NBH vs Belmont(15 Posts)
I was wondering if there are any parents here with insider knowledge of either NBH or Belmont, Mill Hill? We are looking at applying to one as a back up school for DD who will be sitting for the 7+ in January. I was a bit "meh" about Belmont, especially as a few of the teachers seemed unenthused but perhaps they were having a bad day (?). I liked the ethos of NBH and of all the schools I've visited, really liked the children I met, but searching through old threads, it seems as if the school has changed recently, and not for the better. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
Like you I have a very good impression of the prep school at North Bridge House (just by Regent's Park).
Are you certain that the negative thread(s) you have read were not about the senior school in Rosslyn Hill (Hampstead?). For example there was a thread started about a week ago that disappeared a few days ago - started by an unhappy current NBH parent complaining about among other things massive teacher turnover - that was not about the prep.
I think the Senior schools attached are very relevant, after all, there's a huge chance DC will end up there.
I've heard a lot of bad things about NBH (probably Senior) relating to the old management / merger with that other school and to the new change of head, including the thread a week ago that PP mentions. This would make me a bit nervous.
I went to view Mill Hill and really liked the Senior school and was also a bit meh about the Prep.
Is your daughter at a preprep or in a state school? Unless she was being failed or was unhappy at her state school then I would keep her there rather than choose either NBH or Belmont. Belmont has lovely grounds but both are a bit meh in my opinion. Nothing outstanding in either of them. Well meaning, softly softly MC parenting at both, children who need somewhere not too academic but mum and dad can still use the excuse that they don't want a school that is too 'Pressurised'. I'd save my money for senior school rather than either of those at junior if they are your fall back options. There are nearly always places available so I imagine that you could get a place relatively easily ( I know this as a lot of kids in my area go to to these schools after leaving a local non selective prep which has no grounds or from a couple of recently, struggling state schools).
Having said that, kids who go there are happy! It depends on your expectations...
Nightsky and OP:
In general I agree you should see and expect a strong link between prep and senior school, but not in the case of NBH. Only 15% (6 out of 41 if I counted correctly) move onto the senior school from the prep! The prep exits are generally more academic than the level of NBH senior. There is excellent info (especially the "infographic" with offers and acceptances for the 41 girls) here - see under "11+ girls 2015": www.northbridgehouse.com/results-1.html
See also the top 75 of the Telegraph's ranking of independent schools by GCSE results - where Mill Hill is number 196 and NBH would have been ca number 226.
For me this also indicates that NBH prep is doing a good job.
Oh yes! I've just read their exits and I totally agree, they seem very good! Quite an odd situation that the Prep is so much more academic than the Senior, but I totally agree that it seems to be the case.
Have you managed to find any more info about problems at the school? Were all the problems at the Senior branch? Ooh, I do remember one thing I heard about the prep - that they claim the children go out to the park every day for break but a parent said they often don't.
In general though, NBH Prep sounds like a good choice.
Can you elaborate on what you liked about NBH so much? What was good about the atmosphere?
Mill Hill Belmont:
I thought the Head (who has now been replaced) seemed very dreary, as did some of the teachers. In general I think it's on the up though?
Oh, and what's your first choice school(s)?
I am not currently "in the market" for a prep, so don't have a "top choice" or much recent info; I am just keeping half an eye on a couple of schools in case things go badly wrong at DD2's state primary (she is in year 4).
But since you are asking: I only made one visit to NBH prep, perhaps two years ago now, and liked the head. He emphasised his responsibility for hiring good teachers - and I am really not sure there is any staff turnover problem at the prep, but I have no info. (That definitely is a problem at the senior school, though!). He also reassured parents and encouraged a low-stress approach, regarding secondary transfer - and my impression (also from looking at those destinations linked to in my previous post) is that he knows what he is doing on that front. They had banned all talk about senior schools between the kids, if I understood it correctly, which probably helped reduce stress. I also liked the friendly down to earth feel, the children who took me around, and the park just across the road.
[My interest and experience is more related to secondary schools (DD1, and also for DD2 who will do 11+ in two years), but I will not expand on that here since this is a primary thread.]
For me this also indicates that NBH prep is doing a good job.
Schools that have a senior school don't tend to prepare well for the 11+. Much more likely that their good exit results are due to parental tutoring.
I'd agree in general, but hardly any kids go to NBH Senior, so I think it's a bit more like an indy prep, I'd imagine?
Not really, because indy preps are actively preparing for the 11+. I very much doubt that a school which has a senior department does anything to help with 11+ preparation - why would they bother? they are judged on GCSE and A-level results, not leavers at 11.
It is not just your mouse that is broken, it is also your argument... Circular logic, generalities and no school-specific facts to back it up.
Please do have a look at the actual way NBH prep markets itself to parents - not only with fully comprehensive 11+ listings for the prep, but also e.g. the prep video saying they prepare the children for the schools that are best for them". And of course see the actual exits. (BTW, in 2013 95% of girls went onto other senior schools, including SPGS, NLCS, Henrietta Barnett, and a whole raft to SHHS and Channing.)
Yes, this is very different from other schools, especially those with top-performing senior schools where much of the "pitch" for the junior school is easy access to the senior school - e.g. SHHS:
I am sure NBH prep ensures that everybody is informed about their senior school, but suspect it acts more like a safety net rather than an aim.
BTW, on the video the head states that he has been there for 10 years.
It would be nice to hear from some current or past NBH prep parents; anyone?
I'm here, NW!
DD2 is on the leavers list you mentioned so, I can clear up a few things for the OP and bonkersmouse(SP?).
NBH is still a traditional prep in the sense that most girls leave at 11 and most boys leave at 13 (this will change for the boys in the next few years as most London day schools will be 11+ only). The girls are well prepared for the exams in a way that is as stress-free as possible. We did no outside tutoring nor did anyone I know. The school doesn't prepare for state selectives as those exams are in September and have a very different format.
The NBH Senior School is a good option for girls who aren't academic or don't respond well to the pressures of exams. Some girls just don't have the maturity. In fact, the 2013 leavers list is incorrect. Only 1 girl went to NBH senior. The other decided at the last minute to go boarding. She was probably the cleverest girl in the year but found the exams too stressful.
I actually like that NBH provides a safety net and continuity for DCs who aren't as academic. The senior school does do quite well with its results. Families who move into London between entry points or whose children need more nurture the thrive join the school community and many of those DCs are academic. It really is mixed ability in the seniors and very few schools offer that.
And can I now resist the temptation to add "Amen" and/or "QED"? That would certainly be overkill after my rather aggressive previous post, and reveal an unappealing combative streak, no grace in victory, etc. Sorry mouse, but it seems the answer is no...
I just unplugged the mouse on another thread. I make a policy of only posting about things I actually KNOW. I wish others would do the same.
Wine and a big piece of cake for you, NWgirls!
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