Belmont/ Mill Hill School(24 Posts)
Does anyone have any views on the Mill Hill Foundation schools of Belmont and Mill Hill?
I know they used to have a poor reputation academically but hear this is changing under the new head. Is it really though or is it marketing talk?
Would it be a mistake to send a bright or possibly very bright child there when most such kids scuttle off down the road to Habs instead? My theory is that since they stream for maths and English in the prep, the top of the streams should be a good level and I don't mind if the whole school isn't full of Habs type super-bright children. It looks like a lovely, balanced school - not hot-house style, but I want to feel dc will be taught at a somewhat faster pace than his current school manages, otherwise I might as well keep him there.
Any views would be great.
We looked at it twice last year for a place in the pre prep for DD and absolutely loved it. She has been first on the waiting list now for over 18 months and no place has come up which really says something. We have now sent her somewhere which is similar in many ways.
We far preferred it to HABS when we looked around. We found the children confident without being arrogant, the teachers were friendly and engaging and the breadth of the curriculum and the facilities are breathtaking.
I would have no hesitation in sending any of my children there. I have also dealt with them on a professional basis so got more of an inside story, particularly on the academics.
The new head is upping the academic standards, it is not just talk. I believe that the current year 9 and possibly 10 are not full, not because of lack of demand but because they have made a concerted effort only to take those children who have reached a certain standard.
They are in a difficult position. They recognise that they are unlikely to ever compete academically with HABS / City /UCS and with their current academic standards their results are not as good as mill hill county and are miles away from QE boys both of which are state schools. They also have a fairly hefty turnover at 11, mostly to the Jewish state secondaries which also have better results. However, they are addressing this with the cessation of Saturday school from this september which will make a difference to many of those families and the introduction of weekly boarding which will give more flexibility. They are also working on increasing the number of bursaries they can offer.
I think that they do very well by their brighter children but traditionally they are the not the school of choice for many of them which IMO is a real shame.
Thank you maybetime. I don't mind if the whole school isn't full of Habs type children (in fact maybe a little intellectual diversity is a good thing - more like the real world) but want to be reassured that if dc continue to be very able, they would not be left unchallenged, especially later on.
All the kids I know who are there (mainly sixth formers now) and who went there are really balanced, polite and generally good to know people which says a lot.
I believe Mill Hill is going to become very popular now that the Saturday school has been abolished. Watch this space I think.
It does make sense that more people will apply now and then they will be able to pick and choose more.
I viewed Belmont recently. Expected to love it - but was very "meh". My two eldest kids ( for whom I was considering a move from state to prep ) are very bright. I thought the overall standard was lower than their current state primary. I found being shown around by an admissions officer who didn't actually know the answers to some of the questions ... very off putting. Everything seemed in disarray, bags, coats lying everywhere.
Daft things but I just wasn't gone on it.
My neighbour whose boy just started in yr 7 is absolutely effusive. Maybe my expectations were too high.
I am surprised to read of the waiting list as I know a child who recently applied, and got, a place halfway though the at the pre-prep. Maybe just very lucky though.
I can't comment on academics but the location is great and the facilities superb. It's also a school where many children stay on till 18 which is really lovely.
Turniphead: we saw Belmont on an open day so all the stops were pulled out and Grimsdell on a school day so maybe that was why but we loved them. However, we saw HABS expecting to love it and were totally meh, definitely not going down that route. Funny how people get different opinions. We were shown round by the head at DD's new school and she gave us nearly 2 hours of her time on a random school morning. That swung it for us.
Girlsinwhitedresses: the pre prep contacted us a number of times to ask if we wanted to stay on the waiting list for the pre prep or if we wanted our registration transferred to 7+ at Belmont stressing that there was still no space. I have to be honest and say that I haven't chased it since before Xmas as we have moved DD and next time they contact me will ask them to hold the registration until 11+ at Belmont incase we move her again. Perhaps the waiting list isn't as set as they had us believe.
That's worrying Turnip. I was assuming that the top one or two sets for maths and English would be a good standard above what goes on in dc's state primary. Ours is a one-form entry school and the teachers seem over-stretched dealing with a very wide ability so the top and bottom seem to get neglected a bit. Without revealing too much, is yours a very high achieving state school or do they stream/ set in the latter years? How far ahead are your children working compared to NC national averages?
I understand that there is less demand for places for girls than boys because there are more single sex girls schools around the catchment.
GirlsinWhite - I know someone who did that too - was around Christmas time which seemed an odd time for a place to come up but this area has quite an international bunch of families and if the person who left moved away at the end of the year, that might be why.
I need to find out about the level the children are working at but in a way which cuts through the marketing blurb of the open day. Anyone got any tips?
When we went to the open day they had samples of work out from each of the sets. The top set were working at a similar level to my DS who is in the top groups of a high performing state school. However, where they were significantly ahead was in standards of presentation, there was clearly more emphasis on handwriting and spelling and they probably demanded more of their children in terms of content in literacy. This is where I find our state school has a weakness. Their top set maths was similar to DS top set, which is a particularly able group. I think that it would be fair to ask to see samples of what they expect from the top groups and explain your concerns. Remember that the breadth of the curriculum is much wider. There was far more art and sport than any state school and more than many of the other local private schools.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
Interestingly there is a mention of MH on another thread and standards going up...and I don't think it was any of you on here saying it. Hopefully there is some truth in it but even the impression they are getting out there of this could be self-fulfilling I suppose.
Maybetimeforachange - our state primary is ofsted outstanding but not one of the most sought after, locally. We are some way from Belmont (closer to central London in Haringey). It's quite traditional in its academic approach so I suppose has quite high standards in terms of handwriting etc.
In the end we got extremely lucky and DC got a place at (wont name it but the only Ind mixed school 3-18 in Haringey) which absolutely wowed us - on every conceivable level. DC2 will sit 7+ for there in Jan. For us, the move would only be worth it, financially & re upheaval for the DC if we were as close as poss to 100% happy. I can see that you are trying to make sure too for that reason. Maybe a frank talk with their HM might help? I think they have a lot more space than they let on. Good luck.
Turnip - yes you're spot on - it's exactly that. I need to be really happy to make it worth the upheaval of moving. I too have come to the conclusion that a one-on-one chat with the head is the key and will be much more revealing than the open day, as is the case with any school.
Ah I know the school you mean I think. It's a shade too far for us really but does sound amazing.
Let us know what you decide. I haven't seen Mill Hill. But it looks fab from its brochure etc. best of luck.
Thank you Turnip and good luck for your younger one's 7+ exams.
I urgently need info on Mill Hill School. What is it like for sixth formers/ Is there bullying? Anyone with any advice please share urgently. Much appreciated.
Mill Hill is on the up and up academically, some pupils going on to Oxbridge and most to Russell Group unis. Pastoral care is excellent, mainly because of the house system. I haven't heard of any bullying. Belmont is also an excellent prep school. Check out their ISI inspection report: excellent in all areas.
MH - where they go if not quite as bright as those children who go to better schools. We all know that.
I must say a lot of the posts about its being on the up do seem a lot like planted comments. It really does not ring at all true.
78bunion I don't know where you are getting your information from but as a parent of 2 children in the foundation there has been an increased emphasis on academics. MH head openly admits that the school will never be a Habs or NLCS but most parents are frankly pleased at this.
The school has some very bright children and some less so. The range of abilities is one of the strengths of the school. If you are an "anything less than Oxbridge is a failure" parent then MH is not for you.
I did not mean it was a nasty school. However all this about its being on the up etc sounded like planted PR feeds. There has been no movement of bright children away from the academic schools to Mill Hill. It is still around 400th in the country for A levels when the local comp is more like 300th and Haberdashers 20th, Merchant Taylors 55, St Paul's 4th, UCS 28th etc etc I suppose at least it is about Aldenham which is about 750.....
If you put increased emphasis on academics - what does that mean? That they give more homework? That they tell children results matter? That they turn loads of children away because their IQ is too low?
They were in the top 200 this year, that's a start!
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