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Daughter wants to board Hanford School (Y6 entry)(19 Posts)
I have posted here before about my daughter's current 11+ preparation and all the stress that comes with it. She is currently in Year 5 at a very academic North London independent, which she doesn't particularly like. She has been there since Reception and it has always been all work and very little play (huge amounts of homework etc). This year is worse than ever as they try to prepare them for the 11+ entrance exams into all the top London grammars and independents. It's been rather awful for me and her.
Last weekend I made the mistake of taking her to the Independent School Show where she absolutely fell in love with the idea of Hanford and is begging me to arrange a taster boarding day there. My daughter is quite seriously into horse riding and the stables and outdoorsey aspect of the school really stole her heart. Plus the Head of Admissions and her colleague could not have been more lovely.
So my head says it's a totally crazy idea to change to another independent school that could only take her up to the age of 13 and is miles and miles away from London. However, everything I have heard and read about this school makes me think my daughter would absolutely love it there.
We will definitely try the taster boarding night they are offering, but can anyone with experience of this school tell me if it's worth it? Plus, what are the chances of getting a grammar school place at 13+? Or would I have to stick with the independent sector?
Competition for 13+ grammar places is super stiff simply because there are so few available. If you want grammar then far better to try at 11+.
Perhaps though what your daughter is saying is that the academic environment she is currently in just isn’t for her and she would be far happier in an environment where just as much emphasis is put on the other things as academics.
There are several other independent schools with riding and the outdoorsy feel at 11 - for example, Stonar has both prep and secondary. Far less pressurised schools in the North London area are Aldenham and Queenswood - both offer flexi boarding. Take her to see one of those too and gauge her reaction (and yours!!!).
Also don’t be afraid to check out your local comprehensive school. Some people are surprised at how nice / good they actually are when they take the time to visit them.
I guess what I am saying is it probably isn’t just the school itself that had appealed to her.
Yes absolutely. Aldenham is definitely a school we are looking at, especially as she has a friend there who absolutely loves it.
I would also prefer a less pressured environment for her, which is why we probably won't even be trying for Henrietta Barnett. She most likely wouldn't be academic enough to get in anyway, but wven if by some miracle she did - I have heard it is endless pressure on those girls.
Latymer is my preference (and has been her aspirational dream school up until recently). I think she dreams of the idea of waking up to visit the stables and be outdoors in a beautiful setting. Plus I have heard Hanford is very nurturing (unlike her current school). I am almost tempted (not aure how realistic this is) - if she really likes it on the taster day to let her do her Year 6 at Hanford, but still sit the 11+ and see if she gets a place at Latymer. If she gets in, she will go there for Year 7, if she doesn't pass - she will stay at Hanford and we tey again at 13+.
Totally bonkers I guess?
Apologies for the typos. Typing on my phone
Personally I think it’s slightly bonkers because:
1) Hanford is a school that sends girls on to top boarding schools at 13+. If that’s a route you are not prepared to follow then your daughter will be odd one out. I would also question whether their 11+ preparation is as strong as a result - worth checking with the school.
2) It’s a very small school with only 100 girls. It could be claustrophobic and hard to break into existing friendship groups. Not always the case but a definite consideration.
3) It’s a loooooong way from London. Three years could be a miserable time for her if it doesn’t go to plan
4) I guess you haven’t even visited the school yet? You have been drawn in by sales people (well admissions staff are essentially in sales!!). Don’t get carried away until you have seen it
Personally I think it’s far better to concentrate on all the things she loves about it and try and find a different school that fits the bill for 11+. Obviously if you are open to boarding then that opens up whole new worlds for you.
@Zodlebud Your post is of course very sensible and it may be a terrible idea. I will wait to have a look at the school and think about how realistic it all is.
I was never open to boarding and never thought my daughter would be at this age, but her main love outside of school are horses and her dream school would have riding facilities. I haven't been able to find any school in London with riding facilities. They are all mostly boarding schools outside of London. Obviously horse riding is not an essential part of secondary education and she rides at a local stable anyway, but I thought I would look into it. Does anyone know of any schools in London with a riding team or facilities?
Queenswood has a polo team and many girls who compete at a high level outside school but it’s all done off site. The head is horse mad too.
It’s nowhere near London but the best “horsey” school for facilities is Stonar.
I've only heard of someone doing this once because of intense bullying in year 7 at their all through school. The girl moved to a little boarding school till end of year 8 and loved it. It may well work but to be honest I would feel bad taking my DD out of a lovely nurturing environment to a London grammar.
Mayfield is worth considering, has weekly boarding and entry points age 11 and after.
Personally I would listen to her and at least explore those possibilities. Hanford has a fantastic reputation and would be worth it for 3 years but you do need to consider the 13+ school and it would probably also have to be boarding.
Stonar would be more of a compromise academically than Mayfield or prep schools like Hanford.
Look at Leweston. Also in Dorset, with boarding. Quite horsey and very nurturing and outdoorsy … goes through to sixth form. But a long way from London … Hanford is very lovely and has its own (maybe slightly eccentric) culture. You would need to visit and see how you feel about it. Leweston is more conventional, but still lovely.
On another (and not deliberately unhelpful note), if your DD is Year 5 then I assume she is 9/10. As a PP has said, at this point pretty solid friendship groups will have been made and it’s likely to take a little while for your daughter to feel like she’s fitting in. I went to boarding school at 10, my head full of cooking up sausages on little stoves at midnight a la Mallory Towers and really didn’t like it. If you are not happy, boarding can be brutal as essentially you’re stuck there! It is rather a big step you’re thinking of, as she’s Year 5 now though I’d personally just leave it. She really doesn’t have that much longer to sit out in her current school which I appreciate she doesn’t like (but it sounds like she’s not desperately unhappy either).
I went there and still have very close connections. It's like no other school, it's safe, innocent, happy, and slightly unreal. Horses dogs chickens all around. Most boarders are from London and the school provides transport. It's a magical and wonderful place. It has been an Honour. Do avoid Clayesmore, full of aspirational lical mums, all Boden and pretence. Inside, bullying among staff is rife.
I'd stick it out at her current school and look for an outdoorsy, nurturing school for secondary
@onioncrumble Aww, it's so lovely to hear. I must say I have not yet heard or read a bad word about this school.
However, I tend to agree with everyone who posted their very sensible reservations about this crazy endeavour. My daughter will have a taster day at Hanford and at Mayfield and we'll go from there.
I also can't imagine boarding to be all that she envisages (i.e. getting up to go for morning hacks in the woods)...
I know many girls who were at Hanford. It really is a wonderfully quirky, loving school. When I visited to watch a netball match a couple of years ago, one little girl came dashing out of the art room, absolutely covered in paint, massive beaming smile on her face, to ask if I was lost and could she help me.
@XelaM Feel free to message me if you have any questions about Hanford - I moved my girls there a few years ago (my elder daughter joined in year 6 and by her first half term it was as if she had been there forever - my younger daughter is currently in year 5 and new girls seem to join each term).
Hanford really is a one off - superb all-round education and results without the pressure ordinarily associated with that.
Hanford is a lovely school. Country, quirky, kind.
I wouldn't base the decision on what she's going to do 11-13. Decide first on where she would be going for secondary (either starting at 11 or 13), Then if your first choice is a public school which has 13+ entry by all means consider Hanford for the intervening time, might be a nice antidote for the pressure of primary. It wouldn't be worth giving up a good secondary place for though.
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