We just returned from living overseas and when selecting a school in the East Bay we did a ton of research. We could not be more happy with Bentley. The staff are highly competent, caring, and (most importantly) seem to enjoy their work. The academics are top notch and the activities (arts and sports) are abundant for such a small school.
This school has become a playground for rich families and kids. The diversity is lacking. Adding a few token non-whites a year who offer no socio-economic diversity does not cut it. Our daughter has become much more entitled over the years and we are struggling with her. Even the much talked about academics has weakened with the departure of key staff. For $30K a year, I am not sure our child is getting the growth she really needs.
Bentley School's greatest strength is the parent community. I have found the parents to be hardworking toward the schools goals, kind and inclusive. My daughter has attended the school since kindergarten. However, the school has an accelerated curriculum and therefore produces gaps your child's learning. Your child's math and spelling book is 1 year ahead and they skip all around according the teacher's scope and sequence. To date, the school has not produced a curriculum map so you can have a sense of what your child needs to know. If your child needs any assistance the school has a list of outside educational providers that parents choose from ($70-$110 per hour/ testing $800). This is different from other independent schools so do your research and ensure that your child can perform well in the accelerated environment.
I have a 4th grader and a kindergartener at Bentley. As a family, we are thrilled with the school. My 4th grader's teacher is amazing. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious and her academic expectations high. But what's more is that she gets my child and understands her strengths and needs in a way that tells me she's really paying attention. My son's K teacher is equally terrific. She really knows her stuff and connects to her students in a way they love. My son adores her and has learned so much. I appreciate the attention and care both my kids receive and I feel as though I have true partners in their education. The teachers and administrators are very responsive over e-mail. The parent community is great -- friendly and pretty easy to get to know, though you do need to put yourself out there and get involved to meet people. The school's drop off/pick up valet line makes it difficult to socialize at those common gathering points, so you need to find other ways to meet people. All in all, if you are looking for a warm, nurturing environment with challenging academics and top teaching, Bentley is a fantastic choice.
My son goes to Happy Valley and we've been very pleased with the quality of education he has received, the teachers commitment to excellence, parents involvement as volunteers and their support of the school.
Bentley is an amazing school with the most talented teachers in the Bay Area. Our kinder-gardener thrives at Bentley. The best part for busy parents are the four to six page report cards at the end of each trimester with details from each teacher on your child's performance. Bentley also offers additional after school classes. I would highly recommend for perspective parents to consider this school.
This school is not what it once was. This review is primarily about the middle school. Years ago this school was once a place of high achievement and excellence; today it is a school of rich kids who can pay and below average academics. There is a huge drop off in teacher and student quality from the lower school to the middle school. Currently the Middle School Head has hired very young, inexperienced (and presumably cheap), mostly non-credentialed teachers who have little classroom management skills and no control over the students. This year the new math teacher and the existing humanities teacher are not returning. In addition, during the past two years the school has lost math, science, humanities, trivium, music, and PE teachers. This year the school is also losing French and Chinese teachers. The Head of School keeps appointing people to leadership positions but yet there is no parent or teacher involvement. The school does not utilize a parent survey to gather information, nor does it seek involvement in anything but fundraising. On the positive side the K, 2, 3, and 5th grade teachers are awesome. They are seasoned veterans who are outstanding.
I was a student at Bentley from kindergarten to eight grade. I thought the academics were great, but I didn't like how closed-minded the teachers were, and how little the classes and grades were. There wasn't any sense of independence or freedom AT ALL.
We have two kids at Bentley (2nd and 5th) and we couldn't be happier that we made this school selection for our children. We've been wowed by the professionalism of the staff, the amazing teachers, the challenging curriculum and the academic and personal resources available for Bentley kids and their families. The school doesn't play lip service to having a no-bullying policy- it practices what it preaches and the school fosters a community-wide, supportive environment for student, faculty, families and visitors. Our kids have been challenged out of their comfort zones and have stretched themselves academically beyond what they thought possible. If you're looking for a stellar, highly-trained and educated staff; challenging curriculum and small school environment, Bentley might be a good choice for your family.
Our family is new to the school and we love it. The setting is great for learning and the academics are first rate. They know our child so well. I also like their placement record to great high schools and colleges. I do wish the tuition at these schools was not so high, though.