The Avenue/Keble or Rhodes Avenue?
Any feedback would be greatly appreciated on the above schools. We have offers from Annemount and Keble and are within the "catchment" for Rhodes Avenue. DC has been assessed by Grimsdell and will be assessed by The Avenue later in the week.
We really didn't warm to the new head of RA and are very hesitant about the class size. Almost every parent we have spoken to with children in the later years have a tutor and I'm left wondering if that explains the discrepancy between the KS1/2 results. We would likely be looking to move into independent at 7+ or 11+ if we did go with our local state school.
I hesitate to go with a pre-prep that doesn't have a follow-on school because surely that leads to hothousing the kids in anticipation of the 7+? At the same time I'm not sure Grimsdell is academic enough? Mill Hill doesn't do particularly well in the league tables which they put down to being less selective but I wonder if that's masking less rigorous teaching standards?
If you want to do the 7+ or 11+ then tutoring will have to be involved, unless you have a genius on your hands. Decide if you're going for 11 or 7 and pick a school that ends at that point so you'll have help from the school. What about Golders Hill?
Tutoring goes on at N London private schools as well as state. Even the most academic.
Class size makes no difference to academics unless it is more that 40 or fewer than 8.
At infants I don't think there is much between state and private. RA offers and easy journey and local friends. Also a high-performing peer group. I would go for that and see how you get on. Places come up at the private schools, certainly at Grimsdell and Avenue, so you can change if you need to. With the hour of travelling you save you can do tutor/kumon. But do stuff at home so that when your child arrives at RA DC is top of the class. Ofsted expects all children to progress so if your child is at the top, they will be expected to stay there and make the same progress as others but from a higher level to a higher level.
One more thought. Is sibling priority an issue at all? Worth checking if it could be an issue.
Interesting- we are having this dilemma too (though our DD doesn't enter school until sept 2017). Initially we wanted a school that went through from 4-18 so looked st Grimsdell. We decided that there's no advantage to an all through school if the said school is just mediocre and so decided against Grimsdell/Mill Hill and will be going with either the Avenue or Annemount (loved them both when we looked round) if our DD doesn't get into one of the more academic north London schools.
I'd rather she was properly prepared at 7+ by going to a school like Annemount or The Avenue
than going to a school like Grimsdell that is at best average academically and doesn't prepare them to go on somewhere better.
That said, Rhodes Avenue has an amazing reputation and if we were in catchment for it might be thinking seriously about that instead.
We did take a tour of Golders Hill but ruled it out as it seemed to be very focused on the 7+ results rather than a more holistic education. Not a word was spoken about creativity or social and emotional development. The kids we saw were almost all sat down looking fairly miserable running through drills. It was only a snapshot and I'm sure some parents are very happy with it but it didn't feel right for us.
RA is a tough call for us. The head is completely unproven and has already had some fairly public conflicts with SEN parents. He also just wasn't very inspiring or warm. The KS1 results should be better than they are considering the demographic of the school intake. Ofsted haven't been in donkey's years and are unlikely to show up because the KS2 results are impressive but that appears to mostly be down to tutoring in the later years. I disagree that class size doesn't matter. It matters hugely for social and emotional development. It only works at such a big size if all the kids are very well behaved and the teacher is very talented. Of the teacher I know who have left teaching in the UK in the last few years the unmanageable size of the class has been one of the most cited reasons. If our only focus was academic achievement then class size does matter less although the research I read shows it does still matter. The conclusion was that the quality of the teacher mattered more. But if I were a good teacher I certainly would choose to teach in a class of 18 rather than 30. But we very much would like to be a part of the local community and have local friends.
The Avenue seems to be fairly over subscribed so I don't think places come up there often. Grimsdell does seem to be the least oversubscribed and I do the see the point of why pay for a mediocre education but I'm not sure it is mediocre. They have a much broader intake than say Highgate which is incredibly selective. It's not all that impressive to get top results when all you take are the cream of the crop. Grimsdell did impress us in their approach to early learning and was very low pressure for the kids. But you can hide poor academics behind a facade of valuing "the whole child". I find this school the hardest to judge. One of our friends sent their DC to St. Pauls and on reflection she reckons she would have considered Mill Hill because the pressure would have been far less and many of the boys in her DC's class have had mental health issues from the pressure. It also gives the DC a chance to be in with a wider group of children which I don't think is a bad thing.
I think we have narrowed it down to trying RA with an eye to doing the 7+ and having a better understanding of DCs personality/ability or if RA really doesn't suit then moving DC to Grimsdell midyear and putting up with the commute. Or going with Annemount if we do a preprep solely because they get the better of the results between The Avenue and Annemount.
Would love to hear other people's thought process as well.
I didn't know that Annemount got better results than the Avenue-that's food for thought. Annemount is very close to us- as is the Avenue but as Annemount is in a residential area without queueing traffic on the Archway road, it would be a far shorter commute. I also loved the headmistress there- though I know she's not everyone's cup of tea! She inspired confidence and I think my DD would fit in well at Annemount. I also loved the small classes and inspiring teachers at the Avenue but as Annemount assesses in October and offers in the November prior to entry- whereas the Avenue is January- we'd probably only do the assessment at the Avenue if we had no offer from Annemount.
Re Grimsdell- I think it depends on what your child is like academically postman. Are they bright enough to get into a highly selective school like Highgate? If so, I think they'd be bored at Grimsdell. I know several people who's dcs go to Grimsdell because they didn't get in to any
of the more selective schools- and they find it a nice nurturing environment. I agree that they achieve lower standards because they are less selective and there is a market for that- but if my DD was capable of more i'd want a more academically stimulating environment where she was challenged. That's just my personal opinion though
This comments says a lot:
But if I were a good teacher I certainly would choose to teach in a class of 18 rather than 30.
Luckily, there are many excellent teachers who are prepared to brave the horrors of a class of 30. Poor, brave souls.
You have clearly already decided state schooling is not for you. Don't send your dc to Rhodes Avenue. Another local family will be only too delighted to take the place.
Don't write off the Avenue. I know a few great families who have been very pleased with it. Friendly parents and nicely mannered children. I think places do come up - on the website there is lots of info about leavers from each year, so presumably there are spaces to fill.
I would really dislike the commutes you're suggesting. But that is personal preference.
Maybe ask RA about how many adults there are in the classroom. Teacher, TA, student, nursery nurse, parent rota can add up. Also, how did they get on in the phonics tests?
Finally, maybe take a look at the education endowment fund website as it has details of some good research about what actually make a difference to educational outcomes.
We did take a tour of Golders Hill but ruled it out as it seemed to be very focused on the 7+ results rather than a more holistic education
the only one that is honest then! Every pre-prep focuses on the 7+ from reception onwards. they all hot-house as their future intake depends on their results. some are more honest about it than others.
I'd also add that the point of a pre prep that goes up to 7 is to prepare the child to get into the best school for them at age 7 and give them the best opportunity to get into a good selective school of that's what they are looking for. As a pp said, all pre preps will be "pushy" to some degree as their reputation depends on their results to a large extent.
I wouldn't personally put a child in a pre prep if you want a low pressure education- better off going with somewhere like Grimsdell from the start?
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