Cheltenham Ladies College

(67 Posts)
onebananatwobanana Thu 30-Jan-14 13:37:16

Can anyone with a DD at this school give me an up to date view? Would love to hear about going at 11 vs 13, academic pressure and quality of teaching, sport and extra curricular, how integrated the non UK based students are - and are there more non uk based students in the 6th form as there is an additional intake then, how is the pastoral care, how's the new head getting on? How does it compare to Wycombe Abbey, Downe House etc etc

Thank you.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 30-Jan-14 15:18:49

My experience is a little out of date in that the last girl left a couple of years ago but I have acted as UK Guardian to a number of expat friends' DDs who came to UK schools and CLC impressed me the most. The last Head made a very determined effort to develop a strategy, seeking advice from teachers in International Schools, on handling the mix of UK and overseas schools. In other schools there is a danger that other pupils, and indeed staff, and even one Head in my experience, treat those from other cultures as stereotypes and that is when you get tribes sticking in exclusive cliques speaking their own language. CLC will not tolerate that whilst valuing cultural difference. It is recognised overseas as achieving the best level of integration. It is also the choice of the expat teachers I know. All the girls I have known go through there, 7 now, have been happy and have done well.

soul2000 Thu 30-Jan-14 16:10:41

Is that "Integration" with the local Community , and the "State School" kids then ?......

onebananatwobanana Thu 30-Jan-14 18:02:33

Thanks Shooting for your comments. Anyone else got any views they can add, especially if you have a DD at the school?

Shootingatpigeons Thu 30-Jan-14 18:04:05

Soul Well I was referring to the integration between home and overseas students within the school obviously since that was the question and I made it clear I was addressing it hmm But since you mention it, yes, actually www.cheltladiescollege.org/home/SearchForm?Search=community&action_results=Go Part of the attraction to the expat parents that I know is the community involvement and the fact that the school isn't hidden away behind high walls as the others mentioned here are. The Boarding Houses are in other parts of the towns and the girls actually have to walk to school and through the town. They are not hidden and protected from the real world. It surprised me just how down to earth the school is.

Perhaps you are unaware that if you are an expat, even one returning here, you have no or very little chance of getting into a state school. There is no process for applying until you are back resident at an address in this country, even if you own a house and can prove you are coming back, so you can't even plan and are always reliant on waiting list places arising, which they don't around here. My friends whose daughters went there are teachers, have given many years to the state system, but when their daughters are unhappy in overseas schools for whatever valid reasons, they had no state option and they have appreciated the option of CLC.

As far as overseas students are concerned, they don't haven't a state option either but in these global times it does the UK a lot of good that they come here to learn and go back with hopefully positive perceptions and that ability to operate between our two cultures. Hopefully if a school has effective strategies as CLC does, that will work with the Brit pupils as well.

Sorry OP for hijacking the thread but Soul is doing the rounds tonight and doesn't appreciate it isn't all black and white, there are shades of grey.

soul2000 Thu 30-Jan-14 19:37:49

shooting pigeons. I actually met two delightful 16 year old girls from there when I was on holiday in the South Of France.

There were lovely but totally "Jolly Hockey Sticks" and naive to the real world , which is great if you have " Upper Middle Class Multi Millonaire Parents which both had". When invited on to one of their parents yachts, they served the sandwiches (Which they Made) and wine beautifully.

However its not real life ( Maybe for them) is it.. P.S If I had a DD and the money I would not hesitate in sending her there , but that is down to the faults of the state system, and the importance of the old school tie.

summerends Thu 30-Jan-14 19:52:35

I can pass on some second hand (but probably reasonably accurate) current information whilst you are waiting for the 'real deal' onebanana. Quite a few pupils joining at 13, particularly boarders and they are said to integrate well. Quality of teaching is supposed to be generally good but with some weaker elements (rumours that English teaching is variable for example), I would assume that is the same at Wycombe Abbey? Very good sport, drama, art and other extracurricular opportunities, girls do have to choose to concentrate on one team sport in their later years but the winter team sports are not dominated by lacrosse as in some girls' schools. Music groups are probably more available for the top end musicians.
The girls have a fair amount of set homework and are expected to get (rather than congratulated for) top grades. I am not sure how much they are taught to think outside the curriculum rather than just loaded with work and if Wycombe Abbey is better for this.
The more recent perception is that the balance is perhaps now too much towards overseas / high achieving Asian students and this does colour the atmosphere of certain boarding houses and the academic achievements of school generally but I don't know what the proportions are. The new head is said to be a positive influence.

NigellasDealer Thu 30-Jan-14 19:57:31

soul on the one hand you are sounding pretty chippy and then you are saying you would send a daughter to such a school...
so actually you sound jealous and petty

soul2000 Thu 30-Jan-14 20:07:12

Nigella. I understand and know what a fantastic school it is . The fact though is that to much your life chances and expectations are down to which school you have been educated in.

This is something i don't understand about Mumsnet who are broadly in support of wycombe Abbey/ Cheltenham /Harrow . E.T.C , but mostly vehemently opposed to Grammar Schools.....

Lioninthesun Thu 30-Jan-14 20:08:02

Soul - if you thought they were naive and 'jolly hockey sticks' which you seem to see as a bad thing, why on earth did you accept their hospitality? It sounds as though they were being kind and you have thrown it back in their faces (on here at least!). Sorry to hijack. My grandmother went here and my great aunt was head of Geog - so have a sideline interest smile.

NigellasDealer Thu 30-Jan-14 20:10:46

well i attended the sister school in London for some years and am grateful for that.
(miss buss and miss beale, cupids darts do not feel)
I know plenty of people who attended Comprehensive school and did just fine in later life.

soul2000 Thu 30-Jan-14 20:22:56

lion. Its fantastic delightful , old fashioned to be "Jolly Hockey sticks".

If you can get though life like that , well you are a "Very Lucky person" .
there is absolutely nothing wrong with being a "Jolly Hockey Sticks type of person.

Their Parents went on to tell me what a good head "Vicky Tuck" was, who had just announced she was leaving . One of the girls had got an A in As Maths at 15 so was a diligent hard worker and a credit .

Stressedbutblessed Fri 31-Jan-14 05:18:09

Have 2 of my Dds close friends have just joined CLC Y7.
One is not enjoying it at all. Has been placed with overseas students even tho she herself is overseas - she is English so she feels excluded. She is finding the curriculum hard going but in fairness she isn't one of the brightest by a long shot and she isn't sporty- she is enjoying however the chance to do non academic subjects for the first time. She has so far spent many weekends out of school as she doesn't enjoy the environment.

Friend number 2 parents and child happy so far. feel it's well balanced and not too much pressure.
Both girls were not overly academic.
Cheltenham does lots of marketing activities out here and it is a preferred school for Asians. I'm not sure about the % but I'm guessing reasonably high.

3rd friend left CLC year 9 as parents didn't feel the sciences were at the level she needed to be to enter medicine so transferred to a USA boarding school as she wasn't accepted into Wycombe.

3 girls we know at Wycombe are all v competitive, very smart and driven. All are GCSE year now. I wouldn't say they are aggressive but are the ones who were top 2% academically. The pressure there does seem to be intense however they all totally love the school.

The most important thing is really whether a particular school is right for your child. Everyone has unique experiences and requirements.

Shootingatpigeons Fri 31-Jan-14 07:36:47

stressed the parents should speak to the school. One of the girls I supported had a problem with a group of overseas students in her house and the school acted very quickly and moved her to another boarding house as well as taking action on the behaviour. I am surprised a house is all overseas though? It was the practise to achieve a mix in the past.

Shootingatpigeons Fri 31-Jan-14 07:37:29

And I agree that Wycombe Abbey is not for the faint hearted.

Stressedbutblessed Fri 31-Jan-14 08:10:16

Morning shooting - yes they have gone over this week (as it's cny) to discuss with the school. Surprisingly there was no exam for CLC for the O/S applicants at 11+ Which is why she was sent there. Really sad as she is quite miserable.

OP - forgot to add another of Dds close friends was new to Downe House at Y7 this Sept is really enjoying the school.seems the pastoral care is excellent and teaching excellent. Both the girls at CLC complained the campus is very large and spread out but girl at Downe House feels it is very inclusive.
Another friend just entered St Mary's Ascot at 13 and loves the environment as it has very good balance of Drama/ art and sports.

Anyone any experience of St Swithuns???

summerends Fri 31-Jan-14 08:29:34

I agree with Stressed that the academic ability range seems quite wide for such a perceived as a 'high flying academic school'. I suppose that makes their results particularly impressive. The way the school buildings are spread out must become a plus when a child becomes more confident as I imagine it is less claustrophobic in older years. With regards the science teaching, I have heard that it was very strong so it just goes to show how variable anecdotal experience can be.
I'm not surprised by the experience of your DD's friend Stressed, I had heard that the choice of boarding house in that regard was important.
Is the strength of Wycombe Abbey due to the selected cohort of very bright girls or is the teaching as stimulating as for SPGS or Westminster?

I have friends there, and know a few teachers.

The friends who have been through the school loved it, had an amazing time.

I use their gym facilities, and its good.

Lots, and lots, and lots of Chinese students, who do all tend to stick together, but plenty of othet ethnic groups so it never caused my friends a problem.

wholesomemum Fri 31-Jan-14 08:41:08

dear ladies who are having a go at soul about being "chippy". Here's a reasonable fact...in discussing these schools...not just minor public schools but major ones, in fact, you are talking about joining the ranks of the pinnacle of the global elite as far as schooling goes. Which is, frankly, not how most people in the whole entire giant world live and nor do most of them want to. I have worked in one such school and many of my university friends attended them. My father is self made but we went to state so straddled both worlds. I can confirm that the girls who attend such schools ARE jolly hockey sticks to anyone not from this tiny cohort of top schools. And, to be frank, from the bottom of my soul I would not send my girls to one...even though this may well be entirely appropriate for people whose families belong in those circles. For exactly that reason: the liberal and usually pretty rude use of the phrase "chippy" which assumes that everyone else should want to be like them. Unforts all power elites think like this but you know...life can be far more interesting, nurturing, colourful and supportive when you don't feel compelled to buy into your community and social circles. I loved many Cheltenham girls etc. When I met them but pitied their naivety (they were absolutely at the mercy of rich boys from Eton or Harrow who treated them and their precious virginities like expensive disposable Dishrags) and their arrogance (assuming they were the best when in fact copious spoonfeeding goes on in such environments and of course, the end result was that at university they were all outperformed by brighter kids from state 6th forms like Hills Road who'd been taught to think more independently...and it was such kids who went on to do inspiring innovative things or make movies whilst most of the private schoolers ended up in the city). One girl couldn't even wash up. They had no skills for dealing with the general public and were rude to all the cleaning and catering staff and worried about going into Internacionale (a cheap clothes shop) in case it we as too "chav". I can also tell you categorically that as a teacher at both stare and a top private girls there was a far higher incidence of bullying, eating disorders, self-harm and drugs at top girls schools. My advice as one who's seen beneath the well-constructed veneers, for what it's worth? Would be, if you can afford top flight schools, opt for somewhere mixed where the genders grow up learning to respect one another like Bootham or Marlborough. Because those have been the most savvy private school girls I have come across. And stop using the word chippy. We really don't all want to be part of an antiquated power structure that tends to make its members rich but unhappy.

yegodsandlittlefishes Fri 31-Jan-14 08:53:43

My DCs are at the local grammars. CLC has a fantastic reputation, wonderful buildings in an idylic setting. I've only heard good things about it. The school runs beginner sessions for their girls at the sports club my DCs attend and they always seem polite, happy & healthy. They sometimes stand out at the club as being not particlularly clued up about the sport and caring more about their hair and nails than care of equipment (but tbf they are the beginners, not the elite).

Shootingatpigeons Fri 31-Jan-14 08:56:56

I could add that that experience at CLC was in stark contrast to that of a friend's quite geeky DD at Wycombe Abbey where the pastoral Head of Year 7, who was an old girl and though young got up in tweed and brogues like a character out of Bunty, decided that the solution to having an attention seeking bully in the year was to put her in the dorm with her on the basis some of her gentle geekyness "might rub off" on her. shock it didn't, she made her life a misery, an obvious outcome you would have thought hmm I have heard quite a few tales of a "sink or swim" approach to pastoral care there and girls being airlifted out but I also know of girls who love it. They are all girls with a strong work ethic as well as enjoying that slightly anachronistic and twee uncompromising boarding school experience. The Boarding Houses at CLC are more of an attempt at a modern home from home and speaking to the House Mistresses always felt like speaking to a wise aunt, experienced, caring, pragmatic and reasonable.

However I cannot believe the teaching at any of these schools is other than stimulating.

Shootingatpigeons Fri 31-Jan-14 09:07:53

Wholesome you are anything but your user name. What a tasteless offensive and sexist post. I think it is totally inappropriate and deeply offensive to make comments like that about teenage girls, any teenage girls, whatever their background, state or private. Reported.

summerends Fri 31-Jan-14 09:14:42

Wholesome there is of course some truth in what you say. However I would just qualify your point about "being taught to think" at sixth forms such as Hill's Road. Successful students from some state schools may consist more of "self starters" who of course will flourish at university and in work. However don't forget that certain sixth forms are full of the children of very bright academics and therefore it may be difficult to separate out that influence from the quality of teaching they get with regards their ability to think.

Needmoresleep Fri 31-Jan-14 09:38:35

With boarding the decision, surely, has to be a combination of child and school. DD knows a surprising number of "failed" boarders. Girls who did not settle and had to be moved, or boys who are now frantically applying to London sixth forms having left to board at 13.

I don't think there is a hard and fast rule about which schools are happier and which not. Worse perhaps to be in a school where everyone else seems happy.

I recognise the profile of nice, polite, hard-working but sheltered girls, though the ones I know better were at St Mary's Ascot. In most cases I parents have chosen boarding as it provides a gentler environment than West London day schools. We also know one or two who have started boarding aged 13, possibly to take them out of a party culture. (That said my non-boarding DC seem to have avoided parties pretty much altogether, whereas the WA girl DD knows seems to have a pretty frantic social life when at home.)

With overseas students much, presumably, will depend on why they are there. If they are looking for top notch grades and entry to a prestigious University, either in the UK or US, and their parents have sacrificed to give them the opportunity, it will not be surprising if they give a lower priority to wider school life. Especially if the school has selected the strongest academic candidates, those most likely to win the glittering prizes, and not paid much attention to participation in Extracurricular. I might look at the ethnic mix in sports teams and the school play, compared with the mix for Oxbridge entry to help reassure myself that there are not two distinct groups, and then ask how it is managed. (This is a genuine problem, however the worse affected can be sociable girls from a dominant overseas minority who want to mix across the year group but who find themselves pigeon holed from the start.)

onebananatwobanana Fri 31-Jan-14 13:19:23

Thank to everyone who has contributed. All very interesting points of view and I don't think anyone would label my DD or us as a family "jolly hockey sticks"!! That aside, the vibe I'm getting here is the choice of house is important and to look outside the maths and physics depts to the extra curricular side to see how integrated all the different nationalities are. We were told that the new head has introduced a system where they choose the house once you have a place in order to try and prevent cliqueyness or one house becoming "musical' or "sporty". Interesting comment about the teaching - clearly the results are excellent, so maybe it is thorough but uninspiring? Lots of food for thought and questions to write down and check out.

Please continue to contribute!

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