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St. Mary’s Hampstead, North Bridge House, Devonshire House or King Alfred?!!(18 Posts)
We are desperate for some help & have only found quite old threads on these schools. Hoping some mumsnetters can help me please. Acceptance deadlines are looming!
My late summer born DD is due to start in reception in September. Clearly we couldn’t make up our minds & applied to a few! She’s quite cautious, nurturing, a gentle and imaginative soul. Younger sister will also go next year.
St Mary’s, Hampstead
LIKES - great head, like small year sizes (2 classes of ~20), great STEAM centre for IT, nice facilities. Has reputation for good results but with less pressure and more nurturing which would suit our DD.
DISLIKES - we’re very liberal, not sure it’s too Catholic for us and worried we might not find many kindred spirits in other parents. Seems like a lot of children come and go as very international. Worry about continuity of friendships for DD.
LIKES - Really nice, confident children showed us around. Gets good results, got a happy vibe. Teachers seemed nice.
DISLIKES - Not great playground area. So big (5 classes of ~20), worry that DD wouldn’t get enough individual nurturing. Didn’t really get a sense of the soul of the school, what it stands for and is really about. It doesn’t get great comments, historically, on Mumsnet which put me off! I’d love to hear from current parents.
LIKES - Can go through to 18. Seems to get good results but seems less pressurising than some others. Think they are more concerned with wellbeing than some others. Got a happy vibe from children. Teachers seemed nice.
DISLIKES - Building quite old and tired. Some classrooms tiny, they put fewer children in them but still, it’s a long time to spend in such a small space. Playground quite small and far away from Reception children upstairs - although they go out 3 times a day. It’s pretty big, I think 5 classes of ~20)
LIKES - This is our ‘wildcard!’ Visited & slightly fell in love. Animals everywhere, longer playtimes, a really holistic education. Happy children, lovely teachers. Great outdoor space for early years. Staff chats felt like friends. Think we’d have things in common with other parents. Much less pressure, ability to be children. Can go to 18.
DISLIKES - We might not stay in London forever. Concerned by old Mumsnet posts saying that children who leave early find they’re very far behind at more ‘normal’ schools. I understand that you have to invest faith in their system of letting children develop at own pace which is fine if staying until 18 but just concerned about them getting in elsewhere if we left early.
We were both sporty & I went to a traditional boarding school with lots of organised sport. Would feel sad that they wouldn’t have much of that. Worry that too arts directed, is there enough tech/coding etc for future jobs? Worry that it’s too ‘different’ for us.
So, after that essay. Does anyone have any further insights or advice please? I’d particularly like to hear from any parents at these schools.
Many thanks in advance. This school stuff is sooo stressful!
If you like small, what about St. Margaret's in Hampstead, Kidderpore Ave.
Thanks @waterbottle12, good shout. That looks like a lovely school.
I think all your points are very valid. Friends of mine have had problems with pastoral care at Northbridge House - but saying that they last lot moved out of London a couple of years back, so I may be slightly out of date.
King Alfred does have coding etc, but as you said it's not traditionally sporty and yes, there isn't much academics in pre-prep. But, it depends on when you think you'll move and where. Schools are not as competitive outside London to get into anyway, but they are often far better in terms of size/sports/facilities.
We decided that the private options were a bit meh and just did state for a couple of years until we moved out. What's your state option?
Lots a King Alfred's tutor as well, because the school really doesn't do academic.
Of those four, I would focus on St Mary's and Devonshire House.
Although have some friends at Devonshire House that found the help with 11+/13+ a bit meh. They had boys, provision really below The Hall etc. If you are aiming for the top secondary schools.
Probably St Marys is the one that gets best reviews overall generally but I don't know the school personally.
I would do St Marys or Devonshire house. KAS is fantastic and has so many benefits to their outlook on schooling, but then again it doesn't suit everyone and it isn't so academic. NBH in my personal opinion, I would give it a miss considering you have the others.
Thanks @underneaththeash, good point about schools being less competitive outside London.
State option isn’t bad, rated outstanding (but about 8 years ago.) Main issue is we’ve just accepted an offer on our house, to move to Hampstead/Highgate so we are planning on moving away from the catchment area in which that school is but don’t yet have a new address! Great timing, eh?!
@waterbottle12 and this worries me! I don’t feel like you should pay ~£6,000 a term and have to do that...
@rockylady thank you. Were your friends otherwise happy with DH? I agree feedback on St. Mary’s is positive. I like it, just a bit worried about catholic element. DH is catholic so doesn’t mind. It’s my hurdle only!
@Tacosforever yes I think so they were ok otherwise. The oldest got into one of the top top schools in London, the youngest into a 2nd tier but still very very good school, and they had to tutor. Depends on your child and what you are aiming for.
St Mary's mum here - I'm not Catholic but children are. I love catholic ethos in this school. I think all girls' environment can get very "mean girl'y", even in the primary years, and all these sessions on "St Mary's ways" really help to make them kinder souls. As we've done a holy communion in the school, I can tell you that less than 1/3 of parents did it, which indicates that they are either not Catholic or not interested. I haven't met one parent at the school though who doesn't like the ethos.
We like that the school is not privately-owned like other competitors you mentioned, which reflects back not only on fees but on the whole feel of the school, and the facilities (especially the outside space) are the main draw and the main reason the DC didn't go state. The kids do spend a lot of time outside, during PE and breaks, and in summer term they even take academic lessons outside.
Re: KAS, I know a girl that came to St M from there and had to take additional classes after school (in St M) to catch up (but she loved her time in KAS, just didn't seem to learn much whilst there).
Sorry my friends have boys and one girl, the youngest was the girl. So a boy and a girl in the school
This might not suit at all but have you considered Hampstead Hill?
Did you apply for state options too? There are fantastic options in Hampstead, and now the birth rate has fallen, places are much easier to come by. New End, Christchurch, Fitzjohns, Hampstead Parochial all amazing.
I know kids who have been at KAS and DH - both sets of families moved their kids 'early', and with hindsight neither lot think much of the education their kids got there. NBH - fine but dull - poor facilities. Don't know anything about St Marys.
Honestly, I'd put the local state options above 3/4 of your options. Especially Christchurch.
Where do you live?
Consider Sarum Hall and Hampstead Hill as well
Don't go anywhere near Hampstead Hill if anyone in your family has any tendency towards lung problems - high levels of air pollution (traffic queuing on a steep hill outside, plus Royal Free construction).
We have children currently at KAS, none have had (or needed) extra tutoring. The school is non-selective academically and there is a high percentage of children with a variety SEN, perhaps this is why there is this perception that everyone at KAS is getting extra help? The exam results are frankly outstanding given the range of abilities they are working with. We're very happy to have gotten in when we did.