Willington school Wimbledon(34 Posts)
Hi - just wondering if there were any Willington School parents out there who could advise us. We're thinking about applying for a 2014 place there for our DS & liked much about the school. But... We were a little unconvinced by the (new) headmaster. He didn't really impress - and he only appears to have been at his previous school (Lichfield cathedral school) for 5 terms. Similarly the previous Willington headmaster who seemed well regarded was only there for a short time himself before moving on. Is there a back story or is it just one of those things? Also any views on the school generally would be much appreciated. DS is fairly bright, very into 'boy' things & sociable but lacks confidence at times.... Thanks!
We liked this school too and met the previous headmaster. There is a lot to like about the school including the specialist subject teachers from an early age. However, we were advised that it was not a particularly academic school by several people. It was a view that was not easy to validate so decided not to take the risk. In particular, we were concerned about the lack of streaming and 'whole class teaching'. Having said that though, there is a new Headmaster and I appreciate your concerns that he does not have much of a 'history,' but I think he has been there a couple of years and a school does change.
If you have concerns you have to go with that 'gut' feeling. I think most 'all boys' schools will cope with the very 'boyish' boy! Private schools are also very good at bringing out the 'underconfident' types. They are likely to give more opportunities for things like Drama and to 'perform' than state schools.
Willington is a lovely school! I'm not sure where the 'not very academic' idea comes from - from my experience I would say that clever boys do extremely well (scholarships to Kings College Wimbledon, Eton, St Paul's etc etc), but if your child is not super bright the school will not ask them to leave (unlike other SW19 prep schools), but they will nurture what is there and not make your boy feel like a failure!
Story about Headmasters - Mr Cheatham decided he'd rather be a deputy and moved to North London, new head is v nice, boys love him! He wanted to be in a London, hence his move, no gossip there!
We're very very happy with the school.
Celia - is there going to be any refurbishment? It's been a little while since I looked around it but it seemed a bit "tired" and a bit cramped. Stuff everywhere. I know that appearances are not that important at the end of the day! It was just first impressions.
Yes a refurb is coming shortly - plans look good, better use of space, although I don't think a school full of boys will ever look pristine!
I've heard many good things about Willington and would like to know if it is hard to get a place for my DS. Their terms and conditions on their website did not mention any assessment but the payment of deposit on a first come first serve basis. Does it mean that I shall apply as early as I can in order to secure a place? Grateful for any thoughts!
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Would be grateful if any current Willington parent would share their impressions of the school: do you feel that your child is happy there? is the curriculum challenging enough? It looks like a very happy school but I have some concerns about academic side. I can see that boys do a lot of sport and music, which is excellent. What about math and science teaching, how well do they manage to differentiate for different abilities (as being non-selective school they undoubtedly have)?
my son is in year 5 .They get very good 13 plus results and it is a very happy, family orientated school. Maths they are way ahead of state schools by year 4-5. Science is broken up into a term of physics, term of biology and term of chemistry in years 4 and 5. Formal exam weeks start in year 4 and all the years 4-8 sit their exams in the same week. Music and art are very well taught and the boys do some form of sport every day in years 4 and 5.
Thank you for the reply. A few more questions if you do not mind Do many leave to other schools at 7+, 11+ or would you say most stay till 13+? And is there a lot of movement of pupils, especially I know that it is popular with the parents who are staying in the UK temporarily? Do most families live locally or travel from further afield? When we went to see the school, we were told that there are about 12-13 per class in reception now, but with the capacity to go to 18 per class. So if one or two of friends leave, the child might struggle with the friendship as the classes are so small. Obviously, it can happen at any school/class, but with large number of children it is less of the problem.
The boys were lovely though when we were there, even the youngest ones were very relaxed and engaged and not at all phased with the visitors. Had really nice impression of the school, some classes feel a bit cramped but it is the quality that counts.
Hi Ivy, my DS is also at Willington and absolutely loves it. It is a very happy school and he has a lovely group of friends. He is very bright and the school have been great at stretching him and making sure he fulfils his potential. He is way ahead of his state school friends in both maths and science to answer your question, teaching in both has been very good. Differentiation is good as they teach truly mixed ability boys and get great outcomes for them all. Very few leave at 7, a few at 11 but not too many and then 13 is the obvious exit point. The class sizes do fluctuate a bit but that tends to be upwards in my experience, not so they become large. I think Willington suffers from the perception that state schools can offer the same thing, which in my experience just isn't true. It means that parents often realise that after a term/year/years in state and then want to move across. I don't think it's a reflection on the school so much as on the market. I really don't think you will ever find class sizes a problem and my DS has friends in both classes and other years. They are lovely boys and it is a truly lovely school.
Thank you for your feed back, DrE678. I think the state school can probably offer similar academic experience (at least good Wimbledon state schools probably can), but sport, music, extra trips and other additional activities are probably very difficult to match in the state sector not because of lack of will, but because of lack of funding. And from my impressions you get plenty of opportunities at Willington.
I do think academically there is a big difference too. To get into the likes of Kings from state tends to take lots of tutoring which you shouldn't have to do at all at a good indy. My DS is bright and the stretch he gets is infinitely more than he was getting in his state school. My opinion is probably coloured by our less than satisfying experience of an 'excellent' Wimbledon state school though. I think ultimately it's just finding the right fit for your child, be it state or independent. It's such a tough to decision but amazing when you get it right. Good luck!
I agree . The good state schools don't come close even in Wimbledon. I have experience of both and for a bright child I wouldn't go state if I could afford private. My daughter has dyslexia however and we have deluberately chosen state for her
Interesting thread. My son isn't at Wallington but at another nearby prep. I don't think you could compare any state school academically to a prep. It's not about the clubs. If there are kids who do well at the state schools it's because they're mums in particular are super pushy.
Re Willington boys not leaving at 11 may not be a good sign as it means they are not getting into Grammars. Given there are 4 near by it seems odd?
Half the intake leaves at 11 at ours - to me this indicates a bright intake and a good school. Ours goes to 13 too but 11plus is the more popular route now.
Sorry mean 'Willington' - not Wallington. Darn auto correct!
I'm not sure it's a bad sign that they don't go to grammars. It's a 13+ prep school, they are very clear about that. Their target for future schools is 13+ independent senior schools for example King's, Harrow, Epsom, St John's, Reed's etc not grammar schools. Even where those schools take at 11+ the boys tend to stay to 13.
That is something I have also been thinking about, boys not moving at 11, especially considering that several popular nearby schools have main entry or large intake at 11+, including Kings, Kingston Grammar, grammars, inc Tiffin, and others. The main destination schools seem to be Epsom, st johns, Hampton, etc, most of those also do have a considerable intake at 11. It is either parents prefer for boys to stay a bit longer at the local school (however some may feel a bit limited by the small school at this age, compared to the what is on offer at larger schools), or the school does not really prepare for the entrance exams and discourages from applying.
It's a 13+ prep not an 11+ prep. The nature of the education they get means they are ready to sit the 11+ and they have already started 13+ prep by that point so by default are ready for the 11+ but it is a 13+ school and they don't hide that. I think lots of boys stay on because 11 year old boys are often immature, a few extra years in a prep can be very good for them. That was our reasoning at least and anecdotally one of the reasons cited by friends.
About a quarter to a third leave at 11+. Now that St Johns and Epsom are taking at 11+ and Kings has havled its 13+ intake and tripled its 11+ intake, this is likely to increase. Those planning on leaving at 11+ are not allowed to be included in the 13+ pretest preparation classes so they tend to be prepared by tutors externally. Their parents feel that it is a small price to pay to secure a place at their preferred school. Not everyone can afford St Johns Epsom and Reeds, so sometimes this is the reason they go for the more 'affordable' 11+ schools. Hampton is one of popular schools for the more able boys at 13+ in recent years.Epsom and St Johns tend to cater for the main 13 + common entrance cohort. There is always one or two who pass the St Paul's, Kings and City of London exams and the ad hoc trickle to Harrow, Charterhouse, and Winchester.
There is a very clear trend now for boys to move at 11 - KCS being one good example along with the Grammars.
Btw don't assume that preparing for 13plus 'by default' prepares for 11plus. It doesn't - I can tell you that from the experience of my son's school which also prepares for 13plus.
11plus exit will require extra tutoring.
The latter is a pretty brutal exam in the local grammars and also in KCS by all accounts.
Hampton, Epsom and Reeds are softer options. I think the 11 plus exit doesn't suit everyone by any means.
In the current climate I think most parents would want to try for the state Grammars no matter what their finances.
At my son's school nearly all but a handful of boys tried for the Sutton Grammars. That's probably around 30 boys. Of those around 10 got through to the second round. Not sure what the eventual outcome was but my point being it gives an indication of how well the school is performing.
I don't think getting drawn into a protracted debate with you is necessary. Homefield is a very different school, in a very different area, serving a different market (granted with some overlap). You really are making generalisations that just don't apply to many of the boys in my DS' year. Of course I can't speak for everyone but 11+ grammar entry is really not a good marker for a school that has few students who want to apply to grammar.
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