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South London private schools: worth a shot if moving from abroad?

(15 Posts)
minervaitalica Mon 12-Sep-11 13:32:46

Our situation: currently living abroad but planning to return to London at some point. As DD would be due to start reception in 2012, it seemed like a good time to come back. Until we started to look at schools, that is.

We are looking at private because we would not be able to move back early enough to apply for state, we need the school to be providing after school care, be close to public transport into work etc.

However, we then realised that the private schools we liked (there are some dreadful private schools out there...) have either got huge (and closed) waiting lists, or are only looking for early genius material with pretty in depth assessments, numbers/letter tests at 3 etc etc. Now, my DD may well become a Nobel prize laureate in the future, but I am unsure as to whether she stands a chance of passing any of these tests at the moment given that:
1) She is July born (and 12 weeks premature, so should have been born in October)
2) English is her second language, although she speaks it every day to DH (who is British).
3) Does not do the EYFS curriculum at nursery (different system).

I really would like an honest assessment of her chances at this stage - do you think it's really worth a shot going through the assessments round, or given the level of competition is it just a non starter and we better stay put for the moment?

mrsravelstein Mon 12-Sep-11 13:37:45

i don't have any current specific experience of south london private primaries - but the ones in east london where i lived until a a few weeks ago have already started doing their interviews/assessments for reception 2012 so I think you've possibly missed the boat... (and yes the schools local to me were looking for number/alphabet recognition in those assessments - they were highly competitive and had closed the waiting list for interviews about a year ago - scary stuff)

mrsravelstein Mon 12-Sep-11 13:40:52

we had to move house/area in the september that ds1 was due to start in reception - took about 9 month to get offered a place at local state school, and then local private school came up with a place about a week afterwards... so even if the schools are oversubscribed and full now, you will almost certainly find that places become available within reception year... but subject to area/school it IS a bit of a lottery

minervaitalica Mon 12-Sep-11 13:50:21

Thanks! There is still time for the school we like the most - but I am just starting to wonder whether there is any point at all. However, the situation at 6-7 yrs sounds even worse so I am not sure postponing the problem will achieve anything!

Ladymuck Mon 12-Sep-11 15:24:19

How far south are you looking? If you are looking at very competitive schools, then worth registering now for any that you really want. To get the best answer you may have to identify the schools you are looking at, but I have experience of 3 (very) South London prep schools all of whom have July born children with English as a second language.

minervaitalica Mon 12-Sep-11 16:01:44

Not very south I suppose - West Dulwich and potentially Sydenham... The registration dates are within the next month or so (and for one, Oakfield prep, we have registered already).

From the "outside" (I was not educated in Britain and DH was educated in very rural state schools) I find this system puzzling...

allchildrenreading Mon 12-Sep-11 16:32:23

I would give Streatham High School a ring. They aren't so pressurized or 'precious' as some of the South London schools and they keep the fees down and have a broader mix of children than some schools. It's a long time since my daughter went there but I've had good reports recently as well.

legalalien Mon 12-Sep-11 16:47:22

I'd say Herne Hill and try for a slightly later entry into JAPS / Alleyns which do, as you say, anecdotally have very tough entry criteria at age 4. I think Herne Hill has a time of enrolment-based waiting list, so you may or may not already know whether they're oversubscribed for reception 2012?

If you're thinking of moving soon you could think about asking Dulwich Prep (formerly DCPS and website still to be rebranded) whether they have any free part time places in the nursery at present (I think the part time class is quite small this year). This might help in familiarising your DD with English language / UK curriculum, but she would still need to move somewhere else for reception.

legalalien Mon 12-Sep-11 16:49:34

PS I can ask around for info about this year's reception intake in JAPS if that's what you have in mind - just PM me. Various of DS' friends have younger siblings there.

minervaitalica Mon 12-Sep-11 17:28:14

I will try Herne Hill (looks like a great school), but I was under the assumption that they operated on a first come first serve basis. No harm in trying though.

Allchildrenreading, do you mean the Streatham and Clapham gdst school?

Needmoresleep Mon 12-Sep-11 18:00:03

Hearn Hill is lovely and keeps options open. Rosemead as well.

Trouble with Streatham and Clapham is that it goes all the way through so wont really prepare for other schools at 11+, and thus difficult if you would like a change for secondary. (Note unless things have changed recently it is not in the Good Schools Guide, the bible for London parents, and its local reputation is "varied".) However they seem to have taken to advertising on the back of London buses (saw one yesterday) so I assume they are looking for applicants.

legalalien Mon 12-Sep-11 19:25:37

You're right that HH is first come first served but you may find there are places because many people register for more than one school at 3 and in the case of boys are more likely to accept eg dulwich prep if accepted as it goes all the way through to 13. Also some people register at Hh as a back up if they don't get into the very small catchment areas for the state schools, dulwich village infants and rosendale. And some children leave at reception for japs or alleyns. It's not just you - it's complicated around here!

minervaitalica Tue 13-Sep-11 07:55:55

Sounds good - will call up HH today and see, as long as they have got a waiting list post open I suppose I can get on it.

Needmoresleep, I had actually heard mixed things about S&C as well, but frankly I also heard good things about schools which turned out to be less than good once I actually went to see them. So it's always better to have a look and then decide...

Dozer Mon 19-Sep-11 16:20:43

There are probably many decent primary state schools around SE London and lots of "churn" after places are offered - if you move really close to one of those, you'd probably go high up the waiting list (think this is the way the admissions criteria for state schools work, someone living closer trumps someone who applied earlier).

Check out local internet forums, e.g. East Dulwich, SE23 forum

SuiGeneris Sun 25-Sep-11 15:36:25

Hi Minerva- delighted to hear you might me moving to the UK.

Have you considered Montessori schools? I know of at least one ( in Balham) that takes reception age children: it could be a good place in which to adapt to a new country a new school system while waiting for places to come up somewhere else... PM me if you would like the details.

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