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London Oratory School

(30 Posts)
duckduck Tue 20-Sep-11 00:21:24

Yikes..... anyone got an opinion or feeling about this school. DS1 has started and this is hardcore... can anyone else give me an impression of how it goes?

deadbeatdad Wed 21-Sep-11 11:57:47

what's the issue - hardcore Catholic or hard core academic

swanriver Thu 22-Sep-11 10:09:25

I know 3 Yr 7 there. They are all loving it, homework seems do-able, they seem to be completely self motivated (spurred by fear?). It all seems quite straightforward what is expected of them, and lots of extra-curricular activities encouaged too. Strange because I had heard it was really frightening and strict, yet these particular boys, ranging from shy to exuberant to naughty to goody two shoes, ALL seem to be enjoying it, and know where they stand. Most of all they don't seem overwhelmed by it, just included.
Cardinal Vaughan on other hand seems to be reducing mothers and sons to tears...hmm

swanriver Thu 22-Sep-11 10:13:16

Duckduck I'm wondering whether we get too worried about what's expected of us, and great thing is to let them take responsibility for their own work. My son's at a Catholic secondary and I've been overwhelmed by getting him to do homework, partly because we have both been so worried about getting it wrong, not doing it to high enough standard, but funnily enough I think I just need to let go and let my ds1 sort himself out, now that first weeks are over. I think schools need to explain to pupils what expected of them, rather than us tryign to do impossible task of interpreting it all.

deadbeatdad Thu 22-Sep-11 16:51:46

swanriver - interesting comment. That is my sense too of Oratory - strong discipline but with high levels of pastoral care.

duckduck Tue 27-Sep-11 14:08:34

sorry, dropped off radar due to poorly baby and overwhelming homework!

I think I agree swanriver but was just having the same discussion with a friend who has a daughter just started in Ashcroft. Her girl and my son are very similar - both got 4s and 4As and a 5 in Y6 SATS and her daughter has been put in Gifted and Talented, is doing loads of clubs, is enthused and excited about her school work which she wasn't before, is given rewards, enticements and encouragement and is now bouncing into school, trying really hard and more enthused than ever before. So far one of the things I find from the Oratory is that my son is bottom stream and that kind of knocked his initial confidence, so has started his life there feeling a bit bottom of the heap and from what I can tell there isn't much encouragement. Obviously I don't expect or want him to come home with a star sticker but he is so scared of getting stuff wrong that he is taking 1.5/2 hours each night with homework and isn't getting much positivity back. I just wondered if the old school way of doing things is good for the kids at an age where their confidence is sometimes a bit wobbly anyway.

I am all for a good structured education and certainly wanted the Catholic faith to be part of his schooling, but I just wondered if you had to be of tough stuff to cope with the Oratory as he is coming home looking a little forlorn at the moment. He isn't a complete drip and is a sociable fella - and maybe I am being a over sensitive mum, but the differences in the approach to education is huge and I see the enthused and enjoyable approach given to starting secondary school by some schools like Ashcroft and The Charter and began to wonder whether the more modern approach is making school a place where the kids want to learn rather than one where they are scared to get stuff wrong.

I realise the huge plus points to the Oratory as an established faith school with a good reputation and strong strict ethos and I am massively pleased that he has a place there, it may be settling in nerves etc, but isn't school meant to make learning a bit more exciting and enjoyable?

Maybe he needs to holler a little louder and toughen up a bit, and like you say swanriver I should probably worry a little less and let him get on with it. I suppose they don't let boys sink there do they?

duckduck Tue 27-Sep-11 14:14:44

oh, and deadbeatdad - it isn't the hardcore Catholicism as he is ok with that and it hasn't been overwhelming, it is the feeling that he is not particularly enthused or enjoying what he is doing. I think I expected a bit more of a positive approach to education and he comes back looking a bit battered!

chrchrch Tue 27-Sep-11 15:44:35

...So far one of the things I find from the Oratory is that my son is bottom stream and that kind of knocked his initial confidence...

Are you sure that he's been streamed already, seems quite early in year 7 for that? Or is that just an impression, possibly a wrong one?

It's easy to feel tired out after the shock of being the littlest in a big place, doing long hours after a long summer holiday. Everyone will be worn down at the edges, at the moment, could this be it?

duckduck Tue 27-Sep-11 16:16:12

Hello... yes, they did banding tests after being given places and there are 6 houses according to ability - top do latin and early exams I think and then 4 next houses - top middle to lower middle ability then bottom band. That is right from the start although I think they do re-assess at various intervals.

Yes, could well be general shock as you say, and going from walking 5 mins to local primary to now getting bus/tube carrying loads of clobber and getting used to being small fry again like you say. No doubt he will get used to that side of it eventually. It's more the slight despondency and lack of spark that I feel he is showing.. however - might just be getting used to the real world. I just remember secondary school being quite fun and the teaching being interesting and inspirational, and that was at a Catholic boarding school.

serin Tue 27-Sep-11 19:24:00

Sounds horrible.

Imagine being told that you were "bottom band" and the whole school knowing that too! What an awful knock to his confidence.

Move him if he's not happy. I went to one of the worst state schools in the country, but was happy there and managed to get into a good university (somehow).

I always think it is better to leave an awful school with good results than to leave a very high performing school with mediocre results.

duckduck Tue 27-Sep-11 19:31:37

mmmmmmmmmmmm, kind of feeling a bit like that serin, he says he is happy and will be ok but he isn't very convincing yet. Thank you

AgonyBeetle Tue 27-Sep-11 19:31:58

Mm, can't really offer much help as we decided against the Oratory and the Vaughan for exactly the reasons you give. My ds is at a less-stellar Catholic school where he is top sets for everything and seems to be having a good time and doing well, though he is getting very little homework even in Y8, which is a bit [wibble].

Some people do really suit the Oratory, and it may be that your ds will settle down well - def too early to tell yet. But do monitor it and see how it goes - I know quite a few people who enthuse about both LOS and CV while freely admitting that their sons don't really enjoy it, which always makes me a bit hmm. Prestige and league table results aren't everything.

You can always put him on the waiting list for somewhere else if it persists. Two boys have joined my ds's school from CV at various stages between Y8 and Y10. Horses for courses.

duckduck Tue 27-Sep-11 19:45:49

thank you, like you say, some do really suit it and it was a bit the same at the Catholic primary which was very results driven but ok and quite fun. This is a different ball game and the confidence thing is a biggie. I have been told that they knock them down in the first year and build them up for the rest of their time there, but he didn't really need knocking at this stage in life!

As an aside I don't get why the availlable Ofsted report on the LOS website is 2009 - maybe it was a particularly gleaming year...

I will monitor and see how he goes, if you are happy to and are in the SW London neck of the woods would you mind telling me your school's name via private email - no worries if not appropriate.

I want the kid to be happy and enjoy learning, sport and general education and it may be that he settles down, but right now he has belly ache on the way to school and it's nerves not too many shreddies....confused

AgonyBeetle Tue 27-Sep-11 22:33:01

Duck, we're the other side of London from you, I'm afraid! The Catholic schools I know of in SW London that are spoken of highly are Bishop Thomas Grant (mixed) and Wimbledon College (boys).

Hope he settles down, but do be prepared to consider all options if he doesn't. I think too many people assume that a prestigious and successful school must be a Good Thing regardless of its 'fit' with a particular child's personality. And it can be difficult to question the status quo in very popular and sought-after schools, as there can be a bit of a 'well five other people applied for your place so shut up and be grateful' kind of attitude.

Five years is too long to be unhappy, imo.

duckduck Wed 28-Sep-11 11:02:57

You are absolutely right and I do feel bad for questioning it.... oh well, will see how it goes. Thanks for all replies. x

mushroom3 Wed 28-Sep-11 11:27:26

I know a couple of children at BTG and they are really happy and thriving there. A child I know was at a similar catholic school last year, similar issues to your son, she ended up moving to a local catholic school in the autumn term and is very happy now. I would suggest to look into moving your son.

onceagain Wed 28-Sep-11 14:04:57

I'm a bit shock at the streaming of the boys by houses. Surely that must result in confidence and other issues with boys in the "lower" houses?
HOw does it work if you are, say, excellent in maths and struggling in english?

duckduck Wed 28-Sep-11 14:49:28

onceagain - I don't know how it works. My son is mad about history and so pretty good at it, and English, but is a bit of a biff with maths... and yes, it has knocked his confidence which had been buoyed by good SATS and end of Y6. He was doing homework until 9.30pm last night and had no down time or time to muck about and be a kid at all.

It also seems to mean that any SEN are in lower house as far as I can tell which I suppose is fine, but it would give a broader perspective and be more balanced if the kids with SEN were throughout the houses for them and for the other kids - they don't seem to be but I may not have enough facts on that, I am just going on what my son says.

He says he is ok with being in his house but I know the other kids take the mick a bit of the kids who are in it. It just feels uncomfortable and not as progressive as some other schools. I do know I shouldn't whine about it though as is very sought after. Maybe a case of square peg/round hole in which case I will move him to square hole if I can find one!I

SisterJosephine Wed 28-Sep-11 15:26:44

It feels like early days - three weeks? - to be looking elsewhere, though it must be tough on you and your son. The homework shouldn't take so long - I would get in touch with class teacher asap. The setting changes later up the school - more specific to subject. Agree LOS isn't progressive, but the boys all seem to have such a great time there, whatever their ability

duckduck Wed 28-Sep-11 16:14:48

Thank you SisterJ, I understand I am being a bit hasty and will of course give it time, I just dislike seeing him disheartened at such an early stage. I do see that the boys later in the school have fun and it is a good strong Catholic education, but I had one of those too but it was exciting and fun.. Oh well, will keep on and hope things will settle. Thank you

florist Wed 28-Sep-11 17:05:47

My DS started at the LOS this September. He is loving it. The work is certainly stretching but not excessive: he is happy going off to school in the morning and happy when he returns home. Homework is alot less than I feared and seems to be significantly less than the boys at CV are getting, based on discussions with his friends. He also likes the school dinners!.

It is a traditional, disciplined school in the sense that the boundaries are clear for the boys (and parents) and high standards of behaviour, dress and academic work is expected - the boys seems to live up to this expectation. Watching how they conduct themselves to and from school on buses etc is a real credit to themselves and the school.

The Catholicism is similarly seriously undertaken with the boys off to the Brompton Oratory tomorrow for the academic mass - not sure what will happen but no doubt full of the glorious music and liturgy of that church.

My own contacts with the school thus far suggests it is run by highly professional people - not just the head and teachers but also the office staff.

duckduck Wed 28-Sep-11 17:20:17

florist please dont think I was knocking it - just questioning it on the back of how DS1 is there so far. It is just concern for my son that made me post and good to see your opinion, but I knew before I applied what to expect and as a family we have been attending Mass at the Oratory for years - not to get into school either! I just wanted opinions, so it is good to know how well it is working for you and countless other boys - I hope i haven't encouraged the need to be defensive of the school, I can see - as other posters have said that it is horses for courses.

florist Wed 28-Sep-11 17:32:58

duckduck I know you weren't knocking the school just giving your experience, which is always useful. Being set from the first year has the drawbacks you mention - on the other hand the curriculum and teaching can be better geared to the needs of the boys in the various classes. I wouldn't be surprised in any case if the lower sets in LOS would be the top set in many other schools.
Irrespective of set what is important is if the boys are happy, busy and work hard.

swanriver Wed 28-Sep-11 22:54:50

I think lots of children struggle with the homework in the early days of Yr 7. Some children dash it off, and my child certainly spent till 9.30 doing his, at on the surface a much less strict school.

I think the banding is meant to help rather than hinder, certainly I think you shouldn't feel you can't ask for assistance over homework problems from tutor at this stage. I know that you are meant to put how long each task takes to give them some indication of how you are coping. People have said that the Oratory is quite nurturing, and in the end because there is less bad behaviour it is easier to learn. I think you shouldn't feel you should grin and bear it, but ask for feedback/help with your child's worries.

I think Oratory attracts a lot of high achievers, which means that overall the bottom band might be full of children considered high achieving in another school. Certainly the friends whose children went there all got 5s in all their SATs papers (whatever that says about them).

There are also lots of clubs, might that boost his confidence a bit?
Don't be afraid to ask for help, any good school would listen.

chrchrch Thu 29-Sep-11 11:32:15

LOS and CVS don't seem to carry through their GCSE standards to A Level though; results and value-added are down compared to themselves at the GCSE and to others at A level. Is there a migration of the top set post-GCSE, or are there other reasons? Or was last year's performance exceptional?

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