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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!

Bitzer Wed 24-Apr-13 20:49:46

I've already answered a couple of these threads so apols if I'm repeating myself but I found personal experiences v useful when I was making this decision. I have one DC at William Tyndale and another starting there in September.

I did have some reservations because I knew so many people who weren't even considering the state options but I have found it to be excellent and it really is such a bonus to be so close to school/have local friends etc. Not to mention the fact that it is free!

One of my DC was at the Children's House, which is a lovely school but I genuinely see no discernible difference in the education they offer. (And I know a number of other parents who have made the Children's House to Tyndale shift for the same reason.) I do also know people who do the school commute up to the Hampstead schools and I personally don't think it is worth either the money or time spent but each to his own and if you're going to spend the next few years worrying about it, then maybe just pay for the peace of mind. But increasingly I think, if you have the option of a really good state school, that peace of mind is all you are paying for in going private. I can't speak for secondary school because we aren't anywhere near that stage but I've spent a great deal of angsting about primary schools and that is my verdict!

Good luck

CruCru Wed 24-Apr-13 21:47:13

Hi Bitzer

Thanks for this - I'm really glad that WT is a good option. I'm due to visit it at the end of May.

CruCru Fri 24-May-13 11:58:33

Update: we went to see William Tyndale this morning and loved it. We'll go and see some other schools as well but am now feeling much better about schools. Thank you all very much for your comments and advice.

Farewelltoarms Fri 24-May-13 12:20:30

Ah so pleased CruCru. I had an 'aha' moment when I saw our (similarish but less posh) N1 primary. Everything fell into place and I'm so glad. I look on how easily we could have felt sucked into going elsewhere and I know without question we are happier as a family for our decision. Possibly not as 'rigorously academic' whatever that means, but without a doubt happier.

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:16:12

Update: We went to see Dallington a little while ago. There was a lot to like about it. The children were lovely and it seems like a really nice, small school. One thing that put me off was that, although there are loads of kids early on, there were few older children (I think 7, 8, 9 and 10 year olds shared a classroom). Although I'm sure that they would find sensible work for children in each age group, I wonder whether this might make it difficult for a child to feel like they're progressing through a school later on (and may reflect comments earlier on that children often move after the early years). I didn't like it more than William Tyndale.

I hope you all don't mind the updates - I've had a few PMs asking for my conclusions (which I haven't reached yet) so thought it might be helpful.

CruCru Sun 23-Jun-13 16:18:37

One thing I did like about Dallington was the prep they do for common entrance and that they would form a view on where a child should go for secondary.

I think the plan is to see St Paul's Cathedral next (the next open afternoon is in the Autumn so a while off).

Farewelltoarms Sun 23-Jun-13 20:00:07

So you can cross Dallington off your list. If you didn't like it any better than Tyndale, you're far better off with the free one on your doorstep. Plus does Dallington prep for CE? I thought it stopped at 11? There are agencies and tutors who should be able to give you steer on wh secondaries to go for.
The only thing I envy about some privates is the sense that you could subcontract out all the worry and prep about secondary entrance. Hence I'd not opt for somewhere like Dallington, but would poss consider somewhere like the hall. Wh sounds contrary as Dallington much closer in ethos to a state school than some stuffy prep.

CruCru Thu 26-Sep-13 18:28:12

Update: we went to see St Paul's Cathedral School and loved it. To me it felt a bit more like William Tyndale than Dallington (perhaps that isn't surprising).

I liked that there are male teachers and that class sizes are small. The head of pre prep said some very interesting things about how small children shouldn't be pushed too soon. The kids who showed us round were articulate without being polished (which is nice). I also loved the music stuff and the idea that the kids can get involved in things to do with the cathedral.

I do have some concern that the head said there are 20 reception places (less sibling places) and on average 70 kids are assessed for those (the assessment is described as a play date in the November before the September they would start - so between 3 and 2 months and 4 and 2 months).

All in all, this one stays on the list. But I think we need a back up in case we don't get in (frankly William Tyndale would still be a very good option).

Methren Fri 27-Sep-13 10:11:24

Hi CruCru, I am an SPCS parent. It is a lovely school, and we are very happy with it.

I really wouldn't stress too much about the assessment. Unfortunately I think some sort of selection process is inevitable when a school is very oversubscribed, but SPCS do do their best to make it as pleasant as possible for children and parents alike and the assessment is very low-key. Children are taken in groups of about 10 to the Reception classroom for 45 minutes and listen to a story, play and chat with the teachers. In DS's year there are quite a few summer-born children who got non-sibling places, so they definitely don't just cream off the autumn-born children at assessment. Having said that, I still don't know exactly what they do base selection on - but the children definitely don't need to be reading fluently or any of that sort of thing. My DS had to be carried to the door of the classroom and peeled off me, but came out 45 minutes later beaming - and was still awarded a place, so don't believe everything you hear about children automatically "failing" if they won't separate happily from parents.

I think the point about not pushing small children too much is a good one. DS was offered a Reception place at a pre-prep that would have meant taking 7+ or 8+. At the time, we thought this would be a good thing, a chance to reevaluate school choices for prep, and seriously considered this option before accepting a place at SPCS. With hindsight I am very glad that we didn't choose the other school. DS is very able in one particular area but distinctly average in another. With no 7+ "deadline", his ability in the weaker subject has been able to develop more naturally and without pressure, and more importantly his confidence levels have improved enormously. I don't think this would have happened if we had been under pressure to reach a certain standard or master particular skills for 7+.

(Very strange to think that you probably saw my DS yesterday Cru!smile)

CruCru Fri 27-Sep-13 18:18:14

Thanks Methren, that is good to hear. A couple of the year 4s showed us round - is your child in that year?

As mentioned up thread, I hope people don't mind me coming back and updating. I had quite a few PMs on schools since my original post and this seems the most efficient way to do it.

wewontbebulliedanymore Thu 10-Apr-14 14:21:44

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:29:31

Please stop spamming the boards with this bloody thread! angry

Feenie Thu 10-Apr-14 14:33:47

Wow, MN, that was fast!

MarriedDadOneSonOneDaughter Thu 10-Apr-14 17:40:18

Both our kids at an "outstanding" state primary in Islington. Both doing well.

I am unconvinced that prep school is worth paying up for. My two are bright and get plenty from the state system.

Once you get to secondary in N1, things change considerably. I am not brave enough to stay in the state secondary system.

Our son, with nothing other than ordinary national curriculum at state school, got offer from both City of London Boys and Colet Court/St Paul's year 5 tests with relative ease. I have no doubt he would get offers from most other private schools mentioned here. It would be tougher to get a place at Dame Alice Owen's, Latymer or QE Boys simply because of sheer numbers, but he would stand a reasonable chance.

My point is prep school seems a waste of money. If you kids are bright enough, they will get the secondary that suits them regardless and without preping and tutoring. If your kids really need all that prep, maybe academically competitive and selective schools are not the best idea (constant failure perception syndrome).

Choose a decent local school in walking distance (upto 1 mile) would be my advice.

CruCru Fri 11-Apr-14 17:45:45

Thanks for that MarriedDad. We had a girl in October so that effectively removes quite a few of these schools.

CruCru Tue 03-Jun-14 11:52:55

Update: we went to see The Lyceum this morning and liked it a lot. I think I liked it more than DH did. The head was very impressive and I liked what he had to say about the kids doing living history, music and French.

The class sizes are about 15 to begin with but then decrease to 10 by 11. They do lots of trips and pre are the kids for the 11+.

I am a bit concerned that the head is about to retire and a new head is coming in. Also, perhaps the school day is quite long (8:30 to 3:45 but they can stay for after school clubs and homework club until 5:45).

rickinghorse Tue 03-Jun-14 16:58:16

also the year 2 kids up go to school in a basement without any windows. that was the clincher for me. couldn't face it for the children.
otherwise, liked the school.

CruCru Thu 19-Jun-14 12:45:34

Update: we went to see Charterhouse Square and loved it. I really liked what the head had to say about children needing to be confident to learn and to take risks. The school itself is bright and airy and is much bigger than it looks from the outside. It sounds as though they do quite a lot of outdoor activities.

A couple of kids showed us round and they were articulate and confident. We are in the ballot on 1 July and have about a 1 in 4 chance of getting DS's name picked out of the hat.

Playfortoday Thu 19-Jun-14 14:24:31

Gosh when we looked at Charterhouse I came out almost in tears I hated it so much. Would sooner have home schooled and that's saying something. Funny how different people's impressions can be.

Stalectite Thu 19-Jun-14 20:50:41

My reaction too... Gosh
I hated it. Kids nc levels taped to wall...homework was endless bond books... Deeply unimaginative test geared teaching... Even infants silently scratching away at worksheets... My impression was the parents who sent their kids there wanted them to get into selective secondaries even though a number had not got into selective primaries.
I fled the place.
And no outside space.

Stalectite Thu 19-Jun-14 20:52:06

Btw I didn't look round one school state or private where the kids weren't polite articulate and confident (and most so at the state as it happens).

CruCru Thu 19-Jun-14 21:45:23

Hi Playfortoday and Stalectite - thanks for your comments, it is very helpful. I spoke with the headmistress who said that it was like that when she came in four years ago but she has made lots of changes. The youngest children were playing with lego and some slightly older children were making cubes out of straws. Quite a lot of the children had gone out to play sport (they were walking in a crocodile). The headmistress did say that they focussed on English and Maths but also spent time on other subjects.

I had a look at the after school clubs and they included things like chess and jewellery making.

CruCru Wed 02-Jul-14 12:46:34

Update: The names were put into a ballot for Charterhouse Square yesterday and DS's wasn't picked. He is 20th on the waiting list. Hey ho.

LondonLady30 Fri 11-Jul-14 16:20:33

Hi Crucru,

Thanks so much for all these updates - I just found the thread now. So helpful of you to take the time to put it all up here!

Just started a thread myself on the Lyceum as we have a place for ours in there - she's 2.5 yrs now so will start at the nursery in Sept 15. Its just been taken over by an investment group so not sure at all if that means good things or bad things for the school (or perhaps nothing at all!)

We are closer to Old St so I don't think we are in the catchment of the state schools you mention but I'm now starting to wonder if it really is worth the whopping �4600 a term at the Lyceum. Me and DH both went to state school so would love to send her to one but just don't have any on our door. Lyceum is our closest school at all actually. But I obviously wouldn't mind a little commute if it was for a brilliant state school that would have the same outcomes for her at I understand the Lyceum would have.

Ho hum.....all luxury problems I know as noone is starving but mildly stressful nonetheless as it is the family's finances I am stewarding and we could only just afford to have two there at present so my mind is racing back to the orginal 'is it all worth it' arguement! Especially if it really is the case that they are no more likely to get in to the good independent secondary schools than state primary kids. I had thought there was a 'first user advantage' of being in the private system from early on as we would defo want her to go to a private secondary (if only as there are real shortages in getting in to the good local state ones) but if this isnt' the case it seems a false investment. Any thoughts?!

roslet Fri 11-Jul-14 21:10:25

William Tyndale is a fantastic school, I can't think why you wouldn't choose it! The time you save by not having to travel you can spend on reading homework and hobbies / clubs. Great to have options if he doesn't get in, but I would choose to send my children there without hesitation if I lived round the corner.

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