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Any MNetters who have sent their DC to, or have experience of Canonbury Primary School, Islington?

(20 Posts)
sanssucre Mon 13-Jun-11 11:45:50

There's a good chance DD1 (and possibly DD2 if all goes well) will go there. I've got a few reservations but I have so little experience of Primary Schools – it's all changed so much since I was at school – I don't really know what to look for. Would be really grateful for some v honest feedback.

Thank you

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Jun-11 11:57:12

Looking at Ofsted, it appears that just out of special measures so it is possible that any feedback you get or have been getting is based on it's historical reputation and not how good it is now or how it is improving.

Have you been for a look around? DId it feel like a good school - busy, engaged children, nice staff, lots of work up on the walls, open and friendly and happy to answer your questions?

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Jun-11 12:11:18

Just noticed that their Ofsted report announcing that they are out of Special Measures was only published today so that might be a good thing to look at too.

sanssucre Mon 13-Jun-11 12:13:10

Thanks, Giddy. Yes, they've just come out of special measures gone straight to good, skipping satisfactory, which sounds pretty positive.

I've done two school tours and a separate nursery intro morning. The first tour, about a year ago, left me feeling a bit uneasy, I witnessed a slightly odd incident in reception class and the teacher just didn't seem at all on the ball (hadn't noticed what was going on, had to be alerted by one of parents doing the tour). But I'd imagine a fair bit has changed since then. The second visit was much more reassuring.

On the whole I"d say yes to all your questions - the only thing is that the nursery, yr 1 and yr 2 all seem to be a bit chaotic & unstructured. Maybe that's a good thing (learning through play etc) I just don't know. I just can't really imagine how the teachers manage to really supervise anything that the kids are doing because there are so many kids there doing so many different things at once, surely their time is all taken up with trouble-shooting/making sure everyone is safe etc? The facilities look amazing, I'm sure DD will have a lot of fun there, I can't imagine how individual children get much help with, for example, literacy, numbers etc

redskyatnight Mon 13-Jun-11 12:28:37

Have you been to any other primary schools to look around? I would say that my own DC's school probably appears very chaotic to the casual visitor but it is all organised chaos iyswim!! If you see how another school does it, you will be able to compare. Also it would be perfectly ok for you to ask about concerns you have e.g. "It all seems very chaotic - how do individual children get help with literacy?" Their answer will hopefully help make your mind up.

GiddyPickle Mon 13-Jun-11 12:29:07

Young children have a lot of free choice with activities or lots of opportunities to move from one task to another. As a result it can look like pandemonium in their classrooms. Often the school day is divided so that reading and phonics work is done at the start or the end of the day. As they get older, it gets more formal with more time spent sat in groups or on the carpet. Often a teacher or TA will interrupt 5 or 6 children and take them away from free play to a quieter corner to do a “formal” activity like a word game or making a mask or whatever whilst the rest play so they will get some individual attention too. If the rest of the children are swinging off the light fittings or fighting on the mat then that's worrying. If they're in groups moving from one activity to the other and being coaxed out of the home corner so that 14 children aren’t all crammed into one toy kitchen – then that sounds pretty normal.

sanssucre Mon 13-Jun-11 12:39:24

redsky - yes I've been to two others. One we'll be too far away from to get a place at, the other one, William Tyndale, seems pretty good too but for some reason preferred the feel of Canonbury on the whole. Should have asked for feedback on both, thinking about it…

PollyParanoia Mon 13-Jun-11 14:34:20

I live near but kids go to Thornhill (which we really like and would recommend). Canonbury is apparently much more middle class (some quite posh famous parents) and there's a lot of loyalty to it despite recent difficulties, which impressed me. Everyone who rejected it in favour of Thornhill says that the same thing - that the foundation stage seemed a bit intimidating and chaotic. However, I've met some lovely kids from there so it doesn't seem to do any damage in the long run. Do you know you'll def not get a place in the other school you looked at? You know there's something called 'equal preference' which means you can put the school you most want to get into first, without it jeopardising your chances of getting in to the ones you put second and third.

sanssucre Mon 13-Jun-11 14:47:48

Thanks, Polly. Actually the other one was Thornhill! (which I've heard great things about and liked when I visited) - glad you're pleased with it. I can't be sure we won't get a place there but they were pretty honest when I visited and said they'd had people that far away before but usually I wouldn't fall within the catchment area.

I didn't know about equal preference - that's v useful, thanks.

PollyParanoia Mon 13-Jun-11 15:15:03

Ah, how funny. Yes Thornhill, Canonbury and William Tyndale do always seem to get grouped together. The good ofsted is a great sign that things are really being done plus should maintain the loyalty. I always think it's better to go to a school that's on the up rather than one that's going in the other direction. I'm sure it will be fine and as I say I meet some delightful children and happy parents from there.
However, it's worth putting whatever school you like best down first because you'll still get into canonbury if you fail to get into the one you like best if you put it second so long as you're near enough (even if someone else put it first but live further). Always worth, too, putting a banker down third, ie one that you'll definitely get into as a back-up. Even if you don't like it particularly, it would be better than a random one miles away that you might get assigned.

sanssucre Mon 13-Jun-11 20:11:51

Yes, the loyalty point is a good one. I've heard that from a few people. And great that you've met parents who are happy with it. Thanks again.

One more call for anyone who has/has had DC at Canonbury (or William Tyndale for that matter)?

lulurose Tue 14-Jun-11 21:16:45

Rotherfield is a fabulous, fast improving school in that area.

bobthebuddha Tue 14-Jun-11 22:12:41

I'd say Rotherfield's been pretty good for some time luluose, but it's been very much overlooked as a choice until recently smile

bobthebuddha Tue 14-Jun-11 22:14:29

doh, lulurose, sorry

zonkin Tue 14-Jun-11 22:28:30

My DCs go to William Tyndale. My best mate's kids go to Canonbury and my neighbour's kids go to Thornhill. I love Tyndale and am really pleased with it. My first choce for DC1 was Canonbury but we isn't get a place. In year 1 a place came up at Canonbury but we decided to keep DC1 at Tyndale as it was going so well.

Canonbury has had it's problems but seems to be turning things around. The parents at both Canonbury and William Tyndale do seem to get involved and are loyal.

My neighbour is happy with Thornhill and it does have a good reputation But I don't know too much about it.

Obviously I'm biased but I would choose William Tyndale over Canonbury. I can honestly say my kids have thrived there.

lulurose Wed 15-Jun-11 19:34:04

I quite agree Bobthebuddah! Lots of exciting stuff going on there and excellent teaching.

sanssucre Thu 16-Jun-11 11:32:55

lulurose & bobthebuddha - yes, I know a bit about Rotherfield and it does sound v promising. But it's just a bit too far from us to be convenient and we do have what seem to be a couple of decent primaries v close by i.e. William Tyndale and Canonbury.

Zonkin - that's v useful, thanks. I've look round William Tyndale and there were great things about it - all the kids we met there were lovely. WT was the obvious choice initially because of Canonbury being in special measures but like I say, I preferred the feel of Canonbury when I went back. All v unscientific! One more question though, do you find it a bit of a hassle that there's no uniform for William Tyndale? I know it's a v minor issue but I was quite looking forward to the simplicity of a daily uniform in term time

bobthebuddha Thu 16-Jun-11 14:11:29

My DD & DS are Rotherfield; we have neighbours across the way whose DD1 went to Canonbury (just before it failed its OFSTED!) & they have another child there too. Inside issues notwithstanding, as far as I know they're pretty happy with it all round. I'd say go with your feeling if you prefer Canonbury; that's what we did with Rotherfield (we were that bit too far from your 3 to think we stood a chance of a place!) & have not regretted it.

zonkin Thu 16-Jun-11 22:50:32

The lack of uniform did irk me at the start as I like the idea of a uniform but I soon stopped being irked and think nothing of it now.

I'd say go with your instinct. Canonbury definitely turning things around so I wouldn't worry about the special measures.

sanssucre Fri 17-Jun-11 19:25:50

Thanks, Zonkin

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