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what are the most racially diverse london schools?

(108 Posts)
lhc2 Thu 04-Jul-13 22:14:55


We are currently living in NYC (we are from spain) and we are moving to London next year and i've been looking for schools for my daughters.
One of my dds is black and diversity is very important to me as i don't want her to be the only black girl in her class and judging by the london schools websites i didn't see any black girl at their schools.

I would like to know based on your opinion which london single sex private schools are more racially diverse?

Thank you very much. smile

Happymum22 Sun 07-Jul-13 22:17:56

I second Hill House International School, it may not have huge numbers of BME children, but it has children from all over the world, all different races and backgrounds- and celebrates this.

thaliablogs Sun 07-Jul-13 23:14:33

goodness me how did we end up on the BNP? OP just wanted to help her daughter find the right environment - one that would reflect who she is. I apologise for my role in this diversion, it was unintentional. My original comment was just meant to give some context to someone new to the UK on one point pertinent to their family.

Teaaddict I seem to have really upset you and I'm genuinely bemused. I offered a fact with no back up which you seemed to react to. So I gave you the backup. I did consider adding sources but thought this wasn't really the right forum for that, but have given them below so that you have them for future reference, although I get the impression you were using that to poke at me rather than because you really want to know.

Before I provide them, I want to clarify, since your post became an entirely personal, off topic attack on me, that neither of my posts imply anything good or bad about the demographic data. They just say to the OP she may find it harder to find a private school which reflects her family in the UK compared to the US. I really really don't know why you find that offensive, and I find it hugely offensive that you then ally my views to the KKK - really? How? Why? Why is it racist - or worse, incitement to racial separatism and violence in the case of the KKK - to say the black middle class is smaller in the UK? I didn't say it didn't exist, I just said it is smaller proportionately to the total population than it is in the US. I did not, notably, say it is smaller in proportion to the total black population in the UK compared to the same ratio in the US because I don't have that data. At no point have I made any attempt to say that your family - or that of my best friend, whose parents arrived during the windrush from the Caribbean and who is decidedly middle class - do not or should not exist. I just said there are fewer families like yours in proportion to the total UK population than in the US. I would really love to know what I got wrong that caused you so much fury.

Anyway, even though I know it is not the point, here are the data sources in case anyone is interested. Note - as I said in the original post - that this data is mostly census data, not survey data. In the US they 'count' any households that do not return data by assumptions based on the rest of the neighborhood. Response rate for 2011 in the UK was above 94%. Thus the data are as close to representative as possible, error rate below 0.01%

US population data

US race and ethnicity data - black population

US black middle class data
(note most of his data is from the US census but he gathers it together to make certain points)

UK ethnicity (old data - 2001 - as I did state in the original post). I apologise for the one wikipedia link but I find the UK govt site impenetrable, I'm sure someone could find the direct source if they were clever.

I agree teaaddict that the data I presented under-represent as they don't include people who identify as mixed race. I thought about it but didn't include it as it's also very small and doesn't change the point - 1.2% in 2001. I imagine all the figures will be higher for the 2011 census, unlikely to reach the 20% or higher level of the US, though.

But really, you aren't upset about the data itself are you? You are upset because of something else. I don't get it. I wanted to help the OP. I happen to know some data that might illuminate her situation. I meant it to be helpful. I didn't say it was a good place to be. I didn't say we didn't have a black middle class. I just said it was small. Please explain (perhaps by PM to avoid messing up this thread any further) what I did to upset you.

thaliablogs Sun 07-Jul-13 23:15:53

Ag sorry links not converted. Trying again.

US population data

US race and ethnicity data - black population

US black middle class data
(note most of his data is from the US census but he gathers it together to make certain points)

UK ethnicity (old data - 2001 - as I did state in the original post). I apologise for the one wikipedia link but I find the UK govt site impenetrable, I'm sure someone could find the direct source if they were clever.

Mintyy Sun 07-Jul-13 23:24:18

I think you have your priorities skewed. Great to go to a school that has a good mix of races/nationalities represented. Bit naff to elect to go to a school where 80% at least of the local population could not attend on financial grounds. Whatever private school your children go to, it will never properly reflect authentic London life. But then if you live in Kensington or Chelsea you will be living in an extraordinary bubble anyway.

ICanTotallyDance Mon 08-Jul-13 00:14:05

You should try looking at the culture of the school rather than the specific ethnicities. For example, a school might have 50/50 white and south east asian but if the children are racist and form a divide between each other then it will be a far less favourable environment that one with two or three children who are not the major ethnicity but who integrate well. TBH, my school was extremely colourblind at that age but out of only 20 children in the year group, looking back at old photos, there was one SE Asian girl, one or two Indian girls and 1 Zimbabwean girl. At that age, it's not a very big deal, although I recall that we were all very jealous of the black girl because she never got sunburnt and looked great in the orange school play costume.

Because you are looking for a very select group of people, that is, young black girls who attend single sex private schools, there will be slim pickings.

AFAIK, these are the only single sex (girls, obv.) independent schools in Kensington/Chelsea:

Queen's Gate girls, ages 4-18. Main point of entry for juniors is 4+ but they accept girls if space is available.

Glendower Prep girls, ages 4-11 main point of entry 4+ again, sorry, but they hold waitlists. Selective entry.

There are two Francis Holland schools, this one confused me, sorry, one is for girls 4-18 and the other for girls 11-18. They are run by the same charitable trust. They can be found here (4-18 and here (11-18).

Bassett House School not exactly a girls school, co-ed 3-11 but most boys leave at 7 or 8+ selection.

More House Girls, 11-18.

I know your children are only 8 and 9 but it is the right time to be looking at schools for 11+ if you will be in London that long.

If you're looking for true diversity, an international school might be best. The most diverse school any family member of mine has ever been to was a day/boarding prep with international boarders. Not sure there are any in London though.

Good luck and remember, if you don't make it a big deal, she probably won't either.

ICanTotallyDance Mon 08-Jul-13 00:30:03

Also may I add, better to look for a school with little bullying (for anything) and good pastoral care.

Here is a (ahm, wikipedia) list for all the prep schools in London.


cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 12:04:12

Dear lhc2. We are looking for the same thing with plans to return to UK in 2016. Our daughter was born in UK but has lived in NYC. Feel it will be culture shock for her. While London itself is incredibly diverse, private education is not nor is it as common 7% versus 13% in US. And private schools do not have the same interest in diversity of any kind -- including socioeconomic. They simply do not believe as they do in America --that a more diverse student body enriches every student's experience (not that they practice it as well as they preach it in the US) I sent you a PM as I thought we might share information. We are looking for a primary school for our biracial daughter (ss) and son, not in school yet, as well.

Needmoresleep Mon 08-Jul-13 12:48:44


I thought private education was more like 20% in London. Am pretty sure that the majority of children in Kensington and Chelsea are privately educated.

Many private schools have charitable status. They have to justify this. Cokibeach, if you were to do a bit more research, I think you would find your rather sweeping statement

"private schools do not have the same interest in diversity of any kind -- including socioeconomic. They simply do not believe as they do in America"

is just wrong. There are differences. Britain does not have the same culture of philanthropy, or not in the same way. However schools are doing all sorts of interesting partnerships, giving out bursaries and all sorts of things.

I dont think it can be particularly helpful to come to the UK (or return) with an attitude that everything in America is better. Some expat Americans, and indeed others, do have this. Even if they are right, it does not make them many friends.

Copthallresident Mon 08-Jul-13 12:54:11

My DDs attend a very selective private school in the rather white homogenous suburbs of West London and their friendship groups are multicultural. DD2s friends are from Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Singapore Chinese, Kenyan Asian and Indian. The school does indeed value the experiences of pupils who have grown up in other cultures, indeed made a point of discussing that with both DDs in their interviews. If there is any suggestion of groups forming on racial lines it is only in so much as shared experience of culture and of parenting styles naturally form the basis for friendships, DD has developed an appreciation of Bollywood movies so she can join in the conversation, and neither she nor any of her friends have any interest in being part of the cool crowd since binge drinking, drugs, promiscuity and playboy bunny parties don't appeal. (Not that I am convinced it isn't all talk at the end of the day but DDs friendship crowd find it sad either way) I agree that a black American would be seen as more American than black, a very different prospect to having cultural roots in Lagos or Freetown. You certainly wouldn't encounter racism in the school community, almost the opposite, since DDs' friendship group often share humour about the bending over backwards to be sensitive.

And the one sort of school where you will most definitely find BME (black and minority ethnic) underrepresentation is in oversubscribed Catholic Schools, it is very apparent in Local Authority statistics.

NotFluffy Mon 08-Jul-13 15:59:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Farewelltoarms Mon 08-Jul-13 16:13:30

Yeah but only a v selective church school Notfluffy - aren't there something like 8 nearer schools. But Cameron feared his daughter would get 'lost' in one of them...

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 16:31:34

That particular (church) school is quite difficult to get into, as is Fox's (which would have been closer to Cameron, as were several others which he wouldn't touch with a barepole).

I'm suprised at the 50% figure for K+C. I wouldn't have pegged it as that high.

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 16:33:35

That particular (church) school is quite difficult to get into, as is Fox's (which would have been closer to Cameron, as were several others which he wouldn't touch with a barepole).

I'm suprised at the 50% figure for K+C. I wouldn't have pegged it as that high.

SauceForTheGander Mon 08-Jul-13 16:48:14

I've heard (2nd hand) of awful racial bullying at St Christopher's in N London. Could be gossip ....

They moved their girls to North Bridge House which they loved. A very down to earth school and a great feeder to the top secondaries.

Maybe you should consider living in Hampstead / Belsize Park. You could look at Highgate school etc. and suspect you'd get a bit more house for your money. More family friendly too.

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 17:08:17

You might want to see if you can check what the churn rate is for children (and staff). If there's a big child turnaround, then that can be quite upsetting for children who aren't used to it. The Recession wiped out a lot of our school! Folks were losing their jobs, being recalled or being told their company wasn't going to pay their school fees and rents any more (but they were welcome to stay in London if they wanyed - which none did, as it is an expensive place to live if you are paying for it yourself).

I don't think you can apply for state schools unless you have an address and are living there.

Xenia Mon 08-Jul-13 17:20:07

Coki is wrong. In many parts of London the fee paying private schools are the most racially mixed, not the state schools.

There is no better prep for girls in London than St Paul's and North London Collegiate and the latter which I know is very nicely racially mixed with a coach from Kensington.

sanam2010 Mon 08-Jul-13 18:26:27

You can also try Redcliffe School in Chelsea. Predominantly British but quite a few black/mixed/asian and also Spanish kids there, very nurturing and very good academic quality. It's co-ed till 8+ and then
girls' only till 11+. Would second Knightsbridge and Hill House as well.

The other girls' schools are probably relatively white though I don't think
It should be an issue at all as long as the school is nurturing, friendly and inclusive.

cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 20:12:58

That's the thing,nXenia and Needmoresleep: I have done an incredible amount of research as I am a journalist and was planning on writing a book comparing the UK and American systems. You are wrong. It is 7% in the UK. If you do a simple search you will see that very recently (a few years ago) when independent schools were threatened with losing their charitable status -- after a negative assessment by the charities commission -- unless they offered more needs -based bursaries, they reacted very angrily. Can easily send you article but simple search would find it. The UK independent schools posited condescendingly that it was no longer the smartest but the poorest who would get financial assistance. i.e. scholarship vs. bursary ( in the US any financial assistance, need or skills based, is called a scholarship unlike the UK which makes a distinction between charity and merit as they see it) not considering that most of the students who win the scholarships have been prepped for it at elite schools for years. Both the UK and the US have their merits. The UK is woefully lacking in this arena. Just take a look at the Sutton Trust's stats which is the easiest place to look as it aggregates a lot of data (I culled many sources). You will see that I am correct. I have done research - anecdotes and impressions don't mean much.

Talkinpeace Mon 08-Jul-13 20:23:48

It is 7% in the UK
yes, but that 7% is not evenly split across the country
in parts of West London, the private school percentage is well up around 50%
in parts of poor areas of the country it is zero

compare Manhattan with Montana : there are lots and lots of private schools in NYC, not many in the Appalachians

cokibeach Mon 08-Jul-13 20:39:16

talkinpeace: I'm not sure your point. Are you saying you can't compare a city with a country? I wasn't. Or are you saying one should compare Manhattan with the entirety of the UK? Neither really makes sense to me, but if it does to you....

Talkinpeace Mon 08-Jul-13 20:54:25

They simply do not believe as they do in America --that a more diverse student body enriches every student's experience
I am not sure how you can make such a sweeping statement about British versus American schools.

The admission systems for both state funded and private schools are very different - for example my kids are not at school in the county in which I live - and there are lots of state funded religious schools in the UK and absolutely none in the USA

Moominsarehippos Mon 08-Jul-13 20:58:57

Coki - are you also comparing the quality of the state schools too? That may have a baring on the number of private schools. Plus, I believe, since the Recession (last and previous) its been harder to get places in private as competition hots up, so I'm assuming more privates are opening up here.

Why are you writing the book? Is it an academic book or one aimed at parents moving from one system to the other? I suppose you can't compare education systems without comparing society (class, mobility, attitudes, wealth, status...) as well. In the US there was a higher % going onto higher education on the past - not sure if that's still the case. Did this necessarily translate into higher averahe wages for example? Plus there's also the schools that were traditionally set up as charities for orphans, sons of sailors, etc.

Brain is whirring now...

OP - look at Thomas', St Nicholas (kensington), Queens Gate, The Garden, Eton Square, Pembridge...

Gabitas may be a good port of call - this agency can advise, or even visit schools for you and put in the application forms for you (at a price!). If you know what you want its relatively easy.

I do think colour is a red herring. London is cosmopolitan (more than you'd think) and the schools are very cosmopolitan. I think most newcomers are on the younger end of the scale. The (state) school next to us has 71% of kids who don't have english as a mother tongue. Our (private) school is much much closer to 95% non native speakers. Its like the UN. Your kids won't stand out in the least bit.

Needmoresleep Mon 08-Jul-13 21:18:30

I get TIPs point. She clarified what I was saying.

Yes the private education rate in the UK is around 7%. Something I knew, though I am not a journalist. However OP is not moving to the UK, she is moving to K&C. What happens in Scunthorpe or Colchester is not relevant.

I suspect the K&C rates vary between primary and secondary. Plenty of DC in my kids private secondaries seem to have spent a few years in naice state primaries. I also agree with NotFluffy about the great contrasts within the borough. The more affluent, including our politicians, will consider the better primaries and indeed some secondaries for their children. (Holland Park anyone) but there are other schools which are pretty much shunned by the better off and where deprivation and low achievement are on-going issues.

Perhaps OP should try to watch a couple of old episodes of Made in Chelsea. Quite a cult amongst DDs friends, and despite the affected cynicism, real excitement when one of the cast is spotted. I would though not be surprised if she decided to stay in NYC...

Xenia Mon 08-Jul-13 21:18:46

The only point I was commenting on was to say around here (London) if you want mixed race schools you pay fees. Schools like Haberdashers, north London Collegiate, Merchant Taylors a probably have non whites in the majority and are some of the most sucessful schools in the country and are in London.

However as I drive back everymorning from the school run to a very racially mixed London selective private school I see an almost 100% white group going to a state primary school which is Church of England and then an almost 100% black state primary school where about 25 - 50% of the women and the tiny little girls too cover their heads. So the state schools seems to divide racially and the private schools are crammed packed with children of very hard working immigrants who put education ahead of just about everything and whose children so do very well.

It is very hard to generalise though about the UK. Plenty of it is almost 100% white and as said above very few go to private schools in some areas and then in others they are common.

I still repeat that NLCS will get this girl the best academic education or almost the best in London and be as racially mixed as the mother wants and has a coach from Kensington. Worth sitting for that school and others to see where she can manage to get places.

Guitargirl Mon 08-Jul-13 21:25:34

My DCs go to a very ethnically diverse state primary in north London. It's absolute bollocks that only fee-paying schools are ethnically diverse!

And am PMSL at the irony of the OP who wants a 'diverse' school but only a single sex, fee paying one which, by definition, is going to exclude so many.

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