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Falkner House - too rich/posh for the ordinary (single digit) millionaires?

(33 Posts)
curryspider Wed 25-Sep-13 14:37:55

I have recently heard from several mums that they pulled their daughters out of falkner house for no other reason other than the amount of wealth of other families in their daughters' classes. Their daughters felt uncomfortable so to speak. These are coming from local, ordinarily wealthy families (living in £1m-£3m houses). Is this true? We are thinking of starting our little girl there for its academic reputation only, but certainly wouldn't want to put her in an enviornment where one might feel vastly financially inferior and out of place. Wouldn't do any child any good. Any first hand experience greatly appreciated....

Please please - no sarcasm about rich/super rich/materialism, this is a real post and I am just raising a valid point regarding the south ken area's private schools...

Talkinpeace Wed 25-Sep-13 16:00:43

FH has always had the uber rich

one family I knew there I never met the parents as they were always dropped off by the chauffeur and housekeeper
another alumnus was given a tropical island for her 18th and the money to fly everybody out there for the party

if the south ken families pull out they will just make it worse
I was poor as a church mouse but just surfed along with the wave of money

night1971 Wed 25-Sep-13 17:44:15

You will find that the same issue arises in many central London prep schools so better to pick one you like. It depends on the personality of your child whether she can cope although your child may be rich in having your attention and time instead. It's a lovely school and historically has been so for many years.

sanam2010 Wed 25-Sep-13 21:06:29

Never heard anything like it (at least nothing that is different from other preps in the area). FH is actually excellent for working mothers because of the early bird drop-off and afterschool clubs. I also think it attracts a lot of European "single digit millionaires", mainly bankers who like the whole traditional thing.

But if you want excellent academics without too much wealth,why not go for Ken Prep or Eaton House the Manor Girls' instead?

Talkinpeace Wed 25-Sep-13 22:08:54

so long as FH is under the watchful eye of Flavia and Anita and Flavia junior, the ethos will be as inclusive as the fees allow.

Needmoresleep Thu 26-Sep-13 09:37:48

There are uber rich at both FH and Glendower. I was aware of it being a problem at the latter to the extent that some families left though have not picked up the same with FH.

In this part of London results are everything. At least to the sizeable minority of alpha parents who discuss SPGS and WA place offers as if they were football league results. Try to soak up the atmosphere. Perhaps sit in the cafe where the school run mums congregate and decide whether you will fit in. It can be quite a tight knit group.

If it does not suit, Newton Prep across the river caters for those buying their way out of North Lambeth education but also its share of Chelsea parents who want to avoid Chelsea schools. Ken Prep, which is GDST, gets good reviews for being more down to earth. As does Hill House.

sanam2010 Thu 26-Sep-13 09:42:16

Curryspider, out of curiosity, where did those parents you mention switch their kids to? Presumably not Garden House or Pembridge Hall (which must be much worse in this sense)?

curryspider Thu 26-Sep-13 22:06:19

sanam2010 - they went to bute house (but ballot system for entry etc, no guarantees) and ken prep and queens gate. Some of these families were precisely bankers. Their girls started at the school, then as the children went up the years apparently this financial awareness became increasingly uncomfortable... there have been whispers that the headmistress also favours those uber rich. I guess if that is true then it is not totally surprising, especially if the donations, presents etc are jaw dropping..

Night1971, you are absolutely right this is potentially something common to all private schools across central london. It does depend very much on the child - how they react, whether they can shrug it off or whether it affects their confidence. And you are right it is a lovely school in other respects. Food for thought.

Needmoresleep, yes I have also heard of the same for glendower. More so for glendower actually. So much so that some of the mums I know attended the open days and never bothered applying - so put off were they by the extent of the chauffeur driven cars, chanel suits and various blings.

Queens gate and Ken prep are both nice enough schools. The latter is quite far from south ken, so I'm needing to think about it. Maybe we'll go state after all and try bousfield just down the road. Not sure how that compares, both by way of academic excellence and the background of families.

Talkinpeace Thu 26-Sep-13 22:18:16

Interesting sign of the times that parents who can afford FH now consider Bousfield. Was certainly not the case in my day. Shows how the State schools have sharpened up (and the fees have risen).
I always thought Flavia was more into the 'age' of the money rather than the 'amount' of it. But times change and Anita is now the boss.

sanam2010 Thu 26-Sep-13 22:37:07

wow, this thread is putting me off private schools completely!! I was kind of considering some of these schools because of academic excellence, but now I feel really out of place as we are "not even single digit millionaires" :-). I think Ken Prep and Bute House look nice, Hill House is really down to earth, curryspider you could also look at Redcliffe which is lovely and totally nice and normal hard working families and also scholarships for those who can't afford the fees. And if you can actually get into Bousfield I would always do that, you can always start there and try 7+ entry into Bute House later. I have my daughter registered at Glendower and FH, was already a bit put off after visiting them, but after reading this thread for sure I won't other bringing my daughter to the assessments, we have a place at Hill House and local state schools are also an option potentially, why would you want to put yourself in a situation where you have to deal with people who think bankers are poor? What a totally twisted view of reality.

Talkinpeace Thu 26-Sep-13 22:45:49

why would you want to put yourself in a situation where you have to deal with people who think bankers are poor
It depends if you let it bother you.

I was utterly broke when I was at FH - but it was never an issue (fees paid by other than my close family) as neither FH nor my family made it one.
If bling makes you feel inadequate, so be it. Your choice, but not something the school force on you.

At DCs comp, the multimillionaire dad of one kid employs lots of the other dads. Its not a problem, its a fact of life.

sanam2010 Thu 26-Sep-13 23:15:53

Talkinpeace, I think there are many issues than you admit. I couldn't care less and I don't feel inadequate, but I would never want my child to grow up in such an environment. When you talk of the past, it's quite different because London wasn't filled with thousands of billionaires. Of course you had rich families, but what you have now is a different dimension. Your children will really get the wrong idea if they think having cleaners and nannies and drivers and chefs is normal. What will happen to them when bad luck strikes and they actually have to become independent? I know lots of rich children who had an extremely hard time as young adults when they had to enter the real world and daddy went to prison for tax evasion or daddy and mummy died in a car crash in one of their ten Porsches and they found out due to stupid and concealed real estate investments their parents had actually been in debt. These are real cases of friends i know who ended up in horrible situations and i know many more of these cases. I also know a girl who went to Pembridge Hall and in her mind the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone in life is that they don't get into St Paul's and have to go to City of London School instead. A great preparation for the 21st century! It has nothing to do with envy or feelings of inadequacy, I pity children who grow up like this.

Talkinpeace Thu 26-Sep-13 23:23:36

Indeed, but its not a new phenomenon.
When I was there the pressure was to marry an earl - further education was less important
and the 'old money' families lauded it over the 'nouveau riche' in singularly unpleasant ways
yup, one of my friends' dads was an Apartheid sanctions buster - nice house they had (for a short while)
depressing as it is, many of those people never, ever leave their bubble and nothing we can do will change it.

sanam2010 Fri 27-Sep-13 11:16:14

Talkinpeace, hate to break the news to you but everyone will leave the bubble one day, at the latest on their deathbed, but usually before when they face divorce, illness or betrayal. As Alexander the Great said, we all leave the world empty handed, and I would look for a school that prepares children for this spiritually and morally, rather than pretending they live in fairyland.

Apart from that, even if you grant people the right to live in a bubble, from the OP I can sense the OP would be uncomfortable about such an environment - and it is because of her concerns that I said why would you want to put yourself in this situation when you know you are not comfortable with such an environment.

You mentioned one of the headmistresses liking old money families, for example, and I'd be quite uncomfortable about the values this would teach children. I'd rather my children are raised with humanist or Christian values that all humans are equal, instead of teaching them that richer families get treated with more respect and reverence than the rest.

Talkinpeace Fri 27-Sep-13 12:47:22

I'd rather my children are raised with humanist or Christian values that all humans are equal, instead of teaching them that richer families get treated with more respect and reverence than the rest
but we live in a country where when members of one family get married, everybody else gets a day off work ....

And do you really think that the "elite" boarding schools prepare their kids for ever having to live in amongst the "scum" (as they call us) ?
Look at our politicians.
David Cameron is married to an Astor FFS : the bubble will move with him wherever he goes.

All I would hope is that those who do go to schools such as FH are encouraged to find out about what life is like for the rest of us.

Reading a different discussion forum where certain people assumed that all state schooled kids were classed as 'deprived' - because they had never met any - was an eye opener.

I would very much hope that the SMT at FH (and the others) are well aware of the changing demographics of South Ken and prepare the Gels as best they can.
I've not been back to a reunion in a while, but to walk past occasionally. Jelly Bag had season is coming round again.

mrsshackleton Fri 27-Sep-13 13:58:35

Well, I was totally put off Bute by the amount of bling and chauffeurs outside at the open day, so I wouldn't say this phenomenon was unique at all to the two schools mentioned. It's true of any central-London prep school, though some are possibly slightly more down-to-earth than others. The fees are becoming unaffordable and state schools are improving hugely.

OP, are you in a council house or did you buy 20 years ago, because i don't see how anyone can live in S Ken now and not be uber-rich? The bankers I know can't afford it, they all live in Chiswick.

curryspider Fri 27-Sep-13 21:59:55

lol mrsshackleton re council house / buying 20 years ago.

You are right sanam2010, it has nothing to do with me feeling envious or inadequate. But I will happily put my hands up and admit that, if my daughter got invited to attend parties where the host spent the equivalent of a small wedding, I would have major reservations about whether this is the sort of environment i'd like my little girl to be growing up in/potentially influenced by. School fees themselves are far from being a concern.

The disparity of wealth is a fact of life, I know. Part of the purpose of this thread however is to assess the extent of this disparity at FH in particular, and how big an issue it may actually be for us. Because my choice of schooling for a 4yo isn't going to be all about academic excellence, it will also be about the overall fit. To that extent, I guess Redcliffe does potentially sound like a great option, so I will definitely look into that.

Ema78 Sat 26-Oct-13 16:51:22

so interesting to read that I am not the only one concerned on what kind of peers my children will have in ken&chelsea private schools. But I must confess, although it scares me, I still do want my children to go to such private schools. I don't want them to feel inferior because of other people's show off methods and believe me the best way is not making them escape and closing their eyes. I want them to be able to face them in life, if it will ever happen, without feeling not a little bit of apprehension. Plus, I must add that, although I do come come from a wealthy family and had a chauffeur, my parents never ever considered putting me in a private school (but we are talking about a different country, Italy, and different quality of state education, at least 20 years ago) and I was raised with a clear consciousness of the precarious of all material possessions and that it would be rude to show off what you have.

I though have to remark on my parents that in state school I was considered the "snob" only because I had a nice dress or just because I wasn't used to say any "bad" word and felt very much alone. So if you have the money to send your children, my opinion, do consider such privates without feeling the pressure of who's reacher than you, otherwise your children will feel it all their lives.

p.s. sorry for my English!

nbg22 Thu 05-Dec-13 22:11:58

I can't talk about FH but I've had a daughter at Glendower for a couple of years now. If it helps anyone - it is not as bad as people make it out to be. There are some families that are really wealthy, but in my experience they are mostly quite discrete. And, at least in my girl's year, these people have very low key birthday parties. Among about 30 kids in her year there is only one girl who is taken to school by a chauffeur, and she does have somewhat over the top parties, come to think of it.

There is not much bling at the drop off in the morning, and I don't feel judged wearing sneakers and gym gear at times. Many (most?) moms do their own drop-offs and there is a number of working moms. In spring our school has a fundraising dinner event and there, I must say, you do see the wealthier people parting with large amounts of money. There is no pressure to attend the dinner, in fact I skipped the last one. Now that the main renovation project is over, these dinners will only be every other year - so it's not that big of a deal.

I did choose Gendower for the academics and have been very happy with it. My daughter loves going to school, likes her friends and is progressing nicely. The new headmistress has been good for the school.

You have to realize that people who come to open days - the bling and the chauffeurs you mentioned - are not necessarily people who end up at the school, so don't let that alone turn you off any school. Rather try to talk to the people who are at the school, or at least walk by around pickup time and observe.

DoMyBest Sat 08-Feb-14 18:59:18

This is such a lovely post. I agree, the problem isn't having money or not, it's about whether you're modest about it or you flaunt it. All private schools these days (and yes, what a difference to when we were at school and money was, overall, discreetely hidden) have parents who flaunt it. If you decide on a private school education, all you can do is give your children the sort of values that make them immune to it.

DoMyBest Sat 08-Feb-14 19:00:48

Sorry, to clarify I was referring to Ema78's post.

babybarrister Sun 09-Feb-14 20:41:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Nickmom Mon 10-Feb-14 08:36:20

Moved my daughter from one to the other. (Glen and FH).

I think that most private school in the area have parents who "flaunt" what they have. I totally agree that as parents, we need to be careful of the values we teach out children.

In choosing a school, I think the important factor is how does the administration react to these extreme displays of wealth. Are headmistresses taking "inappropriate" gifts/ plane rides? Are awards and prises given fairly? Basically, does the school show favouritism to the extremely wealthy or generous families?? This is what can upset and frustrate children.

MMmomDD Mon 10-Feb-14 09:36:04

Nickmom - was that your experience at Glendower? Old headmistress, or new? This sounds terrible!

Nickmom Mon 10-Feb-14 09:49:23

Sorry MM. In my experience, there was a bit of this in both schools. It has been a few years since my dd left. Old headmistress. In her defence (?) she had huge drops in enrollment and was taking in anyone who applied in later years. Increased the size of the kindergarten class despite published promise. Even took in several children who had been excluded from other schools. They were in a financial bind because of the expansion and old HM knew she was @ to get fired.

Best to check with current parents. Parents with children in older years, but be informed.

Dd 2 on to a co ed and none of that existed.

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