what are the most racially diverse london schools?

(101 Posts)
lhc2 Thu 04-Jul-13 22:14:55


We are currently living in NYC (we are from spain) and we are moving to London next year and i've been looking for schools for my daughters.
One of my dds is black and diversity is very important to me as i don't want her to be the only black girl in her class and judging by the london schools websites i didn't see any black girl at their schools.

I would like to know based on your opinion which london single sex private schools are more racially diverse?

Thank you very much. smile

LaVitaBellissima Thu 04-Jul-13 22:18:16

Which area of London are you looking to move to? What age group?
The very large majority of London is racially diverse in both state and private schools.

lhc2 Thu 04-Jul-13 22:31:38

- LaVitaBellissima: South Kensington/Chelsea and by the time we move to London they will be 8 and 8.5

lhc2 Thu 04-Jul-13 22:36:15

^ sorry, 8 and 9 years old!

thaliablogs Fri 05-Jul-13 07:35:48

Op sounds like you are looking at private schools?

you are right the private schools in that area are among the least racially diverse in London, because of the catchment area. The uk has a much smaller black middle class than the US proportionally, so you are always going to find fewer black children in private schools. If you want to go private and have your daughter have more of a diverse mix of friends, you would be better off in north London - Devonshire house or north bridge house have more black and Asian families than eg Frances holland, Knightsbridge school, glendower, queens gate, Falkner house etc.. You might look at hill house which has a slightly more eclectic bunch of parents as its an eclectic school, but do visit as some people just don't like it. Of the Knightsbridge schools, prob Knightsbridge would be your best bet, it certainly has plenty of Americans and other nationalities (Russian, for example) and although there are not plenty of black and Asian origin children there are a few. It's also a very warm and caring school so I imagine they would try hard to provide both your children with what they need.

horsemadmom Fri 05-Jul-13 10:41:13

I agree with the above. South Ken and Chelsea are very WASPY. I can recommend North Bridge House (co-ed). Very diverse. DD2 just finishing there. Girls' schools like Sarum Hall are oddly white for the area. St. Christopher's is very diverse. I'm afraid that you'll really need to look more in North London for ethnic mix. It would help to know which school in NYC they are in and I can give you comparisons.

NotFluffy Fri 05-Jul-13 11:13:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

notcitrus Fri 05-Jul-13 11:51:45

Or South London - plenty of black and Asian kids round Dulwich College, Alleyns, JAGS, Streatham & Clapham Girls... consider living in Clapham or Dulwich (I'm assuming you have the budget, if you're thinking about living round S Ken/Chelsea)

granita Fri 05-Jul-13 13:28:10

The Dulwich schools are also very WASPY. Though there are slightly more Asian children in these schools, perhaps because of the rote learning culture in this demographic. (The entrance tests require lots of preparation.)
Black children are far fewer. IMO our white middle class is still largely xenophobic. Witness the "white flight" from schools which have become disproportionately ethnic. There are comments on here re:"Too many Chinese." Children at Christ's Hospital, known for its ethnic diversity, are whispered to have "social problems."
Many white parents will still avoid schools where there are brown faces. How do you account for the survival of some private schools which have appalling academic records? They exist, because they are white ghettos, and, sadly, to some, a refuge from people perceived as having undesirable traits. So I would say at many of these schools, black children tarnish the brand, and are discouraged.
I have heard many an anecdote of highly academic black children with stellar extra-curriculars being turned away from some of these schools.
The one or two who get in, will be wheeled out at open days to create the impression of inclusivity.
This polarity occurs in the state sector as well. Only a handful of schools are truly diverse IME.
I am white and my partner is black. Sometimes, white women I am with socially will forget that my child is of mixed heritage and the comments I hear are shockingly bigoted. And upsetting!
If I were the OP I would concentrate on Inner London. Perhaps City of London School for Girls. Some of the Hampstead/north London independents (traditionally a more liberal area.) There are some excellent (state) church schools in Hammersmith and Fulham/Westminster. All hugely oversubscribed though.

Quangle Fri 05-Jul-13 13:31:38

If diversity is important, I'd look at state schools. eg, St Marylebone in Westminster. But more or less all of them will be highly diverse given its London - whereas private schools will be much less so.

Needmoresleep Fri 05-Jul-13 13:55:50

Many of the schools mentioned seem to be secondary schools. If you are looking for Private preps and want to live in South Ken/Chelsea (both lovely areas though well out of the financial reach of most Brits) you might look at prep just south of the river, including Newton Prep.

You will then get a wider economic if not racial, diversity. Plus it can be assumed that parents who choose to live in inner city south London close to Brixton (Stockwell, Clapham, Vauxhall) are reasonably relaxed and open.

I think Thaliablogs is right about the smaller black middle class in London. However there is one and they use private schools. It will depend on the school but I hope I am right in thinking that the black and mixed race children we have known and their parents have not experienced any problems.

North of the river there will be huge diversity in that children at schools lile Glendower and Eaton Sq will come from all pver. Russian, American, Asian, Arab, European etc. Some will be visibly ethnic though only a small proportion of these will be black.

A choice really. Do you want your kids to be part of a rich international and cosmopolitan community reflecting the Chelsea/Souyh Ken population. Or something less international/more British (though still will quite a mix) greater ecomonic diversity, and probably a few more black or mixed race kids.

Either way things will be diverse and your children shoild not feel any more different than their peers.

AuntieStella Fri 05-Jul-13 14:07:46

Most London private schools are very cosmopolitan, as there are so many international companies based there.

Commuting across London can however be a total pain, so do you have any idea whereabouts you will be living?

Are you looking for prep or secondary? And are you sure single-sex only? If you might consider co-ed, then look at the American School and Hill House (an international school).

Pyrrah Fri 05-Jul-13 17:41:00

You will also need to consider whether you are looking for a selective school or one where you just pay fees and your child can go.

Places like City of London Girls have fiercely competitive entrance exams, and you would need to check that your DD's have covered the syllabus required to sit the test.

horsemadmom Fri 05-Jul-13 17:56:53

City of London School for Girls was the whitest school any of my kids have ever attended.Avoid.

Blu Fri 05-Jul-13 18:02:19

Granita - which S London state schools in the areas which border the private schools you mention would you describe as WASPY? All the ones I know of, including those which are subjet to intense competition to get in, are completely diverse!

imademarion Fri 05-Jul-13 18:10:09

i don't want her to be the only black girl in her class and judging by the london schools websites i didn't see any black girl at their schools.

I was at three schools was I was the only girl in the school of either my ethnic or religious group.

I cannot imagine my parents thinking, never mind saying, such a thing. I believe that If you go to a country, you accept the ethnic make-up of where you end up and you teach you children that skin colour is utterly irrelevant.

Decency of character and friendliness is NOT dependent on skin colour.

If your post was re-written with the word 'white' or 'clever'' for example, this site would implode.

You are, in my opinion, making skin colour way too big a deal and as long as this kind of discrimination is modelled to our kids, we will never properly be a colour blind society.

Xenia Fri 05-Jul-13 18:18:16

Not that close but one of the best in London for junior and senior if you are bright enough to go into and very racially mixed with coach services from London is North London Collegiate.

It is worth travelling to go there.

TeaAddict235 Fri 05-Jul-13 18:21:36

Hi there OP. I am of caribbean decent, born in the UK, Privately educated, have a PhD in engineering, speak 2 foreign languages fluently (German, french) and can safely tell you that private schools south of the river are fine.

The Black middle classes in Europe are not that small, we just carefully select the friends that we keep (!).

Try Blackheath High, St. Dunstan's College, JAGS, Alleyns, Dulwich College, Sydenham Girls,

and many of these schools have Old Girls associations or Old Boys associations, which many professionals like myself attend to offer professional advice to sensible young people. There are many professional associations for people of black heritage to network, without the nonsense that many of the others here have mentioned.

Hope that that helps xx

lhc2 Fri 05-Jul-13 20:45:21

Thank you so much for all the answers.

I'm not 100% sure we'll live in south kensington/chelsea but it's high likely as it's close to our new job... but maybe i should starting looking at new areas and schools.
We are quite used to competitive schools, nyc private schools can be very hard to get in

AuntieStella: Prep. I prefer single sex but i can change my mind.

imademarion: I don't think i'm making a big deal out of it and it's not really about decency of character or friendlines. She's used to go to school with kids of different backgrounds and colors and I think it's healthy to have that around my kids and i'm willing to keep that lifestyle but if that is not possible we'll have to adjust.

nokissymum Fri 05-Jul-13 21:44:42

OP please look at this prep school www.edgegrove.com, it starts from age 3-13yrs, its very diverse and nurturing. Its in Watford, not too difficult to get into London from there.

imademarion Fri 05-Jul-13 22:26:45

diversity is very important to me as i don't want her to be the only black girl in her class

Sounds like a pretty big deal to me, sorry if I've misunderstood.

I'm just surprised that so many people seem to think it perfectly ok to judge a school's suitability by the skin colour of its pupils.

Anyway, I hope you find a school of appropriate ethnic mix; moving schools can be an ordeal.

Blu Fri 05-Jul-13 23:50:54

"you accept the ethnic make-up of where you end up and you teach you children that skin colour is utterly irrelevant."

The ethnic make-up of London is diverse...and so if you find that a London school does not reflect that diversity then it may very well be that skin colour is far from irrelevant in that setting!

I wouldn't want DS to be the only boy amongst girls in his school.

Actually, DS is the only child of his ethnicity in his class (or he was at primaty - probably isn't now), but as the class reflects a very wide ranging diversity, there are many kids who are 'the only one'.

Ethnically diverse (as in not too many white people), single sex (as in no boys) and private (as in no poor people) - Not asking much are you?

Good luck with that.

Dustylaw Sat 06-Jul-13 00:37:56

Well really do go and have a look at some of the state primaries around Knightsbridge/Chelsea. You might be lucky and get places and your girls will get a mixed experience (in a positive sense).

thaliablogs Sat 06-Jul-13 01:41:35

Teaddict not sure which bits of above you were particularly objecting to, but the black middle class being smaller in the uk than in the us is a fact. 2001 census showed 1% of uk population identifies themselves as black Caribbean, while 0.8% identified as black African. On the other hand, in the USA 12.6% of the population identifies as black or African American. 38.4 % of the black American population is middle class if classified by income. Given the us population is approx 310 million, whole the uk is around 60m, it is demonstrably true the us has a much larger black middle class before you even start to discuss the development of wealth in the black uk population and therefore the different proportional representation of 'middle class.''

Sorry op, rather off topic. Hope you find school you need. Fwiw, one good friend (white) has a mixed race daughter who loves her state school in clapham, one other good friend (black) has her mixed race daughters in one of the aforementioned north London prep schools and is similarly happy that they fit in, although she says she has occasionally been taken for the nanny at the school gates as there are not many parents of colour.

imademarion Sat 06-Jul-13 07:16:25

The ethnic make-up of London is diverse...and so if you find that a London school does not reflect that diversity then it may very well be that skin colour is far from irrelevant in that setting!

Blu, good point.

I just think our children should learn that skin colour is irrelevant.

I think the boy/girl thing is a different issue, but I've hijacked this thread quite enough!

Xenia Sat 06-Jul-13 07:18:37

I fyou are used to NYC schools then North London Collegiate (for girls at prmary and senior level) with St Paul's are the best of the best in London.
NLCS where my daughter went is often the best school of boys and girls in all sectors for exam results and university entrance at age 18 and huge numbers of girls are Jewish, Black, Asian, Chinese etc. I am not sure of the percentages but it is enormous as entry is by brain power/exam rather than anything else.

There is a school coach from Kensington which is chaperoned and private and runs from Kensington ( see point 3 on this link - http://www.nlcs.org.uk/752/junior-school/coach-service)

Talkinpeace Sat 06-Jul-13 18:03:16

There is another issue that coming from the US to the UK you will not be as aware of.

Britain is much, much, much less racist that the USA.
The casual racist abuse we got on the streets of New York and Philadelphia at Christmas would get you arrested on the spot in London.

The British are far more obsessed with class and much much less so with colour.
It may not feel it to the British, but every time I go back to NYC I am struck by the paranoia and racism.

Mominatrix Sat 06-Jul-13 19:27:07

Talkin - depends on which race you are. I have faced much, much more racism here than in the US. It is a relief for me to go back home - yes, the US is still home for me despite the fact I have not lived there for 12 years. If I spent another 50 years here, it still would never feel like home based on the way I am treated here.

mothersanonymous Sat 06-Jul-13 19:27:59

fwiw, my experience in London is that children are pretty colour-blind and really not very interested in whether their classmates are black, asian or whatever (nor in fact in whether they are English, European or any other nationality). If you want a single-sex private school in a particular area then I would look more carefully at availability and what the local schools offer rather than fretting too much about the ethnic mix which probably won't vary that much within an area anyway.

Mumzy Sat 06-Jul-13 20:23:38

I found London Catholic state schools the most diverse ethnically of all schools probably because its a faith which has been exported over a long period of time to every continent.

pixelchick10 Sat 06-Jul-13 20:50:56

My DD is mixed race and privately educated ... we've never found inclusivity a problem but she's always gone to girls' day schools in S London where the population is quite diverse. Someone mentioned Blackheath High - a great school and one of the ones she went to. Good luck!

My dc Catholic school is very diverse. Children of Spanish, French, Italian, Polish, Indian, Nigerian, Irish, British, Scandinavian, Iraqi, various middle eastern actually, and many mixed etc, descents.

In my quiet cul de sac we have two Catholic families (I am Norwegian my dh is Polish), and an English/Irish mix, my Ugandan/Nigerian friend with her two dc (one of whom was privately educated in a co-ed), an American couple where the lady is Chinese, a Jewish family, an elderly British couple, and a Muslim family of Pakistani origin. There is also another Polish family, a German family, and a couple of English family.
This is a nice and quiet neighborhood, where everybody get along just fine, regardless of our skin colour, ethnic origin, or religious faith.

This is NOT unusal in London, I would say it is the norm.

So, therefore coming from the US asking to get ethnic diversity and acceptance is like going to Alaska wondering if there is ever snow!

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 09:12:45

BTW, if you are moving now, be prepared to the next round of foreigner-bashing in the newspapers and public rhetoric in general. Before the last elections only BNP and Conservatives were playing the xenophobic card. Now, looking at BNP's success at local elections, the others are visibly jumping on the bandwagon.

Just warning. It will be better, once elections over.

Talkinpeace Sun 07-Jul-13 16:53:39

speaking as a first generation economic migrant
(albeit one with blue eyes and a naice accent)
IKIP and BNP are piss in the pan wasted protest vote now
(NOT like in 1978 - New Cross, I lived on the 53 bus route)
Once you stop paying attention to Sky, the Daily Fail and the Daily Sexpress and get on with your life,
the vast bulk of intelligent people in this country are far more tolerant than pretty much any .

TeaAddict235 Sun 07-Jul-13 18:11:42

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Needmoresleep Sun 07-Jul-13 19:32:49

Hmm, maybe this thread has strayed a little.

I dont know much about the stats. However our experience of Central London private schools is that kids come from all over, and OP should not worry too much. My own guess is that her children will be perceived as American or Spanish first, whichever they choose to emphasise, and skin colour will be less important.

The bigger issue is getting into a private school in the area. The population is growing and places are in demand. (I think the new BoE's Chief's wife blamed the tax-avoiding French migrants for her struggle to find a suitable home. All in a fine British tradition.) Op should not find it quite as hard as NYC but not easy all the same. Academic performance/potential will matter as well as a few other things such as how long she is likely to be in the country, and ....ability to pay. Secondary is even harder.

There is a well regarded Spanish school in Kensington where many Spanish expatriates choose to send their children. However it is mixed.

TBH there are plenty of things to worry about. Lack of diversity is not one of them.

Moominsarehippos Sun 07-Jul-13 19:54:41

I think skin colour is a red herring tbh, esp in a private school. They will be 'the American kids'. When DS started in his school there were some black kids in his year but they were the 'brits', not black - it really wasn't an issue. Are you concerned that they will be bullied because of ther skin or because they are 'foreign'?

In our school we have kids from all over the world, and of all colours, and they are usually described by what language they speak, not colour. My DS is the token 'english' kid (even though he is 1/4 english, 1/4 scottish and 1/3 ME!).

In the nursery at work the kids backgrounds are even more diverse (one child is described as '1/8th...') and there has never been any issues around colour, race or religion.

I 'get' why you worry, but it won't be an issue unless you especially want other black children in the class especially, but in London privates, classes can change termly.

Maybe if you can look at staff and look for schools with a proportion of black or other 'ethnic' teaching staff. Our school has a few black teachers, and a few auzzies, french, polish, italian...

Really, don't worry about it. Just find a nice school - there are loads around there. Even in the shitty state school, out in the wops, I went to, one of the coolest girls was the only black (ie of african origin at some point in the family) and that wasn't to do with her skin colour.

BTW the state school one side of us is mainly eastern european, the other side is mainly arab kids. It's just the way it is where I live - very very few white brits, probably more black people actually!

If work is picking up the tab, they possibly will help you out with school suggestions, or pay for a trip over to find a home/school before you move. They may even pay for a search company to help you find something suitable.

Moominsarehippos Sun 07-Jul-13 19:59:25

Excuse my maths there! 1/4, 1/4, 1/3????? Not representative of the education system here!

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 21:30:04

Talkingpeace, please do not think that social hostility sounds naaaicer than racism. "Daily Mail reader" is a standard insult here, as meaningless as it is stupid. You do not do yourself any favour automatically deploying it. Good? Good.

BNP was thought to be a protest electorate for Cons, and the last local elections proved that it is not. That one-man-band is a single-idea party, and the idea seems to be quite attractive for our fellow Britons. It is just a question of months, when Labour will have their own Damien Green and LibDems their own Theresa May. Just look at the development of the twin latests scaremongering campaigns - NHS Tourism and Educational Tourism, both born without any figures, just as political marketing tools, perhaps in the same party thinktank. The latter died in the crib, but the former was received favourably and now gets momentum all across major parties. And it is more to come.

Talkinpeace Sun 07-Jul-13 21:34:29

BNP Councillors do not particularly worry me.
Local government is my field of interest so I have watched the UKIP, BNP, sundry oddity councillors who are elected with great fanfare.
Very few last a year because they suddenly realise they have almost no individual power.

I love reading the Daily Fail website. But I also know that it is hypoctitical bilge. Sadly many of those who actually pay for it do not.
I've actually stopped buying a paper and get my fix of news analysis from the Economist - who of course support open borders.

TwistedReach Sun 07-Jul-13 21:42:22

Given the diverse population of London, there are a TINY number of black children in private education. I'm laughing sadly at this thread (particularly at Xenia thinking there are many black children at north London).

Talkinpeace Sun 07-Jul-13 21:46:09

I do not know the figures for London but I know for a fact that the most racially diverse part of Winchester town by a very long way is Winchester College
State schools are around 98% white, the private school it not!

TwistedReach Sun 07-Jul-13 21:48:12

I don't know about Winchester but how many of these children are black? My guess is not many...

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 21:50:50

I am not talking about BNP parties, I am pointing out that there are signs that other parties clearly got the idea what sells the best on today's political market, and the market day is soon. smile

Talkinpeace Sun 07-Jul-13 21:57:56

If you look at what mainstream political parties say they will do and then see what they actually did do, you'll see that actions are much more moderate than words
(except for the secret stuff they never brag about anyway)
the current swing to the rabid fringe a short term hiccup
once the costing of the NHS stuff comes through it will be allowed to drop
without any fanfare

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 22:06:04

To contribute to the topic: last autumn I was going around the North London schools (our non-diversely black state school do not have 6 form, so we were shopping around): SHHS, SCLG, both Fr.Holland, Latymer Upper, Wimbledon, Queens something, Latymer gram, Godolphin&Latymer, Highgate, Channing, lots of free drinks, maybe, I forgot one or two. So, I saw Jews, Asians, Russians, Germans - whoever, but not the black. The two schools I saw black children were Latymer gram and Upper Latymer - both are very large and quite hard to get in.

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 22:07:39

*very large by UK standards, not US.

MsAverage Sun 07-Jul-13 22:14:53

Exactly! "What they say" is exactly the thing I am trying to make OP ready to. I know people who moved to US because they got tired of listening to anti-immigrant shit here. Scientists, they did not have any difficulties making a move.

Happymum22 Sun 07-Jul-13 22:17:56

I second Hill House International School, it may not have huge numbers of BME children, but it has children from all over the world, all different races and backgrounds- and celebrates this.

thaliablogs Sun 07-Jul-13 23:14:33

goodness me how did we end up on the BNP? OP just wanted to help her daughter find the right environment - one that would reflect who she is. I apologise for my role in this diversion, it was unintentional. My original comment was just meant to give some context to someone new to the UK on one point pertinent to their family.

Teaaddict I seem to have really upset you and I'm genuinely bemused. I offered a fact with no back up which you seemed to react to. So I gave you the backup. I did consider adding sources but thought this wasn't really the right forum for that, but have given them below so that you have them for future reference, although I get the impression you were using that to poke at me rather than because you really want to know.

Before I provide them, I want to clarify, since your post became an entirely personal, off topic attack on me, that neither of my posts imply anything good or bad about the demographic data. They just say to the OP she may find it harder to find a private school which reflects her family in the UK compared to the US. I really really don't know why you find that offensive, and I find it hugely offensive that you then ally my views to the KKK - really? How? Why? Why is it racist - or worse, incitement to racial separatism and violence in the case of the KKK - to say the black middle class is smaller in the UK? I didn't say it didn't exist, I just said it is smaller proportionately to the total population than it is in the US. I did not, notably, say it is smaller in proportion to the total black population in the UK compared to the same ratio in the US because I don't have that data. At no point have I made any attempt to say that your family - or that of my best friend, whose parents arrived during the windrush from the Caribbean and who is decidedly middle class - do not or should not exist. I just said there are fewer families like yours in proportion to the total UK population than in the US. I would really love to know what I got wrong that caused you so much fury.

Anyway, even though I know it is not the point, here are the data sources in case anyone is interested. Note - as I said in the original post - that this data is mostly census data, not survey data. In the US they 'count' any households that do not return data by assumptions based on the rest of the neighborhood. Response rate for 2011 in the UK was above 94%. Thus the data are as close to representative as possible, error rate below 0.01%

US population data

US race and ethnicity data - black population

US black middle class data
(note most of his data is from the US census but he gathers it together to make certain points)

UK ethnicity (old data - 2001 - as I did state in the original post). I apologise for the one wikipedia link but I find the UK govt site impenetrable, I'm sure someone could find the direct source if they were clever.

I agree teaaddict that the data I presented under-represent as they don't include people who identify as mixed race. I thought about it but didn't include it as it's also very small and doesn't change the point - 1.2% in 2001. I imagine all the figures will be higher for the 2011 census, unlikely to reach the 20% or higher level of the US, though.

But really, you aren't upset about the data itself are you? You are upset because of something else. I don't get it. I wanted to help the OP. I happen to know some data that might illuminate her situation. I meant it to be helpful. I didn't say it was a good place to be. I didn't say we didn't have a black middle class. I just said it was small. Please explain (perhaps by PM to avoid messing up this thread any further) what I did to upset you.

thaliablogs Sun 07-Jul-13 23:15:53

Ag sorry links not converted. Trying again.

US population data

US race and ethnicity data - black population

US black middle class data
(note most of his data is from the US census but he gathers it together to make certain points)

UK ethnicity (old data - 2001 - as I did state in the original post). I apologise for the one wikipedia link but I find the UK govt site impenetrable, I'm sure someone could find the direct source if they were clever.

Mintyy Sun 07-Jul-13 23:24:18

I think you have your priorities skewed. Great to go to a school that has a good mix of races/nationalities represented. Bit naff to elect to go to a school where 80% at least of the local population could not attend on financial grounds. Whatever private school your children go to, it will never properly reflect authentic London life. But then if you live in Kensington or Chelsea you will be living in an extraordinary bubble anyway.

ICanTotallyDance Mon 08-Jul-13 00:14:05

You should try looking at the culture of the school rather than the specific ethnicities. For example, a school might have 50/50 white and south east asian but if the children are racist and form a divide between each other then it will be a far less favourable environment that one with two or three children who are not the major ethnicity but who integrate well. TBH, my school was extremely colourblind at that age but out of only 20 children in the year group, looking back at old photos, there was one SE Asian girl, one or two Indian girls and 1 Zimbabwean girl. At that age, it's not a very big deal, although I recall that we were all very jealous of the black girl because she never got sunburnt and looked great in the orange school play costume.

Because you are looking for a very select group of people, that is, young black girls who attend single sex private schools, there will be slim pickings.

AFAIK, these are the only single sex (girls, obv.) independent schools in Kensington/Chelsea:

Queen's Gate girls, ages 4-18. Main point of entry for juniors is 4+ but they accept girls if space is available.

Glendower Prep girls, ages 4-11 main point of entry 4+ again, sorry, but they hold waitlists. Selective entry.

There are two Francis Holland schools, this one confused me, sorry, one is for girls 4-18 and the other for girls 11-18. They are run by the same charitable trust. They can be found here (4-18 and here (11-18).

Bassett House School not exactly a girls school, co-ed 3-11 but most boys leave at 7 or 8+ selection.

More House Girls, 11-18.

I know your children are only 8 and 9 but it is the right time to be looking at schools for 11+ if you will be in London that long.

If you're looking for true diversity, an international school might be best. The most diverse school any family member of mine has ever been to was a day/boarding prep with international boarders. Not sure there are any in London though.

Good luck and remember, if you don't make it a big deal, she probably won't either.

ICanTotallyDance Mon 08-Jul-13 00:30:03

Also may I add, better to look for a school with little bullying (for anything) and good pastoral care.

Here is a (ahm, wikipedia) list for all the prep schools in London.


cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 12:04:12

Dear lhc2. We are looking for the same thing with plans to return to UK in 2016. Our daughter was born in UK but has lived in NYC. Feel it will be culture shock for her. While London itself is incredibly diverse, private education is not nor is it as common 7% versus 13% in US. And private schools do not have the same interest in diversity of any kind -- including socioeconomic. They simply do not believe as they do in America --that a more diverse student body enriches every student's experience (not that they practice it as well as they preach it in the US) I sent you a PM as I thought we might share information. We are looking for a primary school for our biracial daughter (ss) and son, not in school yet, as well.

Needmoresleep Mon 08-Jul-13 12:48:44


I thought private education was more like 20% in London. Am pretty sure that the majority of children in Kensington and Chelsea are privately educated.

Many private schools have charitable status. They have to justify this. Cokibeach, if you were to do a bit more research, I think you would find your rather sweeping statement

"private schools do not have the same interest in diversity of any kind -- including socioeconomic. They simply do not believe as they do in America"

is just wrong. There are differences. Britain does not have the same culture of philanthropy, or not in the same way. However schools are doing all sorts of interesting partnerships, giving out bursaries and all sorts of things.

I dont think it can be particularly helpful to come to the UK (or return) with an attitude that everything in America is better. Some expat Americans, and indeed others, do have this. Even if they are right, it does not make them many friends.

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 12:54:11

My DDs attend a very selective private school in the rather white homogenous suburbs of West London and their friendship groups are multicultural. DD2s friends are from Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Singapore Chinese, Kenyan Asian and Indian. The school does indeed value the experiences of pupils who have grown up in other cultures, indeed made a point of discussing that with both DDs in their interviews. If there is any suggestion of groups forming on racial lines it is only in so much as shared experience of culture and of parenting styles naturally form the basis for friendships, DD has developed an appreciation of Bollywood movies so she can join in the conversation, and neither she nor any of her friends have any interest in being part of the cool crowd since binge drinking, drugs, promiscuity and playboy bunny parties don't appeal. (Not that I am convinced it isn't all talk at the end of the day but DDs friendship crowd find it sad either way) I agree that a black American would be seen as more American than black, a very different prospect to having cultural roots in Lagos or Freetown. You certainly wouldn't encounter racism in the school community, almost the opposite, since DDs' friendship group often share humour about the bending over backwards to be sensitive.

And the one sort of school where you will most definitely find BME (black and minority ethnic) underrepresentation is in oversubscribed Catholic Schools, it is very apparent in Local Authority statistics.

NotFluffy Mon 08-Jul-13 15:59:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Farewelltoarms Mon 08-Jul-13 16:13:30

Yeah but only a v selective church school Notfluffy - aren't there something like 8 nearer schools. But Cameron feared his daughter would get 'lost' in one of them...

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 16:31:34

That particular (church) school is quite difficult to get into, as is Fox's (which would have been closer to Cameron, as were several others which he wouldn't touch with a barepole).

I'm suprised at the 50% figure for K+C. I wouldn't have pegged it as that high.

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 16:33:35

That particular (church) school is quite difficult to get into, as is Fox's (which would have been closer to Cameron, as were several others which he wouldn't touch with a barepole).

I'm suprised at the 50% figure for K+C. I wouldn't have pegged it as that high.

I've heard (2nd hand) of awful racial bullying at St Christopher's in N London. Could be gossip ....

They moved their girls to North Bridge House which they loved. A very down to earth school and a great feeder to the top secondaries.

Maybe you should consider living in Hampstead / Belsize Park. You could look at Highgate school etc. and suspect you'd get a bit more house for your money. More family friendly too.

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 17:08:17

You might want to see if you can check what the churn rate is for children (and staff). If there's a big child turnaround, then that can be quite upsetting for children who aren't used to it. The Recession wiped out a lot of our school! Folks were losing their jobs, being recalled or being told their company wasn't going to pay their school fees and rents any more (but they were welcome to stay in London if they wanyed - which none did, as it is an expensive place to live if you are paying for it yourself).

I don't think you can apply for state schools unless you have an address and are living there.

Xenia Mon 08-Jul-13 17:20:07

Coki is wrong. In many parts of London the fee paying private schools are the most racially mixed, not the state schools.

There is no better prep for girls in London than St Paul's and North London Collegiate and the latter which I know is very nicely racially mixed with a coach from Kensington.

sanam2010 Mon 08-Jul-13 18:26:27

You can also try Redcliffe School in Chelsea. Predominantly British but quite a few black/mixed/asian and also Spanish kids there, very nurturing and very good academic quality. It's co-ed till 8+ and then
girls' only till 11+. Would second Knightsbridge and Hill House as well.

The other girls' schools are probably relatively white though I don't think
It should be an issue at all as long as the school is nurturing, friendly and inclusive.

cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 20:12:58

That's the thing,nXenia and Needmoresleep: I have done an incredible amount of research as I am a journalist and was planning on writing a book comparing the UK and American systems. You are wrong. It is 7% in the UK. If you do a simple search you will see that very recently (a few years ago) when independent schools were threatened with losing their charitable status -- after a negative assessment by the charities commission -- unless they offered more needs -based bursaries, they reacted very angrily. Can easily send you article but simple search would find it. The UK independent schools posited condescendingly that it was no longer the smartest but the poorest who would get financial assistance. i.e. scholarship vs. bursary ( in the US any financial assistance, need or skills based, is called a scholarship unlike the UK which makes a distinction between charity and merit as they see it) not considering that most of the students who win the scholarships have been prepped for it at elite schools for years. Both the UK and the US have their merits. The UK is woefully lacking in this arena. Just take a look at the Sutton Trust's stats which is the easiest place to look as it aggregates a lot of data (I culled many sources). You will see that I am correct. I have done research - anecdotes and impressions don't mean much.

Talkinpeace Mon 08-Jul-13 20:23:48

It is 7% in the UK
yes, but that 7% is not evenly split across the country
in parts of West London, the private school percentage is well up around 50%
in parts of poor areas of the country it is zero

compare Manhattan with Montana : there are lots and lots of private schools in NYC, not many in the Appalachians

cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 20:39:16

talkinpeace: I'm not sure your point. Are you saying you can't compare a city with a country? I wasn't. Or are you saying one should compare Manhattan with the entirety of the UK? Neither really makes sense to me, but if it does to you....

Talkinpeace Mon 08-Jul-13 20:54:25

They simply do not believe as they do in America --that a more diverse student body enriches every student's experience
I am not sure how you can make such a sweeping statement about British versus American schools.

The admission systems for both state funded and private schools are very different - for example my kids are not at school in the county in which I live - and there are lots of state funded religious schools in the UK and absolutely none in the USA

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 20:58:57

Coki - are you also comparing the quality of the state schools too? That may have a baring on the number of private schools. Plus, I believe, since the Recession (last and previous) its been harder to get places in private as competition hots up, so I'm assuming more privates are opening up here.

Why are you writing the book? Is it an academic book or one aimed at parents moving from one system to the other? I suppose you can't compare education systems without comparing society (class, mobility, attitudes, wealth, status...) as well. In the US there was a higher % going onto higher education on the past - not sure if that's still the case. Did this necessarily translate into higher averahe wages for example? Plus there's also the schools that were traditionally set up as charities for orphans, sons of sailors, etc.

Brain is whirring now...

OP - look at Thomas', St Nicholas (kensington), Queens Gate, The Garden, Eton Square, Pembridge...

Gabitas may be a good port of call - this agency can advise, or even visit schools for you and put in the application forms for you (at a price!). If you know what you want its relatively easy.

I do think colour is a red herring. London is cosmopolitan (more than you'd think) and the schools are very cosmopolitan. I think most newcomers are on the younger end of the scale. The (state) school next to us has 71% of kids who don't have english as a mother tongue. Our (private) school is much much closer to 95% non native speakers. Its like the UN. Your kids won't stand out in the least bit.

Needmoresleep Mon 08-Jul-13 21:18:30

I get TIPs point. She clarified what I was saying.

Yes the private education rate in the UK is around 7%. Something I knew, though I am not a journalist. However OP is not moving to the UK, she is moving to K&C. What happens in Scunthorpe or Colchester is not relevant.

I suspect the K&C rates vary between primary and secondary. Plenty of DC in my kids private secondaries seem to have spent a few years in naice state primaries. I also agree with NotFluffy about the great contrasts within the borough. The more affluent, including our politicians, will consider the better primaries and indeed some secondaries for their children. (Holland Park anyone) but there are other schools which are pretty much shunned by the better off and where deprivation and low achievement are on-going issues.

Perhaps OP should try to watch a couple of old episodes of Made in Chelsea. Quite a cult amongst DDs friends, and despite the affected cynicism, real excitement when one of the cast is spotted. I would though not be surprised if she decided to stay in NYC...

Xenia Mon 08-Jul-13 21:18:46

The only point I was commenting on was to say around here (London) if you want mixed race schools you pay fees. Schools like Haberdashers, north London Collegiate, Merchant Taylors a probably have non whites in the majority and are some of the most sucessful schools in the country and are in London.

However as I drive back everymorning from the school run to a very racially mixed London selective private school I see an almost 100% white group going to a state primary school which is Church of England and then an almost 100% black state primary school where about 25 - 50% of the women and the tiny little girls too cover their heads. So the state schools seems to divide racially and the private schools are crammed packed with children of very hard working immigrants who put education ahead of just about everything and whose children so do very well.

It is very hard to generalise though about the UK. Plenty of it is almost 100% white and as said above very few go to private schools in some areas and then in others they are common.

I still repeat that NLCS will get this girl the best academic education or almost the best in London and be as racially mixed as the mother wants and has a coach from Kensington. Worth sitting for that school and others to see where she can manage to get places.

Guitargirl Mon 08-Jul-13 21:25:34

My DCs go to a very ethnically diverse state primary in north London. It's absolute bollocks that only fee-paying schools are ethnically diverse!

And am PMSL at the irony of the OP who wants a 'diverse' school but only a single sex, fee paying one which, by definition, is going to exclude so many.

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 22:20:50

coki Have you bothered to look at the differences between private schools? or are you only interested in an overall stereotype, because that isn't helpful to the OP. The private schools in London serve a diverse market, 30% of pupils in our borough's secondary schools attend private schools and they vary hugely in the segments of parents they serve. Many of the most established and traditional have inclusivity hardwired into their culture and ethos, and go out of their way to facilitate applications from bright children from poor backgrounds and other cultures. My DDs school actually goes into primary schools and provides stimulating sessions for children who will benefit from them and to encourage them to apply. It has done this for a long time because it was set up to provide the opportunity of an education to poor servant girls. My own school was a direct grant and has just become a Free School because that is more in keeping with it's ethos of educating girls regardless of background than to merge as a superschool as other private schools are doing to survive in that part of the country.

Of course there are private schools that meet the desire of parents for snob factories or naice places for their Princesses to grow up hidden away from real life, or to be educated within their particular culture and faith . However that is simply not true of the most established and traditional schools like NLCS. I rarely agree with Xenia but she is right that these destination schools are as popular with parents who originate in other cultures as they are the white middle classes. My DD's school sits right next to the local community school in a middle class enclave, but runs buses all around West London and is immeasurably more racially diverse. In fact my DDs commented on the lack of racial and cultural diversity when they went there to mentor GCSE pupils. Even compared to the borough as a whole which has 19% pupils from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds both my DDs classes had in excess of a third of pupils from black and mixed race backgrounds. When we returned from overseas it was the private school who were expressing interest in my DDs background and encouraging their application, it was the state schools that showed complete disinterest.

Mominatrix Tue 09-Jul-13 08:13:20

I did not answer this thread originally as I only have DSs, but have been watching it was slight amusement. Those who say that there is no racial diversity in London schools obviously have not been in many of them. I have direct knowledge of a variety of private schools, pre-prep, prep and senior throughout West London, including the most desirable and can say that they are extremely racially diverse. In the small pre-prep DS went to, white English made up less than half of the class - if even that. The majority of the class was made of of "slashes" - Canadian/Kiwi, Canadian/American, Korean-American/French, Philipino American/Welsh, Black African/English, Black american/Kiwi, etc. This is reflected in the majority of school I am familiar with - even the private French bilingual school my other son attends.

DS1 attends a very desirable prep-school with seamless entry into one of the very top senior schools in the country and a trip to that campus would allow one to see the population at both prep and senior schools. A virtual United Nations. Actually, what is striking is that ethnicity is so varied that no boy really stands out as different. Even those who on surface are "white" will, with further probing, prove to me more than just bland vanilla and either have a ethnically varied background and/or international backgrounds.

I disagree with Xenia's push for NLCS - yes, it is ethnically diverse, but so is a wide variety of equally excellent schools much closer geographically to the OP (Clty Girls, SPGS, Godolphin and Latymer, Latymer upper come to mind quickly). Another school to add to you list locally for the prep school years would be Thomas' which I know to be very ethnically mixed.

Xenia Tue 09-Jul-13 09:19:21

yes, but none of those schools get as good exam results (except St Paul's) as NLCS and NLCS has a school coach from South Ken. It might be worth the girl sitting for NLCS, St paul's and those in the slightly lower tier and just seeing where she is able to get in.

09870987 Tue 09-Jul-13 09:33:25

Thomas's ethnically diverse??? Really? That made me laugh! Hill House is by far the most ethnically diverse prep in the area.

Notsurewhattodonext Tue 09-Jul-13 09:47:44

In my DC's class in a London prep there are black, Jewish, polish, Russian, Lebanese, Hindu, Sikh and Greek children with white Christian English children being in the minority. There are no racial issues whatsoever and this mix is replicated throughout the school which is totally representative of the local area.

mrsshackleton Tue 09-Jul-13 09:48:58

Agree, colour is a red herring. At my dd's v prestigious prep school I worked out 20 per cent of her class have two British parents (of any colour). The rest are all of mixed heritage. That is London.

basildonbond Tue 09-Jul-13 11:28:09

which Thomas's??? when we went round the Clapham one every single classroom looked like it was populated by the Midwich cuckoos - I could always spot ds1 in the playground of his nearby primary as his mop of bright blonde hair instantly stood out - at Thomas's you're falling over blonde blue-eyed children - the head couldn't even answer a question about the ethnic makeup of the school posed by one racially mixed couple, eventually hazarding the guess that they had quite a few French and some Russian speakers there

Copthallresident Tue 09-Jul-13 11:42:19

Just to reinforce my point at my DDs interviews for 4 of the most selective West London Girls' Schools, including SPGS and Godolphin and Latymer, aside from SPGS (who DD thought were very cold and arrogant and not interested in her as a person at all), the interviewers made it very clear to DD that they very much valued her experience overseas, and discussed those experiences in detail. Indeed at the school she ended up at the Head made a point of telling me the same. DD ended up picking that school because she had felt valued and because she had enjoyed the interview mainly given over to a rollicking argument about whether the US was right to stop North Korea having nuclear weapons.

I would recommend OP actually rings around and goes and visits those schools her DD has a chance of a place at. She and her DD will soon pick up which schools feel right, my DD just knew which school was right for her, and it is much more than just whether you will fit in if you are from another culture. Just don't get the wrong impression from the Godolphin bursar if it is the same one as showed us around, and was well past her sell by date, and came out with some horrific stereotypes straight out of the raj, it was actually so bad it was funny, but I know a lot of people would not have seen the joke.

Glad to see Redbourne in the mix, we know the Head and she was responsible for first inspiring and nurturing my DDs love of Science. I am quite sure she would make a point of inclusivity.

Talkinpeace Tue 09-Jul-13 11:43:06

As I said way up thread,
racism is much less of an issue than is class in the UK.
nouveau is much worse than dark skin wink

Moominsarehippos Tue 09-Jul-13 13:09:04

I agree there! The school usually reflects the local make-up. Where the op is looking, she will have well to do expats around her (I'd say mostly french and americans with a smattering of the rest of the world). She probably won't meet an actually born and bred 'Brit'.

Colour is the least of her worries - I'd look more closely at the 'culture' of the school. Some schools around here seem to have the most awfully behaved children! I mix with them because of school and clubs and the way they speak to/treat their nannies is just dreadful. Horrible snobbishness - then you meet the parents (rude, arrogant, me me me me me, loud, showy)! I'm sure the OP is lovely though!

If you want happy kids, look at St Nicholas next to Hyde Park - not a hard hitter academically (it's strength is in sliding kids back into whatever academic system they have come from) and you won't meet many british kids there. They focus on the kids being happy and confident.

Thomas' (up the road) has a good academic record and a fair boy/girl ratio.

Hill House, I have found american parents think it's too strict. I have found their Admin 'lacking'. It has 'snob value', but probably not as much as it did have when my relies were boys there (Prince Charles went there).

Newtons (over the river, one train stop from Victoria) is relatively new but large and funky.

It depends what you want from the school. If its mainly a colour balance, then you are missing out on an opportunity for your girls to go to some great schools.

My son (mixed heritage), his best mates - Italian, Tunisian, Indian and French all looked extremely similar when they were in nursery/reception (there was a joke that we'd end up taking home the wrong kids). They really all looked the same in their uniforms (especially when caked in mud).

If you live very central, and you will get a very mixed lot of kids.

If you are going to be here long term, you will need to start looking at which secondary you'd like them to go to and consider the 'feeders'.

Minifingers Tue 09-Jul-13 13:41:48

Or you could just send your child to the nearest state school. If it's in inner London it will be incredibly ethnically diverse.

It depends whether keeping your dc away from poor children is important to you.

granita Tue 09-Jul-13 15:43:26

In Inner London it is true that the largest non-white ethnic minority groups are black African and black Caribbean.
These numbers are in no way represented in the private schools. There might be exceptions. But on the whole, the number of black children in academic private schools is tiny.
The OP is pointedly asking about the numbers of black children. She does not want her daughter to be the only black child in the class. She is not asking about diversity in general.
Someone mentioned the bursary system as a way of broadening access.
When most schools are giving just one or two, 100 per cent bursaries per year, the idea that this will even things up is just ludicrous!
I know my experience is anecdotal, but when I've toured the private schools, or gone to performances by friends' children, I've not seen many black children. Are they hiding them in the cupboards?
When ringing up the schools the OP should ask if the children of different races mix after school. Do they visit each other's houses? Do they go on shopping trips together? Sleepovers?
Southwark (containing lots of selective independents) has the highest black African population in inner London. (Some one mentioned up thread that I'd not considered Dulwich state schools. This is because the OP asked about private schools.) Croydon the largest black Caribbean population. Lambeth has the biggest total black population. In Lambeth you might find schools which are predominantly black. (These are largely avoided by the white middle classes. Behaviour and poor academic scores are given as reasons.)

granita Tue 09-Jul-13 15:48:24

The Lambeth schools I refer to are state schools.

MusieB Tue 09-Jul-13 18:25:07

My DD is at Eaton Square School on the Pimlico/Belgravia border (co-ed pre-prep and prep). It is incredibly diverse in terms of nationalities and there have been times when she has been the only child in her class with 2 white English parents. Most of the children are from expat families. A large number are Spanish and there are lots of French and American children, plenty from other European countries and also a reasonable contingent of children of Asian (both Indian and Far Eastern) and Arab extraction. There are few children of African/Afro-Carribean origin but there are/have been some. I would say the school, the children and (generally) the parents are completely "colour-blind". The headmaster is white but his wife is a (stunning) black lady and their younger children are at the school which I guess helps to reinforce this ethos. We have been very pleased with it and our DD loves it there.

I would hazard a guess that the girls only preps in the area are significantly less racially diverse.

Xenia Tue 09-Jul-13 18:27:31

Ah, minif - keeping children away from poor children.. Well she wants a high achieving fee paying school. London has a lot of very good private schools. Why not pay if you can afford it particularly as said above class matters more than colour in the UK and fee paying schools tend to aid children inr elation to class type of issues. In fact I pay to ensure my children are only mixing with children with a high IQ at school. So that's not to separate them by race or religion or class but by intelligence.

Copthallresident Tue 09-Jul-13 21:27:14

My experience of a Selective London indie, there are ten 17 year olds giggling in my garden, they have parents from Africa, India, Singapore, China, Italy, only one has two English parents and she has French and Irish grandparents, and is ginger. I think there may be some very un PC jokes going on but they are also planning some amazing gap years. I think if I went out and asked if they were British, things would be thrown at me. I think they are great and the world needs kids like this who understand that they are part of a global community, not a tribe. I just wish that was on the agenda in all schools.

Moominsarehippos Tue 09-Jul-13 22:11:19

Why would things be thrown?

ljny Wed 10-Jul-13 00:16:14

Or you could just send your child to the nearest state school. In inner London....

In inner London, they have a snowflake in hell's chance of getting into the nearest state school.

Moominsarehippos Wed 10-Jul-13 06:44:17

That's what I was thinking!

AuntieStella Wed 10-Jul-13 07:09:52

"Most of the children are from expat families."

Yes, this is very true of the central London preps - though of course that means all nationalities. OP is seeking one with a specific reputation for attracting children (and staff?) with whom she believes her DD will fit in. This may be harder to establish.

The best bet, OP, is to compile a short list of schools and then visit them. Will you be having a recce visit before your move?

Moominsarehippos Wed 10-Jul-13 09:01:11

The problem is that racial/country mixes can change quite radically. We are still mainly french but the big groups have gone from - arab-speaking to americans to russian to chinese. The changes reflect where companies and embassies recommend.

If the OP really is looking for black (still not sure if she wants american-afro, african, carribbean, or 'darker skin' types. If she goes to school where we are, she will be the 'American kid' as most of the kids are 'foreign'. It really isn't an issue.

I haven't come across anyone (black Brits or foreigners) who has sought to find a school along race lines - language maybe (our school does CNED so its popular with french families). I love the fact that in class when they do a project which includes a foreign language or food or culture they say 'Mexican, eh? Hey Maria! What do you eat for breakfast in Mexico??'.

Copthallresident Wed 10-Jul-13 09:58:35

moomin because they are proud of it not being possible to be labelled.

OP and coki have not returned, perhaps they didn't get the stereotype reinforcing gratification they expected to find?

Moominsarehippos Wed 10-Jul-13 14:12:05

Ah, I thought it was an anti-brit thing! We are all labels though I suppose. Do you think this was a windy up then?

burberryqueen Wed 10-Jul-13 14:16:41

In fact I pay to ensure my children are only mixing with children with a high IQ
sometimes Xenia you come out with something that is just laughable.
my daughter is a lovely accepting and non judgemental person with a v high EQ, sad for your children that her score on an IQ test would mean they wouldnt be allowed to talk to her.

Moominsarehippos Wed 10-Jul-13 14:35:43

I let that one slide! Our school has a good mix of allsorts. Some won't set the world alight but how boring would a class of brainiacs be?

Needmoresleep Wed 10-Jul-13 14:39:53

A class full of Xenias might be quite interesting smile

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