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Habs Girls

(72 Posts)
taliach Mon 15-Feb-10 11:01:32

Hoping someone can offer some opinions.

We have been offered a place at Habs girls at 5+ but I keep hearing how pressured the school is. On discussion though, this turns out to be "what people say" rather than direct knowledge.

I've toured it and it didn't seem like that to me - certainly not in comparison to NLCS for instance. ie, no homework in year 5, lots of learning thru play, etc

Does anyone have a daughter at the school who can give me any background? We have places on offer elsewhere but we really like this school - we just want to make sure they'll take care of DD there as well as teach her!


taliach Mon 15-Feb-10 11:02:21

Sorry that should have been no homework in year 1!

WinkyWinkola Mon 15-Feb-10 11:03:22

I have a friend who went to Habs and then Oxford. She got a 2:1 from Oxford. She said it took her three years to feel ok about herself again after getting that result.

taliach Mon 15-Feb-10 11:07:04

Thanks Winky - how long ago was that?

frakkinaround Mon 15-Feb-10 11:34:16

I second winky. They've never forgiven me for turning down a place at Cambridge to do Land Economy in favour of reapplying elsewhere to read Music. Needless to say they do't invite me back to speak at Careers Evenings! It's not as pressured academically as NLCS but it's a different sort of pressure. Whatever you do you are expected to excel at. Everyone there is good at something, whether that is music, sport or art AS WELL AS doing well academically.

Pastoral care in the upper school is lacking, to say the least. If you have a problem they come down on your like a ton of brick, whicn make you pull your socks up but can absolutely crush you. You need to be drive, competitive and bright to succeed there. If you are, you will love it, if not, you will hate it. If you are bright but lazy it's very good for you but your school years won't be happy (self included).

It will give her a brilliant education, there is absolutely no doubt about that, but it won't necessarily make her a nice person. If she has enough backbone to stick her fingers up to them and really follow her heart then she'll do well, but it's difficult to judge that when she's so little!

I've pasted below a previous post on a Habs thread for an 11+ choice:

I am ex-Habs. I hated it HOWEVER the headmistress has now changed (I left 2004). You need to be very clever, witty, good at sport, art or music (preferably all three) and willing to turn your hand to anything. It was very cliquey, competitive and more than a little bitchy. There are massive divides between forms, A vs Alpha vs Aleph vs Aesc (vs Aske if you're a 5 form intake) and forms used to be chosen using your geographical area so you never really made friends outside your own form. In addition to that heaven forbid you don't do what the school want you to, especially regarding university in sixth form...

Having said that you were forced to have a very well rounded education and learn to cope in social situations where you'd rather be a million miles away. If I have any daughters they won't be going there although the teaching was excellent and the facilities are superb. I also think a lot of ex-Habs girls have a bit of a superiority complex.

frakkinaround Mon 15-Feb-10 11:36:27

About a year ago I was more mature about it though!

Post from 14/2/09

rinol: for senior school I think I just didn't thrive in the bigger environment, the way of splitting the classes meant I was separated from a lot of my friends and didn't make new ones easily. I wasn't pretty or particularly witty, I was young for my year and very clever (I was also a scholarship girl) but socially inept. I found it very cliquey and bitchy as I got older, and everyone I know who says it wasn't like that subsequently turns out to have been part of a clique. There isn't much room for an 'outsider' at Habs - you do have to conform to fit in but I think in the senior school there is also the need to have something that makes you stand out in addition to being academically able: music, art, sport, social butterfly....

I think changing schools at 11 would have been healthier for me, because I sort of expected it to be just the same and it really wasn't, but I know people who thrived. I just wished someone had picked up on my problems making friends in Lower IV! And I should have changed for VIth form when I realised I really wasn't happy. Having said that I got an excellent, very rounded, very solid (yes conventional but good foundation!) education. A gap year sorted my social "ishoos" out and I'm now able to benefit from my time there, but I wasn't happy at the time.

WinkyWinkola Mon 15-Feb-10 12:20:28

My friend left Habs in 1996 so yonks ago. Her daughter is definitely not going there, she said.

frakkinaround Mon 15-Feb-10 12:23:58

Funny. So many Habs girls, lots of here, wouldn't send their children there!

SexistDinner Mon 15-Feb-10 12:24:58

Tallach. I think ghe pastoral care at Habs is excellent, ESP in their pre prep and prep depts. I have quite a few friends who send their girls there (currently) and they are all v pleased with it.

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 15-Feb-10 12:57:30

How strange to see this thread. I know an ex-Habs girl - incredibly bright and outgoing - and she hates her alma mater with a vengeance. Same thing - felt she was never 'good enough' and lost all confidence. She felt that the ethos (1980s, mind) was that if you weren't the best you weren't good enough. Whenever anyone asks her about Habs and would she recommend she gives a resounding 'no'

frankie3 Mon 15-Feb-10 13:04:09

I am ex habs - would also not send a DS there even if could afford it. It is not healthy to have your whole life just focused on achieving excellence, coming second is seen as complete failure, and sets up girls to not be able to cope with the real world where not everything goes like clockwork.

SexistDinner Mon 15-Feb-10 13:16:54

I suspect you wouldn't want to send your child to an 80s comp either? And if you'd failed to do well, you'd probably have a few more pressing issues to vex you, as opposed to shuddering about your £££ alma mater.

I honestly think the pastoral care is better at all schools compared with the 70s and 80s.

SexistDinner Mon 15-Feb-10 13:18:22

I suspect you wouldn't want to send your child to an 80s comp either? And if you'd failed to do well, you'd probably have a few more pressing issues to vex you, as opposed to shuddering about your £££ alma mater.

I honestly think the pastoral care is better at all schools compared with the 70s and 80s.

mnistooaddictive Mon 15-Feb-10 14:05:53

sexist dinner - I went to an 80s comp and loved it and yes was very successful.

GrungeBlobPrimpants Mon 15-Feb-10 14:16:03

As the term 80s comp includes everything from something like Grange Hill to recent ex-grammars and include around 90% of schools, you can't exactly generalise

Habs is a single school and does seem to produce a particular aversion in its ex-pupils as evidenced on mnet and rl

Swedesy Mon 15-Feb-10 14:23:27

I don't think there's any point comparing adults' experience of a particular school with it's current day version. It will be v v different won't it?

taliach Mon 15-Feb-10 16:09:32

Hi all,

Thanks for the opinions.

Yes - its present day experiences I was really looking for though ta to all the old girls..

frakkinaround Mon 15-Feb-10 17:45:54

If it didn't change between the 1980s and 2004 it's unlikely to have changed now. My brother's friend's younger sister (with me?) is leaving for 6th form. The junior school I loved and had no problems with but the senior school was a very different story, probably mostly down to the lack of pastoral support. My sister nearly died when I was there, I was in bits and probably acted out a bit, their answer was to drag my mother in for a talk about how she wasn't keeping control of me, I was a delinquent (but a bright one so they wouldn't expel me) and I needed to pull my socks up and do my homework. That member of staff is still there and in a more senior role. But hey! I got into Cambridge and have a folder full of certificates so I look good on paper.

OP if you do send your DD there then I really, really urge you to re-evaluate at 11 and 16. The ethos of excellence doesn't suit every child, that ethos isn't going to change and it's not worth getting unhappy over. You asked about pastoral support so I'm being honest. It's not a failing you will notice until it's too late. If you have no problems and the right mindset you'll sail through.

Also be aware that anything you do should be done through school. Competitive gymnast, not through school, not interested. National youth orchestra, not learning at school, not interested. Award winning young poet, not entered by school, not interested. Never present them with a fait accompli!

Litchick Tue 16-Feb-10 09:00:48

The Headmaster at DCs prep describes Habs as an excellent education, but not for the faint hearted.

Girls are expected to be extremely clever and hardworking. The pace is brutal.Expectations are high.

But I know girls there who love it. They thrive on the challenge and are super-confident.

This applies to 11+ though. Don't know much about the prep. Can't imagine it can be that tough for littlies.

Builde Tue 16-Feb-10 09:22:26

Sounds a bit like Cambridge University; you have to be clever, confident and committed! If you're not all three it's a struggle.

However, Cambridge is a choice that a student makes (not a parent) and most of us who went there knew what we were in for!

shergar Tue 16-Feb-10 12:26:45

I'm an ex-Habs girl and I would send my daughter there in a heartbeat (she will be trying for it, and St. Albans Girls, aged 11 - she's at our lovely local primary at the moment but if I lived closer and didn't have an Outstanding primary I would certainly have considered it at that age). I was very happy at HABS, but was an academic high flier and coasting along nicely there with no problems. I loved the resources and the grounds, and found the teachers friendly and supportive. I made some great friends, and no-one was having any kind of nervous breakdown etc. in my day....admittedly I did leave in 1990 and things could be different now.

Miggsie Tue 16-Feb-10 18:15:45

I met someone going round a private girl's school on open day, we got chatting.

He said, he went to Habs and wouldn't send his daughter there over his dead body.

He hated it.

He was a high flyer but he still hated the school. He kept saying "is this school an academic sausage machine?..I don't want that for my daughter"

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Tue 16-Feb-10 18:50:24

Why was he going round it?

MrsGuyOfGisbourne Tue 16-Feb-10 18:51:08

Sorry - misunderstood blush going round a different one...

stressed2007 Tue 16-Feb-10 20:59:38

Just wanted to add that friends of ours have a 7 year old there (she joined at 5+) and she absolutely loves it and the parents can't speak highly enough of it. Obviously this is not the senior school though on which I have heard nothing. I am not sure there is much point sending to prep if the intention is not to keep the child at the school until 18.

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