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Reviews for private secondary schools where academia is more important than entitled parents?(22 Posts)
Just wondering if any reviews for secondary private schools. I was interested in Cheltenham Ladies but would like a school where academic talent matters more than just social standing etc.
My daughters are a few years off but I want to get thoughts now as we will move to whatever area offers the best in both academic and traditional and moral behaviour. My daughters were in state school previously but we made the change to private so now wish to continue this for their secondary.
Why not type the name of a school into Serach, here? There are countless discussions on every possible independent school.
Also probably best not to begin with entrenched preconceptions ...
Yep, I would start with a search. Also the name "Cheltenham ladies" sounds snotty to me (my children are at top independent schools so I'm not speaking out of jealousy).
And FYI getting into super selective grammars is much more difficult than getting into top secondary schools (including St Paul's, Kings, Wycombe abbey etc)
How helpful of you!
Entrenched preconceptions? I have both heard and read many personal accounts about on Cheltenham and Stowe too, but I want to keep my options open plus hear general reviews of any private school in any area.
helpbuyingahouse, thank you. I will look at grammars too.
My girls current school feeds into eton and cheltenham, and while they really promote these schools , parents opinions massively differ.
As a general rule ability, character etc is valued in public schools. Rich parents are valued at less prestigious indies. There are always exceptions but it has been a good starting point in my experience.
All independent schools have a mix of middle class parents and some children whose parents are millionaires/billionaires.
Thankfully in secondary schools you need to interact much less with parents (I personally have a very busy life and have no idea about other parents, so good!).
I am also against boarding schools as I like having my children around (they'll leave for university soon enough). But each to their own of course
I have a DD at Cheltenham Ladies. As an aside, as one of the oldest of the all-girls schools, Ladies is a pretty common part of the name. It was a college for ladies, as the terminology went then. Since that was some way over 100 years ago, I can absolutely assure you that in 2019 the social class of the girls there is not snobby or an issue. The majority of the girls I have met are perfectly normal and their parents' (or their) social standing is utterly irrelevant to the school and the other girls. Just for reference, I went to a state school. Nobody has judged me for that.
I suggest you start by leaving your prejudices behind and assess schools on their actual behaviour and results, not what you think the name or history might imply. Try visiting a few. I think you will be pleasantly surprised by the big names and quite possibly very disappointed in the attitudes of some of the smaller ones.
helpbuyingahouse - I feel same way about boarding, I love having my girls at home, I dread those uni days ahead, I will miss them so much!
hidingmystatus - Glad to hear social standing is irrelevant at Cheltenham.
I have no prejudicesto leave behind, If you read my other post, you will see that one of the schools my DD's u
school feeds into is Cheltenham and that I have heard and read many accounts from parents and pupils about Cheltenham (and other schools) but that I wish to keep my options open! So I have NO prejudices.
I will definitely be going down the private route but finding it hard to get all the information, stats, class sizes , results, behaviour etc when there are so many schools.
I am new to mumsnet and havent been able to find much on search unless I know specific school names.
I am willing to move anyhwere in UK for the right school but I have to start somewhere before deciding to visit the school and look further into their locations. I thought perhaps people may be willing to give opinions of schools in their areas.
Excuse my spelling mistakes, i have new phone and can't get to grips with new keyboard layout and predictive text - and I am ever so slightly hung over as well !!
If your at a good prep which "feeds into eton and cheltenham," then mu first port of call for advise would be the head of say prep rather than strange who don't know your DD's.
The armed with a short list of 3-4 go and look at them and e side which one suits your DD's and you.
"parents opinions massively differ."
This is normal at DS2's prep 6 boys of similar ability went to 6 different schools we all looked at the same ones and liked different things, You need to go and look for yourself and decide for yourself.Most schools publish results on their websites the more school websites you read the more you learn what top of the league table result are, good, average etc. Beware of league tables many top academic schools aren't listed in them.
I also have a DD at Cheltenham Ladies' College, named because it was a school for girls as opposed to Cheltenham College which used to be for boys only.
Don't be swayed by names or negative comments from other people, everybody has their own prejudices. If you are at a good prep the Head should recommend schools which they think will suit your DD.
Open days are great, but most schools will also arrange for you to visit the school on a normal working day. Do both if you can. I would suggest visiting 3 or 4 schools. The more you visit the more sure you will be of your choice.
If you are looking at schools such as CLC they will all be excellent schools. It is simply a matter of where your DD and you also feel comfortable, at home.
You can look at facilities, small class sizes, co-curricular actives, but all great schools will have these.
The parents I have met at CLC have all been lovely and friendly. They are from a mix of backgrounds (and I really do mean a mix, I have met people at CLC whose backgrounds are so far away from mine that it is amazing we are all in the same place with our DDs. This is not a snobby comment I'm absolutely in the middle and have met the super posh and charming and also lovely parents who could never afford private education without substantial bursary help, as well as those of us in the middle).
On a CLC open day you will be shown round by girls and should also have the chance to eat lunch with girls in a house. This a a great opportunity to chat to the girls and as them about their real experience.
On a final note, CLC is a great school. I have never once regretted our choice. It also has a large day girl population, if boarding isn't your thing. My DD has friends who are boarders and day girls, they mix well. CLC won't, of course, be for everyone. But you won't know until you go and look.
If you would like to ask me anything please don't hesitate.
If you are just looking at academic results, see these lists. Pretty much the same bunch of schools represented. Then research each.
In my experience, the more expensive the school, the less “money competition” there is between the parents and children. It’s a kind of taken for granted that everyone is minted and therefore not discussed.
However, the children are often at second or third homes on holidays, given amazing experiences and gifts. It’s not flashed in your face but invites for your child to spend time at their best mate’s place in Verbier / South of France / Mustique crop up.
Of course it’s entitled but it’s not “flash cash one upmanship”. It’s just the way it is.
Compare and contrast with my local and very well regarded independent school where in the first few minutes you are asked what it is you do for a living, where you live and what car you drive (and then have to listen to chat about how much better their life is than yours).
Entitled comes in many different forms. Some more palatable than others.
If location is no object, go to the North West. Manchester High and Withington Girls are both excellent academic schools for girls with strong principles in operation and are relatively much better value for money.
In general, parents are quite remote from secondary school.
It's not like a prep.
So unless there is a school,with a local reputation for parental involvement, you'll be ok
Steer clear of Stowe I can promise that is not the type of school you're looking for. Personally I'd look at GDST day schools. They're all over the country and certainly our local ones fit the bill perfectly from what you describe.
And agree with PP about Withington and Manchester girls. They really are the best in the country with the least amount of snottiness. I appreciate not everyone can move to Manchester just like that though.
I know people who had DC at Stowe and, it’s like everywhere else! The parents vary.
I would say though, that all independent schools fund raise. Many have private dinners for bigger donors and their richer parents who can be tapped for money. The schools delve into who they are! Rugby have the Arnold Foundation and other schools have similar. They often raise money for bursaries for example. Therefore the idea that every parent is the same will not be true. There are definitely preferential parents! That doesn’t make them obnoxious.
At many independent schools there are opportunities for parents to meet. Some like to and some don’t. We found the very rich don’t. If they do show up, they have their own set and have arranged to be with them. You can fairly easily twig what’s going on and get on with your life.
If you go to a decent prep, look at the other schools where the girls go. That’s what happened at my DDs prep. So WA, CLC, Downe House (Head was a Governor at our prep), Benendon and a smattering of co-Ed’s such as Stowe, Oundle and Uppingham were favourites. The prep school will know the time of day regarding applying and will offer guidance. All independents value academics! They all value parental money too!
Parents send drivers to pick DC up for exeats for example. It’s not that they are overtly showy, they just quietly have the money to do exactly what they want and employ people to do things many parents would do themselves. Their world is different.
Pearldeodrant- why should the OP not consider Stowe, please ? Am not GF, just curious.
I would look at the Girls Day School Trust (GDST) options for your area of the country. I would then search for threads including those schools, and see where those discussions take you in other ideas.
If you want academic, I would also look at GCSE/A level league tables published by the various newspapers.
Where in the country are you looking?
Does it have to be Boarding, or is Day School ok?
For the academic results maybe take a look at The Sunday Times Parent Power tables as they have tables for A level, PreU and also IB and also equate them, split them regionally and indicate whether girls/boys or co-ed.
The Good Schools Guide is worth subscribing to online for expansive write ups that go far beyond exam results. Plus all the contact details, fees etc.
ISI reports again are very detailed and free! Address areas for improvement as well as the good bits!
OP what’s the geography for you if you might consider non boarding?
GDST has already been mentioned but if you are anywhere near Oxford then Headington and SHSK are academic but with a lot of balance and a good spread of parents. There’s not much by way of conspicuous wealth on display in our experience. I think that once DS remarked that the school cafe queue for bacon rolls was stalled by a boy trying to pay with a £50 note. He had nothing smaller apparently. Rather the exception though! Most of us are trying to work out how to pay the next fee bill.
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