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Kentish Town / Camden primaries

(7 Posts)
NorthLondonMum83 Fri 20-May-16 12:48:06

DC turning 1 soon and starting to slightly get the fear about primaries in Kentish Town / Camden. It seems that there are a small number of good places with tiny catchment areas - and he's our first so no siblings. Does anyone have any thoughts - I ask particularly as we're about to move. Almost certainly staying in the area but wondering if worth prioritising certain streets in order to get good catchment? We're catholic if that helps. Wouldn't rule out private but if we have another will be enormous financial commitment...I've done a few applications just in case.
Thoughts gratefully received!

GregorSamsa Fri 20-May-16 15:09:39

There are loads of good schools in the area! Which schools are you in catchment for?

I know families who have/had dc at Torriano, St Patricks's, Tufnell Park, Eleanor Palmer, St Silas, Kentish Town CE and Brecknock, as well as schools a bit further north. All are/were happy. Of those only EP has a micro-catchment, the others are all reasonable, i think, although you can't be in catchment for all of them. I don't really know Camden schools, but can't imagine they're significantly worse than KT.

If you're Catholic and in KT, St Patrick's would be an obvious choice. The current head of KS1 at St P used to teach my dc (at a different school), and is so fantastic I'd pay good money for her to teach my child. St Joseph's is a bit further north, but also a great school.

Primary schools are really not something to get the fear about - there aren't any schools in the area that are truly horrible. There are one or two secondaries I'd be less keen on, but that's five or six years down the line. Don't listen to the people who get obsessed with ridiculously popular schools, and who would have you believe that if you don't get into Eleanor Palmer your child will spend every playtime having his head flushed down the loo by the feral offspring of crack dealers, cos it really ain't so.

And now that Camden have clamped down on people gaming the applications system by means of creative address management, many intake areas have increased. The catchment for Camden Girls went most of the way to Archway last year, which is unheard of in living memory.

Go visit some schools, talk to the teachers, talk to the dc and get a feel for the atmosphere. My dc were at a school which was not one of the ridiculously over-subscribed m/c honeypot schools, and honestly I would not have swapped it for private if I'd been offered it for free. smile

NorthLondonMum83 Fri 20-May-16 18:41:25

Oh thank you so much for this - lovely to hear! I have been hearing all sorts of horror stories from mums with older kids who moved out of the area...And yes, of course secondary is a little way away yet. There's a bit of an urban myth around here (amongst people I know unfortunately!) that if you can't get into EP then you need to pay, or move. It's lovely to hear that it isn't the casesmile It is such a great area with so many lovely families - I was finding it hard to believe that everyone was managing to shell out 5k per kid per term for NBH or Cavendish etc. I'm much reassured!

NorthLondonMum83 Fri 20-May-16 18:47:41

Gregor sorry but a quick follow up question as it's nice to find someone who knows the area and schools! What have you / your friends done regarding secondaries in the area, or plan to do? I know it's a while away but, again, if you believe what you hear it's a bit challenging around here. I'm not from London and was educated in a rural religious school, DP educated at top private boarding school - between us we're a bit clueless on the system and our ignorance sometimes leads to panic (honestly we need to calm down, the poor child can only just walk....!!)

Mandolinoparadiso Fri 20-May-16 19:38:45

There really is nothing that EP has that the others don't, except a social cache, which won't matter to your child. I've visited a lot of the schools in the area and they're all excellent in different ways. Go and visit them and see what you think. Many of the less fashionable schools are wonderful vibrant, creative places, with fantastic teachers. All the schools in Kentish Town in particular have improved enormously in recent years so I don't think that you would have anything to worry about with any of them.

GregorSamsa Fri 20-May-16 22:23:45

I think you prob do need to calm down! Though it's as well to not be taken totally unawares by how the system works.

Camden has good secondaries as well. I think we're slightly further north than you, but our local ones are Parliament Hill (girls), William Ellis (boys) and Acland Burghley (mixed), as well as Camden Girls. WE and Parli are the current popular ones in our area, Camden Girls is the secondary equivalent of Eleanor Palmer, ie attracts a disproportionate number of families who want their children to only mix with other m/c children. Acland Burghley has had a difficult couple of years, but is coming back strongly. All the people I know with dc there are happy, despite the upheaval (loss of headteacher, poor ofsted, undersubscribed last year for the first time in forever). LSU is the girls' catholic option, St Aloysius the boys'. St A has historically been much tougher, but has really turned around and does seem to be attracting families who could have gone elsewhere if they'd wanted.

There are always people who get totally obsessed with schools, and think that Yerbury and Eleanor Palmer (and at secondary the selectives and partially selectives) are the only alternatives to paying for private. Luckily all the other schools are full of people who are happy not to have to mix with those parents... wink

But honestly, it's fine. The only reason to pay for eg. Cavendish or NBH is if you are such a delicate flower that you can't cope with the notion of your child mixing with dc who don't speak English as a first language, or who live in a council flat. The proportion of m/c families does vary across schools, but that is really not an indication of the quality of the education your child will receive. Catholic schools in London tend to have a good social mix, and a distinctive ethnic mix as well - lots of West African, Italian, Spanish, south American, Filipino families. The high-achievers in my dc's classes at primary were by no means just the white m/c dc.

I'm not going to out myself by naming my dc's schools, but happy for you to pm me if you want. smile

user1473609390 Sun 11-Sep-16 17:10:44

GregorSama said "St Aloysius the boys'. St A has historically been much tougher, but has really turned around and does seem to be attracting families who could have gone elsewhere if they'd wanted."

Just a small point on secondary choice - personal circumstances can take over sometimes...
We turned down an Outstanding School (not outstanding in behaviour or attendance) 'Westminster Academy' as a first choice - and opted for St Aloysius' - (which last Ofsted shows outstanding in every category).

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