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Caterham v Reigate Grammar

(28 Posts)
SurreyMum117 Wed 19-Feb-20 13:53:51

Hi, guys.
Currently deciding between these two schools for our DD. Any and all feedback VERY gratefully received as our house is currently divided and have 2 weeks to choose.
(We naively thought the exam process and offers would give us a golden answer but she has similar offers from both. She is outgoing, and is into sport, drama etc so know she would make friends but a bunch of her friends are going to one and she naturally wants to go there - would this hinder or help her?!)
THANK YOU IN ADVANCE! x

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Alicay Wed 19-Feb-20 17:45:36

Bumping as I have the same decision for my DD! My impression is that they are both great schools. Caterham seems a bit ‘posher’ and sporty. RGS more ‘townie’ (as in posh Surrey townie wink) and more about the music. I have looked at old Mumsnet threads about the two schools, but they’re all quite old....

SurreyMum117 Wed 19-Feb-20 18:37:17

Hi Alicay, thanks for joining. smile That's really interesting because I see RGS as the more sporty - in terms of achievement in national competitions. Agree, both great schools - nice problem to have! Let's hope some current parents can give us some feedback smile

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XelaM Wed 19-Feb-20 18:44:51

If you're undecided, but your daughter has a strong preference for one - why not let her go to the school she prefers?

DorkingMum Wed 19-Feb-20 19:00:06

Both good schools and she will probably do well at either - very similar in terms of results etc.

RGS gets some mixed reviews - especially about the current Head, SF. He has made some changes which are not universally popular in order to improve the school's exam results and ranking. Has become a bit obsessed with his personal profile in the media and seems to be all about awards and opening schools in China and Morocco, rather than focusing on the day job, the kids and the parents.
Lots of focus on sport (although this can be a bit alpha male and toxic). Very strong on music and drama.

Caterham has become a bit less high profile since its previous head left, but it is a quietly confident school with consistently good results. Obviously the boarding adds a different dynamic and a somewhat more international mix of students.

Where do you live? Is it easier to get to one rather than the other? Caterham isn't as easiy accessible as RGS, although the Reigate roads are a nightmare in the morning!

Alicay Wed 19-Feb-20 19:41:50

Thanks for that Dorking. What you said actually rings true - we felt there was a bit of a ‘sales pitch’ at RGS. Plus entering those awards involve a load of work by the school, which made me question where resources go/priorities.

LIZS Wed 19-Feb-20 19:48:51

Had dc go through one of them. Very different feel, C is far more diverse, RGS has a more suburban/local feel. Sport main difference for girls is focus on Lacrosse at C, hockey still relatively new for girls, and RGS pitches are off site. Happy to answer q by pm.

DorkingMum Wed 19-Feb-20 20:15:23

Yes, also happy to answer any questions by PM - I know lots of families at both.

SurreyMum117 Wed 19-Feb-20 20:37:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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SurreyMum117 Wed 19-Feb-20 20:39:36

Oops didn’t mean to post publicly and don’t know how to delete! Sorry xxx

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Br1ll1ant Thu 20-Feb-20 15:29:12

I’ve got a DS at RGS and know friends at C. The main difference pointed out so far is the volume of homework is significantly higher at C with what seems like more pressure - though that may be child dependent. Also my non sporty boy is under no pressure to take part in anything on a Saturday but attendance seems to be obligatory at C. My DS is loving school and is being challenged in a great way. The subjects he is enjoying most are surprising and it just shows how important the individual teachers are.
I’m sure your DD would enjoy both, though I would consider the journey over current friendships. They make their own decisions on those!

WannabeGilmoreGirl Fri 21-Feb-20 02:36:42

We looked at both but decided on Dunottar

RGS felt a bit like.a sales pitch. We liked Caterham but we were looking for a all rounder school rather than just high academia. Good luck

Alicay Sat 22-Feb-20 09:05:28

Can anybody give me their impression of the general feeling at either school? The kids who showed us around RGS were adamant that any bullying is dealt with & that the atmosphere is good. We didn’t get the chance to ask Caterham kids the same question. There’s an old Mumsnet thread suggesting bullying at Caterham prep wasn’t dealt with. TIA

LIZS Sat 22-Feb-20 10:07:38

Positive atmosphere at C, any bullying quickly and efficiently dealt with. The year groups are large enough that there are groups of likeminded students. Both schools big on Wellbeing atm , C has wellbeing dogs on site.

Bellie99 Sat 22-Feb-20 10:14:33

New head in the prep school at Caterham. Last head was there for a long time and set in his ways. Have heard good things about new prep head but early days.
Seems to be lots leaving Reigate after GCSEs but Reigate college is v close and free, but still worth asking?
Caterham has boarders but now only from year 9 it used to be from year 7 and then they seem to stay within the boarding community apart from lessons.
Results seem about the same - Reigate edging it each year recently.
Sport in first few years at Caterham is more compulsory on Saturdays - girls teams go down to d/e so everyone plays. Not always for boys c/d not every week. I think practice is compulsory for all one night a week.

LIZS Sat 22-Feb-20 10:19:59

Think RGS still sifts after gcse whereas C now offers a sixth form place to all (unless they would really struggle academically). At one time Reigate College limited offers to independent pupils, prioritising applicants from the local state secondaries with no sixth form and other state schools, but it is expanding so perhaps spaces less of an issue.

DorkingMum Sat 22-Feb-20 11:24:48

RGS sifts strongly after GCSE - wants As in subjects to be taken at A level and typically minimum 4As, 4Bs(and nothing lower than a C) at GCSEs level.
The website claim "Each and every student is offered a place in the Sixth Form" is a little misleading as it may mean they are offered a place, but only on RGS' terms. This can include only being allowed to do certain subjects, doing only 2 A levels, or being asked to do 3 A levels over three years.
Reigate College is popular because it is a) good b) free and c) gives the students greater independence. In recent years attending the College has also qualified students for lower, contextual offers at some universities (e.g. Bristol). Not sure how this can be the case since it is stuffed full of well-off middle-class kids, but hey ho... hmm

WombatChocolate Sat 22-Feb-20 11:56:45

I’d imagine all academic schools have criteria for taking A Levels generally and also in specific subjects.

As far as I’m aware with RGS, they want 7s in the subjects to be taken at A Level. I think they offer a course for anyone who wants to stay on - but yes, if someone hasn’t got a 7 on an A Level they fancy, then there will be a more limited choice. Isn’t that the same at Caterham or the Cpllege or St Bedes? All set minimum requirements....but what they are might differ.
A small no each year do a bespoke course in 6th form - so not the standard 3 A levels, but perhaps 2 and some other things too, with a view to perhaps doing a 3rd A level in a 3rd year. So I don’t think people are turned away. However their choices will be less with less good GCSES - perhaps those with a 6 might go to the College to continue that subject at A level because they really want that subject. Given most grades at RGS are 7/8/9 by far, most parents and kids would like the idea of students of similar ability in the class so progress can be rapid -a 6 is very different to a 9.

In my view it’s always hard being academically at the bottom in selective schools. Being on for a 6 would be considered very decent in most places but you can decide you’re not bright at all if your mates are on for 8s and 9s.

I do think all schools set criteria though for the next stage. None have free entry to A level from any starting point. And I don’t think many schools manage out now - it’s v unpopular - they will offer a course, but a limited choice to weak students. I think RGS says they want students to be ableto get a B minimum at A Level and the unis they target rarely include Cs in their offers. Bs at A level are not so likely from 5/6 at GCSE.

I know kids at both and families seem happy with both. Caterham seems more traditional and the boarding does add something for all children whether boarders or not. RGS seems to be having students from further afield now - good numbers from Guildford who want co-Ed academic instead of single sex.

Dunnottar seems to have been a big success - giving a decent independent option to those who don’t get Caterham or RGS - and from what I hear, equal numbers go there (Dunnottar) and to RGS from schools like Micklefield or Hawthorns these days. Seems like RGS and Caterham are harder to get into these days but D has been a good alternative.

In the end, either C or R will give a good education. At RGS 90%+ of A levels have been A*-B for about 6 years now and I think it’s about 85%+ at Caterham. Shorter distance could be the decider. I’ve known lots of parents at Hawthorns which is perhaps placed midway with parents living nearer one or other - there RGS has been seen as harder to get into over last few years with some getting C and not R more than other way round. Some seem to feel C is more relaxed academically.

Given they are similar in results and lots of ways too, short journey and perhaps child preference might be good things to go on - as it’s very marginal, you end up choosing based on such tiny things like who had the best coffee, or which Head said one thing you didn’t like otherwise!

LIZS Sat 22-Feb-20 12:42:21

Also think the shift towards C at H is in part because head has sent his dc there!

Alicay Sat 22-Feb-20 16:56:14

Thanks for all the replies. Really helpful to hear actual experience versus what the brochure says/open day schmoozing. Seems ultimately there’s not much between the two schools.

Dribbly99 Sun 23-Feb-20 23:51:49

I have a DD currently at Caterham and have the same decision to make for youngest 2. It’s actually a very easy choice though as very happy with Caterham, so they will start in Sept.
I echo a lot of what has already been said - Rgs seem much more selective gcse and A level choices than Caterham and quite focused on league tables.
Caterham sport (can only comment on girls) - yes, it is obligatory (until year 9) (though you can miss the odd fixture if have something else on). But I really like the fact that it is sport for all and this isn’t just giving lip service. My non sporty daughter has gone from not liking sport (mainly due to shouty teachers at her previous school) to doing really well and most importantly , enjoying it.
We use the minibus (coach) from Redhill and it works out fine.
Feel free to ask questions.

mylesta Mon 24-Feb-20 15:29:11

We are thinking of applying to Caterham for DD in a couple of years and this thread is really helpful.

We are too far away for RGS or Dunottar, but does anyone have views on how Caterham and Woldingham compare? (Apart from the obvious - we don't have a strong preference for co-ed or single sex) Particularly interested in pastoral care, academic pressure, how they compare for art and sport (especially swimming), and how well state primary pupils fit in.

GoldenRuby Mon 24-Feb-20 16:04:36

My DD is at Woldingham. We looked at Caterham but didn't like it - this was 6 years ago so things may have changed but when we looked round girls were relegated to lacrosse and dance, and were not allowed to do hockey. The school felt like a boys school that tolerated girls. I know two other people who looked around in the same year who had exactly the same reaction after visiting. That said, there is a new head and I know of others people who's DD are happy at the school. I think the pool at Caterham may be better but my DD isn't bothered by swimming so that hasn't been a factor for us. The pastoral care at Woldingham is excellent.

Alicay Mon 24-Feb-20 16:36:54

Oh no! I hope someone comes along to say CS isn’t a boys club. I would hate my DD to be in that environment.

Bellie99 Mon 24-Feb-20 17:04:40

Girls main sports are still lacrosse and netball in winter but there is hockey, rugby and I'm sure other teams for girls that I haven't heard about yet. Cricket is now for both in summer
Last year the boys were able to do lacrosse if they wanted to do an extra club. There is also a boys dance group or there was a couple of years ago.
Reigate grammar also do girls football and rugby and they have a frisbee team. I think across all the schools they base on demand and changing requirements.

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