King Alfred School, Hampstead(10 Posts)
Would love to hear opinions (good and bad) regarding this school. Thinking of sending my child there for reception.
We have had a couple of kids come to the school I teach in from there. When they have arrived in the juniors, they have had major gaps in their learning and their parents were not at all happy with the education there.
No direct experience but I live locally. Never impressed by the behaviour of KAS kids in a group. Very wealthy parent group. Very liberal. Has a reputation as somewhere to send your children if they're unlikely to be troubled by the need to earn a living.
People I know who send their kids there also have tutors to teach the basics of reading, writing and maths. This is in the very early years. The parents think this is normal. Parental influence will get these kids careers, they won't need to worry about earning a living as such.
We're thinking of sending our DC to KA too. I went to an open day and fell in love with the school and its ethos but became concerned by some of the comments I'd read on MN. Then we talked to two families that we know who go there. Both their sets of children had gone to more traditional, academically selective schools before but their kids didn't enjoy school and that way of teaching didn't suit them. After their moves to KA they thrived. From what our friends said you have to put faith into their way of teaching, and in the younger years it wouldn't surprise me if there were some gaps in education compared to other schools, but as it goes up to 18, the school lets children develop at their own speed and doesn't hothouse them to pass entrance exams to other schools or to achieve certain targets by specific ages. Of our friends some of the older children have left and moved onto university. They are bright and did well in their exams and got first choice university places, so while not being academically selective, bright children don't get held back there (one of my initial concerns). Our friends said the teaching was amazing, and while some of the other families there are extremely rich and lead a very privileged lifestyle, there are plenty of 'normal' families too. In short all of the concerns I had were addressed and I was reassured. I do think that finding the right school is a very personal choice and schools are either right or wrong for you rather than necessarily being good or bad. I just remember coming away from the open day feeling as though to send my DC there would be such a positive thing to do for them. I do want them to do well academically but it's not the only thing I want them to get from school. KA seemed like a school that would just let them be children and enjoy childhood without applying loads of pressure at a young age. I got the feeling that it values individuality and encourages pupils to think creatively.
I went to the open day today and I feel like Hansibird described. Although it concerns me that people are talking about gaps in learning, etc. The kids there seemed confident, smart and in some of the classrooms I was blown away by what 10 year olds were doing. Would love if a parent of a child at KAS responded!!
I know a boy who went there from another school because the parents thought the approach was more suited to him. He left within a year.
Hi lovedimsum, my children are at King Alfred School. One of them is particularly bright, but all are thriving and most importantly, they are very happy there. Extra help is given to children who need it, and more able children are stretched with enrichment classes, but it's all done without fuss or fanfare. There is very little sense among the kids of who is clever with numbers or who isn't on chapter books yet, and I love that. We may do due diligence on a few other schools later on, maybe for sixth form, but I'd much rather my kids don't leave school with all sorts of anxiety around achievement so at the moment the plan is to stay the whole way through. For an academically non-selective school KAS results are pretty impressive anyway, and a testament to the great teachers. In terms of the student body, its no different to any other North London private school (we didn't start out at KAS, so I speak from experience.) There are some kids who probably "aren't likely to be troubled by the need to earn a living", there are some well-known parents, but the majority of families are just very ... average, have jobs, struggle with childcare, don't drive a fancy car, or any car. I have no idea what all the fuss about KAS is, but the gossip is just that, gossip, and we think its a lovely school!
After trying different schools we are looking forward to join KAS. We are working parents trying to give our son the best education, that includes making sure he can become the best person he can be. A private school is a big effort to our economy but we are willing to do it (and for that we are working twice as hard) as the estate schools seem to be a bad choice. Our experience with estate schools has been one where they need to level downwards, putting anxiety on children, forcing reading and writing at age 4, making discipline a competition (gold star of the week anyone?) instead of infusing kids with collective being. We welcome the creative approach, the personalised individuation, flexible test approach. When one looks at the national results and the fact that the school has an above national average result in academics too it does show it's a great choice. We will really be stretched to send our son here no doubt but we think it is worth it.
I suppose if you want to hot house your kids and make sure your little darlings have a competitive edge (if you sent you baby to mandarin classes I'm talking to you) this isn't the school for you. But for anyone who has bothered to look at best practice in terms of curriculum and international standards that set out what actually works to help children think (not just memorize or recite) you'll find that progressive education based on nonhierarchical pedagogies that don't push children (particularly students under 7) to do things they are not physically capable of (e.g. fine motor skills for writing don't develop until 7-8) and that focus on learning through doing are usually far better in terms of developing cognitive and critical thinking skills. If you want your kid to work as a corporate lawyer or a hedgefund manager at Goldman Sachs as straight out of Oxbridge then please, for the sake of people who actually want their children to learn in a pedagogically robust and evidenced-based teaching approach, send them somewhere else.
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