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Any views on VirgoFidelis Preparatory School, Upper Norwood

(19 Posts)
maxiemum100 Tue 28-May-13 22:24:49

Hello everyone
We're considering paying for DD to go to independent school. Does anyone know anything - good or bad - about Virgo Fidelis? We are not Catholic but know that they accept children from all faiths. It would be a stretch financially but we are considering it as our closest school - Cypress- ranks in the bottom 5 for SATS results in Croydon. Next closest are All Saints and St Marks CofE, both with bad reputations locally. Any inside perspective on teaching, their approach to other faiths, happiness and wellbeing of children and whether they go on to grammar/ good independents after? Thanks in advance.
PS. Thoughts on Old Palace also welcome. A little too far in terms of school run but could manage at a push...

pinkdelight Wed 29-May-13 08:40:53

My DC went to the nursery and was going to stay on but we got a last minute place at a good primary and saved a bomb! Virgo is lovely though, very caring and nice staff and facilities. I know some who stayed on are happy there. It's no hothouse, which is nice, and the classes are small. But I wouldn't discount Cypress just on the stats. Have you been and looked around? It's got a good rep, esp the infants, and honestly I wouldn't pay for Virgo if I got a place at Cypress unless I was minted and wedded to private education (in which case I'd probably send him to one of the Dulwich schools anyway!). Best advice is to visit Cypress and keep a place there if you're offered it. If your dd goes there and it doesn't work out, there will always be places at Virgo so you can switch later - at 7, say. Saving a small fortune in the process. It's good to be part of local community too - some Virgo kids come from as far away as Catford and in a small class this limits the friendship pool somewhat. Oh and I don't know which year you're applying but the catchment for Downsview was v wide this year so don't discount that.

pinkdelight Wed 29-May-13 08:46:57

Forgot to address your specific questions, sorry. It is v Catholic, in terms of prayers/services/approach, but lots of non-catholic families go there and it's fine. Depends how much it bothers you personally. There's a list on their website of leavers' destinations. It's not a super impressive list but then it's not selective and doesn't pretend to be all about the academics. Depends what you're looking for. Oakwood is hotter on the preparing them for exams side of things, if that's what you want. Old Palace is probably stronger academically too but rather a schlep and they really want girls to go on to their senior school.

pinkdelight Wed 29-May-13 08:51:57

Oakfield, sorry, not Oakwood. And just wondering why Old Palace rather than Sydenham? Much less of a schlep!

NynaevesSister Wed 29-May-13 13:10:53

Yes I was going to say why not Sydenham girls? Or do you have a younger DS and want to go with the same school? I knew someone with a son at Cypress, and they had no problems with the school. I'm also good friends with someone who has two boys at All Saints. Both boys are doing well - she's a teacher so can give them extra support I guess. Academically it can be hit and miss but overall she's been happy with it.

Again I have heard great things about Virgo, but they moved their two girls to a local, very good state school when places came up and have been really happy with that.

Oakfield and Rosemead I have had mixed reports from. Oakfield is great if your child is academic but it is a bit of a hot house. Rosemead sounds good but again, the only parents with children there that I know moved to an outstanding state primary as soon as they got the chance. They were OK about the school but again not enthusiastic. Hard to judge though when parents make the choice to leave!

maxiemum100 Wed 29-May-13 23:23:50

Thanks pinkdelight. Really helpful. You're right - I do need to visit Cypress. It's literally a stones throw for us but it's in the bottom 5 for SATS in Croydon which caused me to panic!
Nyna evesSister -I didn't consider Sydenham Girls or Royal Russell. I've heard good things about both but they do seem "frightfully posh" and not so academic. I could be wrong though...
I took a look around Old Palace and loved it. Silly of me as it was bound to be very good and hard for state schools to compare. The girls seemed so happy and articulate. Does anyone have recent experience of Cypress and Downsview? What about Rockmount? I'm not sure DD would get in as quite a distance. Like you say pinkdelight I would like to save my pennies if there are good state schools out there!

pinkdelight Thu 30-May-13 08:18:54

This is the problem, I know - you look around private schools and of course it's impressive and almost impossible for a state school to measure up. We were pretty intent on Virgo but when we got the state place we looked around and althoughy it wasn't the idyllic little bubble, we honestly couldn't fault it. And now I'm so glad we made the switch as he's got a much bigger, more diverse pool of mates and i'm it's made him more confident than he would have been if he'd been cosseted more. But have a look around all the schools, talk to parents on your road whose kids are at Cypress. I'm sure the sats are a very small part of the story and no need to panic. It's easy to feel the fear and seems to help to pay to make it go away, but as one head teacher said to me - at an outstanding primary - the main thing at that age is that they're safe, happy, and they learn something, in that order.

Heard good things about Rockmount but catchment quite tight. Downsview is still good - was better a while back apparently but know parents there with no complaints. Royal Russell is meant to be v posh but have visited Sydenham and it seems v nice. But again, all depends on what you want. Like I said, no harm in applying for state in parallel. You'll get a place in private later if you need it.

NynaevesSister Thu 30-May-13 11:54:45

Have a few neighbours whose girls went to Sydenham, and they all loved it. I don't know how academic it is as such, but one neighbour chose it for her girl who was really bright (and now is a doctor).

Have good friends at Rockmount, and it seems to be a really lovely place. I can't see that you'd get in there though from where you are.

Langbourne in Dulwich could be a possibility for you? Is in a nice location, and has lovely big grounds. Has had a poor reputation for the last few years, which has driven its popularity right down. But a new head teacher has come on board, and Southwark are pumping loads of money into the place. It has the capacity for three form entry, but is mostly only one form, so lots of space. Southwark want to take it up to three forms again, so you may have an opportunity to get into a school just as it is turning a corner?

maxiemum100 Thu 30-May-13 14:22:10

Thanks for the very helpful comments.

KandyBarr Fri 31-May-13 14:39:01

My DS is at Rockmount. We expected to shunt him to a prep school from yr 3 but we've been impressed and he's so happy that he's staying. Small streamed groups for key subjects, good progress and he's stimulated and happy. There's emphasis on getting children reading by the time they've finished in Reception and lots of mental maths in small groups.

We didn't look at VF - the leavers' destinations weren't terribly impressive - but we took a quick look at Rosemead and Oakfield. Rosemead DCs seemed content but school very cramped. Oakfield better facilities but standard of yr 2 equivalent work in books and on walls not significantly better than Rockmount, from what I could see.

Sydenham Girls considered excellent, and there's also St Dunstans juniors a bit further away. Parents we know at Cypress and Downsview also very happy. We're very lucky with the schools in CP.

Wahla Fri 31-May-13 14:51:39

David Livingstone Academy is just round the corner from Downsview and was second in the league tables last year. My kids go there, posh it isn't and the intake is from a very diverse group of people, but it's a lovely little school and the staff are very dedicated.

Sophf Sat 28-Jun-14 07:56:11

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

Passthewineluv Thu 03-Jul-14 10:41:01

Maxiemum100.. I might be too late but I'm a recent past parent of Virgo. It is a very special school. My DC left happy, confident and very well prepared for yr7 at a very good Indi. We are not Catholic either. Masses and prayers are not hard core .. Much more about loving and respecting one another, lessons we all want our children to learn whether you have a faith or not. It adds to the sense of belonging the children feel even after they have left. Many return for visits and sports days etc. That to me speaks volumes . Finding that kind of community can be difficult in London. The teachers and children have a heathy mutual respect. The children speak freely and respectfully with adults showing the balance between love and discipline. DC is now at 1st choice indi. Everyone who wanted indi, got it. The vast majority got their first choice and more. Others got first choice state through selective entry. They were brilliantly prepared by utterly dedicated staff who did everything in their power to make it happen. I personally couldn't have asked for more. Please don't read the leavers list in isolation. It is a very mixed school..all races, all abilities, all economic backgrounds, all faiths, no faiths..a true reflection of living in London. Not everyone wants the same thing. The point to note here, first hand, is that everyone got a school they wanted and most THE school they wanted.
It's true, the website doesn't do the school justice. As a parent I was quite happy for that money to be spent in the school, on the children rather than on self promotion. Thankfully not many people choose their child's school from the internet and nothing beats a visit to Virgo to show you what can't be captured on a website anyway. It's a loving, diverse community with good discipline, committed teachers, a beautiful place to learn. The children leave happy having had a wonderful childhood and are more than ready in more than just the academic sense for the rigours of life at their high school of choice. What else can you ask for ? It's such a tough choice but what I learned is 'The best' isn't always the best smile I hope that's of use. Good Luck smile

SuperStrongStella Thu 03-Jul-14 13:26:02

Couldn't agree more with passthewineluv and HORRIFIED to hear that someone might judge a school negatively as many leavers go to ...stand back with a tissue over your nose...."state school". Ooo how horrid and what a life destined to failure they will have! NOT.

Last week practically the whole of last years Year 6 returned to Virgo for their annual sports day and "old boys and girls" v current Year 6 cricket match. They had just the best time and last years parents and kids were amongst the last to leave. Because we never wanted to leave last year either!

I can't even be bothered here to stoop to listing my children's and their Virgo friends achievements since they left but I will brag about what genuinely lovely children Virgo turns out. The teaching staff are warm, dedicated and passionate about teaching and their school. I am so glad my children will always have such special primary school memories - best decision we ever made.

Bernie75 Thu 03-Jul-14 20:51:39

Thank you to the two posters above for their positive comments about Virgo. We are sold on it for our children for its small class sizes, inclusive culture, beautiful grounds (very rare to find a school in London with such lovely green space for sports) and philosophy to try and find something for every child to be good at. So not all their leavers go to Dulwich College maybe, but you can't put a price on happiness and every child and parent I have spoken with who has experience of the school speaks of it incredibly highly and with such genuine affection. It is a shame this school was not quite the right fit for your children, but I hope prospective parents will still make the effort to visit this lovely school and find out for themselves, as we have done.

Sophf Sat 29-Oct-16 02:15:56

And look.

It went into administration and sold to another firm

Sophf Sat 29-Oct-16 02:19:59

Sophf Sat 29-Oct-16 02:21:29

The head and the bursar removed.
Then school lease to a private firm.

Sophf Sat 29-Oct-16 06:52:12

I feel vindicated!

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