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Best primary school in SW11 (surrounding area)

(35 Posts)
abbyfromoz Sun 24-Mar-13 15:12:26

DD is 2 and we need to start looking at primary schools. So far we have our eye on St Thomas' Battersea (very close to us). We are open to private or state- religious or non. Anyone with experience want to give me your personal opinions?

wandymum Fri 31-May-13 20:46:45

Micro and Audrey101 - the admission distances this year's intake are here

KingscoteStaff Wed 29-May-13 20:08:14

Well, we looked at both (admittedly 9 years ago...).

The difference we saw was in the Year 6 children who showed us round. We felt that the Thomases children were charming but a bit Stepford and a bit bland. The Newton children were all very strong personalities, clearly passionate about their school and their teachers. We walked out thinking 'I want DS to be like that in 9 years time!'

And he is!

gobstoppers Wed 29-May-13 14:06:31

Wow! Thanks KingscoteStaff, these are quite mixed locations..would be a bit tricky with the playdates!!

dinosaurinmybelly: Thank you for your comments, I agree with you, it is down to personal preferences to choose the right school...but as for me, sometimes it is enough to see some little thing that you don't like in a school and that could overpower your feelings towards that school and can be misleading.

So I am just about to understand what was the motivation of the different parents to prefer Thomas's Clapham to Newton prep and vice versa (bearing in mind that these schools are relatively close, so some parents might have faced with the same decision as me). There might be things that I missed, although I have tried to gather as many information as I could to ease this decision.

KingscoteStaff Tue 28-May-13 22:08:25

I've got the Newton Prep Parents' Directory in front of me!

Children come from NW5 down to SW16 and TW1 across to E14.

It's a fantastic school, by the way. Inspiring teaching + learning and sparky kids.

dinosaurinmybelly Tue 28-May-13 15:24:02

I think you've made your decision gobstoppers. It doesn't sound like you have a good feeling about Thomas's, and so I wouldn't send your child there just because it is in a better location. I too have heard that Thomas's parents are snobby, but I visited many schools, and found the parent reps I met at Thomas's to be very lovely indeed. I wonder is it an urban myth perpetuated by people who just want to knock it for their own personal reasons. Many also complained about the previous head, but the head changed last year. I've met the new head and was very impressed.

I know several families in Clapham who go to Newton Prep and so the commute is manageable. I visited Newton Prep and was also impressed by the facilities, but a bit concerned at the staff turnover (not just the head). I'm going with Thomas's myself (I felt they really distinguish themselves from other local schools with their broad curriculum and their "have a go" attitude to music, drama and sport") but I do think it is down to personal choice, and if you preferred Newton you should go for that. The commute will get easier as the kids get older, and Battersea Park isn't too far away.

gobstoppers Tue 28-May-13 00:02:24

Anyone has any experience with Thomas's Clapham or Newton Prep school? I can't really choose between these 2 schools.

Academically more or less the same, so I have to take into account other factors, which are very important too.
I like Newton Prep better (much more down to earth parents and teachers compared toThomas's Clapham, great facilities, etc.), but I just can't bear the location itself (on Battersea Road) Does anyone know where the Newton Prep families live...I am afraid quite far away as the school's location is very industrial, polluted.

As for Thomas's Clapham I agree with bluescissors' comments. Very snobbish feeling, and what I heard from other parents lots of extra tutoring (sometimes even hidden from other fellow parents). The only positive side compered to Newton Prep is the location.

DOes anyone have any other experience with these?

AmandaPayneNeedsANap Wed 15-May-13 16:17:29

Yes, sorry, my previous post wasn't clear enough about the option of home schooling. It's right for a fairly small minority of people, but for those people it tends to be very right, IYSWIM.

Lizzzar Wed 15-May-13 14:23:31

The comment above by Amanda Payne is helpful but I'd like to add that
although I'm not sure of the situation in Australia ( perhaps could check on Wikipedia) it is not in fact compulsory to send your children to school between 5 and 16 in the UK. You must provide them with an education, but home education is completely legal. The majority of people do of course send their children to school , but I thought I'd add this comment because I am personally a definite supporter of the right to home educate in unusual circumstances. I think there is a website called Education Otherwise that would provide more information for anyone interested.

bluescissors Mon 13-May-13 19:03:39

The parents I know who send their DCs to Thomas's are generally bankers or lawyers. They are extremely wealthy and describe the school as "monied". The foundation does a lot of good work in Nepal and in outreach to local schools. From what I understand children who do well there are extroverts, bold, want to go first types. It's a busy school with lots going on, which is fine if your DC is up for it. For what it is worth, these parents also have their DCs tutored out of school. Good luck with your decision.

AmandaPayneNeedsANap Mon 13-May-13 14:39:00

I'm not SW London, but I'm ex-London and I clicked on here to say what others already have. You may not have much choice in schools if you are using state schools. You need to find out what your LA's admission criteria are and what their effective catchment area is. Then work out which schools you might have a realistic chance of getting into most years, including accounting for any faith criteria, etc. A change to straight line routes is actually probably a good thing. The catchment will shrink, but probably so will your distance, and it is much easier to do some rough calculations on your own distances yourself using this basis.

The general school stuff isn't that different. Both countries run their school years to the long summer break, it's just that summer is a different point in the year. And the schooling years aren't that different. If I tabulate ours:

Nursery/pre-school (age 3-4) - optional
Reception (age 4-5) - technically optional until the term after your child turns 5, though few people opt out
Year 1-6 (age 5-11) - compulsory
Year 7-11 (age 11-16)- compulsory
Year 12-13 (age 16-18) - optional

Reception to year 6 will be in one school (or, alternatively, reception to year 2 in an infant school, then years 3-6 in a junior school) so reception seems more like 'school proper', but in fact it is much more like a continuation of nursery/pre-school. Very similar these days to the idea of kindergarten in many countries. The only real difference is that mandatory schooling starts one year earlier and stops one year later.

As an April birthday, your daughter (like mine) will actually be one of the younger ones in the year. the oldest children are those born Sept-Christmas. DD1 starts in September and she is so ready for school.

Lizzzar Mon 13-May-13 14:00:09

Should say 'they are proud' - should have read the comment in preview! I'm afraid it is true even being grown up does not stop the occasional mistake! I will have to start double checking.

Lizzzar Mon 13-May-13 13:56:34

The Thomas's website has been redone, with what appear to be full leaver's destinations, showing good results and some scholarships. No idea why it was left to show dated results for so long, but the updated information would show that it is still pretty strong academically. I think the school would also say that school is about more than just exams, though - they proud of their commitment to a broad curriculum.

Lizzzar Thu 02-May-13 08:18:01

Concert tickets still seem to be available, for anyone interested. On the
Albert Hall website. I don't work for Thomas's, but attended as a child (relatively briefly) and so was interested in how they were doing now
and went on the website. I imagine the school could put you in touch with current parents if you went on a tour. The PTA and some of the parents do appear quite social, but I imagine it's the sort of thing you could get
involved with or not depending on how you feel.

Lizzzar Mon 29-Apr-13 03:03:56

Thomas's is called Thomas's because it is owned by the Thomas family
in a partnership. It certainly has a good all round reputation and sponsors
schools in Nepal as well as arts activities in the local community - but these are through charities separately registered from the school. It will be
having a huge concert in the Albert Hall next week which appears to have sold out. Oddly, it does not publish complete exit results and instead has a section on it's website called 'scholarships' which has only partial results and appears to indicate that they haven't achieved any academic scholarships since 2005. This is not wildly impressive compared to Hill House for example but a bright child should do well and there is a lot of sport, drama, music and other extras - these are the things they have always prided themselves on and Joanna Thomas, who founded the school,
had been an actress and loved drama. Worth a look.

abbyfromoz Thu 28-Mar-13 22:45:34

Thanks Francis. Your review is really helpful. Another Chesterton recommendation- this has definitely sparked my interest and it's a lot closer to us than some of the other schools so looks promising!

franciscantrip Thu 28-Mar-13 22:25:34

I know a governor at Chesterton. She is biased obv, but also a teacher of very very very many years experience (all over the country) and thinks it is a fabulous school. Ofsted outstanding. If you're considering private, then my guess is that you might find the intake of Chesterton too 'mixed' - a great many of its children come from the estate surrounding it. However, everything I have heard about the school and its teaching etc has been good. Wish we were a bit nearer!

abbyfromoz Tue 26-Mar-13 18:26:45

Sneery sneery sneery! Hehe!(kidding!)
Thanks longlegs. I am not surprised they would be more prepared for Aus schools as having had an extra year in the system has got to have some influence be it even the social element. It is sad though to think some are so little. Probably projecting a little here but i started school january having just turned 5 (November child) before they changed the age. I was way too immature to cope. I need to remind myself that DD is so much more self assured than i was but part of me can't help but think sad they are sooo little!
I like the idea of 15 free hours... That's if i can get her a place! Lol
She was attending nursery one full day before we moved house and i saw her develop like you would not believe. It really helped her social development.
Interesting to hear your perspective so thanks smile

lalalonglegs Tue 26-Mar-13 18:13:36

I have an April born daughter and she was really ready to start school, she kept moaning about how babyish nursery was and could not wait to walk though the school gates - I think it depends on the child, it doesn't come down solely to birth age. Bear in mind that reception is probably pretty similar to the kindergarten/pre-school alternatives in other countries albeit more or less compulsory and most UK children will have been attending nursery for at least 15 hours a week in the year before they start school because they are entitled to a free place for this much.

I have three children and ideally I would have liked them to start school a bit later but that's not the way it is done over here and, I have to say, they all made the transition to school very easily as did the overwhelming majority of their classmates. It is very unfair on the children that are unready for the whole experience though - I know some mothers (virtually all of whom have had August-borns) who have felt awful watching their children struggle and who feel that their kids are constantly on the back foot because they're just not old enough for school.

If you're thinking of moving back to Australia in the next few years, I wouldn't stress about schools too much. This isn't intended to sound at all sneery but I've known three families move back to Oz and they've all said that their primary school children (who had been in London schools until that point) were academically well ahead of the game mostly, I suppose, because they'd had at least a year extra in the system. Two of them had been at a very unremarkable London school. One mum did say that her children were rubbish at sports compared to most Australian children their age - it's really hard to do lots of sports given the limited space and rubbish weather. Maybe just make her run round the park a bit and learn to swim wink?

abbyfromoz Tue 26-Mar-13 17:42:40

Noooo confused they do not make it easy!
It's just such a different system to back home.
For starters we have
kindergarden (age 4-5) optional
Preschool/prep (age 5-6) optional
Year 1-7 primary school (age 6-12) compulsory
Year 8-10 junior high school (age 13- 15) compulsory
Year 11 & 12 senior high school (age 16-17/18) not compulsory
After that you proceed to university.
School years start in Jan after Christmas hols and finish in November. That means its not about the month you are born but the year. Is it just me or does this make more sense?
DD is born in April so will start reception early September of 2015... Making her 4 years and 5 months! If i am not mistaken...She will be one of the oldest and yet imo still way too young to be in school 5 days a week.
My MIL teaches little ones at a lovely private school in Sydney but will be retiring before DD is ready to start school hmm
Not sure if DH will sell his company to move back home but I need a back up plan in place in case she ends up starting school here.
P.s this isn't an 'i hate London' rant. Love London- but it's not the easiest place to bring up children admittedly

audrey01 Tue 26-Mar-13 15:00:04

I think micro refers to the new rules regarding distance measurement. This year is the first one where Wandsworth Council will measure distance based on straight line rather than walking route, which will probably shrink the current catchment areas.

lalalonglegs Mon 25-Mar-13 13:00:43

State schools generally have open days in October/early November so, if I were you, I'd spend a few months asking around locally and seeing what sounds good but, as you say, keeping an open mind. I don't have children in the private sector or close friends with children in the private sector so I'm not really able to advise but certainly I believe some schools expect to have children's names down and expressions of interest by about two but many in this area are very focused on academic outcomes and will assess children before offering a place which means that not everyone on the list will get in. From my wider acquaintance, I can think of several people who ended up getting places at prestigious private schools at the last minute so not having names down from birth doesn't seem to be the end of the world.

It is a bloody nightmare even if you are from the UK. Good luck with it.

abbyfromoz Mon 25-Mar-13 12:44:53

Thanks long legs! Will have a look. I'm not a snob, open to any school i just want to make sure it's right for DD who is (imo) very talented creatively. She blows me away with her creative ability and i would hate to not see that nurtured. (Ok i'm sounding like a total pushy parent right now but just don't want to see her have a negative school experience). Anyway since i am a total novice at this school thing being that it's my first child and i didn't go to school in this country i am extra curious to hear about all these rules. The last school we looked at in nottinghill (where we lived before) pregnant women turned up to open day to sign up...confused

lalalonglegs Mon 25-Mar-13 11:48:43

My eldest didn't get into any school when offers went out but eventually we were given a place at Chesterton which is on Battersea Park Rd, pretty much at the junction of Albert Bridge Road. We visited it and I really, really liked it a lot but, as we live near Clapham South, it would have been a very tricky journey so we ended up going to a nearer (and far inferior) school. It's got - or had at that time - high ESOL and free dinners but was producing fantastic results and was a lovely building with gardens all around that the children tended. I'd definitely consider it - and visit it because I am sure it's one of those schools that people are automatically put off because its intake mostly comes from the local estate - if I were in your neck of the woods. HTH.

abbyfromoz Sun 24-Mar-13 22:34:17

Btw we live right over Battersea Bridge.

abbyfromoz Sun 24-Mar-13 22:33:17

Yikes! Well if i can't get her into a good school it will be plan B (move back to Aus!) hmm

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