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North London primary school - advice pls incl Dallington poss offer thx!!

(15 Posts)
bigmamapeach Sat 21-Jan-17 07:08:47

Hi, stressing about south Islington primary school options. DD just 3. got letter from Dallington re poss offer coming up for Sept 2017. (This would basically be the year before Reception, we would otherwise apply for state primary reception in jan 2018, for entry sept 2018). Totally unsure what to do.

Really loved dallington although had some reservations still about things like no outdoor space and possibly lack of structure and rigour in the later years. but very keen on the earlier years approach. Loved the science teacher who I thought was super inspiring, and the flexible approach to learning (lots of trips out eg to Heath if teacher thought weather nice and kids could learn). Improvising and doing innovative things etc. Obvs £££ but kids would hopefully get more in terms of trips, variety, flexibility, add-ons than they would with state.

Not super sold on private education per se, totally happy with state if we get a good offer. but would have to decide on dallington prior to even applying for reception. would mean moving DD from her currently good nursery attached to childrens centre/state primary (where DS is also). if we ended up not liking dallington would then mean another move after that! and would mean 2 drop offs earlier than otherwise as well. (rather than only having 2 separate drop offs when DD starts reception in sept 2018).

Our state options are OK, (nearest is catholic we have no hope of as not religous), but one v good favoured by middle class families and another, up and coming less MC, rebuilt but seems to have a huge amount going for it. but growing increasingly disillusioned with the gov't approach to state education, over regulation, loads of testing and poss cuts really threatening the stability of schools etc.

Advice please! looked at lyceum but didn't like it. Not keen on either a commute for school or what I think seem like the ridiculously silly "select age 3 then hothouse the shit out of" which seem to be the highgate/hampstead type schools. Not many other options near us! (don't want to consider gower, childrens' house seems ridiculous with its age bracket and the hourly structure, rosemary works seems just a bit iffy, is there anything else??)

we are technically probably middle class intellectual types but I only would select private based on quality of education and appropriateness of provision for our child's needs, don't give a toss about the "types" my child will mix with...

We didn't put in any applications before birth etc as I thought this was just insanity, preferring to choose schools once I know what my children are like and will need/benefit from. Now wondering if a total mistake.

Please anyone with experience of these schools etc pitch in with what you know of them! thank you. the state ones near us are St john's evangelist, moreland, hanover, rotherfield, laycock, william tyndale (would not get offer), etc.

Terentia Sat 21-Jan-17 12:23:50


I know people with children at Dallington who are very happy with it. I do get the impression it is less academic than, for example, Charterhouse Square. I think the plan is that their kids will move on to prep schools at 7. One of them started in Reception, rather than nursery—is that a possibility for you?

St John Evangelist is not really an option if you're not Catholic. Are you south of City Road? If so, Laycock is too far away and Hanover might be too.

This is the best tool I've found for working out what state schools you could get into - have you had a look?

bigmamapeach Sat 21-Jan-17 16:40:03

Thanks Terentia, that is useful... We are just north of city road. I hope (mindful tho' that there is no such thing as "catchment" per se and last child distance cut off varies every year) - that we might get an offer for hanover if we held out for that. but I had not thought about deferring dallington till 2018, I think maybe that would require a tactful discussion with the head/admissions and I will have to brush up on my negotiating skills! I'm not desperate to move again before "proper" secondary age (I'm really not keen on these weird private age cutoffs, in my mind school starts at 4/5 then you go to big school at 11...) is that crazy?

Any locals with experience of hanover or moreland (or indeed the other ones and private options) gratefully received! thx

Terentia Sun 22-Jan-17 08:05:14

My friend who started Dallington in Reception only applied that year, I don't know if they let you defer places. But lots of kids did join in Reception. Reading threads on this board, it seems as if numbers are low in the later years, so that could be a potential drawback of the school if you don't want to move them before secondary,

I have a child at Hanover, we like it there. there's a new head as of this academic year and he's making lots of changes so hopefully the school will improve further. Fellow parents seem happy too (though if they weren't, I suppose they'd have moved their child).

I don't know anyone with a child at Moreland—it's undersubscribed and therefore by definition not a popular choice. (The same applies to Rotherfield.) You may know more about it than anyone else on this board (is your child at King's Square nursery?).

In terms of other local options that you could get into, St Mary's C of E is always undersubscribed but has had very good SATs for the last year. There's also going to be a new school based at Moreland from next year, after which time it'll move further south.

bigmamapeach Sun 22-Jan-17 17:28:40

Thanks again for the info and good to hear your child happy at Hanover. I liked it on tour, but that was with old head. Liked write up of new head on website (not met or done tour since regime change). That's all v interesting re the changes coming. Skeptical re academies.., will look at links you give. She's not at kings sq. thx again

CruCru Mon 23-Jan-17 12:01:45

A friend of mine has children at Hanover and is very happy with it.

Friends had a child at Dallington and were very happy until he reached age 7, then they decided he needed a change of scene. I remember that when we looked round, I really loved all the early years stuff but the children aged 7 to 11 were (from memory) in the same classroom, which would make it difficult for them to feel as though they were progressing.

Although St Paul's Cathedral only assesses the first 70 children on their list, some families do move or drop out. It might be worth giving them a shout to see whether there is any chance of getting on the list - one of the children in my son's class was only registered at about 3 I think.

It is quite an old thread now but I put up a thread about three years ago which mentioned quite a few of the schools you've mentioned and other posters gave some nice advice.

bigmamapeach Wed 25-Jan-17 13:50:17

Thanks crucru. I will look into that as well and the links... Need to crack on with more research (as well as finger crossing)

user1486335391 Sun 05-Feb-17 23:16:06

DS is at dallington in reception - (upper nursery ) 26 kids this year
hes been there 2 years now-
we loved the lower nursery teacher - last year - hes amazing-
mostly play at this stage - kids get to know each other well-
theyre not sitting behind desks - and not much formal learning - yet

seems to be happy to go to school - and happy when we pick him up-
friendly parents - friendly children

much less pushy than charterhouse- depends what you want

abi and mogg hercules - who run the school are quite approachable - in our opinion - and always working to improve things and move things along
a lot a male teachers which is unusual for primary schools

outputgap Sun 05-Feb-17 23:46:00

Are you too far from Hugh Middleton? Went there recently. Thought it was fab.

I think good state primaries let children learn through play in reception, take opportunities to dash out to the nature reserve etc, but also have outside play available all the time. I think kids need outside space.

I know one Dallington mum who tells me that every single child in her child's year is being tutored out of school! At which point, you might as well send them to a state primary, no?

I'd be wary of giving up a good Children's Centre place too, if your child is happy there. We had a place at one of the pre-preps you mentioned, and transferred to a Children's Centre, which was so so much better, as long as you don't mind the parental average income dropping by a factor of 100, which you obviously don't.

user1486335391 Mon 06-Feb-17 07:24:29

did visit hugh middleton 3 years ago - we knew a governor who was working very hard to improve the school- its had a tricky time in the past- not sure about now

we didnt get into william tyndale (2017 reception)- not close enough - this year 2017 - its 0.17miles-
thornhill is still going through its post-headmaster crisis-
canonbury seemed chaotic-
laycock - seeemed good around here - calm and quiet - because of deaf kids-
competition for nursery places is very tight at all these places - we didnt get a nursery place - either- not close enough!

onsite outside space is a problem at all the private schools in this area - charterhouse lyceum
dallington uses the playgrounds on kings square and seward street - which are good- all kids go there every day-

i think tutoring is a fact of life everywhere - state and private- if you want to get into any selective london secondary schools at 11 ( state or private )!
the entrance exams are very different from the curriculum being taught-

we are peak baby boom this year ( 2011 was peak as far as i remember ) - so competition is going to be tight everywhere!

Barnstormingone Mon 06-Feb-17 10:14:17

Thornhill did have a difficult time when the head had a life changing accident leading to a period of uncertainty, but now has an excellent permanent head and is due to be re-ofsteded (and will I'm sure do well). I don't think it's fair to say it's going through a crisis still - it all seems pretty stable these days.

It was hard, that uncertainty and having Ofsted in right in the middle of it didn't help. But even without a head, it didn't do that badly in its ofsted. It was good in most things, except for Behaviour (which I think was a blip) and Leadership (er, head was in hospital, temporary one had been there a day).

I think it's worth visiting schools. I, personally, don't think it's worth going private unless it's to a school that will allow you to miss whole awful 11+ process (ie a through school) if you're ultimately aiming for a selective secondary. If you're going to tutor, you might as well be doing it from a state school than on top of thousands of pounds worth of fees.

user1486335391 Mon 06-Feb-17 10:47:31

its definitely worth visiting schools!
they are all very different-
we visited thornhill in 2013/4 and 2016 - it had changed -

lead learner -matt chappel at thornhill was amazing when we went round in 2013£1400-booze-and-nibbles

Gove's last curriculum dictats seemed to have just started to come through in 2016
cannonbury had basically closed it art dept between visits in 2013 and 2016
i heard KS1/KS2 got changed again-

we dont dont have to worry about KS1/KS2 testing at Dallington!
they dont do it!

11+ is very different from KS2 - im sure it needs tutoring - your up against a very competitive cohort

LondonJac Tue 07-Mar-17 12:16:22

Hi Bigmamapeach,

A word on Rosemary Works.

I have 2 DD. When we moved back to London a few years ago we struggled to find a school that had a place open in Year 1 as well as Reception. The girls now go to Rosemary Works and I feel like it was all meant to be. DDs have very different personalities, different interests and abilities, yet both are thriving and happy. Their levels are really impressive and every one of their teachers has been outstanding. smile

slou28 Thu 10-Aug-17 09:17:10

Have another look at Hugh Myddelton. My children go there and are very happy. It has just been graded outstanding by Ofsted recently and it gets very good grades and has a broad curriculum.

RandomUsernameHere Mon 14-Aug-17 18:58:53

Don't know anyone with DC there but I went to Dallington from 3 to 7 and loved it!

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