Getting into pre-prep & prep: the run-down?

(19 Posts)
lily3 Mon 12-Nov-12 00:36:01

We are moving to London from the US with 2 babies (12mos). We will likely be living in Notting Hill/St Johns Wood. I'm trying to study up on the private schooling system but have a couple questions, maybe someone could help me out.

Firstly, our actual move date may not be for another couple months, and could be up to 6 months away (depends on DH's work). Does anyone know if we can apply to pre-prep before we actually live in London?

We'd love to get them into Wetherby/Pembridge Hall, which I know is probably a long-shot, but we'll join the wait list. What other similar ranking schools would you would suggest sending applications off to?

I see that boys that go to Wetherby pre-prep automatically move into Wetherby prep, but Pembridge Hall is only until age 11. So - what happens then? Does the school assist in placing the students or not at all? Do you need to send applications in years in advance? ie: once the girl is accepted into Pembridge Hall at age 4, do you right away start applying for her prep school? Or would you say it is much more ideal to get them into a school that has a pre-prep AND prep so they automatically feed in...

Finally, for nursery school, is this hard to get into as well? Should I send the nursery applications off with the pre-prep ones?

Thanks in advance! Signed, overwhelmed American : )

lily3 Mon 12-Nov-12 00:48:54

**I should also ask, the schools that are assessment-based, how early (what age of DCs) do you register?

EBDTeacher Mon 12-Nov-12 07:08:04

I am not in London but I have heard that Weatherby is one of the places that you still have to register at birth. In fact I heard that summerborns don't get in because by the time they are born the waiting list is full.. this may or may not be myth. However, I am pretty sure it is very over subscribed so you need to make sure you have plenty of back up choices.

You know that here 'prep' schools only go to either 11 (usually girls) and 13 (usually boys) and then 'senior' schools take over at that point? Some preps are associated with a specific senior school and feed most of their children there. Other preps are 'stand alone'. One of the main purposes of these stand alone preps is to assist parents in the best choice of senior school for their child and support them with the entry process. So you will get plenty of advice and do not need to worry about that at this stage.

EdithWeston Mon 12-Nov-12 07:19:27

You can register for a private school from anywhere.

If the school yo eventually choose is pre-prep only and has no direct link or established feed to any particular preps, then you will have to appl to a prep school. You will have to check with each you are interested in when their applications deadline is.

Girls schools traditionally transfer at 11+, boys at 13+, and many London day schools also at 11+ for both sexes (common to offer entry points at both 11+ and 13+). It is up to the parent to apply for the destination schools they like the look of. But a good prep will help steer parents through the admissions process, seeing if parental initial preferences are likely to suit the DCs as they see them in school, assessing if DC likely to reach the necessary academic standard etc; plus generally preparing them for exams/interviews.

beancounter50 Tue 13-Nov-12 00:04:52

Lots of options in the areas you mention but they are all popular so good idea to register ASAP. You are better being as close to schools as possible..play dates and activities mean you don't want to be dragging tired children across London during am or pm rush hour. In notting hill try miss delaney's nuseries..or miss delaney's too..both excellent..pre preps to look might include norland place or notting hill prep..both co-ed, or hawksdown for boys..or glendower for girls. Also some very good state schools in the area...Fox, St Mary Abbot Or Thomas jones..all get good local feedback

mrsshackleton Tue 13-Nov-12 09:12:44

Hi Lily, I was posting on your where to live thread. Glad you're looking at SJW (my suggestion grin).

A prep school is not the same as a US prep as others have explained. You really don't need to worry about secondary schools at this stage, there's years to sort that out as none are names down asap, they all have entry by exam. You may stand a chance with Wetherby and PH as far too many people register and later drop out. I'd register for several in the SJW and NH area and you will get a place somwhere. All are very good.

EverybodysSnowyEyed Tue 13-Nov-12 11:10:16

Look at the Prep schools in nw3. All easily accessible from nw8
boys
The hall
Hereward house
Lyndhurst
Arnold house
Girls
Sarum hall
South hampstead
St Christopher's
The village
Co-ed
North bridge
Devonshire
Trevor Roberts
Abercorn

Plus many others

Some of them will have already closed their lists for your kids age group but most won't have done. Some do formal assessments and others don't.

Wetherby you need to register at birth or have a name

harlowqueen Tue 13-Nov-12 13:11:14

I am American and did that same move to NW3 area. The one thing I would add to the discussion above is that while it is tempting to want to put your children into one of the supposed great British educational institutions like Wetherby, I think you have to realize what that means going in. Wetherby and others are very traditionally English (even the most conservative in the states would appear liberal here) and also have the school gate politics to match. I think all schools have their social politics to a degree but when you are looking at schools where the boys have long lineage of parents, grandparents attending it is a pretty tough social scene to penetrate. Not to say it cannot be done, of course, but you need to think about how much you plan on relying on your children's school to develop your social circles here.

grovel Tue 13-Nov-12 15:36:29

harlow, I think you make a good point. American friends of ours hoped (not unreasonably) that they would kick start their London social life in part through their children at "top schools".
They found the social scene impossible to penetrate - partly for the reasons you mention but also because they tended mostly to meet nannies, au pairs, drivers etc at the school gates. Their childrens' friends also tended to go down to the country at week-ends.
The next tier of schools are also excellent and more likely to be "parent friendly".

lily3 Tue 13-Nov-12 19:00:05

harlowqueen & grovel That is really interesting and a concern of mine, considering I am a SAHM and hoping to meet other SAHMS thru school. Would you say most moms of children that attend these "top schools" are working moms? We have no fancy lineage and I don't want to be iced out because of it. On the other hand, I have heard that there are lot of expat children that attend these schools?

EverybodysSnowyEyed Tue 13-Nov-12 19:40:57

I don't think there are a lot of expat kids at those schools - maybe coming in higher up the school. I have heard of dads going straight from the hospital to register their son!

SJW has a big contingent of expats and a lot of SAHM's. I have heard that Abercorn has a thriving parental social life!

The NW3 schools are also pretty good for that as there tends to be a mix of parents

grovel Tue 13-Nov-12 22:11:05

lily3, don't be concerned about being iced out from lack of lineage. I'm just glad that you are thinking all this through. I would be inclined to turn this question on its head. If an English family were coming to your city in the US (with similar career background etc to yours) what would you recommend to them?
Do you actually need to live in central London? I love it but would consider some of the outer London areas in your circumstances (Windsor, Richmond for example).
There is no right answer.

grovel Tue 13-Nov-12 22:36:09

Sorry, lily, my last post asked more questions than it answered. My final point was that luck plays a huge part in assimilation anywhere. I lived (as a single woman) for a year in Chicago. The company found my apartment. I was dead lucky - the other people in my building were really friendly and "got me started". I was then moved to NYC and was lonely for 6 months. Nobody was unfriendly - but everyone I met already had lives and didn't really need my company. I have never thought this was a Chicago vs NYC issue. It was luck.

lily3 Wed 14-Nov-12 02:14:32

grovel I agree that luck plays a big part in assimilation. I'm hoping I get lucky wherever we settle and meet a good group of moms! We do need to be somewhat central. We looked into Richmond but a bit far for us (DH is working in Mayfair). London is just very different from where we live (LA), so it's hard to compare! But I do know that moms of fancy private school kids are very friendly and welcoming, from what I've experienced. I would hope the same is such is London. I guess I will find out!

Mominatrix Wed 14-Nov-12 06:01:45

Lilly, I am an Expat American and have direct experience with the schools in NH and expat life in NH - you will NOT have an issue with exclusion. NH is teaming with American expats, and there are many (international) expats at both Wetherby and Pembridge Hall. Yes, there are a number of nannies, but there more than half of the class will be SAHM. Check out the KCWC (Kensington and Chelsea Womans' Club) which is an American Expat club centered in the NH, Kensington and Chelsea areas. It is highly active and a great way to ease yourself into life in London. Here is their website. I joined when I first moved to London, and it greatly eased transition and was a very good source of information.

StillSquiffy Wed 14-Nov-12 06:33:32

Once you have found the good pre-prep, the transition to prep and then onwards naturally falls into place, because the school heads have already built the network so that parents to an extent don't have to. When the time comes the school heads will help steer each individual child towards the appropriate next stage.

Nursery places can be very oversubscribed, but are also a good route of getting your children into the system early,and it is a good idea for you because when the rest join in reception your own DCs will be more central to the social side of things than the newbies - I think that is a very good idea if you don't already have links to the area. It means that when the new ones join you are already an old hand when it comes to how the school 'works', and that gives you an opening to guide other parents and so open up your own social scene there. It is quite key to be around for the very first few weeks of each school year because after that many mums will leave the school run to au pairs and nannies (before that they'll try to do as much as they can).

If you narrow your choices down to 2 or 3 schools that have places I would advise you to simply register with them all. It will cost you a few hundred pounds (non-refundable) but means you can put your final decision on hold until you have made your move and acclimatised yourself to London, worked out where you want to live long term, and so on.

FWIW I think Richmond/Kew/Barnes etc may have more SAHM mums at the school gate than NH/Kensignton/Chelsea. If I were to assume that your DH is working for a PE house or Hedge Fund (given the Mayfair requirement) then I'd say that you don't need to be as close to central London as you currently assume. Loads of families with husbands in these fields live even further afield (Sevenoaks/Tunbridge spring to mind, but also Guildford/Ascot/Windsor), and part of the attraction is the schooling options further afield and the more child-centric lifestyle (SAHM, ability to live in larger houses with gardens, etc). If I were to move back to London with my kids in tow and as a SAHM I would be looking at Richmond first, then Sevenoaks, then Weybridge). It would only be if I was working in a pressurised job myself that I would consider NH/Hampstead/Chelsea (although they were most definitely the places I'd choose pre-toddlers)

lily3 Wed 14-Nov-12 11:30:39

Mominatrix Thank you SO much for that link. I am also really glad to hear that there are other SAHMs in NH. Would you say DH and I would be considered "younger" parents there or would we fit in alright age-wise? We are 29/30. NH is really our first-choice area to live in, but we also want to be sure we are in an area where we could make good friends and be apart of our child's school social life.

StillSquiffy Thank you for the info!! Its a relief to hear that the pre-prep schools assist in prep placement. I was worried there might be school-less children wandering the streets! We did look into Richmond/Barnes after so many suggested it and while it looks like a beautiful place, DH doesn't want to commute that far and I think we want to be a bit more "in the action". I'm worried that if we lived in the Richmond area we would be too self-contained there and not venture into the city/west end. We are still [somewhat] young and want to enjoy all that London has to offer.

grovel Wed 14-Nov-12 11:57:35

lily3, I think you will have a ball. Good luck when the time comes.

After LA you may need a vitamin D supplement!

Almab777 Thu 17-Mar-16 12:24:55

Hi What is the communications with Parents like at Wetherby?

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