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Anyone with DC at Ardingly or a past pupil?

(12 Posts)
RidingWindhorses Tue 05-Dec-17 12:56:25

What is it's pastoral care like? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Many thanks.

ChristmasSpirit3 Tue 05-Dec-17 14:48:30

Yes, parent here! Ask me anything you like?

As a quick summary, I'm really happy with the education / experience and think the school is fabulous. There have been a few minor issues and a few small things I'd like improved (I can elaborate if you like?) but really nothing of consequence. I think there are a LOT of D.C. who would suit the school but I can imagine the type of DC who wouldn't as well.

I think the calibre of education on offer (by which I mean the whole experience and not just the % A grades) is significantly better on the whole than any of the London day schools bar the top few famous names.

I've found the pastoral care excellent. Anti-bullying policies effective, teachers get to know students well and seem to genuinely care.

RidingWindhorses Tue 05-Dec-17 15:33:32

Thanks very much for your reply. I'd love to ask some questions.

What's it like for day pupils there? How do they fit in with the boarding contingent?

What are the academics like? It's not in the top 100 for A level or GCSE for 2017, but would it be supportive for children who are academic?

What's the music like?

I'd be interested to know which types you think it would suit and which it wouldn't.

Many thanks for your time.

ChristmasSpirit3 Tue 05-Dec-17 21:07:55

Yes, it's not in the top 100, but they are much more inclusive than most schools which are. It fits really well with the ethos of the school and is an important part of its character. It's a school which genuinely focuses on all round education and preparation for life. Yes, it is very supportive of academically able pupils. Everyone is gently pushed, children motivated, staff always make time for parents and pupils. Plus all the usual G&T and academic workshops / tutorials you probably find at most schools. If you want a sausage factory with A* grades from every pupil then it is the wrong school; you should go to Brighton College where they don't tolerate B grades winkgrin

Pastoral care is really excellent. It's one of the strong points of the school. The bullying policies are very effective and the school are very responsive to any concerns on any matter and they will take decisive action ASAP to fix the problem. I think they try very hard to keep pupils and parents happy and I think parents really appreciate this and it helps create a lot of goodwill between parents and the school. Staff make a real effort to get to know the DC. Even staff who only teach my DC once a week seem to know them very well. I think staff definitely go above and beyond to ensure DC are happy and thriving and parents really appreciate it.

Day pupils fit in very well. I think it's probably about 40% of girls boarding and 60% boys, but that will include the weekly and flexi boarders. I think the day pupils are very integrated since there are many of them. There's also no Saturday school although there are Saturday academic clinics, clubs and matches.

The Music is....decent? Or average? there are a reasonable range of orchestras, events and trips abroad and I can't particularly find fault with the music department, however I think if you were drawing up a list of Public schools known for excelling at music then Ardingly would not be on the list. It's not bad in any way, it just doesn't stand out as being good at music either, although not that many do? Now I've said that, I do wonder if a lot of my viewpoint could just be the school's reputation? I believe about 80% learn an instrument and the music exam grades are good, and I think there was an important music competition of some sort which they won? but it's not something I know a great deal about so I'd definitely ask to have a chat with the head of music to clarify. I'd say the school definitely devote a lot more energy to sports than to the music, drama, dance side of things, though I think this is changing as they've recently recruited a (very good) LAMDA teacher and built a new dance studio. If you really want a school in the area which is particularly strong at music then you should probably look at Worth or possibly Lancing? (Additionally my personal experience has been that the only crap teacher I've ever encountered at the school was a peripatetic music teacher)

I think the families who would not be suited to Ardingly are children who get tired easily and would just prefer a day school type setting where they can go home at 3:45 and crash out in front of the telly. However I doubt many people who choose the school would be looking for that anyway. There's definitely an expectation that pupils partake in lots of extra curricular activities and make the most of opportunities, but again the people who choose the school would see this as a positive rather than as a chore. Children who dislike rules and routine would probably struggle too, though no different from other similar schools I imagine? Also, the school won't spoon-feed or mollycoddle. They'll require a pupil to learn how to be independent, which they'll give support to achieve. I could imagine DC coming from a small school could struggle as the campus is large and bustling. If you're looking for other negatives, I'd say the food is quite basic / mass catered compared to a lot of schools. You're more likely to see chips than canapés! The website also pisses me off. As a new parent I felt as though the parent induction could have been better as I often didn't know the procedures. Also, if DC want to do Mandarin GCSE it's now an additional £1,250 a term, which I think is pretty cheeky!

giddybiddy Wed 06-Dec-17 14:25:47

I have children here too, and I hear the music is actually very good, particularly since new head of music took over. Drama is pretty poor, although LAMDA excellent and there is no performing arts centre (yet) though a good music school. I think the school excels if you have sporty children who are motivated and pretty independent. It does allow each child to be an individual which I really like and like all schools, there are great teachers, and not so great teachers. I would agree that there is not a 'type' of child it would suit nor a 'type' it churns out, which is one of the strengths of the school.The school day is very long, my DC is there til after 7pm 3 nights a week so I would say it is run as a boarding school in terms of the schedule during the week, but there are plenty of day pupils. Hope that is useful..

RidingWindhorses Wed 06-Dec-17 21:35:04

Thanks enormously to both of you for taking the time to write this, it's really, really helpful.

I think the lack of drama might be an issue, and I'm not sure about the chips, but the rest sounds good.

Worth is out due to RC, but Lancing is on the list.

LIZS Wed 06-Dec-17 21:40:46

If you want drama/music facilities have you looked at Hurst or Brighton?

ChristmasSpirit3 Thu 07-Dec-17 16:35:41

@RidingWindhorses there isn't a 'lack' of drama, it's just not as strong as at other schools.

I've looked up results and for 2017 83% get A*-B in Drama GCSE. LAMDA results are very good with mostly merits and distinctions. Last time I saw the results published there were more distinctions than passes. There are 6 performances for the GCSE course, 2 large school productions and many house productions. There are no stats for the A Levels. The theatre itself is in one of the main original school buildings above the dining room. It's fairly large and has pro lighting and sound but is by no means state of the art.

Music 2017 100% A* & A GCSE, no stats for A level.

Regarding the food, examples of lunch would be curry, lasagne, pasta bake, shepherds pie, pizza with sides of vegetables, salad and chips, things like that. At lunch time the pupils are monitored to ensure they are selecting a balanced plateful and are sometimes sent back to make a different selection if they are not. At breakfast and dinner they are left to their own devices though.

ChristmasSpirit3 Thu 07-Dec-17 16:49:21

The Drama at Hurst is supposed to be good (I've heard others mention this) however I don't think the Head is desperately popular and I've seen a few wrinkled noses when I've asked others about it. I believe they do have a better horse riding team than Ardingly as well OP.

RidingWindhorses Thu 07-Dec-17 23:02:36

I see what you're saying about drama.

Does Ardingly have riding? It doesn't say anything about that on the website - or that I saw anyway. I know Lancing has a new equestrian centre which looks fab.

ChristmasSpirit3 Sun 10-Dec-17 13:17:12

Yes, Ardingly has horse riding twice a week on Thursday & Saturdays. The kids get mini bussed out a short distance as they don't have their own equestrian centre. Hurst sponsor the schools riding competition at Hickstead and apparently have close links with Hickstead, they also get mini bussed.

I looked at Hurst's results as well and Hurst appears to do better at Drama but less well at music:

Ardingly Drama GCSE 83% A+ to *B
Hurst Drama GCSE 100% A*+ to B

Ardingly Music GCSE 100% A+ to A *
Hurst Music GCSE 56%* A+ to *A, 94% A*+ to C

Oh dear, all the original * messed up my formatting! Hopefully that's still understandable.

RidingWindhorses Sun 10-Dec-17 15:43:39

That's very helpful. The music's more important than the drama but it's important to have decent drama.

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