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Seeking: diverse school for DD - Putney Junior School - Wimbledon High School/Ibstock/Highgate etc seems unwelcoming for ethnic children ?

(54 Posts)
Thewriterofthewind Tue 26-Nov-13 18:29:37

Hello everyone,
Hope you're all getting along well with this stern but accommodating tutor we all have called Life. I am a fairly older mum of one and I am mixed race - by mixed I mean 1/4 this/1/4 that/1/8th this/1/8th that etc. I married someone similar to me, so our daughter is very mixed. I need to send her to a a good school and we are moving from abroad. Having been "the only coloured girl" at school, I don't wish for my daughter to be. It is extremely lonely being the only one (or the only two or three) and all those people bleating that people like us, should try being uninvited from sleepovers (constantly) because (sorry, we're having a makeup session and no one would be able to style your hair) or being constantly told "you win because you have muscles like a boy" because you're good at athletics. I'm a mensa member and my DD is fairly academic (at the moment) and loves to play tennis. I would also prefer an all girls school. I know NLCS is perfect, but it is too far away from where we will be living (Wimbledon village or Putney). How diverse is Putney High School Junior School? What proportion of girls are of ethnic origin? Does anyone have any knowledge of any excellent other schools with at least 15% of the girls of ethnic origin? Is there anyone out there with similar experiences to mine? Can you please provide me with advice? Are there any other junior or prep schools anyone can recommend in London for a 3 year-old who is new to the city and which can help her prepare thoroughly for entry to the better private girls schools? I have had a look at Wimbledon High School's website and there are no ethnic faces, so I have disregarded this school. However, most of the private school's websites are non-diverse and off-putting for ethnic parents, so am I wrong to disregard WHS? Are there any other schools in London that we should consider, if necessary we will consider moving to somewhere else, once it's within the A406. Thank you very much in advance for your help.

Abitannoyedatthis Tue 26-Nov-13 18:33:07

In general state primary schools are much more diverse. Does it have to be private? There are many outstanding state schools.

GetMeOut Tue 26-Nov-13 19:29:26

I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the ethnic mix of Oakfield Prep in West Dulwich. Plus it is ON the A406 ( not as scary as it sounds! ) The head teacher is herself from an ethnic background.
Rosemead ( just down the road ) does not have the same mix or diversity IMHO.

GW297 Tue 26-Nov-13 20:11:04

Single sex schools tend to be very diverse in my experience. Wimbledon has a good reputation I believe.

sanam2010 Tue 26-Nov-13 21:39:11

Have a look at the Roche School in Wandsworth. Can't quantify diversity but it's a lovely and inclusive school with high standards. I think the area you're targeting is a bit more "blond and blue eyed" than North London but many schools are diverse now. Is Newton Prep too far for you? Maybe look at Dolphin School? And of course, state schools as others have pointed out!

horsemadmom Tue 26-Nov-13 22:17:36

South London is more monochrome. It just is.
Do you need to be there? I can confirm that NLCS is, indeed, a rainbow. If you are looking at Highgate (also North London), it is pretty diverse as well. I do sympathise with your position. I wouldn't choose to live in a mono-cultural part of London but I don't think you'll find the soft racism you encountered even there these days. It is still just a bore explaining yourself over and over.

Londonlady48 Tue 26-Nov-13 22:30:53

Agree with horsemadmom here. All private schools in South London predominently white with a few asian children. You will get one or two black/mixed race children but very unusual. My DS is at a private secondary school in South London which is 99 % white - I was a bit surprised by this actually as I don't think it is a good thing but the education is excellent. I really would not recommend Wimbledon as a good place to live if you are looking for ethnically mixed private schools. On the other hand why not look at the state sector? Graveney secondary school for example gets excellent results and is very mixed socially and ethnically. Likewise Ashcroft and St Cecilias. Your DD would be one of many mixed race pupils there and no one would bat an eyelid.

North London will be a much better place for you if you are looking for private schools.

Londonlady48 Tue 26-Nov-13 22:37:00

Also someone I know has a child at Putney GS and says it is very white. Indeed this person hinted that this was one of the reasons she choose it as the state school my DD goes to was "too mixed". Bit shocking that these sort of attitudes exist in London in the 21st century but I guess you will find bigots everywhere.

Londonlady48 Tue 26-Nov-13 22:42:07

Sorry last post on this - Streatham GS might be worth a look as it is in a more diverse area. It is an academic school but not in the same league as NLCS or WGS.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 26-Nov-13 23:04:41

I am not sure you can know that your DD is "fairly academic" at 3. In fact schools like Putney High come in for a fair amount of hmm from education professionals for attempting to select at 3 when no Education Psychologist would even attempt to spot ability / potential before the age of 6 or 7.

Without a doubt the suburbs of South West London are very homogenous and white and the schools reflect this. However the more selective the girls' school the wider the catchment, the more ethnically mixed they tend to be so if you want a school as selective as NLCS, which frankly neither Putney or Wimbledon are , though very good schools, then you will find them selecting from further afield and so tending to get a more mixed intake. From where you plan to live then the Hammersmith Schools and LEH are all in reach, and all would have more than 15% from different ethnicities and cultures.

I have to say though that my DDs and their friends have never encountered the sort of problems you mention even amongst predominantly white friendship groups from Putney and Wimbledon, you really don't get the impression it is a big deal for any of them. Their friends are from many different ethnicities, cultures and mixed races. Anyone who tried to make comments like that would pretty soon find themselves on the wrong end of peer pressure (as would anyone making derogatory remarks about anyone's sexuality). It is actually very heartening that such attitudes do not linger in this generation.

All these schools take a fair proportion from state schools as well as prep schools. I personally wouldn't want my daughter to sit for a selective school before 7, and in any case you might find it hard to meet the deadlines and assessment dates which will be in the near future.

Clavinova Tue 26-Nov-13 23:27:31

I am a little surprised by Wimbledon High as families I know who have considered the school have been predominately asian - they were offered places but chose the Sutton grammar schools instead. Perhaps you should enquire with the school directly as websites are often misleading;there are many more girls with ethnic parents at the grammars than the websites suggest. Sutton High is a lovely school with diversity and not too far from Wimbledon - but perhaps not as academic as you would like.

Londinium Wed 27-Nov-13 00:12:19

Further out if you have to be in the south would be Collingwood in Wallington. Wallington grammar is then very diverse.

AliceInSandwichLand Wed 27-Nov-13 09:08:27

Just to say that Wimbledon High had a black Head Girl when I was there in 1982!

AliceInSandwichLand Wed 27-Nov-13 09:14:03

And yes, would agree with shooting at pigeons - my daughters have been at the sort of school you are thinking of but in Surrey, probably about 15% non white, and the idea of making a racist remark or thinking of the non white girls differently would be completely unthinkable to them. In my experience the community is pretty intolerant of obesity and there is a lot of pressure to be pretty, so I am not claiming there are no prejudices, but racism is just not socially acceptable.

Clavinova Wed 27-Nov-13 09:21:26

I should point out that the Sutton grammars are state schools and have no fees which is the reason why they were chosen over Wimbledon High.
Another option is Blackheath High - it's South East London but Blackheath has a 'village feel' like Wimbledon.

LCHammer Wed 27-Nov-13 09:29:45

Sutton Grammar is a boys' state school. Sutton High is girls' and private. They have nursery onwards.

BraveMerida Wed 27-Nov-13 10:00:44

OP. I think, it's one of those things that if you go into it expecting it to be an issue, it will most likely become an issue iyswim. And I say this as one of 3 Chinese/Black girls in an entire girls school full of white middle class/affluent pupils some 30 years ago. It wasn't a problem for me, or maybe it's just that I didn't perceive it to be a problem then as I did not have the concepts and any racism went over my head....but I have fond memories of my school days at the girls grammar...I witnessed the mean girls bullying thing, however it was not race based.

In fact, I have experience racism more acutely since I've become a mother, mostly at the school gates.

Clavinova Wed 27-Nov-13 10:01:33

Perhaps I was unclear - by "the Sutton grammars" I meant the grammar schools in the London Borough of Sutton; Nonsuch and Wallington High are girls' schools.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Wed 27-Nov-13 10:03:32

I know some mixed-race children at a couple of the schools in your header, so they can't be unknown and they are very happy and don't stand out in any way. State schools in London have far more black faces than private prep schools, however both are hugely mixed in terms of nationalities represented - dd's prep school about two thirds of the class has at least one non-British parent. Agree that to children these days race is a non issue and I'd be very surprised if your dd was treated differently.

LCHammer Wed 27-Nov-13 10:53:53

Clavinova - you're right, of course. There are quite a few grammar schools in the Borough. I think the OP has made up her mind already to the kind of school she wants her DD in and if doesn't look like state school!

Shootingatpigeons Wed 27-Nov-13 12:09:16

I would totally agree that, from experience, "mean girls" type bullying is far more of a worry than racism. IME these schools have a relatively affluent intake ( though more mixed than many perceive, lots stretching themselves to get a good education for their child, on bursaries etc.) and you do get some girls, especially in the girls' schools, often attention seeking because they are insecure as a result of competitive or self indulgent parents, whose modus operandi is to be exclusive, and body shape and looks, as well as extreme partying, can be a way of excluding. It varies from year to year and school to school, and happens in every school, including St Paul's and NLCS, one thing school and parents can't control are the personal issues and characters of the girls who turn up. My older DD's year was lovely but my younger DDs year at the same school had an extremely disruptive and difficult group of girls, which was as mixed racially as the rest of the school. My DDs friendship group was actually predominantly made up of girls who had grown up in or were from other cultures, since it was made up of girls who sought the friendship of others who had relatively strict parents (by which I mean impose some boundaries eg on not being allowed to go out binge drinking in parks and open spaces from the age of 14) and had been taught that respect for others was important.

Primafacie Wed 27-Nov-13 14:13:12

I have had a look at Wimbledon High School's website and there are no ethnic faces, so I have disregarded this school.

What an absolute load of tosh. How unfortunate that being a Mensa member does not mean you know how to navigate a website.

My DD is mixed race and goes to WHS. I just checked her class list and one third of the girls are non-white. The website has lots of pictures of non white girls. hmm

Needmoresleep Wed 27-Nov-13 15:27:51

Your daughter is far more likely to be identified by where she comes from than her race. I guess from your concerns that you are North American. Really it is not the same over here. That is not to say there are no problems. However London really is a big and diverse city where most kids, even in private schools in affluent south west London, will have at least a grandparent who is not UK born.

Go, see the schools and get a feel for the atmosphere. Much better than counting the number of visible ethnic children on websites.

There may be some adjustment for your daughter coming from a different culture, but that would be the same anywhere. Your daughter should not have too much problem as she should find London children very used to having classmates from all over.

Economic diversity in London's private schools is a different matter. A child from an impoverished background from a nearby inner city estate might find it much harder to settle, whatever their racial background.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 27-Nov-13 22:21:15

This wouldn't be the first time someone has come on these threads from North America and came out with this all Brit Private Schools are racist assumption and then disappeared when their stereotype wasn't confirmed. A common stereotype or the same person lighting the blue touchpaper? hmm

Eastpoint Thu 28-Nov-13 06:40:47

WHS was 25% non white in the late 80s, I don't believe that it is whiter now.

LEH is whiter than NHEHS as there are more people of colour living in Acton, Ealing, Southall etc than in Claygate, Teddington & Hampton. The schools do tend to reflect the nationalities of the people who live in their location. Where I live there are a lot of people from Somalia but their children are not represented in the local private schools, I don't know if that is for financial or political reasons.

Lots of v academic, successful, rich people choose not to send their DCs to private schools as they feel they are socially divisive. Their children tend to do very well, as they would in any school.

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