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Bute House, Kensington Prep or Latymer Junior.... any experiences you would care to share please?

(16 Posts)
orangina Fri 09-Sep-11 14:15:15

I am thinking of applying to one/some/all of the above for dd, who has just started in Y2 (so would move for September 2012). Have booked to go on open days for Kensington Prep and Latymer Junior, but have missed the boat for Bute. Bute has an amazing reputation, but I'm worried it is rather a hothouse, and I don't know much about the other two other than the overall impression from their websites....

DD is a very bright little girl and is currently at a good state primary. I'm happy with where she is on the whole, but feel she could be stretched a bit more (I think any spare capacity within the teaching side of things goes to support the less able, which I understand)... Almost more importantly is the fact that there is very little extra-curricular stuff offered at her current school; while I can arrange to go somewhere else for some music and drama (for instance), the idea that it can all happen on site at somewhere like (say) Bute is hugely appealling.

A friend with a dd in a similar situation recently spoke to a few of the private secondaries (St Pauls + another I think) who said that they were actively trying to increase their intake from state primaries and that if her daughter was in a good one, she would be mad to move her at this stage. So I'm really in two minds whether to even try to move her at this stage at all. As it is, it would be quite tight financially, but we could manage it I think.

Anyway, I'm off to the open days in October, but would be grateful for any experience any of you might have with any of the above schools in the meantime.

Thanks so much!

100lilgreen Fri 09-Sep-11 18:19:02

I think any girl at Bute House will thrive but as you said you have missed the boat. Kensington prep is fantastic but if you are also looking at Latymer Prep, maybe that would be better because she can go all the way through?

orangina Sat 10-Sep-11 10:31:50

Thanks 100lilgreen....She also has a little brother, who could theoretically follow her to Latymer Junior (and onwards) too. Do you have children at any of these schools yourself?

100lilgreen Sat 10-Sep-11 16:11:45

No i don't but alot of my friends do and they are all very happy with it. That is perfect then. I think if she has a place take it. it is a great school with lots of wonderful facilities and that means they can both be together.

orangina Sat 10-Sep-11 17:24:42

I still have to apply and she still has to pass the assessment! But yes, the fact that they can both be together is a big plus.... thanks for your input...!

ladyasriel Sat 10-Sep-11 22:21:48

don't kick yourself for missing Bute - it's impossible to get in anyway. Went recently to a meeting where about 100 parents were told that because of sibling preference, this year there were 9 places on offer...
(Unless you or DH happen to be someone in the City that is - and I don't mean anyone, rather the kind of CEO who is regularly name checked in the newspapers... you might miraculously get a spot in that case).

orangina Sat 10-Sep-11 23:08:37

I understand it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to get in at 4 years old on the ballot for exactly the reasons you mention, but I THINK there are a larger number of places available at 7. Will call next week to find out, suspect it is many hundreds of bright little girls chasing something like 30 places.... ugugugugug.

No, sadly, no name checking in the newspaper for either of us. In fact, that's actually the thing that puts me OFF Bute. All those..... people!

blueyonder22 Sun 11-Sep-11 23:05:33

I would look at them all and get a feel, it is all very personal (like buying a house!).
My daughter is currently at Lady Eleanor Holles junior school but she also sat for and got places at Bute and Latymer so I have a bit of experience.
We missed the Bute Open day too but sat her on the reputation. When she was invited back for an `interview' we had a 1 to 1 tour for over an hour. Bute per se is not a hot house. The teaching is excellent. The problem for me was where she would have gone onto, that is where the pressure comes. Approx 30% will go onto St Paul's which was never a draw for me. Alot of girls do also go onto Latymers. The ethos at Bute is definitely not hot housing but the combination of the parents and the pressure to get places at select schools is definitely there.
I would personally think hard about Ken Prep. It is an excellent school. I have friends with girls there but my impression is that the intake at year 3 is very small? They don't, unlike Bute and Latymers have a specific class(es) intake at year 3. I think it is always nice to start a new school with lots of other children rather than the odd 1 or 2. I maybe wrong but that was my understanding.
We loved the head at Latymers but weren't over awed by the school. For me I could still tell that it used to be all boys. In terms of the academic side I didn't feel like it compared to the others. Latymers is far easier for girls to get into. The head at my dd previous school maintained that and the evidence of the past few years at her school definitely proved that. It was first choice for many of the parents of boys in my daughters year but not for any of the parents of the girls. A few girls ended up going but without fail they all unfortunately didn't get their 1st choice (generally But or Leh).
Best of luck!

blueyonder22 Sun 11-Sep-11 23:11:51

Ps. Approx 44 places available and in my daughters years intake approx 120-150 applicants so not atall impossible and nothing like the numbers that go for the boys perceived equivalents of Colet or Kings - I heard it was over 500 apllicants at Kings! The 7plus is based purely on merit from the assesment and nothing to do with where daddy works (I am sure there is the odd exception - I know George Osborne's daughters are there and being heir to Osborne & Little and being the Chancellor must count for something...)

Agapanthii Mon 12-Sep-11 10:16:03

You've not missed the boat for Bute at all - the assessments for the yr 3 entry will take place in December. Latymer and LEH will be early January so this is the perfect time to be visiting and applying for selective entry at 7+. Like BlueYonder, we also chose the LEH route a few yrs ago for much the same reasons. I could appreciate that Bute was clearly an excellent school, but believed that the decision we made was the right one for us. Good luck with whatever you decide. Only you really know your child and can ascertain together where she will truly fit in best. I'm sure you'll make the right decision.

orangina Mon 12-Sep-11 10:17:36

Thanks for all of that blueyonder.... very helpful indeed. I understand that Bute at 7+ is purely assessed on IQ/academic merit, and that there is a proper intake. I understood that at Kensington Prep most of the intake was at reception level and when I asked them last week what sort of numbers they were expecting to offer places to for 2012 year 3 entry, she couldn't tell me! She said it depended upon how many children left between now and then. Not the most satisfactory answer, I must admit.....

Interesting what you say about girls at Latymer.... the only children I know at Latymer Jr are boys, so I'm not sure I'm going to get much direct feedback from them on the girls issue.

Ho hum. I know my dd is bright and able. I want her to be stretched in that I don't want her BORED. What I want most of all is for her to be able to develop her intellectual curiosity (my schooling was very much in the "rote learning" mode and it was so dullllllllllllllllllllllllll), plus be able to make the most of all the extra curricular stuff, which is unfortunately lacking at her state school.

Why did you turn down the Bute place offered if you don't mind me asking? Was it geography? Or the feeding St Pauls thing? Am also now re-considering St James due the fact that it is practically on our doorstep and offers fabulous music, drama etc. Know that it is a bit quirky and it has had a slightly unsavoury history though, so am treading carefully on that one..... Also concerned it assumes that everyine in the junior school will automatically go to the senior school, hence no preparation for any other secondaries.....

orangina Mon 12-Sep-11 10:20:09

Hi Agapanthii.... thanks for your input. I meant I have missed the boat for Bute's open day (which was last term I think) and they are not v willing to open their doors beyond their very specific open days. Will be good to get her assessment there over and done with before Christmas though.....!

LEH not on my radar, too far from where we are.....

orangina Mon 12-Sep-11 10:25:28

(Looks like a fabulous school though, have just peeped at the website!)

blueyonder22 Mon 12-Sep-11 16:54:48

When we finally got to look around Bute properly it was at the final stages so by then they knew they were going to offer her a place. We were shown around by the head of the junior deparment, the tour was very exhaustive and they were definitely giving us the big sell! I had gone expecting to be blown away and choose Bute and we really weren't. Again it is just personal. Distance wise we are Sheen so Bute would have been a more logical choice.
For us Leh offered continuity into the senior school - which I adore. Huge grounds. Fantastic music and excellence in sports, basically not just academics! She would have only have been at Bute for a short period. The thought of the 11plus horrified me. We took a long hard look at the schools the Bute leavers go to (well worth a look on the website) and none of them, except maybe Downe House but although I boarded not keen on it for my girls!, offered a better choice for us than LEH. The style of teaching at LEH also suits my daughter more. Alot more alpha females at Bute in my experience. The grounds were too small for me. Although they use the pool at St Pauls it really does seem like a rental agreement and not at all part of Bute. Similarly their play area is small, although surrounded by out of bounds St Pauls playing fields!
Having said all that I do think Bute is great and I didn't find it pushy. They have lots of inquisitive girls keen to learn. Feel free to pm me for any specifics on the assesment/interviews. I remember it well! The Bute process is far too drawn out for me. Exam early December when the girls are pretty exhausted, fractious and prone to make silly mistakes. You find out just before Christmas if they will be invited to an interview (horrible time for those `rejected' at this stage). Our interview was from memory end Jan/beg Feb and the offer not until the end of Feb time. Far too drawn out for my liking!
BW Lara

orangina Mon 12-Sep-11 17:35:57

Many thanks, will PM you in due course!

900cherry Tue 27-Sep-11 22:18:29

My dd has just started at Kensington Prep, this year they have taken 4 girls into year 3. They have an intake of 46 in reception and expect a few to drop out, hence they 'top up' in older years.

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