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London Sixth Forms - Latymer Upper, Westminster, Godolphin, Camden, SPGS etc

(72 Posts)
livinginlondon2 Sat 01-Oct-11 16:57:33

We are thinking of moving our DD for sixth form. My concerns are that it can be quite disruptive - sixth form isn't long, and there is a lot to get done. On the other hand we can see that she could probably do with a larger and more competitive environment.

Do any of you have any experience of moving your children into the sixth forms of any of the above schools. How did it go ? Did they settle quickly ? Was the move a success ? Did you get what you (or your child) hoped from the move.

This isn't very clearly put. We are dithering about moving at the moment because although in the main I think it would be a good thing we don't want to move her for very little benefit.

Does anyone know how competitive is it to get into these schools at sixth form ? People are always bandying around figures for the competitiveness of the eleven+ exams, but I hear very little about 6th form entry.

Each of the above schools offer very different academic syllabuses (IB / Pre-U / AS/A2), so it is hard to compare them. Any views ??

Looking forward to any comments to add to our discussions at home.

Needmoresleep Sat 01-Oct-11 17:23:36

Look at the Student Room thread about Westminster and be very scared...

I think it depends on the reasons behind any move. A child really needs to hit the ground running for them to be sufficiently well known by the school by the point the school has to start writing references for universities. However a move to a sparky interesting and larger, possibly co-ed sixth form can be a useful stepping stone on the way to University. Other reasons might be subject choice and strength of teaching especially for science or a chance to do IB.

kalidasa Sat 01-Oct-11 17:38:17

I was at one of these schools at sixth form - 14/15 years ago now, but I'm also a lecturer who's been involved in admissions/outreach stuff so have stayed pretty up to date with what the school is doing. Don't want to go in to loads of detail here as it might be quite identifying but happy to answer any particular questions if you PM me.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 01-Oct-11 22:30:26

You do have to hit the ground running when you change schools at sixth form. If she goes to an all girls school she will have to form new friendships where other girls have been there since they were 11.
Do not even try her for Westminster unless she is super bright and hugely confident. The boys are incredibly intelligent but the girls are a higher calibre altogether. Also the environment of going into an all boys school is tough and not for the feint hearted. Where is she now and how capable is she?

livinginlondon2 Mon 03-Oct-11 11:38:06

Well I have looked at the Westminster thread, and AM now very scared. The competition looks might frightening. I suspect Westminster is probably out of our league.

Does anyone have any views on Latymer-Upper or Camden for sixth form. DD is currently at a medium sized all girls school, and as Needmoresleep says, a co-ed sixth form might provide the extra spark that is needed. Also considering Godolphin because of the IB option there.

I take the point about writing references - it is hard to get noticed when you are new in a place.

Kalidasa, I will contact you to ask a bit more ... so thank you.

Lazymum.... I think she is pretty capable, but I don't know how she would deal with being stretched further. She is in a safe place at the moment, being taught to the exam (if you see what I mean), and not much more. I think she will get good results in her GCSEs but don't know how she will cope in a school where people have been taught well beyond the exams. I like to think that she would rise to the challenge, but I don't know that.

I would love to hear from people with specific experience of any of these schools at sixth form, or of changing from a careful girls school to a more demanding, and possibly mixed environment.

sugarfoot Mon 03-Oct-11 11:49:04

My daughter moved to Westminster in the sixth form (from South Hampstead High). She was by no means super confident or highly academic and I wasn't sure it was a good idea, but she absolutely flourished there.

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 03-Oct-11 17:29:33

camden have a strict admissions policy which you can get off their website. Unless you are going for a music scholarship they fill up the places in each subject in a strict order ending with distance from the school. It does not matter how academic you are. Your predictions have to match their criteria which is 5bs including maths and english and possibly Bs in the subjects you wnat to take, after that it is ordered by distance.
I know a girl who having failed to get into Westminster moved to Latimer and was very happy and has ended up at Oxford.

lazymumofteenagesons Mon 03-Oct-11 17:32:33

Aside from what Sugarfoot says (and I think her daughter was more academic than she thought!), IME she needs to be the type that will flourish in the atmosphere where they are taught way beyond the exams and have been since they were 13.

Mico62 Mon 03-Oct-11 18:29:40

A lot depends on the child's personality. DS was adamant he was going to a particular 6th form college but hated it and went back to the 6th form attached to his school, the new environment and people were too much for him to handle and even now he commutes to uni rather than live in student accommodation.

DD is completely different. We moved house 2 yrs ago but didn't change schools so she could've had a place there or the college DS didn't like. Instead she picked another college, despite not knowing anyone else who was going there, and is a completely different girl to the one who enrolled 4 wks ago.

I wish we'd considered her college for DS when he was unhappy at his first choice.

chrchrch Tue 04-Oct-11 09:58:13

If DD knows where wants to be in two years, I would try to be as honest as possible about where your DD is most keen to spend her intervening time.

Please don't be scared in any way. In our darker moments, we may be tempted to think xyz school 'collects the brightest children'. Actually they collect the brightest that are prepared to go. Don't be put off Westminster or SPGS by myths of incredible talent. IME there are very few truly stellar children at either, and most scholars at both would struggle to be 'collected' by a super selective grammar, without the coaching almost all of them had to get in. However the coaching once you are there is incredibly effective. Effective but unnecessary, unless like most of them you're bright enough and supported enough to follow instructions, but not bright enough to get there by yourself. If DD wants a place, is offered and qualifies, before September is over, she will be in her stride.

Remember that when she gets to university, the playing field levels off. Competition is fiercer from genuinely talented and uncoached young people who have conquered incredible obstacles to gain the most competitive places. If she's determined and has a good chance of succeeding under her own steam at the university etc of her choice, any of the schools including the one she's at will do, provided it suits her. If she needs more thinking time, apply to all of them and then choose which one to drop in August. Happy hunting.

chrchrch Tue 04-Oct-11 10:02:32

And forgive me for not saying at the start, welcome to mumsnet, livinginlondon2!

livinginlondon2 Tue 04-Oct-11 12:08:07

Thank you all for your responses, and chrchrch for your nice welcome to Mumsnet.

I have to say that the main reason we are thinking about it is not totally academic, but more about broadening her outlook by putting her in a bigger school. She is perfectly capable academically of fitting into most of these schools (and quite possibly not the top couple - only application will tell us that). However, I think (hope) she will also thrive with a bigger cohort, bigger music departments, more competitive sports etc. and most importantly a slightly more competitive classroom environment, and at the end of it all a different social life.

For these "stretching" reasons I am thinking that a mixed school might be the best. Having been through the London 11+ rigmarole, I realise we aren't going to be in a position to choose !

Sugarfoot, I am glad to hear that your daughter thrived - what sort of A levels did your daughter do at Westminster ? Was it a better environment for her than SHHS ? What made her want to move.

We have only just started thinking about this - she is in year 10 at the moment, and it feels too soon to be thinking about moving, but I know it will all come over us in a rush next year if we haven't done any preparation.

I agree with Chrchrch that once the children get to university the playing field will level out : oddly, although of course we do ideally want her to go to good university and so on, she can achieve this through her current school quite happily, so that isn't the main reason for considering the move.

It is mainly about giving her an inspiring and refreshing (for want of a better word) time for her last couple of years at school. Her current school is very nice, very kind, very supportive, and she does very well in many ways, but somehow she isn't "fired up" by it. This may of course be about the child and not the school.

MrsWobble Tue 04-Oct-11 12:22:55

we have had very similar discussions to yours I think, except that my dd is in year 11 and we are in the middle of applying. like you, there is no problem if she stays where she is, it's just that there are broader/different opportunities available in other schools.

we also have the advantage of dd1's experience - she has just started year 12 at a new school and is loving it. she was very happy where she was before but was coasting and not necessarily doing her best. at the risk of sounding like a pushy parent i am very pleased that she's now somewhere with higher expectations and is consequently working much harder - and enjoying it too.

it was dd1s idea to move for 6th form - i had just got all 3 children into one school and was looking forward to one set of term dates etc so was not initially keen. but having seen the difference it's made it was so clearly the right thing for her that i'm fairly sure dd2 will also move.

livinginlondon2 Wed 05-Oct-11 12:09:59

Thank you MrsWobble (lovely name btw). Sounds like much the same sort of thing. I think and hope it will do her good. Did your daughter go from a single sex school to mixed ?

I am particularly interested to hear about schools like Latymer Upper, as we all hear a lot about the pros and cons of Westminster and SPGS - it would be interesting to find out more from someone who moved to a school like this.

Does anyone know how many new sixth formers are taken in by Latymer Upper, Godolphin, any of the others ?

Also, does anyone have any thoughts as to whether it makes a difference what sort of subjects you are applying to do ?

I take the point from lazymumofteenagesons that Camden is probably impossible. I have known a lot of children go there from near us - but probably fewer recently. I hadn't realised the catchment rules applied to Sixth form. It make sense of course.

The Westminster thread that was pointed out was very daunting, as the applicants all seemed to be from all over the world. I suppose it has boarding which makes a difference.

lazymumofteenagesons Wed 05-Oct-11 16:52:59

Admissions rules for state sixth forms attached to schools changed (by Ed Balls) in 2008 and restricted it to virtually the same rules as at yr 7 entry. However, sixth form colleges are not restricted by these rules.
If your DD is good at any orchestral instrument she could go for a music scholarship though.
Thats a wierd thread on student room, they are scarily self motivated......

livinginlondon2 Wed 05-Oct-11 19:12:22

Thank you. Somehow in my recent private school bubble I had missed that. Sadly I suspect not nearly good enough at that orchestral instrument for a music scholarship - unless she suddenly surprises us by a burst of enthusiasm over the next few months. You never know !

I agree about the Westminster thread. Oddly self-motivated. Still, I rather hope the keen participants get in !

This thread has been very useful to me. It has made me try and think about what would suit our daughter.

Of course the next thing is to make it happen. I have no idea what the competition is going to be like for these places : I imagine it is going to depend very much on what subjects she decides to do, and, as they have to make offers before her GCSE's, on predicted results. I realise the competition for the most academic schools will be huge: what will the numbers be for the other schools ?

I see that some schools (Westminster, SPGS?) have subject exams and a personal statement whilst others (Latymer) seem to base it on interview and school report. It is all a lot to prepare for in that last GCSE year, when there are an awful lot of other pressures.

Someone mentioned that none of these children would get into the super selective grammars : I expect it is true, but without a great deal of travelling that isn't really a possibility in the middle of London anyway.

DadofThreeKids Wed 12-Oct-11 17:44:54

My daughter just moved into the Latymer Upper sixth form.

She had to do an interview and was offered a place conditional on getting 9 GCSEs grade "C" or above, of which 7 had to be "A" or above. There was no exam, so it was not atall disruptive to her work for GCSEs - just an hour for the interview.

(In fact, what it did was give her a very clear goal to work towards & I think once she had declared that she was going to "Go For It" there was a determination and focus on revision which I had not seen from her before).

She came from a small family-style school and we were looking for somewhere larger and more academic. Sort of a stepping-stone into the wider world that would be less cozy/flexible and more focused on exam results.

So far (only five weeks in) its looking like it is what we expected and working out well...

livinginlondon2 Thu 13-Oct-11 12:31:05

I have just written a long reply to this that somehow vanished when I posted it, so this will be shorter and less thought through.

Thankyou DadofThreekids - that is exactly the sort of thing I needed to hear. One of the things I have been worried about has been preparation for competitive exams next November for some of these schools (Westminster/SPGS), as I think it could be very disruptive.

Congratulations to your daughter on making her Latymer offer. Seven As (+) are very good going.

Your point about giving your daughter a goal once she had her offer is a good one.

It sounds like we are in exactly the same situation as you, needing something less cosy and more demanding, so I am pleased it is going well. Has she found both the academic and the social jump steep, or has it just been exhilarating ?

Did she come from a girls' school ? Has she found going to a mixed school a big change ?

MrsWobble Fri 14-Oct-11 09:38:32

Hi LivinginLondon - sorry missed your earlier questions. My dd was at a mixed school previously and has moved to a boys school that takes girls in the 6th form. For her it was important to be joining with a cohort that was all new to the school - she did not want to be the new girl joining established girls friendship groups so ruled out moving to any school that had girls below 6th form. I think she has found the transition easier than the girls from single sex schools but none of them has found it particularly difficult. she had to take an exam and interview in the november of year 11 but her school awards places unconditionally - their reasoning is that the pupils they select will already be sufficiently self motivated to do their best at GCSE and the school sees no reason to put additional pressure on the results. I'm not sure what would happen if results were not good but suspect that just doesn't happen.

and to answer your last questions she has found the academic and social jumps both steep but exhilarating - i think part of this is the move to 6th form and she would have found some of this at her old school. But it's definately been amplified by the move.

livinginlondon2 Fri 14-Oct-11 16:04:56

Thank you. It is all getting clearer. I had got as far as thinking that a mixed sixth form would be refreshing after a girls school, but I hadn't thought about the difference between being a new girl in a sixth form that had had girls before, and one where all the girls were new.

I think in general we would like:

A school that does the subjects that she wants well, and prepares for university applications well (possibly including US applications).

One that is good at the extra-curricular stuff that she is so keen on (music/drama/sport), and where she will get a chance to participate in these

A sixth form that is large giving a greater pool of friends to draw from.

Ideally, but not necessarily, that school would be mixed, and a possible additional thought is that it should only have girls from the sixth form so that all the girls are new.

As with the 11+ we will probably have little choice, but it is a good idea to think through what criteria would work.

From her school we hear a lot about how sensible it is to stay with teachers you like and know, who will know you well enough to write university references, and support your applications, and the sense in starting your A levels, which after all are a huge jump from GCSEs in an environment you know.

One of the things that does worry me is that many of the larger schools seem to race ahead in some subjects such as Maths, and do GCSEs early follwed by additional Maths or AS Maths in year 11. In her current guise Maths is likely to be an A level she would take. Does anyone have any experience of coming from a school that hasn't accelerated particularly ? How do you fit in with these schools ? Do you tutor the gap (please say no) or does the school handle it ?

MrsWobble Sat 15-Oct-11 13:11:17

hi again, all the comments you make about the advantage if staying with teachers you know, in a familiar environment are exactly the ones your current school will give you, if it hasn't already. My view is that none of this matters if your daughter is going to a school that regularly takes new pupils into the 6th form. Given the schools in your thread title, you are considering schools with a good reputation and plenty of experience of getting pupils into good universities - they don't achieve this by chance.

i would give the same answer to your question about accelerated courses etc. my daughter started her 6th form courses (she does maths too) with exams - to see what she had previously covered and to what level. the school has then arranged teaching accordingly. i was surprised by the extent of personalisation of lessons for her - but i guess that's one of the factors you can expect in exchange for eye wateringly high fees.

i hope this doesn't sound rude but the absolutely most important thing is for your daughter to work out what she wants - it's her school and her education and other than paying the fees and being generally supportive i'm not sure there's a role for a parent. i think it's very different to the decision at 11+ because at that stage children don't have the experience or maturity to understand the decisions let alone make them. For 6th form I think it's different - even though they still don't have much experience. My second daughter is trying to make these decisions now - and i'm finding it hard to sit on my hands whilst she deliberates but i believe that whilst i can guide her by asking questions it really needs to be her decision.

livinginlondon2 Sat 15-Oct-11 21:51:30

Thanks for those points MrsWobble. You are of course right about what her current school would say. How brilliant that there is so much personalisation - it is obvious that they would need to do it if they are going to have a large intake, but nonetheless impressive that they do it.

I totally take your point about my daughter choosing - and it doesn't sound rude, so no offence taken at all. Straight talking is by far the most useful thing!

The reason why I am trying to think it through now, a year in advance - then we will talk it through with my daughter, with all the input above - all of which has been invaluable and reassuring, and covered things I hadn't taken into consideration. It is good to have thought it through myself, even if she and I don't come to the same conclusions.

From then, you are right it is her decision (and the schools' selection processes decision of course) as to where she goes and what she wants. However, it seems like a good idea to have at least thought ahead so that I can encourage her to go out and look, and at least encourage her to make the brave decision of leaving based on everyone's good advice here.

The safe route is always to stay with what you know, and it may be that she needs a little boost to push her out of her comfort zone. Everyone's comments above make me feel that it is all quite feasible and could work. Had you all been very bleak about the disastrous nature of such a move, I would probably be discouraging when she came to consider moving in a few months time.

lazymumofteenagesons Sat 15-Oct-11 23:23:01

I have no daughters but friends with daughters who moved in sixth form have all been happy. However, one word of warning - there is often a big increase in social life when moving into a boys school and previously conscientious girls have taken their foot off the pedal and AS results were lower than expected.

livinginlondon2 Sun 16-Oct-11 10:02:31

Yes - I am sure that the London sixth form social life will be a huge distraction. Friends with boys in sixth forms which take girls have often commented about how very busy it gets at that point - and of course feel that the incoming girls may be some of the cause of their boy's distractions. It is just tough on children that the huge increase in work and responsibility that comes at 16 is just the point when you discover going out and fun.

Anyway - a good point - thank you.

All this has given us plenty to think about. I now rather feel like we want to get on with it - but need to get these GCSEs out of the way first. The first few weeks of GCSEs seems to be fine at the moment, but I suspect that that is a bit of an illusion. My daughter seems to like the more focussed work, and doesn't seem to be dying under the workload. I suspect it will all change once she has to start doing these mysterious controlled assessments and Science modules.

Needmoresleep Sun 16-Oct-11 11:55:23

A further point may be that moving to an already large school, especially one who then take in more for sixth form, may be the issue rather than one of whether the school is all boys or all girls to start with.

My kids are in fairly large schools, where they do not know all their year groups. They get mixed up for different subjects or activities and are open to making new friends up the school. I would expect them to be equally open to making new friends in sixth form where they will see a lot of people taking the same subjects and less of their former class mates.

Interesting thread.

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