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Latymer Upper 6th form

(26 Posts)
lovethedog Sun 06-Jan-13 12:03:10

I posted this earlier in a generic London Schools 6th form thread, but had no responses, so I thought I would try posting it as its own topic. Apologies if this is the wrong thing to do.

Our daughter is trying to move schools for the sixth form and is about to go through the Latymer Upper interviews. At the moment she is in a medium sized good girls school where she is doing well, but she feels that she is ready for a change.

Does anyone have any views on what it is like to go in to Latymer as a 6th former ? Do they fit in easily ? Do they feel like outsiders ?

What do people think of the academic side ? It is clearly doing well in the league tables, and better each year. Is the teaching good or inspiring ? Are there any areas to look out for ? Our daughter is applying to do languages and history and possibly Maths and Physics or Chemistry. She is also thinking of doing Latin. For History the school is about to start doing the pre-U : she would be in the first year taking it.

What about extra-curricular activities. They tell us that the children do a great deal - are they as enthusiastic as the school tells us ? Is the drama open to all ? And sport ? How is the music ?

It is a big change to make. She could stay at her own school, which would be the safe option.

Of course she hasn't had her interview yet, but we are trying to think ahead a little bit.

We are also looking at other west London schools.

All thoughts gratefully received. I would love to know what people think of the school, and most particularly what they think of the 6th form, and what it would be like to come in from another school. It is all a bit unknown for us.

hardboiled Sun 06-Jan-13 14:22:15

Sorry I know very little except that the drama is def not open to all. By the time they reach the 6th form it is clear who is shining and the roles go to those. But maybe your DD is very good at it in which case she may have a real chance.

lovethedog Sun 06-Jan-13 17:59:00

Thank you hard-boiled. Are you named in honour of sweets, or crime fiction ?

My dd was hoping to get involved in lots of things - she is keen on Latymer because of the amount of extra-curricular things on offer. It sounds like drama might not be as open as one might like.

Any one else ?? Changing schools at this stage feels like a big step.

Eastpoint Mon 07-Jan-13 22:23:37

A friend's DC moved there for 6th form several years ago and went from being a keen tennis player & sporty to being completely put off sport. They had also written plays etc at their previous school & drama interest was not supported either. My friend felt the pastoral side was v poor.

From knowing current pupils lower down the school I know that sport for girls is not being run in the same way as other girls schools and they do not have as many practices as the boys nor did they have pre-season training for girls but did for the boys. I don't know if they have a trampoline or any specialist gym teachers now, they didn't last year.

However I do know a girl currently in the 6th form who moved there who seems happy & whose mother is content.

lovethedog Thu 10-Jan-13 12:59:03

Just bumping to see if anyone has any other views on the school for people coming in new at 6th form. Any thoughts on the academic side ? The social side ? She would be coming from a far smaller girls school.

Any help for the upcoming interviews ?

picaso Fri 11-Jan-13 00:45:19

My DD had an interview there this week. She found it tough but seemed to enjoy it and said everyone was friendly. She had interviews with the heads of department for each subject chosen plus a general interview, with questions ranging from general chit chat to more harder, unnerving subject specific related ones where you have to think on the spot. DD was also asked what other schools she had applied for and she said that all the teachers who interviewed her went on an on about how great Latymer is and all seemed to want to gage whether or not she would accept an offer if it was given. I would advise to be well prepared. Hope this helps.

I really like Latymer on the whole, but do have a few concerns about the school. I would assume comments about the drama side of things are fair and I'm not sure how well new Sixth form pupils would fit in or even how much attention is given by the school to help them in the first few weeks- I think getting into one of their established sports teams as well as established friendship groups would also prove difficult. I suspect that you would need a fairly thick skin to survive two years of sixth form at Latymer.....but I may be wrong. However, it is top of my DD list and she will be very disappointed if she doesn't get an offer, even though she already has two other offers with scholarships, which we have to either accept or decline soon as we are definitely not paying three lots of deposits. Thought we had left this all behind at 11+ but DD is desperate to get out of her all girls school.

lovethedog Fri 11-Jan-13 17:08:13

Thank you for that. It is really, really helpful. Well done to your daughter for having two other places, and being garlanded with scholarships.

I too thought we had left all this behind at 11+ and that the decision then would run through to the end of A levels - and now we too have a daughter who is desperate to get out of her all girls school. This has made it difficult to look at schools sensibly is her drive has been to get out of her current school, rather than what school is best for her, if you see what I mean.

What makes Latymer top of your DD's list ? Are her other schools mixed as well ?

Our dd has now had her interviews which seemed to go quite well - much as you have described. Some were chatty, and some were really quite academically tricky. She also said that they were particularly keen on trying to gauge if she would choose the school if they gave her an offer. They know she has offers from other schools and that they are the last ones to see her. (I do wish they had done their interviews before Christmas like the other independent schools locally).

I have the same concerns as you. I am worried that she will find it hard to make the most of the school in these two very short years. On the one hand it might be very hard to break into social sets, sports teams, drama and so on - on the other hand it might be invigorating after the years in the very nice, now disliked, girls school.

TheWave Fri 11-Jan-13 19:26:09

Interesting. We are also wanting to move for sixth form.

I wondered if it makes a difference in a new sixth form if they choose popular subjects such as say English or Maths (lots of people to get to know, or not) or those with only a few in the class, say a language perhaps (get to know a few people very well potentially) or a mixture.

What subjects did she choose?

Also it seems anecdotally that more girls are wanting to move at sixth form so there may be more competition?

picaso Sat 12-Jan-13 11:46:05

Like your DD mine is desperate to get out. I have a feeling that where she ends up doesn't matter as long as she doesn't have to go back to her present school in September. She is drawn to Latymer primarily because its a co-ed school and wants to escape the general nastiness and some poor teaching at her all girls school. I'm sure she's also taken in by the facilities on offer at Latymer. DD is a good all rounder and very able but not very confident and this worries me as Latymer is famous for having super confident and naturally very clever pupils. I just feel that DD may find herself swamped and out of her depth. Its a large school and those going in at Sixth form (of which I am told Latymer are interviewing 120 and offering 40 places) may find that they are a very small fish in a big big sea. However, I agree that on the other hand it may be invigorating also and the Latymer pupils who we met on the open evening seemed really nice. The other point is that Latymer offers a really nice natural progression to University. I'm aware that DD lives in a somewhat cossetted, fairly tale like bubble at her all girls school and its time for her now to step out of that, into the real world!

Its really difficult to choose between the schools and of course DD may not even get an offer at Latymer so in a way that may make things easier. DD has applied to one girls school and four co-ed. She's more or less ruled out the girls school (despite having a really nice offer) and is banking on going to one of the co-ed schools. Two of these are very selective state schools ( I would much prefer she goes to one of these if she gets an offer as I feel this type of school offers the best of both worlds, not least the fact that they are free-)
I'm not so sure fee paying schools are value for money any more- we have a number of friends with daughters in the state system who are doing exceptionally well, better than some of their independent school counterparts.

I do think also that the more popular subjects, sciences, english etc are going to be more difficult to get into as they will be oversubscribed and I assume then that the schools can be a little more picky than say some of the less popular choices like Latin and Greek. I don't know how it works but I would guess that its probably easier to get a place going for the less popular choices than going for a course thats oversubscribed.

Roughly over half of my DD year group have applied to other schools and most of these who have got offered elsewhere will leave at the end of the summer...most going to other independent Sixth forms but a few have applied to schools like Marylebone and Camden- so yes I think there is a lot of competition for places at sixth form from very able girls.

Copthallresident Sat 12-Jan-13 12:29:23

My daughter moved from an all girls to a coed last year. She isn't particularly confident so she has found it hard to make new friends and has missed her old friends but she feels that the other newbies have fitted in just fine. She finally seems to have made some good friends now though. A horrible group of girls continue to cause trouble at her old school so she is sure she made the right decision to move and finds the coed culture more relaxed and friendly. The staff at her very academic old school were struggling with a year group who didn't want to learn so they resorted to threats and barracking so she is also glad to find herself in a school where the staff are encouraging and focused on her potential rather than nagging about A*s all the time, a style of teaching you would also find at Latymer. Well done to your DDs getting an interview, last year only 1 girl from DDs school got an interview even though several had all a*s predicted. It seemed to be harder to get in tham Westminster! I do think from the success of girls in both DDs' years in getting into sixth forms that subject choice can be a factor, it can be easier to get in to a course that isn't popular in any particular year and yes it is mostly girls competing for these places.

picaso Sun 13-Jan-13 11:22:42

Hi Copthallresident,

Thank you so much for this- its very helpful. My DD was very badly bullied in year 9 at her current girls school and although she has managed to get through the last two years and thankfully the bullying was seen to and stopped- most of the girls that were the cause of this are staying on. I'm pretty sure that this is the main reason why she wants to leave so desperately.

Its really encouraging to hear that your daughter has settled well now, even though she isn't particularly confident. I'm hoping that schools like Latymer can see the potential in candidates who may not be particularly confident or pushy. I hadn't thought about the different style of teaching but yes I guess that this is important and will make all the difference. DD has chosen subjects that I don't think are particularly popular or oversubscribed, so hopefully she's in with a chance.

Copthallresident Sun 13-Jan-13 15:02:31

It was an irony that we didn't apply to Latymer in Year 7 because I thought it would be a bit too "Chelsea set" for us when in fact we know that DDs year at Latymer is a nice year whereas in the suburbs we encountered just about the most dysfunctional year possible!! They don't seem to have grown out of it, apparently they sit in the sixth form common room playing loud music and if anyone dares to ask them to turn it down, or to sit in "their" chairs they hiss at them and call them a snake. Charming.

hardboiled Sun 13-Jan-13 18:30:30

the staff are encouraging and focused on her potential rather than nagging about A*s all the time, a style of teaching you would also find at Latymer

Copthall, you must have different info to the one I have, maybe more reliable, who knows. But FWIK, after having had family and friends in the school, Latymer Upper do want the A*s all the time. They most def do. I think it's dangeours to go into Latymer thinking it's a liberal, arty, relaxed school. It was years ago but it is not now and according to some of the staff, it's the expectations and pushiness of the parents that has changed the school.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 08:06:33

hardboiled Feedback from DDs peers there, including refugees from DDs former school, so a direct comparison. I think it is all relative, all West London private schools teach to A* and are focused on results, that is as you say a reflection of parental expectations. However at DDs former school the relentless pressure from panicked teachers and Headmistress focused on staying near the top of league tables with a difficult year, utilizing the threat that without a string of A*s they won't get places at decent unis, just served to panic the motivated whilst being red rag to a bull for the disruptive madams. I have noticed the difference in academic confidence in just one term of a more encouraging regime.

lovethedog Mon 14-Jan-13 13:14:31

Thank you all.

Picaso - half your year leaving is a huge number. I think at DD's school a lot are talking about leaving, but I don't know how many actually will. Last term I thought they were all leaving.

I am sorry your DD had a horrible year 9. I can see why she wants a change : although the bullying has stopped it leaves a bad taste. It will be nice for her to have a fresh start.

As for the focus on A*s - surely most schools do that. It is more about whether they can do it from a position of strength as a result of good teaching and preparation, or whether as a result of poor teaching they need to bully and cajole the children into cramming to get those results (which sounds like Copthall Resident's experience, and rather like our own in some subjects). I think harboiled is right, but perhaps it is not a bad thing. It is only bad if the focus on results is to the exclusion of everything else.

I think there is a tendency for us to pigeon-hole school as arty/liberal/fun and academic/focussed/less fun. My hope is to find a school that is arty, liberal,fun and provides academic results.

However, that is what we thought we had found at 11+, and it turned out to be nice, a bit too small, not as ambitious as we might like, and somehow not that fun.

It made me realise that it is very easy to try and make things "nice", and take away the satisfaction that academic, artistic, sporting or musical stretch and rigour gives. With that comes all sorts of things that we aren't meant to approve such as competitiveness, but as far as I can see the competitiveness is still there in a "gentler school" - just focussed on things like clothes, looks, classroom social status.

I think it is going to come as a shock to our DD to be put into a more "rigorous" environment, and I am hoping she copes with it. She is definitely frustrated by moderate teaching and ambition. Whether she can cope with the demands of a competitive school is another matter.

It does seem to be mainly girls looking to move schools at this stage. I suppose there is a link between a lot of boys' schools having places available at 6th form, but I also think a lot of girls see mixed schools as a relief after the intensity of all girls schools. I am not sure that boys are the panacea that is needed. But perhaps they are ??

twoterrors Mon 14-Jan-13 13:29:08

lovethedog, excellent post, should be at the top of every 'which school?' thread.

The timid ten year old looking round those big schools will soon be a very hormonal 14 year old, who may well benefit from focus, rigour and competition anyway - and will thrive on long, busy days. IME, nice does not always mean nice - it may just mean mediocre at everything visible or measurable.

Think moving for 6th form is very different from 11+ as you have to hit the ground running at top speed, so good luck to you all.

hardboiled Mon 14-Jan-13 13:32:33

Yes, agree with twoterrors. Many good points made there, lovethedog.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 13:48:58

lovethedog I think my daughter finds the presence of boys a welcome influence. For the alpha girls at her old school boys were another way to attain illusions of superiority, they are for the trophy cabinet. That doesn't work if you are at school with them day to day and know their socks smell, and they don't have any time for bitchiness, your main tool of exclusion. She has always related to boys as friends, rather than predatory opportunities.

She is though doing humanities which she loves and she considers her emotional intelligence gives her a competitive advantage, I have no worries that the presence of boys will intimidate her. I would wonder if she was doing Sciences, as DD1 did. However in the end I think DD1 would have benefited from a move too, the increased competition she encountered at uni was a big shock. Most of her peers at her girls' school were doing Science as a means to end rather than being complete geeks like her, though she manages to disguise it with a bad ASOS habit

However that is in a fully coed school. I think the girls who have started at KCS this time find it very much them and us.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 13:54:56

twoterrors focus, rigour and competition anyway - and will thrive on long, busy days That is actually what is on offer at DDs former school, and actually it worked really well for DD1s year. What you can't know at 11 is what dysfunctional parents are lined up to send their screwed up children to your choice of school sad

lovethedog Mon 14-Jan-13 14:07:23

"IME, nice does not always mean nice - it may just mean mediocre at everything visible or measurable."

A perfect summary of what I was getting at. And to a degree, a summary of much of what we have experienced. Not all by any means, as there have been some things that have been wonderful - but not enough of them.

And the answer at eleven, which I didn't know, is probably to go for the bigger more daunting school as you will grow into it. I didn't know that then.

And I agree that you can't know what mix of kids you are going to get in any one class or year - but again, perhaps just going for the bigger school diminishes that effect.

I thought a small school would lead to everyone being kept an eye on in a cosy family atmosphere : this works in a good year - but actually where we had a difficult group of girls it lead to there being nowhere else to go when excluded etc.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 15:00:55

lovethedog I'm not so sure about that, the more daunting / further up the league tables you go, the more offspring of competitive parents you get. If a child has been given the feeling she failed because she didn't get in to St Pauls she is going to have a pretty big chip. Someone gave me an article by Rachel Johnson about the alpha girl behaviour she experienced at St Pauls, making the point that in the end they did not do well in their lives because they use skills that will only be effective in the real world in a woman's prison! (not sure about Rachel Johnson's perspective, but it was a great comfort to DD2 and friends).

I am not against girls' schools, my own experience and that of DD1 were happy. However I do think the potential for bullying, bitchiness and exclusive behaviour is amplified and the cleverer the girls, the more difficult it is to deal with. What the madams did in Year 7 was to very cleverly take over the group norms of the year and manipulate them to ensure they were the focus of attention, resorting to ever more extreme behaviour to keep it that way.

twoterrors Mon 14-Jan-13 15:22:23

Lovethedog, again, I agree! IME and IMO most teenagers do not need cosy and small. They need to be able to thrash around in a big pond, trying out different identities, making mistakes and noise and chaos without it being remembered forever. That is assuming the pastoral care is good and the child in question is not vulnerable or facing other difficulties. I agree cosy looks temptinhg for a ten year old. We nearly went that way and didn't for unrealted reasons. I am glad now.

Copthall I am sorry your dd has had such a tough time. I do hope sixth form pans out better for her.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 15:42:08

twoterrors Actually she is fine, it did affect her confidence but in a way it meant her friendship group defined itself by being different. Even geeky DD1 tried to maintain the appearance of coolness whereas the sort of behaviour required to stay in with the cool crowd was so extreme, they are notorious in West London so I am sure you can guess what was involved, that they had the courage to develop their own identities and be different and eg admit to enjoying going to galleries rather than binge drinking drug taking orgies, what are the parents thinking? parties at a younger age. In the end it was all the disruption that was tiresome. DD even admits to missing all the scandal, the new school is boring in comparison!

However a very good school has lost 25% of it's sixth form and the teachers are tearing their hair out with sixth formers who still think it isn't cool to want to learn. If anything I think it was the strength of pastoral care and sticking with girls whose only stability was the school that has left them in that position.

lovethedog Mon 14-Jan-13 15:47:12

Copthall resident - I see your point about alpha behaviour causing problems.

Can you imagine absolute horror of being in a women's prison full of alpha girls ?

I also agree that the potential for bullying in girls schools is huge - not least because it is subtle (social bullying if there is such a term), hard for adults to identify, hard to do anything about and very powerful. Girls mind a great deal about their place in the hierarchy and how they are viewed by their peers. Somehow for them it is almost all that matters.

Boys appear less bothered by all the things that affect girls in girls schools - but maybe that is a myth ?

I certainly think a mixed school looks preferable. I rather wish I had thought so when DD was 11.

I wonder what it would be like to be the parent of an alpha-girl ? Perhaps you don't know that you are as your alpha-daughter still worries about how she is viewed all the time.

Copthallresident Mon 14-Jan-13 16:24:56

lovethedog From what I have witnessed the parents of alpha children are either too wrapped up in their own alpha behaviour, or their own traumas, which is why their children crave attention, or the girls learnt their behaviour manipulating and terrorising their parents!

There have been times in both DDs' school years when I have wondered what on earth we were thinking teaching them respect, empathy and care for others, it seemed to make them targets. However I am proud that they are liked by teachers and friends, and both have lovely groups of friends who share their values. Indeed DD2 also gets rather fed up that when alone the alpha girls confide their troubles in her, knowing they can trust her not to betray them or use it against them.

I know there is a similar group of nice girls at Latymer in DDs year.

I think there is a problem with peer pressure in all boy's schools, my friend's son had a bit of a hard time when younger because he wasn't sporty and had had quite a lot of time off school. However it was more direct, less manipulative and in the end his prowess with computer games won him the respect of his peers. Now he is Surf Club pin up at uni!!

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