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Harrodian or Merlin or ?

(23 Posts)
gilson Sat 22-Oct-16 13:38:33

Does anyone have any advice at all to offer on choosing Harrodian vs Merlin for 4+?

We have a confirmed place for DS at Harrodian, at the Merlin and another pre-prep for Reception 2017 and need to decide now - very torn!

Thank you very much smile

lampshady Sat 22-Oct-16 13:39:37

Oh thank goodness, I thought you'd meant to post on baby names.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 22-Oct-16 13:42:48

I had exactly the same reaction, never having heard of either of these schools. For what's worth I think Merlin IS on balance not quite such a splendid name for a boy as Harrodian. Imagine calling that out in the park! "Harrodian! Come and have your sushi now darling!" Up there with Ptolemy.

Biscuitsneeded Sat 22-Oct-16 13:43:12

Sorry OP, I know that's not helpful.

Avebury Sun 23-Oct-16 20:29:50

Which is the easiest journey for you? For what it's worth I have a friend whose DD left Merlin last year and she was less than happy by the end and felt badly advised as to where to go next.

FernetBranca Sun 23-Oct-16 20:59:15

Hmm. Merlin is quite marmite-y. Do a search on here as there are several threads on it.

Where do you live and why were they your two choices? (Put another way, I think there are other choices in the area that are good but it depends on where your "area" is).

BoinkAlongQuietly Sun 23-Oct-16 21:04:57

What are you looking for in a school? They are 2 very different schools.

gilson Sun 23-Oct-16 22:35:50

Ha lampshady and Biscuits, names...! I've heard stranger...

Interesting Avebury. We are in Barnes. I know there were other choices but at this point facing entry next year not sure all are open as many need to be done at birth. Did both Harrodian and Merlin last year; we moved back to London unexpectedly. Harrodian had an assessment last month.

Although for youngest, DC3, (11 months) we could explore elsewhere esp as she is DD and Merlin especially more set up for boys.

Fernet, Boink, we are looking for something nurturing but academic. Horribly broad yes. Love the 'space and grace' that Harrodian was founded to provide, its setting and feel but still such a bad rep for non-academia despite improvements. And if we wanted the DCs to leave there at 7/8 to go elsewhere - St Paul's, KCS, Latymer - there would be little help from the school or course as a 'through' school not a prep.

But despite its reputation there must be plenty of children who do go to Harrodian and leave for somewhere more academic at 7/8/11.
My feeling is that the showbizzy/overly relaxed rep is from the older children and not the younger (still not necessarily fair) but it's still hard to ignore...
Do you know anything about Merlin and/or Harrodian?

Avebury Sun 23-Oct-16 22:58:47

IPS also has green space but is much more academic these days. Lots from Barnes go there.

gilson Sun 23-Oct-16 23:04:33

We visited IPS fully prepared to register DCs - family friends and friends have been there and loved it - but just did not appeal at all when actually there, strange... and the member of staff who took the tour was also not so impressive. A shame because we had high hopes and yes, love the setting but just didn't gel for us.

TawnyPippit Mon 24-Oct-16 10:04:13

I think you need to have a bit of a realistic think about what you want to do at 11 and work back. For Latymer Upper, for example, 11 is the main entry point (also Hampton), and KCS now has a sizeable 11/Y7 entry. If you are doing "good London day schools", 11 is the main entry point for most in this area. So if you are looking at moving at 11 I'm not sure I would be looking at a pre-prep and changing at 7 unless you are looking for a through school from 7. And if you change at 7 you will be lucky to get a place at one of the standard preps, so going to Merlin is pushing you to a different route.

I would also counsel (gently) to keep your options open as setting your sights on KCS/St Paul's when your DC are small is a bit lop-sided. My own view would be to look for a school that prepares very well at 11, when you enter into the SW London melting-pot of the exam entrance. You live in an area with an outstanding amount of choice. Sure its a bit grim doing the entrance exams (although there is lots of help and support on here!) but there is a very real up-side which is that at 11 you get an opportunity to find schools that absolutely fit the child you have at 11, when they are a bit more of a formed entity.

FWIW the school that suited my children was in no way the one I would have guessed at 4, 6 or 8.

jeanne16 Tue 25-Oct-16 10:55:07

Don't underestimate the stress of doing the 7+ exams from a school such as the Merlin. You will be surrounded by parents who are utterly intent on getting their DCs into St Pauls and KCS. Anything less will be considered a failure. They will be being tutored daily for these exams from Y1, though no one will admit to this. The regular coffee mornings will be spent trying to suss out the competition. Your child will be invited for play dates so they can check what reading level and spellings they are on.

I went through all this with my first DC and would return home each day hyper ventilating! At least at the 11+, there are more schools so it doesn't feel as bad.

moomoo222 Tue 25-Oct-16 10:59:12

Another one thinking 'blimey' as thought you were posting in baby names!!
(yes missing point entirely, but thank goodness you aren't!) grin

BoinkAlongQuietly Tue 25-Oct-16 11:38:26

Jesus, jeanne that's not been out experience at all. Tutoring depends on the child. Aspiration depends on the child. I've never met anyone at Merlin or at Harrodian who would view their peers as "the competition" confused

TawnyPippit Tue 25-Oct-16 13:33:12

No, at 7 tutoring and aspiration depends solely on the parent IMO. The child may be more or less malleable, but it is the parent making the decisions and calling the shots.

I've had DC at a school in the area, albeit one that didn't prepare for 7+, so I didn't really see any of that. But I think as a wider comment I would still say the same things, which is that if you leave it until 11 you have a much clearer idea of where will suit your child, where they are likely to get in, and a wider range of schools to apply for.

gilson Wed 26-Oct-16 00:06:57

Thank you everyone, so helpful.

Tawny, you are right of course that need to keep options open. Nothing worse than a parent of preschoolers breathless with London day school ambition! And completely agree that I have no idea what our DCs will turn out to be, regardless of my and DH’s education. To be frank that kind of thing makes me queasy.

I’m not sure about aiming solely for the 11+ though. To do that esp for boys is to disregard all the great pre-preps and preps which are set up for 7/8+ then 13+ and also to ‘leave it late’, if that doesn’t sound ridiculous, because by then not only are there more applicants for fewer places but there are fewer entry points ahead?

And not to keep returning to the same old names but isn't the 11+ at St Paul’s and Westminster is intended for state school applicants, rightly as their schools finish at 11.

Totally agree the 7/8+ is not ideal. But then if they DO pass that and get into one of the day schools that’s the main hurdle out of the way and the hurdle is certainly gentler at 7/8+ even if the principle of testing children that age is not ideal.
I am probably slightly skewed by my two DBs’ experience of 7/8+ then St Paul’s / Westminster even though years ago.

jeanne, that sounds horrific! From the Merlin and Harrodian parents I know that doesn’t yet sound possible so I can only hope it stays that way…

Interestingly like many schools Merlin is outwardly very damning about tutors but of course as a non-selective school achieving very impressive results in terms of leavers there must be some acceptance (however reluctant) that it does contribute.

gilson Wed 26-Oct-16 00:08:27

And Boink, reassuring to hear that about the parents at both schools! smile

Lamplightlady Wed 26-Oct-16 11:54:20

With kids under the age of 10, strikes me that next school, is of course, almost entirely about the parent's wishes and we have many many friends with a [insert name of super selective] or die -attitude. They work hard to pay for it. They work hard to get it. Jeanne16's description is our experience of this school community and others in this type of area. One may choose not to see it and remain immune (a very healthy attitude) but whether it is the 'we don't tutor" boasts from parent who have been at it systematically at the kitchen table from birth or the hidden and not so hidden cottage industry of Friday night / weekend tutoring that is part of the Big Schools Game, the schools surely know all about it. They can't control it. But I perosnally think it would be a positive step in supporting kid's mental health if schools were more transparent About it. And for what its worth, after hearing ecstatic reviews, turns out Merlin didnt work for my son. So we moved him.

BoinkAlongQuietly Wed 26-Oct-16 12:23:14

There was no stealth tutoring in our group, confused that's just bizarre. We talked a lot about tutoring and who to use, shared time slots, we did rotas to drive DC to the exams and shared the exam results openly. We knew who sat 10+, who got scholarships, and who had to "work hard" to get into which schools and which parents didn't press the academic slant because they knew their children weren't strong academically.

I did see one parent who was pretty obsessed with King's (from Merlin) but whose son just wasn't cut out for it, she was disappointed (which I think is ridiculous) but he couldn't get in, what could she do about it? He was tutored for years, sat the 2 entrance exams, dodging get a place, and she finally let go and He is happy elsewhere. But she was a completely status obsessed person and deeply unpleasant to be around in general.

BoinkAlongQuietly Wed 26-Oct-16 12:24:06

Didn't get a place, even.

timeforachangeofusername Wed 26-Oct-16 14:56:45

Love this thread! I think it's tricky to work out at 4 which school is right for your kid so i would pick the one which is the closest. Having had kids at five different SW London schools, I thought I had a pretty rough idea what goes on to get a kid into a super-competitive school.

(My impression was that parents either tutor themselves by ensuring their kids do something little and often or they suddenly are worried they haven't prepared their kid enough and do some tutoring once a week (or both!). Tutoring daily - never heard of it. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen but I would be surprised if it is common practice.)

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 26-Oct-16 17:50:53

A Friend's DD is at Harrodian and she goes out with DS's group sometimes, DS's friends at the "top" academic boys schools aways gave her a bit of stick about it not being uber academic. They've shut up since she got better GCSEs than most of them. Yes Harrodian has a broader intake but that doesn't mean that bright DCs don't do well there and if you have a DC who likes to shine it could be perfect. Conversely. if you end up with a bright DC who needs to be pushed and will happily sit in the middle it may not be.

With regards to tutoring, DS went to a very academic prep and I would be surprised if more than 3 boys from his prep were tutored Maths or English for school entrance exams. And I have never heard of anyone tutoring VR/NVR because the school was so against it. I can see the point in tutoring if a DC is borderline for a school and an older sibling is there, or it is preferred for another reason like locality but I think for 13+ entrance when there is a confidential HT report there's little point tutoring to convince a senior school that your DC is a genius if the prep school report says they are not.

mumonahottinroof Fri 28-Oct-16 11:09:35

I know lots of parents with kids at Harrodian who are very happy and doing well. It does have a super-rich reputation but there aren't many (any?) central London schools without that rep now.

If you send your children there and like it they can stay until 18, which will save you a lot of grief when it comes to entrance exams. However, if you are intent on 7+ you will have to prepare your child yourself or use a tutor.

I sent my dc to a state primary, did some work with them myself for 7+ (not masses because neither would have stood for it and no tutor because the couple I looked at weren't very inspiring) and they got in to a selective prep then. I'm glad it worked out that way because the parents whose children had been at pre-preps told me the competition and stress around the exam was nightmarish.

And I've have been annoyed to have sent them to a private prep and then had to prepare them for 7+ on top of the fees.

There are lots of great state primaries in Barnes and they all send kids regularly to selective preps, so maybe that is a third option. I'd also add that given how entitled some children are at my dcs' private schools I'm glad my children at least had a brief period in the state system.

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