Junior Years: Dallington, Lyceum, Charterhouse Square (you get the picture)(14 Posts)
I need your advice please.
My son's once lovely primary school has turned into a grim place over the last year: mass resignations, poor communication, an unfriendly head who distances himself from parents, dissatisfied parents, supply teachers and a new SATs orientated slant (away from the once creative, child-focussed approach).
My son is in Year 2 and has started getting dull, unimaginative work. He's a bright child (L2s at end Y1) and he's starting to complain that school isn't interesting anymore. I can't say I blame him. The work really is basic with very little attempt to differentiate (so class work now seems to be geared towards those who are struggling, with little attention paid to those who are ahead).
I've put his name down for three other local state schools - but there has been general parental flight and the waiting lists are long. I'm unlikely to get into two of them ever, and one of them could, possibly, have a place in Y4 or Y5. Or never. It's just not clear (it's a popular school and people tend to move near it). I've also considered moving, though it seems a bit extreme to move nearer to a school for the last few years of Primary - if I move now it should really be about Secondary..
So: Plan B. Private schools near my work (I work on the outskirts of the City). So far I've looked at Dallington, Charterhouse Square and Lyceum, but I really need some up to date parental opinions on these places. In particular:
1) How much homework do these schools get. Do they have free time? Are they creative? Are the kids nice (polite, cooperative, snobby?). Are any of them exam factories? How much of an issue is outside space?
2) Are the classes small/large? Is the teaching actually any good? Do they give proper attention to children and help them develop their interests?
3) Re Dallington: A bit woo? What if my son likes science. Arts is all well and good, but do they have good teaching for maths and the like?
Is the head about to go - and is her replacement likely to be any good?
4) Charterhouse Square School: run by a big company for last three years- so what's it like now (I know that three years ago it was a sweet school - but has it retained it's character or changed...and if so, for the worse?).
5) Lyceum. Very strict, homework etc?
I don't have any ambition for my son to go to a super-selective private school. I'd be happy with a good state. I just want him to have his curiosity and eagerness to learn maintained and if possible expanded. Opportunity for fun, lovely teachers, nice kids.
Basically the state school that our local primary school once was...
Hi OP, I don't have first-hand experience of the 3 schools you mention, but if you are looking for additional suggestions you could also consider the Gower School (at Angel) and St Paul's Cathedral School. The Gower has good wrap-around and holiday care (useful for working parents) and St Paul's has an intake point at 7+ (i.e. for Year 3).
I have my son registered for all three of these schools (he is two so it is early). I have seen Dallington but not the others yet - can I recommend that you have a look round all three?
Re Dallington - there was a lot to like. The kids were super nice and their early years stuff looked very nice. I feel kids start a bit too early there (3.5 ish) but that won't affect you. The classes get smaller as kids progress throughout the school, which may be okay or not. I know that they do prepare kids for the common entrance but they have said that they are not a "hothouse". No idea how "woo" they are compared to other schools. They have some outside space but I feel the school building (although they seem to make good use of it) may be a problem - perhaps a problem in all City schools though.
Friends of ours have a son there and are very happy.
Charter house Square - kids go into a ballot and the 26 who come out the hat (less siblings) get spaces for reception. No idea whether they would have space. Prob worth asking them.
Lyceum - gets quite mixed opinions on here but may be what you are looking for.
I did a thread a while ago called Noth London N1 - think I've applied to too many schools and got some super helpful responses on these and other schools. When I'm on the laptop I'll try and find it to link to.
Sorry - meant to say Dallington have outside space round the corner but not attached to the building.
This is the thread I was thinking of:
North London schools thread
I can only comment on Charterhouse Square, the atmosphere hasn't changed much at all since it was taken over. The school has got bigger and gained a library, and the fees have gone up. The teachers are still lovely and the children very friendly towards each other; they generally enjoy going there and learn a lot. Children go on to a range of schools; high-level selective, less selective independent, state (not so many state but certainly it's not rare). Although the earliest level of entry is via a ballot, this wouldn't apply to older children as it would just depend on a space being available. The head and admin staff are very helpful so I'd recommend giving them a call to chat.
Rather than me repeat it all here, if you search my user name and also a poster called Summersoon you will get our views on the Lyceum. When you've had a read, PM me with questions. Summary: We and our DD loved it. She couldn't have had a better school.
Thanks for the input.
I wondered if anyone knew of any other school I might have left out...
I listed a whole bunch in the thread I linked to - it includes St Paul's Cathedral as well as a few in north London.
There are some open afternoons coming up for St Paul's Cathedral (the first for 4+ is next Thursday but you may want the 7+ one). It's worth checking out their website.
Hmmm. Tricky. No recent knowledge but my tuppence worth based on what I've seen and heard. All these schools are non academically selective and serve a cross section of Islington / Hackney MC parents with poor state options (real or perceived) plus a smattering of parents who wouldn't choose state regardless of where they could get into. Can be a reasonably mixed/international crowd given location. All three schools will try to secure DC places at independent secondaries in the wider area and get them thru the exam if it is the parents wish (which in most cases it is). Believe Lyceum and Charterhouse a bit pushier on the exam front than Dallington - a function of the parent crowd as much as the school. I believe only a small minority from all these schools will go state for secondary (although some may go state along the way, eg if a coveted waiting list place comes up). In terms of the individual schools. Lyceum I know the least about but sounds v small - maybe 100 kids in total? About a dozen in each year group. No outside space although I know they do try to go out. Quite a tradish uniform which you may or may not like. Hearing via grapevine that a lot of Yr 5 is taken up with exam prep. Charterhouse has expanded in recent years, also has no outside space, but slightly larger classes which in the upper years I consider an advantage. Dallington fares best on outside space, but do be aware that all pupil traffic post Year 2 is one way (out not in). If DC going into Yr 3 say next Sep you are looking at them potentially spending 4 years in one classroom (2 groups, Yr 3-4 and Yr 5-6 share the ground floor room). Bit stifling perhaps? DC likely to do more work at either Charterhouse or the Lyceum, but hard to tell how fun/imaginative or otherwise said work may be. Lyceum meant to be pretty strong on music so if DC keen on an instrument that may be a plus. Good luck, perhaps best of all was if your current school pulled their socks up and started to feel alright again....
Dallington most likely to fit your requirements as there are more parents who are happy with state for secondary. You could also try the Gatehouse School near Victoria Park (they have school buses to Islington etc) although I think it will be hard to get a place. But I know a share of children move on to local state secondaries like the Mossbourne Academy and some of the new free schools from there.
There is also Rosemary Works in N1, on the canal. It has a playground which is a big plus.
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