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Private girls school - North London - Hampstead Area

(21 Posts)
Flowergirlsmum Thu 02-Feb-12 22:45:21

Hi, my question regards schools. My daughter Ivy currently attends Crickets Nursery , and has just been offered places at South Hampstead, St christophers and St. Mary's and we don't know which to choose, we love each of the schools. Ivy also has a sister called Rosie who is now 2, Rosie is a lot quieter than Ivy and we want a school that will suit both girls but will also be happy to except siblings. We really don't want two sisters with a two year gap going to completely different schools. If anyone has any view on the schools or are in the process of making similar decisions, it would be great to hear from you.

dasmummy Fri 03-Feb-12 11:34:02

St Christophers my favourite overall - small, happy, good results plus girls go onto great schools at 11.

BUT with SHHS - you don't have to worry about moving at 11. I liked it there when we toured, nice bohemian atmosphere, doing well in the rankings, tons of art and music, the head is fab - but I know a lot of people who have negative views, not sure why.

If you are after a Catholic education, St Mary's is well thought of.

Have you checked the sibling policy at each? Admissions will tell you.

Flowergirlsmum Fri 03-Feb-12 16:44:26

Yeah see we like SHHS but other people have said it's a hot house which i think would be fine for Ivy, but Rosie would just not cope or enjoy being somewhere like that. Also they say they accept children as individuals, sometimes they won't even take both twins if one isn't as bright as the other. I mean i really liked the junior school, but i have heard some horror story's about the senior school. However we are only looking at junior, would probably not keep them at the same school for their whole school life. I liked st. Mary's but we are christian and i don't want my children being the only ones who aren't catholic when they do confirmation for example. But the school does have a lovely atmosphere and they will take siblings as long as they don't have learning difficulties such as autism or down syndrome. My gut feeling is telling me St. Christophers i mean the atmosphere there is lovely and the girls are all so chirpy and confident something that i think Ivy would fit straight into and i think that kind of environment may help Rosie to become more confident. The only thing with St.Christophers is the uniform i mean i like the dresses and shirts but the tracksuit and shorts and fleeces they have are revolting. This school thing is so tricky, in some ways it's more difficult when you have choices. I think though St.Christophers will end up being the one we choose, Ivy was born in October too so it means she can go straight into reception rather than having to wait a year which is a plus and also 3 girls from her nursery are going so she may be the happiest there. Which school(s) does your daughter go to if you don't mind me asking???

GoldysMum Sat 04-Feb-12 00:22:21

My daughter is going to St Christophers - She didn't get a place at SHHS but if she had I would have been tempted by the fact that she wouldn't have to do the 11+ - however I think that as a primary school st c is much nicer and I think the comfy uniforms are a plus - not as stuffy as some of the Hampstead preps. If you have two daughters it is definitely worth going for as your youngest will be guaranteed entry, unlike SHHS where many siblings are turned down. Sorry I can't comment on st Mary's as I haven't heard of it - all parents I've spoken to with a child at St Christophers have raved about it so we've decided to accept the place there - even though we have a summer child so entry won't be till 2013!

GoldysMum Sat 04-Feb-12 08:11:43

By the way, typed late last night but wanted to add a bit more info which may or may not be of interest. Our choice is only between St Christophers and our local state, which is an outstanding school. I only put DD down for the two girls private schools which were (IMO) the best in the area, quite early on, before I realised the great state school in walking distance was an option. While flattered DD was offered a place, it was actually quite a shock and we've had to work out whether it is worth making the sacrifice financially (probably putting a stop to nice holidays etc) when we do have a good option that is free. However it has been talking to other mums that has convinced me and my husband to go for it. They tell us how lucky we are to get in, the amazing staff to child ratio (15 in a class with a teacher and an assistant). Every child gets to read with a teacher every day and they instill a real love of learning and of the school itself. I have been sold and feel really excited for DD to start there - let us know what you decide, I may see you at the school gates

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 10:39:35

Yes the one to one reading thing is one of the main attractions of the school, I myself have dyslexia and i went to St. Margarets in Hampstead and they did no reading with the children one to one (and still don't), they just relied on parents to do it. Fees will also be a sacrifice for us, it means i will have to work more days, but for the girls i feel that an all girls school which is nurturing will make such a difference to my girls confidence. St christopher's also appears to be very good at getting the girls into the excellent state secondary schools such as Henrietta Barnet (which we would be very interested in). For me i would find the choice harder if my baby was born in the spring as at her nursery there is no reception, so i don't know where she would go for a year. And just to let you know we wrote a letter to St Christophers last night saying we want to except the place and we are going to post it today. Ivy is excited that she is going to "the Alice and Wonderland school" as she calls it and i am gland that now i won't have to worry about prepping Rosie for 4+ to such an extent, something i would have had to do for schools such as SHHS. Thank you for all the feedback, it has really helped us to make what i feel is the best decision for both of the girls.

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 11:24:31

Goldysmum, if you don't mind me asking, are i coming from the Belsize park end, and which other school did you put your name down for if you don't mind me asking? We are coming from the west hampstead area, so it will be quite a long school run in the morning, i would probably drop off Ivy, and my mum or my husband would have to take Rosie to nursery as it's in a different direction and opens when i am supposed to be at work. We also have a back-up school, it's called Maple Walk, i don't know if you have heard of it, it's part of the new model school company, it was first come first served, so i put Ivy name down when she was born to make sure she had somewhere to go. For us we have also made a decision not to have any more children in order to pay fees as if we hade three set of school fees it would be so tight. But with two girls at the same school, i think life will work well, the girls can go to the same school, we will have the schools support at 11 when we are trying for schools. Regarding the state school option, my sister sent her daughter and son to Christ Church school in Hampstead (i don't know if you have hear of it) it's an excellent primary school and she can't rate it high enough, but the problem started last year when she was sitting 11+ exams, this particular girl got in to SHHS, palmers green, Devonshire house and Sarum hall at 4. But when she got offered a place at Christ Church they took that because her son and daughter could go to the same school and with an outstanding school that they wouldn't have to pay for they said they would wait till 11 to place her in the private sector. However when she sat 11+ she didn't get into SHHS, Highgate, Channing, the only school she got into was St Margarets (where my sister and i went)(St.Margarets isn't very selective by the way). When my sister phoned the schools and asked why she didn't get in they said that because the schools are oversubscribed they have to prioritise children from private schools. I really don't want this to happen to my daughters, so this was an important factor for us when choosing a school, and the destinations of the girls at St.Christophers reassures me that both my girls will get into good secondary schools.

GoldysMum Sat 04-Feb-12 13:41:56

Flowergirls mum, we have been living parallel lives, I'm sure we must have crossed paths at one time or another! We are also West Hampstead way and I think quite a few girls go to st Christophers from round here - DDs current nursery has a good track record in the past of getting in there, so plenty of opportunity for rotas and local playdates etc. In terms of getting there i'm quite pleased to have a while to work it out as it is going to be tricky. I was thinking I could get the c11 there with her in the mornings, or overground to Hampstead Heath. Then i'd go on to work myself. I have a lovely nanny at the moment who looks after my son and picks my daughter up when I'm working so hopefully I'll find a way of making pickups work with her help. Unfortunately, unlike you my sibling problem isn't solved - Suggestions of good boys schools would be much appreciated! Anyway, depending on the situation I may have to find an after school nanny or consider an aupair which I'd prefer not to have to do.

Anyway, you can see why the local state school would be preferable in so many ways. However I feel nervous about that for many reasons, including, as you mention, their destination at 11+. I suspected that private schools might prioritise children from private primaries, but cannot believe they actually admitted it to your sister! Did they actually say that or was it more the suggestion that children from private primaries are better prepared? Also I wonder whether those schools would consider Maple Walk as a private school as being a not for profit, it is kind of in a sector by itself - incidentally you have given us another dilemma as DD is next on the waiting list for a place at Maple Walk so when you let them know you aren't going, we will get an offer letter - I am very interested to find out where first 11+ leavers end up getting into but don't know if it will be in time for our decision - really not sure what I'll do but while my head is saying local state or MW, my heart is saying St C!

Oh yes, in terms of other assessments the only other one I did was SHHS where she didn't get in but was told in feedback that she was close but as a summer child they thought she was not quite ready and suggested we try at 7+

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 15:28:29

Well we certain have very similar ideas about schools. Ok for boys, Herewood house is supposed to be lovely, interesting boys that are chirpy and confident just like St Christophers girls. Also look at St Anthony's and Arnold House, lots of my friends who have had girls at St christopher's have chosen those for there boys. Which nursery do you go to by the way? Do you go to Broadhurst, Mulberry House, Fordwych, (can't think of any others). Did you like maple walk??? We really liked it when we looked round, some of Ivy's nursery friends who have been offered a year one place at St.Christophers are going to Maplewalk for a year. I have heard great things about the school, apparently there is a good mix of parents, the children are taught to be well mannered and have good morals. We decided against Maple Walk because of 11+, i would be worried they would be on a level with state school kids because it is not one of the traditional preps. But for a boy, i would strongly consider it because in some ways it's ethos is much similar to St christopher's than schools like the Hall and Lyndhurst. You see i am an educational psychologist, so i know a lot about the schools in this area and the types of children that go to them. Also as an option for your son, you could consider somewhere like Maple Walk and then you would be up to a level to leave for prep at year 3 at one of the boys schools, these would also give your son a more creative education early on rather than straight into victorian style teaching (something that girls school gladly don't do). Yeah see i was thinking C11 to school (cause i generally work in the hampstead area anyway) and my mum (who looks after the children why am at school) could take Rosie to nursery and would pick Rosie up at 12 and then pick Ivy up in the car. It is more tricky having a boy and a girl cause at least with two girls, once Ivy is in somewhere it's just one school run. If i were you i would accept St Christopher's, your daughter will love it and really excel there. Regarding your son, just see how it goes, what schools have you put his name down for?? Regarding school runs later on many of the hampstead schools have school buses which may may school drop off's easier, it's something we are thinking about when the girls are a bit older. One other good thing about the private schools including St.christopher's is that children can stay at school till about 5:30/6:00 which may help your school runs work better, allowing your nanny to collect your daughter and son. I mean for us if there a lots of parents in West Hampstead i'm sure some sort of car rota could be arranged. Because at St Christophers they have a system where you can just pull up outside and the staff take the children from their cars and into class, some parking problems don't arise.

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 15:46:10

If you don't mind me asking is your local state, Emmanuel, if so we have applied for that too. And with my sister it was SHHS that told her that with such a high number of intelligent girls applying to the school, they have to prioritise pupils from their sister schools e.g. girls from girls day school trust schools. If your go to a private junior school you will always get into a private secondary. One of my friends had her son and daughter at Highgate and her other daughter at Heathside (because she didn't get into Highgate), and when it got 11+ she got a place at Highgate, because the two schools are connected and i think the sibling helped too. But when her dad found out she got in he responded with "i didn't think she had it in her". The school you come from is just as important as the level your at. St Christophers is great at preparing girls for 11+ and giving them confidence so they don't get worried about the exams. Just out of interest would you be up for the state option e.g. Henrietta Barnet at 11, i mean the school outperforms all the schools in the area, i went on the open day with my sister and the school is lovely, Do you know from this years year 7 class 60% came from private schools. Even at good state schools, Prep school children generally do better because the style of teaching they are used to is the same and they are ahead. Generally private secondary's are a bit funny about accepting children from state schools because they feel that they would have been taught in a completely different way. I mean for us i like to think that i work hard so i can give my girls the best, i mean i love work and if they went to a state school i would still work because i love it, but if the girls can be privately educated and do well in life, it would make me feel like i worked for the right reasons. I don't know how you find it, but sometimes when i tells mums at nursery that i work 4 days a week, they see it as some kind of child abuse. I feel so lucky as well because my mum looks after the girls and will give prepare there tea, so when i come home i can do bath and bed, and she really enjoys it and i feel so fortunate to have that. I wouldn't know where to start if i had to look for a nanny, i may think about it when the girls are a bit older e.g. when they are both at school, because it may be easier just to have an after school nanny that could just take them home and start the homework. Thats actually the thing i am not looking forward to is the homework, because i won't be there most of the time to do it with Ivy, so a new routine is going to have to be drawn up.

GoldysMum Sat 04-Feb-12 22:53:03

Hi Flowergirls mum - I've been trying to work out how to PM you but can't seem to do it. Perhaps it's because i'm typing from my phone. Are you able to PM me? I don't really like giving too many details of where I live, kids schools etc over Mumsnet but you have pretty much worked it all out - will probably turn out we live in the same street or something! Are you very close to Emmanuel or going for one of the church places?

Anyway, yes, I really liked Maple Walk although it's been a while since I visited. Great that it's a brand new building but the main thing that makes it better than a state school is the small class sizes. However considering it is not for profit and everything is extra, the termly fees do seem to be edging up! Not sure I could have DS there and DD over in belsize - mornings would be a nightmare! Also if he doesn't get a sibling place through her and she is elsewhere then I don't think he'll get in - I put his name down as soon as he was born but being another summer birth (I know, my timing is terrible) he was pretty far down the waiting list.

You are very lucky you have your mum to help most days. My mum does one day a week and my mother in law does one afternoon every so often. I feel very lucky to have my mum even for 1 day though and like you also work 4 days ( though I finish in time for school pick up on one of them). I've also experienced that mummy guilt when speaking with non working mums, but I also love my job and hope it does mean we'll be able to comfortably afford private school for two (I have 18 months or so to get a pay rise anyway!)

Anyway, we are going with St C - sending the letter on Monday - so we should try and get in touch - we could do a rota in 2013 although you will probably be well set up for that by the time we join the school. I do think they mix the classes up in year 1, so they might well end up in the same class though. DD also has one friend starting this September and another probably accepting a place for next year too. By the way, I've also been told they don't give much homework, at least in the early years.

By the way, I didn't know they could stay till 5.30/6 - is that for clubs and things, or is it a specific extra that you pay for?

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 23:18:12

I have been going to Emmanuel Church since i was a child, so applying for the school was more of the vicars idea than mine to be honest, however when i looked round the school it had a lovely bohemian atmosphere. And the new school building will be great, the main thing that worries me about it is the boy to girl ratio, many of the classes are majority boys e.g. 13 boys to 2 girls. But we live near the school too, Broadhurst Gardens but we went for route A. I mean for us if the girls wen to Emmanuel life would be so easy, they could walk to school have local friends etc, but it seem they could still have local friends even if they went to St.Christophers. Yes the class sizes at Maple walk are a plus, smaller than the class sizes at Channing for example. Habe you looked at Stephenson, its other new model school company school, although its in a prefab at the moment it will be moving to it's new site in the next year or too in either Willesden or Dollis Hill, which would probably be more convient for us (they have spaces for reception by the way). One of my friends has her son at Stephenson in year 1 and her daughter has just been offered a place for St Christopher for year 1. She doesn't know what to do she loves stephenson, she says the teachers are great and the fees are very reasonable. However she will have to go to Stephenson for a year anyway, but if she takes the place at St.Christophers she will have to move her son because of the school run problem and Stephenson is the perfect school for her son.

I know this may sound entirely ridiculous but it is true honestly, i planned to have both my children in the autumn, Ivy born in October and Rosie born in December, so that they would always be one of the oldest in the year.

At most private schools children are allowed to go into schools early at stay late often they have a sort of late room, just one of the classes where the children can go before there parents come to collect them. Obviously you can't just leave your kids at school all the time, but you can drop them off early and be late on certain days and normally the class teachers of head teachers are around for a while anyway so will look after the children.

I am glad you are going for St Christopher's it will be great to have children that are so local for Ivy, because to be honest i don't want to have to drive up to Belsize park every weekend for Ivy's social life (play dates) because that is not my idea of fun. I am not sure about PM, i'm new to this mumnetting stuff, but i will give it a try.

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 23:26:17

Just worked out the PM thing - sent you a message, hopefully you will be able to send one back.

GoldysMum Sat 04-Feb-12 23:34:15

Ha ha, your friend with the son at Stephenson and daughter who just got into St Christophers is one of my DDs best friends at nursery! It has to be the same one as too much of a coincidence! Mums name begins with R right? I'm hoping they will choose St Christophers so the girls can go together :-). Maybe I should get in touch with you through her if neither of us can PM?

Flowergirlsmum Sat 04-Feb-12 23:49:25

Hi, no her name doesn't begin with R, begins with S actually and the little girl is at Mulberry House at the moment so will either stay there for reception or go to Stephenson's for reception. So i am guessing there is two people at Stephenson in very similar situations (i wonder if they are aware of this??). To be honest i am not surprised the new model school company schools seem to be so popular especially for boys and with St Christophers being one of the most competitive prep schools i guess these coincidences are going to be more common.

GoldysMum Sun 05-Feb-12 00:08:11

So funny, I bet there are loads of people in similar situations -will have to tell R and see if she knows the other family as maybe they can work out a rota between themselves - hilarious! I had PMd you too before seeing latest!

Flowergirlsmum Sun 05-Feb-12 09:20:47

I PMd you - Anyway, let me know how it goes, if you get into Emmanuel that is, and i'll tell you if we do, if enough nice children from DD's nursery end up going we may go to and you never know we may end of setting up our own 11+ club. Because all the children at Crickets have Emmanuel as their first choice and private as a back up, those with boys and girls are especially keen, how about at your nursery, are there lots going for it?? I wonder how competitive it will be? Either way we will probably end up meeting eventually at school, so look out for Ivy (hopefully no-one else will share her name).

milmead Sun 04-Nov-12 08:31:29

just picked up your chat which is BRILL and exceptionally helpful. I was looking at Emmanuel but as we live in Fairhazel Gardens thought it was too far and we would not be eligible? Do they take jewish kids as well or do you have to belong to a parish church? This is all new to us and as i am not from London originally am quite flumoxed! Our dd is only 3 months and am hoping she will go to Active initially then onto one of the local preps.

mumoftwolondon Sat 04-Oct-14 22:13:58

Hi, was wondering if anybody will see this. I am writing about south hampstead high school so you may be able to shed some light. i went to their open day recently but didn't ask specifically about the reception class. i want to know if they have any specialist classes ie. music/language/PE and how much time do they spend in/out of their classroom (i didn't think it was big enough for so many children). Does anybody on this thread know? Thanks in advance! x

Belsizemummy007 Tue 11-Aug-15 17:46:15

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Mummylana Thu 21-Sep-17 15:31:52

Hi flowergirlsmum , it's been over 5 yrs now but reading your post is exactly where I am now. I wonder how have your girls done and were you happy with your choices ? L

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