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Heathfield School Ascot

(11 Posts)
Toutedesuite Tue 11-Jul-17 19:55:57

I can see another post about Heathfield School (Ascot) from earlier this month but no-one has commented on it... I'm thinking about Heathfield for my 9 year old daughter. Does anyone know anything about it? I liked it because it's girls only, offers weekly boarding, is small and friendly but seemed feisty... Lots of girls do high level D of E and drama exams. Which seemed like a nice mix to me. I also liked the emphasis on cookery and art and fashion. Those things were derided at my school but are, I would venture, much more useful in life than Latin. Having said that, I had also heard Heathfield was becoming a bit more academic? My daughter is bright but - rather bucking the current trend - I really just want her to enjoy her childhood and adolescence. All this stuff about STEM and the glass ceiling leaves me (personally) absolutely cold. My real worry about Heathfield is that too many of the families are super moneyed... And that too many of the girls' values are going to be too different from ours. When I visited, I looked hard for signs of excessive wealth but saw nothing at all. In fact, the accommodation was reassuringly grotty... But do I just not know a Christian Dior duvet cover when I see one?

cecru Thu 13-Jul-17 19:39:00

I hope I can help you with your questions about Heathfield Ascot. Our daughter finished last summer with a set of very good GCSE's against the odds. She started aged 13 after a mixed prep school. Here are some thoughts... firstly we met a really interesting and supportive group of families at Heathfield. In fact it's probably fair to say that I've never met such a friendly lot of parents at a school. They were literally from all over the UK. It did seem to me that they were mostly (but not all) very, very wealthy indeed and for some reason that is becoming even more the case lower down the school.
Everything you've mentioned about the drama/cooking/fashion makes Heathfield fairly unique. The people who choose Heathfield value this quirky outlook. Otherwise they'd go for a more conventional school. The reason the results are so good is due in part to tiny class sizes, a personalised approach & an imaginative & original style of teaching combined with very clever exam structures. Girls who are bad at maths for example, take that exam early thus allowing them to focus on that one subject. None of the bottom set failed on their first attempt! More able girls also take subjects early thus enabling them to do more later on. You are correct that there definitely is more stress on academics than there used to be but Heathfield used to have a fearsomely bad reputation as a finishing school for daft privileged girls. No longer! The new head is truly excellent & I wish we'd had her at the helm for our daughter.
Pastoral care is superb - I have a lot to be grateful for particularly with regard to the incredible medical centre. Also you might be interested to learn that the food is second to none!
We moved our daughter at sixth form to Eastbourne College which is a larger more down to earth coeducational boarding & day school. She needed a bigger environment & missed the company of boys & in her particular year there were almost no social opportunities to mix with them over the three years she was at Heathfield. There is much I miss having moved her though.. the other parents for a start, the good school food, the imaginative teaching, her wonderful tutor who understood our girl inside out & the lovely events that made Heathfield unique.
However our daughter says the move has been very good for her. She is at school with a more normal cross section of society. She has not rushed off and got a boyfriend but seems more relaxed socially altogether in a coed school & has made some terrific friends.
I think you will love Heathfield for your daughter as the things you wrote about re the cooking, fashion & other quirky activities seem to be very much valued by all those who choose it. I hope this is helpful as school choice is always agonising!

Toutedesuite Thu 13-Jul-17 21:25:48

Thank you! Really helpful and kind of you to take the time to reply. I have to say, Heathfield had a really nice feel to it when I looked round and I could imagine both my daughters there. It really did seem (to me) to stand out from other schools. And I, obviously, don't mind if the parents are super wealthy as long as they're nice too. So thank you!

cecru Thu 13-Jul-17 22:28:03

You're very welcome & im glad to help you with this hard decision. I think you have just the right mindset to value the broad range of activities that Heathfield offer. x

mummy737 Mon 17-Jul-17 22:46:03

That is great information regarding Heathfield, especially regarding the preparation for exams. My daughter really wants to go. I think the mix of good academic support in core subjects along side art, photography, horse riding, etc is perfect. The facilities are way better than some other schools in the area - swimming pool, new science block, purpose built theatre and recording studio. I want my daughter to do well at school and enjoy it too!

BubblesBuddy Tue 18-Jul-17 21:13:45

My DD went for 6th form. The Art teaching was brilliant. We had the old Head who was not universally thought to be good. The school had been through turbulent times with Heads coming and going and she steadied the ship but was not brilliant. I hear better things about this one.

The school is small and everyone knows everyone. DD was well supported but coming into the 6th form meant we didn't know anyone. There was no induction for new parents into the 6th form so we didn't even meet the staff. I would like to think this has changed.

The school is capable of getting good results. It does suffer from girls wanting co Ed for 6th form but the Art was what my DD wanted and she was not disappointed. The fashion show was taken seriously. Drama was better at her previous school but capable girls have plenty of opportunities at Heathfield and her friend got into RADA.

Yes there are seriously wealthy people but most boarding schools have them! We are not seriously wealthy (or even very wealthy!) but it didn't make any difference to our DD enjoying the school. The only major downside was that the girls have to cook for themselves in the upper 6th. DD could have done without that. Two Art A levels meant she was very busy and doing a portfolio for university as well made cooking on top a real chore.

Most of the girls meet boys through parties and friendships outside school. That was never a big deal for DD. She was more interested in being in a school that understood Art and fashion. It's good to know the food has improved! It was stodgy a few years ago and nowhere near as good as the school food at DD's previous school. I do hear there are more overseas girls than before.

Shu2 Thu 30-Nov-17 18:54:33

Does anyone know when Heathfeilds are going to send out their offers for year 7 girls ?

Percival45 Fri 29-Dec-17 19:39:49

My daughter is in the Third Form at Heathfield. She absolutely loves it and is thriving. The school’s reputation was driven forwards tremendously by the previous Head Jo Heywood who really did a lot for the school and was tremendously popular. She is greatly missed by many. The new Head used to be Director of Studies and inherited a school that was starting to thrive academically. She has continued to push that forwards and the exam results are very impressive but Heathfield is more than exam results. It is a close knit and supportive community where girls’ talents are discovered and nurtured. It is particularly outstanding in the Arts , and Drama and Music are also very impressive. However, it is also academically strong in all the expected core subjects. Parents are mainly from London and a mix of super wealthy and wealthy but the number of international pupils is growing rapidly. Having said that, there is no ostentatious flaunting of wealth and parents are very friendly. It is a unique school - and refreshingly not a hothouse but staff really get to know each pupil and help them to flourish.

seriouslytrying Tue 23-Jan-18 18:00:34

Great school which is going from strength to strength. My daughter is insisting on staying for the VIth form for two more years, despite looking at some alternatives. She loves the size of the school and they really do seem to know every girl.
The new Headmistress has done some amazing things and there is a real buzz about the place - I gather the numbers are on the rise too but they are quite strict about not growing too much and I think I heard there's a waiting list in the lower years. Definitely worth a visit.

BubblesBuddy Tue 23-Jan-18 18:47:13

The numbers needed to rise. It was becomming too small for it to be financially viable unless they have massive reserves. You need healthy numbers for options to run and for girls to find like minded friends.

MrsMcW Thu 25-Jan-18 09:40:43

I'm an old Heathfield girl - left there in 2006. In my day it was a super school, but very 'London moneyed' (lots of girls with designer clothes who spent every exeat weekend mooching down the Kings Road with Daddy's credit card) but from what I've heard the new headmistress has improved the cross-section. I was there under Frances King who engineered the merger with St Marys Wantage and marketed the school heavily around the Far East which meant that there were big cliques of international students who stuck together like glue and avoided speaking English whenever possible. Both ventures provided a much needed cash injection but didn't do a lot for the atmosphere of the school... however I loved my time there and if those issues have been ironed out then I'd recommend it to anyone who wants an 'all round' education. The pastoral care there was, always has been and from what I've hear still is second to none. Be prepared to shell out for a lot of expensive trips though... avoid your daughter joining the choir if you can!

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