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Thomas' Clapham Experiences Please

(23 Posts)
Snowstormy Sat 23-Nov-13 21:19:20


DS has been offered a reception place and we are having trouble deciding whether to take it.

We have toured 3 times in total and haven't fallen in love with the school. It seemed lacking in personality and warmth. We can't quite out our finger on what it was we were uncomfortable with.

Having said that it gets excellent results (I think, they aren't actually published on the website). And I cannot fault the facilities and large size of the grounds and classrooms (something very rare in London prep schools).

Does anyone have children there who can give me an honest view on their experience so far, good and bad?

DS is confident, eager to learn and picks things up very quickly. Not super sporty but he is only 3.

Thank you

Schmedz Mon 25-Nov-13 22:30:05

I think gut feeling can be pretty reliable. Warmth is essential for young children in particular. Do you have a better option?
Ask yourself how you would feel if you didn't take the place...bitter disappointment might indicate you should take it!

onebananatwobanana Tue 26-Nov-13 09:31:59

Agree with Schmedz. Your gut has to tell you it is the right place for your DC. For what it is worth, the reputation of the school is that parents have £££ (check out sports tour destinations - they rival any public school - for primary age DC, and they cost parents £££), that it suits outgoing, competitive DC. Have heard that if your DC is not in the "alpha group" - ie. top sets, top sports teams, top musician etc they can fall down the crack. Quite a bit of tutoring going on especially for 11+ exit. I found Thomas's to be business like and impersonal.

What you say about facilities etc is right but it is what goes on in the classroom that is important, and how your DC will develop as young people - will they be happy, have high self esteem, fulfil their potential. Sometimes that happens in a less flashy building in a more nurturing environment, and being London there are LOTS of alternatives.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Tue 26-Nov-13 10:11:51

If your gut feeling says no, then leave it and find a school you fall in love with. I speak as someone who looked at a lot of schools and am glad I held out for "the one".

One of the things I liked about the DS's prep school was on the tour, the pre-prep children were cheerfully saying hello to the teacher showing us around who knew all of them by name. The Head of the pre-prep greets each child at the door every morning with a handshake.

I think its things like that that set the tone for the school and make a real difference.

basildonbond Tue 26-Nov-13 17:02:15

I don't have a child at Thomas's - dd is at another local prep but she has quite a few friends there

It is MUCH pushier than dd's school but the 11+ results aren't any better despite being allegedly selective. Having said that I think the majority of parents, certainly for boys, are aiming at boarding school at 13 so it has a subtly different intake

Very much a 'win at all costs' type of school which sometimes isn't entirely appropriate e.g. at a 'fun' swimming gala confused

We didn't like it at all when we looked round for dd, but when we saw her current school we knew instantly it would be perfect for her - and our gut feeling was right as she has been incredibly happy there

I'd go with your gut feeling - do you have an alternative?

MGMidget Wed 27-Nov-13 21:19:59

Snowstormy, I've sent you a PM.

MLP Thu 28-Nov-13 13:01:09

Only data point I have is a daughter of some friends. She enjoys it and appears to be doing well - in Y4, I think. She is definitely of the pushy(?)/confident style of kid though.

JustAnotherUserName Thu 28-Nov-13 13:59:00

Agree with oneBanana. You need when choosing this school to be very very confident that your DC is and is going to remain of the competitive, pushy variety with no need for any support or pastoral care (which seems - from knowing a couple of families there - largely non-existence).

Constant external tutoring to ensure that DCs maintain their place in the top sets. hmm

fizzly Thu 28-Nov-13 21:00:49

No personal experience but know a few Thomas's families. Have heard a couple of awful pastoral-related stories. I am sure the academics are good, but only you will know if that is the be-all and end-all for you and your DCs. It wouldn't suit me and mine. If you don't love it, why would you choose to spend such a large amount on fees? My understanding is that it is a level more expensive than other local indies.

meditrina Thu 28-Nov-13 21:07:18

"The Head of the pre-prep greets each child at the door every morning with a handshake."

That's standard for London day preps.

The whole Thomas group has a reputation for suiting sporty, outgoing, drama-loving children beat.

Meditrina - greeting the children at the door wasn't standard at the other preps I went to see.

Bowlersarm Thu 28-Nov-13 21:45:19

Chaz- shaking hands was the procedure every morning at my DC's nursery school which was near Thomas'

meditrina Thu 28-Nov-13 21:47:19

Handshaking: Perhaps not at all. But normal for very many. Thomas group is not an unusual outlier on this.

My DC aren't at Thomas's confused . I was just highlighting some of the factors that made me chose my DC's prep over the more businesslike preps i.e. Go with your gut not the name or perceived status of the school. Some of the well known preps I went to see lacked warmth and that bothered me.

SonorousBip Fri 29-Nov-13 12:17:06

I'm just coming to the end of involvement in London preps and my overwhelming observation after about 10 years is:

There will come a time when the shit hits the fan and everything goes a bit pear shaped. Fact. When it does, believe me, you want to be at a school that helps you through it. My DC are pretty resilient little things, one of them is on the - ahem - robust side of resilient. Good solid performers academically, joiners-in sort of kids - on a day to day level no need for any out of the ordinary treatment. But we have really needed the school to support us/cut us some slack on a couple of occasions (very sudden bereavement eg) and their school has been really and genuinely fab when it was needed: kind, pragmatic and very supportive. Several times the school literally and metaphorically put their arms round my children and gave them a hug and a cup of hot chocolate.

For me, were i choosing again, one of my key questions would be "can I trust this school to help and support me if and when I need it". And if that I felt that is lost in the general push to results,Ii would be very wary of sending even a very robust child to that school

Michaelahpurple Sun 01-Dec-13 14:48:43

Sonorous - what a very good point, well made. Something I need to remember and keep forgetting when tearing my hair out over prep schools.

schoolnurse Sun 01-Dec-13 15:47:59

OP I only looked at this thread because a friends DC went there quite a few years ago I don't know anything about it but the leavers destination are on their website!

One4TheRd Wed 04-Dec-13 22:15:36

Check out Thomas's Fulham... By far the loveliest of them all!

onebananatwobanana Wed 04-Dec-13 23:11:19

But TF doesn't go to 13 and then those that don't leave have to go to Clapham for CE ...... If it were my choice I'd go to Clapham all the way through to get consistent secondary school advice and teaching. Anyway, not my decision!!

One4TheRd Thu 05-Dec-13 20:35:48

Many from Fulham move over to Clapham for Y7. The staff at Fulham are phenomenal and the vibe there is great...very happy place, much like a second home!

nicename Thu 05-Dec-13 20:52:24

Go with your gut. See what the older children are like - are they happy, lively, sporty, confident, pushy, rude, smart....?

Speak to other parents at a range of schools.

nicename Fri 06-Dec-13 15:47:25

As with all schools/new jobs etc, Google the school, head and teaching staff. See what they are saying and their claims about thenselves, the school and their beliefs. You can get a feel for the culture of a place.

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