North London (N1) - think I've applied to too many schools

(92 Posts)
CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 09:14:06

Hi all

After DS was born, I applied to a bunch of schools (listed below) on the advice of friends with older children (as we may not get into them all). I am now trying to make sense of the list and come up with some order of preference.

I am also pregnant with DC2. If it is a girl then this may eliminate some of our list (boys only) as getting two kids to different schools at the same time sounds a nightmare.

The list is:

- Devonshire House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2015 (a year earlier than normal intake)
- Arnold House (NW8) - to start Autumn 2017 (a year later than normal intake)
- St Paul's Cathedral (EC4M) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake)
- The Children's House (N1) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake). We'll only get in here if DS gets into the nursery (which we have applied for). Also, it only goes to 7 so we would have to find another school from 7 to 11 or 13.
- Dallington (EC1V) - to start Spring 2015 (I think this is very early)
- Lyndhurst House (NW3) - to start September 2016 (normal intake)
- The Hall (NW3) - to start September 2017
- Charterhouse Square (EC1M) - to start September 2015. The names are put into a ballot and only the ones drawn get places.
- Hereward House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2016
- The Lyceum (EC2A) - to start September 2016
- Abercorn (NW8 I think but if they stay with the school it moves to NW1 at some point).
- St Anthony's Prep (NW3). This is Catholic but they take some non Catholics.

Oh god. This is an impossible list. I think ideally I'd like DS to start school at the normal intake (September 2016) as he is 5 in September 2016. I think kids go to school for long enough without starting early.

Perhaps one way I can filter this is to work out how long it will take us to get to each school and then eliminate the ones that have an insane journey.

I'm not terribly keen on uniforms. The only ones on this list without a uniform are the Children's House and Dallington.

For secondary schools, I'd like to aim for Highgate / City of London / UCS etc.

We also live right round the corner from William Tyndale (N1) which has no uniform, a normal intake year and is super popular. It may be that we end up going for that one.

If you have any thoughts on any of these schools, I would be really grateful to have them. Thanks!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 09:28:09

Sorry, it was quite a long one.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 13-Apr-13 10:19:57

Blimey! Did you pay a deposit for all of those or is that not how it works? I think you are right - eliminate any that have a long commute because doing it with a toddler in tow won't be fun. Then pick out the ones that let him start when you want him to start and discard the rest. If DC2 is a girl then eliminate any all-boys' schools and you probably will only have about three options left. From that you can make a sensible decision by visiting and getting a feel for the place. I wouldn't make the uniform thing a big factor - I happen to agree that no uniform is nicer but it probably shouldn't be a clinching factor unless nothing else separates two schools. BTW though, if you aren't planning to send him until he is 5 then maybe look into preschool options because most kids will do some kind of pre-school at least for the year before they start school - or just send him at 4, provided the school is offering a proper play-based curriculum and is not a little academic hothouse.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 13-Apr-13 10:22:46

Oh, and if you live around the corner from a successful and popular state school with no uniform that would start when you want him to start and doesn't require you to spend any money... for me that would be a no-brainer! However, I am not culturally wired up for private school so would only consider it if all else failed, whereas you may have good reasons for wanting to go private.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 12:06:03

Hi Biscuits - yes we paid a deposit for each (except St Anthony's where you don't need to until you get to interview stage). I did it in a sort of postnatal fog as DS was only a few weeks old at the time.

I would be happy for him to go to a state school. The reason I applied was that most of them close the waiting list before the kids are 1 (although Arnold House will only take applications when the kids are aged between 1 and 2) so I didn't want to miss out.

Perhaps the reason for considering private schools is that they prepare them for the entrance exams to places like City of London, Highgate etc. although there are some really good state primaries in Islington (WIlliam Tyndale is one), the non faith secondaries are not so good (I don't think many of them have more than half the kids getting 5 A to Cs at GCSE, which I find unacceptable).

I know that DS could do well at lots of schools but going to a school where only a few seem to do well is hard work. I went to a school like that.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 12:14:06

I've gone through and worked out how long it is meant to take to get to each school using the TFL website - between 26 minutes (okay) and 53 minutes (sounds like a long time). A couple we need to get two tubes or the overground and a tube which seems a bit impractical. The others we get on a bus or the overground and then have a walk at the other side.

How long a school journey is too long? I know it's subjective but presumably it gets to a point where it isn't practical (unless we move to be closer to a school).

Chipsbigbowl Sat 13-Apr-13 13:34:53

I'd say avoid the journey up to hampstead for as long as possible. It will be painful. Taking a 4/5 year old on a tube at rush hour (possibly with sibling) will be a nightmare. Unless the schools are amazing - and you have your heart set/ stay local. You could do children's house and then 7+ for Highgate/UCS?

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 14:46:20

Tis an issue in N1 if you're of the private school using persuasion. Friends of ours were worried about their child not being stimulated enough at our state primary (note to OP: you have to ditch this concern if you do use state, it's quite an irritating one and you won't have enough evidence to reassure you to the contrary). Their must-haves were 'mixed, non-selective, close enough to walk to, outside space'. By a process of elimination, they managed to arrive at... the state primary.
We might be going for City, UCS etc for secondary and I am anxious about putting my dc through it from our (excellent) state school up against these well-drilled prep ds. However, as far as I can see, a) all those at privates seem to get in a right tizz about it too, b) there seems to be no massive difference in the success rates from applicants from either sector and c) having enjoyed all the benefits of a state primary, I'm pretty sure mine would do very well at a state secondary too.

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 14:48:15

oh and you need to remember that you'll be doing the journey there and back i.e. you and your little one might be spending almost four hours a day on school run according to those TFL. Or if it's a boys' school and a girls' school, having to employ an additional person just for this person.
Mind you, all our neighbours claim it takes 15 minutes to get to the Hall/Hereward etc (sceptical face).

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 15:09:16

sorry 'purpose' not 'person'

catastrophewaitress Sat 13-Apr-13 17:17:34

Heavens, OP. You must be very organised. My post natal fog consisted of walking around with the pram and eating lots of flapjacks grin
Joking aside. A number of your schools are selective - stay on the list now you're registered, go to the assessment, see how it goes. For non-selective ones - Charterhouse will offer for the preschool year and to my knowledge you have to commit at that point or lose 4k. A bit early unless you're 100% sure it's the right school. They also fit your bill re. no uniform. Dallington will also take your DS from the term after he is 3 so is a viable pre school option. With one terms notice you can then go elsewhere for Reception. Children's house has some pretty impossible hours when they're little so if you work that is going to be a pain.
Devonshire House will probably take you esp as you've applied early (think in theory they have an interview, believe in practice is reasonably straightforward to get in.) Also have a nursery class. Said to be a bit precious but 2nd hand knowledge. The commute to Hampstead will be painful, esp with DC2 in tow.
TBH in your shoes I'd look for a nice pre school for now and relax in the knowledge that if Tyndale is your fall back option then you're in an excellent spot. How about looking at St Andrew's Montessori in Thorn hill Sq for now, and they will prep your DS for assessments if you're so inclined, if not you just go to WT in 2 years time?

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:39:31

Thanks Catastrope. We are down for St Andrews Montessori pre school so will keep that in mind.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 17:44:21

William Tyndale was fab 25 years ago grin

Dallington is fab, about the only private school we'd consider (we're in Hackney), but it has a particular ethos and is very, very different from eg Lyndhurst.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:50:31

Thanks Vinegar. Yes, I think that's part of the problem - they are all so different.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 17:54:30

Have you visited them? If you like the Montessori approach you may fall in love with Dallington. Btw I'm sure WT is still fab, I loved it there.

Personally I wouldn't consider Lyndhurst, I don't think it warrants the commute. PM me if you want more detailed reasons!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:56:53

Just to add (yet) another requirement - ideally the school should have some outside space. I understand some of the ones in the City don't have that.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:01:10

That's helpful Vinegar. Yes, I think a Montessori type approach could be great. I haven't visited any apart from pre schools - when I went to visit the Children's House and St Andrews Montessori they both have me lists of where the kids went to afterwards and I took it further from there.

I am planning to visit a few quite soon but probably won't be able to visit all during the term time before DC2 is born.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 18:02:01

Btw for secondary if you're not wedded to the idea of private, do look at Latymer.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:07:58

I'm not committed to private. Cool thanks I'll google Latymer.

catastrophewaitress Sat 13-Apr-13 18:10:41

If I get this right and DS is about 1 and a half, I suggest finding some childcare and leaving him home while you visit. From experience it is very hard to focus when the toddler is getting into all sort of mischief ( a 1 hour school tour is far too long at that age!) Also - and this may be a bit harder - try to imagine your kid as a 5 then an 8, then a 1O years old in a school - kids tend to outgrow the very small cossetted places sooner than you think - a place that is great at 4 can be quite limiting by 7-8.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:16:52

That sounds like a good idea. We are keeping our nanny on and so should be able to look at some places while I am on maternity leave in September.

Coconutty Sat 13-Apr-13 18:19:24

You really need to go and visit the, say, top 3 from your list. I would think that distance would be a very high priority for me.

I would say 20-25 mins would be my absolute max, especially as you will be going there and back twice in a day.

No St Paul's has no outside space really. They have (or had a few years ago) to get a bus to go and play any sport or pe.

Emperorsnewclothesshow Sat 13-Apr-13 21:02:01

OP - am impressed about your list and mostly that you have registered with all those schools! I have visited Devonshire, Charterhouse, Lyceum, Dallington, St Paul's.

Based in N1 I would avoid Hampstead too, it's too far, unless you have help doing two school runs. Lyceum is great but afaik has no outside space (adjacent to the building) and ditto Dallington. Both schools ok to reach from N1 and both have a great free ethos... But I think Lyceum is a tad more established. Keep in mind that if you have a more physical than say arty kid then an adjacent playground and good emphasis on sports would be a bonus. With this St Paul's springs to mind... checkpointCharlie are you sure St. Paul's has no outside space? Am curious!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 21:55:32

Is it true that St Paul's is really hard to get into?

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