Pembridge Hall 2018(41 Posts)
Hello wise mums,
my daughter has a place at Pembridge Hall school in Notting Hill for a september 2018 entry in reception.
I haven't seen the school mentioned in recent discussions so was wondering if anyone could provide an updated feedback.
I am mainly drawn to their excellent exit results and numerous clubs. I just wish they had an outdoor space...are the parents as over the top as some people say they are? I met two mums and they were very sweet ladies. I found the girls extremely smart, polite and confident when we toured the school. I am also told there is not much tutoring involved (which I liked). Would love to hear from current or former parents. Thank you
If I read the other thread correctly, it suggested that PH is one of the most heavily tutored school like very girl has a tutor?
I agree with all your comments sound accurate except on tutoring. Which is fine, as long as you ignore it and don't feel pressure to also tutor. Also consider it is one of the most sought after London preps in a very affluent area and thus will have a certain type of parent.
Thank you so much to both of you for your feedback. I have one more week to make a decision. If anyone is a parent there I would love to hear from you as well!
I'm not a parent, but why would you choose a prep school with no outdoor space? Do you not want your DD to have the freedom to run loose at break and climb trees and make dens?
It's a shame they couldn't find any photos of children smiling for their website.
DD is at Pembridge (Y3) and loves it. You are quite correct in identifying the girls as extremely smart, polite and confident. They are. There has been brou-ha-ha (?sp?) this term because of the number of girls who are leaving from Y2 to go to Bute which seems like a sensible path for parents who are determined to go for SPG at 11. If that is not your route then it doesn't figure in to calculations.
What does seem to be true, however, is that the exodus has caused a re-think from Pembridge about the way it supports/encourages the academic aspirations of the abler girls (or their parents at least!) Keighley-Elstub was brought in to make Pembridge more academic but this has given a whole new energy to that effort with earlier streaming, extended schoolwork for abler girls (who want it), earlier senior school selection choices and programmes tailored to specific schools chosen. Sports also becoming more competitive although I'm not sure that that can be connected!
The "tutoring" issue is a significant one, ironically at its most extreme over Bute admissions for which most of the Y2 girls were receiving 4-5 hours per week of tuition outside class and quite a few had "tutored up" with holiday tutors etc. Bute, like Pembridge, have always said that they were opposed to tutoring because of the additional demands it places on girls' time out of school but this has obviously gone out of the window (and the famous "Bute question" designed to identify if girls had been tutored for their exam is now so well known as to be ineffective!)
So - that aside, and particularly if you hope for a senior school other than SPG (for which the Bute pathway seems sensible) Pembridge seems like a very good choice and one which is becoming increasingly academic.
The only comment I'd add as a parent at PH is that the headmaster is not very engaged. He didn't bother to turn up for sports day, he missed the first day of school as it was his daughter's first day of school and he still doesn't know my daughter's name on the few occasions when he is shaking hands at the door, something other parents in our class have noticed as well, we are not alone in being nameless ! His deputy thankfully seems much more clued in.
Hello Mums, my daughter also has a place at Pembridge for sept 2018... and I’ve also heard lots of mixed views on the school! TKB2015 did you accept the offer?
My daughter was accepted in PH when she was born. I have been really put off by the headmaster for many reasons. I didn’t feel PH is my type plus I don’t like single sex schools ( I know later I won’t really have a choice). I have heard mixed reviews as well. One being, focus goes on more abler girls and they get more attention than other girls in the classroom. Also the campus has no outdoor space! They play in the park opposite . I do agree that it’s geared to a specific type of parent (not me) also we weren’t sure it had the international community we were hoping for. But my husband loved it so you need to sit and see if this is what you want. We opted for a another school, mixed with big outdoor space (and expanding). Good luck and keep us posted
Thanks for sharing your thoughts livelivelife2...which school did you eventually opt for? And if you don’t mind my asking, what were your issues with the headmaster?
Only adding to say that it takes all sorts. If we had a reservation about PH it would have been that it seemed to be insufficiently academic and too inclined to emphasize participation and inclusiveness over competitiveness. So in the light of livelovelife2's comments, this only goes to show that there are all sorts of points of views (and gives me more sympathy for the headmaster I guess!)
As for outdoor space the girls enjoy roaming through Pembridge Square gardens and are bussed up to Wormwood Scrubs for more organised games etc. No problem there I think: you'd only get more outside time by moving to a country boarding school.
One thing to correct though, the place is deeply international. In our DD's year over half the girls are of non-UK parents. This seems like a good thing and reflective of the London life the girls participate in and certainly improves languages and potential holiday destinations.
As for parents, I would say there is an overwhelming proportion of reasonably successful professionals, many of them European bankers, lawyers, consultants etc who have become long-term London residents and a few Brits of similar backgrounds together with just a sprinkling of Notting Hill glams too. We rub along together OK.
DD is due to start at Pembridge in 2019, but the grapevine seems to be reporting that crisis mode has set in with half of Y2 having decided to decamp to Bute and other parents heading off to Falkner, Glendower and NHP. A Y2 mother told me that the headmaster is caught between assuaging the discontent of the parents of abler girls (although most of them are now leaving) by providing a more challenging academic programme and the anger this generates among the parents of the less able who want more creativity and bubbles and rainbows. We were kind of heading to Pembridge, but are now re-thinking. Any views?
There has been a sudden revolt in ways at Pembridge - partly dramatically OTT and partly justified. It used to be (and still is in ways) THE school to get your DD into - both as it was seen as top standard and a slight mark of privilege. Now, parents realise there are many other, just as good, options and are more into making sure it is academically doing the best for their DDs. The option at 7+ to look around to places like Bute can make parents see what is going on elsewhere and question their choices (partly rightly but partly in a 'grass is greener' way). The Headmaster came in with hopes he would up academics and ensure all girls have the opportunities to achieve their potential.
However, the headmaster is thought of by many as backwards, he is quoted many times talking about how physical fitness can relate to academic strength and has some incredibly old fashioned 'old boys' club type views. He is not relatable even to the parents who themselves are ex- Etonians etc . He has shown little care about a sizeable chunk of his Year 2 cohort leaving and is not interested in knowing why.
Beneath all this though is a lovely school with incredible teachers, decent facilities for a London prep and I doubt any girl there will be missing out in any way. It is a place of huge privilege (like many London preps). For a lot of parents recently, a combination of hype and dramatic school gate chat, combined with a disappointing and blinkered Headmaster, has heightened issues.
I wouldn't necessarily avoid the school, I'm sure it will all calm down. More often than not, it is not the Head but those on the ground in the classrooms, leading subjects and giving the pastoral care that 'make' a school and I would trust in those people at Pembridge.
KingFlamingo, thank you for this objective and thoughtful response! Our daughter is starting at Pembridge in 2018... and I am comforted to know that the foundation of the school is quite solid. Shame about the headmaster though! This seems to be a pretty consistent view about him—shouldn’t he be paying attention to the feedback??
I know nothing about PH, but I do know about schools, and I am clear that a good/bad head can make all the difference to a school, and that if you do not have the right person at the top it can be detrimental tom everything, particularly staff morale which is crucial to success.
I am governor at a state school and the head is in the hallway greeting every child by name every morning; she is very visible and the parents know she is there for them at any time. I do think this is important.
I would be very wary of a school where the head is getting a bad name - especially if I was paying an arm and a leg for it!!!
Thanks to all who have posted and messaged about “The State of Pembridge” which even its loyal parent supporters seem to agree is having something of a crisis. We won’t make any sudden moves, but we do feel that we must now investigate other options. It’s a shame, as we had very much felt that Pembridge was the safe choice, offering a good combination of sound academics but with respect and support for the girls with less academic determination - which we thought was a useful mix before we can be quite sure where DD lies on the academic-creative axis.
It looks as though the Head has comprehensively upset both parental “factions”: offering additional academic challenges, but then withdrawing this plan in the face of other parents’ hostility, leaving both factions feeling “misled” (the word I heard used was actually a lot stronger than “misled” though!)
It may be a storm in a teacup and of course the teachers and the facilities remain unaltered, but the Head’s political games seem to be causing confusion and anger, which is scarcely encouraging.
My DD also has an offer for Pembridge Hall for Sept 2018. I am so confused. DD is already in Chepstow House where she is doing very well academically. They have managed to get the balance right with being very academically driven yet keeping the children happy. Their outside space is also a blessing for the kids who play many sports. We had been on the waiting list for Pembridge for so many years and now that we have an offer I don't know what to do. Is Pembridge focussed on challenging the kids academically? I am nervous that the education momentum and leadership in Pembridge is not the same as Chepstow. Any thoughts? I need to give notice to Chepstow tomorrow morning (before school breaks) if I am to accept the offer from Pembridge. Urgent Help and advice please!! I am so confused. Running out of time....
Is your DD happy where she is? If so, leave her there.
She is happy there. Just want to make the best decision for her future. Don't want her to miss out on a positive life changing opportunity.
Mrs Barr was the headmistress at PH before so surely the standards she had there is applied in CH. what do you feel? Your husband/partner? Have you visited the school?
Mrs. Barr is amazing and is turning Chepstow into an outstanding school. She welcomes all the children in the morning and knows all their names (and the little siblings' names too!). Husband is confused and has left me to do the homework and make the decision. Men! It's just that PH had such a long waiting list and has such good exit results. It's a once in a life time opportunity for my DD to attend an established school like PH. However, if it is not what it used to be and the academic focus is lost in translation due to the current head's approach then I would rather not move DD. I can't fault Chepstow in any way. I have visited PH. It is a very compact layout compared to the spacious Chepstow with lots of in house playgrounds.
I moved one of my DDs for reasons that I saw as giving her opportunities. I failed to take the social aspects into account, and moving from the relatively unpressured atmosphere of her first school where she had lots of friends to a more pressured ethos with people she did not know was an unmitigated disaster. She was so unhappy I can barely let myself think about it now.
Believe me it is no joke having a desperately unhappy child at home - they say that families are as happy as their most miserable member - definitely true!
What does SHE want to do Whatto? You can fill in the academic blanks in a number of ways, but you cannot buy happiness.
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