Heatherton House School Independent Inspectorate Report
Scottish Literacy Report
Scottish Numeracy Report
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At Heatherton we believe that primary education provides the foundation for the whole of a child's life. We are large enough to have high-quality facilities, yet small enough to know each child really well and treat everyone as an individual. With small class sizes and a friendly caring atmosphere we give girls an excellent start in life and achieve high academic standards. Heatherton House School is a member of the Berkhamsted Schools Group.
Heatherton House School Reviews
BY PARENTS, FOR PARENTS
“An excellent school that understands the individual child.”
07 January 2019AUTHOR: A Parent
I thought I would write a review of my daughter’s school having read the other reviews on this page (whilst researching boys’ schools). I can start by saying I am a big fan of Heatherton but when I was choosing schools for my then baby son and toddler daughter, I had real reservations about Heatherton and whether it could offer the opportunities and facilities of a bigger school, so I understand some of the concerns that other parents have had. Now that I have watched my children begin their education and learnt more myself, with a daughter in Heatherton from nursery to prep and a son who went to Heatherton’s nursery then to reception and pre – prep at a much bigger school with all those sporting facilities you think you want for them, it is my son’s larger school that is disappointing me. My son is not thriving in the environment of bigger and shinier. My daughter skips from strength to strength. I’ve realised for me it is as much about the atmosphere and quality of the school as the size and equipment on site. At Heatherton they look at how the school can support the child. At my son’s school they seem to want to change the child to fit the school and resist change.
I would say that if you are making the school choice, go and see them for yourself, as instinct counts for so much. You might also find a look at a school’s facebook and twitter feed helpful in seeing what they are doing. To try and particularise what works for me about Heatherton:
1. A tremendously nurturing environment which means literally every girl is known in the school. This is allied with a very sophisticated tracking and pastoral care system which means the girls are all focussed on at various times in their school career. I have watched my own daughter (and others) thrive in this supportive environment so that she adores school in a way that I think will support her throughout her school life and beyond. She has an easy confidence about having a go which I feel is invaluable. Children do not get lost in numbers as they might at larger schools. Having a child who weeps when I drop him off, I cannot tell you the value of seeing your daughter skip into school each day and feeling that she is cared for and noticed. I have found the staff supportive and impressively knowledgeable. I first noticed this when my son was in EYD and a very impressive teacher (who is still there) showed a depth of knowledge, care and practical support about my son’s development and character that has remained with me ever since. Since the change of Head a few years ago, there has been some really good recruitment too and an understanding when things need to change.
2. Academic skill and sophistication. It’s easy to assume that the care and nurture is not matched by academic rigour. That is not the case in my experience. But the acdamic achievement is quiet and subtle and done with very up to date and clever methodology e.g. approaches based on research from Professor Guy Claxton about motivating the girls through skills based learning. There is no formal streaming, so far as I am aware, and no obvious pressure to “hothouse” the girls, but there is a clever system for testing, supporting and stretching the girls within each subject at any given time done through the types of questions they are asked in class. This is allied with some great fun learning ideas – one of my daughter’s favourites has been learning about the fire of London by building cardboard houses and setting fire to them. For a small, non-selective school they punch well above their weight in the various academic competitions in the area (e.g maths, computing). They run selective extra after school sessions in specific topics to support areas of leaning and “Challenge club” to stretch. They offer individual instrument lessons from year 2 onwards. In so far as you can compare genders and different schools, my daughter’s level of academic progress is greater than my son’s at the equivalent stage and she has also been offered more trips and extra curricular activity.
3. Their ability to prepare the girls for secondary school is striking. The school has a fantastic record in predicting the girls’ likely success at the 11+ (regularly 100% accuracy) so that you get plenty of guidance on where your daughter might go after year 6. The feedback from former parents that I have chatted to is that their daughter has been really well prepared for secondary school in the state or private sector.
4. Berkhamsted School links – this means the girls have an advantage ahead of the general entrance by taking the exam and being offered places earlier than the general system.
5. Berkhamsted School links – my daughter has benefitted from the fantastic outdoor education facilities (“high ropes”) there and there are also theatre trips, overnight camping trips and other events which the schools share, not to mention a lot of refurbishment and investment within Heatherton.
6. Sport facilities – if a lot of sports facilities within the school boundaries is important to you then you will need a larger school. However, I do not feel my daughter is lacking in sporting or competitive opportunities. There are weekly swimming lessons since the start of Year 1. My daughter plays hockey, netball, tennis, does cross country running (competitions), athletics, PE and gym. Again, a look at Facebook and Twitter gives a good idea of what they do.
7. After school clubs and after school care are excellent and really well run and there is no issue with girls not getting places in a club (again, a problem I have found at a larger school).
8. Strong parent cohort and Parents’ Association so that there are lots of events which the girls really enjoy.
It’s so hard choosing your child’s school and I hope this review is helpful. I thought I had ticked all the right boxes for my son’s school but was never sure in my heart about it and indeed, it’s simply not right for us. I really liked Heatherton when I first visited but was anxious about the comparative on site facilities and it’s been absolutely the right choice . Good luck!
“Girls are missing out on non class room opportunities”
27 November 2018AUTHOR: Bucks80
What a different set of experiences these parents have had! Up front I have to admit that we took our "pride and joy" out for a number of reasons - not least the lack of sporting opportunities and, as importantly, the lack of engagement academically.
I think as children progress the opportunity to take part in a range of sporting activities outside the classroom becomes more important (studies I've read suggest competitive sport is really beneficial for a child's development). "Year 6 Parent" disagrees and that is fine (we are all entitled to our own opinions, after all, and for some children sport is really not of any concern) but for us these opportunities are indeed important and Heatherton is simply unable to field many sports teams (due to its size and lack of anything other than a small playground). If you do not value sports then it's probably fine, but other local girls and mixed private schools do offer more varied opportunities. I don't think anyone, including Heatherton itself, can argue otherwise. Nothing awful to report, but it was just not right for the money or a rounded education our daughter and us are after.
Perfectly "nice" children and a few nice teachers too - wish them all well but am glad we have changed since we have, in a few short months, noticed a real change in our daughter's interest in going to school! And it really does have a lot to do with the variety of opportunities she now has compared to what Heatherton was able to provide.
“An exceptional school - high standards with happy children. A perfect combination.”
20 November 2018AUTHOR: Year 6 parent
Heatherton school is a fantastic place. My daughter has been at the school for over 3 years after we moved from London. Her self confidence, self esteem and happiness have increased immeasurably. The London ethos, which is results driven at all costs is heartbreakingly detrimental to many of the children. I speak from my experience with our oldest now in Year 10.
Heatherton’s uniqueness lies in the family feel of the school, the warmth and happiness that comes from the top down. Academics are of course taken seriously, but there is also an inclusivity and an understanding of the individual child - no one is left out.
Lastly, if facilities are your basis for judging a school, then sadly you are missing the point.
If you send your daughter here you will, I’m sure, be as delighted as we are.
“Friendly, knowledgeable and approachable staff”
26 October 2018AUTHOR: A Parent
Choosing a school is such a big decision and we looked at many schools in the area before deciding on Heatherton. Every aspect of our introduction, from admissions to settling in meetings, has been outstanding and our daughter is so happy. All the staff are friendly, knowledgeable and approachable, and really care for each pupil. We have also been impressed with the number of parent talks given, advising us on how to support our daughter in her learning. Schools are a personal choice and as parents we have different priorities. We are certainly very happy with the decision we made.
“Uninspiring with Poor Facilities”
04 July 2018AUTHOR: AmershamParent
Plenty of the girls are leaving this year I hear (including my own) and it's no surprise. The school is mostly focused on becoming a Berkhamsted feeder school (it is owned by Berkhamsted) and, in my opinion, it has sadly neglected pupil care in the pursuit of these objectives.
In my experience, there are uninspiring and inadequate facilities (which, in fairness I should have noted when looking around). And as to the suggestion that this is a "nurturing" school (Review from January 2017), then things have certainly changed since then in my opinion. My legitimate concerns were not listened to and my daughter's progress was ignored.
If you want a girl who is middle of the road and says please and thank you then this is the place for her. If you want your pride and joy to have access to inspiring lessons, attentive care and vastly superior facilities then look elsewhere.
“Kind, nurturing, happy”
24 January 2017AUTHOR: A Parent
I think in deciding where to send your daughter to school you must first decide what is most important to you and them and go from there. If you are looking for a very academic, competitive school with lots of homework that pushes girls then it's not for you. If you are looking for a happy school with very good values, small classes, a focus on culture and a varied education, then it is ideal. We did the competitive school thing and that suits some girls: they thrive; others really do not. Heatherton is a kind, nurturing school with good results and we have never regretted our decision to send our daughter there. She has many years to focus on being academic and competitive if she chooses, but her childhood is precious and, in our view, needs to be protected in a safe and happy environment where they focus on producing well adjusted, kind girls. The rest will follow.
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