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North London prep schools- help please!

(130 Posts)
angelpuffs Wed 14-Oct-15 20:14:50

Hello everyone
I'm new to mumsnet and would really appreciate some advice from people with experience of private schools for 4+ entry.
My May born DD will be due to enter school in sept 2017 at age 4 and we'd like to sit her for the assessments at NLCS, SHHS and Channing. We've applied to SHHS already, and looked at NLCS last week (and loved it). I know how hard all these schools are to get into, and initially I wanted to sit her for a back up school- we were thinking of Grimsdell. However we've decided that, instead of Grimsdell, the best thing would be to try for a small prep school which would be able to prepare her well for 7+ or 11+ entry to a good school, rather than her be at Mill Hill which is not great academically (so I've heard).
I'd love to hear opinions on any good prep schools that don't require the child to be registered from birth- I'm looking at St Christophers in Hampstead soon but don't like the idea of the staggered entry in reception and year 1 that they have there. Anyone know anything about Hampstead Hill school? I'm also looking at Norfolk house in Muswell hill but it's first come first served there, and non selective. It's so confusing! All advice would be welcomed.
Feel free to suggest anywhere else I haven't mentioned. We live in East Finchley so anywhere within reasonable distance of there.
Thanks xx

curvyredmug Thu 15-Oct-15 20:01:11

I'm amazed you've had no reply to this yet!

I would add Habs to your list - it's not local but they can go on the bus from year 3 and it's a fantastic school.

If she doesn't get in to one of those then you have to decide, do you want to send her to a "backup" that goes to 18 or 16 (in which case if you want to do the 7+ or 11+ then you are on your own in terms of preparation), or to a pre-prep where they will prepare her for the 7+? I know you've mentioned this, but just mentioning it as both are available - you weigh up the downside of the school not preparing for the 7+ against the plus side of not necessarily having to do it if you end up being happy with the school and staying. Local pre-preps include Golders Hill and Annemount (GH gets a bit boy-heavy from reception, Annemount probably better for a girl) or The Avenue in Highgate. The commute to Hampstead Hill will kill you (hideous traffic) and you can probably double the fees in the parking tickets you'll get!

Backups for longer - St. Margarets's in Kidderpore Avenue (really nice small school, less competitive/pushy, goes to 16), Northbridge House, Devonshire House (to 11). Norfolk House is everyone's backup so may well have spaces at the last minute.

hope that helps

TinyTear Thu 15-Oct-15 20:02:48

If you want Hampstead Hill for reception you need to get in list asap and maybe consider starting pre-reception there next year

angelpuffs Thu 15-Oct-15 20:24:10

Thanks curvyredmug and tinytear. We considered Habs initially with NLCS but I didn't want to sit her for too many v competitive schools. Maybe I should add it to the list through- in for a penny etc. Do you have any info on the main differences between NLCS and Habs? I loved NLCS when we visited.
I think we decided that if she doesn't get into one of the schools I mentioned, we'd put her in a prep school that goes up to 11- so she can maybe have a shot at the 7+ and 11+ exams with good preparation, we ruled out Mill Hill because the advantage of knowing we had a place until 18 would be worth little if the school was just average academically.
I'll have a look at Annemount- this is one I haven't considered- and St Margaret's.
As an aside, what are your opinions on tutoring for the 4+ assessments? I know a lot of people disagree with this, but then I keep hearing that the kids who get into the top schools have been tutored.....
Thanks X

curvyredmug Thu 15-Oct-15 20:51:54

NLCS is much tougher. Not for a quiet girl. Homework from reception. I believe that last year 3 girls left during reception. Habs is very gentle and play based in both reception and year 1 - they have just started doing forest school for reception one afternoon a week. Having said that, the junior school does have a new head so who knows if things will change.

Look at the 3+ 4+ 5+ threads started by mumteacher for chapter and verse on tutoring.......the threads are long and not for the faint hearted!

Be aware that a school that goes to 11 won't prepare her for the 7+ and will not want to give you any help with it - so think about your next step carefully. NLCS and SHHS have big entries at 7, Habs has a small entry and Channing has none. So depending on where you are aiming next might help you decide whether to go for a prep or a pre-prep.

angelpuffs Thu 15-Oct-15 21:01:09

Wow- 3 girls left during reception? Habs sounds quite different and a nice alternative- definitely worth considering. Do you have daughters at either of these schools, curvyredmug? Info from parents at the schools is invaluable....
I've had a look at Annemount and it looks great- have requested a tour. I want to choose schools that will suit DD, but as she's only 2 yrs 5mths it's hard to know where she is on the ability scale compared to where she needs to be for the assessments confused

Arghhelp Fri 16-Oct-15 20:05:01

Hello angle puff.. i run a website and you may find it useful as it has lots of info on schools and registration dates etc and reviews of schools as well. It is called www.mumsinthewood.com If you look under the Teach them tab, there is a lot of info there.

angelpuffs Sat 17-Oct-15 16:43:29

Thanks Argh- will have a look X

AliceAnneB Sun 18-Oct-15 00:04:54

I'd add The Avenue Pre-prep. If you go the preprep route they will be ready for the 7+ exams but at a cost. They will be pushed much harder at a younger age.

tshirtsuntan Sun 18-Oct-15 00:17:18

St margarets is a lovely school, only have personal knowledge of it as a secondary school but very impressed. The avenue is a lovely pre prep. Not impressed by St Christopher's at all, very impersonal once enrolled ( a few years ago now though) all a matter of personal opinion though of course!

angelpuffs Sun 18-Oct-15 19:21:37

That's interesting about The Avenue. Is that the one in Highgate? Do they get good results st the 7+ assessments?
I wasn't impressed with st Christophers either. Seemed chaotic when I looked round. 2 year 6 girls showed us round the school- they were great- but once the tour was over the secretary seemed keen to rush us out. Also, the fact that they don't let March-August girls start until year 1 is no good.
St Margarets is one I'm interested in seeing. I guess there is no 7+ or 11+ preparation there though so have to be happy with it for the duration.

Anyone have views on Annemount v the Avenue for pre-prep? And how does Norfolk house compare?

AliceAnneB Sun 18-Oct-15 20:11:49

I think of the three The Avenue is the only one who publish a detailed transfer list which is good. We have friends who are very happy with The Avenue and feel their children are well supported. My impression is that Annemount gets better results but pushes the kids harder. I find the head of Annemount to be very abrasive and she has a reputation for her way or nothing. I wouldn't say listening is her strong point. If you want Highgate at 7+ Annemount appears to be the obvious feeder choice of you get on with the head. Norfolk House has a new preprep head who is unimpressive. The NH head is good but the school has zero grass and cramped quarters. The transfer list isn't reported to be very impressive hence them not giving out the details of it. Several families have left NH and chosen to put their kids at state school which doesn't exactly bode well.

angelpuffs Mon 19-Oct-15 16:30:19

Thanks AliceAnneB. When you say Annemount gets better results, do you mean that they get more kids into good schools at 7+? I'm not actually
looking at Highgate- more interested in NLCS, SHHS or other girls schools from 7+.
Do Annemount and the Avenue have good outdoor areas? What is the homework like at either of them? And what about homework at St Margarets?

CruCru Mon 19-Oct-15 18:11:42

Hi OP

St Anthony's (a Catholic boys' school) is opening St Anthony's School for Girls from September 2016. StA is very well thought of and it is free to register (you only need to pay a fee once you have seen round the school and confirmed that you are still interested).

angelpuffs Mon 19-Oct-15 18:29:16

Thanks Crucru. Presumably St Anthony's girls will also be a catholic school? X

CruCru Mon 19-Oct-15 22:08:17

Yes, it will. However, the boys' school takes a lot of Jewish and non religious boys. I should think the girls' school will do the same.

HelenH9 Tue 20-Oct-15 10:04:56

Try our lovely Annemount prep school to 7+, in Holne Chase, Hampstead Grdn Suburb. Nurturing and small but in Good Schools Guide as ticks all the boxes. Very knowledgeable headmistress who knows loads about special needs (speech therapy, OT etc). Less pushy than Hampstead Hill and Golders Hill prep down the road which is what the (very nice and down to earth) parents like as want children to have childhoods! But beware it's not cheap.

HelenH9 Tue 20-Oct-15 10:11:39

And head at Annemount may be my way or the highway type but she is usually right IMO on the vital stuff like not overloading kids, getting them into the right school for them, not the one a parent likes to fluff up their ego, and always puts the kids first.

angelpuffs Tue 20-Oct-15 18:29:21

Thanks Helen. I've arranged to visit Annemount and have high hopes for it. What kind of schools do the children get into at 7 compared to Hampstead hill?

HelenH9 Tue 20-Oct-15 19:00:57

Haven't a clue but have heard more pushy mums at Hampstead Hill from mums who've had kids there. Not sure how that translates into results - must be websites with results on but I haven't hunted down yet as live in Golders Green so don't want to be travelling to Belsize Park if I don't have to. I just don't want my kids going to a school where all the kids are hothoused to the point where they have no life due to silly parents.

angelpuffs Tue 20-Oct-15 19:46:01

I think it's largely about a feeling you get when you visit. I can see my daughter being happy in a small school but don't want her options at 7+ to be limited because the school isn't focused. Equally I don't want pushy- it's a hard balance. X

curvyredmug Wed 21-Oct-15 20:49:15

I would take with a very large pinch of salt any NW London pre-prep that claims to be "non-pushy". It's the buzzword at the moment to say that they are nurturing, and infer that they get great 7+ results without stressing the children, but given the competition that's just impossible. Helen I think you said on the other thread that your daughter is at the start of year 1? I would put money on the fact that most of the parents in your class have started taking their children to see Arlette, or another tutor - even especially those who talk a lot about how a tutor isn't necessary.

angelpuffs Wed 21-Oct-15 21:15:16

Interesting- curvyredmug. I guess the 7+ results speak for themselves so would be keen to see those :-)

angelpuffs Wed 21-Oct-15 21:15:43

Interesting- curvyredmug. I guess the 7+ results speak for themselves so would be keen to see those :-)

curvyredmug Wed 21-Oct-15 21:31:03

Golders Hill and The Avenue have them on the website with the number offered and accepted, so it is fairly easy to work out whether it's one or two bright kids getting loads of offers or evenly spread. Hampstead Hill have places offered but not how many accepted. Annemount just have names, with no numbers. Read into that what you will!

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