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Prendergast Hilly Fields or Aske's Hatcham

(12 Posts)
Finallyspring Thu 09-Jun-11 19:56:21

We are in the incredibly fortunate position of having got a place at Aske's and now having been offered a place at Prendergast from the WL for our DD. Fortunate because both are good. Can't decide ! Can anyone help ?

LondonMother Thu 09-Jun-11 20:07:55

I take it you haven't got a younger son who will need a secondary place? That's what usually swings it for Aske's.

Prendergast is much smaller than Aske's and of course it's girls only except for the sixth form. My daughter went there from year 7 to year 11. I have a lot of confidence in the head, the executive head and the governing body. It was not a perfect school but it was very good. One of my daughter's year is at Oxford now, and they have a steady stream of girls going on to good universities to do well-regarded courses. However, it's been three years since my daughter left and of course now they are managing two other schools as well. I don't know how that's affected things. They are in the middle of a rebuild of the lower site which should improve their facilities a lot.

Aske's, of course, is also the senior partner in a growing federation. Again, I don't know how that affects things.

I think if I were in your position I'd be weighing up the size of the school, ease of home to school journey, whether you and your daughter prefer mixed or single sex, any differences in curriculum, where her friends are going - all the obvious things. What does your daughter want to do?

If you possibly can, I'd visit both with your daughter and see what you feel afterwards. Good luck! It's a very strong position to be in, as you know.

LondonMother Thu 09-Jun-11 20:11:11

I should really add that going back years, when I was in contact with people at both schools (I'm not now really) pastoral care at Prendergast was reckoned to be much, much better than at Aske's. Obviously you meet people who disagree with the majority view on every issue to do with a school, but most people I knew thought that Aske's was not making as much effort to work with parents. However, that was under a different head and it was a long time ago. The change in admissions policy a few years back must have made a big difference to the school and I hope it's forced a change in attitudes.

pooka Thu 09-Jun-11 20:18:55

My mother taught at prendergast for about 15 years, from the old rushey green site to hilly fields. Old head and current executive head. She retired 6 years ago.

Both schools are good. And they change so much in only a few years, so couldn't really advise for new admission. But lucky you to have the choice!

katiebdee Thu 09-Jun-11 21:34:17

Can we have the place you decide you don't want ?? You are very very lucky!

pooka Thu 09-Jun-11 21:46:32

Actually - mum was there for Mrs P, then current executive head, not the current head of Prendergast Hllly Fields.

She said both school have changed a lot over the years, particularly as admissions procedures changed.

LondonMother Fri 10-Jun-11 11:21:45

Miss P, Pooka? I met her a couple of times, lovely lady. Lovely dog, too!

Finallyspring Fri 10-Jun-11 12:58:44

Thanks for replies. Hope I'm not gloating. Either way someone will get one of the places give up.

It feels like we're choosing between small and cosy and big and stimulating. I've posted here before about this but feel like Aske's is maybe dealing with some behaviour issues at the moment, which makes me nervous. On the other hand Prendergast's curriculum seems narrow in comparison and girls only isn't ideal.

pooka Fri 10-Jun-11 13:12:56

Oops - yes Miss P! smile

She was very good at the time. Think that school has had a period of transition post the admissions changes. It definitely had a 'grammar' ethos at the time - rather a sense of "there's a waiting list, girls coming here should be aware of the privilege and how fortunate they are."

My school was rather the same when I was there - the headmistress at the time was trying to run the school as if it was the grammar that it had been. Staff wearing gowns, referring to the girls as young ladies and so on. Wasn't entirely successful because I think the head was trying to make the school something that it wasn't - it was a comprehensive with low pupil numbers and no waiting lists that was trying to be something it wasn't and failing some of the kids as a result.

Not the case at prendergast at the time. Couldn't say what the school is like now, though evidently is still desirable.

LondonMother Fri 10-Jun-11 20:10:25

Under the old admissions policy, the school was handpicking its intake but (I really genuinely believe) not cherrypicking. The concern was to have a balanced intake, where the top sets were not all drawn from affluent white middle class families and the bottom sets were not all drawn from poor black families. There is no doubt that admitting primarily on proximity makes that a lot more likely.

What I've been told by people who knew the school back in the mid-70s when it first ceased to be a grammar school is that it took a while to change the mindset of at least some of the teachers. However, I think Prendergast was more successful and quicker at turning itself into a good comprehensive than a lot of other ex-grammar schools. I don't think it's ever ceased to be oversubscribed.

qumquat Sat 11-Jun-11 12:37:32

I don't know Prendergast but I do very much like the Aske's system of a mixed school with single sex classes, I think this is the best of both worlds.

If I were you I would try not to over think it, visit both schools with DD and go with your gut.

fanjolamps Sat 11-Jun-11 12:50:56

My Daughter is year 7 at Askes and I can 100% say we love it. The school is super hot on home school communication. We also constantly get updates of her levels and progress. She has settled in so well and has made some lovely friends. Overall am very very impressed with it.

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