Advice wanted St Helen's School Northwood. Ethnic mix???

(35 Posts)
Nan88 Wed 02-Jan-13 21:12:11

I was after some advice. My dd is having her assessment for a reception place in Sept. When we went to see the school it seemed that at least 75% of the girls were indian. We liked the school but this concerns us as we would like more diversity and we are also concerned about how clicky the parents are.
I would love to hear from any mums out there whose daughters go to St Helens or other schools which aren't particularly diverse.

esst Tue 22-Jan-13 19:13:38

There seems to be a lot of assumptions made about indian parents and their families, unfairly. it worries me that such prejudices exist, do you wish to try and force your child to avoid indians their whole life! they are just as friendly and inclusive if you take the time to get to know them. A school should be chosen for the academic standards, and activities offered, not whether you are worried if you get invited to a party or not!

Kipsy Wed 23-Jan-13 11:13:28

When we went for the St Helen's assessment last year (we didn't get in BTW) we found that the vast majority was Asian British, not Indian.
Believe me, there is a huge difference.

We moved here recently from India. My English is accented and I definitely appear (and am) "foreign" smile

I found that there is honestly very little difference between the Asian British and the White British - they speak/think/act/dress the same. Most of the "Indian" appearing people are actually 3rd/4th generation British, migrated from Uganda/Kenya and the like. So the Indian connection is very minimal. Yes, during the festival time (Oct/Nov) there might be some talk of Diwali etc but to be honest, the rest of the year there's nothing special happening.

It must be incredibly hard for the Asian British to "convince" people they are actually British, regardless of the colour of their skin.

What I found was cliques of British parents (White and Brown!) and non-British. I felt very out of place. But, I expect this as a foreigner and do not hold it against anyone. Of course it's normal to hang out with people you have more in common with!

But it would have affected my child's social life for sure. People are friendly but they do judge/look down on you without knowing anything about you. I remember feeling very hurt and upset the first time I encountered some patronising behaviour from an Asian British woman - I didn't expect it! Silly isn't it - all bad treatment doesn't stem from "colour-racism", it's also when someone perceives you as being different hence inferior.

Pushiness is not very attractive especially the culture of secretive coaching /tutoring for assessments or to stay ahead - sounds awful.

But it's not only Indians who do it! And not all Indians do it. We did not tutor our DD for the assessments, she doesn't do Kumon or any academic classes.

Most of the Indians I know have a strong focus on academics. That's the one way to survive and succeed in India. I consider this a very positive trait in the classroom - your child would automatically try to do well, especially if they are intelligent and well-motivated to be in StH in the first place.

Yes, there are many many languages in India proper. But the cultural mix in this part of town is such that most of the Indian families know Gujrati/Hindi and the children know it too. So it might happen that the kids talk to each other in a local language. But unlikely for it to persist beyond Reception. Most Indians I know have a home language/outside language=English.

We speak only English at home, my child doesn't know any "Indian language" even though my husband and I speak about 5! I would never speak in an Indian language outside when someone else present might not understand it - I consider that quite rude TBH.

I'd just like to add that it is lovely to see the little ones grow up in an environment of multi-culturalism and colour blindness. My DD's best friend is from Nigeria - I had a lot of preconceptions about Africans - re work ethic etc, I am extremely ashamed to admit - all due to ignorance! blush Now I know how wrong I was - and how wonderful all people can be.

Yikes, this turned out long! Sorry blush

mindingalongtime Wed 23-Jan-13 20:11:12

I pick up from St Helen's reception and HAbs reception, the former is a lot more diverse, and through the school from what I have seen.

St Helen's is a lot more intense in reception too, no homework at Habs until year 2 and it really means none as I have to do nothing with my Habs child afterschool, who also finishes at 12 on a Friday,also not allowed in after school care either, whereas at Helen's they can say until at least 5 and have homework everyday.

Nan88 Tue 29-Jan-13 14:53:25

Just wanted to say sorry Kipsy for your experience. It has really made me think about the judgements we automatically make. Guess that is what these message boards are for just to make us all think.

My niece has an indian girl from India in her class and everytime I have gone to pick my niece up from school, the girls mum always stands on her own and nobody talks to her. I will definitely make an effort to talk to her and ask my sister to include her as well.

bloomsilk Tue 29-Jan-13 15:08:22

eest. i think that it is not only academic success that is important for your child but surely their happiness. if your child is left out of lots of parties and out of school arrangements that is hardly conducive to them being happy and therefore that will impact on their work and achievements at school.

the fact is, each parent makes their choice for their child. I personally go for a mixed school with all colours and faiths but no dominant culture that will exclude my child (albeit by default).

as for being friendly and inclusive you can't make judgements on a whole race. It entirely depends on the individual. Britain is multi-cultural which is a wonderful advert for our pluralism and tolerance and long may it last. However I want my child to mix with all faiths and cultures and not be isolated.

Yankyvictor Mon 25-Feb-13 15:24:52


I may be too late for those of you who have already chosen a school. My DD is currently a Junior in St Helens. The school in general is good; they are very good at dealing with parents and they are very approachable but the rumour out there is that Junior School is the WEAKEST LINK !!!(Little Saints great and Senior fantastic) The advice is: if you want your DD to do well you have to keep an eye on the ball AT ALL TIMES (which I do!) and do the extra work at home, if you are prepared to do this your DD will be happy and do well. Do not leave prep for 11+ to the school. DO YOUR OWN REVISION AND COACHING. Parents are clickey and there is a lot of Queen Bee behaviour, not amongst the girls, but amongst some of the mums who obviously think they are still at school themselves. Yes plenty of Indians although not 75% (that may be in Nortwood College). I hear from many friends with girls in the Senior school that the school is fantastic and results speak for themselves but it seems you've got to suffer the "airy fairy" head of Junior school before you get there!! Many parents I know are hoping that with the new head (poached from Habs a couple of years ago, and now with her feet firmly under the desk) things are beggining to improve and the school will be once again what it was with 10% of the girls going to Oxbridge alone and the rest to many other Russell Group Universities. I guess I will find out shortly! Good luck!

Dancergirl Mon 04-Mar-13 20:54:27

I have a dd at St Helen's although in the senior school. Just wanted to say that one possible reason for lack of ethnic diversity is that people like the OP are put off by a school that is largely Asian and so the situation doesn't change! I know no-one wants their child to go first, but perhaps if we start to ignore the ethnic mix a bit and decide on a school for its own merits, people will follow suit with the result being a more mixed environment.

PritiPaul Mon 02-Dec-13 22:53:30

I am looking for good schools in Northwood and found this thread.

Kipsy, don't you want your kids to speak more than one language? How unfortunate it would be that your kids can speak only English but you and your husband can speak 5 languages. May be they will learn French or German or may be Chinease but then why not their native 'Indian' language as well?
We are British Indian, doing very well professionally in London and are proud of where we came from. My husband speaks Tamil, I speak Hindi and at home we speak Hindi and English. We have twins and we are trying to make them learn both Hindi and English. I want my kids to learn best of both worlds (India and West).

Londonshoegal34 Mon 19-May-14 16:22:47

My daughter is at StH now and the ethnic mix is fine. She has lots of friends - Asian British, Indian, white, catholic - but it is very mixed (25-30% white). Everyone is friendly. In the past little saints was 50-75% white with a strong Jewish contingent. That's partly due to the opening of Jewish primary schools and changes in the local population.... It's not been a problem for us -- everyone is very friendly and sociable tho people do tend to stick to the groups they made in nursery (3+)...
Contrast that to some other schools where there's only 1 or 2 non-white faces!! Id much rather my daughter had friends from all sorts of places and backgrounds than all being an exact replica of her ethnicity...

TaniaG Thu 26-Jun-14 10:27:57

Hi my daughter attends at Helens and has been there for the last 6 years. It is a mixed school, but 60% of the girls are Asian (we are), but that is due to the local area. The mums are clickey, but goes for all private schools. I would say Northwood College was 90% Asian. I too wanted my kids to go to a mixed school as this is the way of the world we now live in. She is very very happy there and has a broad mixed group of friends from different races and cultures. Good luck and hope this helps.

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