We live in SW London and are - to put it mildly - over served with private girls'/mixed schools. It is a luxury problem. I totally get that.
And, before anyone says it, obviously I will read through the Good Schools guide, go to Open Days and speak to other parents. However, I find other parents a great source of info in some ways, but the least reliable in other ways, because they can only tell you what it is like the for their child. Plus I also think the GSG is actually pretty anodyne - there is a school close to us which gets a good write up in it which I haven't heard a local parent say a single good thing about and which also loses a large swathe at 6th form. there may be good reasons for this - there probably are - but I'd quite like to know. Maybe I'm not well attuned enough to its subtleties and some entries in fact contain withering put downs, but to me most entries are not much more informative than the school's own websites. And the websites are pretty much identical!
I really would like to speak to someone and say - this is my dd, this is what she is good at (I have some fairly recent CAT scores I can wave around), this is what she likes, this is the sort of environment I think would suit her, which school is in that ball park or is she in the ball park for.
I think there are 9 or 10 schools on our long list and what I really need is either some help whittling down to 5-6 to visit or at least a clearer steer on what schools we are wasting our time on etc. I'm thinking a chat with a placement adviser would really help and wondered if anyone else has used or could recommend one. Or thinks they are a total waste of money - any views welcome.
I changed my name to this, because the point is I'm genuinely not bonkers - I'm not going to have dd doing more than 3-4 entry exams and I need to work out which ones.
Hmmm.... I'm inclined to think that, in the absence of a particular problem or issue, there's no actual need to pay for guidance on choosing a school. Particularly when you have Mnet at your fingertips. Type in the schools you're interested in here - you'll get several, rather than just one, knowledgeable opinions. (And some rubbish.) Combined with prospectuses, phone calls to schools, visits etc - done over a comfortably long period of time, not last minute - you should be able to get a pretty clear idea of what would suit.
I know it's easy to think that a "consultant" will know better than you, but it's you and your Dd who have to live with the decision. So you probably need to somehow acquire the confidence to trust your own judgement.
We went to Gabbitas once, paid for a one-off consultation and were very impressed. They may not tell you much that you couldn't eventually find out for yourself, but they are unbiased, have a lot of information to hand and have a great overview. They have also seen and helped to place an awful lot of children. Afaik they are used more by people from overseas and those who have a problem, but if you don't mind paying you may find them helpful. Obviously you'll then have to visit the schools with your dd and form your own opinion.
Ah thanks, that is very helpful. Gabbitas was a name I had heard and am interested that it worked for you. Yes, we would just be looking for a one off consultation, and as you say, just want some straight-talking/unbiased views.
As you say, I think quite a lot of it is "obvious" - they won't discover a school we had not heard of, for example! But I'd quite like to know what is "widely known" about a number of schools, eg if a head is likely to be moving etc. or likely to go co-ed for 6th form (neither of which matter to me, just quite like to know stuff).