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Alleyn's or CLSG?

(37 Posts)
whatwouldyouchoose Mon 17-Feb-14 17:16:04

DD is in the wonderful position of having to choose between an academic scholarship at Alleyn's and an offer at CLSG. She loves city, but I am leaning more towards Alleyn's which is close to home and she has the scholarship. Some background: she is academic, doesn't care too much about sport although she enjoys it, enjoys music and doesn't feel to strongly about co-ed or single sex. Any opinions on these 2 schools would be much appreciated.

Needmoresleep Mon 17-Feb-14 17:26:59

One thing to consider is that CLSG has quite a small sixth form and lose girls to the co-eds. Alleyns in contrast takes new students in.

whatwouldyouchoose Mon 17-Feb-14 17:34:39

thanks Needmoresleep. Would you consider a small sixth form a disadvantage (forgive my ignorance - new to this)?

basildonbond Thu 20-Feb-14 06:36:16

Ime a small sixth form is a disadvantage as the school may not be able to offer as wide a range of subjects, also it's much better to have more than 1 or 2 children in a class for less popular subjects as you need other people to bounce ideas off (I did music a-level by myself and it was grim..)

AuntieStella Thu 20-Feb-14 06:39:11

What's the journey time (and resilience of journey) to each?

Do you have strong views on co-ed or single sex? (Guessing not, but worth teasing out any thoughts).

Why does DD prefer CLGS?

whatwouldyouchoose Thu 20-Feb-14 09:37:46

Thank you very much for your replies. DD says she likes CLSG because it's close to the Barbican and Tate Modern (but she's not that passionate about art). I think she just likes the urban environment and the fact that it's a small school so less intimidating. I'm speculating here, but I also have a feeling that she is very proud to have an offer from one of the most academic schools in the country. This year 800 sat the test! The journey is doable in around 40mins (train and one stop on tube).

Huitre Fri 21-Feb-14 20:41:55

If she likes it, let her go. I went to school in an urban environment and loved it. She can always switch for sixth form if she wants to (it's a long way off).

Issiwissiletsgetbusy Sun 23-Feb-14 01:54:35

So glad to see your message as struggling with exactly the same issue- but academic scholarship at Jags and offer from CLSG- my DD also loves CLSG- think it's the environment- the friendliness ( their e mails and management throughout have been amazing) - and the kudos ( not many go there from her state primary). But she also loves jags and seems crazy to turn down scholarship at amazing school. For me the journey is a big issue- I work f/t and can't take her to CLSG on the tube every day? Would u be doing that or do u work near there? They offer a buddy system with other girls in SW11 but can't rely on another girl??? Jags coach service is so easy- door to door...... It's a good problem to have I know / but I'm agonising over it- nice to know we're not alone! Will be keen to hear what u decide and well done to your DD!!! X

basildonbond Sun 23-Feb-14 08:17:44

Plenty of 11 year olds travel to secondary school completely independently so I don't think travelling on the tube by herself should be the deciding factor if it were a shorter trek

However for me, the journey from sw11 to Barbican every day would be too much of a slog, and remember there'll be times when you need to be there for parents' evenings, concerts etc plus the majority of her friends would live nowhere near her making socialising tricky. SW11 is heaving with children heading to the Dulwich schools!

whatwouldyouchoose Sun 23-Feb-14 08:57:52

Issiwwissiletsgetbusy how long would the journey take to CLSG? I wouldn't base my decision on the academic scholarship from JAGS if you and your DD prefer city. After all they tend to be just a token with no real impact on the fees and once they are there, there is no difference in the education whether they have a scholarship or not. Older DCs of friends have been travelling to school from year 7 and they tell me they enjoy the journey, it is a time to socialise. I also know of girls travelling to city and the buddy system works really well. My DD has convinced me and CLSG it is!

Issiwissiletsgetbusy Mon 24-Feb-14 00:58:02

Aaaah- now I'm totally thrown- you're turning down alleyns scholarship? CLSG. Is a great school though..... So hard!!
Journey from SW11 would take about 50 mins and northern line tube early am???
Most SW11 do go to Dulwich area- so easy option- don't want to regret CLSG- - can see I'm going to regret either way - you're lucky to have made decision- I just wish I could either way and be done with it x

meditrina Mon 24-Feb-14 07:20:16

The academic level between Alleyns and CLGS is very similar.

What sport does your DD like to do (big differences between size of site and facilities)? And what co-curricular might she want?

Alleyns is probably the more socially sophisticated school, very arty, drama knocks the spots off just about every other school in Londn.

CLGS, currently fashionable, but not really "known" for anything other than 'being in the City'.

Has she been on the Tube in morning rush hour? His would she get there if any strikes or other disruption on the line?

basildonbond Mon 24-Feb-14 07:52:15

I'm slightly bemused by the implication that going to either Alleyn's or JAGS instead of CLSG would be somehow academically 'slumming' it confused

They're all incredibly hard to get into (Alleyn's this year has wait listed lots of girls who've been offered places everywhere else - inc JAGS and CSLG) and positions in the league tables don't mean that much at this sort of level

50 mins on the northern line in rush hour for an 11 year old girl? Not sure my dd would like to start her day like that - plenty of time for the Misery Line when she's older grin

whatwouldyouchoose Mon 24-Feb-14 09:40:20

Thank you all for taking the trouble to respond you have given me much food for thought. DD is not particularly sporty, she would not miss outdoor space to play football for example. She likes swimming and netball which CLSG provides. She enjoys music, plays 2 instruments and both schools would cater for that. No one in the family feels strongly about co-ed versus single sex so that doesn't help either. The academic scholarship at Alleyn's money wise is not significant. I see the disadvantage of commuting, but then again young people are more resilient and I try to see her in 2-3 years time as an adolescent rather than an 11 year old child. It is a very difficult, almost impossible decision, both schools are fantastic, so in order to get out of this impossible situation, I will take into account what my DD wants (city) and the fact that perhaps the type of girl at city is closer to my DD. I'll be visiting both schools this week and I'm hopeful that things will become clearer.

VQSV Mon 24-Feb-14 11:06:58

Some interesting responses on this thread....which also reveal a little about the "cultural" nuances of difference between the schools (or at least their parents)

Academically: CLSG clearly a (small) notch higher than Alleyn's on virtually any measure you want to consider...but both high achieving schools.
(The only posters seriously disputing this are presumably Alleyn's parents)

I think more important than the slight academic edge is the feel + values of the school.

CLSG was not originally on our list of prospective schools...(we are more north looking at NLCS / SHHS / HBS etc)...but made a late run on the rails after I went to an open day + liked "buzz" of the place.

CLSG is a "destination" school in the sense that it attracts girls from across London in a way that Alleyns / JAGS / SHHS etc don't.
The latter group are excellent schools with a tighter catchment area...but also victim to a lack of cross-London perspective as indicated by some of the comments above.
(i.e. in denial about its real academic standing in an ultra-competitive London market for schools...and prone to a slightly prickly defensive attitude as a result)

I have never heard any CLSG parent boast about its results or even get overly defensive about standing up for the school if someone has a bit of dig about it (too urban / lack of space etc).

The results of the school speak for themselves....and there is a real sense that the girls just roll up their sleeves + get on with things...with impressive results.

As we looked at the school...we liked it more and more...and liked the friendly but no-nonsense atmosphere.

We were potentially faced with a very similar choice between scholarship offer from SHHS (our local "good" independent school which is academically similar to Alleyns in outcomes) and CLSG..with longer commute.
We were definitely edging towards CLSG had not our first choice option come through.

irisha Mon 24-Feb-14 12:16:17

VSVQ, I think some of your points are valid when applied to Alleyn's vs City, but I would disagree when comparing City to JAGS.

Academically, City and JAGS are identical (with JAGS outperforming on some subjects, City on others, similar numbers to Oxbridge, etc). If anything JAGS probably has better teaching/gets more out of its girls as it gets these results with slightly less selective intake (~480 applied to JAGS, 800 to City and no "puzzles/maths" interview at JAGS).

Values/culture similar - both very multicultural and, I assume, socially diverse. I don't know about City but JAGS has 20% of kids on bursaries (which are on average 89% of fees). If anything, JAGS is probably more diverse because it doesn't have concentration of specific ethnic groups (like Jewish/Indian at City, Habs, NLCS).

JAGS has better facilities and fantastic language provision (comparable only to SPGS) with Italian, Japanese and Russian offered. I think SPGS also offers Mandarin but otherwise the language provision is unrivaled.

Yes, JAGS is not a destination school but I would hardly see City as such. City draws from a wider catchment, true, but only due to its geographical position rather than "destination" status. Neither JAGS can be considered a "good local independent" similar to SHHS. In our neck of the woods, good local independents would be the high schools - WHS, PHS, Sutton, Surbiton, Sydenham, Streatham and Clapham, etc depending on where you are.

I think among girls' schools in London, only SPGS can boast being a destination school. I think the probability of people choosing SPGS over any other school in London (incl. City and NLCS) is 95% or so.

For boys, there are more "destination" schools, i.e. SPS, Westminster, KCS.

We are actually agonizing over JAGS vs Alleyn's and are leaning towards the latter due to co-ed aspect, but I know that if I were choosing between CLSG and JAGS it would be a much easier choice, especially if commute were a consideration.

whatwouldyouchoose Mon 24-Feb-14 12:39:07

My DD has an offer from JAGS as well. League tables are important but not the most important aspect for me and we have ruled JAGS out even though it is higher up compared to Alleyn's because it doesn't feel right for her.

VQSV Mon 24-Feb-14 13:19:30

you are perfectly demonstrating the London "local-bubble" effect I referred to in my post.

Yes...of course JAGS is closer to CLSG in academic standards than Alleyn's....but I was responding to a thread titled CLSG vs Alleyn's !!
Therefore I did not discuss JAGS in any detail.

You have nearly fallen off your chair in shock + horror because I have bracketed JAGS in a group with SHHS + Alleyn's.
You have taken offence because JAGS gets better academic results than those two other schools...yes it clearly does...but I included it for geographical reasons as a highly regarded school in a similar part of town.

I agree with a lot of your post, irisha , but I think you are not quite giving CLSG enough credit for its cross-London appeal.
You only have to look at the recent threads on here to see the stretch of CLSG's pulling power:
CLSG vs Alleyn's ??
CLSG vs G&L ??
CLSG from West London ??
etc etc
Of course it is not quite in the same category as SPGS...but I think it is a "destination" school.

I can see that this is a close call for the I would give her the same advice as I gave another poster in one of the numerous CLSG threads I have contributed to:
- Try + speak to Ena Harrop at the Open Day for offer-holders this Wed.
She is the newly appointed Head (currently Director of Studies) and is likely to be running the school for all or nearly all of your daughter's time there.
Not quite sure what matters to you (the other poster was concerned about access to US Universities)...but see if you can pick up any spark that makes the extra-commute seem worthwhile for your daughter.

I'm not sure I will be there...(think we're pretty much decided on school) but if I was...I would be gently probing about recent Oxbridge results....bottom line: last year - good but not great.
A blip ? or part of a wider trend that makes Oxbridge tougher for independent sector vs state sector (big jump in state % intake in recent years at Cambridge).

meditrina Mon 24-Feb-14 13:23:16

CLGS is a currently fashionable choice. It's regularly outperformed by SPGS, NLCS and yes JAGS, but because the transport links to the City are quite different to the areas of London where those 3 are located, it's considered by families in a much wider area. That's simple logistics.

whatwouldyouchoose Mon 24-Feb-14 13:40:50

Thank you VSQV, I do agree that CLSG is a London school and that for me is one of its major advantages over our local schools. At this stage in my DD's life I am looking for the school where she will be happy, motivated to learn and reach her potential.

VQSV Mon 24-Feb-14 14:18:03


How do you define "currently fashionable"?
CLSG has been a popular choice for at least the last 20 or 30 years !!

It was the only London school for girls I had heard of (along with SPGS) before I moved to London...

Even after I had moved to London....and after my daughter was born (and therefore started looking at schools)... I had never heard of JAGS !!

SPGS + NLCS...I will freely admit are consistently at the top of most league-tables (+ believe me... I have collected quite a few) but I can't find one which has JAGS above CLSG.
Most recent Sunday Times one for 2013 has CLSG in 3rd (behind SPGS + NLCS) ...and ahead of Westminster !!
JAGS is in 9th which is a big jump from its ranking of 23rd the year before.
CLSG scores more highly than JAGS on both GCSE + A-levels.

As I indicated in my earlier post...last year maybe not so great for CLSG in terms of Oxbridge...and maybe JAGS did better in this regard (I haven't looked to be honest...because we never considered school)

But things like Oxbridge admissions...I like to look at averages over a few they can jump around a bit year-to-year.
the last table I have for average Oxbridge over a few years puts CLSG slightly ahead but virtually identical with JAGS (literally next to each other in rankings)

Anyway...OP....who we are trying to help...has already said that league tables no big deal for her.

You can cut the irony here with a knife....
I make a post about the cultural differences between CLSG + Alleyns / JAGS etc and how the typical CLSG parent is more relaxed about the "reputation" of the school...and within minutes I have the Dulwich /South London mafia manning the barricades and engaging me in hand to hand combat over league tables etc...

This is exactly the point I was trying to make... all seriousness ...I am sure that JAGS is completely fantastic + you are very lucky to have it down there in Dulwich ...but if I were you I would keep it as a little secret to you don't have too many Londoners from across town trying to get in on the act.

Needmoresleep Mon 24-Feb-14 15:28:50


JAGs is not a South London secret. It is the very long established sister school for Dulwich College. It has a huge catchment. Not many from north of the rivers, but including great swathes of SE and SW post codes and stretching into Kent. The Dulwich school bus system stretches a very long way. Indeed one of my comments would have been that by choosing one of these schools you choose whether you want to discover interesting bits of SE or NE London, because you WILL spend part of your weekends for the next 5-7 years picking your daughter up from friends' houses.

I think OP has the right approach. Both these schools will do well by the right child. CLSG might have a slightly better place in league tables but has a smaller cohort and does not take girls at 3+, so will be more selective. The bright girls at both schools will be just as bright, and probably just as well taught. The choice then comes down to different things, like journey and feel. Our DDs are quite capable of deciding which "feels" best for them, and they are the ones doing the commute.

I can claim to be neutral. DD's prep sent girls to both. DD did not want to apply to either. CLSG was too "concrete", JAGS too "jolly hockey sticks". That was her view and she has been very happy with a different choice. Her friends though are equally happy with their choices, and DD continues to come across girls from both schools as part of her extra-curricular activities, who she gets on with well. They are all lucky to be at outstanding schools.

What is however dangerous is to let children think they are somehow better because they are at a "destination" school. DD knows girls who really think they have to be cleverer because they are at "better" schools. She thinks they are silly. I too sometimes come across women in their 50s who still seem to think they are in some way superior because they did better at 11+. That is really silly. Its a long term game. All you can do is make what you think its the best decision for you child at each stage. And dont worry about other people thoughts or priorities.

Needmoresleep Mon 24-Feb-14 15:38:36

Oh, and Alleyns is in competition with Latymer Upper in its claim to be London's top co-ed. Really, really competitive to get into. However again has entry points at 3+ etc and has extended its sibling policy in recent years, and so is not going have the same results as the very selective 11+ and 13+ schools. My impression has always been that entry is a bit of a lottery, and they they will often prefer the "interesting" child to one who is likely to get straight A*s.

Again DC we know there love it.

All three schools have very different feels. Go with your instincts and you almost certainly wont make a wrong decision.

meditrina Mon 24-Feb-14 16:49:17

For league tables, I usually look at The Independent these days (Times behind firewall, Telegraph has too many omissions). 2012 has JAGs ahead, as do many other years. Being down at 23rd in The Times, as mentioned above, was an aberration (I remember looking a lot in the early 00s (before paywall) and it was usually top 15).

By currently fashionable, I mean that in the last few years it has been increasingly talked about: quite a change since about 2000. That is not incompatible with being a long established school.

irisha Mon 24-Feb-14 17:00:47

League tables are a useful reference to check things quickly, but they all weigh results differently and are just a very rough snapshot of averages.

I would look at GCSEs and A-level by subject, the syllabi/exam boards used for the exams, how many take double science vs triple (because that obviously skews results upwards in sciences, etc), how many subjects kids take, etc. Plus size of the year group, leavers/joiners in sixth form, etc.

I was shocked to discover that at schools like Altrincham Grammar and MGS, for example, a double award science is the standard, not triple. And the former children are only allowed 9 GCSEs. I am not saying it's bad, but the results wouldn't be directly comparable with schools where kids must take triple science and do 10 GCSEs (and allowed to do 11) or where kids must take a GCSE in a creative/practical subject (which is time consuming if not necessarily difficult and for non-creative types would drag the overall average down).

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