Help! In a dilemma about whether to accept place at Wwest London Free school Primary - new free school

(85 Posts)
Firstgold Sun 21-Apr-13 21:45:15

We're struggling to decide whether to take up a place offered at West London FS Primary for DS this September or whether to scrimp and save and just about afford private school.

Concerns are the obvious ones - brand new school (albeit with close links to the West London Free School secondary); unknown quantity in the young headmistress (who isn't meeting any parents until they accept the offer of a place); teaching staff still in the process of being recruited etc etc. We can't even visit the school as it currently houses the secondary and they don't want visitors; DS would be one of 60 reception children and his year group would always be the top of the school (no one to look up to etc as it is filling up year by year from reception each September).

So it would be a big leap of faith. But it could be brilliant and help us save for private secondary school which we'd ideally like to do.

If we go the private route and see how WLFSP works out, and apply for DD in a couple of years, suspect we wouldn't get a place due to sibling policy and probably ever decreasing catchment area...

Firstgold Tue 23-Apr-13 14:37:11

Not sure we could to be honest. The private school wouldn't take us back because its so oversubscribed.

I've been offered a call now with the head (although it isn't the same as a meeting, however brief).

mummytime Belgium Tue 23-Apr-13 14:40:46

Is your son on the waiting list for any other state schools?

lalalonglegs Tue 23-Apr-13 14:51:19

Rather than take a phone call - which is a meaningless concession on the HT's part and will give you very little information - I would press for a group meeting with all prospective parents so that you can ask questions, meet the key staff and get a feel for their outlook. I'm afraid the HT's attitude would ring serious alarm bells but, as many others have said, the school will not be allowed to fail so it's more likely to be a personality clash than a problem with the school itself.

Dickwhittington Tue 23-Apr-13 15:06:46

Darl I'm curious when you say vast what do you mean , how many schools have you set up? How big were they? (not an attack I'm just wondering what constitutes vast and amazed at the number of new schools!!) I'm also wondering whether when you are selling yourself as a school leader you tell the parents you will be moving on.
We have been interested in a couple of schools because of the heads only to find them on the move so I think it is a difficult area for parents.

The attitude of the head is worrying TBH even if it wasn't the head showing you round someone should, I agree about it not being allowed to fail but it is not all about 'failure' at primary level though is it?

irisblue Wed 24-Apr-13 13:19:34

Hi Firstgold,

I'm not sure if I can help as I would have the same doubts as you. Although, I think you should probably try it and if it's not right look for a place at a private school. Circumstances change, places open up - I'm sure you could find a place somewhere.

As a matter of interest. Can I ask how far away from WLFS are you? We're in W12 and hoping to apply for entry next September. A friend who applied this year didn't get in, so I'm wondering if, like John Betts, it's a teeny tiny catchment area?

Thank you

irisblue Wed 24-Apr-13 13:20:03

Hi Firstgold,

I'm not sure if I can help as I would have the same doubts as you. Although, I think you should probably try it and if it's not right look for a place at a private school. Circumstances change, places open up - I'm sure you could find a place somewhere.

As a matter of interest. Can I ask how far away from WLFS are you? We're in W12 and hoping to apply for entry next September. A friend who applied this year didn't get in, so I'm wondering if, like John Betts, it's a teeny tiny catchment area?

Thank you

sanam2010 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:27:10

Irisblue, the widest distance this yeat was 0.62m this year I hear but I would expect it to shrink massively from now on due to siblings.

OP - it's a no-brainer, esp if private school fees are a stretch you should accept! Although you'll make some family very happy if you decline!!

The school will be good because it will be filled with children whose parents and teachers care about their education and set high standards!!

mam29 Wed 24-Apr-13 13:28:16

does the school have awebsite or even built yet?

as I just found academy opening september this year its not build, cant find admissions or website for it yet.

irisblue Wed 24-Apr-13 13:37:09

Crap. That's us out then.

I really don't understand why they had to build a new primary in Brackenbury where there are already two amazing primary schools. Why not Shepherds Bush/Acton where school places are desperately needed...but that's a whole new rant and not going to help OP!

I'd go for it and back out in a year or so if it's not right...

lborolass Wed 24-Apr-13 13:40:29

Sanam - I'm not sure that you're right about the school being full of children whose parents care. OP's posts read as if she didn't put this school as first choice (sorry if I've got that wrong) which doesn't suggest it's oversubscribed. I don't know the area though, would every parent in the 0.6m catchment radius have the same standards?

I'm not sure what I'd do in your position OP, on balance I think I'd give the free school a go and reveiw after a year.

Farewelltoarms Wed 24-Apr-13 14:51:48

Sanam do you work for the school? 'The school will be good because it will be filled with children whose parents and teachers care about their education and set high standards!!' sounds like part of an advertorial, complete with jaunty exclamation marks.
I just googled it out of interest. This uniform list:
http://www.wlfs-primary.org/userfiles/WLFS%20Primary%20Uniform%20list.pdf
is interesting. Do they ensure all parents are those that 'care about education' by insisting on uniform only available from one outfitter and costing at least double what, for instance, my daughters' gingham dresses from John Lewis cost?

Farewelltoarms Wed 24-Apr-13 14:52:07
Firstgold Wed 24-Apr-13 15:22:53

No further forward in our decision ... but thanks for the posts, they've been helpful.

We didn't put it as our first choice - because it wasn't an established school to be honest. And we don't live that close - we're north of Ravenscourt Park, off the Goldhawk Road but west of Askew Road.

I'm concerned that the head won't meet and that she thinks it is enough to go on info on the website and prospectus. ANYONE can say ANYTHING in a prospectus/on a website, and the reality can be quite different. Wish I knew other people who'd had offers so I could mull it over with them.

The other consideration we have is that we both work full time (I'm in the office from 8.30am until at least 6.30pm every day) so won't be at the school gates etc. to hold teachers to account and monitor what is going on....

lalalonglegs Wed 24-Apr-13 15:58:59

How about posting on your local section of MN and seeing if there are any parents in similar position wrt WLFSP or on Chat which gets a lot of traffic? It might also be worth seeing if there are any - for lack of a better phrase - yummy mummy websites local to your area (my area has a couple) on which you can also post and find like minded prospective parents. Good luck - the HT sounds a twat.

ReallyTired England Wed 24-Apr-13 16:06:09

I didn't think was legal for a state primary school to insist on logo'ed uniform or uniform from an expensive supplier. School uniform is completely unenforcable at primary.

sanam2010 Wed 24-Apr-13 16:06:52

Farewelltoarms, no I don't work for the school but i live in H&F and would
Love to send my kids there and know many parents who would - unfortunately we're too far away.

The reason I believe what I wrote before is that a) it's a new school so only those who care enough to read about new schools opening would have put it down as their choice (so this assumes some minimal lvl of interest), plus generally when a school says "we have very high academic standards" it attracts some parents and scares away some others. I went to a similar school to WLFS where i come from and even though it was non-selective, just by obliging children to take Latin till A-Level it selected parents who value a traditional education.

I find there is a lot of Toby Young and WLFS trashing on mumsnet but check the admissions statistics and a lot of parents in H&F would LOVE to send their kids there.

darl2283 Wed 24-Apr-13 16:18:57

Dickwhittington
In 30 years of my teaching career I have worked in four new schools: as a teacher (3 form entry primary school), a deputy head (two form entry primary school)and the last two as head teacher (two form entry primary school and three form entry primary school). I stayed at my previous school until the first cohort of children were moving on to the next stage of their education and the school had been deemed 'oustanding' by Ofsted. As you can see I have not exactly been a 'fly by night' and have stayed at schools for a good amount of time before moving on. I hope that this pedigree entitles me to make a very informed comment on new schools and their set up!

freetrait Wed 24-Apr-13 19:48:25

I had a quick look at the website out of interest. It looks like it is selling itself as "a prep school that you don't have to pay for". If you were going down that route (ie a prep school that you do have to pay for) then I should think you will be very happy with the school.

christinarossetti Wed 24-Apr-13 20:07:43

As an aside, this is the aspect of Toby Young that I like least.

Putting deliberate barriers up to some sectors of the community (school jumper for £19 and calling terms 'Michaelmas') whilst his school rakes in £££££ of public money.

Sorry, that doesn't help you OP but it really gets up my nose.

tethersend Wed 24-Apr-13 20:26:21

They will be using the former site of Cambridge school, where the secondary is currently I believe? Correct me if I'm wrong.

I haven't seen inside it since it was Cambridge school, but even then it was fit for purpose- I can only imagine that they have made improvements since then.

As to the head's attitude, I am a bit hmm, but it seems as if she realises people want to get their kids in and she can be as stand-offish as she likes. That would concern me.

freetrait Wed 24-Apr-13 20:33:18

Yes, why should uniform be costly at a state school? Why should you have to buy boys trousers from the school shop? And I agree, what's wrong with Autumn, Spring and Summer?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Wed 24-Apr-13 21:52:25

That uniform list is ludicrous and pretentious. Why, for example, no trousers for little girls? Prep without the price tag, clearly.

musu Wed 24-Apr-13 22:03:51

So the uniform shop is the same one that supplies Eton College. For a state primary? hmm

You have to buy trousers from the school shop to ensure they are all the same colour grey. Ds's prep didn't even insist on that so everyone bought them from M&S.

ReallyTired England Wed 24-Apr-13 22:07:51

It would be interesting to see if a parent challenges the stupid uniform or what happens if a child with a disablity is given a place at the school.

Elibean Wed 24-Apr-13 22:57:39

Why won't the head meet prospective parents? confused

All other heads do. If it's to do with sheer volume, then hold large meetings/open days!

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