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Moving to the UK from the USA: Looking for private schools for 6-year-old

(8 Posts)
USAUKMAMA Tue 05-Dec-17 21:48:41

We are planning to move to the UK from the US in 2018 (or the following year) and are looking for a private school for DD6 in the West Hampstead/Hampstead/Swiss Cottage areas. My kid is currently at an international school (European) and is academically advanced (they call it gifted in the US), but she is also a very active kid and can sometimes be a bit fidgety. I'm looking for schools which are academically challenging, but which have good pastoral care and are good with quirky, geeky kids. DD will be entering Year 2 in autumn 2018. Thank you in advance for your help.

fidgettt Wed 06-Dec-17 01:21:03

Hello, I'd say that although what you propose may be perfectly possible it will not be easy and I wonder if your expectations are a little high?

Firstly, you've chosen one of the most popular school areas in London.

Secondly, entering at Year 2 is very common especially in London, however it is a non-standard entry point. I'm not sure if you realise, but most independent Schools in the U.K. have a Pre-Prep department which is years Reception to 2 then a Prep department which is usually Years 3+, so the normal intakes of pupils would be by assessment or exam into years Reception and 3. Therefore if you look for places in other Year groups you will either be relying on being at the top of a waiting list and a pupil having left, which admittedly happens fairly often in London compared to the rest of the country.

Due to the above, I would be surprised if you actually ended up much / any choice of schools for 2018. I think it will be more a case of where has spaces. For this reason, I'd advise having a State school option as a backup just in case. This will essentially involve picking a school and then moving house VERY close to it, however if you want to do this the details are complicated and I'd advise starting a post asking for State school admission advice for the area.

Can I ask, what qualifications do you want her to end up with long term? You mention she is at a European International School in the US, can I assume from this that if she were to stay there she would be taking the Baccalaureate? What are your long-term plans for country of residence? Are you hoping to stay in the U.K. permanently? Would you consider an international school here? Or a British school that teaches the Baccalaureate?

Also, you mention she is active and fidgety. Does this cause her difficulties/ could you see it doing so in the future?

Probably a stupid question, but are you really wedded to that location? Schools in the U.K. vary wildly. At many London schools she would only get 1.5 timetabled hours a week of fairly standard sports. At some schools further out of London children would do sport every day for an hour with 3 hours on Wednesday afternoons and occasional matches Saturdays, or instead perhaps 2-3 afternoons a week of sport plus Saturdays. Often 'Forest School' which is like Scouts. The range of sports available as after school clubs would be much more interesting too and could include things like shooting, horse riding, golf, archery, sailing, rock climbing. Could that suit her more?

CruCru Wed 06-Dec-17 09:50:47

Hi OP

This website may be helpful. Do you have a copy of the Good Schools Guide for North London? It shows a map of the area, along with the schools listed.

Do you have any other children? Are you particularly interested in mixed or single sex schools?

Schools it may be worth contacting are (unless I mention otherwise, the schools are for girls only):

Channing (although this is Highgate)
Highgate (as above, mixed)
King Alfred (Golders Green, mixed)
Devonshire House (Hampstead, mixed)
St Anthony's School for Girls (Golders Green)
North bridge House (Hampstead, mixed)
St Christopher's (Hampstead)
The Cavendish (Camden)
Sarum Hall (Hampstead)
Trevor Roberts (Hampstead, mixed)

Some of these will be more academic or sporty than others (although as the PP mentioned, they are all in central London so space will be limited). It is worth visiting to see what you think of them - as the PP has said, you may not get a whole lot of choice as all of these tend to fill up.

International schools that I know of are the American School (St John's Wood), Southbank (Hampstead and a couple of other places in London) and Dwight School (quite far north I think). There'll be others but I don't know all that much about the international schools.

CruCru Wed 06-Dec-17 10:08:04

I forgot to say - do also look at Queen’s College (Marylebone - but that is just south of Camden / Hampstead).

fidgettt Wed 06-Dec-17 13:04:51

With CruCru's list above, I would

discount Trevor Roberts unless you're enough of a celebrity to jump straight to the top of the waiting list

note that King Alfred's is very quirky and its reputation is being full of rich kids whose parents work in the arts therefore will never need jobs, so it's not overly academic.

North Bridge House had some issues with the management a while ago and there were lots of unhappy parents, however I believe this is mostly fixed now.

Highgate is the most academic on the list.

If you're willing to travel you could add NLCS and Habadasher's to the list, which are both very academic.

Add St Mary's to the list. Great school. You do not have to be Catholic.

You mention good pastoral care and quirky geeky kids. The Academy school has exceptional pastoral care and is the most quirky school I've ever visited. It's not really like a school, more like an extended family. The teaching is very good. Be warned though that there are no facilities to speak of.

CruCru Wed 06-Dec-17 17:09:55

Sorry, I should also add South Hampstead (Hampstead).

Yes, sorry I totally forgot St Mary's.

hiyasminitsme Thu 07-Dec-17 15:03:08

Look at St. Margarets in Kidderpore Avenue - lovely small school, strong on pastoral care. They are flexible about how many in each year so may well have a place. you can then either stay until 16 or do the 7+ or 11+ if you want her to move on. head is Mark Webster, he's a really nice man and very approachable.

hiyasminitsme Thu 07-Dec-17 15:03:36

sorry Kidderpore Gardens not Avenue

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