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Westminster vs St Paul's

(30 Posts)
interest Sun 18-Mar-12 09:07:14

What's the difference in ethos between these two schools?

grovel Sun 18-Mar-12 09:52:57

The difference is Nick Clegg (Westminster) vs George Osborne (St Paul's). Your call.

MollieO Sun 18-Mar-12 10:09:48

Gosh they are both odious in their own ways (NC and GO)!

fainche Sun 18-Mar-12 11:21:37

How about Helena Bonham-Carter (Westminster) vs Winston Marshall of Mumford & Sons (St. Paul's)?

Colleger Sun 18-Mar-12 11:25:17

I would choose Westminster over St Paul's any day. More quirky, less hot-housy and feels like a proper Public School.

(hides from HG)

swanthingafteranother Sun 18-Mar-12 11:29:11

St Paul's is in leafy Barnes (we used to call it the Biscuit Factory) and Westminster is in Westminster. That tells you immediately something about different atmosphere. St Paul's always seemed to me to be full of very clever but not very posh people, whereas Westminster was possible a bit more trendy, trust fundy. Although that was 20 years ago...I had brothers who went to both places, and tbh the Paulines I met have ended up more normal than the Westminster lot.. Seemed to cultivate highly intellectual types, in both schools.

swanthingafteranother Sun 18-Mar-12 11:35:58

Yes, think Westminster more quirky. But is that a good thing? Very odd lot, those Westminster types. Never quite knew how to do boring stuff. Status orientated. Whereas sensible Paulines seemed to understand that you could do jobs like working in supermarkets when you were 18 to earn a bit of cash and discuss finer points of Equus.

Maybe it has all changed now...sad

happygardening Sun 18-Mar-12 12:01:44

I once read that St Paul's lacks the social cache of Westminster and when my DH was there that was certainly true. St Paul's does what is says on the can its a super selective outward looking 21st century school. It's dumped meaningless ritual, has a simple uniform and feels like a university campus. It also has masses of land over 40 acres and is of course right on the river. It has a generous bursary policy in line with its founders wishes and thus hopefully has a broad intake. There are also only a handful of boarders left who are mainly boys (no girls and no plans for girls) from abroad doing A levels.
We loved it even though I tried hard not too but ultimately we were looking for full boarding.

Colleger Sun 18-Mar-12 12:18:33

It is also full of the worst type of pushiest parent who are only interested in results at the expense of broadening the child. I know parents who have not allowed their Dc's to take part in debating clubs or other activities because they want to secure A*'s. I'd say Westminster is for the truly bright - there admissions process is more open - and most current Pauline's are coached and one dimensional.

I definitely think HG made the right school choice! wink

happygardening Sun 18-Mar-12 12:36:57

We were told all of that by every man and his dog before we went and looked at it; hot house, hideous pushy parents one dimensional boys etc etc. I looked round it at least three times and my DS met some of the boys. I saw the best art I'd ever seen in any school, the DT was outstanding the boys of all ages were not one dimensional by any stretch of the imagination. We receive the yearly magazine it's sporting achievements are on the same level as some of the most sporty boarding schools and the achievements of the music school are incredible. As I said I went determined to not like it for a whole variety of reason and at every time came away frankly bowled over.

singersgirl Sun 18-Mar-12 13:14:49

It seems to me that Colleger might have had a bad experience at St Paul's. She is way off the mark, and frankly that's one of the dangers of anonymous posters on message boards. You have no idea whether their ideas, opinions and tastes have anything in common with yours.

People who post about schools usually fall into 3 camps: personal knowledge that makes them favour the school, personal knowledge that prejudices them against the school, and no personal knowledge but oodles of received wisdom.

It does worry me though that people can peddle 'opinion' which others might take as truth.

There are undoubtedly some pushy parents at St Paul's, but one-dimensional is the last word I would use to describe the vast majority of the boys I know. It's not in the least pretentious. The tutorial system is great. I'm sure there are some very pushy parents at Westminster and every other highly selective school too - you need only look on the 11+ forum to see the extraordinary lengths some parents go to to secure a place at this type of school.

I don't know Westminster all that well. Frankly it's too far from my house to even consider sending my sons there, when I have an excellent, forward-looking, fabulous school 5 minutes from my front door.

OP, don't listen to any of us. Go and see the schools for yourself. See what fits with you and your family and your son. You might not like either of them. Work out which is more convenient, in terms of your son's travelling and your travelling - sports matches, concerts, plays, parents' evenings. Where are your son's friends going to live? Can he walk to their houses? I'm sure there are odious products of every school. Talk to the boys there and see what you think. We're very happy with our choice.

EdithWeston Sun 18-Mar-12 15:46:01

Neither - KCS Wimbledon better in so many ways than either, and less of a "name" so the other parents are less of a nightmare.

<Runs away very fast and hides, quivering>

Mominatrix Sun 18-Mar-12 19:30:45

Colleger - can you tell me what a Proper Public School is? Not from here do I don't know what that means.

Thereitis Sun 18-Mar-12 20:47:11

Agree with Edith!

singersgirl Sun 18-Mar-12 23:03:07

Wimbledon really inconvenient from here, but yet another really good school. People get incredibly partisan about schools, I suppose because if you've had a good experience you want to justify your decision to everyone.

Wouldn't inflict the journey to KCS on us, but if we lived nearer there, wouldn't have thought about The Other One.

interest Mon 19-Mar-12 09:09:31

Is St Paul's ok for non sporty boys?

lambethlil Mon 19-Mar-12 09:19:07

singersgirl is right, and posters gossiping about schools should do it via pm take a long hard look at themselves.

Disclaimer I don't have a son at either school, haven't considered either, didn't have a lovely babysitter or milkman from either.

My sons' prep sends a lot of boys to StP (second only to Colet Court) and unless most of the boys and parents have some sort of personality transplant as part of the entry process then I think will find the usual mixture of pushy and not so pushy parents, sporty and not quite so sporty boys.

One consideration with St Paul's at the moment is the substantial building works that are going on. I am sure they are being managed to cause minimal disruption but if you are looking for entry in the next year or two then this might be a consideration.

I am considering both of these schools for DS1 (yr4) along with a couple of others that are a bit less academic.

I do think the hothouse label is difficult one as both schools get very good academic results so there are going to be pretty high expections of the students at both schools. I don't think StP is a soft environment but I know people whose sons have gone to Westminster and they said the same about Westminster.

Mominatrix Mon 19-Mar-12 12:50:36

singersgirl is spot on with her advice - go see the schools yourself and do your due diligence based on experienced viewpoints, not random comments off the internet.

My DS had to choose amongst the 3 schools mentioned on which to apply and chose KCS and St Paul's/CC because, although NOT sporty, he really loved the feeling of space at the two schools. He go into both, and we chose CC over KCS simply due to location (we are in W London and he can cycle to school).

There are pushy parents at all schools, and especially at the highly selective academic ones - St Paul's and Westminster (and even Kings) are no different there. I was initially wary of CC due to the perceived reputation (spouted by Colleger), but was very pleasantly surprised by the school, staff and administration.

The building works are being done (so far) in a very well controlled way, with the Science centre on track to being completed this summer. Take a look at the plans (on the SP website) to see the extent of the large (but very much needed) renovations.

LazyMum123 Sun 24-Jun-12 12:27:50

I often hear other parents saying things like my son is a "Westminster type", "Eton type" or "St paul's type" boy......what exactly do they mean? I've no idea what "type" is my DS! Help!

happygardening Sun 24-Jun-12 22:22:48

Although schools get reputations for taking a certain type they are often generalisations. Even in a large city like London you cannot have 700 boys of identical type. Obviously the likes of Westminster are highly selective and certainly the interview for St Pauls was looking for articulate boys who were capable of organising their thoughts and expressing them in a clear logical way (I suspect Westminster are looking for similar) but I'm there are many different personalities. IMO to thrive in a super selective like Westminster or St Paul's your going to have to be self confident be highly motivated and ambitious reluctant scholars how ever bright are probably not going to be happy. Lazymum decide what you and your DS want from a school academic very academic single sex mixed etc draw up a short list and go and look at them with an open mind talk to matrons teachers children other parents HMs. Its not easy to get a true picture try and visit more than once and pick a couple you all really like and go for them. Don't listen to others where ever you choose someone will be able to tell you a horror story as long as you believe in it thats all that matters.

Colleger Sun 24-Jun-12 22:52:17

Schools like Westminster and Winchester have all sorts of boys but they are probably more open and forgiving and accepting of quirky boys and because of this they will attract a greater number. I don't think there is an Eton/St Paul's type but I think there is definitely a type that will not do well at Eton/St Paul's, and Winchester/Westminster would be a far better fit.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Tue 26-Jun-12 10:02:48

I know a lot about both these schools - have done a lot of work at both.

IMO Both schools stuffed with pushy parents. St Paul's is a tad more unpretentious. Both are absolutely excellent.

We live nearer St Paul's but bonkers friends whose sons has got offers from both are weighing up pros and cons - lists off how many famous people went to St P as opposed to W etc. It's nuts. If you're in such a fortunate position choose the one nearest to your house and make your, and more importantly, your son's life easier.

Needmoresleep Tue 26-Jun-12 19:56:52

I agree both great schools and any boy with offers from both, and parents who can pay the fees, is very lucky.

However they are quite different and I would be guided by the boy. Lots of lovely playing fields or historic inner city. Most boys will have a clear preference.

Equally important is the length, reliability and safety of the journey. No point in going to a fab school if you can't stay late to take part in after school activities.

Further points of difference:
- availability of boarding. Westminster can suit dual career couples especially ones who travel a lot, or people with international careers who might be posted away from London before a boy has finished his schooling.
- Girls. I personally think this is a good thing, as it allows sixth form to be a stepping stone on the way to University, but it can be disruptive.
- Saturday school often followed in the afternoon by a match. Awful if you have a long journey, to have to do it six days a week, and it can disrupt family life or the time available to pursue out of school activities. Westminster also offers breakfast and scope for staying quite late at school (because the boarders are there anyway). Heaven, though for the teenager who clearly prefers to hang out with friends rather than parents and siblings.
- Friends. They will be scattered but St Pauls boys will be concentrated in West London. Westminster will come from all over and from quite a distance. (Reading a tube map is a key skill.)
- house or tutor? Westminster runs on traditional boarding school lines which means contact is through the house. St Pauls use a tutor system. This might impact on social life and on pastoral care. It can mean that direct access to individual teachers is more difficult. Not necessarily a bad thing if there are some very "engaged" parents.

The really important things like finding a best friend for life or an inspirational teacher cant be predicted. Overall it is not worth fretting about which is the "better" school. A boy is likely to do best in the school that suits him and his family best and which he finds most appealing.

alison007 Fri 23-Jan-15 23:21:03

Just to add to this - my son went to Colet and is now in his second year at St Pauls and absolutely loves it. I can't recommend it more highly and it has a truly international reputation for garnering and nurturing sparky boys who love to learn. The parents are very down to earth, the teachers are generous and caring and my son has been supported, encouraged and stretched (but never too much)... also no one has tried to fit him into a mold. Its given him the best possible start in life. And he's on a bursary, so we are doubly lucky, and hugely grateful. Get under the skin of St Pauls and you'll be blown away smile

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