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Dulwich or Whitgift?

(60 Posts)
MaMerry Fri 03-Feb-12 20:56:22

After quite upbeat interviews at both Whitgift and Dulwich, and assuming that the state offer for DS is not up to scratch, we may need to make a choice between D & W. I'm struggling to split them, TBH. They both talk about academic success, pastoral care and co-curricular activity, are set in fantastic grounds and cost an arm and a leg. Can anyone help me split them?

DS is bright, interested in most things, an enthusiastic sportsman (but not going to end up playing for England in any of them) and says he doesn't mind which of the two he goes to.


Chelseatina Fri 03-Feb-12 21:12:15

Definitely choose Dulwich, if you get both offers. Dulwich is way more academic than Whitgift - Dulwich usually take the top 20% of the cohort, whereas Whitgift flounder in the League tables...
The boys who usually go to Whitgift are mostly the "brawn" who can give the school the sporting successes they crave. Their sports facilities are probably the best around and so are their sports teams.
Dulwich, on the other hand, are a great sporty school and have fixtures against all the other independent schools - their teams are pretty decent in all of the major sports. This fact, coupled with their academic side, certainly make it a better school. Location-wise, I would think that Dulwich is also a better bet, as they have a school bus that pupils can take to and from the school - Whitgift do not offer such a facility.

Good Luck!

basildonbond Fri 03-Feb-12 22:27:19

sorry Chelseatina but you're talking tosh!

They are different schools, certainly, but Dulwich is not in a different league ...

There are many scarily clever boys at Whitgift, and some not particularly bright ones, just as there are at Dulwich - we know many, many boys at both. Yes, there are lots of sporty boys at Whitgift but there are plenty who are musical or into drama or simply very academic.

Whitgift's sports facilities are miles better than those at Dulwich and their sports teams do the facilities justice. Dulwich aren't bad .. of course they have fixtures against other independent schools, they all do!!

Whitgift have lots of school buses plus it's very easy to get to by public transport. Dulwich have buses but it's not in such a well-connected location as far as public transport goes.

Dulwich is less of a social mix than Whitgift - its intake is much more heavily biased towards prep schools - Whitgift is about 50/50 prep/state which gives it a different, rather more down-to-earth feel, it has a much higher percentage of boys receiving financial assistance by way of scholarships and/or bursaries, and of course, it's in Croydon which will always keep the boys there grounded wink

One boy we know had major scholarships from Dulwich, Whitgift and Trinity (50% off fees) and chose Whitgift over Dulwich and he and his parents have never had any regrets

Chelseatina Sat 04-Feb-12 08:07:39

Sorry Basilonbond, but I have to strongly disagree with you about the academic standing of Whitgift vs Dulwich. Firstly, for years, Dulwich "hands down" beat Whitgift on the league a matter of fact, I do not recall Whitgift ever making the published list of league table data, as it came so far down the list... Secondly, the entrance pass mark to Whitgift must be significantly lower than Dulwich's, as I work in a primary school, I know of many year 6 pupils who failed to pass the Dulwich exam and easily passed the Whitgift one and have gone on to interview there...only to turn down their offered places there, as a result of the mediocre reputation the school possesses. Thirdly, I have a son of my own in a top, selective independent and I can safely say that the consensus amongst all the children and parents there are that Whitgift is, basically, a third tier school (i.e., not even a second tier choice).
I feel rather harsh trying to drive home my point, as I am absolutely certain that Whitgift is an excellent school - it has amazing facilities and its sports teams are feared within the independent school sector as everyone acknowledges that they are usually the best sportsmen around! Whitgift has loads going for it - but, it is not, for sure, in the same academic league as Dulwich - which, by the way, is considered to only be in the second tier of academic London selective schools.
Of course, there are "horses for courses" - not everyone will prefer the same type of school...just because one is more "academic" or "selective" than another, does not mean that it is "better"! There are so many factors involved in choosing the right school for your child - the rigour of a school's entrance test and league table standing is not the be all and end all... The cohort of children attending the school is always something to consider...if your child is a keen sportsman/woman, that is also a consideration...the arts, music and drama departments are to be investigated, if your child is so inclined...
So, what I am waffling on about is that, yes, Dulwich is academically more demanding that Whitgift, but take the needs and desires of your child into consideration when choosing a school.
Apologies for going on a bit...

MaMerry Sat 04-Feb-12 09:31:34

Thanks, guys, you've both put forward some interesting points and mentioned things for me to consider which I hadn't even thought of. Not sure this won't end up being decided on a coin toss!

Interesting, Chelseatina, that Dulwich is only considered to be second tier - are you able to expand on those considered to be top tier? so I can beat myself up about the fantasic schools I didn't even know I should be applying for

LondonMother Sat 04-Feb-12 09:51:25

I'm no expert here but I would imagine top tier would be St Paul's and Westminster - maybe City of London?

My son is in his final year at DC and it's been fantastic for him. He went there at 11 from a community primary school and was far from the only one making that transition at that age. I'd look at the journey as a potential tiebreaker if you genuinely can't separate them in other ways, but there are a few other things to consider.

Sport - my son isn't particularly sporty and one of the things I've liked at DC is that they offer lots of sports at all levels so if the boys do want to get involved there will be a team at their level, but as far as I'm aware there is no pressure to get involved in competitive sport if they don't want to. In games lessons the boys who aren't in any sort of team get coaching on basic skills, and that seems fine to me.

Other extra-curricular areas where DC is very strong - music, drama, debating.

Academically, I think things have stepped up a gear since the new head arrived. He is keen to increase the numbers of boys getting into the top universities, I believe.

luckylavender Sat 04-Feb-12 10:02:56

No direct experience of either but have a DC 15 who regularly plays against them at Rugby and Cricket (1st team for both) and I would chose Dulwich each time. They are politer, play fairer and just generally more rounded than the lads you see playing for Whitgift whose behaviour can leave a lot to be desired on the sports field. Not any less competitive but much better behaved and this is reflected in the masters. I would not want any son of mine to behave and to emulate some of the behaviours I have seen from Whitgift. I know some adults who went to both and I really think you can spot the difference. And I think Whitgift has a long way to go before it has the reputation of Dulwich.

basildonbond Sat 04-Feb-12 10:52:40

Having direct experience of both schools I would doubt there'd be much to choose from the boys in the top and bottom sets of either schools ... It's perfectly possible to f*ck up your GCSEs at Dulwich as one of my friend's sons seems determined to do ...

I suspect where the academic difference might lie is in the middle tiers of both cohorts with Dulwich being slightly higher, but for any one individual the choice is going to be down to lots of different factors, like location, ease of transport - buses, trains, school bus routes (which is where you were talking tosh, CT), where friends go to etc etc

Both schools will get good/excellent results if your son's prepared to work for them (and not if they're not).

We and other families I know preferred the atmosphere at Whitgift - and I think there's a snobbery factor going on there as well - Dulwich's intake is much 'posher'. And after ds2 was horribly bullied by a load of boys from DC on a cricket course, that didn't say a lot about the behaviour of some of the boys from there ...

As far as top tier London schools go, I would agree that neither DC nor Whitgift are in it - you'd be looking at St Paul's, Westminster and KCS Wimbledon, but again they wouldn't suit every boy for lots of different reasons, not least of them being location and fees

OP - when it comes down to making a choice, if you are lucky enough to be in that position, it's really about your gut feeling. Imagine your son's first day at secondary, which school can you see him walking into? And which can you see him being happiest at?

Chelseatina Sat 04-Feb-12 11:25:39

Hi, MaMerry, i would say that the top tier London Day boys schools are: Westminster, St. Paul's, King's College Wimbledon - and in no particular order - results from either of those three schools are quite impressive! Quite near to that level would also be City of London.

kerrygrey Sat 04-Feb-12 11:53:36

We had experience of Joe Spence (now head of DC) when he was head of Oakham. He is brilliant, unique, and if choosing again I would take any school of his before any other. One girl in my DC's year was moved from Marlborough to Oakham for 6th form because her parents had known Joe Spence via their son at Eton, and thought him worth following.

MaMerry Sat 04-Feb-12 12:08:09

This is all really useful stuff, ladies, so thanks. Are there any W mums out there who can say what it's like at W for a boy who's a very keen sportsman but not top flight - more of a happy amateur than county/country standard ( and wasn't shortlisted for W sports assessment). Will he still have the opportunity to play as much sport as he likes at W at a decent standard? Or is it all about the A teams at W?

Interesting, Basildon, that you've experience of both. How did that happen? if you don't mind me asking You're right, I should go with my gut feeling, only problem is that DH's gut doesn't always feel the same as mine, and astonishingly, he thinks he should be involved in deciding DS's future!grin

Needmoresleep Sat 04-Feb-12 17:43:31

To some extent you will need to go with your instincts. Over the past five years there as been an increasing tendency to prefer Whitgift over Dulwich, but they are both great schools. Well done!

Remember that league tables are the results of other people's children, and indeed children who entered the school 7 years ago. Dulwich also has a reputation for "importing" bright sixth formers which will again improve their results.

So: ease of journey; extra curricular; size of the year group; feel of the school...

Chelseatina Sat 04-Feb-12 18:09:58

I am sorry, but I have not had the experience that anyone prefers Whitgift over Dulwich? From my experience, pupils/parents oftentimes apply to Whitgift and Emanuel as "safety net"/"back-up" choices, just in case they do not gain entry to their first, second or, indeed, third choice schools... I am sorry to keep banging on about this, but I work in Year 6 of a local primary school and am in charge of Secondary Transfer (for the last 10 years) and can honestly say that this is how it is... Apologies for offending anyone...but I am incredulous that anyone would place Whitgift in the same category as Dulwich. Apologies, again...!

mydaddy Sun 05-Feb-12 01:44:24

Have you actually visited both the schools RECENTLY@ Chelseatina?
Or do you just form your opinion from what parents and kids at other schools say? Of course most kids are going to say the school they attend is better.As for the league tables it is false that the Whitgift is so far down they don't appear. I a lot of the kids at the Whitgift take the IB in preference to the equivalent UK A level qualification and these do not appear in league tables.
can I also refer you to the respected FT Independent tables. This puts the Whitgift above DC.

DC is a good school and well up there. But to run the Whitgift down as you have done with several falsehoods and inaccuracies is not fair and does not give balance.The Whitgift is certainly not just about sport.I have compared both schools GCSE and A level results for 2011 and yes though DC has a better average for A/A* there really is not much to choose between them. I'd hardly call Whitgifts results floundering as you did.

As Basisdon said:
Both schools will get good/excellent results if your son's prepared to work for them (and not if they're not).

Btw, Whitgift has and has had for several years an extensive school bus provision. So please stop telling your year 6 parents that it doesn't.

Chelseatina Sun 05-Feb-12 06:58:22

As my son often has sporting fixtures with independent schools almost every weekend for, e.g., football, rugby and cricket, I have the advantage of visiting most of the independent schools throughout the year and speaking with a variety of parents and, in answer to your question my daddy - yes, I have been to Whitgift several times over the past few years. Further, the bus links to and from the school is something I wasn't exactly too sure about originally and I admit that that particular issue was inaccurate..however, I am correct in saying that, from Chelsea, where I live, there is no school bus route to the school... Just saying...
I agree with you that Whitgift is a good school and that I would definitely go there before considering many other schools - but, given the choice between a top school like Dulwich and it, I would certainly choose Dulwich. Just saying...

Chelseatina Sun 05-Feb-12 07:35:45

Perhaps I am being too harsh in my assessment of Whitgift, as compared to more prestigious schools - the comparisons are simply unfair- in it's own right, Whitgift is a fine establishment. Of course it is true that if your child is motivated and happy, they will thrive wherever they are- for some pupils, the diversity of academic standanding amongst other pupils gives a sense a well-rounded ness. This can be contrasted with some top tier schools where the pressure to obtain A* in every subject is enormous and, if your child is über competitive, this is the environment that they will thrive in, as opposed to the I said before, horses for courses... I guess I tend to look for the schools that will push my brightest students, as I am also responsible for the Gifted and Talented provision at our school.

Needmoresleep Sun 05-Feb-12 08:18:40

Interesting. I must live near you and have friends who are agonising over 11+ and particularly about where to send their boys.

Given the relatively small number of schools how do you rank them, assuming that transport is not an issue. Eg does Whitgift come after City and Dulwich but before Latymer Upper and Emanuel? Where does Alleyns sit? Hampton? Ibstock? Harrodian?

Sorry about the thread hijack. My perception is that Whitgift and Latymer Upper are rising fast in popularity and I have seen people caught out by the fact that neither can be seen now as a safe fall back, even for boys aiming mainly for a "top tier" school. Indeed places at Emanuel are becoming harder to get, with someone telling me that this year they received so many applications that they moved the deadline forward. (I did not really follow, but got the message that it is worth getting applications in early.)

My own view is that a lot depends on the child and Londoners are lucky to have a good range of schools to chose from. (Provided you can afford the fees and can get a place!) Certainly one of my DC thrives by being one of the strong within the cohort whilst another thrives in a pretty academic environment.


meditrina Sun 05-Feb-12 09:52:20

For boys/coed? With a south London focus?

KCS Wimbledon, St Pauls and Westminster are the top academic choices.

Just behind them, CLB (very fashionable at the moment, hard exam), Alleyns, Dulwich (especially with the new head, but will never top the tables as it doesn't chuck out lower performing boys after GCSE)

Others: Harrodian,(improving academically, but yet to completely shed its "rich thick" label (sorry)), Whitgift. Emmanuel.

It doesn't mean that the less prestigious schools offer are in any way bad - in /around London they're all good. And the best school is the one your DS thrives in and is happy at, and IMO that is nothing to do will a repetitional pecking order, and perhaps we'd do better if we acknowledged, then consciously decided to ignore, any such list.

Chelseatina Sun 05-Feb-12 10:29:32

Spot on, Meditrina!

Needmoresleep Sun 05-Feb-12 10:44:55

From Chelsea?

Where do Ibstock, Hampton and Latymer Upper sit in the list?

I am curious, not least because I have known certainly Alleyns and Latymer to reject children who subsequently get places at "top tier" schools, and indeed parents who have rejected "top tier" schools in favour of Alleyns, Latymer and....Whitgift.

Chelseatina Sun 05-Feb-12 11:37:17

Yes, children can be turned down by Alleyn's and Latymer, yet get offers from top tier schools - those pupils will have most likely passed all of their entry tests and proceeded to the interview stage. At the interview stage, a school will assess a particular pupil's suitability based on their school profile and other variables. The interview stage, in some cases, is the deciding factor - not necessarily the exam Mark. It is rare that a pupil will have passed a KCS, St Paul's or Westminster exam and then "failed" a Dulwich, Alleyn's or Latymer exam - the pass rate at the top tier schools is naturally higher. Saying that, however, from my experience I note that the contents of the Latymer Upper exam is excessively difficult for an 11+ exam!
Schools like Alleyn's and Latymer are, academically, ever so slightly below the top tier, but they are very sought after because they are great schools, co ed, and have a broad range of superb extra curricular activities, etc - the emphasis at those schools is less of a "hot house" environment than the top tier... Hampton is quite a good school- so is Ibstock, but they would be juxtaposed ever so slightly below Alleyn's and Latymer - imperceptibly below!
Saying that, a school has to suit your child's aspirations, interests and academic ability AND it has to have the right "feel" or give off the right "vibes" for your child and your family. Just because a school is top of the top tier, and your child passed the test, doesn't mean that they want to go there or that they'll be happy there... But, it is important that parents know the difference between schools, so that they can make educated decisions, as opposed to equating all schools equally in terms of academic rigour...

meditrina Sun 05-Feb-12 11:58:44

I've known boys pass for Westminster but choose Dulwich. Not all parents go by academic reputation. Any, indeed all, of these schools will send an academically able child out with their string of A*s, and also most children will be happy anywhere they can settle.

It should be a personal decision, based on everything a school offers plus how it fits with family logistics.

Personally, I'm a bit dubious about those who don't seem able to see beyond a narrow academic reputation. There is so much more to school life. You just need to have the confidence to do what is right for you and you DC, without worrying about what other people think.

Chelseatina Sun 05-Feb-12 12:35:58

Isn't that what I just suggested??

meditrina Sun 05-Feb-12 16:41:29

My apologies for posting useless redundant information. I'll leave the thread.

basildonbond Sun 05-Feb-12 17:29:33

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

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