Good/Private schools for a mixed race child?(19 Posts)
My DH and I are in a "mixed" marriage. I am a Black Parisian and he is an English man. My DH and I come from two different class backgrounds. He is from an upper middle-class family and I a working class. Nonetheless, we met in London while we were both working at an Investment Bank.
Now, we are expecting our first child (DD, Olivia is what we will name her) and my MIL and DH are VERY keen on sending her to a very good or private school. I do not mind at all, but I am concerned that my daughter will be one and only. I have visited a few nurseries around my area and most of the children there (95%) are English. Not a problem but I don't want my DD to feel different or be aware of her mixed heritage in a negative way.
I am assuming the worst you see. My DH and MIL wants our daughter to go to Wycombe Abbey or similar. So I am hoping someone is this forum can help me with recommended nurseries that have a healthy ratio of diversity? a school that can help my DD's chances of getting to such schools too?
I may be overreacting, but I really want the best for my DD too. After all it is why I work so hard!
OP. I think you need to give some idea of where you live to get any help.
My mixed race relative went to Danes Hill and Epsom College, leaving this year. Never had a problem.
It's not a good idea to aim for one secondary school only, when your DC hasn't even been born yet!
I think you need to be looking for a well-rounded prep which sends its pupils to a good range of destination schools, including those with more academic reputations.
There are many like that in London, so convenience of school run will be a factor.
If you are rich enough for the central London preps, you'll find an ethnically diverse pupil base (lots of international bankers) both white and non-white.
AnotherNewt - I live in central London. Do you recommend any of the preps? I totally agree. I name dropped the school so you could see what my DH was aiming for. I was not too fussed about the schools but I can see he is keen.
sofato5miles - Thank you for this information!
We are a mixed European family with two kids at a prep school (not in London ). My children are very very different in looks and in personality and have never found any negativity at all... there are lots of other children from mixed parentage . Perhaps go and have a look round and see what the vibe of the school is like? X
Private and state schools in London are very mixed - in DS's private prep different ethnicities are celebrated.
The obvious one to look at would be NewtonPrep, and also see if you can face a bit longer journey to go over to Chelsea for the various schools there.
Or go (against rush hour traffic) on the tube to Clapham Common for Eaton House the Manor and Parkgate House. Look to see if you can face the journey to Dulwich for JAPS.
Also, which ways do your current commutes take you? Because there might be possibilities in those directions too.
IIRC there's a Montessori nursery in Kennington (can't remember it's name right now, dammit) from which a lot of children move to private schools. You might want to ask around locally to see if you can identify it.
Never underestimate the impact the school run will have on your lives, btw, when thinking about schools.
Another means The Pelican I think. My DS's nursery has all sorts, London does I think.
I live in London, DS (who is not mixed race but isn't white), goes to a prep school. There are 5 Asian kids in his class, 2 mixed race kids, and all kinds of other ethnicities/nationalities- Russian, Thai, Scandinavian, Indian/Pakistani etc. It is much much more diverse than our local outstanding state school which has a narrow and extremely affluent catchment (pretty much all the houses in the catchment are 1 million+) and is almost entirely white as a consequence.
I don't think being the only 'different' kid in her class should make her view herself negatively. She'll notice her difference at some stage, but at my son's age (4) they don't seem to care at all. My son did ask 'who is OUR Jesus? And is his birthday also on Christmas?' but other than that he's well aware of our cultural heritage but with no negativity attached to it.
My DD is James Allen Prep School (part of JAGS in Dulwich) - it is ethnically diverse with many mixed race children, including black/white, Asian/white, all Asian, all black, all white.
Hope you find a school to suit!
There is also the Lycée by the Natural History Museum. Are you going to raise her bilingually?
Good point, Holstein. JAPS/JAGS do immersive French from Reception, which is probably why it's popular with French parents!
Isn't there a Clapham state school that also does immersive French? I came across them in the Portrait Gallery but can't remember the name.
Do you mean the bilingual stream of the Wix Lycée? The French side runs its own admissions. The bilingual side uses the Wandsworth state school entry criteria, and you need to live within about two streets to stand a chance.
If you work in the City you will know how international London is. Inevitably many central London private schools will reflect a City demographic/diversity, with slightly variations depending on which part of London you live. (With odd variations. Some Americans prefer quite trad schools, some nationalities prefer single sex but Europeans are often more comfortable with co-ed, Japanese may live in St John's Wood etc.)
Honestly you are unlikely to have problems. I am surprised that any nursery in Central London is 95% English, my DC have always felt in a minority because, as fifth generation Londoners, they "did not come from anywhere". Look round schools and be guided by where you feel comfortable. Newton felt reasonably relaxed asnd open, Thomas' a bit more results (Wycombe Abbey?) orientated, Alleyns glossy aseen as nurturing, whilst Oakfield used to attract a higher proportion of black Brixton professionals. There are then also plenty across the river (Eaton Sq, Hill House etc) which will have quite an international parent body. A lot of parents find that once they see the schools and hear questions asked by other parents they have a clearer idea of what they want.
In terms of nursery schools Toad Hall was always popular, but there are others. It is also worth checking, as it can be easier to get into some preps if you start in the nursery. Kennington has unusually wide economic divisions, with very expensive private housing and a lot of social housing. (And in fairness a bit more "English" for that reason. The "edginess" and lack of decent shops and restaurants, means that it has not really been colonised by London's international community.) Nurseries tend to cater for different economic groups, and the racial make up will vary. Here you make your choice. I remember being astounded at how some high earners were happy with cheaper nurseries that could clearly only afford statutory staffing levels and minimum wages.
Don't think about destination schools till about the age of eight, other than to make sure the prep is capable of preparing suitable children. Wycombe is a great school for the right child, but not for all. (Actually also think about whether you would want boarding at 11+ or 13+. If the latter, choose a 13+ school.)
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