Independent, liberal, creative, not-pushy secondary independent education SE or SW London

(57 Posts)
mmoob Fri 19-Apr-13 14:58:05

I'm looking for it all...

I am considering moving to either Greenwich/Blackheath OR Richmond/Kingston area. I am looking at (independent) secondary schools to see if the move is remotely feasible.

Both children are dyslexic but bright, creative and full of beans. They will need some extra help getting through some of the GCSEs but I want to find a school that can give this but also help them to really excel in the areas they are good at - i.e. the less academic areas - arts, after-school activities etc. A school that genuinely celebrates all-round achievement, not only exam results. A relaxed atmosphere with lots on offer/going on, particularly in creative subjects (art, DT, textiles, pottery, drama, music etc etc.). Co-ed or girls only both fine (daughters).

Some of the more nurturing schools I have considered in the past seem very small and slightly claustrophobic - and their size can often limit the extra opportunities available (for children who often depend more on those out-of-class opportunities).

Only looking at Independent schools at the moment as they will need the smaller classes for focus and support - and that is their experience to date.

Any schools leap out at anyone?

They will have to GET IN to these schools too - i.e. those with tough entrance exams will be a struggle.

Any thoughts much appreciated.

racingheart Fri 19-Apr-13 19:33:17

St Dunstan's?
Emmanuel?
Hampton Court House? (I know there have been some very colourful MN posts about that school, but friends of mine send their DC there with fantastic results - lovely, happy children thriving in laid back, quirky atmosphere.)

Zhabr Fri 19-Apr-13 19:45:53

Surbiton High?

thewhistler Fri 19-Apr-13 20:17:30

I was also going to say St Dunstan's where I know a couple of young people, and Emmanuel.

Royal Russell pretty small and wasn't quite good enough at the theatre for a really talented young man I know, but did well by a dyslexic sportsman.

I assume Alleyns and Dulwich too pressurized? The latter tests every boy for dyslexia in days 2 or 3 and has excellent sen support. Trinity v v good at music theatre and art, don't know about the sen side.

mmoob Fri 19-Apr-13 21:35:22

Oh wow thanks for all the really helpful comments. St Dunstan's looks interesting... Would be interested to know more of its reputation. Does it have a reputation for being the school for all the less bright children/those who don't get in elsewhere - or do parents of bright children also choose it for the ethos? If so, what is the general impression of what that ethos is? Is it very 'trad'?

Have also considered Hampton Court House but feel unsure given some of the feedback... I like quirky too so maybe I should actually go an visit it...!

Love the sound of Alleyn's but just don't think the girls would stand a chance of getting in... Sadly.

Need to look at Trinity... Is that the state school? Generally the SEN provision at secondary level in state schools is weak... unless you have a statement (which we don't). But an amazing state school is definitely worth considering.

Emmanuel - where do most of the students live?

Thanks again for all the help all of you who have replied so far.

RMSeries2 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:50:46

Think people are referring to Trinity in Croydon? Indy.

RMSeries2 Fri 19-Apr-13 21:51:55

Have you considered Chestnut Grove? It is state, and so I don't know how they would deal with dyslexia but it might be worth looking into. Very good for art I believe and I've been hearing good things about it lately.

PanelChair Sat 20-Apr-13 00:18:17

Trinity in Croydon is a boys' school until sixth form, and Dulwich College is a boys' school all through.

BeckAndCall Sat 20-Apr-13 07:44:49

Look a bit further out at Frensham Heights in Farnham - I thought your description was from their brochure it so fits the bill!

55 mins from Farnham to London on the train. Or 20 minutes down from Woking.

thewhistler Sat 20-Apr-13 07:47:22

Hadn't picked up they are both girls. Trinity doesn't take girls before 6 th, dulwich not at all.

The people I know at st d are not rejects from.elsewhere, their parents or they chose it for the ethos. Lots of music, pretty good art, lots going on, was my impression. Lots of foreign trips, interesting extra curriculum. Of course, any school is what you make of it.

mmoob Sat 20-Apr-13 09:28:30

Hmm the whistler St Dunstan's does sound interesting...

Frensham Heights probably does fit the bill BeckAndCall but I never considered it as thought it was too far out (distance wise!)... I'd better look at the train timetables!

Never heard of Chestnut Grove RMSeries2 so will check it out, thank you.

I will keep on looking! Thank you everyone. Any more ideas keep 'em coming!

Thanks.

mmoob Sat 20-Apr-13 09:31:41

And sorry, clearly I wasn't clear enough about them being girls!

SanityClause Sat 20-Apr-13 09:35:36

Bromley High is easily commutable from Greenwich. Blackheath High, which is closer doesn't have such a good reputation, although I know someone with a DD there who is very happy with it.

mmoob Sat 20-Apr-13 09:45:52

Also (sorry more questions!) what is the ART like at St Dunstan's in particular? A fantastic and thriving Art dept is essential for DD1 and good languages for DD2 - is there a school that could satisfy both?! Anybody know how good they are with SEN?

mmoob Sat 20-Apr-13 09:57:17

Thank you SanityClause. Do you think the 'High' schools (assuming they are branches of GDST?) would consider taking dyslexic girls and be likely to support them? Maths is a huge problem so that means entrance test 'fails' unless the school is genuinely open minded about SEN.

A big mistake in my view - how many very intelligent people do you know who can't do maths? I know plenty....

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Apr-13 10:08:25

I think you should definitely consider state as well as private with that remit.

Brit school would be good for the arty one, once she was 14.

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Apr-13 10:20:35

St Dunstans is the sort of place I would really resent paying for! Perfectly nice and good school and children are very happy there afaik but practically indistinguishable from many of the good comps in the area except that it costs money and has a more homogenous intake- less wide in terms of ability, race, social background, as you'd expect. I think there is an entrance test? And I'm not sure how good they are with sen either. One of my friend's sons who has ADHD did not get in despite passing the test and my (possibly unfair) impression was that they did not want to deal with the ADHD. However, they may be different with sens that usually have less behavioural impact such as dyslexia. The lad concerned was a bit of a handful at the time though he has thrived in a more supportive state school and 4 years later is a pleasure to be around.smile

thewhistler Sat 20-Apr-13 10:37:36

A friend's dyslexic dd goes to sydenham high and seems to be doing well, afaik. Maths def not a strong point for her, but she's pretty good at art.

You'll need.to ask.

mmoob Sat 20-Apr-13 11:50:04

You make some good points AcrylicPlexiglass re state schools but it's always such a gamble (with ALL of them, to be fair!). We haven't ruled out state for the right one.

Brit school is a very interesting suggestion. Do you (or anyone?) know if you can get by there if you are not an outgoing stage-performer? Daughter very good creatively, and I know they have a visual arts stream, but very shy and does not push herself. Would assume Brit school is teaming with amazingly outgoing, extroverted and talented performing arts kids and she would vanish into nothingness despite her quiet talents and dedication to arts subjects... I wonder if anyone has any thoughts on that.

Will look into Sydenham High, thewhistler - thanks for that... sounds like it could be a possibility. As you can imagine the worst thing for a dyslexic child is to be marked out as the child who is struggling on at the bottom of the class for the whole x years of their secondary education... And it's so hard to predict if your child will be that one...

hatchypom Sat 20-Apr-13 12:16:31

Notre dame Cobham they have been amazing with my dd sen

AcrylicPlexiglass Sat 20-Apr-13 12:31:23

I think and hope so as my son starts there in September.smile I wouldn't describe him as shy but he is certainly not an outgoing stage performer either! Though the school is still best known for its unique performing arts curriculum, the art, design and media strands have a growing reputation and popularity and I think attract many less obviously super-extrovert characters. Brit is very good for SENs and pastoral care, I have been told. The staff at the open day and interviews we attended seemed very supportive and sane as well as wildly enthusiastic about their subjects and the young people were far more down to earth than I had anticipated. It seems like a really good school.

Copthallresident Sat 20-Apr-13 12:33:51

mmoob I have two dyslexic DDs who went to one of the most academic schools in SW London and certainly didn't bounce along at the bottom, indeed some of the more academic schools have excellent support for dyslexics. It isn't really that there is an identifiable "bottom" All DDs have strengths and weaknesses. These schools all pride themselves on valuing arts and other activities as much as the academics. I would have thought your best bet would be to go and visit schools that you think from your Ed Psychs report they would be capable of getting a place at (LEH for instance say that their pupils will exceed the 95th percentile on reasoning scores) and see what feels right for your DCs. I honestly think any out of the selective schools would actually provide the sort of education you describe.

Trouble with Hampton Court House is that those who have been a problem at other schools tend to end up there, I am sure the school is what it says on the tin but DDs wouldn't go there because of some of the difficult characters they know who have ended up there.

The thing about SW London is that we are spoilt for choice of good private schools, especially for girls. The ones that have most buzz about them at the moment are Kingston Grammar (new Head) and Latymer Upper, but all the rest are solidly good too so it is a matter of where your DDs would best thrive and there is no substitute for going and seeing. Have you heard of Radnor House, new and well thought of by parents but a bit more mainstream than Hampton Court House.

Copthallresident Sat 20-Apr-13 12:36:30

BTW Do not include Ibstock Place in your list, they actively discourage any sort of SEN.

Piemother Sat 20-Apr-13 12:37:27

Probably too far but look in st christopher in herts. It's fab grin

Elibean Sat 20-Apr-13 15:08:19

mmoob, we are in Richmond Borough (though not as far out as Kingston) and I have a bright, creative, very slightly dyslexic and definitely arty dd1 in Y4 at a local state primary. We're looking at our local state school (which is on the up, just been to visit it), Emmanuel, and possibly a couple of others not yet defined...

But as Copthall says, I had a distinct impression from Ibstock that any SEN are not very welcome. Such a shame, because 10 years ago it wold have been a great school for dd1 sad

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