North London Collegiate or Highgate School at 7+(34 Posts)
My DD has just been offered North London and Highgate School at 7+.
I was convinced I will send her to Highgate (co-ed, less pressure, excellent facilities, more of a mix ethnically (North London appears to be mainly Asian/Jewish)). But quite a few of my friends told me this is the wrong decision and DD woul be a perfect girl for North London. She is very bright and self motivated. I don't need to sit with her when she does homework and she always wants to do her best. She is very confident but also very sensitive. She has no problem at all making friends but gets upset when there is any disharmony even when she is not involved eg when someone is not nice to someone else.
Any opinions on both schools would be extremely welcome.
Where do you live? NLCS a way from highgate, although plenty of parents do the journey. Any other siblings to consider? Where are her friends going?
All things being equal, take the school that is nearest to you!
My vote for NLCS. DD has been really happy there. I like that she doesn't have the pressure and rough and tumble of boys around her and there is no assumption about subjects that are more for the boys. I was really surprised when I toured Hgate that there were so few girls doing maths and physics at A level. It may not be your DD's strength when she gets to that age but I thought how lucky my DD is that she was never put off doing those subjects. Ditto sport. The coach is actually a fun part of the school day rather than a drag. As for ethnic mix, NLCS is incredibly diverse. Hgate is much more 'white'. Lots of opportunity for social parental involvement at NLCS and a very down to earth group of families. The best bit as far as I can see was the amazing quality of the teaching. I have 3 DCs at different schools and NLCS is far and away better than the others.
Congratulations! That's amazing x
Yours right about pressure of Nlcs and the mix!
The one thing I'd say is if it's too far rethink. Nlcs do have a lot parental involvement and although it's not compulsory but the girls do feel it when a parent is not there. You can't attend everything but when so many mothers at the school dint go to work and hence do attend the benchmark is raised so to speak!
That said, they have excellent clubs, great teachers and the rest x
Good luck in your decision making x
Totally agree with Bonsoir, choose the school that's nearest, it will make everyone's lives so much easier in years to come.
I'd say it depends on your priorities, an appetite for a
Longer school run, if co ed is important to you etc.
Another vote for NLCS here. My DD was a 7+ intake, and the sensitive sort. She is thriving there. We were in a sort of similar position to you when we made our choice as she had been accepted by other schools e.g SHHS, City etc and we had doubts but eventually her love for NLCS and the academics was the decising factor for us. You are right that the ethnic mix is completely different in these 2 schools. Highgate is mainly white Christian/Jewish. In my DD's class 50%-60% is Asian with a sprinkle of everything else. They all mix fine though. There is a mixture of personalities, from the overconfident to the quiet ones. If anything I find that the quieter ones eventually get out of their shell and they are doing fine. Girls' friendships are always a tricky thing so if your DD is the sensitive sort who does not like disharmony she will face the same challenges wherever she goes, even at a co-ed school. At primary level girls tend to play together and being at a co-ed school doesn't change this. My DD was at a co-ed prep school before and friendship or disharmony issues were no different. If anything at NLCS it is easier to walk away and play with someone else as both classes (all 50 girls) play together, the girls have joint parties and generally do things together.
NLCS is also far more academic than Highgate and as horsemadmom said there is no gender bias towards subjects. My DD loves science and they do a lot of it in a fun way. They also do chess as part of the normal curriculum (in addition to any clubs). We do not feel any "pressure". The pace is fast and the girls have some sort of homework every day (e.g science, history, geography, maths) from the early days but nothing taxing. Some of it is research based so your DD will need to familiarise herself with internet research and encyclopedias so adult support is needed at least at first. They do teach them research skills at school though, which is great. The year 3 teachers and TAs are lovely.
Parental involvment at school events etc is no different to any other school. Not the schools that my kids attend anyway and there are working mums at NLCS who cannot help with the sewing of the Christmas concert costumes. That's fine. :-)
If memory serves right there will be an offer holders meeting soon. If in doubt speak to some of the existing mums. They are honest and helpful.
Lastly, as you will have guessed from my name we do not live local to the school. DD returns to our neck of the woods on the coach around 5, or 4.30 when she doesn't go to clubs and gets the early coach. We have not found it a problem (although I must admit that attending events is a little bit more of a hassle for us than if she attended a local school).
Apologies for the very long post (and any typos) I hope it was helpful. Good luck!
Actually, mumteacher, most of the mums in my DD's year do work. Parental invites during the day are only once a term for your class assembly and this is purely optional. I was referring to evening events.
The trade off with the distance- well, my DS goes to a much more local school and I have spent many an hour circling to find parking and had a fair few parking tickets when daytime events ran late. Walking to the coach stop is so much nicer than fighting traffic in the car.
I think local is good at this age, not only because of your dd's journey but yours in getting to school events etc. Also friends are more likely to be local at Highgate - this would be important to me. Both are good schools and I'm sure your dd would enjoy either. On co-ed and science at a-level, I would be interested in percentage of girls in the school doing these subjects rather than absolute numbers. I think the current Y11 at Highgate is the first really co-ed year. Previous sixth forms only had about 25% girls which might explain the lower numbers. Incidentally I've just checked the Times league tables at GCSE and NLCS is at number 1 with Highgate at 8, so saying NLCS is 'far more academic' might be stretching it a bit!
Horsemadmum I can't vouch for your DD's yr and what goes on but so far this yr alone we have been invited on the following occasions to attend: plays,concerts, assembly,help sew in class, a school trip and a meet the new parents coffee mornin! We still have book sales, bring and buy sales, open days, school action mornings, sports day, summer fate and heavens know what else to go!
Lovemytablet I saw that in the Times and had similar thoughts ;)
Dear All, I am extremely grateful for your advice and detailed comments. Thank you so much! Everyone who has DDs at NLCS seems to be very positive about the school. I work part-time, so parental involvement is fine and I quite like to be involved. However, mumteacher definitely has a point. My DD already complains now if I cannot attend an event because I am working.
I heard from a few people it is common that the 2 large groups (Asian and Jewish) tend to socialize mainly in their own group, although I don't get this impression looking at your comments, which is reassuring.
My DD is very good in maths and I believe there is evidence that girls do better in girls' schools. However, I wonder if girls then find it a little more difficult when they go to uni. Do the girls at NCLS have contact with boys from other schools?
Another point: I have met a few mums who truly, I believe, went totally over the top when preparing their children for the assessment. Of course, I did prepare DD but not to the extent of doing something every single day even during the holidays, as some mums did. I expect DD to work hard and achieve but not at the total expense of her childhood. I am worried that I might get into a similar habit to keep up.
It is a hard decision. Just to clarify-
-mumteacher's list of events is spread out over a year and some of those are weekend dates (fete, open day).
-Everyone socializes together. There is a much broader mix that just Jewish/Asian and it makes the school anamazing and energetic.Our DCs will be working in a globalized economy and having a comfort level with even small differences in culture creates open minds.
-The only comments I've heard re Uni are of the 'boys talk a lot of crap in tutorials' variety. The girls have symposia with boys schools in the senior school (Eton, Whitgift, Harrow, Habs, QE etc), M.U.N., shared forein exchanges etc. In the junior school, they have partner days with the local primary. My DD has a VERY active social life. Stand on Hampstead High Street on a Friday afternoon and count how many different uniforms you see.
- As for your last point, if your DD has been bright enough to get in, she'll have a great time. It really isn't pressurised.
Lilly2013 sounds like you have a great balance for work and fun which is fab. Glad you were able to maintain that over the assessment process when clearly so many parent seem to 'loose the plot' and over do everything.
To be ranked number 1 in the league tables doesnt come without some pressure! But we love the school and Your DD is going to love Nlcs too I'm sure.
Horsemadmum out of the 12 things I mentioned only 2 take place at the weekend and out of the 12 things I mentioned 6 have already taken place! Please don't clarify things that you don't know about!
Lilly2013 - on the events front mumsteacehr list is accurate, but in my personal experience no different to other prep school's. I attended (or was invited to) the same number of events (if not more) at my DD's previous school, for example. If this is a decision making factor for you (and I suspect it is not) I can find out from my many friends with children at Highgate what the lay of the land is there.
On the socialising front I have not observed any issues either within my DD's year or older girls. As horsemadmum says the girls have a very active social life.
As to keeping up, I think you hit the nail on the head with your reference to "some mums". If there is any pressure it comes from some mums' perceptions of what their DD should be doing. Not the school. There is a mixture of tiger mums, of laid back ones, those who Kumon, those who don't, those who worry, those who don't. If the school offered her a place at 7+ she will be absolutely fine. (Another long post - sorry!)
Dear mumteacher, hampsteadmum, horsemadmum and all others, I really appreciate your comments. Each comment provides further information, which helps in the decision making process. I may well change my mind and choose North London (will wait for tomorrow when we will do another visit).
May I ask if anyone would be able to comment further on Highgate? I very much liked the principal of the junior school. The headteacher of the senior school was ok as well. When I asked him a few questions, however, he told me North London would suit me very well, as I appear to want the Gold standard in everything (he knows my DD was offered a place from his secretary whom I told). Do you believe it? I thought this was a bit much!
Another question: Do you have to pay for all afterschool activities or are some free (question for both schools)?
Thank you so much again!
In yr 3 girls girls can choose from a host of different clubs from dance to crafts to gym. Clubs are from 3.30 till 4.00 and each can do three a week. They change every two terms. This doesn't cost anymore.
HT somewhat cheeky! X
Lilly - who made the comment to you? Head if juniors or head of senior school. In either case, I must say the both Heads are a major strength of the school. Might have been a bit of humour that went awry???
Here are the big differences:
1. Obviously, Highgate has boys.
2. Lots more homework at NLCS
3. Highgate very keen on the "all-round" approach to school. After-school clubs (nearly all free, except when they get outside people in) are a BIG deal. But sports, drama, art etc play a big part in school life. NLCS, I believe, has more of an academic focus.
4. Most Highgate families are N6, Hampstead, the Suburb. NLCS has a much bigger geographical spread.
Squeaver-just an aside - a question if you don't mind. We will be trying out our DS for Highgate next year and we live in crouch end. Are the families from highgate school usually based more around highgate/hampstead? Moving him from local state primary and concerned that he will have local friends (if he gets in obviously! It seems like an amazing school!!). Sorry to go off topic a bit OP - I hope you'll excuse the question. Good luck OP. what a lovely dilemma to have!
No, I should have included that. Quite a few from Crouch End and Muswell Hill too.
Does Highgate truly challenge the very able children, in particular not in the sense of giving them just more of the same but more interesting extensions of the curriculum?
We have to decide by Wednesday which school to take. My DD loved North London (perhaps a little more than Highgate) but I just want her to have perhaps more time for art/sport etc and less homework when she is young (different matter in senior school).
But then her headmistress for whom I have a lot of respect recommended today she goes to NL, where she feels my DD would sail through!
Seriously, I am totally confused again. I know we are in a privileged position but it still causes me real stress, as it is a decision made for the next decade of DD's life.
Another question: Is it true that Highgate has a lot of very wealthy people while at NLCS are more people with "normal professions e.g doctors, accountants etc..
Lilly - Highgate has very many extremely able children. There is great provision - early morning maths club for the two top mathematicians in each class, something called Brain academy where a few of the more able children where they do algebra etc.
We have a very bright child (ie had a choice of Westminster) going in sept to join a sibling.
Vast majority of the parents are hardworking professionals. A lot of mums work. I'd say the most common profession in my son's year 5 class is doctor.
Yes, there are some notable a list celebs. But vast majority are yes, overall privileged, but not many of the superwealthy.
It's an amazing school. For what it's worth I know a family with two boys at Highgate who are in the process of moving their three girls from North London to join the boys. Found the latter way too much of a hot house for their very able girls. Clearly though its a fantastic school and the majority of parents happy with NLCs.
Thank you so much for your detailed reply!
May I just ask another questions re provision for able children?
I heard that year 3 is mainly consolidation of knowledge. My daughter is already at mid to end year 3 level in English and Maths and in fact will do Sats for year 3. (I don't say this to boast but because I really value your opinion) Will the school provide interesting extra work? Someone told me her son was only given more of the same, when he finished his work early in class.
Lilly - most parents at both schools are professional middle class parents. You will not see A-list celebs at NLCS but will find some at Highgate (e.g actors' and footballers' children).
As to stretching the able, I cannot comment on Highgate, but at NLCS at year 3, for example, the Maths and English books for the whole class are year 4 books (but not only). They stretch the most able too and there are provisions to help the ones who need help.
As to the question for arts and sports I am not sure whether you refer to time for after school activites. At NLCS they do plenty of art, drama, music during school hours. They is always a performance (or 3) around the corner. There are also free clubs for games, gymnastics, swimming, arts and crafts and numerous music activities, chamber choir, instrumental ensembles, orchestra etc. Most girls have additional music lessons and/or attend sports/other activities outside school hours too.
Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.
We're friends with parents of a child at nlcs because she left our state school to go there at the end of year 2. We have nlcs down for 11+ but from what we now know we think either the school is not really ahead of others in terms of school work or the child is too bright for them.
Hampsteadmum, they don't do year 4 work or use yr 4 book at year 3. I KNOW that because we regularly see their year 3 work and I can even tell you what they are doing right now in maths.
For Lilly2013, don't worry about the home-work level (it is not too much and not too difficult for any child at that stage in a good state/private school), don't worry about the HIGH intensity teaching (if it's there at all, it is not far away from anything they do at most good schools), and as for rich parents (don't even think about that although the father of the child we know is something special brain-wise and will sooner or later appear prominent in national life).
What I like of nlcs is the array of outdoor projects they expose young pupils to in addition to their studies. Yesterday for example those in Y3 learnt about Vikings and had time to research and prepare for this class and seeking objects to take to school. My state school child was filled with envy but she did most of the preparation with her friend but could not appear in the class with her good friend and had to wait for her from school to fill us in with the rest - which they then practised together.
This is where nlcs develop the child and prepare them for outstanding results in later years. They have outstanding scripts for the child to learn every now and then. They hold several events every now and then. In less than one year, we can see the difference in the all round ability of the nlcs child rather than us just knowing her as being very clever.
So if you believe that people learn more by doing projects, testing things out by themselves and being regularly creative and challenged to think outside the box rather than being taught to memorise stuff or just do kumons worksheet forever, then you would easily understand why nlcs appears to be a great school. This is what I think separates them from the other schools I know about and why they produce outstanding results. They have the right formula and work really hard on presentation too. If I was in government, I would get some of their people to help out on education policy.
The head at NLCS does help out on education policy.
Yes - what did you decide? Does anyone know how many reserve list letters Highgate issued?
mumteacher please can i PM you?
Hampsteadmum, your post is so helpful, would you mind if I pm you to ask you a few things about nlcs?
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