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North London (N1) - think I've applied to too many schools

(115 Posts)
CruCru Sat 13-Apr-13 09:14:06

Hi all

After DS was born, I applied to a bunch of schools (listed below) on the advice of friends with older children (as we may not get into them all). I am now trying to make sense of the list and come up with some order of preference.

I am also pregnant with DC2. If it is a girl then this may eliminate some of our list (boys only) as getting two kids to different schools at the same time sounds a nightmare.

The list is:

- Devonshire House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2015 (a year earlier than normal intake)
- Arnold House (NW8) - to start Autumn 2017 (a year later than normal intake)
- St Paul's Cathedral (EC4M) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake)
- The Children's House (N1) - to start Autumn 2016 (normal intake). We'll only get in here if DS gets into the nursery (which we have applied for). Also, it only goes to 7 so we would have to find another school from 7 to 11 or 13.
- Dallington (EC1V) - to start Spring 2015 (I think this is very early)
- Lyndhurst House (NW3) - to start September 2016 (normal intake)
- The Hall (NW3) - to start September 2017
- Charterhouse Square (EC1M) - to start September 2015. The names are put into a ballot and only the ones drawn get places.
- Hereward House (NW3) - to start Autumn 2016
- The Lyceum (EC2A) - to start September 2016
- Abercorn (NW8 I think but if they stay with the school it moves to NW1 at some point).
- St Anthony's Prep (NW3). This is Catholic but they take some non Catholics.

Oh god. This is an impossible list. I think ideally I'd like DS to start school at the normal intake (September 2016) as he is 5 in September 2016. I think kids go to school for long enough without starting early.

Perhaps one way I can filter this is to work out how long it will take us to get to each school and then eliminate the ones that have an insane journey.

I'm not terribly keen on uniforms. The only ones on this list without a uniform are the Children's House and Dallington.

For secondary schools, I'd like to aim for Highgate / City of London / UCS etc.

We also live right round the corner from William Tyndale (N1) which has no uniform, a normal intake year and is super popular. It may be that we end up going for that one.

If you have any thoughts on any of these schools, I would be really grateful to have them. Thanks!

CheckpointCharlie Sat 13-Apr-13 21:58:08

They have one outside fenced in court, a suppose netball court kind of size. But I think that's it from memory of going there a couple of times when my friend taught there. Not sure about being hard to get into though, there is always the choir!

Methren Sat 13-Apr-13 22:09:14

CruCru, St Paul's does have outside space. There is a good-sized bark chip surfaced area with play equipment (Wendy house, climbing nets, wooden towers with ladders, etc) which is mostly used by the pre-prep children (YR-Y2), and a netball-court sized asphalt area that is used by the older children. The space isn't huge, but it isn't a big school numbers-wise and they make it work by staggering lunch/play times for different year groups. My very energetic DS1 seems able to blow off enough steam in the space available during playtime.

I suppose St Paul's is quite hard to get into, but no more so than many of the schools on your list. They take 20 children at 4+ after a fun and non-threatening assessment, so there are spaces for around 10 boys and 10 girls. There are usually quite a few siblings, though (they have a strong sibling policy) so the number of places available for non-sibs is less than 20 in reality.

CheckpointCharlie Sat 13-Apr-13 22:12:25

Apologies blush it was a few years ago!

Methren Sat 13-Apr-13 22:20:28

CheckpointCharlie, the pre-prep playground is relatively new (put in 3-4 years ago I think) so may not have been there when your friend was teaching there.

CheckpointCharlie Sat 13-Apr-13 22:26:37

Yes, I think she left about 5years ago. smile

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 16:39:03

Thank you very much for your comments. I like the suggestion of picking 3 top schools to look at now. So far these are St Paul's Cathedral (just because), Dallington (friends have a son there) and St Anthony's (a friends boys are there).

Also - Latymer - is that the one in Hammersmith or is there one closer?


Farewelltoarms Sun 14-Apr-13 16:50:19

Hello Cru, I've been thinking about you as you remind me of the thought processes we went through a few years ago. Except you're way more efficient (which may be a disadvantage!).
We toured three privates, Dallington, Charterhouse and St Paul's. The first I couldn't see the point (if your main concern is prep for 11+ then you're not going to get it there). The second I came out of crying it seemed more like a battery hen factory than a school (my opinion only, I'm sure others love it). St Paul's Cathedral I liked most but I didn't like the idea of my (very late speaking) little one doing an entrance test.
Then I went to see my local state. It was an immediate 'call off the search' moment. Outside space, airy high ceilings, parquet floors, wonderful intelligent head, virtually next door to us - I'd have opted for it if the others had been free and this one was the one we had to pay for.
It may well be that you have a gut reaction too to one or other school and all this worrying is for nought.
When I used to interview people for jobs, we'd do a 'must have' column and a nice-to-have column. I used this system for house buying too. It's really important to not interview/visit any person/house who's not in the 'must have' column. For instance, if you want to live in zone 2, you don't visit zone 3 houses as you'll just end up comparing the smaller ones in zone 2 unfavourably. Maybe you should do the same - if co-ed or outside space is essential then don't visit Dallington or St Anthony's!
And there's a grammar called Latymer in Edmonton. I wouldn't be too concerned with it now as it's incredibly hard to get into, far harder than the independents.

Farewelltoarms Sun 14-Apr-13 16:53:28

Oh sorry, I'm answering in way too much detail. Thinking about all the neighbours and friends who do the Hampstead thing, none of them seem very happy. A lot of them end up moving that way, which is hard as the houses are so much expensive and they're leaving close networks behind. Or the mothers end up really angry about all the driving they do and taking antidepressants. I'm sure to them it's worth it for the superior education they feel sure their children are receiving, but I know as a family overall, I think we're happier (with worse spelling, lower maths levels, etc, etc perhaps).
The ones from N1 who go to St Paul's do seem a lot less angry about the journey.

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 17:18:59

Wow, thanks Farewell. I am not fixed on either private or state - if William Tyndale is the one then that would be awesome. The reason I applied to the private schools is that, if we did go private, I didn't want us to have missed the list.

In a way, one of my considerations is my own lifestyle. If I am at work at the time, I could drop DS at one of the schools in the City (St Paul's, Dallington etc) on my way in. However, having to do a drop off and pick up in Hampstead could make working / living very difficult (unless we moved).

VinegarDrinker Sun 14-Apr-13 19:18:12

Yes, sorry I meant the Latymer (state) in Edmonton. It's a long way off but if your DS turns out to be bright you have nothing to lose by getting him to sit the test imho. And you could save yourself a lot of money!

CruCru Sun 14-Apr-13 19:35:07

Cool, thank you. I was sure that you wouldn't mean the one in Hammersmith.

frogs Mon 15-Apr-13 07:47:45

You're mad (in the nicest possible way). smile But not as mad as you soon will be unless you narrow this lot down.

So: if you are hellbent on the trad prep school thang, you want the status and reassurance of knowing that the school is preparing your dc for posh private school secondary entrance, if money really isn't an issue, and you won't hanker after the ease and sheer niceness of having your kids in a local primary school with local friends, then go for St Paul's.

Do not under any circs go for the Hampstead options, it is a hideous commute and will drive you up the wall and cost a fortune in petrol. Think of all the other lovely/fun/educational things your child could be doing during the stupid amount of time you will be spending over the next 7 years sitting in north London traffic jams or on the tube. Just don't do it.

If you just want your child to get a good broad-based education in a cheery tolerant mixed environment (with no uniform, hurrah) bang on your doorstep, then go for Tyndale. Plenty of kids from Islington primary schools get into private secondary schools, or selective state schools. You'll have plenty of spare money and time to do nice extra-curricular activities and even get in a tutor for a couple of years before the exams, if you want to go that route.

No brainer, imo (and no, I don't have kids at Tyndale, mine were/are at far less m/c sought-after primaries, and still did/are doing well).


mumtolawyer Mon 15-Apr-13 12:42:42

The Lyceum is excellent but not terribly sporty - they do sport every day, but it's too small to have teams etc. My DD has been there since nursery. We have commuted a considerable distance to get there and I don't regret it for a minute. Prep for 11+ is careful, detailed, and focused; and results have been good (check their website). If you have specific queries PM me, happy to go into much more detail off the public forum.

Turniphead1 Mon 15-Apr-13 18:25:08

What Frogs said.
Plus you can always decide to do 7+ and send him to Highgate or another "through school" at that point. The journey from n1 to n6 is doable.

I'm impressed at the sheer level of efficiency that caused you to register at all of those schools. smile

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 12:45:43

Thanks all, you've been very helpful. Think that perhaps I've been a bit too efficient. Ideally, I don't want to apply to 12 schools again for DC2 when he or she comes later in the year so I'd better whittle this list down at the least.

getyourshoesonNOW Tue 16-Apr-13 14:55:34

Blimey, how much has that cost you in deposits? I don't know much about private schools - do they charge a small holding deposit or a hefty one?

SanctifyYourself Tue 16-Apr-13 17:07:19

Wow! You have certainly cast your net wide!

I am guessing that you might have paid registration fees for a few of those schools, but surely they are not already asking for deposits for a 2016 place?

I would agree with the principal of trying to stick close to home - lifestyle is important with such young children and you probably don't want to be travelling too much. Also bear in mind that it will be nice for your DS to develop friendships with children who live nearby for playdates etc, but if you travel far for school they will tend to live out of your area.

I would keep Wm Tyndale in mind for sure, then some of the local or easily accessible indys: Children's House N1, look at Gower School N1 and Rosemary Works N1 if you haven't already done so, then perhaps keep Charterhouse Square on the list if you like the pushy academic approach - a bit further but still accessible (but dont think they have outside space?)

I don't know how easy your transport is to the others outsdie N1, so I haven't commented!
Good luck - you have got lots of time to decide though!

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 20:01:38

No, I don't need to pay deposits yet. The registration fee is between £25 and £100 for each school (depending on the school).

OddSins Tue 16-Apr-13 20:54:52

We have had children at Dallington and St Pauls travelling from Canonbury and are now at secondary stage admission / selection. So perhaps, I can throw in my tuppenceworth.

I have no real knowledge of WT except to say admission for boys grammars from all schools in North London is extremely difficult with limited choice (DAO c.10, non-sib places per year, Latymer - a tricky journey/environment and highly competitive and QEB - very, very strange place (see eleven plus forum for details). However, a modest proportion of children from Islington state schools transfer to independent schools (but virtually always at eleven). This is slightly restricting as the uber, academic schools prefer transfer at 13, with competition at 11 generally much stronger. UCS, Highgate, Forest and COLB do cater specifically for state transfers at 11, with many parents employing tutors to boost chances.

Dallington is a lovely pre-prep, caring environment but the antithesis of an academic hothouse. We are talking a slight caricature of liberal, Islington education and it by no means suits everyone. We moved on (as many do) after a couple of delightful early years to SPCS.

This school is a nice balance of traditional values, pastoral care and both academic and musical success. Especially the latter. Childrens House is a major feeder, and I hear admission has become quite competitive just recently.

The school is well-connected with the independent sector, especially for music scholarships. Our children are going onto highly academic schools from SPCS and have never felt pushed (although we have done extra papers at home with them prior to their entrance exams) - but NO tutors.

Outdoor space is limited but seems to work well. They do use Coram Fields and Victoria Park. (Many inner London schools also travel).

Good Luck in your choice

CruCru Tue 16-Apr-13 21:26:28

Thank you, that is very helpful.

middlesqueezed Wed 17-Apr-13 23:43:02

You may not thank me for chucking this into the mix, but it's also worth thinking about your later hopes for schools as some of these will prep for different entrance tests. For example, Charterhouse Square only goes to 11 so most preparation is geared towards this exam but they do also prep for 7+ and 8+. SPCS goes to 13 and I have been told preps boys almost entirely for this exam and not for the earlier ones. You may find it helps to check this type of thing.
Look at schools you are comfortable with as you will find that you react as you learn more about each one and look around. We loved Charterhouse and I know I'd have been driven insane by Dallington, but others would violently disagree - it depends very much on your own attitudes to education (although I think my children would have been happy at either). And distance is hugely important so don't saddle yourselves with a huge journey. It makes a difference every weekday and also at weekends for playdates and parties.

CruCru Thu 18-Apr-13 08:46:59

Thanks middle. Charterhouse (and Dallington) start a year earlier than normal intake - how did you find that?

middlesqueezed Thu 18-Apr-13 14:20:33

We didn't have a problem with that, had one going from St Andrews to Charterhouse and found the first room to be very 'nursery' in style - lots of playing and warmth with lovely, sweet teachers. No stress there for DC or us. Don't believe the hype about Charterhouse hothousing. Sure, it's for parents who want the 3Rs taught in a fairly rigorous way but the children are generally very happy and not overworked, plus it's very gentle in the early years and they have lots of fun too. BUT it depends so much on what you are looking for so you absolutely must see at least your most likely schools for yourself.

ponyprincess Fri 19-Apr-13 14:24:08

I agree with the posters who encouraged you to have a look at the schools to see which feels right for you, but wanted to give another thumbs up for Charterhouse Square. My DD was summer born and started in the nursery and she had no problems settling in and enjoying things, and our experience throughout was of a really caring and supportive environment. They do also make good use of outdoor space--they have the square gardens for outdoor play and use nearby Golden Lane for sports and swimming, as well as Coram's Fields. Like one previous poster, I cried when I left too, but that was because we were quite sad to leave what for us was a fantastic school!

CruCru Sat 20-Apr-13 15:49:22

Awesome, thanks. I'll give Charterhouse and the Lyceum a ring to have a look round as well.

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