Does anyone have any views about Haberdashers Girls Senior school ie from Year 7 and up ?
Need to decide by this week.......
There seems to be a lot of negative comments on another thread re the Junior school, and not many positives.
Is it really that crucial that in order to be happy and survive at the school that you need to have a big personality and be an extrovert ?
Is there really so much pressure put on the girls academically to be top of the class ?
There must be some happy children there who are content within themselves, but who are not extroverts nor necessarily top of the class. Do these children survive the presure and leave the school as confident happy individuals ?
I was happy at the junior school for the time I was there and slotted back in easily after we moved fir a bit - the senior school went pear shaped, but most people put their girls in at 4 with a view to staying through and I don't recommend it at all.
There are happy people, they are clever extroverts and enjoy excelling at things. Habs is not a school where mediocrity is a good thing. Their academic teaching I can't fault but their pastoral care was dreadful for me (years 9-11). I think part of the peculiarity of Habs is that noone there is content with themselves as they are. In one way or another you feel the need to be the best and that can be very detrimental.
Introverts who do well there are usually so brainy that everyone leaves them alone and they don't notice.
The pressure is not just academic, it exists and you are expected to do well but not everyone can be top of the class and you're excused as long as you excel at something.
Some girls are very happy there but I truly believe you need to be the right person and you will know, or your DD will know if she is. I wouldn't send my children there though as if they're anything like my husband they'll gave the bits of me which didn't enjoy Habs! For that same reason I would say to anyone going in at 4 that you should rethink at 11 and 16. At 11 you probably have a better idea of whether it's the right place or not but rethink at 16 and if in doubt, don't.
Didn't answer your last point. You either leave Habs with a very high opinion of yourself and succeed at everything, feel like a failure for not getting into Oxbridge/to study medicine or leave feeling you can do anything, discover you can't and spend the next 5 or 10 years trying to forgive yourself for 'failing'.
In terms of surviving the pressure it depends which pressure you mean. It will make you or it will break you but you need to be pretty strong to start with and if anything goes wrong don't expect any help or sympathy from the school. You can survive the academic pressure if you're intelligent enough to pass the exam, the social pressure if you're an extrovert and the pressure to excel if you have that drive within yourself. If you're not an extrovert by nature you either learn to be one or develop a hard shell - which is partly where I failed as a person, I had a very hard shell at 18 and still do in some ways - and if you lose that drive because of personal circumstances it's difficult to get it back. It's very hard feeling that you're not the best at everything and not having any motivation to improve.
I think it would have been very different if my sister hadn't been ill! I had trouble with the transition from junior to senior schools (v different) and was split up from all my frends because of the way the forms were worked out (geographical area) and then my sister got ill when I was in L5, I lost my focus a bit and I feel the school could have done more to support me. If I really think about it, which I have a lot lately because of these threads on MN, it was at that point the pressure got to me because once you lose that drive and competitiveness it's easy to sink. The academic pressure I was fine with - I loved learning, but I couldn't keep up extra-curricularly with things the way they were at home, I couldn't go out socialising and school didn't let up the pressure. As I've said many times the pastoral care was dreadful and my classmates were unsympathetic. It's not a supportive school. It is a place where girls can thrive, but you really have to be the right kind of person. I started out that way but life conspired against me!
Like I said, you or your DD will know if it's the right place but don't hesistate to change if you're unhappy at any point. I wish I'd changed at 11, but that's with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight knowing my sister nearly died and I would have done better in a more supportive environment, and I really should have changed at 16 just to get away from the negative feelings I had by that point.
My daughter was there and it was a great school for her. Most children seem happy happy there. She was there from age 4 but loads of girls join at 11 and she had huge fun and got a very good education.
I thnk pressure is mostly from girls and their own personalities. Some will push themselves at any school and others will find it hard to get out of bed so laid back are they.
My daughter's now in her first job I am sure at least partly thanks to the good education she got there. Most of the schools which are in the top 20 for A level results tend to be pretty good
In the lower school I was told I was lying about family problems I reported which lead to me winding up in therapy; the pastoral care is disgusting. I have even been told by the head of sixth form that "my personal feelings don't matter as long as i get good grades". Teaching is mediocre in my opinion. Habs chooses girls who are likely to push themselves and be pushed by their parents (parents are interviewed as well as girls) and I know it was due to independently teaching myself the GCSE syllabus in most of my subjects, and external reading, which was responsible for achieving 9 A*s (not my schooling). A child who does well at haberdashers' would do well at any school, if not better, and I would not wish such a stifling atmosphere where asking stretching questions is discouraged on anyone.
DD received an offer from Habs and an offer from the school that she is at now. At Habs both my DD and I were interviewed. At the other school my 'interview' was merely so I could ask questions. As for DD she was asked to take part in a science lesson and to do an experiment with a lab partner. In other words, she was assessed on how well she fitted into a team whereas at Habs the focus was on the individual.
In the academic table that we looked at Habs was top 10 while ours was top 50. However, we decided to ignore this and instead choose the school that was the best fit for DD.
The OP was early March so this is a bit of a zombie thread but for what its worth, I know families who did take up the Habs offer and their DDs are loving it. It is highly academic and pushy and some childre, like my DD, don't thrive in such an environment. Unfortunately some parents fail to recognize this. Hence some of the negative feedback from former Habs girls.