St James (girls) secondary....just wondering

(15 Posts)
Elibean Mon 02-Dec-13 11:08:38

Re-post from Education section, as not had any replies there!

....at an open day recently, I got the distinct impression that the Head (via a written speech) and the Deputy (who spoke) found the internet and, more generally, the media, a real threat.

I understood their viewpoint, in a way, but I worried about the negativity attached to it all....as though it were 'Bad' or 'Dangerous'.

Is this a false impression I got? Am I worrying about nothing? Does this school know how to deal sensibly and honestly with eg bullying, anger, hostility, internet dangers, etc etc and not pretend either that they don't exist, or that they are 'out there' and not, potentially, in us all?

I really liked a lot of things about the school. I just worry about any community that demonizes - however slightly - by locating 'badness' in an outside force, iyswim. And I also worry that in a society that is all about caring (which is fine), healthy anger/boundaries/saying no/thinking about oneself/the dark side we all have etc will be pushed away or go underground.

I may be making no sense blush
But if any current or ex parents can enlighten me or put me straight, I'd be very grateful.

Londinium Mon 02-Dec-13 12:06:49

Am not a parent there, but I would not view this necessarily as a bad thing. Maybe it's just their USP that they are vigilant from the beginning about helping parents educate girls in the world the way it is : from study time wasted, school work copied off wikepedia, to all the friendship and esteem fall outs that happen in a far more 24/7 way than we might have been confronted with back in the day. Maybe just their way off wanting you to be on board in a partnership?

Elibean Mon 02-Dec-13 13:49:26

Could well be. dh thinks its part of their 'selling point', too - so they stress it more, iyswim.

I think I'll have to go and look around again (although dd keener on co-ed, but still as it's one of our more local schools worth thinking about!).

Thanks

Belltree Wed 04-Dec-13 09:13:30

Hi

I went to an open day there too, and made a point of speaking to the 6th formers as I was also worried they wouldn't be in touch with the real world. It was very reassuring - they were perfectly normal, told me they mix with girls and boys from all the West London schools, but were also very down to earth and nice. I've known a few ex-St James girls and they do always seem especially nice. Current parents all rave about it. But having said all that I do know what you mean about the headmistress's speech - it was quite OTT I thought and DD was not impressed by her views on social media!

Don't know if this exactly answers your questions, but I hope it's a bit reassuring at least. It seems to be a school that people either love or can't stand.

Elibean Wed 04-Dec-13 14:43:59

Thanks smile

Yes, I thought the girls were nice too. Not buzzing with excitement about life, but grounded and normal.

I'm all for boundaries with social media....but not on making things 'scary' or 'bad'. And, coming from a family where people tend to be far TOO responsible for other people (and not take proper care of themselves), I'm not sure I want to encourage even more outward focus - iyswim.

I guess we'll go and have another look in the spring, with dd this time!

StressedandFrazzled Tue 28-Jan-14 17:22:50

Just been round this school today and heard the same HM speech. She seemed genuinely concerned about the world our children are going to live in, (she mentioned internet etc.). She said she is retiring and her deputy head will be taking over, which I hadn't realised. It seemed tiny and the facilities about the same (or not quite as good as) as Lady Margaret, (a state secondary girls) which was the last secondary I looked round. I kept thinking what would I be paying for here that I wouldn't get at Lady Margaret's? (presuming my DS got places in both) I very much like the idea of the contemplative moments of silence/meditating between lessons though and the earnestness of the girls, old fashioned and charming. Any views from parents at the the school most welcome.

Elibean Tue 28-Jan-14 19:31:38

Yes, I would like to hear from existing parents too smile

We're taking dd to look around in May, as it's the only all-girls option she will have (several co-ed). We're not in catchment for Lady Margarets, nor are we eligible for church places, so not even thinking about it though some of dd's friends are - as churchgoers.

I knew the Head was retiring. I'm still a tad concerned by the fear expressed re media/technology, but perhaps it's just a quirk. We have neighbours with a son at the boy's school, and he is totally fine with all things computer and net related - and hopefully the concerns are not just aimed at the female students!

NWgirls Tue 28-Jan-14 23:25:10

I think they try to be very protective and instil (good / lofty) old-fashioned values in the girls - this is part of their offering to parents and genuine ethos. Yes, we heard clearly today that the HT believes in strong negative external forces.

I understand the intention (the road to hell is paved etc), but have mixed feelings myself. They risk being out of touch with modern life (not so terribly bad in itself?) and possibly also perpetuating dated gender stereotypes; virtuous young ladies (selfless, caring, gentle, respecting themselves and others) who strive for wisdom and work to build their own high-quality character, pitted against the evil Internet and Rihanna as a role model...

The modern world probably lodged its protest today by knocking out their IT systems for the event... I can see both sides of this, but for my girls - with wifi-connected ipads at home - I am not sure the black & white approach will beat the perhaps more realistic shades of grey.

Please read this post as light- & warm-hearted about their quirkiness, rather than very critical or worried. My impression (as a visitor only, but being aware of their old baggage in this area) is that it is a very safe, kind and caring environment with minimal bullying.

Elibean Wed 29-Jan-14 11:27:52

NW, I got exactly the same impression and don't feel negative about them at all....just concerned about the gender stereotypes and polarisation of good/evil confused

Mind you, dd1 is keen to learn about philosophy, so they score highly on that one!

Lemony1 Wed 05-Mar-14 21:52:59

Have a look at this forum about ex-pupils experiences at the school www.ses-forums.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=105 it makes interesting reading and explains why the school is anti the internet!

NWgirls Wed 05-Mar-14 23:03:00

Lemony, this is what I referred to as "old baggage" in my post above. After reading quite a lot about this online (there is more!) and discussing it with the registrar when I was pondering whether to apply for my DD, I concluded that it was really quite ... old.

For us (DD), a bigger reason not to apply was actually the veggie food!

Soffia123 Sat 19-Apr-14 07:47:33

Hi all,

I came across this post and thought I would be able to contribute as I attended St James girls school from the ages 12-16 just after they moved to Kensington and I know of girls who have recently left.

I honestly wouldn't recommend the school, I just don't know where to start....!
My biggest problem with the school is it's run by a group called the SES (School of Economic sciences) which is too closely linked with the school for my liking. All the teachers have relatives, daughters or family friends at the school - they all attend SES events together and live a certain lifestyle, have certain beliefs and are so out of touch with real life. If your child joins this school you have to understand you aren't just getting the GCSE syllabus, oh no, St James tries to make them into an SES clone.

For example, we would have compulsory 'philosophy' class with Mrs. Hyde the Head - we would discuss philosophy but we were also told to write what she dictated to us on subjects like finding a husband, where we were told that he had to be a quarter of our age and have certain attributes. When taught about abortion we watched an pro-life video, a classmate asked about the other side of the debate, we were told there was no other side very promptly and there was no argument or rational discussion about the very important issue. When I was there girls were not allowed to wear trousers, one even got detention for changing after school and being seen wearing them outside of school grounds! Another girl got expelled for dying her hair blonde - they clearly did not value the importance of her education over their archaic rules.

I questioned and fought back on their SES ideas and for that I consistently was told I wasn't a good student (I did get good grades). When I mentioned that all the SES involved girls were head girls/prominent school figures I really did hit a raw nerve (that might just have been my year though to be fair).

I left as soon as I could, I am so glad I didn't stay! I wouldn't be surprised if all the girls were banned from having facebook and social media!

Anyways, I hope this was helpful, alot gets written about the school and the day to day little things rarely get mentioned!

Elibean Sat 19-Apr-14 17:03:37

Yikes. That is damming indeed! I wonder if they have changed/will change?

It did strike me as...unusual, that the retiring Head is going to stay on as part of the infrastructure to advise the new one. I can't think of anything worse, as a new Head, personally.

Anyone else? We haven't taken dd to see it yet, and are increasingly keen on our local state option anyway - but I'd still like to know?

AnnyBee Wed 23-Apr-14 13:00:38

Read the book Shame on You for more info

Elibean Tue 29-Apr-14 15:01:18

Why? confused

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