North London (N1) - think I've applied to too many schools

(92 Posts)
CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 09:14:06

Hi all

After DS was born, I applied to a bunch of schools (listed below) on the advice of friends with older children (as we may not get into them all). I am now trying to make sense of the list and come up with some order of preference.

I am also pregnant with DC2. If it is a girl then this may eliminate some of our list (boys only) as getting two kids to different schools at the same time sounds a nightmare.

The list is:

- Devonshire House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2015 (a year earlier than normal intake)
- Arnold House (NW8) - to start Autumn 2017 (a year later than normal intake)
- St Paul's Cathedral (EC4M) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake)
- The Children's House (N1) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake). We'll only get in here if DS gets into the nursery (which we have applied for). Also, it only goes to 7 so we would have to find another school from 7 to 11 or 13.
- Dallington (EC1V) - to start Spring 2015 (I think this is very early)
- Lyndhurst House (NW3) - to start September 2016 (normal intake)
- The Hall (NW3) - to start September 2017
- Charterhouse Square (EC1M) - to start September 2015. The names are put into a ballot and only the ones drawn get places.
- Hereward House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2016
- The Lyceum (EC2A) - to start September 2016
- Abercorn (NW8 I think but if they stay with the school it moves to NW1 at some point).
- St Anthony's Prep (NW3). This is Catholic but they take some non Catholics.

Oh god. This is an impossible list. I think ideally I'd like DS to start school at the normal intake (September 2016) as he is 5 in September 2016. I think kids go to school for long enough without starting early.

Perhaps one way I can filter this is to work out how long it will take us to get to each school and then eliminate the ones that have an insane journey.

I'm not terribly keen on uniforms. The only ones on this list without a uniform are the Children's House and Dallington.

For secondary schools, I'd like to aim for Highgate / City of London / UCS etc.

We also live right round the corner from William Tyndale (N1) which has no uniform, a normal intake year and is super popular. It may be that we end up going for that one.

If you have any thoughts on any of these schools, I would be really grateful to have them. Thanks!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 09:28:09

Sorry, it was quite a long one.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 13-Apr-13 10:19:57

Blimey! Did you pay a deposit for all of those or is that not how it works? I think you are right - eliminate any that have a long commute because doing it with a toddler in tow won't be fun. Then pick out the ones that let him start when you want him to start and discard the rest. If DC2 is a girl then eliminate any all-boys' schools and you probably will only have about three options left. From that you can make a sensible decision by visiting and getting a feel for the place. I wouldn't make the uniform thing a big factor - I happen to agree that no uniform is nicer but it probably shouldn't be a clinching factor unless nothing else separates two schools. BTW though, if you aren't planning to send him until he is 5 then maybe look into preschool options because most kids will do some kind of pre-school at least for the year before they start school - or just send him at 4, provided the school is offering a proper play-based curriculum and is not a little academic hothouse.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 13-Apr-13 10:22:46

Oh, and if you live around the corner from a successful and popular state school with no uniform that would start when you want him to start and doesn't require you to spend any money... for me that would be a no-brainer! However, I am not culturally wired up for private school so would only consider it if all else failed, whereas you may have good reasons for wanting to go private.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 12:06:03

Hi Biscuits - yes we paid a deposit for each (except St Anthony's where you don't need to until you get to interview stage). I did it in a sort of postnatal fog as DS was only a few weeks old at the time.

I would be happy for him to go to a state school. The reason I applied was that most of them close the waiting list before the kids are 1 (although Arnold House will only take applications when the kids are aged between 1 and 2) so I didn't want to miss out.

Perhaps the reason for considering private schools is that they prepare them for the entrance exams to places like City of London, Highgate etc. although there are some really good state primaries in Islington (WIlliam Tyndale is one), the non faith secondaries are not so good (I don't think many of them have more than half the kids getting 5 A to Cs at GCSE, which I find unacceptable).

I know that DS could do well at lots of schools but going to a school where only a few seem to do well is hard work. I went to a school like that.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 12:14:06

I've gone through and worked out how long it is meant to take to get to each school using the TFL website - between 26 minutes (okay) and 53 minutes (sounds like a long time). A couple we need to get two tubes or the overground and a tube which seems a bit impractical. The others we get on a bus or the overground and then have a walk at the other side.

How long a school journey is too long? I know it's subjective but presumably it gets to a point where it isn't practical (unless we move to be closer to a school).

Chipsbigbowl Sat 13-Apr-13 13:34:53

I'd say avoid the journey up to hampstead for as long as possible. It will be painful. Taking a 4/5 year old on a tube at rush hour (possibly with sibling) will be a nightmare. Unless the schools are amazing - and you have your heart set/ stay local. You could do children's house and then 7+ for Highgate/UCS?

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 14:46:20

Tis an issue in N1 if you're of the private school using persuasion. Friends of ours were worried about their child not being stimulated enough at our state primary (note to OP: you have to ditch this concern if you do use state, it's quite an irritating one and you won't have enough evidence to reassure you to the contrary). Their must-haves were 'mixed, non-selective, close enough to walk to, outside space'. By a process of elimination, they managed to arrive at... the state primary.
We might be going for City, UCS etc for secondary and I am anxious about putting my dc through it from our (excellent) state school up against these well-drilled prep ds. However, as far as I can see, a) all those at privates seem to get in a right tizz about it too, b) there seems to be no massive difference in the success rates from applicants from either sector and c) having enjoyed all the benefits of a state primary, I'm pretty sure mine would do very well at a state secondary too.

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 14:48:15

oh and you need to remember that you'll be doing the journey there and back i.e. you and your little one might be spending almost four hours a day on school run according to those TFL. Or if it's a boys' school and a girls' school, having to employ an additional person just for this person.
Mind you, all our neighbours claim it takes 15 minutes to get to the Hall/Hereward etc (sceptical face).

Farewelltoarms Sat 13-Apr-13 15:09:16

sorry 'purpose' not 'person'

catastrophewaitress Sat 13-Apr-13 17:17:34

Heavens, OP. You must be very organised. My post natal fog consisted of walking around with the pram and eating lots of flapjacks grin
Joking aside. A number of your schools are selective - stay on the list now you're registered, go to the assessment, see how it goes. For non-selective ones - Charterhouse will offer for the preschool year and to my knowledge you have to commit at that point or lose 4k. A bit early unless you're 100% sure it's the right school. They also fit your bill re. no uniform. Dallington will also take your DS from the term after he is 3 so is a viable pre school option. With one terms notice you can then go elsewhere for Reception. Children's house has some pretty impossible hours when they're little so if you work that is going to be a pain.
Devonshire House will probably take you esp as you've applied early (think in theory they have an interview, believe in practice is reasonably straightforward to get in.) Also have a nursery class. Said to be a bit precious but 2nd hand knowledge. The commute to Hampstead will be painful, esp with DC2 in tow.
TBH in your shoes I'd look for a nice pre school for now and relax in the knowledge that if Tyndale is your fall back option then you're in an excellent spot. How about looking at St Andrew's Montessori in Thorn hill Sq for now, and they will prep your DS for assessments if you're so inclined, if not you just go to WT in 2 years time?

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:39:31

Thanks Catastrope. We are down for St Andrews Montessori pre school so will keep that in mind.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 17:44:21

William Tyndale was fab 25 years ago grin

Dallington is fab, about the only private school we'd consider (we're in Hackney), but it has a particular ethos and is very, very different from eg Lyndhurst.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:50:31

Thanks Vinegar. Yes, I think that's part of the problem - they are all so different.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 17:54:30

Have you visited them? If you like the Montessori approach you may fall in love with Dallington. Btw I'm sure WT is still fab, I loved it there.

Personally I wouldn't consider Lyndhurst, I don't think it warrants the commute. PM me if you want more detailed reasons!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 17:56:53

Just to add (yet) another requirement - ideally the school should have some outside space. I understand some of the ones in the City don't have that.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:01:10

That's helpful Vinegar. Yes, I think a Montessori type approach could be great. I haven't visited any apart from pre schools - when I went to visit the Children's House and St Andrews Montessori they both have me lists of where the kids went to afterwards and I took it further from there.

I am planning to visit a few quite soon but probably won't be able to visit all during the term time before DC2 is born.

VinegarDrinker Sat 13-Apr-13 18:02:01

Btw for secondary if you're not wedded to the idea of private, do look at Latymer.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:07:58

I'm not committed to private. Cool thanks I'll google Latymer.

catastrophewaitress Sat 13-Apr-13 18:10:41

If I get this right and DS is about 1 and a half, I suggest finding some childcare and leaving him home while you visit. From experience it is very hard to focus when the toddler is getting into all sort of mischief ( a 1 hour school tour is far too long at that age!) Also - and this may be a bit harder - try to imagine your kid as a 5 then an 8, then a 1O years old in a school - kids tend to outgrow the very small cossetted places sooner than you think - a place that is great at 4 can be quite limiting by 7-8.

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 18:16:52

That sounds like a good idea. We are keeping our nanny on and so should be able to look at some places while I am on maternity leave in September.

Coconutty Sat 13-Apr-13 18:19:24

You really need to go and visit the, say, top 3 from your list. I would think that distance would be a very high priority for me.

I would say 20-25 mins would be my absolute max, especially as you will be going there and back twice in a day.

No St Paul's has no outside space really. They have (or had a few years ago) to get a bus to go and play any sport or pe.

Emperorsnewclothesshow Sat 13-Apr-13 21:02:01

OP - am impressed about your list and mostly that you have registered with all those schools! I have visited Devonshire, Charterhouse, Lyceum, Dallington, St Paul's.

Based in N1 I would avoid Hampstead too, it's too far, unless you have help doing two school runs. Lyceum is great but afaik has no outside space (adjacent to the building) and ditto Dallington. Both schools ok to reach from N1 and both have a great free ethos... But I think Lyceum is a tad more established. Keep in mind that if you have a more physical than say arty kid then an adjacent playground and good emphasis on sports would be a bonus. With this St Paul's springs to mind... checkpointCharlie are you sure St. Paul's has no outside space? Am curious!

CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 21:55:32

Is it true that St Paul's is really hard to get into?

They have one outside fenced in court, a suppose netball court kind of size. But I think that's it from memory of going there a couple of times when my friend taught there. Not sure about being hard to get into though, there is always the choir!

Methren Sat 13-Apr-13 22:09:14

CruCru, St Paul's does have outside space. There is a good-sized bark chip surfaced area with play equipment (Wendy house, climbing nets, wooden towers with ladders, etc) which is mostly used by the pre-prep children (YR-Y2), and a netball-court sized asphalt area that is used by the older children. The space isn't huge, but it isn't a big school numbers-wise and they make it work by staggering lunch/play times for different year groups. My very energetic DS1 seems able to blow off enough steam in the space available during playtime.

I suppose St Paul's is quite hard to get into, but no more so than many of the schools on your list. They take 20 children at 4+ after a fun and non-threatening assessment, so there are spaces for around 10 boys and 10 girls. There are usually quite a few siblings, though (they have a strong sibling policy) so the number of places available for non-sibs is less than 20 in reality.

Apologies blush it was a few years ago!

Methren Sat 13-Apr-13 22:20:28

CheckpointCharlie, the pre-prep playground is relatively new (put in 3-4 years ago I think) so may not have been there when your friend was teaching there.

Yes, I think she left about 5years ago. smile

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 16:39:03

Thank you very much for your comments. I like the suggestion of picking 3 top schools to look at now. So far these are St Paul's Cathedral (just because), Dallington (friends have a son there) and St Anthony's (a friends boys are there).

Also - Latymer - is that the one in Hammersmith or is there one closer?

Thanks!

Farewelltoarms Sun 14-Apr-13 16:50:19

Hello Cru, I've been thinking about you as you remind me of the thought processes we went through a few years ago. Except you're way more efficient (which may be a disadvantage!).
We toured three privates, Dallington, Charterhouse and St Paul's. The first I couldn't see the point (if your main concern is prep for 11+ then you're not going to get it there). The second I came out of crying it seemed more like a battery hen factory than a school (my opinion only, I'm sure others love it). St Paul's Cathedral I liked most but I didn't like the idea of my (very late speaking) little one doing an entrance test.
Then I went to see my local state. It was an immediate 'call off the search' moment. Outside space, airy high ceilings, parquet floors, wonderful intelligent head, virtually next door to us - I'd have opted for it if the others had been free and this one was the one we had to pay for.
It may well be that you have a gut reaction too to one or other school and all this worrying is for nought.
When I used to interview people for jobs, we'd do a 'must have' column and a nice-to-have column. I used this system for house buying too. It's really important to not interview/visit any person/house who's not in the 'must have' column. For instance, if you want to live in zone 2, you don't visit zone 3 houses as you'll just end up comparing the smaller ones in zone 2 unfavourably. Maybe you should do the same - if co-ed or outside space is essential then don't visit Dallington or St Anthony's!
And there's a grammar called Latymer in Edmonton. I wouldn't be too concerned with it now as it's incredibly hard to get into, far harder than the independents.

Farewelltoarms Sun 14-Apr-13 16:53:28

Oh sorry, I'm answering in way too much detail. Thinking about all the neighbours and friends who do the Hampstead thing, none of them seem very happy. A lot of them end up moving that way, which is hard as the houses are so much expensive and they're leaving close networks behind. Or the mothers end up really angry about all the driving they do and taking antidepressants. I'm sure to them it's worth it for the superior education they feel sure their children are receiving, but I know as a family overall, I think we're happier (with worse spelling, lower maths levels, etc, etc perhaps).
The ones from N1 who go to St Paul's do seem a lot less angry about the journey.

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 17:18:59

Wow, thanks Farewell. I am not fixed on either private or state - if William Tyndale is the one then that would be awesome. The reason I applied to the private schools is that, if we did go private, I didn't want us to have missed the list.

In a way, one of my considerations is my own lifestyle. If I am at work at the time, I could drop DS at one of the schools in the City (St Paul's, Dallington etc) on my way in. However, having to do a drop off and pick up in Hampstead could make working / living very difficult (unless we moved).

VinegarDrinker Sun 14-Apr-13 19:18:12

Yes, sorry I meant the Latymer (state) in Edmonton. It's a long way off but if your DS turns out to be bright you have nothing to lose by getting him to sit the test imho. And you could save yourself a lot of money!

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 19:35:07

Cool, thank you. I was sure that you wouldn't mean the one in Hammersmith.

frogs Mon 15-Apr-13 07:47:45

You're mad (in the nicest possible way). smile But not as mad as you soon will be unless you narrow this lot down.

So: if you are hellbent on the trad prep school thang, you want the status and reassurance of knowing that the school is preparing your dc for posh private school secondary entrance, if money really isn't an issue, and you won't hanker after the ease and sheer niceness of having your kids in a local primary school with local friends, then go for St Paul's.

Do not under any circs go for the Hampstead options, it is a hideous commute and will drive you up the wall and cost a fortune in petrol. Think of all the other lovely/fun/educational things your child could be doing during the stupid amount of time you will be spending over the next 7 years sitting in north London traffic jams or on the tube. Just don't do it.

If you just want your child to get a good broad-based education in a cheery tolerant mixed environment (with no uniform, hurrah) bang on your doorstep, then go for Tyndale. Plenty of kids from Islington primary schools get into private secondary schools, or selective state schools. You'll have plenty of spare money and time to do nice extra-curricular activities and even get in a tutor for a couple of years before the exams, if you want to go that route.

No brainer, imo (and no, I don't have kids at Tyndale, mine were/are at far less m/c sought-after primaries, and still did/are doing well).

smile

mumtolawyer Mon 15-Apr-13 12:42:42

The Lyceum is excellent but not terribly sporty - they do sport every day, but it's too small to have teams etc. My DD has been there since nursery. We have commuted a considerable distance to get there and I don't regret it for a minute. Prep for 11+ is careful, detailed, and focused; and results have been good (check their website). If you have specific queries PM me, happy to go into much more detail off the public forum.

Turniphead1 Mon 15-Apr-13 18:25:08

What Frogs said.
Plus you can always decide to do 7+ and send him to Highgate or another "through school" at that point. The journey from n1 to n6 is doable.

I'm impressed at the sheer level of efficiency that caused you to register at all of those schools. smile

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 12:45:43

Thanks all, you've been very helpful. Think that perhaps I've been a bit too efficient. Ideally, I don't want to apply to 12 schools again for DC2 when he or she comes later in the year so I'd better whittle this list down at the least.

getyourshoesonNOW Tue 16-Apr-13 14:55:34

Blimey, how much has that cost you in deposits? I don't know much about private schools - do they charge a small holding deposit or a hefty one?

SanctifyYourself Tue 16-Apr-13 17:07:19

Wow! You have certainly cast your net wide!

I am guessing that you might have paid registration fees for a few of those schools, but surely they are not already asking for deposits for a 2016 place?

I would agree with the principal of trying to stick close to home - lifestyle is important with such young children and you probably don't want to be travelling too much. Also bear in mind that it will be nice for your DS to develop friendships with children who live nearby for playdates etc, but if you travel far for school they will tend to live out of your area.

I would keep Wm Tyndale in mind for sure, then some of the local or easily accessible indys: Children's House N1, look at Gower School N1 and Rosemary Works N1 if you haven't already done so, then perhaps keep Charterhouse Square on the list if you like the pushy academic approach - a bit further but still accessible (but dont think they have outside space?)

I don't know how easy your transport is to the others outsdie N1, so I haven't commented!
Good luck - you have got lots of time to decide though!

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 20:01:38

No, I don't need to pay deposits yet. The registration fee is between £25 and £100 for each school (depending on the school).

OddSins Tue 16-Apr-13 20:54:52

We have had children at Dallington and St Pauls travelling from Canonbury and are now at secondary stage admission / selection. So perhaps, I can throw in my tuppenceworth.

I have no real knowledge of WT except to say admission for boys grammars from all schools in North London is extremely difficult with limited choice (DAO c.10, non-sib places per year, Latymer - a tricky journey/environment and highly competitive and QEB - very, very strange place (see eleven plus forum for details). However, a modest proportion of children from Islington state schools transfer to independent schools (but virtually always at eleven). This is slightly restricting as the uber, academic schools prefer transfer at 13, with competition at 11 generally much stronger. UCS, Highgate, Forest and COLB do cater specifically for state transfers at 11, with many parents employing tutors to boost chances.

Dallington is a lovely pre-prep, caring environment but the antithesis of an academic hothouse. We are talking a slight caricature of liberal, Islington education and it by no means suits everyone. We moved on (as many do) after a couple of delightful early years to SPCS.

This school is a nice balance of traditional values, pastoral care and both academic and musical success. Especially the latter. Childrens House is a major feeder, and I hear admission has become quite competitive just recently.

The school is well-connected with the independent sector, especially for music scholarships. Our children are going onto highly academic schools from SPCS and have never felt pushed (although we have done extra papers at home with them prior to their entrance exams) - but NO tutors.

Outdoor space is limited but seems to work well. They do use Coram Fields and Victoria Park. (Many inner London schools also travel).

Good Luck in your choice

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 21:26:28

Thank you, that is very helpful.

middlesqueezed Wed 17-Apr-13 23:43:02

You may not thank me for chucking this into the mix, but it's also worth thinking about your later hopes for schools as some of these will prep for different entrance tests. For example, Charterhouse Square only goes to 11 so most preparation is geared towards this exam but they do also prep for 7+ and 8+. SPCS goes to 13 and I have been told preps boys almost entirely for this exam and not for the earlier ones. You may find it helps to check this type of thing.
Look at schools you are comfortable with as you will find that you react as you learn more about each one and look around. We loved Charterhouse and I know I'd have been driven insane by Dallington, but others would violently disagree - it depends very much on your own attitudes to education (although I think my children would have been happy at either). And distance is hugely important so don't saddle yourselves with a huge journey. It makes a difference every weekday and also at weekends for playdates and parties.

CruCru Thu 18-Apr-13 08:46:59

Thanks middle. Charterhouse (and Dallington) start a year earlier than normal intake - how did you find that?

middlesqueezed Thu 18-Apr-13 14:20:33

We didn't have a problem with that, had one going from St Andrews to Charterhouse and found the first room to be very 'nursery' in style - lots of playing and warmth with lovely, sweet teachers. No stress there for DC or us. Don't believe the hype about Charterhouse hothousing. Sure, it's for parents who want the 3Rs taught in a fairly rigorous way but the children are generally very happy and not overworked, plus it's very gentle in the early years and they have lots of fun too. BUT it depends so much on what you are looking for so you absolutely must see at least your most likely schools for yourself.

ponyprincess Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:08

I agree with the posters who encouraged you to have a look at the schools to see which feels right for you, but wanted to give another thumbs up for Charterhouse Square. My DD was summer born and started in the nursery and she had no problems settling in and enjoying things, and our experience throughout was of a really caring and supportive environment. They do also make good use of outdoor space--they have the square gardens for outdoor play and use nearby Golden Lane for sports and swimming, as well as Coram's Fields. Like one previous poster, I cried when I left too, but that was because we were quite sad to leave what for us was a fantastic school!

CruCru Sat 20-Apr-13 15:49:22

Awesome, thanks. I'll give Charterhouse and the Lyceum a ring to have a look round as well.

Bitzer Wed 24-Apr-13 20:49:46

I've already answered a couple of these threads so apols if I'm repeating myself but I found personal experiences v useful when I was making this decision. I have one DC at William Tyndale and another starting there in September.

I did have some reservations because I knew so many people who weren't even considering the state options but I have found it to be excellent and it really is such a bonus to be so close to school/have local friends etc. Not to mention the fact that it is free!

One of my DC was at the Children's House, which is a lovely school but I genuinely see no discernible difference in the education they offer. (And I know a number of other parents who have made the Children's House to Tyndale shift for the same reason.) I do also know people who do the school commute up to the Hampstead schools and I personally don't think it is worth either the money or time spent but each to his own and if you're going to spend the next few years worrying about it, then maybe just pay for the peace of mind. But increasingly I think, if you have the option of a really good state school, that peace of mind is all you are paying for in going private. I can't speak for secondary school because we aren't anywhere near that stage but I've spent a great deal of angsting about primary schools and that is my verdict!

Good luck

CruCru Wed 24-Apr-13 21:47:13

Hi Bitzer

Thanks for this - I'm really glad that WT is a good option. I'm due to visit it at the end of May.

CruCru Fri 24-May-13 11:58:33

Update: we went to see William Tyndale this morning and loved it. We'll go and see some other schools as well but am now feeling much better about schools. Thank you all very much for your comments and advice.

Farewelltoarms Fri 24-May-13 12:20:30

Ah so pleased CruCru. I had an 'aha' moment when I saw our (similarish but less posh) N1 primary. Everything fell into place and I'm so glad. I look on how easily we could have felt sucked into going elsewhere and I know without question we are happier as a family for our decision. Possibly not as 'rigorously academic' whatever that means, but without a doubt happier.

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:16:12

Update: We went to see Dallington a little while ago. There was a lot to like about it. The children were lovely and it seems like a really nice, small school. One thing that put me off was that, although there are loads of kids early on, there were few older children (I think 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds shared a classroom). Although I'm sure that they would find sensible work for children in each age group, I wonder whether this might make it difficult for a child to feel like they're progressing through a school later on (and may reflect comments earlier on that children often move after the early years). I didn't like it more than William Tyndale.

I hope you all don't mind the updates - I've had a few PMs asking for my conclusions (which I haven't reached yet) so thought it might be helpful.

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:18:37

One thing I did like about Dallington was the prep they do for common entrance and that they would form a view on where a child should go for secondary.

I think the plan is to see St Paul's Cathedral next (the next open afternoon is in the Autumn so a while off).

Farewelltoarms Sun 23-Jun-13 20:00:07

So you can cross Dallington off your list. If you didn't like it any better than Tyndale, you're far better off with the free one on your doorstep. Plus does Dallington prep for CE? I thought it stopped at 11? There are agencies and tutors who should be able to give you steer on wh secondaries to go for.
The only thing I envy about some privates is the sense that you could subcontract out all the worry and prep about secondary entrance. Hence I'd not opt for somewhere like Dallington, but would poss consider somewhere like the hall. Wh sounds contrary as Dallington much closer in ethos to a state school than some stuffy prep.

CruCru Thu 26-Sep-13 18:28:12

Update: we went to see St Paul's Cathedral School and loved it. To me it felt a bit more like William Tyndale than Dallington (perhaps that isn't surprising).

I liked that there are male teachers and that class sizes are small. The head of pre prep said some very interesting things about how small children shouldn't be pushed too soon. The kids who showed us round were articulate without being polished (which is nice). I also loved the music stuff and the idea that the kids can get involved in things to do with the cathedral.

I do have some concern that the head said there are 20 reception places (less sibling places) and on average 70 kids are assessed for those (the assessment is described as a play date in the November before the September they would start - so between 3 and 2 months and 4 and 2 months).

All in all, this one stays on the list. But I think we need a back up in case we don't get in (frankly William Tyndale would still be a very good option).

Methren Fri 27-Sep-13 10:11:24

Hi CruCru, I am an SPCS parent. It is a lovely school, and we are very happy with it.

I really wouldn't stress too much about the assessment. Unfortunately I think some sort of selection process is inevitable when a school is very oversubscribed, but SPCS do do their best to make it as pleasant as possible for children and parents alike and the assessment is very low-key. Children are taken in groups of about 10 to the Reception classroom for 45 minutes and listen to a story, play and chat with the teachers. In DS's year there are quite a few summer-born children who got non-sibling places, so they definitely don't just cream off the autumn-born children at assessment. Having said that, I still don't know exactly what they do base selection on - but the children definitely don't need to be reading fluently or any of that sort of thing. My DS had to be carried to the door of the classroom and peeled off me, but came out 45 minutes later beaming - and was still awarded a place, so don't believe everything you hear about children automatically "failing" if they won't separate happily from parents.

I think the point about not pushing small children too much is a good one. DS was offered a Reception place at a pre-prep that would have meant taking 7+ or 8+. At the time, we thought this would be a good thing, a chance to reevaluate school choices for prep, and seriously considered this option before accepting a place at SPCS. With hindsight I am very glad that we didn't choose the other school. DS is very able in one particular area but distinctly average in another. With no 7+ "deadline", his ability in the weaker subject has been able to develop more naturally and without pressure, and more importantly his confidence levels have improved enormously. I don't think this would have happened if we had been under pressure to reach a certain standard or master particular skills for 7+.

(Very strange to think that you probably saw my DS yesterday Cru!smile)

CruCru Fri 27-Sep-13 18:18:14

Thanks Methren, that is good to hear. A couple of the year 4s showed us round - is your child in that year?

As mentioned up thread, I hope people don't mind me coming back and updating. I had quite a few PMs on schools since my original post and this seems the most efficient way to do it.

wewontbebulliedanymore Thu 10-Apr-14 14:21:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:29:31

Please stop spamming the boards with this bloody thread! angry

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:33:47

Wow, MN, that was fast!

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Thu 10-Apr-14 17:40:18

Both our kids at an "outstanding" state primary in Islington. Both doing well.

I am unconvinced that prep school is worth paying up for. My two are bright and get plenty from the state system.

Once you get to secondary in N1, things change considerably. I am not brave enough to stay in the state secondary system.

Our son, with nothing other than ordinary national curriculum at state school, got offer from both City of London Boys and Colet Court/St Paul's year 5 tests with relative ease. I have no doubt he would get offers from most other private schools mentioned here. It would be tougher to get a place at Dame Alice Owen's, Latymer or QE Boys simply because of sheer numbers, but he would stand a reasonable chance.

My point is prep school seems a waste of money. If you kids are bright enough, they will get the secondary that suits them regardless and without preping and tutoring. If your kids really need all that prep, maybe academically competitive and selective schools are not the best idea (constant failure perception syndrome).

Choose a decent local school in walking distance (upto 1 mile) would be my advice.

CruCru Fri 11-Apr-14 17:45:45

Thanks for that MarriedDad. We had a girl in October so that effectively removes quite a few of these schools.

CruCru Tue 03-Jun-14 11:52:55

Update: we went to see The Lyceum this morning and liked it a lot. I think I liked it more than DH did. The head was very impressive and I liked what he had to say about the kids doing living history, music and French.

The class sizes are about 15 to begin with but then decrease to 10 by 11. They do lots of trips and pre are the kids for the 11+.

I am a bit concerned that the head is about to retire and a new head is coming in. Also, perhaps the school day is quite long (8:30 to 3:45 but they can stay for after school clubs and homework club until 5:45).

rickinghorse Tue 03-Jun-14 16:58:16

also the year 2 kids up go to school in a basement without any windows. that was the clincher for me. couldn't face it for the children.
otherwise, liked the school.

CruCru Thu 19-Jun-14 12:45:34

Update: we went to see Charterhouse Square and loved it. I really liked what the head had to say about children needing to be confident to learn and to take risks. The school itself is bright and airy and is much bigger than it looks from the outside. It sounds as though they do quite a lot of outdoor activities.

A couple of kids showed us round and they were articulate and confident. We are in the ballot on 1 July and have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting DS's name picked out of the hat.

Playfortoday Thu 19-Jun-14 14:24:31

Gosh when we looked at Charterhouse I came out almost in tears I hated it so much. Would sooner have home schooled and that's saying something. Funny how different people's impressions can be.

Stalectite Thu 19-Jun-14 20:50:41

My reaction too... Gosh
I hated it. Kids nc levels taped to wall...homework was endless bond books... Deeply unimaginative test geared teaching... Even infants silently scratching away at worksheets... My impression was the parents who sent their kids there wanted them to get into selective secondaries even though a number had not got into selective primaries.
I fled the place.
And no outside space.

Stalectite Thu 19-Jun-14 20:52:06

Btw I didn't look round one school state or private where the kids weren't polite articulate and confident (and most so at the state as it happens).

CruCru Thu 19-Jun-14 21:45:23

Hi Playfortoday and Stalectite - thanks for your comments, it is very helpful. I spoke with the headmistress who said that it was like that when she came in four years ago but she has made lots of changes. The youngest children were playing with lego and some slightly older children were making cubes out of straws. Quite a lot of the children had gone out to play sport (they were walking in a crocodile). The headmistress did say that they focussed on English and Maths but also spent time on other subjects.

I had a look at the after school clubs and they included things like chess and jewellery making.

CruCru Wed 02-Jul-14 12:46:34

Update: The names were put into a ballot for Charterhouse Square yesterday and DS's wasn't picked. He is 20th on the waiting list. Hey ho.

LondonLady30 Fri 11-Jul-14 16:20:33

Hi Crucru,

Thanks so much for all these updates - I just found the thread now. So helpful of you to take the time to put it all up here!

Just started a thread myself on the Lyceum as we have a place for ours in there - she's 2.5 yrs now so will start at the nursery in Sept 15. Its just been taken over by an investment group so not sure at all if that means good things or bad things for the school (or perhaps nothing at all!)

We are closer to Old St so I don't think we are in the catchment of the state schools you mention but I'm now starting to wonder if it really is worth the whopping �4600 a term at the Lyceum. Me and DH both went to state school so would love to send her to one but just don't have any on our door. Lyceum is our closest school at all actually. But I obviously wouldn't mind a little commute if it was for a brilliant state school that would have the same outcomes for her at I understand the Lyceum would have.

Ho hum.....all luxury problems I know as noone is starving but mildly stressful nonetheless as it is the family's finances I am stewarding and we could only just afford to have two there at present so my mind is racing back to the orginal 'is it all worth it' arguement! Especially if it really is the case that they are no more likely to get in to the good independent secondary schools than state primary kids. I had thought there was a 'first user advantage' of being in the private system from early on as we would defo want her to go to a private secondary (if only as there are real shortages in getting in to the good local state ones) but if this isnt' the case it seems a false investment. Any thoughts?!

roslet Fri 11-Jul-14 21:10:25

William Tyndale is a fantastic school, I can't think why you wouldn't choose it! The time you save by not having to travel you can spend on reading homework and hobbies / clubs. Great to have options if he doesn't get in, but I would choose to send my children there without hesitation if I lived round the corner.

Davros Sat 12-Jul-14 16:12:48

I am surprised that no-one has mentioned North Bridge House or King Alfred, just to confuse things! My DD has been at NBH since nursery and has just finished year 6. Although they are prepped for other choices, she is going to NBH senior in Hampstead which is an absolute god send to us, no tests for NBH kids, they can automatically have a place. Someone said up thread that if your DC is bright enough then state school will work for them just as well as private, but I don't think it's the same if that's the reverse. DD is dyslexic and the small classes in private have worked very well for her. NBH has just opened another senior in N1 which she will be able to transfer to for 6th form if she chooses. I agree that the journey from N1 to NW3 would need careful consideration but I'm not sure it's always too bad. I drove DS from NW3 to muswell hill for some years, supposed to be the worst school run in London, and I could do it in 15 mins. There are also lots if school buses once they are old enough. Also hear in mind that there seems to be a shift away from 13+ for boys. Although boys at NBH do not officially leave until 13, about a third of 2014's boys are leaving at 11, but we're not supposed to mention it! It seems to be common knowledge that Highgste is switching to mostly year 7 entrance, possibly a development since they went co-ed

CruCru Sat 19-Jul-14 15:11:23

Hi LondonLady30

I really liked the Lyceum but thought it a real pity that the head has now retired as I really liked him. Having said that, we will be invited to meet the new head in the Autumn. Your child would be going at the same time as DS. I think part of what put DH off is that the classes all share the same space.

CruCru Sat 19-Jul-14 15:14:33

Roslet - I am coming more round to your way of thinking. Part of it is that I keep meeting people who either have their kids at WT and are super happy or who really want their kids to go there. One friend was walking around it to see where she could rent to be sure of a place (she is planning on moving anyway).

CruCru Sat 19-Jul-14 15:16:53

Hi Davros - I looked at applying for both NBH and King Alfred. They look like great schools but by that point I had serious application fatigue and just plain couldn't do any more. Same for Trevor Roberts (plus that is a bit too far for us).

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Sat 19-Jul-14 17:12:22

I stand by my earlier advice. State primaries do a good job in Islington. William Tyndale seems to get a good word from any parent I have met with kids there.

Our two just got excellent reports and super high levels from their primary school. It proves that the school is very able to stream and split students to get the best out of them. I truly don't believe a prep school would do a better job.

Save your research and stress for the 11+ grammar schools and private schools.

PS - How on earth North Bridge House Canonbury plans to be open in September, six weeks from now, is a mystery to me. The place is a proper strip out building site! I can imagine short cuts and the like will be taken. This doesn't inspire confidence for health and safety of 300 students packed into a too small site or for the protection of 500 year old national heritage inside the building. Tudor wood panelled rooms with a chemistry lab .... I can see than going badly wrong.

Davros Sun 03-Aug-14 21:39:23

Getting back to this a bit Kate! All I know is that NBH/Cognita have done a fabulous job on the building in hampstead, not that it is similar to the Canonbury building which I know as we had our wedding reception there! Cognita have too much invested to let it go bad IMO

Davros Sun 03-Aug-14 21:39:50

A bit late!

AugustaGloop Fri 08-Aug-14 14:47:26

Have a DD so not familiar with all of the schools but thoughts on those I can comment on:-

Childrens House in my view a good option - pretty local, informal etc. it does have a uniform in the upper school I think, but not a very formal one. Children heading to the likes of Arnold House and the Hall often go to Children's House for nursery and reception. The 7plus can be a pain and I think it is probably fair to say that there are more 7plus options for girls (eg City and South hampstead) than boys but UCS for example has a 7plus intake, and St Pauls takes a lot at 7 and is not too competitive at that age (do not know about 4 plus).

Dallington is I think a love or hate kind of school so definitely visit.

I did not like the Lyceum because of outside space. When we visited they were playing in the gym in their break (no windows etc). I think they do get out a lot but it was still a bit weird to see them using a gym like a playground. Preferred Charterhouse (it does at least have the square across the road where they play) but it has the reputation of being pushy (not sure if true). Also, required them to attend for the nursery year and I preferred DD to be more local for nursery.

If you get your DC into st Andrews or childrens house for nursery, they will really help you with next school choice - they will have views on which school would suit your child. They are quite focussed on this and have good relationships with the heads of the various "next" schools you mention.

AugustaGloop Fri 08-Aug-14 14:52:50

PS Did not look at William Tyndale as we are not close enough to have a change of getting in but do know families with DCs there who really liked it and have moved on to schools like City.

Knownowt Mon 11-Aug-14 20:40:39

Is there a reason you're not applying to Highgate at this stage?

CruCru Wed 13-Aug-14 16:34:03

Highgate have an age 3 entry and it's a bit too far to go while DS is so young. We've now missed the window anyway.

AugustaGloop Wed 13-Aug-14 16:42:50

Highgate has quite a large 7plus entry, so might be a possibility to start off in State and think further at 7 - you would have UCS, Highgate and St Pauls Cathedral as options at that stage. You might though need to do a bit of preparation if you go this route, at least for UCS and Highgate, as the syllabus may not have been covered by the January when the entrance tests take place

Greengrow Wed 13-Aug-14 17:22:09

Decide which on the list get most children into the secondary schools you want and choose according to that. Issues like transport don't really matter. My daughter got a school coach from age 5 and it did her no harm.

colourmummy Thu 04-Sep-14 22:24:22

What did you end up doing? And how did it work out? Is anyone else doing the N1 - NW3 rat run? We are at St Anthony's and absolutely love it, but the rat run is a bit of a deal killer. Friends have given it all up and gone to Bedales in Hampshire where they are happy as larry. We are very happy to car pool if anyone is doing the dreaded journey. Though this morning we cycled it which was slightly long but rather blissful. 9 miles round trip!

CruCru Sun 07-Sep-14 10:40:01

Hi colourmummy

DS turned 3 last week so we haven't yet made a decision. From speaking with people round here, it sounds as though William Tyndale is awesome so we may very well go there.

Dad164 Sun 07-Sep-14 21:45:02

N1 to NW3 in a car is nuts if you live anywhere near H&I overland to Finchley and Frognal, a 10 min regular reliable easy train ride.

Dad164 Sun 07-Sep-14 21:45:53

PS - CruCru - good on you for WT. Save the big decisions until 11.

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