Are Habs boys (Herts) happy boys?(14 Posts)
I love the thought of my DS going to Habs Boys, mainly because I believe that Habs graduates are made men and that his future will be secure and it's local to us! However, despite my son being bright, I am aware that all Habs pupils are bright and that someone still has to be 'bottom' of a highly intelligent class and that can't be a nice or healthy place to be. I visited the school recently expecting to hate it for it's pushiness and arrogance, but instead I loved it. However, I'm really nervous about the risk of my DS being nearer the bottom of the class (based only on the fact that someone has to be) and the effect this could have on his confidence and happiness. Can anyone shed any light on their experiences of pressure at the school and the happiness of the pupils? Your comments would be much appreciated.
I can only give you an outdated picture based on the experience of boys in the 1950s (my dad and his friends) and the 1980s (my male peers), but I would say that there are some boys (bright, quirky, questioning) that would be happier there than they would be anywhere else. I certainly found that to be my experience of the girls' school. It was the fifth school I had attended (in four different countries) and the only one that didn't punish me for thinking too much. I stayed there for seven years and was very happy.
It is true that some of the people in the bottom sets lost some of their confidence and achieved less than they might have done elsewhere.
When I was there, the girls who were weakest academically were those who got music scholarships, along with some of those who came up from the junior school rather than competing with external candidates for places at 11.
Perhaps my happiness was partly related to the fact that I was always top of the top sets.
I went to a similar highly academically selective school (NLCS). I wasn't especially happy and I had pretty low self esteem (still do) but I did well academically. I was considered pretty average academically there, whereas in any non selective school I would have been at the top.
The impact of being surrounded by other very bright children results in a lot of competition and pressure between the pupils. On the one hand, it will really push and stretch a bright child, but it can result confidence issues, which in my case have continued into adulthood.
Highly selective schools can be great for the right child and I certainly know a lot of happy kids at Habs. But for some the pace and rigour is just too much and they're miserable. Why their parents insist on keeping them there I do not know.
I really wouldn't assume sending your child to any school makes them a 'made man'. I know drugs casualties, suicides, drop-outs etc from some of the 'best' schools there are. And that's especially the boys schools.
For most products it's neither spectacular burn-out nor becoming prime minister - my brother went to Eton and is a very average middle manager living a very normal life.
Which doesn't really answer your question I know, but nobody's future is secure.
I know exactly what you mean about Habs but I wouldn't overthink things at this stage. If you and your son like the school and its ethos then you should definitely make an application and see how he gets on.
If you receive an offer from them then you should have another chance to look round and ask more questions.
I was told that the school wouldn't make an offer to a boy that they didn't think would get along well at the school (it's not in their interests to do so).
I was also told that there is a very good chance that every boy will be nearer the bottom in some subjects (be that maths or rugby). However, they are very unlikely to be at the bottom in ALL their subjects.
FWIW, after all that, we chose a different school for our son but that was based on his needs. I still think Habs is great (and I'd love to have gone to a school like that).
Good luck with your choices.
Thank you all for your comments, especially Queenoftoast. It's such a difficult decision to make without the benefit of hindsight. I want my son to achieve his potential but also to be happy and confident and I don't want to deny him a great opportunity based on my fears of 'what ifs'.
He is currently only 6 but he is on the list to sit for 7+ entry to Habs. I think this has just helped me to defer until the 11+ when his ability and personality will be more certain to get a better idea of whether Habs would suit him. He is also currently very settled at his prep school. At 11 I will then be guided by the teachers at his current school and those assessing at Habs. As Queenoftoast says the assessors are skilled at knowing which children will fit their school. Also if you sit at 7+, get in and don't take up your place I doubt you'd be offered anything a 11+. It's such a minefield but thank you very much for your posts.
I personally think there's nothing wrong with being bottom/average in a highly selective school (usually its not in all subjects) esp if dcs have worked hard and that is their natural place. Even being bottom of such a school means you are still in the top 10% of the population academically. At ds1 selective indie everyone in yr6 achieved the equivalent of level 6 in sats for maths and English The only difference was the range went from a low/ middle/ high level 6.
I personally think there's nothing wrong with being bottom/average in a highly selective school (usually its not in all subjects) esp if dcs have worked hard and that is their natural place.
It may not matter to you, but it may matter to them. If they have spent the majority or all of their education in an academically selective school, they may not realise how bright they are, and may think they are very average. This may have a negative effect on their wellbeing.
As I said, I was average at a similarly academic school, and did not really know that I was particularly bright. I just assumed I was fairly average, as all of my classmates were also very bright. Because the standard was so high, teachers were very harsh markers. I was told by my school that I was "the worst in the year" at French and German speaking. I got A* grades in both.
Habs is a great school. But I think St Albans School is a gentler, kinder school. They get very similar exam results but I much prefer the St Albans School 'product'.
I know some super bright children who went to Habs and NLCS they were so used to being top at school they had a massive shock when they went to Uni where they were just average.
Does anyone know what's going on at the Prep? Another mum told me they saw an unusually high outflow of unhappy boys this year. Really bright ones too that they'd rather have kept.
I think you're being a little disingenuous here. The boys are wonderful. Truly the next generation of North London estate agents in the making who conform to the not so nice and ever so dim types that private schools 'in the pack' strive to nurture. The boys are driven hard but the pressure amply feeds the hungry hoards of child psychologists who ply their trades in the area, giving them the real life training they will need.
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