Ranking of Independent Schools? [confused](8 Posts)
We're from the States and will be moving to London. My husband and I are somewhat perplexed about the ranking of independent/private schools, co-ed and single sex, prep schools, church schools, and state schools. And are all independent schools considered prep schools?
For example, I was looking at Bute House online. We have 3 girls, ages 6, 4, and 2. I told my husband that this looks like a great school! Then I read elsewhere that it's the TOP all girls prep school in London and I'm like.... Ouch! We care very much about our children's education. However, we are more of a laid-back family. We don't want a rigorous and stressful academic environment.
We plan to visit and talk with an education consultant. But would you all be able to give a list of very hard schools to get into as well as the schools that are laid-back, community-oriented with good academics? I feel like I'm wasting time contacting these schools, not realizing they are the cream of the crop!
We are looking into the following areas:
Thanks so much!
I cannot comment on the schools, but you need to see which ones have spaces. "Top" and sought after schools will be full, especially for the 6 year old and possibly even the 4 year old, depending on the school. Other posters will have lots more knowledge. However, independent schools vary on whether they prepare pupils for the Common Entrance exam to senior schools at 13 or whether lots of children transfer at 11, and do 11 plus exams, usually within London.
State schools may recruit depending on where you live but it could be Church affiliation which is difficult for those moving in as you have not had a chance to build up a church profile. Many state schools are full too.
I would say that if a school is boasting lots of children going onto top independent senior schools at 13 or 11, then they will be academic and not very laid back. They will probably have this information on their web site or in their prospectus. Try and make a shortlist of ones which have an ethos that suits you and then get in touch about places available for September, (I assume).
I am not familiar with all the areas you've listed. However, girls' schools that I have visited and liked a lot are St Christopher's and Sarum Hall (both Belsize Park / Hampstead / Swiss Cottage). I know that St Anthony's is opening a girls' school in Hampstead / Golders Green this September - although it is not open yet, the boys' school is lovely and doesn't come across as particularly intense the way the other schools seem to.
It's worth bearing in mind, too, that once you are looking at the schools, say, in the top 50, the differences between them from an academic sense become very slight.
DD went to Hurlingham School in Putney, just across the river from Fulham. It is usually full but, like most preps, there will be some people leaving and others joining every year - not an enormous turnover, just one or two pupils whose fathers might be moving abroad for work, and new families moving to London.
It is co-ed and not selective. The Headmaster was previously Head of City of London Girls which had been the top prep twice in the five years before he moved to Hurlingham. Prior to that he was Deputy Head of Bute House. It won't ever be considered a "top" prep because as it doesn't test at three for entry at four (as many preps do) it will always be mixed ability, but they do get a good percentage of pupils into the top secondary schools, single sex and co-ed. These are listed on their website.
It's pretty laid-back but they work hard when they have to and don't seem to get too stressed. (It was the parents who were fretting over the 11+, not the children!) There is always something going on and loads of after-school or lunchtime clubs where they can try all sorts of interesting things - photography, chess, engineering, and so on. The music department is terrific, and they have four choirs.
Although most of the children are English there is quite a mix of other nationalities too - American, Canadian, Belgium, Italian, German, French for example in DD's particular year.
DD loved every minute of her seven years there and got into the school we both wanted when she left. I was told it would by the right secondary school for her by her Year 5 form tutor and he was spot on. They are very good at pointing you in the right direction when it's time to move on.
Do have a look at their website which has lots of information and if you have any specific questions I'll try to help.
I know a couple of the areas of your list. Your focus seems to be independent schools (fee-paying) so that's what I've listed.
Eaton House the Manor (girls - to 11)
Broomwood Hall (girls to 13)
Thomas' (co-ed to 13)
Finton House (co-ed to 11)
Hornsby House (co-ed to 11)
Academically, they are all broadly in the same range - which is probably somewhere in the middle. Definitely not in the same league as the big Dulwich schools. Local gossip has it that Thomas' is the most pushy and Broomwood is 'poshest' with more of a focus on boarding schools. With people moving of London quite regularly, you should be able to find a slot for your 6 year old (yr 2?) in one of them but finding somewhere for your 4 year old may be trickier as you'd need a place for this September and reception slots tend to fill up a year or so ahead.
JAPS/JAGS (girls to 18)
Alleyns (co-ed to 18)
Oakfield (co-ed to 11)
Rosemead (co-ed to 11)
JAPS and Alleyns are both very academic and hard to get into. They also have formal intakes at 7 which may make ad hoc slots harder to find. I would rule them out certainly for reception spots anyway. Oakfield and Rosemead more like the Clapham/Battersea schools athough possibly not getting kids into quite such good schools later on.
Also Streatham & Clapham High which is based in Streatham (mid-way between Clapham/Battersea and Dulwich so might be an option?). All girls but unlike the others runs through to 18 with juniors and seniors slit across 2 sites.
.*And are all independent schools considered prep schools?*
No, but all prep schools will be independent . Prep schools go from 7/8 to 11 or 13, you might need to consider what age you need to transfer at secondary. Some independent secondaries will only have a 13+ intake so you pick a prep accordingly. Others will have their main intake at 11+ with fewer joining at 12 or 13. Have a look at ISI reports and search website. Much is subjective in terms of ranking though.
how long do you think you will be staying in the uk?
Some prep schools start at 4 and go to 11 or 13 too.
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