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Nurseries and North London Collegiate

(69 Posts)
tlat Sun 22-May-11 18:27:17

HI, It's just been suggested to me that I need to start thinking about nurseries for DD! DH and I are quite keen for her to go on to NLC at 4+ as she has a cousin there who loves it and we have heard nice things from her parents about the school, plus it's soo close to us. I think I read somewhere on mumsnet about NLC having some feeder nurseries, not officially but just where a lot of the girls attended? Do any of you ladies know which these are? Thanks so much for all your help in advance!

horsemadmom Mon 23-May-11 01:21:02

NLCS has no feeder nurseries. Look for a nursery that seems busy and happy. They are not required to be reading at 4+(my DD was one of only a handful who could). But, your DD should know her letters and be able to pick out a tag with her name on it. She should be able to count and recognise colours. Cut with scissors, hop on one foot, catch a ball. Now the important stuff. DD should have the concentration to listen to a story and answer questions about it. A good nursery will teach these things. Just remember, how ever much you like the school, it may not be right for your DD at 4+ or ever. They only take the top 2% of ability range. There are lots of great schools and you should look around at all your options. The 4+ assessment is a very good predictor of who will do well there and very few girls leave who come in at 4 but, not every child is ready. Think about 7+ and 11 as well.

hampsteadmum Mon 23-May-11 12:33:43

Exactly what horsemum said. However Mulberry House in West Hampstead does tend to send quite a few girls to NLCS at 4+. On average 8-10 per year. That said, most of these girls are September - November born. Older girls tend to perform better at these assements. You will not find many spring-summer born girls making the cut at 4+ at NLCS.

horsemadmom Mon 23-May-11 15:11:48

As the mum of an NLCS girl and one of those smiley people at the assessments who shovel coffee and biscuits down parents' throats, I can tell you that they actually take age into account. The groupings are by birthday. for example, you will have an assessment day where only July and August girls are seen. They make sure that there is a spread of ages across the year and they are comparing similar developmental profiles.. My July born daughter (who was assessed at 3 1/2) is proof and just looking back over her old class list, there were 5 June-August girls.

Hi Hampsteadmum,
Mulberry isn't much good for tiat as she is very close to NLCS. Mulberry's results may have been a fluke. DD's assessment group (we got very chatty) was all July and August and 3 were accepted- including an August 31st.

tlat Mon 23-May-11 16:05:18

Thanks Hampstedmum and horsemadmum, I take your points, if she isn't ready at 4+ then I rather try her again later then have her stressed out about catching up to the rest of the class, but I don't want it to be cause I didn't give her the best chance by sending her to a decent nursery. I have heard some horrible stories or nurseries just parking kids in front of the TV or doing random activites just to pass time before it is time to go home.

i think Mulberry house did come up during my google search and it looks lovely, but it is a little far for . We are in Harrow and most that i found that I found were Hampstead way =(

Horsemadmum, you must be very proud of your bright daughter! Which nursery did she go to?

Dozer Mon 23-May-11 17:03:19

LOL at "they only take the top 2% of ability range"!

Like they can tell at 4!

horsemadmom Mon 23-May-11 22:53:54

H Dozer,
Yes they can.

My daughter went to Hampstead Hill. Not much good for you, I'm afraid. Where did your niece /cousin go? You can root out the inappropriate nurseries near you by seeing them in action. I rejected one because they spent a whole week talking about the colour 'red' and encouraged 'emergent writing'. DD would have been bored rigid. Beware of any nursery with 'self directed play'. This means wandering aimlessly and never sticking to an activity long enough to learn anything. You can do that crap at home with a bucket of water and the contents of your pot cupboard without paying a penny. Any nursery that does not do one-to-one reading readiness would also have failed my test. A good balance of imaginative play and structured, purposeful learning is good. Oh, rejected another because I asked where the children went after and they all seemed to be going to our worst local primary.
BTW, my DD is very normal at NLCS. She was very early learning to read but ALL of the girls were reading fluently by the end of the first term. They are looking for that curious, teachable girl who asks a million irritating questions and a billion infuriating follow up ones. My DD and her mates were exasperating and hysterically funny. A big vocabulary and a sense of humour are a big plus. Not too many drippy wallflowers there. I always think that the daughter in Outnumbered would make a great NLCS girl.

Funny story-
At the assessment, my DD and two other girls (different nurseries, never met before, don't live anywhere near each other) gravitated to the picture books on the coffee table in the waiting room. They began to make up a story together and were laughing themselves silly until they were peeled of one by one to have the actual activity. All the other girls were stuck to their parents like lint. Guess who was decorating cookies on induction day?

PollyParanoia Tue 24-May-11 10:23:21

Sorry Horsemadmom how can they tell at 3/4? If that were the case they'd all be getting firsts at university which I'm presuming is not the case.
[I speak as someone who got a first at Oxford and couldn't speak at 3...]

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 11:17:34

Congratulations on your First.
Innate intelligence and hard work are two different things. One can be a bone idle genius.
They aren't just looking for 'clever' but also readiness. A child who doesn't yet speak may have a rich interior life and massive potential but she won't be ready for that school at 4. A child who can't cope with separation from their parents at the assessment will probably get another slot on a different day but if it happens again, she isn't ready. They only have 40 places and over 200 applicants. Many girls do just fine at 7+ and 11+ but couldn't have coped at 4.
It really bugs me when people comment on a topic which they know nothing about and have nothing helpful to say.

PollyParanoia Tue 24-May-11 13:58:34

I completely agree that readiness must be a factor, but I still can't see how it is a determining factor in being in the top 2% of intelligence. They're two very different things.
And if no one commented on things they know little about, then MN's boards would be empty...

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 14:26:50

NLCS (and Habs. etc.) will not tell you exactly what is in the assessment because misguided parents might try to prep for it. However, I can tell you that it has been developed with educational psychologists and tests development benchmarks. It is accurate enough that they caught DD2's dyslexia 2 years before standard testing would have.
The proof being in the pudding, the girls that they take at 4 do as well those who come in at 7 and 11.

tlat Tue 24-May-11 14:29:08

horsemadmum, thanks so much for sharing, your story put a smile on my face! Wow, with 200+ is it a purely selective admissions process or is there a waiting list to getinto that 200?

tlat Tue 24-May-11 14:40:58

horsemadmum, thanks so much for sharing, your story put a smile on my face! Wow, with 200+ is it a purely selective admissions process or is there a waiting list to get into that 200?

hampsteadmum Tue 24-May-11 15:37:13

I am a little sceptical about the 4+ tests. They are not infallible. In my niece's year at NLCS at least 4 or 5 of the girls who got in at 4+/5+ were "politely guided elsewhere" (ergo, asked to leave) during junior school. If memory serves right a few were told in year 2. Horsemadmum, interesting about catching one's dyslexia through these tests. Did they tell you how they did that? Did they reject DD2 because of it? I think you mentioned in other posts that DD2 is at CLGS?

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 15:44:59

They DO NOT want to hear from you until the autumn before the assessments. So, submit the application approx. 10 months before proposed entry. Check the website and it will give you the dates.Do not bring an under 2 to the open day- you'll look mad. Some schools (South Hampstead in particular) open the list in the September of your daughter's 2nd birthday for a month, get 200 names and close the list- they get to keep your money for 2 years. NLCS operates on the basis that you probably don't have any idea what your DD's aptitude will be until it is as close to entrance as administratively possible. They are quite honest about the odds. If your DD is offered a reserve spot. Don't despair. Every year one or two girls who have Habs brothers turn them down.

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 16:04:30

Wow! Good memory Hampsteadmum!
That was a rough year as it was the 1st year with an expanded intake at 4+. My DD was one of 24 before the change. I think it took 2 years to get it right.

They couldn't be completely candid about how they caught her dyslexia but did tell me that her developmental profile was radically uneven. Top score in her cohort on all verbal assessments but a disaster (my word) with other things. They said it indicated a problem. They asked to see her again at 7 and I brought her but by then it was clear that she needed support and she is a much more highly strung kid than DD1. I may think again at 11 but, let's face it, CLSG is fantastic. It is smaller and they positively love dyslexic girls. Horses for courses. DD1 would go mad at CLSG as her idea of a good time is sitting under a tree with the longest novel she can find.

horsemadmom Tue 24-May-11 16:15:51

BTW the reason that they went from 24-40 was because they tried so hard to accept girls spread across the age range, they had to turn down girls who they wanted (example- ooops! too many March girls and not enough Novembers.). Single form entry also dissuaded some parents. The problem for us central London peeps was that it cut down on spaces at 7 when we were more likely to tolerate the distance. Coach rules changed as a result.

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-May-11 16:35:31

Been thinking about the 'top 2% of the ability range' comment.

I can imagine that it is possible to test for the 'most ready at this moment in time out of the very select number who have applied and whose parents have the wish or wherewithal to attend this type of school'. It would then be a significant failure of the very high cost, high intensity education for the next 14 years if all of those children did not 'succeed' within education - as a complete outsider I find it shocking that a supposedly excellent school would be unable to educate ALL the children they had admitted and thus have to ask them to move elsewhere.

However, 'most ready at this moment in time out of the very select number who have applied blah blah' does not IN ANY WAY equate to a genuine 'top 2% of the ability range in the population'. Einstein did not talk until he was something like 6. The exceptionally able - or those with the potential to be exceptionally able - are very often 'spiky' (as in they are outstandingly good at some things and lots less able at others - ever met a Cambridge mathematician??) and they are found across all strata of society, not just those who apply for such schools.

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-May-11 17:20:10

Apologies for adding to my post, but the more I think about it, the more shocked I am that ANY children admitted at 4+ are not retained throughout the school.

What ARE the school doing? They have no children with SEN, no children homeless, travellers, permanently malnourished, living below the poverty line, in a family dealing with substance abuse / mental illness / chronic illness or arriving at school with no English (all things which the most ordinary of state school deal with, and state schools are expected to teach so that ALL such children to make progress). The school probably has staffing levels 2 or 3x the norm. And yet some children, selected for their ability at 4+, fall so far behind the expected level of progress within the school that they are asked to leave a few years later.... God forbid that the school should actually work really hard to teach them so that they keep up ....

Dancergirl Tue 24-May-11 17:24:36

I would think very, very carefully about NLCS at 4, or indeed a nursery that spends a lot of time on formal learning.

The pressure at that school is immense although they do try to deny it. They'll give you the usual speil about there being more to school than exam results and they give a 'rounded' education. We met a girl on holiday last year who was 18 and had just left the school. She said a lot of the girls, especially the ones who had started at 4+ or 7+ were 'nervous wrecks' (her words). She was glad she started there at 11 and not earlier.

I'm assuming your dd is 2/3? I really wouldn't worry long-term at this stage when choosing a nursery. Look for somewhere that is well-run, with good indoor and outdoor play spaces and attentive and kind staff. I don't like to see very little children sitting down doing reading and writing too early; this may make them ahead of their peers for a year or two, but by 7 or 8 you won't be able to tell the difference. When you look round notice if the children seem happy and busy? Is there sand/water/painting/cooking/messy play? These sort of things are so much more important at this stage than if a nursery is a feeder or not.

I'm assuming you are in Edgware? I don't know much about the nurseries in Edgware but if you're Jewish I highly recommend Nagila Nursery on Stonegrove. All 3 of mine went there and were extremely happy. My oldest is now 10 and will be sitting for St Helen's and Habs next year.

Dancergirl Tue 24-May-11 17:27:06

teacherwith2kids - at the end of the day the school's reputation is more important than any one individual girl. There's probably a waiting list for each year group so it's easy to chuck one girl out in favour of a brighter one waiting round the corner.

PollyParanoia Tue 24-May-11 17:58:49

At the risk of daring to talk about I apparently know nothing about, I do agree with teacher. Where does this 2% stat come from? I find it highly improbable for all the reasons so eloquently put by her.

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-May-11 18:04:52

Will not tell you how loudly my teeth are grinding at this point then dancergirl!

What a horrible ethos - and no incentive for the staff to actually teach well, if they can just get rid of any strugglers and admit someone else instead... I mean I would love it if I could get rid of my 9 kids on the SEN register and my 2 others who are struggling to make their targets for this year and swap them for some 'better' ones - bye-bye my 4-way differentiated lessons, goodbye to the late nights sweating over how to engage everyone within a class whose attainment ranges from the average for Reception to the average for Year 5... No wonder private schools don't have to employ qualified teachers, it's a completely different job.

Actually, no, I'd hate it. I came into teaching as a mature entrant because I get kicks from moving all children on from whatever their starting point. ...

teacherwith2kids Tue 24-May-11 18:31:46

Wish I could say what I want to say all in one post..

Just realised that someone is likely to come back and say 'ah, but it's so important for the bright kids that the teacher can move them on without having to worry about anyone who isn't quite keeping up'. My 'average for Year 5' level child is one of the youngest in Year 3, so she isn't exactly being held back - I put as much care and effort and thought into stretching her and her very able peers as I do to how to move on my SEN kids. And that's in a normally-funded state school - I can only dream about how much I could do more all of them with half as many children and twice as many teachers and LOTS more money but the same amount of effort..

Dancergirl Tue 24-May-11 19:07:07

You sound like a fabulous, passionate teacher teacherwith2kids. I wish there were more like you. Although I'm hugely happy with my dds' lovely local primary school, they are both doing very well. We looked at private schools too at 4+ including NLCS. Dd had a place at Radlett prep and we paid our £500 deposit which we lost because she got her place at the state school we wanted. I've never looked back. So glad I didn't send her there because the amount of homework they get is phenomenol. These kids can't PLAY after school because they're doing homework....madness.

A lot of it is in the genes anyway rather than the school....

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