Honeywell School or local private prep?

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claphamnorthmummy
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Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby claphamnorthmummy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:42 am

As the state school admission date approaches my husband and I are constantly debating about where to send our first child (girl) to school. She has a place at a local private prep school that we really like but she is also very likely to get a place at Honeywell due to where we live. However, we are in two minds about where to send her. We like both schools very much but they are obviously very different. If we do down the private route that is a large financial commitment so we have to be certain about that choice. Our concerns with Honeywell are the big class sizes (my daughter is quite shy) and I worry that she might get a bit lost and left behind. We are also concerned about having to tutor her further up the school for the 11 plus as we will defintley be going down the independent route at that stage. Are there any Honeywell parents who coudl share their experiences? Has anyone taken their child out at 8 years and got them in to a private school locally - is that a viable option these days? I would be very grateful for any thoughts/comments . Thank you.
SW12Pops
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby SW12Pops » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:27 am

Ok I hope I can help - I've seen a lot of this.

This is what to consider (from my own view)

1) the financial commitment is HUGE. And it goes up every year by 5%! And if you have more kids it then doubles. Do not underestimate this. I saw many many many families who could just make it work in reception and then pull their children out of school due to financial reasons later. Ideally you have one year's fees in the bank and are confident that you can make this commitment for years. And years. And years.

Trust me - this is the biggy.

2) the environments are different. Parents at Belleville and Honeywell (and Raventone and Wix and Beatrix Potter and Earlsfield and and...) will tell you that their schools are 'just like a prep school'.

They are wrong.

The class sizes are smaller, the facilities better, the trips better, the specialist teaching better etc etc.

But almost none of this matters.

To be honest, all children up to 7 years old are effectively in day care with some learning and after that, even thought it gets more serious, you can close that gap with tutors and we have so many weekend activities in the area (sport/music/drama/swimming) that there is, I believe, almost no benefit to the child to being in a good local state over a prep. My children are prep and I love it but I know that the main reason the children are there is for the...

3) parents! It took me AGES to work this out. The choice between a good private school and a good state school is almost entirely down to the parents wanting the brand. Remember my children are at a prep school and I didn't realise that for many parents it's a brand like a handbag or a car. They want to be able to think they've made it with little Johnny or Jessica in a prep school so that they've arrived. Be careful which prep school you choose - some have GHASTLY parents - I mean seriously seriously horrible (looking at you royal schools!) who will name drop second homes and third homes like they are going out of fashion. Again I am not bitter, my own children are at a prep and love it, but be prepared for the "where are you summering this year?" type questions and (and this is a direct quote) "we had to find a home for a million quid due to tax reasons and seeing as we have the chalet and the summer place we thought that Norfolk sounded so much FUN!". I know this sounds chippy (and I don't want it too) but I saw so many families who thought that the school fees were the whole deal only to then realise that their kids felt poor as they didn't have a driver! It's grammar school kids at Oxbridge in the fifties type stuff. But with with X5s!

So this is my decision tree on it...

1) can you afford it? If Y then go to...
2) is your child "normal"? if Y go to state and consider private for secondary
3) if you child has special needs (and shy isn't a special need) then check out if they will accommodate them at a local prep then maybe go private.

Hope that helps - as I say - it's served us well but it is SO not for everyone.
Alchemy
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Alchemy » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:32 pm

Take Honeywell if you can get a space, and save yourself a fortune. It's a brilliant school, amazing teachers, and class size is not an issue -- quite the opposite, I'd say, a larger choice of friends probably suits a shy child.
rooting4tooting
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby rooting4tooting » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:37 pm

If you are intending to send your children to independent secondary schools, start in the independent sector to free up state places for those that will benefit from them.
SW12Pops
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby SW12Pops » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:59 pm

If you are intending to send your children to independent secondary schools, start in the independent sector to free up state places for those that will benefit from them.
I think that everyone that goes to a good local state school will benefit from it - won't they?
Lulubear
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Lulubear » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:54 pm

Some good suggestions from SW12pops. However, I think the 'talk at local preps has been exaggerated somewhat. I have a child in one of those 'ghastly' ones and yes there are some parents with a lot more wealth than us and some do talk about it. However, I don't think young children notice this. In fact, I think this is more of a problem at private secondary school where they will start to become more aware of who is rich and who isn't! I don't think of our child's school as 'ghastly' by the way, it is actually very good.

On the practical side, I think you can get to a good private secondary from Honeywell with some tutoring from year 4/5 onwards. The overall 'education' at a private prep may be better but the private secondary school entrance exams at 11 focus on only a few subjects: English, Maths and reasoning (which is basically a broad test of intelligence/ability). Therefore, it is relatively easy to home in on extra practice and tutoring on those subjects.

Judging by feedback I am getting from parents with children who have moved on to private secondary, the preparation at prep schools means they tend to find the transition to private secondary schools relatively easy and to be well-versed in the range of subjects they are expected to study. From a state school the preparation may not have covered the broader range of subjects in as much depth and you would most likely have focused exam preparation for the private school entrance exams on English and Maths. Therefore, your child might have to work harder initially on the wider range of subjects they will need to cover at secondary school once they get there to catch up with some of those from the private preps.
SW12Pops
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby SW12Pops » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:04 pm

I think you can get to a good private secondary from Honeywell with some tutoring from year 4/5 onwards.
Absolutely.

Couldn't agree more.
livegreen
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby livegreen » Thu Mar 29, 2018 3:12 pm

Firstly Honeywell, as an example, gets more Children into Allyns than any of the local prep schools both in terms of gross numbers and % of children applying. If you want a mixed independent secondary bare that in mind.

Ask local tutors - as many children come from Private Preps as local state schools - it’s an arms race and a myth to believe that if you go Private you will not use tutors.

Sport - it’s probably true that there are more PE resources at local Private preps. However Honeywell and Belleville will, and do generally compete and beat the preps at most sports. Why - because the kid all also attend all the local sports clubs and play just as much football, rugby, cricket etc as at weekends and after school and it’s at these clubs rather than school that they learn to love sport.

SW12pops is probably correct in their observations on why many choose the badge of Private Preps - especially those that claim to be selecting on academic ability at such a young age.

If you care about education and are aspirational for your child then the primary school you choose will have little impact on the overall outcome of your child.

Note - a recent study conformed that this was also true of secondary schools so I wouldn’t be too concerned about the 11+ either. Remember we live in a bubble.
Goldhawk
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Goldhawk » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:48 pm

Moving at 8 may be an option if you are looking at a school that goes to 13
Otherwise it's occasional places only

From state you will need to tutor (or DIY) to prep for the 11+ exams
State school will not prepare them
Once a week from Y4 or Y5 is fairly normal

Lots of parents at the prep schools will be tutoring as well!
Bubs
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Bubs » Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:35 am

All good advice above.

We have done both, Honeywell until age 8 then moved to a prep - this was not our intent, it just turned out that our child would benefit from something different. Second child we’ll go Honeywell all the way through.

Both are great options.

Consider time to do the extra that is required with State, that will more often than not be done in school with Prep. However also consider the social aspect that doing extras outside of school brings.

Yes, your child gets well prepped for 11+ and a transition can be easier. But equally remember the positive discrimination in favour of state schools. This is a thing, many senior schools look v favorably on intake from a State - it makes their stats look good! Imagine a 50/50 State and private split at senior school. If that school has a prep feeder then maybe 20% will be taken from there, leaving a 30% Indy/50% State intake. Not an exact science, but for example only.

Parents and socials are a huge difference. Be honest with yourself about what you want. The badge of honour from a Prep school is a thing to some, and can lead to disinterested and uninvolved parents. Choose the prep wisely. Honeywell on this front is unrivaled for me, I’m astounded at how much the parents do, and give and what an amazing community it creates. The small catchment - and they’re doing all they can to keep it local - leads to the most heavenly existence for the kids. Walking to each others houses, kids being scooped up on the way to/home. It’s an army of help and support.

I think just be clear on your expectations. Set them too high and you’ll be disappointed. Be honest with what you want.

Honeywell is fluffy and arty and not much homework, but solid in morals and resilience and socialization and creativity. The no uniform takes some getting used to - but wow they’re savvy little dressers when they leave. They do get great results. These are bolstered by interested and educated parents (& a year of tutoring at the end for some). But what you get is special. It is a bubble, at times a little random. The children are ridiculously happy. And with a pre-teen I just wonder, if not then, when else can you experience such a thing. There’s so much time ahead for long days and hard work. Let them be little.

That said, do what’s right for your child and be unapologetic for that. We realised our eldest needed a little more, later on so we moved. The youngest seems fine to stay. I am an advocate of both - feel free to PM! xx
Muddlemoo
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Muddlemoo » Fri Mar 30, 2018 4:00 pm

Hi - we did a similar thing to the previous poster - moved our daughter when she was in year 2 from Honeywell to a local prep school and i agree with most of the points.

Our daughter wasn't very happy and i think the main problem with honeywell is that they don't move the classes about - so from day 1 until the day they leave (which is a long time!) they are in the same class - and you are with the same parents. So if you have a good class it's fantastic, but if you don't then it's a very different feel to the school. the kids do get pigeon holed - the bright one, the sporty one etc and i do feel strongly that it's good for kids to mix with other children.

I agree with the previous poster is that the parents co-operation at honeywell is unbelievable - but again, i do think it's class dependent. Some classes aren't that interested.

Obviously at a prep school you get more sport, drama, smaller class sizes etc but i honestly don't think the education is different AT ALL! to be honest my daughter will probably end up at the same secondary school but we just felt she'd be happier in the meantime, and to be honest, she really is.

The other thing i do prefer at the prep school is that you have some autonomy. As honeywell is a small catchment you are all on each others doorsteps, which is obviously wonderful in one sense, but it's a very insular world for the kids - again, class dependent.

I also think that Jane Neal, the head of Honeywell takes some beating - she's fantastic.

Please feel free to PM me and what a fab decision!!!
Bubs
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Bubs » Fri Mar 30, 2018 7:52 pm

Muddlemoo’s point on not changing classes from Reception to Yr 6 is a very good one. Valid point, and an issue for us also.
foodeditorjo
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby foodeditorjo » Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:04 am

Agree with most of these posts. Our children both went to Honeywell and it was then regarded by the Good Schools Guide as 'the best prep school in South London'. Ok, it may not have the ski trips and after-school clubs that prep schools have but in fact it does have some and it's easy enough to find others locally if you want this.

I also agree that at primary level it doesn't matter much where they go as they are all following the national curriculum. We paid for private education from 11 as at that stage many more issues come into play. Yes, you do have to have a tutor from year 4/5 but it's a minor cost compared with school fees... and the reason you need to do it is that, for example at Honeywell, they don't cover some of the maths that comes up in the entrance exams until the summer term of Year 6, so as much as anything it's to make sure your child can do all the maths that's required.

If you're looking for a secondary boarding school then I guess the local prep schools are better at feeding these, but I know from my children's years that most people who wanted private schools at the next stage got in to Alleyn's (as my daughter did, along with about 10 others!), Emanuel, Streatham and Clapham, Dulwich etc.

I also think that the parents at Honeywell are more grounded than some of the snooty ones at the prep schools - if your child is at a private school they do feel the pressure to fit in and so do the parents, so you can't just have a basic birthday party etc. Sad, but true! Good luck...
claphamnorthmummy
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby claphamnorthmummy » Sun Apr 01, 2018 8:26 pm

Thank you so much everyone for posting your extremely helpful advice and thoughts.
Flowermummy
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Re: Honeywell School or local private prep?

Postby Flowermummy » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:02 am

We have a 10 year old DD at Honeywell and a 5 year old DS at Thomas's Clapham. We moved to Wandsworth when my DD was in Y2, from abroad, and Honeywell was the best option available.
For our youngest, we had been in the area for longer and had more options available...
Would i wish my DD was at Thomas's too? Yes!...but such were our circumstances and also, i would still chose Honeywell over quite a few other local pre-preps (i know, it's a very personal choice).

My thoughts:
-like noted by others, the financial commitment of going private is substantial!
- For going private at 11+, pretty much everyone tutors (from state or private schools). Maybe children from private schools need less tutoring, i don't know...
- if going private at 11, i don't think Honeywell is worse than local pre-preps in terms of results
- the big difference, in my opinion, is the wealth of extracurricular opportunities you get at a good pre-prep: sport, drama, music, etc ... if your child has a particular talent, she/he will be able to take it much further in a private school (facilities are better, more specialised teachers, etc). I don't think this necessarily means better 11+ results, just a more rounded education and better opportunities to find something they excel in. Yes, you could try to DIY this yourself with after school clubs, but it is much harder (and even harder if both parents work full time)... if you are streets ahead in violin, for example, that will give you a lot of confidence when you are in senior school, so maybe the 11+ is not the only end game ..
- Honeywell is great and it keeps the children very happy; and the diversity is great!; but staying in the same class all the way through is not great; the feedback from teachers will never be as detailed as at a good pre-prep (where they simply have more time to observe and discuss each child's progress); and I find that in some topics (like art, drama) the kids are not stretched enough; also be aware that in the later years, some children leave to go private
- from my (limited) experience, moving to pre-prep at 8 is not easy, as it relies on another child leaving the preprep (and the trend seems to be that less people are moving to the countryside); in my opinion, this would really be the best option, as all those great preprep facilities and opportunities are rather wasted on the very young children ... but unfortunately that's not how the private school system works, and (at least locally) there isn't a preprep with an 8+ entry point

Best of luck!