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City of London School for Girls Prep - how scary is it?

(30 Posts)
bendoverbackwards Wed 27-Jan-10 12:45:21

I am thinking about this school for my bright daughter who's very good at some things but not across the board academically (eg spelling and writing are weaker areas). I'd say she is generally an all rounder when it comes to ability. I hear so many conflicting reports about the atmosphere at City, whether it is nuturing and caring, and how hard the girls are worked etc etc.

Anyone want to add their thoughts?

tigger62 Fri 05-Feb-10 20:54:20

City Prep is often descibed as 'doing what it says on the tin' i.e. offering a very high standard of academic education. Be under no illusions - it is highly academic and involves loads of homework from Year 3 onwards, rising to a ridiculous amount in Year 6. One teacher in particular is renowned for setting impossibly long and difficult assignments, which parents struggle to complete!

The girls are given some amazing opportunities in terms of school trips etc, and the facilities are very good. However, in reality, lipservice is paid to non academic achievements in e.g. sport, music, art etc.'Nurturing and caring' would not be top of my list of adjectives describing City, yet most of the girls there seem quite happy.

You/your daughter will not find it scary if she is very strong in both literacy and maths, if she is very confident, very competitive, has great stamina and enjoys being constantly challenged.

Another thing to bear in mind is that these days, transfer to the secondary school from the Prep is not necessarily automatic. There is a growing number of girls each year being 'managed out' in quite a brutal way.

Jajas Fri 05-Feb-10 20:55:43

Jeez it sounds absolutely grim..

Summersoon Fri 05-Feb-10 23:36:13

Would second everything Tigger said. I know quite a few girls at City who are very happy and who are thriving there - but they are very bright, willing to work hard, very ambitious (even at age 7), very confident, competitive feisty even. The kind of girl who wants to be top of the class, whose hand always goes up first, who gets the lead part in school plays etc. It is a wonderful school for that type of girl but it definitely is not for everyone.

Bink Sat 06-Feb-10 19:12:45

Sorry to hijack, but - what's the current word on the senior bit? I am thinking of it for dd because academic/fast-paced would suit her fine but I don't want her to have the all-round pressured adolescence I suspect might be the St Paul's (eg) experience.

Summersoon Sat 06-Feb-10 21:21:35

Much as the junior, as far I have heard. I also heard that more than 600 girls applied this year for I would estimate about 60 places (about 20 girls come up from the prep) so it is extremely competitive (although not quite as much as those numbers would suggest since quite a few applicants would also have applied to St. Paul's Girls or NLCS or boarding schools). But you get the picture.

I mean to add yesterday that CLSG seems very good at picking out the girls that will do very well at the school. Yes, there is some weeding at 11+ so they do get it wrong sometimes but most of the time, they seem to offer places to the right girls. In our part of North London, there are quite a few City girls: I have only ever heard of two for who it didn't work out and most think it is a fantastic school. Horses for courses, I think.

What other alternatives are you considering?

Bink Sat 06-Feb-10 21:36:16

Well she is on a list for Wycombe Abbey but I am very unconvinced about boarding. I don't know otherwise - I thought she was such a natural CLSG that I haven't seriously thought further. She's year 4 and it's next year I have to make decisions, apparently.

Someone was saying I should consider the w London mixed schools - she is very close to her (18-mths-older) brother, and their ages mean they'd both move from prep to (independent) secondary at same time. But I was thinking he is rather a natural CLS boy - academic and non-sporty ...

Summersoon Sat 06-Feb-10 23:05:26

I think that you have more time than you think. I don't know about boarding schools about in the case of the London day schools you don't need to apply until sometime in November of Year 6 (check out school websites for precise dates). It is recommended that you go visit the schools - by yourself, i.e. without DD - in the autumn she is in Year 5 to get a general feel, then go back with her in the autumn of year 6. I have also found it helpful to go to other school events that are open to the public, e.g. Founders' Days or similar.
There is no advantage whatsoever to applying early to London day schools.
Depending on what you actually want both your DC's to be in the same school or not, you might like to look at Highgate as well - very academic, but also very sporty (which might not suit your DS), but I don't know which part of London you are in. I don't know much about West London if that is what the "w" stands for - in which case, Highgate would be no good to you, but Latymer Upper might be and I imagine that you will want to look around St. Paul's and St. Paul's Girls.

Bink Sun 07-Feb-10 17:03:46

Thank you - that's so helpful. Yes, the "w" meant west London, and Highgate is just too complicated a trek, so it's off our list.

St. Pauls (and Girls) I have a bit of a prejudice about - I have the impression that the Girls need to be clever+keen+sporty+musical+pretty, and that to the extent you aren't even just one of those things, you'll feel the lack more than the presence of all the other things. Hence feeling dd doesn't need that pressure as a teenager (she can have it when she decides when she's grown to be a film director or something else supremely demanding).

And as for boys, I'd be surprised if St Pauls would want ds - he's bright enough, but he's disorganised and eccentric and only intermittently motivated - not a naturally disciplined person. I imagine they have enough to choose from that they wouldn't pick a tricky one, however bright.

Do you have any steer on Latymer Upper?

(Apologies again for hijacking BOB's thread.)

Summersoon Sun 07-Feb-10 18:09:12

Only to a very limited extent. They took the son of a friend of mine, who was initially wait-listed there. From what I know of him and from what you have said, the two boys actually sound very similar: very entertaining to be with but necessarily easy to teach, bright but not in a standard way if that makes any sense, not overly sporty. Anyway, a few years later he got to be a "A" student in a number of subjects and he loves it there. So, again just from what you write, Latymer Upper might very well be good for him - I would comb through their website and also visit them on their next open day. Latymer Upper is also co-ed, which might or might not be an advantage from your point of view. That's all I know I am afraid!

bendoverbackwards Tue 09-Feb-10 21:39:09

Thanks for your help all.
My daughter fits the City mould you describe (hand up first/pick me with exceptionally straight back/competititve/confident and able and keen academically but a little uneven but its early days...

I think my problem is that City scares me, everything you describe is what I thought anyway. I can really see my daughter fitting in there but am not convinced it is really necessary at this early stage and yearn for somewhere where she can have a fair share of non-academic opportunities for fun and then maybe we step it all up for the 11 plus transfer.

Summersoon Wed 10-Feb-10 10:26:08

From what you write, I would encourage you to go and have a look at City. It sounds as if your daughter would find it a very satisfying environment. It would have been completely the wrong school for my DD (bright, but the opposite of pushy) but I would emphasize that I do know a number of girls there who absolutely love it.

AishaWantstoTalk Sun 10-Jul-11 21:06:21

I'm considering siting my daughter for year 3 entrance exam at CLSG. Although having a cool and calm exterior I'm quite frightened of siting my six and half year old for this.

She's very bright and bubbly but has this amazing ability to procrastinate - not sure how this will go down on the day of the assessment. Have hear that bright and brave have fallen on day two of assessment.

So the question for me still is to sit her now or wait till she's 11 for year 7 entry - we are about to enter the summer holidays with a firm focus on one to one tuition etc. in this wise at this state I ask myself.

horsemadmom Mon 11-Jul-11 00:43:51

I have found CLSG prep very warm and fuzzy, actually. My DD has been very well supported and they have really encouraged her to find her talents. Nobody is being 'managed out' of her year. The year above has some girls who are leaving but, there is a feeling that it was a year that just didn't gel. No one was 'told' to leave. Pluses and minuses of a small school. Nobody gets lost in the crowd but if you are not an easy personality or a team player, you may be better off elsewhere.
On homework, the new head has cut it way down. 20 minutes max.
The assessment is NOT scary for your DD unless YOU communicate your fear. She'll think it's like a school day but more fun and they get smartie biscuits at the end. Don't prep DD too much beyond some times tables revision. It won't help.
It really is a lovely school. Very stimulating and lots of clubs, trips and engagement with London.

HalfPastSeven Mon 11-Jul-11 15:09:04

A couple of girls from my DS's class are going in Sept and a couple applied and did not get in. As 7+ was the main topic of conversation at the school gates (DS is a pre-prep so lots do 7+ for various schools), I have a bit of knowledge on this through the other parents (I paid particular attention to discussions on City as I will look at it for my DD in 2013.) (I have name changed for this as facts might be identifiable)

I dont get the impression that the test format was particularly different from other schools like South Hampstead or Highgate. The main problem is that City have moved it forward and it is now in November (used to be January, as for the other schools). This can be hard for the younger ones in the year who are less likely to be ready emotionally a couple of months in to Y2. Also, for the girls who dont get in (about three quarters of the girls that apply), because all the other 7+ schools in the area have the tests in January, I think it becomes a really long drawn out process to have to repeat the whole thing in January.

Of the 2 girls who got in, my impression is that one was always a dead cert (extremely bright, good across the board, future head girl type). The other is also very bright but much less of what I would think of as a typical City type (a bit of a dreamer). Of the 2 girls that did not get in, I would say that they both were considered to have a pretty good chance and one in particular was definitely expected to get in and was quite a typical City type (but both got into very good schools in the January process - one is going to South Hampstead and one Highgate). Funnily enough, the girls that got in seemed to enjoy the process more (apparently they both said it was really good fun, particularly the second round which is more like a team building exercise than an interview). Maybe the format just suited them better. One of the girls who did not get in took it quite badly.

I think about 100 applied and they invited about 50 back for the team assessment day. They have around 24 places. Based on the girls I know, there are probably more than 24 who would be capable of getting in, so there is a bit of luck.

Having been through 7+ with my DS at different schools, I think the important thing is to keep it as low key as possible and make sure they do not get fixated on a particular school or to feel they are being judged. We told DS that it was about the schools getting to meet him and that once he had done the tests we would discuss with the schools which school we thought would be best for him. Had he not got an offer from somewhere, we would not have told him (we would just have told him which school he was going to - we had a non-competitive entry school as a back-up). Unfortunately, i think it is a bit harder to manage with City which is why one of the girls got a bit upset - they got the bad news from City before they got any good news from anywhere else (and I think her parents had been extremely keen on City).

Also, I would only take horsemadmom's advice about not doing prep if your DD is at a pre-prep that prepares then for 7+. Schools like Hampstead Hill send a lot of children to the competitive entry schools at 7 and their reputation turns on getting kids through (apparently there are about 4 or 5 going form there to City this year). Hence, they do a lot of prep in class. Even at DS's school (which we did not think of as particularly pushy) they did some practice papers in class (VR, NVR, maths and english) and practised extended story-writing, so if your DD is not at a school that prepares for these tests it is worth trying to put your DD on an equal footing with the pre-prep kids by buying and working through some Bonds papers - I dont think it needs to be loads as it is more for familiarity than anything else. Some of the schools also publish sample papers on their website (e.g. Highgate and NLCS) and it is worth having a look at these even if your child is not sitting for those particular schools to get a feel for the level. DS enjoyed the practice papers, esp maths and reasoning (less keen on comprehension)

I dont think City do publish papers but they should say on their website what they cover in the tests (eg some just do English and Maths, and some also do reasoning, most do reading and spelling).

horsemadmom Mon 11-Jul-11 18:14:50

All pretty much right on the money. In fact, Hampstead Hill will rat you out to the schools if you tutor.
I do have an issue with the test date being moved to November. Can only assume that they think that girls who are also sitting NLCS will think 'bird in the hand'.
I think I've posted on here that the second phase of the assessment is very important. The school seems to favour girls who muck in and have a lively attitude. DD's friend is very bright but just showed no interest in the group activity and didn't get in. They don't even need to finish the group activity. The objective is to work together and be positive.
Try NLCS also. DD1 is very happy there. It has a very different feel and it may suit your DD.

falieva Tue 12-Jul-11 12:39:16

I am looking for a tutor to prepare my DD for City of London School for girls 7+ exams. I would really appreciate it if there was a personal recommendation rather than going through a random agency.


HalfPastSeven Wed 13-Jul-11 00:59:04

I do not think anyone at ds's school used a tutor and they did very well as a cohort, and horsemadmom said her dd's school rats out people who do tutor. I am not sure what the tutor would be for and I would be concerned that at that age it would increase the pressure, and/or if a child was tutored beyond their ability they would not enjoy a school like city. Much better just to work through some papers so your child is familiar with format - eg bonds papers. We also found some sample papers on some school websites (nlcs and highgate as I recall) plus some old SATs papers (levels2 and3) and worked through them. All of the schools we visited said they could spot tutored kids and would discount for that, although to be fair highgate said they would view it differently for a child applying from an under performing state school than for a child applying from a pre-prep like hampstead hill, I.e because the former may not have covered the syllabus. I did not visit city (DS) but imagine their view would be the same. Hence I would say use a tutor with care

nlondondad Wed 13-Jul-11 15:27:26

I asked my son, who is aged 15 and at City Boys, and who gets to meet girls from CLSG from time to time - they do some joint things - what he thought of CLSG from what he knew.

He just smiled. Enigmatically.

tigger62 Sat 06-Aug-11 20:38:39

I agree with most of what's been said i.e. definitely don't get a tutor for 7+ City Prep entrance. If your DD can't get in on natural ability, she will very quickly fall by the wayside and be unhappy there. Don't worry about the assessment days - both my daughters enjoyed the experience and weren't really aware of the significance. Just ensure she knows the basic stuff a 6/7 year old is supposed to know for the exam; the second day is more important, and you can't do any preparation for that, so there's no point in stressing. If they don't think she's right for the school, you don't want her there.

It also depends on why you're considering the Prep. If it's for a good, stimulating education with fantastic opportunities and good facilities, then fine. If it's to try and avoid the stress of the 11+, be aware that over the last 3 years, between a quarter and a third of the class of 24 have NOT gone on to the Senior school, either because they were not given guaranteed places or they decided they would prefer a less pressurised, less academic environment. Therefore you could end up having stress at both 7+ and 11+.

KaySmith Wed 17-Aug-11 20:18:06

I am considering CATS college I've heard they're one of the best boarding schools in London I know there is a price tag attached to a school like that but I read on their page that students with good results can apply for scholarships. does anyone have children, or know any, who managed to obtain one?

Mila73 Mon 18-Jun-12 15:53:46

Hi AishaWantstoTalk, did your daughter get into CLSG?

SofiaLondon Tue 26-Jun-12 15:46:14

Any recent tips/advice of parents of girls who have done the 7+ in 2011? Apparently, they had to close the registration earlier this year as they were oversubscribed...

SofiaLondon Thu 25-Oct-12 17:33:05

Bumped! Any advice would be welcomed as the assessments are fast approaching.

Pyrrah Thu 25-Oct-12 19:23:59

Interested in the comments concerning a child getting in on natural ability... if your child is at a not great state school and they haven't covered anything like the ground that a prep would in terms of syllabus, then should you tutor to even the playing field. (Doing anything myself with DD is likely to be very unproductive - think teaching child to drive scenario).

Do schools really take educational background into account if the child can't do part of the maths paper for example? Is it better for a school to have an idea a child has been tutored from this background, or better that they can't answer some of the paper is what I'm basically asking.

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