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Dulwich Peep London(12 Posts)
Hello, my DS has been offered place for year 3 in both schools so we are looking for reviews on Dulwich Prep London and St David's Prep west Wickham. Any recent experience please?
Depends if you want Boarding or London day School. DPL does both.A few years ago I would have said DPL all the way. Solid traditional teaching. Not now. It’s tough at 13+ and it’s not a given there will be enough places. DPL is shiny and high octane. Most boys turn out pretty confident but some I know have suffered quite badly. Your son def needs to be a resilient little chap to handle it there because the cohort are also high octane and very confident. Many could be seen as arrogant but it’s not their fault - surrounded by success and achievement. Many parents are over involved and a bit crazy and most children I know have more than 1 tutor. The parents will never admit to the tutors though. Be careful as the results in Year 8 are not entirely down to the school - large investment in said tutors and parents being savvy. Maybe that’s the case everywhere but remember these kids are already very bright and they are being tutored to be the best. Also some important areas of the curriculum are a bit weak hence the tutors. St D does deliver in a laid back way. I don’t think the children are as pressurised and I think they are very secure in the requirements for 11+. Does it matter that they can write an essay on the Magna Carta or the geographical features of Japan? This is the stuff that the prep is doing while others are mastering the 11+. Many children I know have gone to the same secondary schools at 11 and they do this stuff anyway then! It def feels easier at 11+ than 13 +. This year many of the London schools filled up at 11 so there was a much reduced ability to meet the demand at 13 plus and I understand quite a number of DPL boys did not not receive offers.
Question is, what’s your child like? Dpl requires sharp elbows and could be soul destroying - not a school if your child struggles academically . The kids in the middle sometimes feel , well, mediocre, but I think they quickly regain their confidence in their abilities when they move on and realise mediocre at DPL is top somewhere else. I’ve had 3 kids through and done, but lots of good friends still there. Would I do it again? Not sure. The marketing hides many things. Bottom line you want secure primary school teaching the rest is important but you need that first. If your child is big into sport or music he’ll like this school. They will teach him to play sport properly (cricket and rugby) and I think their head of sports in particular is brilliant, especially with the more shy boys. Teachers are generally great but recently high turnover and quite a few young/new teachers who seem to be slotted into to quite senior positions. Feels like there might be a higher turnover than is desirable.
My advice - it’s a lot of money and you need to think what you want out of it at the end. The kids need to be seriously academically competitive and I’m not sure they get this right for as many boys as they used to anymore and they underestimate the work going on by parents behind the scenes. You might like the sound of this type of go getting environment - if you can handle it go for it. Just be mindful of the level of involvement you want to have. If ds is confident and has good academic abilities he may well love it there.
Ps Boarding schools - they seem to get children in where they want but again , many are tutored to sit the pre pre tests and the pre tests.
You really need a review is st d from someone there!
Crazy, over involved parents and sharp elbows galore isn’t my dream set-up but I guess that’s what you get in any sought-after selective London Prep, no? Or is it even worse than most? From your experience, what do you think the marketing is hiding? Is it the level of extra tuition, or other things like easing pupils out, bullying etc? I’ve never heard anything but good things about it so I’d be really interested to hear what you think.
Marketing lures parents in because who wouldn’t want to be in an environment that is so vibrant and busy and looks so amazing. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be so complicated. I think that’s the problem. There’s a finite amount of stuff they need to be able to do to pass the 13+. But it needs to be done and done extremely well in order to be assured of a place if you are leaving it til 13. It helps if they can add sports and music and drama and art but the test is all important. The question you have to ask is whether once you peel away all the ‘marketing’ is this done best at this school or another. I’ve heard Senior schools also rating newton prep but I don’t know anything about it. Children do leave if they are struggling and I have heard of parents being asked to consider other options - but Inthink this is actually a good thing because no one wants a child to struggle. Bullying - of course it’s there. Again, this school delivers for most - just be prepared for the ride.
I agree with you that if they’re consistently struggling to keep up it is in everyone’s best interests (most importantly the child’s) to look elsewhere. My child is very young and I’m looking primarily at the Early Years department and it just seems so lovely and nurturing but as countless people before me will have said it’s very hard to know if they’re a good fit when they’re still so young.
I do apologise for muscling in on the OP’s thread but could I ask one more thing? Do many sit the 11+ and leave at this stage for say, Dulwich College, Alleyns? Or do most wait for 13+? Obviously it depends on the destination schools but I was just wondering about the proportions roughly. Thank you for your insights so far. Making these choices is a minefield!
DPL has a no-poaching agreement with DC, so those who want their boys to go there move at 13+ (with a very high success rate). I dinMt know if Alleyns has the same agreement.
I think more are sitting the 11+ now than I remember when my boys were there . It wasn’t even an issue talked about then. People are just generally more jumpy and watching the experiences of friends further up the school. Mothers talk to each other!!!! A lot!!!!!!! Certainly this year many of my friends have been talking about this issue. I also know for sure that a number are taking up 11+ places at alleyns and the like. Not lots at all but enough to question the value of going to 13 if you are not interested in boarding. I imagine it could snowball needlessly if the school don’t address why. Not DC as Newt says because they do take them at 13 and the success rate is good. This year I hear has been difficult because the likes of places like st Dunstans, Colfes had no 13 plus places and Royal Russell just a handful. Which means you need to pull the stops out for the big day schools.
Btw, DPL early years run extremely well and the kids get a lot done whilst having great fun - the Head there is truly excellent. My kids loved it.
I live in Dulwich and there are a number of DP from the local area who send their DS to the Dulwich Prep. We have a large number of the DC coming along to OA rugby club every Sunday too. Some of the DP are coaches there. Never heard a bad word about the prep and the DP I have met are grounded and level headed people. Although their are a few tiger mums and dads but I find you get them in most schools. Ultimately you need to work out which school suits your DS.
I've had several children at the school and I would say Early Years is fantastic and easily the best part of the school. The trips throughout are great and the school has a real buzz about it.
In my opinion the academic standards have changed recently and the boys in years 5-7 cover less material and to an easier standard than several years ago. However, it is getting harder to gain 13+ places and so many parents are extremely anxious about the increasing gap between what needs to be done and what is being actually done to ready the boys for their exams. It is quite a scramble in Year 8 when the work suddenly revs up and the pressure does increase dramatically.
The majority of Dulwich Prep boys do get decent 13+ offers, but I would question how much of that is due to many parents tutoring and supplementing the learning at home. Other local preps don't seem to generate quite the same level of parental anxiety.
It is a well-rounded school with a lot to offer in terms of sport and music. School fees are a huge financial outlay, and you need to make sure the school will do the job you want.
DC and DPL have a "no poaching" agreement
What does that mean (genuine question)?
It means they have an agreement that DC will not accept DP candidates at 11+ (they do not take from that prep before it ends at 13+, thereby 'poaching' the boys' years 7&8). They will accept 11+ candidates from other preps which go to 13, because there is no such agreement between the schools. It's an arrangement between the two schools only, and I've always assumed it's at the request of the prep.
Quite a lot of DP boys go to DC at 13+, they are well prepared for that transfer and parents can leave it to that point with reasonable confidence in the outcome (assuming DP says the boy would suit)
Thank you, that makes sense - DPL would risk a mass exodus to DC at 11+ otherwise