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NW3 - The Village vs Heathside School(27 Posts)
Hello, we are moving back to NW3 from overseas I would like to hear your opinions regarding the Village and Heathside schools as my daughter has now been offered places at both of these schools in September (grade 1 at five years old). I also have a younger son so Heathside would allow both to be in the same school. I have lived in NW3 before and would prefer to live in Hampstead again (we don't have accommodation yet).
I have never visited the Village school but liked Heathside when I went to see it nearly five years ago. I have spoken to a parent at the Village School and she spoke highly off it. I know neither school is the most academic in the area but it sounds like that they are quite nurturing? This could suit my shy daughter.
(If we were to offer place at Hampstead Hill at last minute I would gladly accept it as I am impressed with the academic side of things there. My daughter is also in the waiting list for St Christopher's as we had paid the registration fee when my daughter was young, but really don't see her getting in as she hasn't been tested and my friend's daughter has been on the waiting list for ages. SHHS we have no chance until 7+. Also waiting to hear from Devonshire but somehow feel happier with the Village or Heathside.)
If you really want Hampstead Hill, keep phoning! No child leaves that school shy. As for the others, can't be too much help. The Village went through a rough patch a number of years ago when the Head had an arguement with a family and they left and took two other families with them from the same year. Haven't heard anything since.
Thank you horsemadmom. Do you really think pestering Hampstead Hill could help? I had kind of hoped that there might be space as if there were girls going to St Christopher's at five, and yes some girls are going there but those places are already filled. I initially called them (as well as about a zillion other schools) in January and called them again in late February. I am due to come to London this/next week to see the Village and Heathside and will definitely pop over to Hampstead Hill too (and the nurseries where my youngest have been offered a place).
You can't find too much on the Village online - apart from one not-so-favourable review here - so it was nice to be able to speak to mum whose eldest went there (is currently in SHHS) and her youngest has been offered at SHHS and City of London so apparently for the right type of child it can really work.
I am just really pleased to have some offers as it's actually making our move back a reality.
To be honest the Village School is far from nurturing if you are not one of the super bright ones. To be fair, this is from my experience as a pupil there, so was a while ago. However, one of my mother's friends sent her DD there a few years ago and the stress her DD was under to get high results, made her very unhappy and they moved her in Year 5. IMHO, this is a school, where if you get a B+ in test, you are made to feel like a failure by teachers. I'd steer clear.
Ask to have a tour at HHS. You'll look keen. Explain which other schools you are going to see but make it clear that HHS is your first choice. Good luck.
Thank you (-:
I don't know why but I my gut feeling isn't great about the Village but I will know more after I visit the school. I will definitely go to see HHS too when I go to visit the other schools in London.
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I have visited the Heathside and had a great impression. Plus its a coed which is preferable for a 5 years old.
Thank you. So many people are warning about the Village.
I just visited Heathside and absolutely LOVED it. I know it's probably not for everyone as they are quite a bit more relaxed than other schools (ie using first name when addressing a head teacher, the uniform is very casual, although they have a more formal one too but particularly the young kids hardly use them, loads of emphasis on arts and music etc and might come across slightly chaotic). But I just know that my kids would be happy there. And they academic record is very sound - a high proportion of their kids get scholarships (eg this year UCS granted two, both went to Heathside).
I loved the quirky building and although there were loads of things into classroom they were still clean and well-kept. Teachers seemed really lovely and I was shown who would be my daughter's peers (as well as son's as they would probably have space for him too). And they do have a small but adequate outside space (something i thought they wouldn't). I only saw the lower school though.
Needless to say overall very impressed. I will go and see the Villlage tomorrow too but I really doubt it is for us. I am also going to Hampstead Hill tomorrow too so let's see if they impress me as much as if they were to offer us too, it might be a tricky decision. I feel happy now though as in Dubai I felt that we had to settle for second best and I never got nowhere near the same expression of my daughter's school there as I did of Heathside.
Heathside is a lovely, nurturing school, with lovely people, teachers etc. It's also one of the least academic schools in the area. A lot of people tutor in the later years in order to manage the 11+. Some leave at 7+ for UCS or Highgate, one or two to SHHS, evey now and then. It has lots of expats, mostly Americans, who eventually return to the US and are less concerned about Common Entrance exams. If you are after a small, caring, low pressure, nurturing school it's the school you/ your DC. If you are after an academic school or aim for academic secondary I suggest you look elsewhere or be prepared to tutor heavily (there are of course exceptions to this rule). Also bear in mind that due to the expat cohort numbers diminish quite bit in the upper school. I know nothing about the Village. It's generally regarded as a fall back option at 4+ and 7+. If you ask to see detailed exit (11+) results from both shools in the last 5 years you will get a good flavour.
Oh thank you Hampsteadmum. I actually asked to see the detailed exit results and Heathside seemed pretty good. They got many scholarships too (eg both granted to UCS went
to Heatside). I was worried about this too but was happy with what I was shown. Or maybe last year was exceptionally good or loads od private tutoring was involved? I've also spoken to two mums whose older children are at SHHS and UCS. One of them actually said that Heathside is one of the rare schools that although it is more relaxed it still gets academics right too.
It's so difficult to decide - eek! We are just under so much pressure to put a deposit down so don't know really what to do. Anyway, I will p to see Hampstead Hill tomorrow so we will see. I have heard of two parents who have taken their kids out from there too so I guess no school is perfect /-;
Oh well my husband asked for the same thing so I have now emailed Heathside to ask to see results from the last five years. The expat issue doesn't concern me as I am a foreigner myself and have been living an expat life in many coutries myself. Although I do have to admit that one of the main reasons why we are coming back to London is to start a bit more stable lifestyle for our kids as I wouldn't want them to move around as much as I have/did.
What did you think post visit OP?
Re my visits. The Village seemed lovely and can really work for the right type of girl and parents. The premises were spacious and well-kept. Outside space was surprisingly spacious and so was the hall. The registrar was very friendly and I thoroughly enjoyed my tour with her. In my opinion this is a very traditional small girls only school in which discipline and manners are paramount. When entering each class room all girls quickly stood up to greet 'good morning Mrs...' and waited to be allowed to be seated. They answered questions eagerly and seemed content (I saw loads of smiles - the girls seemed happy to have a visitor). In many aspects the Village is a total opposite to Heathside lol. I don't think the Village is the right school for my daughter so I am pretty sure I am going to turn down their offer.
Then Hampstead Hill School. I had kind of wished that I wouldn't like it that much so that choosing Heathside would be easy, but unfortunately it wasn't the case. I was very impressed with the school. It is totally different to Heathside as it's a lot quieter and probably comes across a bit more focused and organised (although I still love Heathside). I loved the class rooms and the hall in an old church is just superb. The children seemed content and engaged in whatever they were doing. The problem is that we don't have an offer from there. I was told that they would know in May - but I doubt that I could hold onto paying deposit that long to Heathside. My concern with HHS is that we would have to stress about schools in two years time ago. I really want to live in Hampstead but what if my daughter didn't get a place in nearby areas. I would really like to walk to school and particularly avoid long school journeys at this stage. Also the lack of parent engagement was a disappointment (but wouldn't be a deal breaker) as parents aren't even allowed to attend sports days. As I am a stay-at-home mum I am continuously volunteering for things at my daughter's current school.
So I feel lucky that we have offers from a school I really loved but part of me is really wanting to push for the academic side of things (and my husband is particularly keen on academics). Any comments would be welcome (-:
If you want academics, HHS is the place to be.
You will definitely hear from them in may (we need to give two months notice in reception) and I can assure you that, out of 80 children, one will leave.
If your daughter can start in the summer, it is even better. The children are encouraged to go to school in the summer between reception and year 1.
Just tell Andrea that your daughter will be happy to start in the summer. Call them week after next (end of term) and reiterate your interest
I know how schools work, you have a place there, believe me.
Parents don't go to sports day because other schools have had some ugly PARENTAL behaviour from the sidelines. Sad but true. Quiz Nights, International Night, Wine and Cheese Nights etc. happen. Plus there is an open door policy at drop off and pick up. No appointments needed to talk to the teachers or Andrea about anything. I made most of my closest friends at HHS because the other parents are a very cool bunch. More mixed than other local schools. Summer scheme might work really well for you so you can get settled and DD can do trips and activities and make friends. It's set up for working parents (not all do but precious few 'ladies who lunch' types) so, you tend to get people who are un-neurotic. Parents and kids.
Thank you - some food for thought there (-:. We are still thinking about our options and I am currently talking more mums from both schools.
I just wonder how worried I should be about 7+ exams. I am not too concerned about my younger son but my nearly 5 year old daughter can be shy and very reserved in new situation. I've been doing more reading about the exams and I just wonder if my daughter was ready for them in 1.5 years - particular In group situations with new people. Maybe she would have a better chance at 11+ as I am sure her confidence would have been build up by them. I was incredibly shy in my early childhood but grew in confidence later on.
I would just really hate if my daughter wouldn't get to any of the local schools and would have to start travelling a long distance at such young age. Not to mention my son two years later.
7+ is much less stressful than 11+. I've survived both! At 7, DCs don't have such a strong opinion about the schools and don't know what's at stake. HHS prepares them very well and you get fantastic advice and support. The kids do brilliantly well and Andrea is well respected by the heads of the schools. Your DD may be shy now but 1.5 years at HHS will sort that out.
As for travel time, my DD1 did a 45 min coach journey from age 4 and actually enjoyed it. Remember that at the private schools all of the after school stuff happens during the day (ballet, football, gymnastics, music lessons). When they're home, they're done. Unless you can't live without Brownies (that's weekends mostly).
Hi! I've just seen this thread of messages and am absolutely baffled and actually pretty cross at the comments regarding The Village School. My daughter attends The Village - it having been recommended to me by a friend whose daughter used to go there - and our experience to date has been fantastic. The staff are hugely caring and supportive, and more to the point, my daughter is genuinely excited and happy to go to school which is more than I could have hoped for. Her topics are supported by some fantastic trips - this term she's been to art galleries and been a Victorian maid - and from being a pretty shy child with new people, she's really coming in to her own.
I can't really comment on HHS, and i am sure its great - but the suggestions made above about The Village could not be further away from the experience we have had so far. In fact you just need to read the 'OUTSTANDING' Ofsted report to see how much the school has progressed, and to really get a feel of what it's all about. In terms of results, you'll see from the website and notice boards that the year 6 girls have done amazingly well, with places at North London Collegiate, City of London, SHHS, Highgate, Channing, Queens and Frances Holland to name a few ... I'd be extremely happy with that offering of places.
This might come across as a bit of an advert for The Village School, but reading these comments above, I just want to make sure that people don't make decisions based on a couple of throwaway comments that don't seem to be well informed or thought through. Obviously different schools suit different personalities, and everyone will make a decision that they feel is best for their child. All I can say is that we're pretty pleased with ours!
If anyone wants to know more about our experiences of the school I'm happy to help. As you can tell, I'm a bit of a fan!
Please, tell me, as someone who actually went to the school, how is my post not well informed or ill thought through? And yes, there are teachers still there who used to teach me. You are perfectly entitled to be happy with The Village and have your opinion. You do not have the right to state previous comments are not well informed or thought through.
I went to Heathside for Year 5 and Year 6. I absolutely loved it. It is a perfect school for young children as it is very relaxed and nurturing. For secondary school, I was accepted into Queen's College, the American School in London and Frances Holland.
I think the Village School is amazing and I have never heard of anyone being unhappy there - so not sure where the negative threads are coming from, seems suspicious. Our daughter is there and all of the parents in our class are over the moon about the school.
My daughter has just started at the village (been there 2 terms now) and we are absolutely delighted. My daughter loves it too. She is happy to go to school every day and is absolutely thriving. There are less able kids in the class who are nurtured and supported fantastically well and the brighter kids are given every opportunity to fly. Also the sport, art, science, drama, music programme are all exceptional. Also the lunches are excellent. Couldn't be happier.
I just saw this thread and I have to add to it as I am also shocked about the comments about The Village. I have both of my daughters there and we love the school. It is nurturing, engaging, creative, with excellent teaching, happy girls and great facilities. We moved from New York last January and toured most girls schools in the area. The all have their strengths and weaknesses and there are whispers about all of them. We hired and education consultant, the top one in the country, and he was the one who strongly recommended it. The girls leave very well prepared and engaged in their learning. It is a wonderful blend of traditional and progressive. Every parent we know at the village is so happy there. As with any school, company, hotel etc, there are always going to be people who want something different but The Village seems to have anonymous internet trolls! It seems very odd to have such vague negative and emotional threads about a school. If it wasn't for you, then that is fine but why be so nasty about a school that little girls go to and love!
Hello again, I wanted to follow up on this post as our children have now attended Heathside Prep School for more than 18 months. We are absolutely delighted with the school. After our not-so-good experince with a school abroad we have been so very pleased with Heathside. The children are happy, well-rounded and seem to be having loads of fun at school. Most of all my eldest (who is now in year two) has gained masses of confidence which she was previously lacking somewhat.
It is true that the school has an international feel and some children are leaving as they are moving (mainly abroad). It seems to work well for those families as they will be welcomed back should they wish to do so. One family is indeed coming back after a year away.
Regarding the school being chaotic, yes it can be a little noisy at times but everything seems to fall in place. I call it happy chaos. Everything seems very well organised regardless. As a parent I have been fairly involved and I love going to the school to help out and see how well everything is run after drop off too. The children spend loads of time at the Heath playing and engaging in sports.
Everyone is mega friendly from the head mistress to teachers and office staff. In fact, you can't help but leave the school with a big smile on your face after drop off. I like the relaxed atmosphere and how we as parents can make decisions for our children. For instance, the school has been happy for me to pick up my son (who is in reception) at 1pm twice a week.
My children are doing well academically too. Particularly in the pre-reception and reception they seem to be learning through play. They have fun but learn loads along the way too. They do get quite a lot of homework from year 1 but I think it is quite common.
There are loads of school trips to theatre, castle, chocolate factory etc. I couldn't recommend the school highly enough for those parents who are looking for a nurturing, relaxed and fun place for their children. Perhaps those parents who want really formal teaching and perhaps more discipline might be better suited looking elsewhere. The results for 11+ exams were great again this year (with plenty of scholarships) but I don't think anyone went to a boarding school. Therefore, if you are after your child going to such school, not sure if Heathside would be the right for you either.
Regarding the Village school and the bad press it probably got in this thread, I do apologise for that. I have now met a mother whose daughter goes there and she is very pleased with the school and her daughter's progress there. I believe that different schools suit different children and parents.
Hope you have found reading this thread useful.
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