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Choosing a prep school(21 Posts)
Our daughter has recently completed her 4+ assessments and has received offers from Garden House and Glendower. She seems able and loves puzzles and drawing, but it's difficult to tell at this age whether she will be academic. She's very social but also has a sensitive side. She hasn't experienced any issues at nursery but I question whether she will thrive in an academic environment or suit a less pressured school (the risk though is that she might not be stimulated). Does anyone have direct experience at these schools?
Academically pushy schools are a waste of time. Any idiot can learn and apply intellectual rules. The point of education is to create well rounded and curious individuals. When you send children to schools focussed on academic attainment their critical thinking skills and broader experience are often neglected. Always choose the schools that focus of pushing every child to reach their potential rather than schools that push children to achieve (rather arbitrary) grades.
As you say 4 is very young to be able to predict anything which highlights how ridiculous these tests are?
Which school has an ethos which you like? Was there one she enjoyed more?
I preferred the ethos and learning environment at GH. The rooms were spacious and bright, which seemed more inviting, and the kindness code is beneficial. Most schools say they value kindness, but I got the impression that GH took pastoral care and kindness very seriously.
She enjoyed all the assessments and always came out smiling. She has repeatedly said that she liked the GP assessment the most, but I wonder if it's because they asked her to do things that she can't do, so perhaps she was more curious and learned something new. I can't be totally sure, but that's my guess based on what she has told us.
GP is more academic and she may end up with a wider choice of schools at 11+ if she goes there. GH is a nicer space and prob a bit less pressured. It really depends what you want from a school. If you are ambitious about future schools then it is actually less stressful for to be in a school that prepares them fully for this.
Apart from Glendover being more academic than GH, I would suggest talking to parents with children at each school to understand the ethos of the school, typical parent population etc. failing this, standing near the school gates in the afternoon one school day and observing also helps. For e.g., I found GH parents too wealthy and the ethnic mix not balanced enough for our personal criteria. Yours may be different!
Glendower is definitely more academic but Garden House has a reputation of being nurturing. Both have their fair share of Uber wealthy families. You could maybe ask the schools if they can put you in touch with parents eg PTA members you can have a chat with?
Also try the Knightsbridge Village www.knightsbridge-village.com community site. All the Kensington and Chelsea mums are on there and you can webchat for up to date info on both schools from mums who actually have kids at there.
Congrats on getting these offers! I think with kids of this age you need to follow your gut as you can't yet really determine how academic they will be. Personally I love GH because it felt it had the best balance between being very nurturing and still challenge the children to become the best of their selves (in) whatever that may be / try new things and as such become. And as you say GH is so much brighter and more spacious - only KP can really compete with that.
@lovelychocs is www.knightsbridge-village.com really worth it? I tried to join once but process was so cumbersome and you have to pay too. And haven't really met people that joined and I know a few people in Kensington. Are you connected by any chance?
I’m on Knightsbridge village and find the info very helpful. This is a community for lifestyle and schools in Kensington area and people also discuss ken prep even though it’s in Fulham. However, you won’t get much info on other schools outside this west London area if that makes sense.
I know a parent who chose between the two and decided on Glendower. She said if felt more "sparky" than GH, and that even if her daughter didn't turn out to be a swotty genius she'd still be appreciated and well educated there. This was two years ago and her daughter is doing well there. I've also heard good things about the new Head.
Hi Rockylady I joined the Knightsbridge community almost a year ago for a specific reason when my daughter was going through the 4+ for preps in the area and I found it very helpful. I’m only really interested in school admissionschat and not the other stuff that come up on the website so may not necessarily renew the subscription until my baby son is going through same process in 3 years time.
It’s all online and there’s no face to face coffee mornings etc but that suits me fine.
I agree getting on the site is cumbersome with all the to and fro checks and emails.
What did you decide in the end?
Hi, I had my daughter at GHS because she was very gentle and shy but by middle school she was severely under challenged academically and I put her on the wait list for GP. I waited over 2 years to move her, filling in all the gaps at GHS. It was exhausting! If you have an academic child don’t send them there unless you move them to Bute at 7+. You’ll end up tutoring them at home and go through massive neuroses thinking the school will support you. They just want your money. This is OK if all you care about is a social life and a flowery education. It’s a lovely school, but not for academic girls.
Interesting @Grandjany thanks for the insight. Among the "non academic" (!) schools in west central London, do you know how GH compares with Queens Gate prep for example? I have a friend who is considering Queens Gate prep which she likes but then the secondary school is not that academic so she wondered how it works.
We had a parent move their academic daughter from GHS to Queensgate early so they were secured for a place at 11+ and possibly for better teaching. I met the staff there. They appeared to be more experienced and mature teachers unlike GHS who are all really young probably because they’re cheaper.
Do you mean ‘non-academic’ maybe? Because no one moves to Queensgate for better academics. It’s a gentle and happy prep for kids who mostly stay on for secondary. A small handful leaves for more challenging schools.
Their secondary is the same. It’s not too pressured and is good for kids with normal average abilities.
No she is very academic but her mother wanted an easy fallback for St Paul’s and better 11+ preparation. The thing is, GH won’t prepare you for the most academic schools; only those who have tutors get those places. This gets very expensive on top of high fees and also very tiring for the girls who have to spend all their spare time catching up.
Hope it worked out for them.
Still - if there was a choice - I’d move to a more academic prep over QG. An academic girl from any of the borough schools would have no issues getting into QG at 11+. It’s normally not even considered a back up for the top girls - who’d maybe Putney as their backup.
As to Garden H doesn’t prepare for top schools and only tutored kids get in - this is what people often say. And it’s often said about other schools as well.
In fact a few of my friends with kids at Glendower and Ken Prep used to complain and say ‘the school is teaching them nothing’, ‘they are not being prepared’, ‘other kids are tutored’, ‘only tutored kids get in’.... then when their kids one after another ended up at SPGS without extra tutoring - I tried to remind them, but it was forgotten...
I find that this is more indicative of the kind of anxious parents these schools are full of than the actual quality of teaching.
@nhnhnhnh well maybe it was late to go to another "more academic" school - so you go for the next best academic that has spaces. It takes years to get an assessment sometimes at places like Glendower and Ken Prep, and even then, you have at least a handful of children competing for the one place that became available. And as you said, the girls who are tutored will be the ones who get the places, not necessarily the ones with the biggest potential, and this is so especially in later prep years as there is less time to catch up. So actually, I think going to Queens Gate is a smart move, if you think is a step up, and then you take it from there for secondary, with a good backup option if your child ends up being not so academic.
By the way I know a few girls that got into SPGS and not a single one was not tutored. In fact the ones with the most outrageous tutoring I know of were coming from Glendower - they had a personal tutor every day and depending on subject too, for pretty much the last 3/4 years before 11+. But that is the subject of other threads not this one, so sorry to digress!
If you think it’s about being an anxious parent it is not. The quality of the teaching at GP is brilliant and the commitment to mark and manage your child’s work over half terms and holidays in paralleled. All I ever got at GHS was ‘give the teachers a well earned test’ when in fact the truth was they were all incredibly lazy. The whole GHS mantra of ‘do the bare minimum’ cascades down to your kid who ends up being confused and unfulfilled if they are really academic.