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Prep schools near Orpington

(13 Posts)
KuiM Wed 28-Feb-18 17:33:14

Do parents in Orpington take their children to prep schools or do most stay in the great state schools in the area? wonder if anyone has any reviews for Breaside, Babbington House and Ashgrove? x

OP’s posts: |
Astronotus Fri 02-Mar-18 09:18:24

Braeside and Ashgrove are near central Bromley and Babington House is in Chislehurst. None of these are a reasonable commute from central Orpington in the heavy morning traffic. All three schools have good reputations, with Braeside and Ashgrove particularly good for achieving places at excellent state secondary grammars and indies.

KUIM Fri 02-Mar-18 23:51:08

Many thanks Astronotus for your valuable feedback. Besides the commute,I also wondered if the school provide value for money over and above the quality that is freely available in the local state schools? Are you able to connect on that?

KUIM Fri 02-Mar-18 23:58:47


JoJoSM2 Sat 03-Mar-18 00:16:24

That's a personal decision to make and answers vary from parent to parent. Why don't you visit a few schools and see if the facilities, class sizes and activities on offer are worth the fees.

chalkyc2 Sat 03-Mar-18 08:59:55

For prep from Orpington people either head up to Chislehurst/Bromley to the ones you mention - also Bickley Park for boys, Bromley High for girls and Farringtons for both - or south to the Sevenoaks preps (particularly the Otford ones). Depends on whether you have a girl or boy and where you are based. Most of the Orpington state primaries are good but secondary catchments small....

KUIM Sat 03-Mar-18 14:30:17

Thanks all! Yes def plan to visit but thought it’s diffifult to judge from a few hrs visit. Thought mums with real experiences would give better insight. I am new to the UK school system both private and state so any insights are very welcome x

Scoobydoobydoo Sat 03-Mar-18 20:00:09

Depends on what you are after for secondary - grammar, comprehensive or private.

We live in Orpington and my kids go to a primary we are very happy with.
My daughter will start at a grammar in Sep 2018.

Primaries do not prep for grammar or independent secondaries so you will have to do the extra work yourself.
I have heard some prep schools like ashgrove do a lot of prep for 11 plus but parents have to pay for these extra sessions on top of the fees. I have heard the same for Merton Court.
I have no knowledge of Braeside or Babington House.
Bromley high is another popular one which goes all the way through.

Bickley park is another sought after prep which feeds into sevenoaks school.

Hope this helps!

JoJoSM2 Sat 03-Mar-18 20:04:00

I've been working in education for a very long time and personally I'm not convinced that there's much point paying for a prep instead of going with a state primary if you're in the catchment of a good one.

Generally speaking, fee-paying schools have smaller classes and better facilities. Having said that, some independent schools can be pretty squashed into small spaces (more common in central London) and some state schools do have lovely grounds and heated swimming pools etc (especially in affluent suburban areas). Similarly, many state schools offer one-to-one music tuition and run a range of afterschool clubs.

Independent schools often have better wrap around care so it might suit parents who work long hours but they also tend to have a lot more holidays than state schools so more childcare is required then.

There are also some parents who (mistakenly) think that paying the fees means that they can be a bit more hands off with the education of their children because the school will sort it all. In reality, I think that the best performing children are the ones with the right ethos and encouragement/expectations at home.

For some people it can be a bit of a class thing, too with independent schools seen as a way of advancing in the social ranks.

I don't know if you've had a look at some official info, but you can find out a lot here:

MIght be quite useful in addition to visiting and speaking to other parents.

But anyway, opinions on whether it's worth paying do range a lot and a lot of those who can easily afford fees are perfectly happy to go with their local state school (especially for primary but secondary is often a different kettle of fish). On the other hand, some people will really scrimp and save, give up holidays and drive a very old banger to pay the fees as they feel very strongly about the matter.

KUIM Sat 03-Mar-18 22:48:41

Oh! That is such useful information! I am really grateful.

JoJoSM2 - exactly why I am so confused! I am looking at primary school. Some state schools in the area seem to hve matching or even better facilities, clubs, teaching than the indies (mainly just read the websites at this point so I cld be totally wrong..)..and I wondered if I was missing something. I have read on some threads that even private school students get extra external coaching for 11+ that parents pay for on top of fees just like most parents in state schools do.

I would really love to hear from the perspective of a mum whose children go to the private ones

PettsWoodParadise Sun 04-Mar-18 03:33:54

DD went to private schools at primary level but in hindsight our local primary would have been just as good. She is now much happier in a state secondary (Grammar). Clubs you can do out of school so don’t get swayed by that and as for facilities they can be gloss.

The advantage of some private schools at this level is often the smaller classes (although I gather evidence says it doesn’t make a difference for attainment), languages and specialist teachers especially for science.

Some of the very small independent schools in the area do be careful as small can cause problems with friendship groups and the school struggles with even small staff changes. Friends are also less likely to be so nearby as the schools don’t have catchments.

Some children will start off at Farringtons or Babington and then move to selective schools like Dulwich or Eltham at Y3. Some want a school that does a lot of work for independent and grammar entrance like Braeside, or top Indies and Common Entrance like Bickley Park, some want an all-through single sex school like Bromley High. They are all very different schools. The vast majority of state primaries are excellent in the area but every family has their own reason to consider private and you need to keep that and the needs of your DC at the forefront when considering which school might be the best fit.

chalkyc2 Sun 04-Mar-18 07:57:49

My children go to one of the schools mentioned above. My eldest started in one of the smaller Orpington state primaries, which was ok, nothing special, and he was slow to start reading and writing there.

We moved him when our youngest started school as the school provided extremely limited wrap around care and we both work - previous to that we had a nanny. But we also wanted more space and more sports and clubs.

Our independent school has wrap around care from 7-6.30 should you need it and provides a holiday club in the same setting, which is invaluable. There is a swimming pool and they play loads of sports. My eldest flew from barely reading to being a free reader in 6 months of year 2. He runs, swims, plays football, rugby, cricket and basketball competitively. We see the benefit. It is not a selective school but the recent new head has upped its game completely - I didn't want a pushy academic school. We will rethink at secondary level - it's quite a financial burden for us.

So all in all it depends on your needs and what you want for your children! I have a friend with children in one of the higher regarded Orpington state primaries and she is looking to move him because of the lack of organised sport, despite it being a large school - but that won't matter to some!

Hope that helps!!

KUIM Sun 04-Mar-18 15:52:12

Helps immensely - thanks again ladies..just what I was looking for.

If I were to consider indies, I think Breaside would work best for us in terms of commute practicalities and size as I don’t want a very small school.

However, I wondered if a shy sensitive girl would thrive in such an environment? Someone mentioned that small class sizes would cause problems with friendship groups - this is of great concern to me.

Wonder if anyone has any knowledge of Breaside specifically with regards to social welfare?

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