Gower school islington(461 Posts)
MNHQ have commented on this thread.
Anyone have any experience of this school? We're keen on a Montessori education, but this school seems to have a bad rep, we weren't sure why... Anyone know firsthand what it's like?
There's a few previous threads on it.
I have no direct experience, only what parents who've left have told me so it's not unbiased. I don't really know what a Montessori education is beyond the nursery years, so I'm not sure how closely it adheres.
If I were you, I'd ask the school about their leavers' destinations (if that's something that is of importance to you). I think the first lot to go through the school left this year.
I'd also ask about pupil and teacher turnover.
A close friend has just moved her DSs from the Gower School - she had no problems with the school itself, they were leaving London.
Since starting their new prep is has transpired that her boys were v behind in reading - almost a year behind their new peers. In retrospect she realises that the Montessori approach was perhaps not the right choice beyond Nursery for her boys.
The school is also vegetarian which you may or may not like! Have you visited? I've done a few drop offs & collections there and children & parents seem v nice!
celia We haven't visited yet- are planning to. And farewell I'm getting increasingly apprehensive after reading the previous threads on it!
Think Gower is mainly used by MC Islington parents who for whatever reason are not happy with the state alternative. The most coveted Islington state primaries have smaller catchment areas each year, and Gower seems to fill in the gap for those who don't get in. Ditto for parents who don't get into or don't want the schlep to the fancier preps further North. A genuine selling point for the Gower is the wrap around care. Downside is that it is proprietor owned and what the owner says, goes. Fine if you agree, not so fine if you don't. I have no insight into how good the education provided may be. The smallish site with little outside space is also a downside. I hear there is an option to expand to the adjacent building as and when needed - worth asking for an update on that when you visit (eg will it involve extensive building work?). Good luck.
Catastrophe I do know people who have got into coveted state primaries who've still opted for Gower so there are some people who go for it for positive reasons. Mind you, I think in the case I know they are people who paid lip service by applying to state schools but deep down feel that somehow they're failing their children if they can afford private but don't go for it.
Hairy - I didn't mean to put you off by referring to previous threads. I think Catastrophe's right in that what you think of it is quite dependent on what you think of the head. She seems a bit marmite.
You might want to try using the Talk boards on our Local site for Islington: local.mumsnet.com/islington as this is where locals discuss local issues, and we have hundreds of listings including schools to which you can add your comments and reviews!
There are non-Montessori alternatives in and around Islington - The Childrens House, Charterhouse, Dallington, St Pauls Cathedral, Highgate, Channing and then of course the Hampstead schools (a little far perhaps).
Can only say good things about the Gower, teachers dedicated and have had very positive experience. See negative comments about the head and primary but have not experienced. As a parent that has experienced two children moving from baby room to primary I am, and so are my children, very happy!
Also a parent with kids at Gower (since nursery). While I have been generally satisfied there are pluses and minuses.
On the positive side:
Teachers are very good and give a lot of one on one attention to the kids. You can tell they really care.
The school does a very good job of fostering a caring and conscientious atmosphere amongst the children most of whom seem to be happy and well adjusted.
Big emphasis is placed on environmental issues.
The kids do a lot of public speaking and presentations from reception up so they all seem to speak with great confidence.
Children are really nurtured to be kind, confident, sociable and conscientious.
There is good after school provision for working parents.
Have been very pleased with my children's level in reading, writing and maths.
On the minus:
Staff turnover has been a huge problem every year. It is not uncommon for teachers to leave at the end of each term with what seems like half the staff leaving every year. One of my children had three different teachers in one year. This really does the children a great disservice.
The uniform requirement is, in my opinion, excessive. Including things like: £75 school blazer, monogrammed yoga towel, three different kinds of shoes, a different school bag for everything from p.e., to music, swimming, shoes, books plus rucksack. This is in addition to standard winter uniform, summer uniform, winter p.e. kit, summer p.e. kit, swim kit etc. There seems to be an overly complicated schedule of costume changes - especially for the younger kids who aren't capable of keeping themselves organised. There are poor storage facilities at school for all the belongings and it's not uncommon for items to go missing.
Food. My kids have never liked the food. While it is cooked fresh on site, it is vegetarian and seems to mainly be pasta and beans on jacket-potatoe type dishes. Not so sure about the 'organic when possible' claims made on the website considering the Iceland truck that makes food deliveries. ;-) And now that kids are bigger they complain that there isn't enough to go around.
The building, while very new and modern is also very small. The school has grown rapidly so classrooms are very crowded. One room that originally housed a single class has now been divided for two classes. Another room that was once a small art room is now a classroom. While the kids go to local parks for P.E. there is very little outdoor space at school. It often feels a bit claustrophobic.
You will be required to provide a snack for the entire class once a fortnight or so and once a month your child will have to bring flowers to decorate the class. While this is a nice idea for the kids, many parents find it a burden especially in addition to everything else. (uniform, homework, special projects etc)
There really isn't a forum for parent involvement in the school. No PTA for example and, sadly, very little consideration is given to parents' or kids' opinions & needs when major changes have been made.
Like I say, there are plusses and minuses. Overall my kids are happy there and I'm pleased with the level of education they have received and the loving care they experience from the teachers.
Why have all the messages from disgruntled ex gower teachers been removed? Was mn coerced?
I was amazed by quite how many ex teachers there were on here but from what Molella says, there are quite a few about.
Molella, out of interest, why did you opt for gower? It seems like there are lots of positives but enough serious negatives (teacher turnover primarily) to make me seriously question if my children were there. In my kids large state primary about 2 teachers leave per year, at most, always due to relocating abroad, retiring etc.
We considered it but we found the head very unimpressive so didn't follow through with an application. We also know parents who removed their child from the school because they were extremely unhappy with things. But it seems to suit some people.
We had a dreadful experience at The Gower School (overcrowding, inexperienced teachers, avarice Head who does NOT have a degree in education). We pulled our child out after one term and placed him in a "real school." Best thing we ever did. Socially, academically a world away. Don't be fooled by the Gower wholesome sales pitch.
This is a truly staggering thread. It seems that every single critical view of the school or management has been deleted, presumably on the instructions of the school.
It's like the Queen Ethelburga's threads all over again. Surely a school that gets all trigger-happy on a parenting website just ends up looking as if it has something to hide?
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