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

(65 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 Fri 11-Apr-14 17:45:45

Thanks for that MarriedDad. We had a girl in October so that effectively removes quite a few of these schools.

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Thu 10-Apr-14 17:40:18

Both our kids at an "outstanding" state primary in Islington. Both doing well.

I am unconvinced that prep school is worth paying up for. My two are bright and get plenty from the state system.

Once you get to secondary in N1, things change considerably. I am not brave enough to stay in the state secondary system.

Our son, with nothing other than ordinary national curriculum at state school, got offer from both City of London Boys and Colet Court/St Paul's year 5 tests with relative ease. I have no doubt he would get offers from most other private schools mentioned here. It would be tougher to get a place at Dame Alice Owen's, Latymer or QE Boys simply because of sheer numbers, but he would stand a reasonable chance.

My point is prep school seems a waste of money. If you kids are bright enough, they will get the secondary that suits them regardless and without preping and tutoring. If your kids really need all that prep, maybe academically competitive and selective schools are not the best idea (constant failure perception syndrome).

Choose a decent local school in walking distance (upto 1 mile) would be my advice.

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:33:47

Wow, MN, that was fast!

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:29:31

Please stop spamming the boards with this bloody thread! angry

wewontbebulliedanymore Thu 10-Apr-14 14:21:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

CruCru Fri 27-Sep-13 18:18:14

Thanks Methren, that is good to hear. A couple of the year 4s showed us round - is your child in that year?

As mentioned up thread, I hope people don't mind me coming back and updating. I had quite a few PMs on schools since my original post and this seems the most efficient way to do it.

Methren Fri 27-Sep-13 10:11:24

Hi CruCru, I am an SPCS parent. It is a lovely school, and we are very happy with it.

I really wouldn't stress too much about the assessment. Unfortunately I think some sort of selection process is inevitable when a school is very oversubscribed, but SPCS do do their best to make it as pleasant as possible for children and parents alike and the assessment is very low-key. Children are taken in groups of about 10 to the Reception classroom for 45 minutes and listen to a story, play and chat with the teachers. In DS's year there are quite a few summer-born children who got non-sibling places, so they definitely don't just cream off the autumn-born children at assessment. Having said that, I still don't know exactly what they do base selection on - but the children definitely don't need to be reading fluently or any of that sort of thing. My DS had to be carried to the door of the classroom and peeled off me, but came out 45 minutes later beaming - and was still awarded a place, so don't believe everything you hear about children automatically "failing" if they won't separate happily from parents.

I think the point about not pushing small children too much is a good one. DS was offered a Reception place at a pre-prep that would have meant taking 7+ or 8+. At the time, we thought this would be a good thing, a chance to reevaluate school choices for prep, and seriously considered this option before accepting a place at SPCS. With hindsight I am very glad that we didn't choose the other school. DS is very able in one particular area but distinctly average in another. With no 7+ "deadline", his ability in the weaker subject has been able to develop more naturally and without pressure, and more importantly his confidence levels have improved enormously. I don't think this would have happened if we had been under pressure to reach a certain standard or master particular skills for 7+.

(Very strange to think that you probably saw my DS yesterday Cru!smile)

CruCru Thu 26-Sep-13 18:28:12

Update: we went to see St Paul's Cathedral School and loved it. To me it felt a bit more like William Tyndale than Dallington (perhaps that isn't surprising).

I liked that there are male teachers and that class sizes are small. The head of pre prep said some very interesting things about how small children shouldn't be pushed too soon. The kids who showed us round were articulate without being polished (which is nice). I also loved the music stuff and the idea that the kids can get involved in things to do with the cathedral.

I do have some concern that the head said there are 20 reception places (less sibling places) and on average 70 kids are assessed for those (the assessment is described as a play date in the November before the September they would start - so between 3 and 2 months and 4 and 2 months).

All in all, this one stays on the list. But I think we need a back up in case we don't get in (frankly William Tyndale would still be a very good option).

Farewelltoarms Sun 23-Jun-13 20:00:07

So you can cross Dallington off your list. If you didn't like it any better than Tyndale, you're far better off with the free one on your doorstep. Plus does Dallington prep for CE? I thought it stopped at 11? There are agencies and tutors who should be able to give you steer on wh secondaries to go for.
The only thing I envy about some privates is the sense that you could subcontract out all the worry and prep about secondary entrance. Hence I'd not opt for somewhere like Dallington, but would poss consider somewhere like the hall. Wh sounds contrary as Dallington much closer in ethos to a state school than some stuffy prep.

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:18:37

One thing I did like about Dallington was the prep they do for common entrance and that they would form a view on where a child should go for secondary.

I think the plan is to see St Paul's Cathedral next (the next open afternoon is in the Autumn so a while off).

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:16:12

Update: We went to see Dallington a little while ago. There was a lot to like about it. The children were lovely and it seems like a really nice, small school. One thing that put me off was that, although there are loads of kids early on, there were few older children (I think 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds shared a classroom). Although I'm sure that they would find sensible work for children in each age group, I wonder whether this might make it difficult for a child to feel like they're progressing through a school later on (and may reflect comments earlier on that children often move after the early years). I didn't like it more than William Tyndale.

I hope you all don't mind the updates - I've had a few PMs asking for my conclusions (which I haven't reached yet) so thought it might be helpful.

Farewelltoarms Fri 24-May-13 12:20:30

Ah so pleased CruCru. I had an 'aha' moment when I saw our (similarish but less posh) N1 primary. Everything fell into place and I'm so glad. I look on how easily we could have felt sucked into going elsewhere and I know without question we are happier as a family for our decision. Possibly not as 'rigorously academic' whatever that means, but without a doubt happier.

CruCru Fri 24-May-13 11:58:33

Update: we went to see William Tyndale this morning and loved it. We'll go and see some other schools as well but am now feeling much better about schools. Thank you all very much for your comments and advice.

CruCru Wed 24-Apr-13 21:47:13

Hi Bitzer

Thanks for this - I'm really glad that WT is a good option. I'm due to visit it at the end of May.

Bitzer Wed 24-Apr-13 20:49:46

I've already answered a couple of these threads so apols if I'm repeating myself but I found personal experiences v useful when I was making this decision. I have one DC at William Tyndale and another starting there in September.

I did have some reservations because I knew so many people who weren't even considering the state options but I have found it to be excellent and it really is such a bonus to be so close to school/have local friends etc. Not to mention the fact that it is free!

One of my DC was at the Children's House, which is a lovely school but I genuinely see no discernible difference in the education they offer. (And I know a number of other parents who have made the Children's House to Tyndale shift for the same reason.) I do also know people who do the school commute up to the Hampstead schools and I personally don't think it is worth either the money or time spent but each to his own and if you're going to spend the next few years worrying about it, then maybe just pay for the peace of mind. But increasingly I think, if you have the option of a really good state school, that peace of mind is all you are paying for in going private. I can't speak for secondary school because we aren't anywhere near that stage but I've spent a great deal of angsting about primary schools and that is my verdict!

Good luck

CruCru Sat 20-Apr-13 15:49:22

Awesome, thanks. I'll give Charterhouse and the Lyceum a ring to have a look round as well.

ponyprincess Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:08

I agree with the posters who encouraged you to have a look at the schools to see which feels right for you, but wanted to give another thumbs up for Charterhouse Square. My DD was summer born and started in the nursery and she had no problems settling in and enjoying things, and our experience throughout was of a really caring and supportive environment. They do also make good use of outdoor space--they have the square gardens for outdoor play and use nearby Golden Lane for sports and swimming, as well as Coram's Fields. Like one previous poster, I cried when I left too, but that was because we were quite sad to leave what for us was a fantastic school!

middlesqueezed Thu 18-Apr-13 14:20:33

We didn't have a problem with that, had one going from St Andrews to Charterhouse and found the first room to be very 'nursery' in style - lots of playing and warmth with lovely, sweet teachers. No stress there for DC or us. Don't believe the hype about Charterhouse hothousing. Sure, it's for parents who want the 3Rs taught in a fairly rigorous way but the children are generally very happy and not overworked, plus it's very gentle in the early years and they have lots of fun too. BUT it depends so much on what you are looking for so you absolutely must see at least your most likely schools for yourself.

CruCru Thu 18-Apr-13 08:46:59

Thanks middle. Charterhouse (and Dallington) start a year earlier than normal intake - how did you find that?

middlesqueezed Wed 17-Apr-13 23:43:02

You may not thank me for chucking this into the mix, but it's also worth thinking about your later hopes for schools as some of these will prep for different entrance tests. For example, Charterhouse Square only goes to 11 so most preparation is geared towards this exam but they do also prep for 7+ and 8+. SPCS goes to 13 and I have been told preps boys almost entirely for this exam and not for the earlier ones. You may find it helps to check this type of thing.
Look at schools you are comfortable with as you will find that you react as you learn more about each one and look around. We loved Charterhouse and I know I'd have been driven insane by Dallington, but others would violently disagree - it depends very much on your own attitudes to education (although I think my children would have been happy at either). And distance is hugely important so don't saddle yourselves with a huge journey. It makes a difference every weekday and also at weekends for playdates and parties.

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 21:26:28

Thank you, that is very helpful.

OddSins Tue 16-Apr-13 20:54:52

We have had children at Dallington and St Pauls travelling from Canonbury and are now at secondary stage admission / selection. So perhaps, I can throw in my tuppenceworth.

I have no real knowledge of WT except to say admission for boys grammars from all schools in North London is extremely difficult with limited choice (DAO c.10, non-sib places per year, Latymer - a tricky journey/environment and highly competitive and QEB - very, very strange place (see eleven plus forum for details). However, a modest proportion of children from Islington state schools transfer to independent schools (but virtually always at eleven). This is slightly restricting as the uber, academic schools prefer transfer at 13, with competition at 11 generally much stronger. UCS, Highgate, Forest and COLB do cater specifically for state transfers at 11, with many parents employing tutors to boost chances.

Dallington is a lovely pre-prep, caring environment but the antithesis of an academic hothouse. We are talking a slight caricature of liberal, Islington education and it by no means suits everyone. We moved on (as many do) after a couple of delightful early years to SPCS.

This school is a nice balance of traditional values, pastoral care and both academic and musical success. Especially the latter. Childrens House is a major feeder, and I hear admission has become quite competitive just recently.

The school is well-connected with the independent sector, especially for music scholarships. Our children are going onto highly academic schools from SPCS and have never felt pushed (although we have done extra papers at home with them prior to their entrance exams) - but NO tutors.

Outdoor space is limited but seems to work well. They do use Coram Fields and Victoria Park. (Many inner London schools also travel).

Good Luck in your choice

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 20:01:38

No, I don't need to pay deposits yet. The registration fee is between £25 and £100 for each school (depending on the school).

SanctifyYourself Tue 16-Apr-13 17:07:19

Wow! You have certainly cast your net wide!

I am guessing that you might have paid registration fees for a few of those schools, but surely they are not already asking for deposits for a 2016 place?

I would agree with the principal of trying to stick close to home - lifestyle is important with such young children and you probably don't want to be travelling too much. Also bear in mind that it will be nice for your DS to develop friendships with children who live nearby for playdates etc, but if you travel far for school they will tend to live out of your area.

I would keep Wm Tyndale in mind for sure, then some of the local or easily accessible indys: Children's House N1, look at Gower School N1 and Rosemary Works N1 if you haven't already done so, then perhaps keep Charterhouse Square on the list if you like the pushy academic approach - a bit further but still accessible (but dont think they have outside space?)

I don't know how easy your transport is to the others outsdie N1, so I haven't commented!
Good luck - you have got lots of time to decide though!

getyourshoesonNOW Tue 16-Apr-13 14:55:34

Blimey, how much has that cost you in deposits? I don't know much about private schools - do they charge a small holding deposit or a hefty one?

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