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Experience of King's College Junior - KCJS

(15 Posts)
firsttimer08 Tue 20-Oct-15 21:57:44

Just wondering if there are any parents with DS's at KCJS and what your experience has been? DS will be sitting the 7+ and I wanted to have an advance view of the school - especially in comparison with Colet Court and other comparable Preps.

Of course there are no guarantees and so our DS may not make it to any of these schools, but just in case we end up with a choice, any experiences of current parents would be very helpful.

We were not completely convinced by KJCS on our school visit. It seems like a happy school but I wasn't too sure if it is very academically challenging and whether we may in fact be better off leaving DS at his current prep.

mertonmama Wed 21-Oct-15 08:24:54

That's a very odd impression to have got. The academic challenge is very high and the standards impressive. They pride themselves on high standards but it's all done very sensibly and without creating a 'hothouse' atmosphere.

The pace increases as you go up the school though so maybe you were picking up on the 'settling in' which goes on in transition (year 3).

firsttimer08 Wed 21-Oct-15 11:35:48

Yes that's correct the impression was of year 3 - from the teacher who took us around for the tour. It may be as you suggest that the pace increases over the years rather than from the start.

findingschools Wed 21-Oct-15 22:31:46

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

firsttimer08 Fri 23-Oct-15 08:21:41

Anyone else with experience to share?

Mominatrix Fri 23-Oct-15 08:43:04

I do not have a son as KCJS (he got in, but we chose a closer, comparable prep), but have several good friends with children there and my son goes to another on your list.

I find your conclusion a bit odd that it is not academically challenging based on one outside peek. First, I think that many parents are so het up on accelerating their children in the year (or years!) prior to the 7+ that they forget what the normal pace of learning is. Second, just because you might have not seen pressured intense chalk and talk in the classroom does not mean that they are not moving at a fast pace. Third, preps with no attached destination senior school are under much greater pressure to push their students to have the best chance of passing the 11+ test/11+ pre-tests and will have more homework earlier on than the schools which don't have this pressure.

Both my sons are at highly desired 7+ entry schools, and in the early years (Year 3,4,5 and half of 6), there is very, very little homework - actually my friends with children at KCJS had more homework than my sons, but still not as much as our friends who stayed on at their old school. Perhaps, because all of the boys are at least at a certain level, lessons do not need to focus on reinforcing basics, and can do other things. I actually am very happy with this, and would rather have a lighter homework load and more interesting lessons than endless worksheets reinforcing arithmetic and doing VR/NVR (pointless!), and the reason why I did the 7+ with my children was to allow them to have an interesting education.

firsttimer08 Sun 25-Oct-15 11:26:24

Your argument makes sense. However even in terms of interesting education - on our visit we learnt that there are no individual music lessons offer (at least not in year 3) while DS has been learning since Year 1 at his prep. I guess I wonder whether the reputation of KCJS is hinged on the performance of its senior school rather than in its own right.

Mominatrix Sun 25-Oct-15 13:48:49

Hmmm - in terms of music lessons, in-school lessons are not really a measure of an interesting education. I'd look more at the availability of orchestras (at least 2 would be expected at a size of KCJS) and the variety and depth of clubs available. Music wise, to seriously study an instrument, a half hour peri lesson is useless. To really get anything out of a lesson, outside lessons are a must, and at least 45 minutes for Grade 1 and above with a teacher who is teaching theory parallel to practical. Trust me - I learned this lesson the hard way!

mertonmama Sun 25-Oct-15 19:31:07

Group lessons are available in year 3 for beginners and all boys are strongly encouraged to take up an instrument. I'm 95% sure individual lessons are available for those who are already learning. There are several orchestras and ensembles within the school - choral music is particularly ambitious.

I love the school and it's ethos and both my DS have had/are having the sort of education I would have liked for myself.

KCJS is much warmer (less corporate) than KCS but that's not surprising and is what you'd expect from a prep school. I think that the senior school's success owes a lot to the junior school given that 2/3 of the boys come through from KCJS. DC1 says that he thinks the KCJS boys have been better taught for maths, French and Latin than the 'newcomers' in the senior school.

GruntledOne Sun 25-Oct-15 21:57:30

The performance of the senior school hinges to a pretty major extent on the performance of the junior school since the majority of junior school pupils go on to the senior school.

I think you are mistaken about music lessons as the website indicates there is quite heavy duty emphasis on it - see www.kcs.org.uk/junior-school/pastoral-life/music - and there is a link to a form for applying for individual music lessons.

firsttimer08 Wed 28-Oct-15 11:06:43

Thank you everyone. It's very helpful to get views from parents as opposed to a one off visit or hearsay. DS will be sitting the exam in a couple of months, so we will soon have to make the decision.

One quick question - are most boys local to the school or do any in the junior school take the school bus?

mertonmama Wed 28-Oct-15 20:29:59

A bit of both. Boys come in on the bus from the start of the junior school but I'd say more boys are 'local' in the junior school and in the senior school they start travelling in from greater distances.

orca321 Thu 29-Oct-15 16:49:24

Hi...first post on MN, so sorry in advance for any faux pas! My son just finished at KCJS (attended from age 7 to 13) and he absolutely loved it. It definitely stretches the boys academically but in an environment that did not (to me) feel like a hothouse. For example, in all those years, he had far less homework than my poor daughter did at her school (which was not as highly ranked academically...her school just took the view that a high volume of homework equates to better learning, whereas at KCJS the boys work quite hard during the school day, but then are expected to use their nonschool time and holidays to do sport, rest, read for pleasure, etc....which I heartily endorse as I think it is healthier for children to have a balance.

Regarding the music, I believe the group lessons in the early years are only if you are new to the instrument (but by "group" that might mean just two or three). My son came in having already learned the violin for two years elsewhere, and he was put into individual lessons straightaway at age 7. The standard of music at KCJS is astonishingly high and the quality of performances, both choral and instrumental, will take your breath away. But there are opportunities at all levels.

We want the best for our son of course but we are not pushy and would have felt uncomfortable at a school where everyone was openly fretting about Oxbridge already. At KCJS, we never felt that we were surrounded by hyperachievers or helicopter parents. It feels like a school that has got the balance right: it achieves high standards of education and behaviour without putting the boys under too much stress or pressure. The teaching and leadership are fantastic. Go on the website and see the Headmaster's weekly blog...it says a lot about the school's values and emphasis on building rounded and humane character in the boys alongside academics.

Obviously, that's only our personal experience and you have to choose the place that's right for your child. If it "feels" right, it probably is, and vice versa. Good luck!

orca321 Thu 29-Oct-15 17:02:33

oh, p.s. regarding transport...most of the junior school boys live in Wimbledon but quite a few come from Putney, Fulham, Kingston, New Malden, etc. and many of those do take the school bus. Farther than that is rare, and frankly, as there is no shortage of decent schools in SW London, I wouldn't choose a school that involves a long commute at this age.

firsttimer08 Tue 03-Nov-15 03:37:43

Thank you orca! Good to know that there are parents who have overall been happy with the school.

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