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Are ABSOLUTELY EVERY child's parents at Garden House School (Chelsea) very rich?

(57 Posts)
Xashax007 Tue 11-Nov-14 20:22:38

Are there any ordinary working parents?

An insight from a parent at GH would be appreciated.

Pagwatch Tue 11-Nov-14 20:33:12

It's more than £6000 per term so £20,000 a year.
So I'm guessing probably quite a few are, yes. That's pretty self evident isn't it? Ordinary working parents who chose to stretch themselves to pay for independent/private schooling are not that likely to opt for one of the most expensive prep schools in the country are they?

What are you trying to find out - are the parents rich or are the parents snobs?

MonoNoAware Tue 11-Nov-14 22:44:57

I'm not a parent with a child at GH (mine are at a state primary wink) but I wouldn't assume that all the parents are necessarily paying the fees themselves. Out of friends with children in prep schools, a sizeable majority are funded through grandparents and family trusts.

I do think it's a useful question, not from a point of snobbery, but from the point that you don't want your child to be the only one in second hand uniform and no holidays/extra trips/etc.

Greenfizzywater Tue 11-Nov-14 22:53:33

Well it's in Chelsea. Not many ordinary working families live in Chelsea.

MMmomKK Wed 12-Nov-14 01:01:53

You need to define "rich". Also, of course not "absolutely" every family. Our friends with a kid there are both lawyers. Another family are banker and artist. We also know several consultant and housewife families there.

On balance, thought, the school has a higher % of really rich and openly so parents. Higher than in many of the surrounding schools in the area. And it is the most expensive in the area - by about a £ 1000 / term.

Xashax007 Wed 12-Nov-14 09:42:44

I asked this question, because as GH is a selective prep school, I am wondering what criteria it chooses to select children; whether it selects on parent's wealth or on child's ability.

No snobbery here at all, just a general question.

sanam2010 Wed 12-Nov-14 21:35:14

define "ordinary working parents". There are many "ordinary very hard working bankers and lawyers and hedge fund managers". So you don't have to be a billionaire at all to attend the school, but obviously with those fees no-one is going to be on an income below £100 or £150k and many will be considerably above (and that will be true for most private schools in Chelsea / Knightsbridge obviously)

pyrrah Wed 12-Nov-14 21:52:00

It will select on ability from those who apply. Anyone who applies can no doubt afford the fees - it doesn't matter whether they can afford them by living on beans on toast for years or whether the cost is basically pocket change.

London is big enough and competitive enough that they no doubt have enough applicants to be turning some away.

Having been to an expensive prep (although not London and not THAT expensive), managing to score at the second-hand shop was something parents pretty much celebrated rather than trying to hide the fact that things weren't brand new. Most of my uniform was either 3 sizes too big or second-hand, and my siblings got my hand-me-downs. School uniform is a great leveller, and frankly when everyone has the same identical rugby shirt what child even notices whose is new and whose isn't?

Yes there were kids who went on skiing trips and safaris in the holidays and had houses with swimming pools, but other than 'yay, they've got a pool, when can we come and play' it really didn't bother any of the children.

It seems a very common worry of parents on MN that less well-off pupils will be teased or sneered at by other children.

My experience of private schools was that a huge amount of emphasis was put the importance of recognising the opportunities we were being given and how fortunate we were - and not in a 'hey, you lot are so much better than everyone else', but in a 'you have a duty to make the most of your time here and appreciate how lucky you are' kind of way. A degree of humility was expected. Boasting or putting someone down over what they didn't have would go down very poorly with staff and children alike.

Pagwatch Wed 12-Nov-14 21:56:26

2 of my dc went to academically selective prep schools.

They select from the children who apply whose parents can afford the fees and the £100 non refundable deposit it costs to apply.

If a school is good and sought after they will get two to three times as many applicants as places. They won't drop the price if not enough smart kids turn up.

Other than that I agree with everything Pyrrah said.

Xashax007 Wed 12-Nov-14 22:36:54

‘We are selective, but not on an academic basis,’
says Mr Warland the head of boys at Garden House. ‘There are so many children I’d love to offer places to but I
can’t. It’s horrible.’ - what does this mean?

nannyj Wed 12-Nov-14 22:46:59

As a nanny I've worked in a few areas of London and had a child who went to the garden house. It is by far the most affluent area I've worked in and all the other parents seemed very wealthy. You usually get a mix of parents but I didn't really feel that was true of the garden house. Kids were being bought to school in black taxis and chauffeured whilst wearing Bon Point to nursery! A very strange experience. :-)

AyMamita Wed 12-Nov-14 22:52:39

Maybe they look more at personality, social skills etc?

I know someone with children there. Based on the class lists on her kitchen wall, which shows (fancy) names and home addresses, my sweeping judgement is that they are all pretty loaded.

Pagwatch Thu 13-Nov-14 06:53:36

Why don't you phone them?

Why are you asking?
Do you have a child you are thinking of sending there because it doesn't sound like it,

pyrrah Thu 13-Nov-14 11:36:00

You can't really select on an 'academic' basis at that age.

Looking at the children of friends who have (or haven't) got places at selective preps, I would say that they are looking for children who appear to have 'potential' - cooperative, naturally inquisitive, sparky and enthusiastic.

They also try and have a good spread of ages, so not all winter birthdays and summer-borns will not be expected to have the same level of maturity and a range of personality types (a class of 15 uber-confident kids is probably a bit of a nightmare).

They're not expecting 3 year-olds to be reading, drawing still-life and knowing all their times tables - or even all their numbers and letters.

Regarding the parents, I wouldn't say that wealth level doesn't really come into it (I know very wealthy parents whose children haven't got places and not very wealthy who have) - I imagine parental personality rather than Gucci handbags count for a lot... are they likely to support the school and their child's learning, are they going to hoik the kids out endlessly for trips abroad, do they get the school ethos and are they potentially going to be 'that' parent and a complete PITA!

pyrrah Thu 13-Nov-14 11:37:41

sorry - I would say that wealth level doesn't come into it.

Xashax007 Thu 13-Nov-14 11:41:25

Thanks Pyrrah!

I think that was a great explanation.

Michaelahpurple Thu 13-Nov-14 13:10:08

It isn't selective in the sense that selective schools at 8+ are- as with the vast majority of such pre-preps it is more of a screening (and the schools who do claim to select academically at that age are kidding themselves)
I know quite a few "normal Chelsea" families who send children there but it definitely the most bling of the local options and you will find a larger concentration of "what do you mean do you turn left - we fly privately " gang there than at the others. Second hand isn't cool there (not saying it is shunned either.

Things can vary a lot year to year - at our chelsea prep my first child's year was v second hand friendly, but later years have become more silly about it.

My observation fwiw is that the girls' side of the school is oddly princessy, which I find v tedious.

If you are after string academics it isn't the most obvious choice. But very popular nonetheless

Xashax007 Thu 13-Nov-14 13:38:38

From the research I have done so far, GH is not one of the pushy, exam-machine type schools. However having said that, girls results are excellent if you look at the number of scholarships they received last year.

Additionally, the majority of boys tend to leave for Sussex House, which is what I am after for my son.

I am trying to research the school, in order to find out what they are after when they select a 4 year old.

So far, it does not look like its the academics side, more it looks to be the 'social abilities' and social skills of the child.

fireworksarefun Thu 13-Nov-14 14:32:50

Do not underestimate the amount of tutoring that goes on to get those great results. With these v wealthy Chelsea families, money is no object to hiring the tutors to come over when the DC aren't in school. I was at a girls secondary open day the other day where parents were openly talking about how difficult it was to fit in the tutoring around all the other activities their DDs did.

My DS had an assessment at GH years ago (he's secondary now!) - when we said we would be looking for boarding at 13 we got crossed off the list (I assume) as it was clear we would have to leave at 8 (to go to a Sussex House type school). They go to 11 and want you to stay until then (at least that was the speech we got) so are not geared up to prepare boys for public school entry at 13 - with pre tests in years 6/7. So if you go to GH, your DS will be prepped for the 8+ to go to another school (probably with some additional tutoring because everyone else will be doing it and as Michaela says it is very competitive), followed by pre tests in year 6/7 followed by 13+ common entrance in year 8. We ended up choosing a prep that went to 13 so he could have a life that didn't revolve around exams.....

EdithWeston Thu 13-Nov-14 14:45:42

The one thing you can never know about a school is what the other families in your year will be like. They may be utterly normal and grounded, or they might be excessively blingy, or dominated by trustafarian hippies, or just weird. And that's true of any school (state schools also have the odd year when the community just doesn't 'gel')

Find out what the assessments for pre-prep are at all the ones you are interested in. The chances are it will be gentle and play-based (agree with pyrrah about the kinds of things they look for) and it's much easier to present to your DSL as 'we're going to see this school, you'll probably do XYZ whilst you're there. It's a chance to decide if we like it' than it is to disguise the selective nature of a 7+/8+ assessment.

So do think now about when you want your DS assessed, and how many times, through his school career. Now, as he grows you might find the trajectory differs from what you might plump for now and so everything has to change, but it's worth starting off with a plan that stands a chance of getting to where you want to be and in the way you want to get there.

babybarrister Thu 13-Nov-14 14:51:08

Personally having seen lots of parents from surrounding schools, GH to me seems to be the most bling. I agree with the poster who wrote about blacked out windows in many cars and chauffeurs doing the dropping off.

I agree also about the sheer amount of tutoring that goes on to get into the next stage schools - at whatever stage that may be. GH is very clear that they are pushing for the 8+ entry so make sure you understand that your 6 year old will have to do a lot of tutoring as otherwise they are not going to get in to Sussex House, Westminster Under, Colet Court etc etc

I do though think that the issue of fees is a bit of red herring as although it is the most expensive, for the sorts of people applying to GH and similar, the difference is totally irrelevant as no doubt is the fact that their uniform is the most expensive - and also the nicest!

Good luck and just remember that every school is a compromise!

Xashax007 Thu 13-Nov-14 15:32:49

so pupils still need to be tutored outside of school hours, if they choose to leave for Sussex House at 8+, because the school does not prepare pupils for 8+

Really? O.K., thats terrible.

babybarrister Thu 13-Nov-14 16:05:07

this is what none of the schools tell you grin

pyrrah Thu 13-Nov-14 18:09:09

Xashax007 - people may keep it quiet, but whatever the school and whether it's 7+/8+/11+, if DC are sitting for super-selectives, a significant number of parents will be paying for extra tutoring outside school to get 'the edge'. When you have dozens sitting for each place it gets cut-throat.

Even worse if you have parents paying for prep in the hopes of upping the ante to get a place at a super-selective grammar like Tiffin. They have over 2,000 uber-bright kids sitting for 125 or so places. If you're not scoring in the 90% area then you don't stand an earthly, so every second in the exam counts and that means being so familiar with types of questions that you don't have to stop and think what they're asking.

That's not to say that there aren't plenty of children who get places at these schools without tutoring and without going to prep-school - my neighbour's daughter got offers from 5 top London girls schools with scholarships at 4 of them - went to St Pauls Girls in the end - and she was at a very mediocre state primary and had no tutoring (although mother is v nice but v scary maths genius).

Horrifying really.

woodychip Thu 13-Nov-14 18:18:30

NC....

when i went to the Garden House school summer fair, as a guest, it struck me as very interesting that even on a saturday, many children were brought by their Filipino nannies, so parents do like to save money where they can!

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