Advice about North London pre-prep admission

(15 Posts)
stretto Mon 20-May-13 19:04:57

How does St. Margaret's Hampstead stand up against other North London pre-prep schools?
Is it difficult to get a place at St. Margaret's at 4+?
Is admission there comparable or easier than entry to Highgate or South Hampstead School for Girls?

horsemadmom Mon 20-May-13 19:58:36

St Margaret's is not selective. SHHS very much is. Highgate doesn't have many places at 4+ as it has a nursery intake registered from birth.

stretto Mon 20-May-13 20:10:03

Thanks horsemadmom. We have been told that entry to St. Margaret's is by assessment and that they only have 12 places so maybe they have recently tightened up their entry.
Does anyone have recent experience of applying to St. Margaret's?

traintracks Tue 21-May-13 16:08:30

St Margarets accepts 40 applications for the 12 places so it is selective but with a 3.5:1 ratio, vs SHHS 10:1 and NLCS 5-7:1.

It is a lovely school, very small but makes good use of other local facilities for sports etc. Goes to 16 and then sends to a wide range of private and academically selective state schools.

They pride themselves on each girl fulfilling their potential and will provide extra tuition for those at either end of their ability range, this includes sitting some girls for A levels at 16. In recent years they have had a girl get a scholarship to NLCS for sixth form and another do very well in the maths olympiad.

I really like the head and I like the fact that the Head and about 25% of the staff are male as these very academic all girls schools can have a slightly odd atmosphere and I think male input is a good thing.

Katsky Fri 24-May-13 14:11:44

Just to mention Highgate, the 3+ admission is by assessment and definitely not waiting list from birth. I know this from recent experience. There are 32 places (16 girls and 16 boys) and many more applicants than places. This year apparently quite a few siblings missed out so it is by no means an easy option. That said, the assessment was very friendly and low key and you've nothing to lose (except the application fee!). I did the SHHS 4+ a few years ago with my eldest and it was a similar set up although the groups of children they assessed were larger than the groups at Highgate. Unfortunately I don't have any experience of St Margaret's aside from a couple of families I know who have gone there and seem very happy indeed - I can't remember any assessment process but that was a few years back and maybe things have changed.

traintracks Fri 24-May-13 22:06:22

Highgate gives strong priority to children of old boys, if you aren't one then there is no guarantee that you will even get an assessment as they don't see all who apply.

The Head st St Margarets was new in 2008 and I get the feeling that the school has changed for the better in the last few years, it may be that assessment at 4+ is either new or more rigorous than it was in the past. They seem to be looking for things like pencil skills, drawing, writing name etc.

I know the Head at St Margarets, he is married to the SENCO at the school I work at. St M has definitely improved during his headship.

Having said that, my impression is that it's not seen as academic and it's not as well known as SHHS etc.

stretto Sun 26-May-13 13:44:25

Hi everyone
Thank you for all the advice. Sorry not to reply sooner - FIL has been ill.

If DD were to get into schools like Highgate and SHHS would she be a pretty strong candidate for St. Margaret's, or is it not as clear-cut as that?
We might be buying a house near St. Margaret's, so if it's a good school (as it appears to be) then it would probably be better for us than the big famous ones.

Assuming the house purchase goes ahead, if we turned down a 3+ place at Highgate in the hope of a place at St. Margaret's, could we find ourselves left high and dry?

traintracks Mon 27-May-13 20:20:31

Why would you turn down the place at Highgate, am I missing something? If you get a place at Highgate then take it, it is as good a place as any to do a year of preschool, then do the 4+ from there and if you don't get into St Margarets at 4 you can stay on their waiting list for any occasional places, and I think they usually have a few at 7.

St M gets respectable GCSEs, not up there with SHHS and NLCS in the league tables, however they have no chucking out process (it isn't talked about but most of the very academic schools do encourage some children to leave at 7 and 11) and they do take a broader academic range, something which they take pride in. They seem very switched on about getting the girls into their first choice sixth form, I think about a third go to Highgate and the rest to a range of private and academically selective state schools like Henrietta Barnett.

traintracks Mon 27-May-13 20:22:21

Ps. I assume you have been to an open day, I would ring up and ask to go and see Mr Webster, the head, it wouldn't surprise me if they informally have a preference for those who live very locally, he might give you some idea if this is the case.

I'm not sure how old your daughter is but they do limit their applications to 40 per year so you might want to register her soon to avoid missing out on even being assessed.

stretto Tue 28-May-13 13:37:04

That's very helpful, thank you. How do tinies (3+) cope with a morning commute? As a first-time mum, I don't really know whether it's practical to travel in morning rush house.

stretto Tue 28-May-13 13:37:30

Rush house? I meant rush hour!!

Maroush1972 Tue 28-May-13 15:32:17

Not that it may sway your decision but I know that Highgates literature stresses that try do not want candidates to leave after the nursery year (the offer letter in fact asks you not to take up the place if you intend to leave after the nursery year).

traintracks Wed 29-May-13 16:14:19

Highgate pre prep is a half day only, so I wouldn't have thought the commute would be too bad, she can always nap at home if she is tired.

None of the schools want people to leave at non standard leaving points, as they have the hassle of filling the space, but it happens everywhere and unless they get you to sign a contract that you will stay, with a financial penalty, there isn't much they can do. Being offered a place at a school very close to you is quite a compelling argument for moving.

Hi stretto, I am finally going to PM you!

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