Help needed! Independent primary school -- King's or St. John's?

(15 Posts)
Watermelon123 Fri 03-Mar-17 12:46:11

We have been looking at different independent schools in the area. We like King's and St. John's, but the problem is that these two schools seem very similar to us. We got the feeling that King's might be better with music, St John's seem to have better test results?

DS is 3, a little shy. we would prefer a relaxed school with supportive staff. He enjoys music and sports, too early to tell if he will be academic. Does anyone know which school offers more activities? I heard some of the children from nursery are reading and writing already, DS is definitely not there yet. Which school is more willing to help kids that are slightly behind?

We heard the headmaster at King's is leaving, any idea who the new head will be?

Any of your comments/thoughts are greatly appreciated! If you were in the same situation, please let me know why you chose one over the other:-)

orchardy Fri 03-Mar-17 21:39:58

Oh bless him, he's 3, he's not 'slightly behind'. If you really want a private school but you want a more relaxed approach then you
might be better off with Sancton Wood or the Heritage. Or St Faith's might be a good middle ground option? Just go with the school you like best - they'll tell you if they don't feel it's right for your son but you shouldn't feel intimidated by them. (And I should confess here that I don't have personal experience of any of them as my DC are both happy in the state sector. DC have encountered children from both schools in extra-curricular activities, and they are diverse as they would be in any school - bright, not-so-bright, confident, shy, polite, bad-mannered, musical, can't sing a note and so on!!)

Watermelon123 Sat 04-Mar-17 12:23:11

Thank you for the information. We have visited St. Faith and Heritage, both are nice but we still prefer Kings and Johns. I don't mean to compare my boy with others, I just want him to feel happy at school. I know for sure I was not able to read or write at 3 grin

Cammumm Sat 04-Mar-17 18:16:34

Kings and St John's are both a bit selective academically, but I very much doubt many of their 3 year olds can read and write! St John's seems to me to have a good balance of academic focus, whilst also catering for a reasonable spread of ability and with fun stuff as well. They set by ability in the Juniors at least. And for sports day they do a nice thing where they pre-select the kids into groups so they're completing with kids of a similar ability so all have a chance to win their races. I know they'll also arrange extra support if you want to pay for it for a struggling child.

I don't know much about Kings I'm afraid to compare. Both schools are big on music with a number of boarding choirists, and most of the kids learning an instrument.

Watermelon123 Sat 04-Mar-17 20:35:44

Sounds like St. John's would be a great choice for DS. As for music, do you know about when they encourage children to pick up an instrument? DS enjoys music but we haven't started anything yet. Thank yousmile

Confusedbuthappy Sat 04-Mar-17 23:03:53

John's is a lovely school - new head recently so time will tell if its ethos will change. As the Head of Kings is retiring I would expect some staff to move on from the school at the same time or quite quickly after which is natural and not automatically an indication of unhappiness from exciting staff. At Johns only the bright children are allowed to learn an instrument before Year 3. Certainly at aged three/four it would just be about music appreciation. It is quite academic, but not scarily so. Lovely school, very supportive. My understanding is that Kings is more 'traditional' in some ways, though I have friends whose children go there and are very happy. Basically you're in a win-win situation. Both schools are excellent, so whichever you choose I'm sure your son will be happy. Exciting times!

Cammumm Sat 04-Mar-17 23:13:08

I think the age to start an instrument depends what instrument they want to play. Piano and violin can be started very young (4/5ish, though many start later) But wind instruments or brass need bigger hands and more puff so wouldn't be started til she 8+ usually. I'm quite sure they won't be expecting your 3 year old to be learning anything just yet smile

Watermelon123 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:09:22

Confusedbuthappy and Cammumm,

Yes I agree. We got the same impression with King's, it seems more old-fashioned. St. John's on the other side, appears pretty morden. To be honest, we are fine with either -- and that's exactly why we are struggling to make a choice..
How is the sports at Johns? DS is active, Kings has more green space but Johns indoor swimming pool looks nice.. Is there a dinning room at the junior side of Johns? I don't remember seeing one.

I assume both of you are happy johns parents, can you share why you picked John's for your kids? Many thanks.

Cammumm Mon 06-Mar-17 21:56:06

It was my DSC who went to St John's, so I wasn't involved in choosing it. Youngest has just left. I think DH and his ex were keen partly because they guaranteed to take younger siblings if they accepted your eldest, which was important to them.

I'm afraid I can only really give you my impression of the sport provision from the standpoint of distinctly unsporty kids, who's main priority was to avoid all competitive sports as much as possible, especially rugby grin I know they do have all the usual sports teams that compete with the other local (ish) independent schools. My DSC did enjoy the swimming pool though and all became good swimmers. They did some fun outdoorsy stuff too which they enjoyed. (bushcraft, trips, etc)

Watermelon123 Tue 07-Mar-17 11:10:53


Very helpful information. I don't know if DS will be sporty, he's happy to just run around the field now grin. Choosing a school would be much easier if we have a clearer picture of what he's good at. Do they have any professional coaches at Johns? I know there is a full time tennis coach at kings.
Btw, do you think the school does a good job preparing all the kids (not just the brightest) for senior school?

Cammumm Tue 07-Mar-17 17:54:42

I'm not sure about professional coaches, though sports teachers effectively are professionals really aren't they? I mean I think kings might be overegging the difference tbh. (Unless they mean that talented kids get proper one to one or very small group coaching, that would be different from a whole class sports lesson)

I think St John's do seem to do a pretty good job of prepping kids for entrance exams, as long as you're planning a 13+ transfer - there's not much help for 11+ transfers, though I'd guess that would be the case with most standard prep schools that take to 13, as they don't really want to lose kids earlier. The final year is certainly very much geared around entrance exams. They find out where they all intend to apply, offer advice as to whether that's realistic, suggest back ups, etc. Then they lay on special classes for all the main local school entrance papers and common entrance, and give them lots of practice papers. Then give them half a term of fun stuff (trips, drama production, etc) at the end of it all. I'd guess most prep schools would have a similar approach but don't really know how kings compares

BikeRider33 Wed 08-Mar-17 09:18:13

I have heard that Kings have been struggling for the last few years to get children in to the Perse at year 9. Obviously they have got some in, but perhaps not the numbers they expected previously or all who wanted to go. St Johns don't seem to have had this problem. It might be worth asking about leavers destinations and if these are the first choice schools (as clearly everyone moves on somewhere).

It maybe that people are attributing people's school choices to failing, when in fact parents have made a positive choice to pick a different school - in cases where for example a younger sibling has sat the Perse year 9 test and then gone somewhere else - but it might be something to check.

Cammumm Wed 08-Mar-17 16:37:20

I've heard that both John's and Kings have had trouble getting kids into the Perse lately, but think that's probably more to do with it having got more competitive since it went co-ed, especially for boys. It should be better by the time the OP's son is that age though as the Perse girls will be fully mixed by then giving more choice for boys. Could ask the schools for data on who went where but it could be hard to interpret without knowing where it was they all wanted to go.

HereIAm20 Wed 08-Mar-17 20:34:55

The problem with getting into Perse is not to do with girls being taken in but to do with people applying from further afield and the rise of Astra Zeneca and families with clever kids coming in from out of area to fill jobs there. Kings - as far as I know - only had 6 or so accepted into this years yr 9 entry down from 20 2 years back. Happy to be corrected if not the case.

mastertomsmum Wed 15-Mar-17 13:51:11

Kings can often find a place after a bit the waiting list system works well. Johns gets very good feedback also.

The sportiness of the school might suit him at St Faith's but they focus on can you do your coat up and friendships more than academic which is ultimately not much use.

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