Shitty school situation- thinking of going private -north London(29 Posts)
I am now looking into primaries for my DD, who will be starting in Sept 2013 (so have to apply this Sept).
My DS has SEN and attended a local, supposedly 'Ofsted Outstanding' state primary for a (hideous) year before getting a place at a special school. There is no way on God's earth I am sending my DD to the first school my DS attended. He had a disasterous year - too awful to go into, really - but the staff (especially the Head) were horribly unsupportive and I cannot imagine having to ever darken their door again, to be frank.
The only other schools nearby (that we have a hope of hell of getting into) are faith schools, and we are not a religious family. We live in one of those areas of London where you have to live 0.4 of a mile from a school to get in....so we are a bit stuck now.
So...against all my
champagne socialist principles, we are looking at private schools. I have no idea where to start. We have been to see King Alfred (loved it, but it seems to get a slating on MN..?) and intend to visit NCS, Habs and possibly a couple of the Hampstead preps, although not sure about any of these.
We are a 'wrokign clas' made good family. DH and I both went to state schools bt Russel Group universities and are both running small but successful businesses. I'm a bit scared of the glossy model mums and investment banker dads, to be honest , and not sure we want Dd pushed and coached, really.
Btw, DD is a lovely, easygoing, sunny-natured and cooperative child, a wee bit shy, showing signs of being fairly bright, but nothing like my Asperger's son who is the prodigal bloody child (with severe behavioural issues as a nice side order)
So, what do you suggest, oh wise ones? Really interested to hear your views on preps in North London or Herts/London borders.
And I can spell, despite being 'working class'
I wouldn't dismiss King Alfreds - lots of people very happy with it. Habs, NLCS - very academic schools but lovely too. You are casting your net quite wide though (which, given she will be 4, may mean a lot of time in the car for you both). I would try and narrow it down a bit to the area that you are closest too. There is always the option of NLCS, Habs etc at 11 if your DD turns out to be very academic. I guess you also need to think - do you want to go single-sex at this early (or indeed, any stage).
The Good Schools Guide* offer a personalised service where they can advise. It might be money well spent. You can check it out on their website.
* I do not work for GSG. Other online schools guides are available.
Do check out every state school in your area; you have the time and you will learn a lot. Do not have preconceptions. You might find a poorly subscribed, even undersubscribed improving school that others have not caught on to yet. Also if you are near a borough boundary be aware that the borough boundary is irrelevant for admissions but your own borough wont tell you/doesnt stock the info about schools in another borough.
I sympathise with you on the faith school issue but I think you should check them out as well.
As you see more schools over a short period you will get a much better feel for what you are looking for. Will help you choose a private if that is the route you follow.
There are lots of lovely private schools in the area with normal working class parents and children. I would look at Royal Masonic School for girls its a lovely school that gets the best out of every girl.
Look at Grimsdell, pre prep of Mill Hill and Aldenham. They are both lovely schools with nice children and plenty of normal down to earth parents.
Please don't assume you won't fit in. There may be a few preps where the stereotype applies but most prep school parents are the same as you.
I am nowhere near being a model and I'm the one who works in banking (less yummy mummy and more of a "hurry we're going to be late for school..no I don't know where you put your reading book..." type of mum). When DS1 joined his prep (West London - sorry) DH was a bus driver. DH has since set up his own business.
I agree. Don't assume most people are frightfully genteel. People raise funds for private schools in all kinds of ways. there will be plenty of working-class -made good. And plenty of upper middle class parents who aren't snobbish or stand offish.
Not all private schools are academic hothouses. Look around. Don't know the area so can't advise but just wanted to say you sound lovely and I'm sure you and your DD will fit in well somewhere. Good for you not carting her back to the lousy local school.
We are 'normal' working parents who can just about afford private school for both DCs. By comparison, DD's BF lives in a house with enough land for horses. Her other BF lives in 7 bedroom house (don't ask me why they need 7 bedrooms )
At no point have we been made to feel 'different' in any way. They are just ordinary parents that simply happen to have more money than us or are more successful.
Having said that, I suspect that if you were to head to SW London you will probably encounter a different set/type of rich parent who might kind of snobbish [puts on crash helmet and watches for projectiles coming in from the SW]
I personally don't like the Hampstead mums who send their children to those schools either (we did that for a while with our ds!), but I don't suppose that's a reason to avoid those schools!
fwiw, my ds has aspergers and we took him out of a state school (also North London) and sent him private - one of the reasons being that the state school was very unsupportive of him and left his confidence in tatters etc etc, but we did send our other children to that school. the rationale being, different children had different needs and the school did support them, the teaching staff change so frequently in those schools that the teachers who taught ds left very quickly, and also the head teacher has changed twice since then. I wouldn't write off your ds's school.
also, I would say in my bit of N London, people who send their children privately write off all of the state schools (one said to me about a school "oh no one would send their children there"), but actually they are pretty good overall. don't write them off before visiting them. In my borough there are actually very few schools that I would refuse to send my children too.
yes, and check the faith schools out - there's alot of people who go to church for a year to get their children into school and there are some parents who don't go to church at all and their children still get in ime.
Is your difficulty with faith schools based on objection to that style of schooling, or an assumption you wouldn't get a place?
If it's the latter, then I suggest you do look at the schools' admissions criteria. CofE schools in particular often have a number of places (can indeed be 100% of places for some) for non-faith applicants, so you might find you are a likely applicant after all.
I've heard lots of people say that the Habs schools are very very pushy and are looking for a certain type of child. From your OP you sound quite normal and I have heard the children are either naturally gifted or the product of tiger mums.
my experience of most of the N London prep and pre-prep schools is that they are more pushy than the state primaries. I also wonder how easy it will be to get a place at them given you haven't got your dd's name down already. Pretty impossible at some like King Alfred's I would have thought. (and from my experience - that's one of the schools we looked at for ds).
Some of them always seem to have places and that is a bit worrying too.
I know some people who like Cavendish School (a girls school) in Camden - don't know how far that is away from you. Not sure what the places situation is like there though either.
Thanks for all your replies. I genuinely appreciate them all.
The faith school situation where we live means that you absolutely cannot get a place at the RC or CofE schools unless you worship in the main parish or a local parish and have a priest / vicar's reerence. They are very good schools, academically, so it is a bunfight to get into them even for the religious families. I would never send my child to a RC school, anyway (ex-Catholic!).
The difficultuy ith my area is there is really only one non-denominational school near us - the one I refuse to send my DD to! The Head made my son's life a misery for nearly a year - he was pretty much mentally ill by the end of it - and I couldn't consider even stepping through the school gates again!
I am going to the Habs open day in June. but I have already mentally ticked it (and NLCS) off the list, as I really don't want an incredibly pushy academic environment for my DD at primary stage.
Its a shame King Alfred is so hard to get into. I have registered for a place, but I know a family who put their child's name down the day he was born . The admissions people did tell me to stay on the waiting list even if I didnt get a place in reception, though, as places do come up...
4k a term, though. Good God
Hi there have you made any progress, i think we are similar parents to you, and we have had an interesting time visiting north london schools that you may appreciate! Our son has a king alfreds place starting this sept. I think def stay on list. You are welcome to email me if you like...
Congrats to your DS thefish. Hope he loves it.
A friend of ours just rung up K Alfred's and got offered a place immediately to start Sept y2. Always movement in London and there is much myth making about what an honour it is to be allowed to pay these schools lots of money in order that your child attends.
We were on the waiting list at KAS for a little while (months, not weeks!) before we got offered a place, so its worth hanging on! I think they happened to have a few places come up at the same time in our DD's year group because I know we weren't top of the list, and I understand that there are some older year groups that have had no movement in or out for years.
Have you looked at Dallington? Lovely, little school in Islington/ City. Broadly similar ethos to KAS but smaller class sizes and higher ratios.
Your daughter will have entirely different needs to your son. Are you sure the local primary (the Ofsted Outstanding one) won't be highly suitable for her? Local friends and community are very important and you will miss out on that. Are you certain you want to turn it down?
I have four children and have learnt from experience that the right school isn't always the same school.
We had a similar situation- 1 non-faith option that was too crap to contemplate. Don't listen to people who label places like NLCS and Habs as 'hothouses'. For the right kid, they are perfect. Have a look at Hampstead Hill and North Bridge House. Very down to earth parents.
I once looked at a school called the Academy in Hampstead. It was highly recommended on here and I really liked it, in the end i didn't send my DS there as it was only going to be for 2 years and he managed to get an offer from an excellent secondary which meant he would only have to move once. But I would definitely take a look if i were looking in North London.
Hi - I am also seeking input about the Academy school Hampstead as I am thinking of visiting for my DS who is 9 bright but has some social skills related issues ( bordering Asp) and does not seem to fit happily in his current North London prep.
I'm also considering The Academy for my DC with SEN. Went for a viewing and thought the staff & pastoral care was wonderful but it was the most insular school I've ever seen, which worried me. Anyone have any further info / input? Thanks!
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