Latymer Upper

(81 Posts)
Rifraf79 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:19:53

Our DS has been offered a place at Latymer Upper (year 7) and by a couple of schools further away; We and he really like what we've seen of LU but I'd be grateful to hear from current parents about any down sides/negatives we should be aware of, as well reasons why a bright but not especially cool or sophisticated boy would thrive there. Thanks!

tripleweetabix Sat 23-Feb-13 03:49:04

Hi Rifraf79 and congratulations to your DS! Our DD in the present year 7 at LU after joining from a small state primary. The plus side to the school is the diversity to the students, the skill of the teachers and the efforts made to made each student feel comfortable in their new school. MY DS has only been playing violin for 1 year but was encouraged to join the junior string group and she has quickly made friends in her form class.They haven't piled on the homework from the beginning so she has had time to find her feet and enjoy loads of lunchtime and after school clubs. On the negative side, there is no house system and there doesn't seem to be much mentoring or contact between years. They will be refurbishing the sports facilities on site and whilst the end result will be fabulous, it will mean off site sports for about 1 year.
Hope this helps..and good luck with your decision..

Rifraf79 Sat 23-Feb-13 11:15:19

Thanks twbx for your reply here and the CLSB thread. Good to hear your daughter is settled and you are impressed with the teaching at LU. It's probably just the presence of girls at LU compared to a couple of all-boys schools we've seen (including City) but the kids seemed pretty urban and mature at LU, so we have a slightly concern that social pressures at LU might flicker close to bullying if your child is not 'cool' with many kids there growing up too quick, as it were. Do any other LU parents have any experience of 'snarkiness' or teasing of their DCs?

One other question for LU parents - our son likes football and cricket but not rugby. He is in his current small school's football and cricket teams but he is not a brilliant player and there are only about 25 boys in his current year so it is pretty inclusive. For secondary, he would be hugely disappointed if he wasn't in the school teams but we are aware with larger numbers (I estimate that there are 80 boys per year at LU) the chances of him making the 1st team are small. With that in mind how serious are the school about encouraging above/or average but very keen players. I note on the LU website that they have 3rd and 4th teams but these have hardly any fixtures scheduled. Are they focussed on the exceptional players to get the best results or do they allow for some movement in squad makeup to give the slightly less able the opportunity to represent the school? With LU I worry that many boys and girls (half in each year?) might just not get picked by teams. This is just me looking at the website so I would appreciate some informed insight on sport participation at the school.

hardboiled Sat 23-Feb-13 11:56:49

Rifrafr, I have pm you.

w4witch Sat 23-Feb-13 12:38:22

Hi Rifraf79. Well done to your DS! It's fantastic for you to have choices at this stage, but I remember it's sooo difficult to make the "right" choice too.

My DS is at LU in Year 8; he is neither cool nor geeky and is definitely not in the very sporty group of (about 10) popular boys. However, he has managed to make it into the C team for football this year and is completely chuffed about it! You're right that there aren't loads of opportunities for the C/D teams to play against other schools (from what I hear, this is pretty similar in most schools) but this has started to change now as the relatively new Director of Sport seems very keen to increase participation across the whole year group.

The main positives about LU are that academically the school seems to be getting stronger each year, the teaching is (mostly) excellent, and the range of clubs and activities on offer is extraordinary (there is definitely something to suit every child). For us, the deal breaker was that LU is our closest school so DS can walk to and from school with friends.

Our main concern about the school was that our non-sporty, not academically brillant, middle of the road child would feel swamped by the cool/sporty London feel at LU. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a London school, and there are a few "cool" kids, but they are a small minority and the "normal" ones just get on with their own thing.

Hope that helps and good luck with your decision making.

Rifraf79 Sat 23-Feb-13 15:12:59

Thanks w4. Certainly sounds like you had similar concerns going into the school and pleased that your son is happy there. We know a few current parents and they have also been very positive about the school, though one did say that by year 9 there is a cool clique emerging and they are a pretty arrogant/ exclusive crowd. This is mainly amongst the fast maturing girls. Having said that this friend, like you, has said that most kids are perfectly happy outside this minority.

The thing about sport is not so much that I hope my son is placed above his ability - but that he continues to get a real sense of camaraderie, teamwork and excitement through sport. It's much better he's off on Saturday morning getting dirty and healthy in school colours than slobbing around at the weekend in his PJs playing Xbox! Sounds like the new sports head recognises that all kids benefit in this way, not just the very sporty.

I believe that this year nearly a 1000 applicants went for 120 places - similar to the last couple of years. As its popularity has increased the school has presumably become more and more selective. I am assuming that this means the lower years are very academically able, and i imagine results will continue to improve.

Like you, we are within walking distance - so this is very much the clincher (unless we hear something awful!) Someone else mentioned its not just the local schoolfriends - it's so much easier as a parent to do after school club/sport/music/drama if you know you can easily pick up if need be.

Venelope Sat 23-Feb-13 18:26:43

My DD has been lucky enough to be offered a place at Latymer Upper, and I would really appreciate any thoughts or info anyone might have comparing the experience for girls there to the nearby all-girl schools, and specifically compared to Godolphin (although we won't hear back from them until next week....)

Presumably there are going to be popular cliques at all the schools? Which school would be better for a sporty girl -- when we did the tour there seemed to be more different sports offered for the boys than the girls at Latymer, but perhaps that's not right? Are there any significant differences in terms of the quality of the teaching, or anything else for that matter that anyone thinks is notable?

I really like the feel of Latymer, and its co-ed aspect, but am a bit concerned that it is very big in terms of the overall number of children per year, although the teaching class sizes seem to be about the same as at other simliar schools.

Sarajevo1995 Sat 23-Feb-13 21:02:39

Our friend's DD attends LU and they are considering leaving as there is little opportunity for true competitive girls' sports. If you look at the teams, they are overwhelmingly boys'. Their same complaint that although the school is co-ed, it seems to lean firmly to the boys.

Tintingal Sun 24-Feb-13 11:31:42

My DD goes to LU and although she has done very well, she is quite a toughie, and likes the cool atmosphere, she's not very sporty either so that's not been a problem. One of her friends has had problems and the school could have been a little more helpful IMO. Her best friend goes to Godolphin and has been v happy with the sport there.

Eastpoint Mon 25-Feb-13 11:47:41

I went round Latymer last year (2011 for 2012 yr7 start) looking for my DD who is now in yr7 somewhere else. A friend's daughter is in yr8 so I asked the director of sport questions based on the problems which have arisen.

1. There are pre-season coaching sessions for the boys (from yr8 up) but not the girls. Why not?
2. Why don't they have more matches for girls? If they played schools such as G&L or SPGS they could have netball matches down to F or G teams in yrs 7 & 8. This would not be a transport issue as they could walk to either of these schools.
3. Why do they play hockey for the autumn term and three weeks of the spring term and then change to netball? Why don't girls play both sports throughout the winter the way they do at other girls schools? This would mean the netball teams did better in the county championships etc.
4. Why don't they have as many practices for girls as they do for boys teams? There are as many girls in the school as there are boys.
5. Why is there a football pitch on site which the boys use for 15 minutes at a time (at lunch break) but no netball pitch for the girls to use?
6. Why isn't there a qualified gym teacher? Why isn't there a trampoline? Keeping girls interested in sport is important and girls who don't like ball games often like trampolining/gym. If there is no need for a full time gym teacher why not hire one part time & at least have a gym or trampolining club at lunchtime/after school?
7. Why don't they have more sport in their normal timetable? They have less than at any of the comparable schools in the area.
8. Why don't all the netball squads train in the same area? The players in the lower teams are never seen by the coaches so how can they move up?
9. Do the girls play competitive indoor cricket in the winter? G&L & SPGS do & play in an indoor tournament at Lords.

My friends DD is generally very happy but has been really put off hockey & netball (she plays hockey outside school now). She is looking forward to starting rowing, if she is picked, in the summer term.

Sorry to be so negative about a school about which I have no direct experience, but I did ask the director of sport (I'm pretty sure that was his title) all the questions above & was very disappointed with his answers.

Rifraf79 Mon 25-Feb-13 14:46:17

I now have spoken to a number of existing Latymer parents, and feel reassured about my biggest specific concern - namely that the existence of 'too cool cliques' and related social pressures.

I'm also told that the school recognizes it needs greater participation in sports across the whole year group. I spoke to a parent who confirmed W4witches belief that this has already improved, and it is a declared aim of the newish head of sport.

Obviously, with a DS going to the school, I have not asked too deeply about girls sport... Venelope, is what you have read here put you off? I imagine that as the school has only been fully co-ed for a decade or so, the culture of girls sports at Latymer is not going to be as developed as it would be in an existing single gender school... but apparently they DO recognize it as a problem. If your daughter is sporty, as you say, then she will get into the A or B teams - it is more an issue with girls who are not sporty but would still benefit from sport in the D or E teams.

I wonder if there are any co'ed schools where boys and girls sports are truly given equal emphasis?

Looking at other schools fixtures/websites it seems that there is a similar dropoff in games played by teams lower than the C team wherever you go, and whether you are boy or girl. One thing I have been told - there are so many sports played at LU that your child will find one that they can participate in.

Academically, everything I have heard is hugely positive. Terrific and committed teachers. The school is apparently very good at getting kids to settle in at Year 7; it doesn't overload them with homework whilst still pushing forward with their learning.

Venelope Mon 25-Feb-13 15:54:47

Thank you all so much for your comments! If the school does recognise the issue and is working to improve things, I guess that is half the battle -- I would have thought that a school that had gone co-ed relatively recently but has girls as half of its students already would be very sensitive to questions about giving the girls and boys teams the same amount of attention and resources.

All this said, our main reason for choosing this school would be its teaching and nurturing of the students, rather than sport, and I gather from everyone's comments so far that here reality matches reputation in that these are perceived to be very strong. Does anyone have any knowledge on these areas about Godolphin?

I'm very glad Rifraf79 has been reassured about the cool clique aspect at Latymer, although following Tintingal's comment I'm now a bit worried about the need to be a "toughie" as my DD isn't very.... Presumably there are some "softies" that are happy there too?!

Moominsarehippos Mon 25-Feb-13 16:00:45

I've heard that there is a bit of bullying there - someone told me that they read the Head saying this in one of those huge schools guide books. I know a couple of boys who have been there (very comfortable, middle class and parents have 'cool' jobs) and they enjoyed it.

Eastpoint Mon 25-Feb-13 16:10:02

My friend is very happy with the teaching, her DD has a group of friends she goes to the cinema etc with. The girls work hard, often staying behind after school working in the library.

The school offers a touch typing course after school to yr8s.

Older girls we know there are very happy, all different personalities, some science based others more artsy but all hard working & enjoying the school.

justone Mon 25-Feb-13 17:22:21

I've heard that there is a bit of bullying there - someone told me that they read the Head saying this in one of those huge schools guide books.
I have heard this too moomin

hardboiled Mon 25-Feb-13 17:34:13

Well...the question is... is there any school with 0 bullying?

Rifraf79 Mon 25-Feb-13 17:35:25

Moomins - The Good Schools Guide from a while back (the edition we have is 2009 so I don't know what the latest listing now reports) quotes the then Head as saying: "we do not tolerate bullying" which I suppose could be seen as acknowledgement that it does (did) exist... The listing also goes on to detail how seriously he takes it with an outstanding pastoral care team, a tiered system of tutors etc etc in place. However, the listing throws in the line "we might not send a sensitive, artistic or eccentric soul here."

The feedback I have got is that it may have been a problem in the past but not much of one now. It's the one thing I have looked into quite hard, and all I hear about are happy, settled, kids of all sorts doing really well academically at LU, and rubbing along really well. Of course it is co'ed - so that brings its own social issues - but I personally feel that a mixed education is a good thing.

The friend with a DD in Year 10 says that the school are quietly expecting that cohort to achieve stellar (SPGS/StPauls) levels of attainment (measured in % of A*/A GCSEs) on their current trajectory, and apparently the same applies to the years below.

There is a Q & A with the Head tomorrow night 6pm to 7.45 - I trust parents with offers know about this? You need to call the admissions office to confirm attendance, if you haven't already.

Rifraf79 Mon 25-Feb-13 17:44:44

Indeed, Hardboiled. And I can't imagine that the bullying at a London Day School could ever compare to the hothouse of a boarding school, or some failing state schools.

Rifraf79 Mon 25-Feb-13 17:53:58

I meant to say that you can take your DC to the Q & A - we have checked and they encourage it. The details were in the letters sent out offering an interview - not the actual offers of place letters.

Moominsarehippos Mon 25-Feb-13 18:16:31

I'll ask my friemd where he saw it. He said the the head admitted there was a 'culture' of bullying and was working to fix it. It was probably post 2009, as I remember it as being quite recent.

Tintingal Mon 25-Feb-13 19:23:40

Venelope, LU is a great school, and I think they're pretty good at selecting the right students for their school through the interview. But, there is no getting away from the fact that it is perceived, and indeed perceives itself, as a "cool" school, and that attracts a certain type of family and child.

hardboiled Mon 25-Feb-13 20:19:55

This is the most recent Good Schools Guide entry on Latymer Upper:
School discipline is pragmatic and effective - ‘Drink, smoking, drugs and bullying? We have them all, and anyone who says they don’t is lying through their teeth’. Has expelled and will expel pupils if drugs are brought into the school, and the good of the school as a whole will always prevail. Likewise with bullying - ‘We have an open culture here. The bully thrives on silence and fear. If a child is feeling belittled or upset, there is always an avenue he can go down,’ and it’s not just words - pupils say it really is like that now. Much praised system of older pupils mentoring the younger ones. The sixth formers sense a real change when they reach this elevated state – ‘The staff really make an effort to get to know you and work with you… I’ve had endless individual help’.

Copthallresident Mon 25-Feb-13 22:49:08

"Drink, smoking, drugs and bullying? " can exist in ALL South West London schools to my certain knowledge, and if you don't believe me go to Wimbledon Common, Richmond Park, Richmond Green, and just about any open space on a Friday or Saturday night in the summer. It isn't that any particular school has this culture, the "cool kids" who meet up outside come from all the schools, and when at school they like to be exclusive BUT that does not mean that your child will necessarily be affected. There are always different friendship groups of DCs with similar values. There is also no way of predicting where these cool exclusive DCs will turn up, we didn't apply to LU for DD2 because I thought it would be like that but in fact a major group of attention seekers turned up in DD2s year elsewhere, and the teachers have struggled to cope since Year 7. Her year at LU are lovely. Sadly as parents we have no way of knowing who will turn up at a particular school, we can only judge a school on how it handles them and LU seem to be proactive on that score.

Seren2013 Thu 28-Feb-13 14:48:21

My DC has also gotten an offer from LU. Please current parents could you tell me a bit about pastoral care? I'm not concerned at all about drink & drugs, as I am quite certain any school would have these issues and am confident LU can handle theirs.

However, my DC has an offer at Harrodian, which looks like such a happy place with plenty of sports and other opportunities for children, boys and girls alike. They have skiing competitions, for instance, unlike LU. And they have a house system, so the students can have fun in-school competition.

But everyone insists that because of our DC's academic abilities, that Latymer is the right place. Our DC is not the most confident and I wonder whether Latymer is the sort of place that will encourage students. Bring out the best in them. Or whether LU only pays attention to those children who are brilliant or who are struggling.

We went to their evening for students who have received offers and they were very vague in their responses to questions. "We recognise that we have to improve these areas and will do something about it." If nothing else, Harrodian is brilliant at making their whole package very very appealing and welcoming.

Marni23 Thu 28-Feb-13 15:21:53

I'm not a current parent but my DS has an offer at Latymer and I too went to their Q&A for offer holders the other evening.

I honestly don't remember them being vague in any of their responses, in fact I thought they answered all the questions really thoroughly! We left feeling very reassured.

Which areas did you think they were vague about? Maybe it was things specifically concerning girls which would have less relevance to me...

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