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Connaught House School - any views?

(27 Posts)
TheMethren Tue 23-Nov-10 11:49:10

Does anyone have experience of Connaught House School in central London? Trying to decide if this school would suit an energetic and extrovert boy.

RedSuedeShoes Tue 23-Nov-10 13:57:57

In short NO! I have a friend who has taken her son out and most of the boys in his year left too. As you know it is more geared towards girls and most boys leave by 7. I would avoid it. Academically it isn't great for boys either and the teachers don't cope well with "typical" boyish behaviour.

TheMethren Tue 23-Nov-10 15:40:57

Thanks for your comments RedSuedeShoes - food for thought as I definitely have a "boyish" boy.

I have toured CHS and liked the atmosphere but was concerned about the lack of space/outdoor facilities (gets v good press in the Good Schools Guide though).

When you say that it isn't great academically for boys, do you mean they don't move on to good preps?

RedSuedeShoes Tue 23-Nov-10 22:29:36

What I meant was that the boys are bored! But it may move at a faster pace up the school as the girls get good results although there are whispers that parents tutor.

I'm sure it's fine for a girl but I would be looking elsewhere for a boy who was meek or roudy!

TheMethren Wed 24-Nov-10 11:32:12

Thanks, RedSuedeShoes, that's very useful information. Will have to have a rethink.

londoner2 Wed 24-Nov-10 14:38:27

I have had to join Mumsnet to try to balance this.

My children went to Connaught House until recently, and were very happy and did very well. They were not boys, but they are still friends with most of the boys that were in their class, who all have happy memories of it. I don't think the boys were bored - to a person they all went on to have places in top London schools and I don't know of any tutoring in our years. They all have happy memories of being there : we know as we hear them reminisce.

In many ways the boys did better than the girls in their movement to next schools.

The thing that is difficult is that it is a small school. If you have a good class (our children all did) who do lots together, all is good. If you have a more difficult class where the parents are in some way disatisfied, because there aren't enough people, it is very easy for disatisfied parents to sway others.

You have to remember that boys are only there until they are 7. They have a happy time, learn a lot, and do a lot. It is a safe environment for a young child. By the time they are 7 or 8 they are ready to move on - but then that is the point of the school : to prepare you for prep school.

There are lots of things that are good : the academic standard is high, the art is good; the behaviour is good. They are in a small but nice building very close to the park so they get fresh air and to run around.

If you choose a small school you have to appreciate what is good about it (personal attention, central location, local families to socialise with), and accept the limitations of a small school. Also try not to listen too much to playground gossip - or at least try and stand back from it and make your own decisions.

Also, it is not that selective: so it is good at getting the bright children into teh top academic schools - but also, if that is not the right place for your child, finding somewhere that will work for you.

TheMethren Thu 25-Nov-10 11:45:22

Thanks for taking the time to post, londoner2. We don't know anyone with children at the school so a perspective based on first-hand experience is very useful.

The benefits you've mentioned are in line with our thinking. I guess that in any school there is a chance that a class won't "gel", but the ramifications may be more obvious or more serious in a smaller class.

When we looked around the school our impressions were of a happy place with bright, cheerful classrooms, a slightly old-fashioned feel with an emphasis on traditional aspects of education (in a good way - for example lots of good-quality books in the library that I remember enjoying as a child), and an impressive standard of work from the younger children without any hot-house vibe.

It's hard to know whether our impression from an open morning matches the experiences of parents and children actually at the school though!

RedSuedeShoes Thu 25-Nov-10 12:49:40

What I know for a fact is that they do not want boys sitting 7+ tests and do not support them but will support them for 8+ tests. Be aware of this as if your boisterous boy has had enough by the end of Yr2 he may have no choice but to stay until the end of Yr3 and often it is harder to get a Yr4 place at a boys school than a Yr3 place.

londoner2 Thu 25-Nov-10 12:56:17

I think that your impressions are correct. I think that part of the problem is that people start off looking for one thing, and end up looking for another. So they start off saying they don't want a "hot-house" and then end up saying they want their children to have scholarships to major London schools.

The reasons you have given for liking the school are exactly the reasons we chose it. I remember looking with affection at books I had loved as a child, and being pleased that my children would be encouraged to read them.

In some ways I think that this is where a school like Connaught House can be very good for boys : it has a cosy old fashioned feel, with lots of nice things. It can't provide team sports, athletics etc .. but the boy will go onto a good prep school that can provide them, and with a nice safe and academic foundation to build on. Also, here are plenty of out-of-school opportunities for these things in Central London.

The school encourages music, and reading, and art, and is academically sound. They do great Christmas plays, and have lovely concerts.

You should certainly look at other schools, but I think it would be silly to dismiss Connaught House if it had something you like about it. Maybe ask for a second visit.

There are lots of smaller prep and pre-prep schools - in many ways I think you get out of them what you put in.

londoner2 Thu 25-Nov-10 13:02:04

As for the 7+/8+ tests, that is exactly the sort of thing you should be asking the school now before you sign up. It is good to ask on here, because it helps to know what sort of things you might want to be asking.

At four it is hard to know what you are going to want for your child in three years time. Right now you want them to play with lego, learn to read, run around in the fresh air and have fun. In three years time your ambitions will be different.

Certainly in our years children did both seven+ and eight+ (successfully) but I don't know whether the school were helpful or unhelpful. The children weren't tutored.

Again, it is a small school, so your relationship with the head and the teachers is all important and probably determines their amenability to things like taking tests for other school earlier than they plan for.

TheMethren Thu 25-Nov-10 21:15:29

Thank you both for your responses - you have given us lots to think about.

londoner2, I hope the current parents at the school are as sensible as you seem to be. I must admit to wondering a little whether we would fit in given that we are a) not local and b) not wealthy.

mrsshackleton Fri 26-Nov-10 10:49:16

totally off subject, themethren are you an antonia forest fan?

RedSuedeShoes Fri 26-Nov-10 12:04:12

If you're not local to the school then I'm not sure why you're looking at it as there are many much better schools in London.

TheMethren Fri 26-Nov-10 12:41:43

Spot on, mrsshackleton smile

RedSuedeShoes - we have perfectly sound reasons for considering the school even though we are not particularly local. As to whether there are better schools in London, it depends on your definition of "better", doesn't it? Our idea of the "best" school is one which comes closest to fulfilling a set of criteria which are relevant and important to us. I certainly don't expect everyone to judge by the same criteria. Indeed, I know people whose idea of the "best" school is one I would run screaming from. Each to their own.

RedSuedeShoes Fri 26-Nov-10 13:12:17

I agree with the definition of best and I too would run from a certain very selective school in London.

But there are good reasons why Connaught is not right for an energetic boy. Don't be duped by the tour. The lack of space is a major factor, especially for an energetic boy. Lots of parent's with boys are not happy and the only other poster who has given her opinion has girls, and lets face it boys are very different, especially at that age. The further up the school you go more boys are taken out and you could be left with a class of 12 with 3 boys in it. That is not ideal.

mrsshackleton Fri 26-Nov-10 13:12:48

Yay, I know nothing about Connaught House btw but am almost tempted to send my dcs there so we can hang out and siscuss Nicola, Esther, Miranda, Lawrie, Rowan, Ann etc etc. smile

MrsTVlas Fri 01-Mar-13 18:42:54

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Lalaland12345 Sat 09-Mar-13 14:07:39

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peekaboo1 Fri 21-Jun-13 11:06:37

Lalaland, what school have you moved your children to? I am considering CHS for my DD and am concerned by your comments so would like to find alternatives. Thanks.

LittleTurtle Tue 01-Oct-13 16:08:28

Connaught House is close to us. The other day I was asking about registering our DC with them as they claim to have bursaries for local families. A girl phoned me and she was not that friendly, but basically told me that all my kids did not stand a chance except the newborn.

I went to the school to get a registration form and I have to say, I got a less than friendly reception and the girl made me wait outside while she went in to get the forms. While I was waiting a woman was coming in and asked if she could help and she did not look or ask friendly at all. I had to stand there and wait for the forms.

I always have a feeling about schools. The two schools I applied for DC were all unfriendly except the one he got into. I was glad about that because you can always tell how you will be treated when your child attends the school. The present school was super friendly when I applied and they remained so till now.

Interestingly, I know a parent who lives close to CHS and she opted to send her kids to another school, though we have not talked about the whys.

nicename Tue 01-Oct-13 16:22:56

OP why were you looking there - is it close to your work? Just asking to give spme other alternatives that may work for you.

Little - you must be near us (a 15 min walk to Marble Arch).

LittleTurtle Tue 01-Oct-13 16:32:16

Yes Nice, without giving away who I am, I am within 10 minutes walk from Marble Arch.

Unfortunatley we are too poor to send our DC to private, but not poor enough for bursaries. lol.

nicename Tue 01-Oct-13 16:49:05

Same here - we are the nouveau poor (haha). You probably live right next to us then... I shall now be eyeballing neighbours in the lift and using MN codewords to DS 'do you want some naice hame for your tea?'.

Needmoresleep Wed 02-Oct-13 11:27:48

There is quite a lot of advantage in choosing a school that prepares for 7/8+ but also goes up to 11+ or 13+.

Most of the London 7/8+ schools are pretty competitive and many kids are not ready for serious exams at that point. If your child proves to be a bit of a late developer, having to find somewhere at that age would be quite a nightmare. Boys in particularly seem to make very varied progress by Yr2, especially in English, but can catch up and even overtake by 11.

Different though if you are looking to transfer to a boarding prep, which I assume several will.

Methren Wed 02-Oct-13 23:27:48

OP here, saw this thread had been revived and thought I'd update (can't believe DS is in Y2 now!).

We didn't go with CHS in the end. DS was offered a place there but also got a place at our first choice school (a lovely co-ed prep), where he is now happy and thriving.

For reasons that have nothing to do with experiences and perspectives posted on this thread, I'm glad we didn't take up the CHS place. It has gradually become clear that DS is very able in one key area of the curriculum but struggles in another, and I suspect preparing him for 7+/8+ would have been very stressful (for him and us!). Instead he is in a school where he can stay until 13, and his abilities and confidence in his weaker subject have a chance to develop at his own pace.

Also, as things have turned out, school run logistics would have become problematic. We originally considered the school as it was near my work, but I've since moved jobs and houses, and it would not have been nearly as convenient a location now.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing...

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