Which school ? - Kingston Grammar vs Colet Court vs Hamptons

(28 Posts)
2kidsmummy Mon 18-Feb-13 13:42:13

My DS has managed to get 10+ deferred entry into Hamptons, Kingston Grmr & Colet Court for entry at Y7.
Getting admitted at all 3 takes a great achievement and we're v proud of him. Now it's coming to decision time ...

He is academically bright and also loves and excels at many sports and we would like to factor this into the decision-making. He himself has looked at all 3 schools and variously drifted from one to another based on miscellaneous criteria (School X bec friend ABC might go there, School Y because it's very good at this sport, etc).

We are what you might call 'first generation independent school educating parents' and besides convenience of school location, we will be making the choice largely on first impressions at Open days .

So keen to get opinions from mums whose own DC/DS go to these schools ...

Academically we know the league tables and the relative emphasis on academics at each school and wouldn't discount the value of looking at this and/or the facilities provided by each school. This is an important factor. But, if we are not chasing CV points for later in life, and looking for all-round intellectual, personal and social development in the wider society, what one or two things could mums at these schools tell me honestly about what is not easily visible to a prospective parent ? Both good and watch-out-for-this kind of observations ... pl dont' hesitate to pm me if that's more appropriate

Tw1nmummy Mon 18-Feb-13 18:37:53

I will watch this thread with interest !

amidaiwish Tue 19-Feb-13 17:09:04

Colet Court is the feeder for St Paul's, correct? Do you have to sit a further exam or is entry automatic?
Hampton vs KGS - from what i hear KGS is the new up and coming school everyone wants... how do you feel about co ed vs boys?
Do take into account the commute/travel time, it is important.
sorry more questions than answers....

Congratulations of your offer from three great schools.
I have no personal experience from these schools other than attending open days. (And ds attending a sports activity at St Pauls - fantastic) Opted to not after all sending our ds for the exams at Colet Court and Hamptons after initially registering. But have friends with experience of these schools.

Colet Court/St Pauls is a very good school which hardly ever let in boys from a state school background for 11 + They can really cherry pick the best. Children come from all over London. The drawback to this is that very few of the children live locally to each other and very rarely meet up and develop friendships out of school. The education is second to none though. The parents are very affluent, and many children are chauffeured in. But again, this is not my personal experience. We dont live that far from it.

Have friends with children at KGS, and they are very happy.
We missed both open day (twice) and application deadline, sadly. (But happy with our outcome so far)

Mominatrix Tue 19-Feb-13 20:27:51

I can only speak about CC, as I have no experience with Hampton or KGS.

Untrue about the state school entry into CC - the 10+ is solely for state school entrants, and they certainly do not discriminate against state school entrants at any other point of entry.

Children do come from all over London, but are primarily based in West and SW London. There are many occasions to develop friendships and my son has been on a playdate most weeks (though usually on a weekend as he is so busy during the week). In terms of chauffering, perhaps a handful, but the bulk of the chauffeurs are mini-bus drivers or parents. Loads of activities to suit whatever interest your son might have, and the depth and breadth of activities is fantastic. It is a happy, zingy school which does not feel like a hothouse, despite its rumoured reputation.

Mominatrix Tue 19-Feb-13 20:34:26

The only slightly negative thing I can say about the school is that it is full of boys who do many things to a very high level, and thus a boy who is very sensitive or prone to be insecure might have difficulty settling in.

ogredownstairs Tue 19-Feb-13 21:33:57

Well done to your DS! They are all great schools and I personally think Hampton's grounds and facilities are amazing - they were definitely the most impressive open days. Having said that, we were in the same position as you last year with 3 10+ offers after state primary, but went for Colet Court. Complicated reasons, but DS is sporty and scruffy, and we are new to the independent sector - it just felt like the right place for him. I liked the friendliness and relative unglossiness of it all and the maths outreach they do with local state primaries. SPS boys I have met as adults seem to be well rounded and normal. V excited about DS starting there in Sept. Any chauffering will be done by Transport for London...smile

castlesintheair Tue 19-Feb-13 21:37:25

If your DS has got into CC then you would be mad not to take the place imo. This is from someone whose DS sat all 3 of the schools on your list and is going to one of them in September. Congratulations to your DS.

minstrel75 Tue 19-Feb-13 22:19:28

Following this thread with interest as my ds is in a similar position with 3 offers at 11+ which we have narrowed to CC and Hampton. This is complicated by the fact that although CC would probably be my first choice, we have a scholarship offer on the table from Hampton.

V interested in hearing, from those in the know, how easy it is for boys to settle in at 11, with the pre-existing friendship groups already in place. Especially keen to hear from those coming from a state school background about their experiences (interestingly know that at least 4 boys from local primary schools have offers this time around - still not loads but certainly better than the perceptions).

Also could anyone answer a question about setting at St Paul's? At a recent visit, heard that there were 8 sets for maths!! Is this true, that sounds like a lot and am surprised that there is that much differentiation between the boys. How do, presumably still v bright boys, cope with being in the lower sets?

Apologies for long post and thanks.

Eastpoint Wed 20-Feb-13 08:02:07

My DS is in the final year at Colet. Boys have entered the school at 7+, 8+ & 11+ from state schools & from being home educated. I have no idea how many have come from state schools, lots & lots in his year.

They do have to take the transfer exam to the senior school in June of yr8 but if your son has been accepted to start in year 7 this is more of a formality than anything else. The boys normally have full on exams each summer so are used to revising & doing exams. For a boy starting in yr7 he would have the summer exams & then mocks the following January before the transfer exams.

For sets at SPS my understanding is that the 8 classes are split in two and they are then setted within those groups so there are two set ones, two set twos etc. My understanding is based on a Highmaster's talk. As there will be a number of boys who are exceptional at maths this is probably for everyone's good. The pace of teaching is likely to be so rapid in the top sets that if a boy is not a 'natural' he would be relieved not to be in that set.

The financial size of a scholarship is unlikely to change anyone's lifestyle, I think they are in the region of £60 at SPS. A lot of boys are on bursaries and the boys are very matter of fact about this.

I know mothers whose sons are at Hampton & rave about it, they are both excellent schools. I would choose the school with the simplest journey as your son will have to make it many many times. Don't forget you will have to drop him off for matches at 7 on Saturday mornings, earlier at a boathouse if he rows & after plays, concerts etc.

I stand corrected, I have obviously been misinformed on the state school entrance aspect to Colet Court!

ogredownstairs Wed 20-Feb-13 10:06:28

Minstrel we also had a (30%, so not life-changing, but worthwhile) scholarship offer on the table from another school, which friends thought we were mad to turn down. I still have financial palpitations about that, but ultimately CC was right for DS. (Ease of getting there was also a big part of the decision, given how much to-ing and fro-ing there'll be over the next 7 years.)

singersgirl Wed 20-Feb-13 10:17:45

We were in the same position as the OP a few years ago; DS1 had offers from those 3 schools at 11+ and DS2 for the 2 of them he sat at 10+.

All are excellent schools and it comes down to a few practical choices as well as your feelings about the schools. You will never really know what a school's like for your child until they're there, and then you don't have a control (you don't know what the other schools would have been like for them).

Which school is more convenient for you? It's not just how long it takes your son to get to school but how he'll get there (tube, bus, bike, car, school coach) and how easy it is for you to get there for concerts, plays, parents' evenings, sports fixtures etc. All of the schools have a wide catchment but tend to draw predominantly from the local area. My older son's friends mostly live within a couple of miles of us and he gets the local bus to school. We can drive there in under 10 minutes. Both of the other schools were a good 30 minutes away by car.

Do you want single-sex or co-ed? Or don't you mind that much? We found we didn't mind that much in the end.

We know children at all three and all seem to be happy and thriving. CC and Hampton have the large school grounds; KGS sports grounds are some distance away. One small thing to think about is how easy it will be for your son to get back from the sports grounds; this was specifically mentioned to me by one parent as a disadvantage for her son. Other than that, I've not heard anything negative about the school.

Hampton has something for everyone, I think, and we thought it was great. But it's 8 miles away from us. The boys I know at Hampton are a nice grounded lot with varied interests.

We think St Paul's (Colet) is a fantastic school and, again, there is something for everyone. There is a good state school contingent joining at 11 and the pace is very different from Year 6 in state primary - but then it is very different at Hampton and KGS too, and indeed at any secondary school. Despite its reputation, it's a very unpretentious place. The school make a great effort to integrate the new boys as well.

On the subject of maths sets and ability spread, the spread is quite wide but upwards from a high baseline ie last year only 4 boys (I think) got less than an A* at maths and they got As. But the top of the top set are incredible mathematicians.

Copthallresident Wed 20-Feb-13 12:12:46

minstrels Not CC but at similarly selective school had DDs in top and bottom sets for Maths (there were 6), the difference is that in the bottom set there are fewer pupils and they are given more support and more time to understand the concepts. The tops set was bigger and they whizz through it. Both got A* at GCSE. There was no stigma since they wouldn't be there if they didn't have other strengths, and actually the alpha cool types were in the bottom set so they made it into a cool /geek polarity with them at the top hmm (it was a dysfunctional year)

I have every sympathy with OP. We had a similar position and there is a feeling you can't reject the school at the top of the league tables. However after the interview process etc. DD was adamant the school wasn't right for her, she detected an arrogance, and she wanted to go somewhere that had shown more interest in her as a person. It was nearer and more grounded. She went there and thrived and though hindsight is always faulty, I think she was right, that the other school would have sapped her confidence, not least because it might have been a self fulfilling prophecy. All these schools will enable bright pupils to achieve their potential (we can testify from the experience of DDs peers, as well as league tables) so it does come down to which is the right environment for your child. Whilst you want your child to have rational reasons, what feels right for them is important too.

legallady Wed 20-Feb-13 13:43:51

Copthall you talk so much sense grin

We made a very last minute decision (literally the day before lists closed) to apply to independents and only entered DS for KGS and one other reasonably local school. We have been fortunate enough to get offers from both. However I had started thinking that I had somehow done DS a disservice by not applying to Hampton and possibly even somewhere like KCS. If I'm honest with myself that thinking stems purely from league table positions.

Fortunately I have taken a grip of myself and realise that DS is very well suited to KGS. He will love co-ed, the school is a 10 minute bus ride away and he is bright but certainly not genius level! The really positive things many people have written on various threads have reassured me as well.

Just hanging on now to see whether we get one of the state grammars next week, but that's another thread..........

I think it is important to listen when there is a little part of you detecting arrogance.

I think this entire interview, assessment and selection process (we are not through it yet, as have one more school to hear from) has been very enlightening, not just in terms of ds1s strengths and weaknesses, but the schools strengths and shortcomings.

OP, you need to measure up the pros and cons and go with your gut feeling.

Legallady, I am sure you have not done your ds a disservice "only" applying for two schools. We just applied for three, and KCS was one of them. Ds was not offered an interview and it was not his favourite school at all.

Touchlinedad Thu 21-Mar-13 13:16:13

Apologies for weighing in as none of my kids are at these schools (youngest heads to Colet but as a 7+ this September) and your thread probably doesn't need more 3rd hand experience!

First off congratulations on getting all three - he must be very bright.

I come into contact with lots of kids from all three schools through rugby coaching / refereeing in your son's year and older (especially CC / SPS and Denmead / Hampton). All three schools produce accomplished sporty kids in many different sports. Hampton is currently able to field the best 1st VIII (based on the most recent results winning the Schools Head last week) as well as producing an amazing XV but SPS came 3rd behind them in the rowing and both got roughly as far in the Daily Mail - getting into the last 8 in either the J15 (SPS) or the J18 (HS) this year.

We have both SPS and Hampton down as probable choices 1 and 2 respectively for our oldest but he is going for 13+ and due to take the pretests etc next year (Y6). He currently has them in the same order of choice based almost entirely on open day visits and on boys he likes in the older years at his rugby club.

I know you got in there early about the cv points / league tables etc (and you're right to do so judging by other highly entertaining mumsnet threads!) but I can't help admit the kudos of SPS sways me. The only exam results that matter are your own child's and ultimately the very brightest in all three get into the places most of Mumsnet (myself included) covet.

I will probably get shot down for saying this but my personal opinion is that the SPS boys just come across that bit brighter and quicker on the uptake - admittedly I am only coaching rugby and not marking their Science or French homework but that receptiveness to learning stands out whether they are in the As or the Es / Fs.

Getting to school is an important consideration for us - there is a Hampton / LEH bus which leaves from near us in E Sheen / Richmond whereas SPS is a bike / 33 bus ride away. School buses are a good way of interacting with the opposite sex which is something DW and I have talked / thought about when opting for single-sex education - we don't want girls to be seen as an entirely alien species smile You mention that your son is very sporty so provided one of his sports is one that has a lot of girls competing that won't be an issue. The fact you successfully applied to all three implies the single-sex vs co-ed thing is not an issue for you.

I like to go to watch my boys' sporting fixtures and the fact that half the Hampton ones would be a longish drive away is not as convenient as getting to Barnes from the centre of town or home. I know that sounds selfish but if its the difference between being able to support or not then it's a consideration. Obviously it depends where you're based but it sounds like you too have lives dominated by U10 sporting fixtures and training.

So I'm declaring a clear bias for SPS / Colet but I would still end up delighted if Hampton ended up as our oldest's school. I loved the dare I say it scruffy (relative to some of its rivals) but purposeful vibe to the place - neither it nor Hampton exactly bowl you over with historic buildings and SPS is set to be a building site for the next few years.

The best bit of advice I have seen on Mumsnet (can't remember who from sadly so I can't give them an acknowledgement but I'm sure someone will spot it) is to think about which school you would have been most upset to get a rejection letter from.

Good luck in your choice and please let us all know what you eventually decide.

thedriver Thu 06-Feb-14 13:32:33

Eastpoint, as a matter of interest if you are still there, how do you see the ratio of boys admitted at 7, 8 & 11+ for CC between state owned, independent and home schooled?

Eastpoint Thu 06-Feb-14 13:59:27

One of my son's friends joined at 8+ having been home schooled for at least one year. He & my son are now at SPS. Boys mainly came from a mixture of state & independent schools at all years, probably more from private but not exclusively. My son has several friends on bursaries, the boys all talk about this & they are indifferent, although we pay full fees my son feels we are very poor as he doesn't have an x-box & hardly had any Pokemon cards. He has no interest in Hollister, Vans etc wearing mainly H&M clothing out of school. SPS would like to become needs blind, the high master Prof Bailey is really normal, he is probably a disappointment to some old-fashioned parents as he has a northern accent.

singersgirl Thu 06-Feb-14 15:05:20

The balance at 11+ is more equally split state:private than at the other entry points, but we know boys who joined from state schools at all ages. The 10+ deferred is only open to state school boys so this means that there are at least 6 or 7 in the cohort who join at 11. I know of a couple of boys who were homeschooled but I guess, unsurprisingly, that they are far in the minority.

Don't know KGS but am impressed by Hampton, very nice rounded school. CC always seems to me to be a bit hot house and pressured BUT it leads to SPS which is a fabulous fabulous school. Unlike another popular thread this week, it is actually the best school in the world. Prof Bailey describes it as a super selective grammar school - and he is right. Its not posh, not arrogant, but just very bright boys being taught by absolutely inspirational teachers. My DS left recently and loved it. he felt really at home, got into plenty of scrapes, played lots of sport, had some amazing opportunities and experiences and has a nice bunch of very down to earth charming friends. And we made friends there too. and finally, he's heading off to study a subject he's passionate about at the college/university he's dreamt of. So whist I wouldn't take CC for itself, I absolutely would for SPS. In a heartbeat.

Oh and in answer to the earlier questions bout eight Maths sets....my DS was in no 6 and I once made a jokey remark to his Maths teacher about him being a dunce at Maths and was told off! No Mrs Working, he is a fine mathematician, no-one here is a dunce at Maths! I just meant relatively speaking....the guy At the top of the top set is actually one of the 20 best mathematicians in the world for his age...that's how good some of them are.

Oh and DS ultimately ended up with an A* at Maths A2 so his teacher was right.

singersgirl Fri 07-Feb-14 08:20:51

Couldn't agree more, Working.

gingerbeard Fri 07-Feb-14 08:25:57

ogre - SPS boys I have met as adults seem to be well rounded and normal.

Couldn't let this go - have two Old Paulines as brothers, am married to an Old Pauline, who also has two brothers who went to the school, we know a lot of them and your description doesn't really chime with my reality. Old Paulines are ruthless and steely - not necessarily in an evil way. Think George Osborne. The school turns out young men who are programmed to succeed (--slightly entitled-- ) with very high academic standards. This may be what you want - and nothing wrong with that. However, from my experience, Hampton boys are much more grounded and well-rounded, both at school and well into adulthood. Hampton also has a much higher proportion of boys who were educated at state primaries.

gingerbeard Fri 07-Feb-14 08:45:57

Should probably add my DD is at SPGS, and DN went there too so we're far from anti St Pauls. It is the perfect school for some, but not for everyone by a long way. My DD rather surprised me by choosing SPGS over LEH, but she is very happy there and it was the right school for her. As others have said, listen to your gut and try not to get swayed by league tables. They're ALL good schools, what you're looking for is the best fit with your DS. He'll be the one going, not your neighbours, relatives or friends.

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