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KCS, RGS or Hampton

(66 Posts)
Esher2021 Sat 13-Feb-21 17:06:03

I saw a few of us need to make choice between 2 or 3 of these schools. I thought a thread would be useful to see what people are thinking.

Looking at travel for us we prefer RGS and KCS - eventually I think public transport will be practical for both schools as DS get older. The trip from Hampton I think is more complicated.

We have a lovely s/s but it isn’t helping us separate the lovely schools. I think KCS looks like it has an edge for on school facilities but I’m not convinced DS is going to be too bothered.

Both are clearly academic but I have a nagging doubt that the pressure will be even higher (too high?) at KCS. Curriculum look very similar as do subjects offered.

KCS sports ground is closer for us. Think DS prefers RGS but only because that is the one in his head from when we started as DD is at school in Guildford. I think the academic scholarship at RGS will be great for his self confidence but I’m not sure there are any other benefits.

And that’s as about as far we got. Great to have a choice, and he has really done brilliantly. Wasn’t expecting it tbh.

And then I come full circle and wonder if I was rash to discount Hampton so quickly.

Where is everyone else’s heads?

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FlyingPandas Sat 13-Feb-21 20:26:53

Thank you @Esher2021, a great idea.

We are deliberating between Hampton and RGS. To be absolutely honest, I think any of these schools will be amazing, academically and in terms of extra curricular opportunities. But to quote someone on one of the 11+ threads - if all seems more or less equal between schools, go with the one that has the easiest journey! I don't think you can underestimate the difference that will make to the DC. They are the ones who have to do that daily journey, after all.

So for us, on that basis, it has to be Hampton. To get to RGS, DS would have to do a 45 minute walk to the station (or more realistically, let's face it, get a lift from mum or dad!), then get the train to Guildford, then walk the further 20 minutes or so to RGS. And then the same in reverse.

Alternatively, one of the Hampton/LEH school buses literally goes from a stop 5 minutes away from our house grin.

I've read all the advice on the different threads and I know that there is an argument for public transport being ultimately more flexible and giving DC a broader 'life experience' than a school bus - but our family reality is that DH and I both work, and have to juggle the school/college/extra curricular needs of three DC. The attraction of DS being able to walk to and from the school bus stop independently is worth it on balance compared to the RGS train faff consideration. Not just because I feel he'll be more reliant on parental lifts to and from the station if he goes to RGS, but because the Hampton journey will be far less tiring for him.

11Plus2022 Sat 13-Feb-21 21:51:17

Hi, I’ve been lurking on the SW London boys thread, as DS will be going through this next year. RGS, Hampton and KCS are easily our top three at this stage, so hope you don’t mind me joining you.

@FlyingPandas, I had an interesting discussion with the Hamptons admission team recently at a virtual open evening organised by our prep. Basically, they said they see themselves and RGS as very much on a par. They suggested that if we are much closer to RGS then it wasn’t worth even applying to Hamptons!

I do think KCS is academically a notch above the other two - certainly from a league table perspective. The other big difference is the ability to do IB for sixth form. But it’s hard to know whether that is something that would matter in the future. I have two older DC, and with the benefit of hindsight IB would have really suited one of them. @Esher2021

Older DC went straight through from junior to senior school, so we haven’t actually been through the 11plus process. A quick question if that is okay - were your DSs at a prep school, and how much did you do with them in addition to what the prep school did? I’m trying to work out how much I need to do with DS now.

*@Esher2021*, we may well have DDs at the same school!

Esher2021 Sat 13-Feb-21 21:54:48

@FlyingPandas that makes sense. Being able to walk to the stop is perfect, I think we are in a position of could walk to the station/bus but we will probably drop. In a way it is a bit difficult that for us that it is all about the same on a transport footing in terms of timing. It means I don’t think one is obvious, and for the same reason I think it means there is no obvious answer for having local friends.

I am loath to pick based on marketing material!

The league table clearly places KCS ahead but the schools do such a phenomenal job/have a great intake that I think it won’t actually make a difference for DS outcomes.

Lack of football - maybe swings away from RGS - but it isn’t a big thing as he will keep playing for his club side probably.

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RosesAndHellebores Sat 13-Feb-21 21:56:23

Mine are 26 and 22.
2 things are paramount: firstly the journey and secondly the child's wishes.
Can't speak highly enough of KCS. It was the local school and we chucked him in and he loved it but very alpha and very sporty.

Esher2021 Sat 13-Feb-21 22:01:10

@11Plus2022 state, so can’t really help on the prep question. Also this year was very different so I’m not sure how much it helps?

I get the notch above statement based on league tables for KCS, but I wonder if it is really necessary when I look at what RGS/Hampton achieve.

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11Plus2022 Sun 14-Feb-21 09:54:38

@Esher2021, I agree. If your DS has been awarded an RGS scholarship (well done!) then he is clearly very able. He is likely to do very well at all three, so it becomes about the school experience. And it’s so hard when you can’t visit the schools to see what they are like.

Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 12:26:23

We had this choice six years ago (for 13+ entry) and went with KCS and haven’t looked back. DS is now in 6th form and couldn’t be happier. He has a really great group of friends and while the academics results are truly excellent, not everyone is a genius - they are just really good at squeezing every bit of potential out of the boys. The culture is very “work hard/play hard” and I am constantly amazed at how many things DS has been involved with while still keeping on top of his work. They are a pretty competitive bunch and doing well academically is “cool” so we don’t really have to do much pushing (and he’s pretty lazy by nature so this has been fantastic). Another bonus is the addition of girls in the 6th form which I think is the perfect time to go co-Ed. Be prepared that your DS’ social life will revolve around Wimbledon though which is a bit of a hub whereas if you go to RGS if tends to be guildford. A few of DS’ friends have sisters at GHS and this doesn’t seem to be a problem from a logistical point of view as they all take the same train line. We rarely have to drive to the main school but we do have to pick up from the sports ground fairly frequently but they are actually easier to access than the RGS ground which involve driving through guildford town centre. It’s a lovely choice to have to make though as all three schools are excellent.

Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 12:29:19

PS we are based in Esher/claygate so have a similar journey to the one you will have.

Esher2021 Sun 14-Feb-21 12:30:35

Thanks - yes we just watched all the videos and read the website again. As DS said it doesn’t really help. We always liked the tours by a current student, I know that impression you get is defined by who you get for your tour but it makes the a difference when you try and imagine fit.

We might not be closer to making a choice, but we keep reminding ourselves we are lucky to be able to choose and it not be made for us.

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Esher2021 Sun 14-Feb-21 12:34:59

@Yossahughes in terms of boys (and I guess now girls) - do find many are local to you/us? It feels like all these types of schools pull from quite a wide geographic area.

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Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 12:52:28

@esher2021 I have found the boys schools pull from a much wider geographic spread than the girls schools as there are less boys schools and competition for places at the “top” ones is much fiercer. There were around 10 boys in DS’ year on the school coach from this area but they actually didn’t become his main friendship group...but this hasn’t actually been a problem as they tend to have gatherings at each other’s houses or in Wimbledon and DS has gotten used to jumping on the train to meet up with friends and sometimes they all come here - They do joke that when they come here that they have “come to the country”! Now the girls have arrived they are also from a very wide geographic spread. I don’t it would be any easier at Hampton or Rgs...although I do think that perhaps it’s harder to co-ordinate your social life if you go to Hampton as there is no obvious place for boys to hang out.

buzzybeekeeper Sun 14-Feb-21 13:41:59

Thank you @Esher2021 for starting the thread - a great help! We sound like we are in the same boat as you - we have a place at RGS and KCS and are weighing up options. Interested in everyone's thoughts - KCS is leading academically (according to the league tables at least) and there are lots of very positive write-ups from other parents, but I'm very interested in when there was a switch as historically boys from my DS' school went to KCS if they did not get into RGS yet boys now seem to be opting for KCS over RGS.
There is something to me that makes KCS feel a bit more airy and cosmopolitan as opposed to RGS that feels overtly traditional and maybe a little stuffy? Any views on which may be more pastoral? It is very difficult to make a choice when we've hardly been able to visit properly.

FlyingPandas Sun 14-Feb-21 14:04:47

Someone on the girls' 11+ thread has put a really useful post on this morning about helping to decide between school choices so have copied / pasted the majority of her text below - @Esher2021 might this be a useful approach for you?

It is so hard when parents and children cannot visit schools properly. We are lucky really that we have a clear preference in Hampton and all the logistical factors help to balance that preference out....but I still have moments of thinking ooh actually would RGS offer a better experience? I think it's natural when you have a choice to agonise over that choice a bit! Does your DS have a preference at all?

************************************************************
For those trying to decide between offers, one of the things I found useful was creating a decision-making table so I could make an objective decision based on all factors, not just academics and reputation. Sometimes I think it’s possible to prefer one school with your head and another school with your heart!

Using Excel, I listed the schools in a column (i.e. equivalent of y-axis) and listed all the most important criteria in a row (i.e. equivalent of x-axis). Then I assigned a score for each of these criteria against the particular school. For some criteria I double-weighted the score to give that issue more magnitude – for instance, journey time. I also gave a school extra marks where they had a special/niche offering that was relevant to my DD, such as tuition in a particular instrument (but it could be a new science building, an onsite swimming pool, or direct access to the river for rowing, etc.).

Everyone will have their own list of essential criteria but the ones I used were: ease of travel, academics, school fees, any niche offering, local friends, size of grounds, ties with boys’ schools, and facilities.

The final ranking for each school in some cases surprised me and helped me re-appraise a school in a more rounded way. In particular I think we can become too overly-focused on league tables as that’s the main (visual) way that schools are compared against each other, when actually things like local friends and travel time will be just as significant in the life of a DC. And for many, it will be affordability as this is likely to impact the whole family.

nervousnelly8 Sun 14-Feb-21 14:12:24

We are still a decade away from having to bring in this position. But I have adult friends from all 3 schools. All went to great unis and are nice, well-balanced people. I really don't think you can make a bad choice here!

Jumpalicious Sun 14-Feb-21 14:53:03

We have a similar dilemma, but kings, Hampton and Whitgift. We will probably base it on distance (so kings). But things we are considering: Whitgift more socially and economically diverse. Hampton, similar facilities to kings but much further for us, so probably going to turn it down. Also not keen on Hampton’s architecture (I’m an architect!), realise that won’t matter to many others... but kings and Whitgift aesthetically please me :-). At the end of the day, all would be great, as @nervousnelly8 says!

RosesAndHellebores Sun 14-Feb-21 15:01:12

Gosh @jumpalicious I spent 10 years going backwards and forwards round KCS and never recall thinking the buildings were aesthetically pleasing.

On balance I've heard of more quieter/sensitive boys being unhappy at KCS than at Hampton. Had we been closer to Hampton, I suspect we'd have sent DS there. For us KCS was our local school. And very good it was too. I think we didn't particularly benefit because the schools transitioned from the Evans's to new management in DS's third year. I was always very impressed with Gérard Silverlock who I thought was a very fair and nice man who had a great deal of humility about him.

Jumpalicious Sun 14-Feb-21 15:02:42

@RosesAndHellebores they have a whole new block now, maybe even two? Really lovely. Can imagine pre update it was not quite so exciting ;-)

Jumpalicious Sun 14-Feb-21 15:04:32

On the Hampton front, very down to earth parents (or at least those I know are!). Don’t know any kings parents. @RosesAndHellebores can you give any insights? What’s the culture like? Thank you!!

Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 15:14:21

Compared to the parents at some of the local prep schools in and around Esher I find the parents at KCS incredibly normal and down to earth. The boys themselves are also pretty normal and don’t seem to covet designer clothes or expensive things (if anything that sort of stuff is mocked). One thing that has also stood out is that they are a very tolerant and gentlemanly bunch of boys - of course you get the usual cliques that centre around common interests like sport and drama but I have never noticed a social hierarchy so to speak. Everyone let’s everyone be themselves and there is no pressure to conform to a KCS stereotype.

Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 15:22:21

@rosesandhellebores I would concur with your observation about Hampton - a few KCS parents have boys at both HAmpton and KCS and have said that the sporty alpha boys rule the roost a bit at Hampton (although this view comes from parents who have sent their sporty alpha boys to Hampton and consequently see this as a positive! )

RosesAndHellebores Sun 14-Feb-21 16:10:20

@Yossahughes I think you may have misread. IME (albeit 10 years out of date as DS is 26 now) Hampton was the gentler school.

Regarding the culture/demographics of parents I'm probably not the best person to ask because I worked and was never part of the lunching mothers clique. However, I would say there was a middle rump of lawyers/accountants, some exceptionally wealthy folk: bankers, entrepreneurs and/or inherited and families who lived relatively modestly with two working parents and made sacrifices for perhaps two dc or an only child - I would put local Drs in that category. Several families with three or four boys there though and only one working parent.

I remember only a very small minority of single or divorced families although a handful of ds's parents separated as dc reached the older teen years.

Quite a high number of Asian families who were very westernised and many boys with at least one European/US/Antipodean parent.

I think the boys did clock the differences but there was less tolerance of the overtly materialistic, gratuitous shows of wealth than for those who were less privileged. I can't say anyone was less than comfortable bearing in mind the cost of property within a 10 mile radius but most boys were pretty local with just a few coming from Surrey or North of the river.

I'm glad we did it in the early noughties when it was all a bit less intense. I recall a primary parent berating me for not applying to St Paul's and being stunned that my reasoning was that KCS was a short bus ride from the end of our road! We only applied for one school when DS was 7/8! If he hadn't got in we would have had to cast our net more widely.

Yossahughes Sun 14-Feb-21 16:42:59

@rosesandhellebores oops! My mistake...totally misread your post! Maybe things have changed over the past few years...I can only speak about KCS though as that’s where DS is...all my knowledge of Hampton is 2nd hand. Perhaps some current Hampton parents can give some views?

FlyingPandas Sun 14-Feb-21 17:07:30

Tbh I’m kind of assuming that any school - whether state, independent, selective or non selective - will have a cohort of alpha sporty boys who rule the roost to some extent. That in itself wouldn’t worry me about Hampton (or RGS, KCS or any of the others) as long as the boys are not ALL alpha sporty types and as long as DS can find some geeky boys to be friends with!

I don’t know any current Hampton parents IRL but I had a couple of PMs on here from current Hampton parents when I expressed concern about uber-sportiness there on the boys’ 11+ thread....both said that their non sporty boys are very happy there. I am sure there are all types at all schools to be fair.

11Plus2022 Sun 14-Feb-21 17:35:45

@Yossahughes, if you don’t mind me asking, how well do the girls integrate into the Sixth Form at KCS? We’re considering it for DD, who is undecided about whether she wants to stay where she is for Sixth Form.

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