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4+ entry The Hall/Wetherby NH/St Paul’s Cathedral or Arnold House?

(13 Posts)
Reception2020 Tue 18-Feb-20 10:35:19

Hi everyone - we have to choose a school for DS1 for reception this year. We have offers from the above schools.
We are new to London and would be very grateful for any insights. We know they are in different areas - we will move to be close to the school.
DS1 is bright (as far as you can tell at this age), is quite spirited and responds well to a bit of structure.
We want a school that encourages children to reach their potential but not in an overly competitive/pressured way. We value sport and music. Thinking Westminster as next school in an ideal world.
Wetherby appeals as it goes all the way through if necessary, but I worry that non-selective nature is a downside. Also not sure whether parents may be a bit “exclusive”.
The Hall seems to have a reputation for hot housing (esp when they get a bit bigger) and I have read (a small number of) v negative Mumsnet posts about AH (which would start at 5+).
I like the idea of co-ed which is in SPCS’s favour, but not sure about “city” facilities or whether it is as “excellent” as TH/AH.
We have small DS2 and smaller DS3 who may not be as bright as DS1 (although impossible to tell) - we want a school that will ultimately be good for all of them (which may also go against TH as I understand they are the least enthusiastic about accommodating siblings).
We liked them all very much when we visited and I expect any option is a good option, but we don’t want to miss a trick so would be very grateful for any views!

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WorkingItOutAsIGo Tue 18-Feb-20 11:19:01

Lol. In the London prep school game you only worry about which choose once you have offers. For example, Arnold house may only have as few as 5 or 10 places for new boys once they have catered for siblings and old boys. All the schools are great with pluses and minuses. Good luck!

Reception2020 Tue 18-Feb-20 15:40:58

Thanks so much. Yes we have the offers (TH and AH just came out in the last couple of days) so we need to make a decision. Any views on the pros/cons or any inside info would be very welcome!

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WorkingItOutAsIGo Tue 18-Feb-20 16:44:56

Very well done! You are very lucky and clearly have a fabulous DS.

Hall - hothouse, up or out, no sibling policy. Great school, fab facilities, big year group so lots of friends for you and DS, very successful.

Arnold House - warmer, softer, if DS1 goes then brothers will be offered places and all can stay till they leave - no one is asked to go early. Perhaps doesn’t achieve quite the results of the Hall but does well by its boys and they have a happy time. I know where I would pick if I had three sons!

SlowMoFuckingToes Tue 18-Feb-20 16:48:41

If you want the best shot at Westminster then it has to be the Hall. If you want an academic prep in london you won't get all 3 in anywhere or it's very unlikely. I'd choose for this boy.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Tue 18-Feb-20 16:59:44

Yes I think you are right but as a family, life is much easier and nicer if all the kids are at the same place. I would describe AH as academic too. It gets its share of Westminster places and scholarships.

waterbottle12 Tue 18-Feb-20 18:53:52

Wetherby gets loads of places at Westminster in the 7+. At the Hall you are clearly in or not in the Westminster stream. Tough for the boys who aren't.

Reception2020 Tue 18-Feb-20 22:13:52

Thanks so much - that is all very helpful. I must say that Wetherby seems to have a lot going for it - good results at 7+ as well as 11+ and 13+, and boys on our tour all seemed very happy and articulate (whereas our tour guides at AH and TH seemed to have the weight of the world on their shoulders a bit more (though they were older so hard to compare). We wonder if non- selective nature may be a downside but it doesn't seem to be reflected in results (which is obviously only one measure of the success of a school).
We also liked SPCS very much but it seems to be more of a city school and is smaller than the others.

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CMIA Thu 20-Feb-20 17:41:51

As a parent with two boys at The Hall, one of whom is definitely not in the Westminster stream, I have to respectfully disagree with the notion that it is tough for these boys. My two very different sons could not be happier there. The school is terrific at ferreting out each boy’s talents, developing them, and making them feel valued for what they contribute..the school has the resources to help them excel at whatever they love to do. My experience of the oft-mentioned pressure doesn’t come from the school, but from a few of the parents. There are super scheduled kids who do a ton of activities and even outside lessons. But many don’t and still go on to terrific schools.

CruCru Thu 20-Feb-20 18:41:58

I am a SPCS parent. We are extremely happy with the school - I have a son and a daughter, who both go there. Although I visited a couple of these schools (years ago) I would struggle to compare them as I have no firsthand experience. The other schools you mentioned are far from where I live.

Parents who choose SPCS often work in the City or really value music (my children both play two instruments and are in at least one choir).

The children do play sports (my son has had several matches against other prep schools) but there is no field attached to the school.

Boys do go to schools like Westminster (I know of several) - usually one or two a year. The children go to a load of different senior schools.

I know this is obvious but if you don’t plan on taking your place (at any of these schools), please let them go soon. Someone else will be very glad of them.

Leapfrog123 Sun 23-Feb-20 20:22:50

I have a DS4 who is lucky enough to have offers from a few different (also excellent) schools. We decided to give up his Wetherby spot, because we were so impressed by AH. The Hall was never an option for us as, even though he appears to be extremely bright, because he’s four and if as he matures his academic abilities wane, we didn’t want him to be in an environment where academics were prized above everything else (as seemed to be the case at the Hall.) AH, from what I can tell from the visit and from speaking with a couple of current parents, appears to strike a good balance between being nurturing/ all round and academic.

Our one concern is what to do with him for the reception year. He’s currently at a nursery, but we’d have to move him elsewhere in September, or home school for a year (not sure how favourably AH would regard that... any ideas about that from current parents?)

What’s your plan if you do accept AH OP?

Reception2020 Wed 26-Feb-20 20:01:34

Thanks everyone - really appreciate the input. We have come to the view that they are all great schools, there is no wrong answer, and it comes down to overall family considerations.

Leapfrog - what made you prefer AH to Wetherby? It is a tricky one with the later start date for AH if your DS isn't in a nursery that continues through 4+. If we ended up taking AH in those circumstances we would probably put our DS somewhere for the year and then move him (which actually wouldn't be bad from an optionality perspective, as if you absolutely loved the 4+ school then you would have had a v good test run and could just stick with that if it turned out to be amazing)...

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Leapfrog123 Fri 28-Feb-20 17:29:49

We moved out of the area (we were in Notting Hill and are now in Hampstead), but we could have commuted to Wetherby. I spoke with a couple of current parents who were concerned about the standards slipping in the junior branch if W (although the middle and upper schools are still excellent), and also to be perfectly honest some of the parents put me off. Even though AH I’m sure is fairly well heeled, a few of the Wetherby parents I’ve come across in other extra curricular worlds seemed flashy and one in particular couple pushy to the point of rudeness. I’m sure they’re not representative of the wider Wetherby community, but I just didn’t see myself and my husband blending with them at all....
Yes you’re right about just having to find somewhere for the extra year. I wish they’d just introduce a reception year at AH. Maybe they’ll consider it in time.

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