Chiswick Schools - advice gratefully received(5 Posts)
I have recently moved to Chiswick in west London with my husband and 1 year old son. We are expecting another boy in a few weeks time making them 1 academic year apart.
We are just trying to get our heads around the school options and would be hugely grateful for any feedback others may have. Our state catchment school is William Hogarth, which we aren't able to look at until much nearer the time our eldest will start.
In the meantime we have been looking at the various options for private shooling in case this is a route we decide to take (if we can make ourselves comfortable with the financial outlay). We registered for Ravenscourt Park Prep on my son's first birthday. I haven't yet registered for Orchard House, although we have been on a tour of the school. We are looking at Falcons in a couple of weeks and are thinking of registering for Norland Place although have been advised we would go onto a waiting list at this stage. I understand we can't look at Chiswick and Bedford park until our eldest is 2.
I guess my question is, how on earth do you know which kind of school is going to be right for your boys until they grow a little bit older? I could be wrong but I have a feeling our eldest is likely to be pretty physical and would therefore benefit from a school that enjoys and places some emphasis on sports/outdoor games. I instinctively feel that Falcons might be a good fit from reading various reviews but not sure whether a same sex environment is a positive move at such a young age.
I would love to hear from any parents of boys who might advise of their sons and their own recent personal experiences of the schools mentioned above - whether it be related to the education, enjoyment, particular strengths of the school (arts/sports etc) or the heads/teachers. Any information you can offer would be hugely appreciated as we currently feel a bit overwhelmed with it all, particularly in the light of people telling us we must register now.
I grew up in the suburbs of London and went to a mixed state primary and same sex state senior school, whereas my husband grew up in London and went to Colet court and St Paul's. Our personal experiences of education are therefore pretty broad overall which perhaps isn't helping the confusion!
Thanks so much in advance for your thoughts.
All the schools you mention are good. You're doing the right thing at the moment by looking around them and getting a feel of what they are like. As long as you register (for a short list ideally) you don't need to make any decisions now - in two years time, or whenever the offer letters go out (varies by school, annoyingly), you can have another look around and get an up-to-date view of the schools and your boys' needs.
Don't underestimate the need for convenience - it is far nicer to be able to walk to a school than have a horrible car or bus journey each day for years. For that reason I would not bother with Norland Place; it's highly unlikely you would get a place anyway. Sports wise, as well as Falcons, Orchard House places a strong emphasis on sports. It has specialist sports teachers and makes good use of local facilities. Boys take part in quite a few matches and tournaments, as do those at Ravenscourt Park. I would say Chiswick & Bedford Park is weaker for sports, but I'm no expert on the school.
As far as I know (although may be wrong), Orchard House is more of a girls' school with boys allowed - if that makes sense! I think a lot of boys leave at 7/8. But, I'd probably wait for someone who knows more to come along!
I live near Ravenscourt Park and the children from RP always seem to be doing sport there. Have also heard that Falcons is good. I would also second choosing a school without a huge commute...
Oh and if you're near the Kew end of Chiswick, it might be worth checking out Kew Prep (I think that's what it's called)
Orchard House is going through the transition stage of boys staying until 11 (it expanded a couple of years ago, before which boys had to leave at 8) and is keen to encourage its perception as a full co-ed school. I believe more boys are staying on now than leaving at 7/8 and this will continue to be the trend, particularly by the time the OP's children would be there.
Thanks so much for your responses, it's incredibly helpful to hear your thoughts. We will take your advice and not bother registering for Norland Place, we were a little on the fence with it anyway and your points have confirmed our reservations. I wasn't a huge fan of Orchard House when we went on the tour but as you rightly say, it's a way off before our boys would be there and it only seems sensible to put yourself in a position where you have choice later down the line. We are seeing Falcons next week which I'm really looking forward to. Thanks again.
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