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Moving to Devon - year 9 independent schools
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Coffeemorning579 · 02/05/2022 18:42

We are thinking about moving to Plymouth / Yelverton in Devon. DD will be going to yr 9 in Sept and wanted to get views on independent schools in the area. I think the choices are Plymouth College and Mount Kelly. Any views / advice? DD is bright and does ok in main subjects but is more creative and loves English, French, drama, art, music etc.

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Bighairydogs · 03/05/2022 09:05

I have a DD in current year 9 at Mount Kelly - she loves it. It’s not an amazing school in terms of academics but it’s fine for her (very middle set) - there’s loads of great extracurricular activities & she always seems to be involved in things. They have a great art/DT dept, & drama seems good. Bear in mind its main USP is swimming so if your daughter isn’t a swimmer she might get a bit bored with all the swim talk (about 1/3 of the school are on the swim programme so it’s quite a lot) I don’t know much about Plymouth College but they’re heavily into swimming too! Perhaps if you think she’s academic enough you could try Devonport High (grammar) in Plymouth- great school & free!

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Coffeemorning579 · 03/05/2022 20:49

Thanks @Bighairydogs, really helpful.

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Coffeemorning579 · 03/05/2022 20:50

Any Plymouth College views please?

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Libre2 · 05/05/2022 15:59

We’re going to have a look round Plymouth College next week for DS - also year 9 with a view from moving him from state comp. I have heard good things from several parents (and one six former) about the senior school. Apparently the pastoral care is very good. However, I have no first hand knowledge.

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Libre2 · 05/05/2022 16:00

Re the message from PP - Devonport High is very pressured. Plymouth High for Girls apparently less so but they do not automatically do a 13+ admission and both take options in year 8 whereas Plymouth College leave it until year 9.

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Coffeemorning579 · 06/05/2022 17:21

Thanks @Libre2. Not sure grammar schools would be a good fit for DD. Hope you’re visit to PC goes well.

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FromSpainToUK · 06/05/2022 22:23

I’m also interested in feedback from Mt. Kelly and Plymouth. We visited both for our 14 year old swimmer. Both schools seemed very good for different reasons. He’s starting in Sept 2022 so we have to make up our mind soon. Each school had their pros and cons, so now we’re really hoping to hear experiences from parents in both schools today. Thanks.

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Libre2 · 07/05/2022 08:50

@FromSpainToUK - where are you going to be living? I think that might be a deciding factor for me. We’re in Plymouth within walking distance of PC and the road to Tavistock can be an absolute nightmare at times.

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FromSpainToUK · 07/05/2022 10:12

Thank you. We will be in Exeter but my son will be a weekly boarder so, it’s the same distance from Plymouth and Mt. Kelly. But its hard to make up our minds without recent feedback from parents and families in both schools.

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Coffeemorning579 · 07/05/2022 11:27

@FromSpainToUK Out if interest what we’re the pros & cons you observed?
@Libre2 We are looking to move to Plymouth so contemplating the daily commute to MK is a concern for us too. We have a visit to PC booked for Monday.

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shootme69 · 07/05/2022 11:56

I've name changed for this.
I would not send my daughter to PC if she is starting YR9 in Sept 2022, any other year would be fine. The head and deputy head both have daugthers in that year and the favouritism is blatant. Regardless of talent, one of them is on every team and stars in every production, the teachers are so petrified of the parent that the child is allowed to do whatever she wants. Unless your daughter breaks into that clique you might find it disheartening to watch her continually be 2nd bush from the left in every play.
I wouldn't hesitate to send to send a boy (in any year) or a girl (in any other year) to PC because it is a brilliant school.
I have no experience of MK but know that it runs mini buses from Plymouth and that plenty of children from Plymouth attend so maybe car sharing is an option.

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Bighairydogs · 07/05/2022 19:32

@FromSpainToUK would your son be going into year 10 or 11 in sept? My dd will be year 10 in sept - the boys seem like a really nice bunch, she’s never had any issues with them and all the ones I’ve met seem very happy there. Very very good swimmers too!
like I’ve said unthread, she’s very happy there. The swim programme is somewhat relentless, and can be dispiriting if you’re not having a good season, but there are plenty of other opportunities there too.
My concern with MK before she started was that it’s very small - if you didn’t find your gang I’d imagine it could be lonely. She’s been very lucky in that she made friends very quickly but I think she wouldn’t have lasted long had that not been the case, and that’s just down to luck. I don’t know if PC is bigger but that may be something to consider.

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Libre2 · 09/05/2022 09:22

Coffeemorning579

@FromSpainToUK Out if interest what we’re the pros & cons you observed?
@Libre2 We are looking to move to Plymouth so contemplating the daily commute to MK is a concern for us too. We have a visit to PC booked for Monday.

I would be interested to hear how you find it today. We have a visit tomorrow.

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S2UK · 09/05/2022 21:45

@Coffeemorning579 and @Libre2 I changed the previous name. To answer your questions, we felt that MT was more “structured” while PC seemed more “relaxed”. What we don’t have very clear, is whether “relaxed” or “structured” are good or not good things. In other words, how does “being structured” or “being relaxed” translate in the pastoral, in the academic, and the swimming results?
More examples, the personnel at BOTH schools were super friendly and welcoming, while the House Matron in PC is an amazing person and you can tell she’s been looking after swimmers for many years, we didn’t meet House Master at MK so it’s hard to compare. The premises and facilities in MT are outstanding, we loved that the children are surrounded by nature, but of course people make the place, not facilities. However we haven’t had enough time in either place to have an overall conclusion so we joined this group to read opinions from parents in both schools. Also we need to understand that each family has its own objectives for their children and its own priorities, what works for me might not work for you… In our case, we need to weigh down those pros and cons and figure out what’s most important but sharing opinions always helps. So please feel free to share your impressions after your visit @Libre2

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S2UK · 09/05/2022 21:47

@Bighairydogs My son will also be starting Year 10 next year. Is your daughter a swimmer too?
When you say MK is very small, what do you mean?, like how small is a group? Thanks!

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Bighairydogs · 10/05/2022 11:35

@S2UK yes she is. It’s a small school in that there are only 50 or so kids in their year group (maybe a few more, but not much) so potentially could be limiting in friendship terms if you don’t find anyone you get on with in your year group. However, from year 10 onwards the houses & swim squads are mixed year groups so perhaps less of an issue going up the school than it is lower down.
I don’t know much about the boys houses etc but feel free to message me if you have any questions.

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S2UK · 10/05/2022 14:49

@Bighairydogs Thank you so much for your reply! I see what you say about it being small, but I guess that can also be a good thing when it comes to the attention and help from the coaches in training and also, regarding studying and preparing exams. Do you know if PC has same size groups or is it a much bigger school?
On the other hand, do you know if during training the coaches really film the swimmers underwater and go through their performance with them so the swimmers too can see themselves. Does this ever happen, that you know?
Thanks again for your help!!!

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Libre2 · 10/05/2022 15:36

Hi there - our visit was good today to PC. We went at lunch time which was a bit of a pain as we didn’t see any lessons but the feel of the school was lovely and calm. We are going to give DS a taster day and see where we go from here. We are not comparing with KC so can’t offer any insight.

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Bighairydogs · 11/05/2022 15:28

@S2UK yes they do that - my DD has had that done twice this year. It’s very cool to watch the video! They have it sent to them (they do 100 IM & it’s all filmed) & the coach has gone through it & marked what they need to work on etc. That year group is a really strong cohort, especially the boys - there are some incredibly talented swimmers.

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Coffeemorning579 · 11/05/2022 20:12

@shootme69 thank you for your feedback. It certainly made us reflect and as a result we also arranged to visit MK and DD had a taster day at both PC and MK.
@Libre2 @Bighairydogs @S2UK We haven’t decided yet which we will go for. We may arrange a second day at PC as half the year group and a number of teachers were away at an athletics event on the taster day so DD probably didn’t get a full picture of the teachers etc. That said, she had a great day and felt she really got on well with both the girls and boys (she’s currently at an all girls school so was worried this might be tricky). She said she felt she could see herself there. She enjoyed MK as well but didn’t get on with the other children quite as well. She had her day with year 9 (as year 8 are in the prep school across the road) so she was mindful they wouldn’t be in her year. She thought the boys were more immature than PC, but she liked the teachers. Most of the teachers she saw at PC were cover teachers (due to athletics event mentioned above). Not sure if class size is important to any of you, but we were advised that PC classes are typically 12-15 whereas MK are usually 20-22 (with bottom sets being much smaller). MK is clearly impressive with the grounds etc. but as DD pointed out that’s not really important to her and she felt the classrooms etc. were comparable. She laughed and said the grounds are there just to impress the parents! 😂 sorry for long post and Thank you for reading, hope it’s helpful.

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Libre2 · 12/05/2022 09:22

Thanks for feedback everyone, it is useful. DS is just waiting for a date for a taster day - we've requested the last week in the run up to half term as he has various other things going on this week and needs a bit of a break from anything "stressful" (as he put it!) next week. I'll see what they come back with.

As I mentioned in my PM to you @Coffeemorning579 - KC is not a contender for us due to the commute in the morning. Class sizes seem very small in PC which is good I think. We saw a math's teacher who said that her smallest group is the lower ability group which has 5 students in it.

This may be a random question, but does anyone ever do due diligence on private schools? Is there anyway of checking that they are viable and not likely to go under in the next three years?

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hockeygrass · 12/05/2022 09:50

@Libre2 , you go on to the Companies House website and put in the school name and you can see their accounts etc.

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shootme69 · 12/05/2022 10:35

Most private schools are run as charities so have to submit their financial records to the Charity Commission, PC is listed as Plymouth College and St Dunstan's Abbey. PC have had financial problems but hope to sort them by selling the Prep School site and all the children are now at the Senior School site. The last accounts show a negative movement of funds of £1.95m, this appears to be due to them overvaluing the Prep School site by £2.5m, possibly to make them look more financially sound asset wise. The site is quite small for its 570 students and located in a really grotty area of Plymouth, most activities are run offsite (athletic meets, cross country etc), lack of parking is also an issue when attending events such as parents evening.
This might read as if I have a real downer on PC but I think it is a brilliant school academically and that it's swimming program is far better/more successful that MK, I just making you aware of the niggles that can really annoy you as a parent. And you did ask about the finances.

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Libre2 · 12/05/2022 12:07

shootme69

Most private schools are run as charities so have to submit their financial records to the Charity Commission, PC is listed as Plymouth College and St Dunstan's Abbey. PC have had financial problems but hope to sort them by selling the Prep School site and all the children are now at the Senior School site. The last accounts show a negative movement of funds of £1.95m, this appears to be due to them overvaluing the Prep School site by £2.5m, possibly to make them look more financially sound asset wise. The site is quite small for its 570 students and located in a really grotty area of Plymouth, most activities are run offsite (athletic meets, cross country etc), lack of parking is also an issue when attending events such as parents evening.
This might read as if I have a real downer on PC but I think it is a brilliant school academically and that it's swimming program is far better/more successful that MK, I just making you aware of the niggles that can really annoy you as a parent. And you did ask about the finances.

We are very local to the "grotty area" (it's really not that bad, I promise you!) so parking will not be an issue as we can walk, but yes, I can see how that would be really annoying otherwise.

I knew about the sale of the prep site, which is huge for a prep site (and actually is in a really random, grotty area of Plymouth albeit walled in) but wasn't sure how far the sale had got. I guess my question really is whether it looks like a safe bet going forward!

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S2UK · 18/05/2022 21:55

Thank you @Bighairydogs and @Coffeemorning579 for your feedback. It always helps to hear other opinions. We’re definitely doing the trial with our son in both schools, so I guess that’ll help us make up our minds. It’s definitely an important decision to make.

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