at St Mary's at the moment. My DD was on the Piper's list for over a year as I'd been told 'we are not selective, it just depends on your place on the list' so I was taking no chances as it was my daughter's first choice. She is dyslexic but very bright and was told after the 'formality' exams that they 'didn't feel she would cope with the pace' at Piper's. Having also experienced the 7-minute interview and not even a handshake or hello from the head, I wasn't sorry she didn't get it - but my daughter was devastated as all her friends were going. I sent her somewhere completely different, which focuses on dyslexia, only to have her hate it so I'm now back to square 1 and am considering St Mary's - about which I know nothing. Thanks for your contribution - I think I'll go and have a look now!

bojorojo Wed 03-May-17 15:33:51

I think Pipers has become more and more selective. I know a number of girls who didn't get in 10 years ago who had fairly mild SEN or who were not just a few marks short of the 121 score. Pipers are now trying to compete with the grammar schools by selling smaller classes and a more personal education as well as more selection. There are plenty of high achievers in this area who don't get to a grammar school so expensive SEN provision just does not make financial sense.

When we considered it virtually no girl did science A levels so those that did had almost one to one tuition. Years ago their results were closer to a good secondary modern and nothing to celebrate. In their quest to improve, they do select out from their prep school but are not up front about it having reeled parents in. They also built their prep school up by saying girls could stay into the senior school so avoid the rigorous selection procedure and risk of not being selected. This took pupils away from other prep schools which caused big problems.

I would look at St Mary's. You could also look at Godstowe for 2 years (at 11 plus) and see where you can go after that if you want a wider choice of schools. They are non selective.

bojorojo Wed 03-May-17 15:35:21

What about The Royal Masonic at Rickmansworth?

catINaHAT111 Sat 27-May-17 23:49:11

We are also deciding between Pipers corner and St. Mary's.
St Mary's is much closer to us, but we feel our daughters (4 and 7) would blossom at Pipers more.
The reviews for the secondary school don't sound fluttering though...
Does anyone have experience with pre-prep and prep at Pipers and St. Mary's?
It's such a difficult decision to make and then you have the financial pressure and for me it means going back to full time job after 7 years of maternity break.
I just don't know how all this is going to impact on our family.
Is anyone in a similar situation?

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