Putney Ark Academy or Richmond Park Academy?

(40 Posts)
joochiat Thu 14-Mar-13 06:13:22

Anyone have any first hand experience of Putney Ark or RPA? I've read posts about RPA but nothing on Putney (formerly Eliot). OK I know they were both failing schools in well to do areas that have been taken over by Academies. We currently live in Singapore and so don't know much about this sort of situation, but since we'll be returning in June its going to be a hurry to find places for Year 7 Sept!! Doesn't look like we'll get much of a chance with any of the oversubscribed schools in Putney or Richmond, so now I'm trying to get my head around these two academies. Any advice would be great....my kid is very sporty, fairly academic, and used to a small school and inquiry-based learning.

The deadline for application for entry to Y7 in Sept 2013 was October 2012, so I reckon you are right it will be difficult to find a place when you get here in June.

I am in Wandsworth. Out of the two I would recommend RPA (there should be spaces in both, to be honest, as they have a history of being under subscribed as opposed to oversubscribed).

RPA is in a lovely location, fab buildings. I went to an open day there and was impressed. RPA has good sports facilities.

You could also consider Christs, in Richmond, a little further out, but a good school.

" OK I know they were both failing schools in well to do areas " That does not apply to Ark so much.... The vicinity of Putney is well to do, but not particularly the immediate area of ARK. (I live a stones throw away)

BoringTheBuilder Thu 14-Mar-13 15:52:32

I'm interested in opinions too as I live in the area and need to start thinking about secondary schools. I don't iunderstand tough, Putney and Richmond a far apart, where are you going to live and how will your child get to school?

RPA is just a short bus ride down Upper Richmond road, just across the borough border in Richmond, not in Richmond town.

BoringTheBuilder Thu 14-Mar-13 15:56:07

Why does the area matter anyway? A part from proud? My daughter goes to a primary school surrounded by council blocks and poor families and is extremely happy and doing well. I wouldn't t change for the other schools in the neighbourhood with more 'posh' housing around. Oh, I know...is to do with ESL, FSM, SEN......

BoringTheBuilder Thu 14-Mar-13 15:58:49

If my daughter goes to RPA she will need two buses if I'm not driving by than. Anyway, I don't know much about secondary schools but you can apply to other boroughs? Isn't distance from home a criteria?

You can apply to other boroughs on your LEA application form. Distance to school matters somewhat, but some schools require you to sit an exam, like Ashcroft, and St Cecilias have a preference for children baptized into CofE who are practicing Christians (they get priority), or who are musical. John Bosco is a Catholic school, as is Wimbledon College, and you need to demonstrate that you are a practicing Catholic. There are plenty of schools in wandswort, so if you require two buses to RPA it may not be convenient for your dc, but for me, for example, it is not so far away.

It all depends on where you live and what journey you envisage for your child.

BoringTheBuilder Thu 14-Mar-13 16:10:44

PureQuintessence, do you know anything about primaries in the area too?? For me distance wise for secondary would be JB but she is baptised at CofE so StC or A would be an option. Are these good schools? Because I can't see us paying independent ever. Sorry OP for the hijack.

John Bosco will be moving to Battersea in the next few years. St Cecilia is a very good school I hear, we really liked it on Open Day, but it is tricky to get there for us. I know very little about the primaries, I am afraid. I only know the primaries in Putney proper, like Hotham, All Saints, St Marys and Our Lady of Victories, sort of area.

A is an ofsted outstanding secondary, but I would not send my dc there... They have a special wing for badly behaved children who dont get to take part in lessons with the other kids. Once in the "bad building" it is hard to get out....

Elibean Thu 14-Mar-13 19:01:56

I have a friend with a very bright ds, who is thrilled with RPA so far (he's in Y7).

But don't know anything about Putney schools, I'm afraid - amazing how I can live so close to Putney and not have a clue about schools out of Richmond Borough blush

Goodwordguide Thu 14-Mar-13 19:05:49

I would second quin - we live in the area and I would choose RPA over Eliot - RPA is in a nicer area (near a lovely park and allotments), it is a nicer building and has better facilities. It is also further along the 'journey' out of special measures and it is also very near the south circular, therefore easier to get to from most places in London.

muminlondon Thu 14-Mar-13 19:50:02

I know people who went to both schools years ago and have done very well in life. I think the present head of Ark Putney had already moved it out of special measures in its predecessor school before it became an academy. RPA (with head from redecessor school) has made that improvement since, with a more balanced intake this year, but AP still got slightly better results, especially looking more closely at English results, Ebacc for higher attainers, etc. Of academy chains, Ark seems to have better performing schools than AET, but that could just be the starting point.

Both schools have had local politicians upsetting the head/governors (RPA when it was Shene and Ark Putney). But I think there is a determination for both schools to succeed now.

BoringTheBuilder Thu 14-Mar-13 21:05:12

Well my daughter is still in Y1 so I shall wait and see. Or should I start worrying from now?

Copthallresident Thu 14-Mar-13 21:41:53

joochiat A former expat here, I am sure you have researched the admissions arrangements but when you go on a waiting list for a school you immediately get the priority you would have got under the admissions arrangements. In Richmond borough, all bar the faith schools, that is purely on distance, so move to the doorstep of a school and you are first on the waiting list. When we applied for Year 7 at the end of July for September (at that time you could not apply unless you were resident at the address, though we owned the house and could prove the tenants would be moving out, some people have suggested on here that there is some process now for returning expats but no detail so no idea what that might be, the Education Department will advise) from our house which was in Central Twickenham a place came up at the very oversubscribed Orleans and Waldegrave, three weeks into term. I think that there is a chance of the odd person dropping out at the last minute. Given it seems likely there will be spaces at RPA you might want to take a space there but live strategically for a school you may feel would suit your DC better. Christs, only has a small element of faith selection but is likely to be oversubscribed but it seems likely that the other school in Richmond Borough with spaces which will be available is a new Catholic School that has been established, St Richard Reynolds. Although it's admission arrangements favour Catholics they are undersubscribed and offering it to non Catholics who didn't even make it a preference. Obviously unproven but the former Christ's Head and they have a point to prove so pupils are likely to get lots of attention and focus.

joochiat Fri 15-Mar-13 07:14:21

Thanks everyone!
Copthallresident, thats v useful feedback. Actually we have no home in Uk so we will rent as appropriate as you suggest. Orleans was previously my first choice, but when I called the LEA it appeared the move away from feeder primaries has meant a lot more people have thought they are in with a chance there this year, meaning many more applicants. So being realistic we are looking at the academies (will keep that strategy in mind though for moving close to a first choice!!). I'm not overly attracted to the faith schools per se. DS is musical though, but I didn't want him to feel he was in a minority as a present non-church-goer.
Anyone else with a kid actually in RPA or Ark??
(BTW BoringBuilder: I am not picking the schools because I think they are in a socially "good" areas, I was only trying to give an indication of the level of knowledge I had about the schools when I started the post - i.e. v little! No that it matters but my view is that the most important factors for the success of a school are the teachers and the head teacher's motivation - to a large extent the kids are like putty. Plenty of motivational headteachers in previously failing schools seemed to have demonstrated that. On a smaller scale I see it as my kids pass through primary - some years the class teacher just has that magic thing and everyone gets fired up about learning, whilst other years the teacher is unsuited to the job and even smartest kids start messing about and losing focus.)

Copthallresident Fri 15-Mar-13 08:39:24

joochiat Did you see the thread on RPA www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/a1579588-RICHMOND-Richmond-Park-Academy As you will see there is a buzz about the school at the moment and I was quite surprised it was so undersubscribed this year but Christs' increased it's capacity and I think Sheen parents have got so used to creative ways of avoiding the school, I know a family who sent one child to Isleworth and the other to Clapham, or tutoring their children for selectives, that it is taking a little more time for them to be persuaded. It also paid to gamble on getting another school such as Christs' on a higher preference on the basis that you would get into RPA on a lower preference anyway.

East Sheen ("home" of RPA) is also a lovely area, and not that hard to find decent rental accommodation.

anniesw Fri 15-Mar-13 17:12:55

joochat
I have a daughter in Y7 who is doing very well. She moved with several friends from a local primary. She settled very quickly, thanks to the dedicated Year 7 area - a wonderful facility. She walks to school, loves the lessons and has made fantastic progress thanks to inspirational teaching. She announced the other day that Latin is her favourite subject now.

The school is changing very quickly and a lot of local people are now supporting it and choosing it. The staff are great and offer a very high standard of pastoral care as well as a good educational experience. In fact there is a very good mix of very experienced staff and younger staff (unlike some of the schools which have far too many young and inexperienced staff)

muminlondon Fri 15-Mar-13 17:20:22

If you live closer to Richmond, you may have a better chance on waiting lists for Orleans Park, Christ's or Grey Court and still have good transport links for RPA if there are places there. Christ's has a very new music block so it's a strong subject. The downside is that property is very expensive and mostly flats or 2-bed houses (not related to school choice - many go private).

Crawfordsburn Mon 25-Mar-13 20:23:57

Think RPA would be the way to go. Most improved school in Richmond. Rated good by Ofsted. Opening an academic 6th form in Sept 2014. Great Head. Inspirational staff. £10,000,000 build in progress. This view formed by watching students going to and from school, talking to them and finding out what goes on behind school doors. If you want to find out what's happening in a school, ask a student - or two, or three - no better way ...

Hoover01 Mon 08-Apr-13 01:24:48

I have a DD at Ashcroft, she is happy, good group of friends, in lots of clubs, encouraged to excel at the subjects she enjoys, in a STEM club, part of enrichment programme and likes her teachers.
Don't place too much weight on anecdotal gossip you read from parents whose children don't attend Ashcroft. Make your own mind up. It is not to everyone's taste. However if your child is a science / techno buff, it is great!
As for discipline... removing disruptive children from classes, encouraging them to take part in school life and re-enter the main stream of school again appears to work and is of benefit to all students!

Crawfordsburn Wed 17-Apr-13 11:30:10

Just picked up a Richmond Park Academy magazine in Waitrose last week. Lots of info about this upwardly mobile local secondary. With its new build and lots of interesting things going on, seems to be educationally sound and a fun place to be. Anyone heard any reports from current students?

MrsSalvoMontalbano Wed 17-Apr-13 20:42:01

RPA is definitely on the up. Sadly too late for my DC, but friends with DC in Y7 and Y8 are very happy. Underperforming staff have been eased out, new staff very determined school will succeed, and zero-tolerance of poor behaviour.

muminlondon Mon 22-Apr-13 16:47:39

Both schools are now on the up - RPA was rated 'good' by Ofsted in October 2012 and Putney was rated 'good' in March 2013. At Ark Putney more students made expected progress in English and Maths and passed GCSE science in 2012 than at RPA.

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