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NBH or Saint Christina's ?

(21 Posts)
Sanya83 Sat 04-Feb-17 20:31:54

Hi everyone,
We have a 3.5 yr old DD who is doing nursery at NBH. Although she's quite happy there we are a bit concerned with the changes that are happening at NBH. It feels like it's going to be a lot more focussed on academics. She has also gotten a place at Saint Christina's School at St.Johns wood. Although we were impressed with the infrastructure there, we are a bit worried abt their teacher:child ratio and also my DD would be doing nursery again there(not pre-reception like NBH)

We are now highly confused if we should move her there or let her stay at NBH. Any input about both schools would be highly valuable. Thanks very much!

wonderingmum17 Wed 08-Feb-17 20:28:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sanya83 Thu 09-Feb-17 14:32:43

Thanks a lot for your response wonderingmum17

I also felt that the head and deputy head were quite weak and had no vision for the school.

A couple of things I liked about the school was that the:
Children seemed very confident and happy;
Quite a large amount of space for a school in central London;
Focus on music and extra curricular etc.

I would like to know your thoughts on the above.

Also do you think that the school management are aware of the head/deputy head issues and is there a possibility of replacing the head?

NBH have their share of problems since they moved into private equity ownership. Not much has gone into investing in the school. There is a high churn rate among teachers and the school is a bit cramped with a lot of
Focus on academics. But seems like Christinas have their own share of problems.

Thanks again for responding. Appreciate your thoughts!

wonderingmum17 Thu 09-Feb-17 15:28:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Mski Fri 10-Feb-17 14:36:51

To answer your initial concern about teacher: child ratio I wouldn't be concerned. Small class sizes 15-18, one teacher plus TA. nursery 24-28 but more staff). The nursery is fabulous and the perfect precursor to reception for 3-4 year olds. NBH take younger children from 2.5? and I find it strange that they have a 'pre-reception'. Having visited NBH I found the number of classes per year overwhelming and seems to me to be an ethos of 'cram them in' (perhaps reflective of its private equity ownership). Also higher up the school, it strikes me that the kids spend the day on the bus being ferried around the various campus' or to Talacre for PE.

The new head at St Christina's has only done one term and whilst it was a shame to see the last head go (although not all will agree), the new head is still only bedding in. Personally I place more emphasis on the teachers who have direct contact with my kids than the head / deputy and the school has very experienced & enthusiastic teachers. The children are pushed at the right level - each child's strengths are recognised and developed accordingly. I'm pleased with my children's progress and also this years 11+ and 7+ results are v encouraging.
Overall it's a very nurturing, friendly school and not a hothouse.
I would advise you go and meet the new head, take a tour with her and see again for yourself before deciding. Oh and we've never experienced wait lists for music classes or any other extra curricular activity for that matter.

Sanya83 Sun 12-Feb-17 21:35:00

Thanks Mski for your response. This puts us in such a dilemma!
But we will visit the school again and try to meet the head as well before we take a call.

Thanks for your inputs!

Sanya83 Sun 19-Feb-17 20:53:03

Hi Mski

Do you happen to know how communicative the teachers are with the parents. Are the parents kept up to date in terms of the curriculum, weekly readings and general issues facing the school and the class?

Thanks again!

Mski Wed 22-Feb-17 14:10:47

In my personal experience, communication is good and at the right level. There's an intranet for parents with termly newsletters, curriculum maps, & timetables specific to each year group. Teachers are available on email or for face-to-face chats where you might have a question or concern. Comms are regularly sent home from both the class teachers and the school. There are termly parents evenings and a couple of time a year, parents are invited into the class and the children present their work - I'm always impressed by the breadth of the work they do in class, not just the pieces of homework they get each night. There's also a weekly school newsletter that's sent out with more general news about what's going on. Hope that helps!

underneaththeash Wed 22-Feb-17 14:31:10

I'd keep her at NBH and then try for a reception place elsewhere for reception - St Christopher's for example is lovely.

We used to live in the area and have several friends with children that have attended both schools and all have been moved to other schools in the last 2-3 years.

wonderingmum17 Wed 22-Feb-17 16:37:22

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Sanya83 Wed 22-Feb-17 22:31:46

Thanks for your inputs. Gives us a lot to mull over. All in all if the numbers are going down, we would be giving second thoughts about the school too.

Sanya83 Wed 22-Feb-17 22:33:46

Underneaththeash - good point about keeping her in the same school until reception. Just wondering what other schools you would recommend in the area?

underneaththeash Sun 26-Feb-17 00:49:22

Not that many - we escaped out to the burbs. One of mine went to Devonshire for a bit and that was awful too, we moved DS to a state school.

Amount friends though, we have 4 recommendations for Highgate and one for The Village (although they also moved out last year.)

I also have 2 friends with children at South Hampstead, but it seems to suit a particular type of girl, they are quite strong-minded, alpha mums, with alpha children. I get the impression its amazing academically but not very nuturing.

JamDonutsRule Sat 04-Mar-17 17:12:14

What was so awful about Devonshire House Underneaththeash?

llhj Sat 04-Mar-17 17:23:39

St Christina's has really had its day sadly. Utterly left behind by other London preps. Lovely children but that's what you're paying for...and you what, there are lovely girls in state too! Teachers no better than state and often far worse. It's really on its last legs I think. How can its numbers be sustainable? I don't think it will be here in 10 years. I believe the order will sell the land for property development.

Sanya83 Sat 04-Mar-17 19:23:59

llhj - do you have a child going there presently? We were quite impressed with nursery key teacher and got the general overall impression that they do care about the girls very much. So just wondering in what way you are unhappy? Thanks

NWMUM01 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:38:47

Hi I am a mum at St Christina. I have a daughter in y6 and a daughter in y2. Both girls have been there from nursery. It is a nurturing, kind place with focus on kindness and consideration of others. As to studying- we just completed 11+. We have not done any tutoring at all and my daughter had offers from every school she applied to: Highgate, NLCS, Channing, SHHS, Queens College and Henrietta Barnett, my daughter is not the only one in the class - the list of offers will be published and you will be able to verify what I say. My y2 girl had a slight stammer and the school immediately put us in touch with school speech therapist- no stammer after 4 months. I understand that people have different experiences but - a big but - this is a very good place. Our previous head left because she hired her friends to work for her and she did not declare it. She was good, she had good ideas but she let us all down very much with the lack of transparency, and her personal life was introduced into school life By her. THAT is why people left - the new head is an experienced lady who is treating children as individuals and we will give her a fair chance. I recommend St Christina's school unless you want your girl to grow up too fast, most other Prep schools are not better than this school. If they feed directly to a senior school that does not mean much. All St John's Wood schools have a degree of students who leave due to nature of parents' work. Good luck and hope you join us!

NWMUM01 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:41:19

llhj gloomy thoughts I wonder if you ever spoke to anyone in the Convent if you think that. Teachers are good, nothing like at a state school, I cannot agree

diggylamb2oc Mon 06-Mar-17 23:48:54

My daughter has attended St. Christina’s for several years and I only have positive things to say about it. She has grown from a quiet, shy child to a confident, young girl because of the supportive and nurturing learning environment at St. Christina’s. Children are genuinely happy at this school.

The school gets amazing results given that it does not have an academically selective in take, and the 7+ and 11+ results speak for themselves.

The current year 1 class has only 1 form as a result of the boys leaving after the Nursery and Reception years to attend local boys’ schools. I would hardly say that parents are leaving the school in droves. There is always an element of turnover at any school in NW London but St. Christina’s has far less than many other schools (including Abercorn which my daughter attended previously). Most families leaving the St. Christina's do so because they are moving outside of London, not moving their child to another local school.

The previous Head from Channing did not share the Catholic ethos of St. Christina’s, bringing her personal matters into school life. It is no surprise that she left quickly. I would hardly say this was a loss for the school, as the new Head comes with a great deal of, and a variety of, experience. I’m sure she will prove herself to be a far better Head than the previous one and in her short tenure she has already shown herself to be a good steward for the school.

“Teachers no better than state and often far worse”. I myself received a state school education and had some incredibly inspiring teachers throughout my schooling so I don’t think you can make a blanket statement that state school teachers are worse than private school teachers. With that said, the teaching staff at St. Christina’s is excellent. They are enthusiastic, responsive, supportive, and genuinely get to know each child.

Extra curricular – the school has a lot of clubs and activities on offer, varying from sports to music to art to drama to yoga.

St. Christina’s is a community – a place where my daughter is happy to go to school every day and where children can be children. I would not consider any of the other girls’ schools, of which there are plenty of choices locally. I’m sure my daughter will always look back fondly on her years as St. Christina’s, as will I.

Wondermum18 Tue 07-Mar-17 17:54:09

It sounds to me as though wonderingmum17 has her own axe to grind with the school for whatever reason! Even the figures quoted are false.

My DDs have attended this school for the last number of years and I have to say that I couldn't wish for a better school for them. They are both incredibly happy there and skip (or scoot!) to school each morning. Both have flourished here over the years and are growing into caring and confident young ladies.

Over the past number of years, yes, there have certainly been changes in staff (as people have already mentioned, with the previous head), but in my opinion the school continues to go from strength to strength. There is a mix of both young and experienced teachers, and a real buzz about learning in the school. Teachers are creative and teach in different ways so as to suit all learning styles(My DDs are very different in how they like to learn!)

Communication with teachers is regular and very easy via email, and I have always found that they are more than happy to meet on request. I have always worked in partnership with them; they really care for the girls and want to get the best out of them.

This year's (2017) 11+ results haven’t been published yet, but from what I have heard from the other mums, are astounding! Numerous offers for top schools such as Henrietta Barnett, North London Collegiate, City of London, South Hampstead, Channing, to name but a few. What a credit to the school, considering its size and the fact that it is non-selective!
As for extracurricular activities; Netball, football, art, quiz, animation, newspaper, Latin, choir, orchestra... Most of which are completely free of charge. I have no complaints there, and my girls love the clubs they attend.

I couldn't imagine sending my DD's anywhere else, and am safe in the knowledge that they are being nurtured and very well educated.

It is sad that some people use this as a forum to verbalise their discontent – Everything the school (and hopefully we as decent parents) discourage our children to do!

Go and have a tour of the school, and I am sure you will see for yourself what a truly special place it is. In my opinion, it really is St Johns Wood’s hidden gem!

nw1ldn Fri 10-Mar-17 19:43:18

St. Christina's is a lovely school with a nurturing environment. However, if you are looking for an academic pushy school - this is far from it. The current year 6 have fantastic results - there are two factors for that - the girls own abilities and they have been nurtured at the school and the parents have been proactive in supporting their daughters.
Re the previous head - things happen - to a large degree change is the only constant.
I do not know about NBH pre prep but NBH prep is brilliant. It is nurturing inspite of the numbers at school. Each form has hundred kids - 5 classes of 18 - 20 kids. And it gets fantastic results. The large size of the school enables the children to have access to a huge range of clubs - the one area I feel St. Christina's does lack in.
But over all both are lovely schools.

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