London Sixth Forms - Latymer Upper, Westminster, Godolphin, Camden, SPGS etc(70 Posts)
We are thinking of moving our DD for sixth form. My concerns are that it can be quite disruptive - sixth form isn't long, and there is a lot to get done. On the other hand we can see that she could probably do with a larger and more competitive environment.
Do any of you have any experience of moving your children into the sixth forms of any of the above schools. How did it go ? Did they settle quickly ? Was the move a success ? Did you get what you (or your child) hoped from the move.
This isn't very clearly put. We are dithering about moving at the moment because although in the main I think it would be a good thing we don't want to move her for very little benefit.
Does anyone know how competitive is it to get into these schools at sixth form ? People are always bandying around figures for the competitiveness of the eleven+ exams, but I hear very little about 6th form entry.
Each of the above schools offer very different academic syllabuses (IB / Pre-U / AS/A2), so it is hard to compare them. Any views ??
Looking forward to any comments to add to our discussions at home.
Look at the Student Room thread about Westminster and be very scared...
I think it depends on the reasons behind any move. A child really needs to hit the ground running for them to be sufficiently well known by the school by the point the school has to start writing references for universities. However a move to a sparky interesting and larger, possibly co-ed sixth form can be a useful stepping stone on the way to University. Other reasons might be subject choice and strength of teaching especially for science or a chance to do IB.
I was at one of these schools at sixth form - 14/15 years ago now, but I'm also a lecturer who's been involved in admissions/outreach stuff so have stayed pretty up to date with what the school is doing. Don't want to go in to loads of detail here as it might be quite identifying but happy to answer any particular questions if you PM me.
You do have to hit the ground running when you change schools at sixth form. If she goes to an all girls school she will have to form new friendships where other girls have been there since they were 11.
Do not even try her for Westminster unless she is super bright and hugely confident. The boys are incredibly intelligent but the girls are a higher calibre altogether. Also the environment of going into an all boys school is tough and not for the feint hearted. Where is she now and how capable is she?
Well I have looked at the Westminster thread, and AM now very scared. The competition looks might frightening. I suspect Westminster is probably out of our league.
Does anyone have any views on Latymer-Upper or Camden for sixth form. DD is currently at a medium sized all girls school, and as Needmoresleep says, a co-ed sixth form might provide the extra spark that is needed. Also considering Godolphin because of the IB option there.
I take the point about writing references - it is hard to get noticed when you are new in a place.
Kalidasa, I will contact you to ask a bit more ... so thank you.
Lazymum.... I think she is pretty capable, but I don't know how she would deal with being stretched further. She is in a safe place at the moment, being taught to the exam (if you see what I mean), and not much more. I think she will get good results in her GCSEs but don't know how she will cope in a school where people have been taught well beyond the exams. I like to think that she would rise to the challenge, but I don't know that.
I would love to hear from people with specific experience of any of these schools at sixth form, or of changing from a careful girls school to a more demanding, and possibly mixed environment.
My daughter moved to Westminster in the sixth form (from South Hampstead High). She was by no means super confident or highly academic and I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but she absolutely flourished there.
camden have a strict admissions policy which you can get off their website. Unless you are going for a music scholarship they fill up the places in each subject in a strict order ending with distance from the school. It does not matter how academic you are. Your predictions have to match their criteria which is 5bs including maths and english and possibly Bs in the subjects you wnat to take, after that it is ordered by distance.
I know a girl who having failed to get into Westminster moved to Latimer and was very happy and has ended up at Oxford.
Aside from what Sugarfoot says (and I think her daughter was more academic than she thought!), IME she needs to be the type that will flourish in the atmosphere where they are taught way beyond the exams and have been since they were 13.
A lot depends on the child's personality. DS was adamant he was going to a particular 6th form college but hated it and went back to the 6th form attached to his school, the new environment and people were too much for him to handle and even now he commutes to uni rather than live in student accommodation.
DD is completely different. We moved house 2 yrs ago but didn't change schools so she could've had a place there or the college DS didn't like. Instead she picked another college, despite not knowing anyone else who was going there, and is a completely different girl to the one who enrolled 4 wks ago.
I wish we'd considered her college for DS when he was unhappy at his first choice.
If DD knows where wants to be in two years, I would try to be as honest as possible about where your DD is most keen to spend her intervening time.
Please don't be scared in any way. In our darker moments, we may be tempted to think xyz school 'collects the brightest children'. Actually they collect the brightest that are prepared to go. Don't be put off Westminster or SPGS by myths of incredible talent. IME there are very few truly stellar children at either, and most scholars at both would struggle to be 'collected' by a super selective grammar, without the coaching almost all of them had to get in. However the coaching once you are there is incredibly effective. Effective but unnecessary, unless like most of them you're bright enough and supported enough to follow instructions, but not bright enough to get there by yourself. If DD wants a place, is offered and qualifies, before September is over, she will be in her stride.
Remember that when she gets to university, the playing field levels off. Competition is fiercer from genuinely talented and uncoached young people who have conquered incredible obstacles to gain the most competitive places. If she's determined and has a good chance of succeeding under her own steam at the university etc of her choice, any of the schools including the one she's at will do, provided it suits her. If she needs more thinking time, apply to all of them and then choose which one to drop in August. Happy hunting.
And forgive me for not saying at the start, welcome to mumsnet, livinginlondon2!
Thank you all for your responses, and chrchrch for your nice welcome to Mumsnet.
I have to say that the main reason we are thinking about it is not totally academic, but more about broadening her outlook by putting her in a bigger school. She is perfectly capable academically of fitting into most of these schools (and quite possibly not the top couple - only application will tell us that). However, I think (hope) she will also thrive with a bigger cohort, bigger music departments, more competitive sports etc. and most importantly a slightly more competitive classroom environment, and at the end of it all a different social life.
For these "stretching" reasons I am thinking that a mixed school might be the best. Having been through the London 11+ rigmarole, I realise we aren't going to be in a position to choose !
Sugarfoot, I am glad to hear that your daughter thrived - what sort of A levels did your daughter do at Westminster ? Was it a better environment for her than SHHS ? What made her want to move.
We have only just started thinking about this - she is in year 10 at the moment, and it feels too soon to be thinking about moving, but I know it will all come over us in a rush next year if we haven't done any preparation.
I agree with Chrchrch that once the children get to university the playing field will level out : oddly, although of course we do ideally want her to go to good university and so on, she can achieve this through her current school quite happily, so that isn't the main reason for considering the move.
It is mainly about giving her an inspiring and refreshing (for want of a better word) time for her last couple of years at school. Her current school is very nice, very kind, very supportive, and she does very well in many ways, but somehow she isn't "fired up" by it. This may of course be about the child and not the school.
we have had very similar discussions to yours I think, except that my dd is in year 11 and we are in the middle of applying. like you, there is no problem if she stays where she is, it's just that there are broader/different opportunities available in other schools.
we also have the advantage of dd1's experience - she has just started year 12 at a new school and is loving it. she was very happy where she was before but was coasting and not necessarily doing her best. at the risk of sounding like a pushy parent i am very pleased that she's now somewhere with higher expectations and is consequently working much harder - and enjoying it too.
it was dd1s idea to move for 6th form - i had just got all 3 children into one school and was looking forward to one set of term dates etc so was not initially keen. but having seen the difference it's made it was so clearly the right thing for her that i'm fairly sure dd2 will also move.
Thank you MrsWobble (lovely name btw). Sounds like much the same sort of thing. I think and hope it will do her good. Did your daughter go from a single sex school to mixed ?
I am particularly interested to hear about schools like Latymer Upper, as we all hear a lot about the pros and cons of Westminster and SPGS - it would be interesting to find out more from someone who moved to a school like this.
Does anyone know how many new sixth formers are taken in by Latymer Upper, Godolphin, any of the others ?
Also, does anyone have any thoughts as to whether it makes a difference what sort of subjects you are applying to do ?
I take the point from lazymumofteenagesons that Camden is probably impossible. I have known a lot of children go there from near us - but probably fewer recently. I hadn't realised the catchment rules applied to Sixth form. It make sense of course.
The Westminster thread that was pointed out was very daunting, as the applicants all seemed to be from all over the world. I suppose it has boarding which makes a difference.
Admissions rules for state sixth forms attached to schools changed (by Ed Balls) in 2008 and restricted it to virtually the same rules as at yr 7 entry. However, sixth form colleges are not restricted by these rules.
If your DD is good at any orchestral instrument she could go for a music scholarship though.
Thats a wierd thread on student room, they are scarily self motivated......
Thank you. Somehow in my recent private school bubble I had missed that. Sadly I suspect not nearly good enough at that orchestral instrument for a music scholarship - unless she suddenly surprises us by a burst of enthusiasm over the next few months. You never know !
I agree about the Westminster thread. Oddly self-motivated. Still, I rather hope the keen participants get in !
This thread has been very useful to me. It has made me try and think about what would suit our daughter.
Of course the next thing is to make it happen. I have no idea what the competition is going to be like for these places : I imagine it is going to depend very much on what subjects she decides to do, and, as they have to make offers before her GCSE's, on predicted results. I realise the competition for the most academic schools will be huge: what will the numbers be for the other schools ?
I see that some schools (Westminster, SPGS?) have subject exams and a personal statement whilst others (Latymer) seem to base it on interview and school report. It is all a lot to prepare for in that last GCSE year, when there are an awful lot of other pressures.
Someone mentioned that none of these children would get into the super selective grammars : I expect it is true, but without a great deal of travelling that isn't really a possibility in the middle of London anyway.
My daughter just moved into the Latymer Upper sixth form.
She had to do an interview and was offered a place conditional on getting 9 GCSEs grade "C" or above, of which 7 had to be "A" or above. There was no exam, so it was not atall disruptive to her work for GCSEs - just an hour for the interview.
(In fact, what it did was give her a very clear goal to work towards & I think once she had declared that she was going to "Go For It" there was a determination and focus on revision which I had not seen from her before).
She came from a small family-style school and we were looking for somewhere larger and more academic. Sort of a stepping-stone into the wider world that would be less cozy/flexible and more focused on exam results.
So far (only five weeks in) its looking like it is what we expected and working out well...
I have just written a long reply to this that somehow vanished when I posted it, so this will be shorter and less thought through.
Thankyou DadofThreekids - that is exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear. One of the things I have been worried about has been preparation for competitive exams next November for some of these schools (Westminster/SPGS), as I think it could be very disruptive.
Congratulations to your daughter on making her Latymer offer. Seven As (+) are very good going.
Your point about giving your daughter a goal once she had her offer is a good one.
It sounds like we are in exactly the same situation as you, needing something less cosy and more demanding, so I am pleased it is going well. Has she found both the academic and the social jump steep, or has it just been exhilarating ?
Did she come from a girls' school ? Has she found going to a mixed school a big change ?
Hi LivinginLondon - sorry missed your earlier questions. My dd was at a mixed school previously and has moved to a boys school that takes girls in the 6th form. For her it was important to be joining with a cohort that was all new to the school - she did not want to be the new girl joining established girls friendship groups so ruled out moving to any school that had girls below 6th form. I think she has found the transition easier than the girls from single sex schools but none of them has found it particularly difficult. she had to take an exam and interview in the november of year 11 but her school awards places unconditionally - their reasoning is that the pupils they select will already be sufficiently self motivated to do their best at GCSE and the school sees no reason to put additional pressure on the results. I'm not sure what would happen if results were not good but suspect that just doesn't happen.
and to answer your last questions she has found the academic and social jumps both steep but exhilarating - i think part of this is the move to 6th form and she would have found some of this at her old school. But it's definately been amplified by the move.
Thank you. It is all getting clearer. I had got as far as thinking that a mixed sixth form would be refreshing after a girls school, but I hadn't thought about the difference between being a new girl in a sixth form that had had girls before, and one where all the girls were new.
I think in general we would like:
A school that does the subjects that she wants well, and prepares for university applications well (possibly including US applications).
One that is good at the extra-curricular stuff that she is so keen on (music/drama/sport), and where she will get a chance to participate in these
A sixth form that is large giving a greater pool of friends to draw from.
Ideally, but not necessarily, that school would be mixed, and a possible additional thought is that it should only have girls from the sixth form so that all the girls are new.
As with the 11+ we will probably have little choice, but it is a good idea to think through what criteria would work.
From her school we hear a lot about how sensible it is to stay with teachers you like and know, who will know you well enough to write university references, and support your applications, and the sense in starting your A levels, which after all are a huge jump from GCSEs in an environment you know.
One of the things that does worry me is that many of the larger schools seem to race ahead in some subjects such as Maths, and do GCSEs early follwed by additional Maths or AS Maths in year 11. In her current guise Maths is likely to be an A level she would take. Does anyone have any experience of coming from a school that hasn't accelerated particularly ? How do you fit in with these schools ? Do you tutor the gap (please say no) or does the school handle it ?
hi again, all the comments you make about the advantage if staying with teachers you know, in a familiar environment are exactly the ones your current school will give you, if it hasn't already. My view is that none of this matters if your daughter is going to a school that regularly takes new pupils into the 6th form. Given the schools in your thread title, you are considering schools with a good reputation and plenty of experience of getting pupils into good universities - they don't achieve this by chance.
i would give the same answer to your question about accelerated courses etc. my daughter started her 6th form courses (she does maths too) with exams - to see what she had previously covered and to what level. the school has then arranged teaching accordingly. i was surprised by the extent of personalisation of lessons for her - but i guess that's one of the factors you can expect in exchange for eye wateringly high fees.
i hope this doesn't sound rude but the absolutely most important thing is for your daughter to work out what she wants - it's her school and her education and other than paying the fees and being generally supportive i'm not sure there's a role for a parent. i think it's very different to the decision at 11+ because at that stage children don't have the experience or maturity to understand the decisions let alone make them. For 6th form I think it's different - even though they still don't have much experience. My second daughter is trying to make these decisions now - and i'm finding it hard to sit on my hands whilst she deliberates but i believe that whilst i can guide her by asking questions it really needs to be her decision.
Thanks for those points MrsWobble. You are of course right about what her current school would say. How brilliant that there is so much personalisation - it is obvious that they would need to do it if they are going to have a large intake, but nonetheless impressive that they do it.
I totally take your point about my daughter choosing - and it doesn't sound rude, so no offence taken at all. Straight talking is by far the most useful thing!
The reason why I am trying to think it through now, a year in advance - then we will talk it through with my daughter, with all the input above - all of which has been invaluable and reassuring, and covered things I hadn't taken into consideration. It is good to have thought it through myself, even if she and I don't come to the same conclusions.
From then, you are right it is her decision (and the schools' selection processes decision of course) as to where she goes and what she wants. However, it seems like a good idea to have at least thought ahead so that I can encourage her to go out and look, and at least encourage her to make the brave decision of leaving based on everyone's good advice here.
The safe route is always to stay with what you know, and it may be that she needs a little boost to push her out of her comfort zone. Everyone's comments above make me feel that it is all quite feasible and could work. Had you all been very bleak about the disastrous nature of such a move, I would probably be discouraging when she came to consider moving in a few months time.
I have no daughters but friends with daughters who moved in sixth form have all been happy. However, one word of warning - there is often a big increase in social life when moving into a boys school and previously conscientious girls have taken their foot off the pedal and AS results were lower than expected.
Yes - I am sure that the London sixth form social life will be a huge distraction. Friends with boys in sixth forms which take girls have often commented about how very busy it gets at that point - and of course feel that the incoming girls may be some of the cause of their boy's distractions. It is just tough on children that the huge increase in work and responsibility that comes at 16 is just the point when you discover going out and fun.
Anyway - a good point - thank you.
All this has given us plenty to think about. I now rather feel like we want to get on with it - but need to get these GCSEs out of the way first. The first few weeks of GCSEs seems to be fine at the moment, but I suspect that that is a bit of an illusion. My daughter seems to like the more focussed work, and doesn't seem to be dying under the workload. I suspect it will all change once she has to start doing these mysterious controlled assessments and Science modules.
A further point may be that moving to an already large school, especially one who then take in more for sixth form, may be the issue rather than one of whether the school is all boys or all girls to start with.
My kids are in fairly large schools, where they do not know all their year groups. They get mixed up for different subjects or activities and are open to making new friends up the school. I would expect them to be equally open to making new friends in sixth form where they will see a lot of people taking the same subjects and less of their former class mates.
Sorry I didn't reply before to your questions re Westminster. My daughter did maths, physics, geography and economics. Westminster made all those who hadn't done additional maths come for a week's tuition after GCSEs - I thought my daughter would hate that, but in fact in meant she made lots of friends and arrived at Westminster at the beginning of year 12 already knowing lots of people. That definitely helped her settle. She found a huge number of activities at Westminster - far more than SHHS - loads of drama and music and a lot of sport. Although not particularly sporty she did Lyke Wake Walk (24 hour walk in Yorkshire). Also enjoyed geography trip to Morocco. She learned to cope with very confident/cocky boys.
I transferred to one of the schools above for sixth form, admittedly - cough - some time ago. I'd been at a very good girls' school before, but I'd been there since I was nine and was bored, frankly, of the same faces/teachers/surroundings. I can't say I loved everything about the school in question, but it definitely was good for me to meet new people, adapt to new surroundings and the education I received was in a different league to where I'd been before.
I personally think it's a very good thing for pupils to change schools every now and then, it refreshes them and broadens their outlook and confidence.
However, as has been said, it's your dd's decision. A good many of my friends were not ready to leave the safe confines of my old school, and had a lovely sixth form. There were also several girls at my new school who, I think, had been pushed into going there by their parents who didn't enjoy it because they weren't for whatever reason up to the challenges that a large, pushy school offered. But whatever ... it can't hurt you and dd to look at what's on offer and see if she's tempted.
Plus there are less academic schools like Harrodian, Ibstock, Emanuel, which are co-ed, so if that's an important element to you there are alternatives to super-competitive Westminster and Latymer.
This thread has turned out to be filled with good advice, and to be very interesting - so thank you everyone for both your children's and in some cases, your own experiences.
I am pleased about the Westminster idea of an extra week of Maths for those that don't do add. maths. It had worried me that there might be a huge discrepancy. I wonder if other schools do a similar thing - it is a very good idea.
A good point about the less pushy but co-ed schools. I thnk what I am looking for is just something that stretches her a bit more - going to a mixed school is a part of that stretching, but not a necessary part of it. I think just going to a larger school with slightly more on offer and a slightly more competitive environment, that may be mixed, would be good for her.
I also take the point that in a large school settling in and making friends is probably not that hard, as the pupils that have always been there don't all know each other that well anyway ! I hadn't thought of that.
I've just remembered a good friend of mine whose father insisted she left her small, cosy, not earth-shattering but pleasant London day school for a top school with mixed sxith form.
She hated it and was bullied horribly.
So, I know I'm going on now but really - if your dd isn't into it, then just leave her be!
Thank you and point taken. You aren't "going on" - just adding information, which is the whole point of this discussion. I definitely wouldn't force her to change.
The reason for this thread in the beginning was to explore whether it is a good idea at all. Going to open days, discussing it all and possibly sitting exams, and risking failure are all things we won't need next year if the whole idea is likely to be a bad one.
My instinct is that she could do with a bigger school, but I could be wrong, and certainly she may well say that I am wrong.
My main thing is to try to work out not whether she should be pushed, but whether, when she is nervous about the whole idea, she should be at least prodded and encouraged. The easy, and likely, option would be to do nothing and just stay on at her current school. I just have a feeling that the risk and disruption of moving might be worthwhile. However, as you all rightly point out, if her heart isn't in it, there is absolutely no point : she is the one that has to do the move.
We won't really know this until next year. As a result of this thread though I will probably at least take her to a couple of open days and test the water.
i went through a very similar thought process and took my daughter to open days with a genuinely open mind - we went to them to find out what the school offered and see what it might be like to go there. my husband and i were very careful not to impose our own views (to the extent that was possible) and to take our lead from our daughter's own views. we also included her existing school open day in this process - it is different at 6th form - i was surprised at the extent of difference. we then discussed with her which schools she might like and then applied for them. we are being careful to avoid making, or forcing her to make a choice yet so that if she doesn't get in to any of them she can decide she didn't like them anyway - i want whichever school she goes to to have been her first choice, at least with hindsight.
this is what we did with our eldest last year, primarily because i didn't expect her to get in and didn't want her too disappointed. i think it did reduce the stress for her as well - we presented the entrance exam and particularly the interview as being as much her choosing the school as the school choosing her.
good luck whatever you, and she, decide to do.
Absolutely take her to open days, why not?
Also, some of her friends will be moving/or not and that will play a big part in her feelings. As I said, it was the right thing for me to do, but I wanted to do it very much - your dd may well fall into that camp.
Just read this thread and very topical for me - DD is just in the throes of applying to Westminster and is currently at a nice but small girls day school. Her very adamant view is that she would either stay where she is, or leave to go to a significantly different "step up" school, where she would be one of a cohort of new girls joining, and not having to break into social groups, so Westminster was really the only one to fit the bill (distance wise too). Then the benefits would outweigh the downsides in her view - can't say I disagree!
Would be very interested to hear if anyone had any good advice for these particular tests - dd is not doing too much extra work - just revising for her mocks which are after half term anyway, but she is a bit worried by accounts of mass tutoring. The school advises to be up todate with gcse work, but it would be good to find stretching type unusual questions just to practice... she's doing maths chemistry biology physics...
Will certainly report back when it's all over...
I am glad this is proving topical for others !
Kiffey we look forward to your report of how it all goes. The Westminster site is clear that they should only need to know their current GCSE work, but I imagine it is the interview that will sort things out.
It would also be interesting to know if the mass tutoring rumours are true (probably), and if so what they are being tutored in.
Good luck to your daughter. Her policy of stay where she is or Westminster seems quite sensible if she is happy with her current school.
Just checking back into this thread to ask kiffey how her daughter's exams went, and whether she felt happy that she had prepared enough.
We heard a rumour, that is probably baseless, that all the
Westminster applicants from one particular girls' school who put art as one of their options were turned down. Seems unlikely.
There are quite a lot of rumours floating around. Westminster sixth form seems to have become THE place to go. Not surprising as it is a fantastic school, happy, quirky and engaging, which also achieves great results.
I have heard was that numbers applying have doubled in a year, half from overseas. Results are not out yet, but there seems to have been quite a lot of disappointment from girls who might normally have expected to have got at least an interview. (Actually the disappointment may be from the boys who had hoped that certain girls would have joined their year group.)
Subject teachers have a lot of say, so perhaps the art approach used by girls from one school did not go down well with whoever was marking. Given the numbers, I doubt they are paying that much attention to which school girls come from.
DD likes her current school and there is no real reason for her to move, however she occasionally says she would like to go to Westminster for sixth form. Up and until this year I have thought it might be worth a go, on a nothing ventured nothing gained basis. However she is maths/science and if interest in the school continues to rise at the current rate I doubt she will have much chance, given how strong some of the overseas candidates will be in those subjects. In contrast Westminster teaches classics and subjects like history of art extremely well, but presumably interest will be primarily from home students. Though we have known several bright linguists, classicists, and girls taking arts subjects, who have fed in from other London day schools I don't think we have met a girl planning to do maths. The fear is that the standard is simply too high. And perhaps maths and science are subjects where additional preparation/tutoring will lead to better performance in tests.
Not to worry. 11+ was awful. From now on it is up to DC to do the work they need to get to where they want to go.
Thanks for asking - exams seemed to go well - dd got an interview which, given the hoardes and hoardes of bright young things that poured into the exam hall, is quite an achievement I think! Interviews were last saturday and who knows how they went - no disasters I think but now waiting for the final result.
Haven't heard anything about art as that's not her subject area...
From her feedback about the tests, it certainly seems that the website advice on being up to date with gcse stuff is accurate - but the tests really make you think on your feet rather than regurgitate stuff. Interviews were friendly but definitely put her through her paces - glad I've never had a maths interview!
Well done to your daughter Kiffey. It sounded like there were huge numbers of applicants this year, so she has done very well indeed to get that far.
I agree - the thought of a Maths interview is very daunting. Actually, a physics or a chemistry interview doesn't sound that appealing either. I hope it all comes out well for her.
I moved to Latymer Upper for sixth form and left a couple of years ago. It was the best decision I could have made. I moved from a somewhat suburban school with middling GCSE results and little academic pressure. Admittedly, I first wanted to move to get out of a pretty stale all-girls school to something more exciting. I applied to Latymer, Alleyns and Godolphin. We looked at St Paul's and, although I have many friends who went there, thought it looked too pressured. My parents refused to let me look at Westminster because they believed that it was too expensive and they hadn't heard good things.
I chose Latymer from the three schools I applied to. The teaching is fantastic and the heads of year and headmaster have been very, very supportive, especially as I wasn't particularly happy in upper sixth (unrelated to school). I got very behind in work and wanted to drop one of the 4 A-Levels I elected to do. My parents and form tutor helped and supported me to get back on track and, although I was in no place to apply to university at the beginning of year 12, I am now at Cambridge. The school allowed me to come back for extra lunchtime classes during my gap year as if I was still a student.
I know that without their help and the excellent teaching, coupled with a stimulating environment, surrounded by very bright students, I would never have won a place.
(On another note - Cambridge seems to be more popular than Oxford at Latymer and from what I have seen, heard and know, is more relaxed socially, more liberal politically and more varied in activities than Oxford is. The west London cliques seem to simply shift to another city.)
The drama, music and art are all brilliant. There are lots of school events which students are always keen to go to. There is a very strong sense of community between the years and an awareness that you are lucky to be part of something very exciting.
I would say that Latymer attracts slightly more relaxed students and less flashy pupils than neighbouring W London schools (although I think the gap is narrowing quickly). They come from Hammersmith, Fulham and, increasingly, Notting Hill. Whereas Godolphin and St Paul's girls seem to frequently come from Kensington.
From my experience, the girls at St Paul's are slightly highly-strung, very skinny (ALL have been very food conscious), socially successful and well groomed. They seem to have a lot of free cash and loos parental reigns.
I am aware, however, that I have often encountered a similar 'type'. Many are very close friends.
I think going in at sixth form is quite different to 11+ entrance. The girls that can handle co-education that age need a tougher skin and they girls are very pretty. I think at sixth-form you need to be resilient and with a strong personality, but that isn't to say people who aren't won't shine.
On another note, I helped out on an 11+ interview day. The teacher's comments were very revealing. They know the 'type' of student that they think will cope in the school. Comments included things like 'she is a girls-boarding school type' or 'she would be better at St. Paul's etc.' They are aware of the types of students who would work there, not necessarily the most academic. They are trying to create quite a unique environment and students are selected accordingly.
That's very interesting rmo2 - looking at those I know who were offered places and those who weren't, I had a feeling that compared to other schools there must be more at play in the selection process than pure academics.
Thank you rm02.
It is really interesting to have the opinion of someone who has made the change to one of these schools : it sounds like Latymer managed to combine being stretching and stimulating with being very supportive when you had problems. Impressive. I am particularly impressed that the supported you through your "7th term" Oxbridge application so well. And congratulations on getting your Cambridge place. I hope you are enjoying yourself now you are there.
It also sounds like you were very impressed by the extra-curricular activities on offer.
Can I ask what A levels you did ? Did you rate some departments as better than others ?
Did you find it easy to fit in socially - the new intake is relatively small compared to the total size of the sixth form ? Did you know a lot of people before you went there ? Did the people you know influence your choice of school ?
You are clearly an academic high-flyer. Was that obvious when you applied at 16 ? Did you apply with a string of perfect GCSEs ?
Don't be put off Westminster or SPGS by myths of incredible talent. IME there are very few truly stellar children at either, and most scholars at both would struggle to be 'collected' by a super selective grammar, without the coaching almost all of them had to get in.
Of course, they are just filled with thick but rich and spoon fed kids who are stupider than their superselective counterparts.
Eight scholars are taken each year at Westminster. any boy who has had extensive coaching would not stand a chance of being one of these. They are a breed of there own you can't coach a boy to think in this way at the age of 12/13 and the school could see the difference between a true scholar and a tutored applicant a mile off! Anyone who makes a statement like this should look at some of the work produced by these boys and also the fact that this work is often produced without much effort (although not always).
livinginlondon2 DD2 is hoping to move after GCSEs which she is taking this time. You should be aware that now the intake of girls at 11 has been feeding through to sixth form it has become much harder to get in to Latymer. In fact a much greater proportion of girls from my daughter's girls' selective got to Westminster and KCS than did to Latymer. I think there were 500 chasing 50 places, not sure if they were doing any levelling between state and private but just one girl, with 10 predicted high A*s, got an interview. I don't think it could be they weren't the "type", several had offers at 11. If they have that many good applicants you can't blame them going for the guarenteed A* pupils (My DD predicted A*/A 50/50, + an outstanding CV of drama, in DD1s year, last into an all boy's cohort, several got in with lower predicted grades than that). It is a good school though, all who have gone there have thrived whether bright average or very bright and having refused SPGS scholarship. There is a Chelsea set but actually our experience is that there can be huge differences between different cohorts at the same school, whether inner or outer London. It is really a matter of luck, what norms get established for the majority, a few can make the difference either way. Plus at most schools if you have raised your DDs to be, shall I say, a bit more grounded, they will find others with the same values especially post 16s when you can get away more with being different. I would still have gone for it, but I would have prepared the ground, DD2 not a happy bunny after spending hours on the personal statement which I suspect never got read!!
In both DDs years secrets of Westminster success hard to fathom, can't really out it down to some having a "spark" or whatever. Girls assume it is just that in some subjects they have more space than others, so very bright will not get in for some subjects whilst plodders get in for others (but then Oxbridge proved much the same) .
KCS seem to be adjusting to the whole concept of girldom, one mother very put off by being proudly shown a chair in the new girls' loo, do they think they are delicate little flowers who need a place for Victorian repose? the master probably unaware what we mothers came to associate chairs in the loo with.......
DD1 regretted not moving at 16, she didn't because she didn't want to adjust to a new school as well as to the challenges of A levels. She had thrived there up until then but found more of the same a bit stultifying, especially as she is a Scientist. It also made the switch to uni more of a shock especially when facing a very demanding uni course with a big jump in what was expected (you tend to see A levels as an end, rather than just a beginning.......) Just hoping we are making the right decision with DD2!
Thank you for your insights - I love the KCS loo chair !
I hope it all works out for your daughter - it will be interesting to hear from you how it goes next year. Well done to her for getting a place. Is she excited now ? I am sorry she was fed up not to be seen at all by Latymer Upper. It sounds like you need to make that GCSE prediction list sparkle. And interesting that you almost see it as harder to get into than Westminster / KCS.
Can I ask what you mean by "I would have prepared the ground" ?
It is interesting that Latymer are being so selective - I suppose with so many applicants they can afford to be.
I also see that their selection process comes later than the other schools, so that must skew their applications a bit as presumably people who have accepted places at other schools pull out. This makes it hard if a) it is high up on your list of preferences and b) you get into another sixth form that requires an answer before they announce their interviews. It sounds like it certainly can't be seen as a backup, but it is a pity, if the odds are so low, that they don't align it with the other schools.
Do keep posting to let us know how the change goes. Good luck to your daughter who will now be in the midst of her GCSEs. I she sad to be leaving her current school ?
By prepare the ground I just meant I would have warned her that the other applicants were likely to be of a high standard, and they were after the brightest academically. They made lots of noises about being more interested in potential and in finding students that would contribute to the life of the school so my daughter thought that they would value what she has to offer and spent a long time putting together a personal statement that emphasised all her achievements and what she contribute to her school and outside activities. She was therefore quite angry and felt it was a bit hypocritical that in the end they went for an academic high achiever who actually didn't have anything else to offer. However as I said before I don't blame them, doubtless she will guarentee some A*s to add to their percentage in the league tables, and who knows how quirky and interesting the rest of them were, maybe they had filled their quota! Mary Portas and her daughter were swanning around the open night like they owned the place, quirkyness and interest on display in abundance, I'd be interested to know if they made the cut!
The selection process wasn't that much later than the other schools, I'm not aware of anyone having an issue with the timings, I assume they would wait for an answer if you needed time. It all felt a lot more relaxed than the 11+ entry. Often the issue is with the decision between the existing school and a move anyway. The only real issue is knowing in time to give a term's notice and in DD1's year there was another change around once the results came out with some not leaving after all, some even coming back after a week or two, and some with much better results than expected being nabbed by other schools(Latymer do say to come back to them if you do well)
Not sad to be leaving her current school. She knows from DD1s year that friends keep in touch and her cohort has been dysfunctional, some shocking attention seekers (understandable when you know their back stories). Lots of outrageous and disruptive behaviour, as DD1's friends say, as they look on in amused shock, they have no respect for anyone else, or themselves. So I think she is looking forward to a more normal school environment. I have kept consoling her that she will never have to put up with an environment like that again unless she gets sent to a womens' prison!!
Thanks for that. I see what you mean by "preparing the ground" now. It is probably sensible to make sure that hopes aren't built up enormously.
Your last paragraph sounds rather worrying - do you think that this is the all girls' school environment ? Did your older daughter have the same feeling (although she didn't leave) or do you just think that your younger daughter is in a really difficult year ? I am glad for her that she is making the change and hope that it all goes well.
For timings I just meant that some of the schools seem to examine and make decisions in November and December, and schools like Latymer don't interview until January. You are probably right, they will wait. It will all become clearer to us next year I suppose. I am particularly glad to hear that it felt more relaxed than the 11+. I wouldn't want to do all that again.
DD1s year were entirely different as are the year below DD2, different norms, more respect for each other. You always get the cool girls, the geeks and the inbetweeners, it's just been more polarised in DD2s year. These girls could have turned up at any West London School. When she was making the decision to move we agreed not to consider either these girls or any iffy teachers on the basis you can encounter either wherever you go.
I do think that the effect of "strong characters" like these get amplified in an all girl school, boys tend not to put up with the silly games and the schools tend not to be so liberal because they have to keep a lid on the testosterone. However I think there are advantages to all girl schools too, definitely right for DD1 to 16.
Forgot to mention that Latymer now taking AS with A2s in U6. You don't lose a third term in L6 to exams and boys often still immature, lots of retakes. DD1 thought that would be a nightmare (but then she did 4)
The time has come to revisit this thread.
We have been to a couple of Independent school open evenings for school sixth forms, and DD is keen to try and sit some of the entrance exams. She needs to see a few more before deciding which ones to do. There are also some state schools that we will look at but their open days are later on in the Autumn.
It is hard as these are generally very academic schools and you have no real idea what the competition is going to be like. All the schools are very welcoming and encouraging but it is clear that the number of places is limited and that they are all going to be hard to get into.
We are finding it quite difficult to compare schools - the range of exams and subjects offered makes it school very different. At one school you become completely sold on the International Baccalaureate, at another Pre-Us are the answer, at some A levels are best and so on.
Are there others out there looking to move their children for sixth form in London ? How are you all finding it.
Livinginlondon, have your DD already decided which subjects to take? We agreed on the core things, and left "up to the school" the 4th/5th subject (we have in mind 4 easyish "filler" subjects). Looking through this prism, you may see your criteria sharper.
My DD told me yesterday quite a wise thing. She said that maths and science teaching does not matter a lot. To succeed, you ultimately just need to sit more hours at the desk and work out a couple of extra textbooks. Any school from the list you are looking at is good enough to shoot you to the maximum of your capabilities. The thing to choose upon and the teachers to talk to at the opening evenings, she said, are those of "creative" departments, where you are pretty much nothing without guidance.
Unfortunately, we have been already to 3 schools where art departments are vibrant and inspirational beyond our expectations.
One factor I personally find exceptionally attractive is when a teacher is firmly connected to the examination board (current or past marker, question or textbook author, etc.).
On the other hand, I do not understand our position and net value. Say, DD is predicted mostly As and a some A*s. What does this mean on the London 6 form scale? I do not think that this is enough for CoL or SPGS, that's clear. But what about others? Requirements on the school's websites are obscure. For imaginary example, they may say that successful candidates need at least 9 GCSEs at A*-B. While by fact the weakest child in last year intake had 10 A*s and 2 As. How to measure that?
We are three weeks + in and DD finding it tough not being amongst her old friends but definitely not wanting to go back to the school (and that option was, and still is, open with incentives ). I am worried about hitting the ground running with new staff that don't know her and all the social adjustment, but at the moment the positive is outweighing the negative.
She certainly finds the new school less cliquey and more friendly, and the presence of boys a plus.
I can only offer feedback on DDs' years. IB is really hard work, as much quantity over quality, doesn't leave much scope for most to read around the subject. Having lived overseas I have great confidence in the global currency of the IB and my teacher friends who teach it internationally feel it gives more potential, and scope for earning points, and therefore doing well. However I have DDs who are specialists, and they were both relieved they could ditch science/'maths, and essays respectively (Science geek wrong on that, the best courses require essays on ethics!) and A levels suited them.
I totally disagree with the comments about Science A levels, perfectly valid based on O level, but at A level, just as with Humanities it is all about debate and a chance to broaden your reading and perspectives. Chemistry A level in particular ambushes a lot of really able candidates.
Plus I refer you to my comments before about which girls get into different courses. Without a doubt if an A level course is already oversubscribed you would need to be exceptional to get in... they only have so many teachers. But then the grapevine gets hot that certain subjects were easier to get in than others and then more apply. It is the same with Oxbridge colleges and subjects. I would just go on what works for your daughter with managed expectations of success.
However girls' schools all lose pupils, to different extents in different years, but their standards are more consistent.
MSAverage - I think your point about not knowing our "worth" is probably what exerts everyone doing this. The schools talk a lot about "seeing potential" and "understanding that you have all been taught in different ways", but that must be almost impossible. Our children haven't generally been ranked even within their own schools so we don't have that much idea how good they are internally, let alone against the rest of the world.
It is an interesting point from your daughter that Maths and Science teaching are not the most important thing to look at: I suspect that is not true really - there is a huge difference, particularly in Maths, between very inspirational teaching and straightforward serviceable teaching. Having said that, I think that she has a point in that it is the Arts that really mark out a school - but in fact there are extraordinarily impressive art, music and drama departments at all these schools.
And CopthallResident - I am so glad that your daughter is enjoying herself overall and can see that she will have found the move worthwhile. I am not surprised she is missing her friends - it is always easier to stay with what you know.
I am not sure that playing the easy subject route is going to help - as you say people latch on to it and suddenly unpopular subjects become sought after, and really she has to do subjects she likes an wants to do.
Managed expectations is what it is all about - there are huge numbers applying to these schools. Somehow she needs to be seen - whether it is by a school like Westminster that have extrance exams or like Latymer who may invite you for interview based on your form.
I feel for your science geek - so sad to shed her essay expectations with glee, and then have ethics come up as an awful surprise.
The point about girls schools standards being more consistent - how do you know ? The mixed sixth forms don't publish girl/boy results. Do you feel that the incoming girls don't do as well as they would have done had they stayed at their old schools ?
Living Sorry I wasn't clear. I was meaning that the girls' school tend to lose girls to other schools at 16, and there is less demand so they end up admitting fewer. With more capacity than demand they will be less likely to have oversubscribed A level courses and the standard you have to reach for entry will be more consistent.
Don't feel for my geek. I think it is good that these Scientists have to think through the ethical issues and actually she is good at essays, its just the thinking she hates
and it might make her rethink her plan to become a millionaire selling designer babies
Good luck to your daughter
I trust FT's rankings the most - Latymer Upper came 25th in the independent schools table this year regarding both A level results and GCSE results. It was the top co-ed school apart from the Perse School in Cambridge - which I think is absolutely brill. Their facilities are fantastic - just as good as St Paul's etc, and in 2012 they got 50 people into Oxbridge. Latymer Upper is one to watch!!! It is however just as hard to get into sixth form as it is in Westminster, SPGS, if not harder, due to so much interest
Who is ameliacampbell and why has she just bumped about 5 threads about Latymer Upper?
Amelia, where do you see that table? In the ranking I look at LU is 42th. It includes grammars, but only 7 of them are ahead of LU.
Although, I find this ranking a bit strange - SHHS is on 12th place, while Eton College is on 17th and CLSG on the 23rd.
singers, just a person enormously happy with a place given in LU?
There was a table that said Latymer was 20th - and they did come 11th for GCSE results, but I do think this Amelia is only mentioning the good parts of the school...I doubt she's a staff member, probably some parent whose child has just got in (it is notoriously hard to get into)
MsAverage the FT rankings also include tutoring colleges so perhaps she factored out those? Then it comes to about 23rd. Still the top co-ed school, whatever anyone says
Newmummy - why are you following Amelia about the boards.....?
I was told about her and decided to look her up
Just found this thread. It is very timely for us as our daughter is trying to move schools for the sixth form and is about to go through the Latymer Upper Interviews. At the moment she is in a medium sized good girls school where she is doing well, but she feels that she is ready for a change.
Does anyone have any views on what it is like to go in to Latymer as a 6th former ? Do they fit in easily ? Do they feel like outsiders ?
What do people think of the academic side ? It is clearly doing well in the league tables, and better each year. Is the teaching good or inspiring ? Are there any areas to look out for ? Our daughter is applying to do languages and history and possibly Maths and Physics or Chemistry. She is also thinking of doing Latin. For History the school is about to start doing the pre-U : she would be in the first year taking it.
What about extra-curricular activities. They tell us that the children do a great deal - are they as enthusiastic as the school tells us ? Is the drama open to all ? And sport ?
It is a big change to make. She could stay at her own school, which would be the safe option.
All thoughts gratefully received.
Of course she hasn't had her interview yet, but we are trying to think ahead a little bit.
i think the ranking that amelia is talking about is this one
they came 26th last year for independent schools
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