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South West London Secondary Schools, I am stumped.

(148 Posts)
QuintessentialShadows Tue 11-Sep-12 12:50:05

My mind is spinning with the schools "of choice", and I am hoping somebody with actual knowledge will tell me a little bit:

St Celia
Ashcroft Technology College
John Bosco College


Gunnersbury Catholic school for boys

Wimbledon College

Kingston Grammar
Ibstock Place
Emanuel School
Kings College Wimbledon

I have a spread sheet, and I am trying to jot down important info, and plan visits. But I just feel that my mind has frozen, and I reach for coffee and chocolate, and neither help....

bizzey Tue 11-Sep-12 14:43:27

HI seem to have quite a "wide and varied " choice there ! I never thought I would see a list with John Bosco and Kings college together !! I am SW london and "know " the schools .

What is it you actually want to know ?

QuintessentialShadows Tue 11-Sep-12 14:54:24

bizzey, thanks for your reply, and if you think it is weird to see these schools grouped together, then you can imagine my confusion.... grin

We have been living overseas, secondary schools did not really enter our horizon until a year ago when we returned to London. We recently moved to Wandsworth, and I have spent the last year half- heartedly trying to get my head around the whole secondary thing.

My son is Y6, in an RC Primary in Richmond. He is quite academic, and we are not "religious enough" to be in with a real chance of The Oratory, Cardinal Vaughn etc, probably not even Gunnersbury. But John Bosco is nearby, along with Ashcroft and Ibstock. Emanuel is on the outskirts of acceptable travel, along with Gunnersbury where most of his classmates are aiming for.

He is also a very sensitive boy who has experienced a fair deal of bullying.

I want to find a school that can nurture his love for maths, natural science and technology, cherish his witty and quirky mind, encourage his good imagination and love for story writing and telling. He would be mortally offended if I were to call him a "nerd". But you get the drift. He is not street smart, he is a bit shy and overcompensates by acting nonchalantly. He finds it difficult to make friends, and either alienates his peers or annoy them. sad I want to find a school where he can be happy and thrive both socially and academically. But this may be a hard nut to crack!

bizzey Tue 11-Sep-12 15:17:08

I am off on the school run now but will fill you in with what I know when I get back .

mimbleandlittlemy Tue 11-Sep-12 16:33:50

Emanuel only accept 500 for registration because they interview every child before the exam. Ds's school, which has sent a number to Emanuel each year, was notified by them last week that they are now almost up to their 500 threshold and will be closing their applications very shortly, so if you are interested in Emanuel you'll need to make a decision about registration in the really-rather-immediate-and-not-too-distant future.

almapudden Tue 11-Sep-12 16:44:49

You might have missed the deadline for King's - I don't know about 11+ entry, but they allocate places for 13+ entry before the end of year 7, and applications start even earlier, in year 6.

TRL Tue 11-Sep-12 16:59:52

Kings are having an Open Morning for all points of entry this Sat coming - check on their website if you're keen to view and get an idea of what standard's expected for their 11+ entry.

bizzey Tue 11-Sep-12 17:29:19

OK I am back !.....What you need to remember is that I am only giving you MY views and opions on what I know and feel ...others may have different expieriences (hopefully that should clear me from any legal/slander court cases !grin

St Celia.....nice/good shool...haven't heard anything bad about it ,my mums grandson goes there and seems happy fab music department ....people apply there FOR the music .

Ashcroft....another VERY popular school with 2 ways of entry. More of a technical college than accademic school but very good buildings. I see the pupils at the bus stop when i collect my dc's ...lots of them (of course) but no community police needed to keep them in check (exam results look good but you need to see how many included Eng and Maths).

John Bosco [no comment]

Christs ....don't know anything.

Gunnersbury ...Heard it is really good and if that is where most of his friend are going keep this one at the top ......never underestimate's 1/2 the trauma of 2ndary school sorted imo.

Wimbledon college....another very good and popular school ..

But with these two you need to check your "faith situation" as you will have an additional faith application form to fill in with details of church attendence and priest refferences ....are you/him baptised they like it within 6 months but dont't let that put you off.... first holy communion.

As for the other 4 they were never quite in my leaque !!grin but from what you have said about your ds ,and things I have heard on here ...Ibstock might be more of a "nurturing "school for him than the others ..especially comming from a state primary school.

If I am right they will all be doing entries now or maybe have already done some ?

The next month will be a whirlwind of visiting schools and trying to take it all in ....if they have more than 1 open evening DO AS MANY AS YOU CAN ! 1st visit is overwhelming ...and that was just me !! other visits make more sense .

It is a horrible expierience choosing schools ...the next years of their education is down to you/ds choices and that wonderful LEA lottery !!

Hope this has helped, pm if you need more ...oh I forgot to say ....look in the travel arrangements ...Ibstock for example might be hard from Wandsworth ..unless you can do 170 in order to get 493 to Roehamton Lane .

bizzey Tue 11-Sep-12 17:47:04

My mum's grandson is not going to St Celia's...her friend's grandson is !!!

Graveney(sp) in Tooting comes up here alot ...another thought VERY good school by all accounts.

Oh and from what I have read on various threads ..but cant remember the titles careful the order you put your schools in if you are doing a mix of state and Grammer......think opinion was not to put grammer 1st but some one else would need to help you on this ...2 lovely mneters know ALL admissions and forms !!

Copthallresident Tue 11-Sep-12 18:28:44


Firstly as another parent who lived overseas are you entirely sure that your son's social skills are to blame for his social difficulties. Both my daughters found the different culture hard to adapt to after an International School . In particular DD2 who is gregarious and friendly found coming into a Richmond Prep (and if the school your son is at is the one I am thinking of, it is effectively a Richmond Prep) incredibly difficult even in Year 4, it was already very cliquey and exclusive and, shall we say, with little diversity. She was also told she was annoying, and too wild. Her class teacher said she thought that perhaps the girls concerned needed to learn about opening up as much as she needed to restrain herself! It must be even harder in Year 6. They still have friendship groups that are largely comprised of other children who have lived in or whose families come from different cultures, and really can't tolerate the values and exclusive behaviour of the "cool kids".

The selectives love students who have been overseas, really value the benefit of their experiences and let them know it is valued. I know they take it into account in assessing academic achievement in exams.

Don't know all the schools you list as they are rather geographically dispersed wink and this is of course subjective but DDs are now almost through school so I have direct and indirect experience of some.

KCS has it's fair share of cool boys but I also know "nerds"and "eccentrics" who have done well and been happy there. Quite a few from other cultures too. Very good teaching and results and competitive to get in. IB in the longer term, which is good internationally, but a high workload (though it gives you lots more scope to increase points), and both DDs were glad to specialise for A level . All the selectives we applied for cut off in October / November, would be surprised if they narrowed it down by an early cut off which will tend to favour parents in the know, which isn't so much of an issue when they are applying from Preps at 13 .

KGS has a new head and a real buzz at the moment. I don't know anyone who has gone there and not been happy. They seem to be good at creating an environment in which bullying is not regarded as acceptable by the pupils as well as the school which can't be said everywhere. Not as good results as KCS but I think we can get a bit picky about whether the selectives around here are in the top 10 or top 50 when both would be regarded as very good in the rest of the country and enable bright pupils to get A*s . But will girls, especially hormonal ones add to your son's shyness? From a girl point of view I think the presence of the other sex cuts the bullying. Also the sports are in Thames Ditton which is a long way if he develops a talent for Hockey or rowing, and I think most pupils are quite local. I would definitely put the journey into your equation, an hour or more at each end of the day is tiring .

Ibstock used to be for the arty and sporty who didn't want an academic hothouse, and was popular with families coming back from overseas but now has decided it wants to be academic as well. I think that has involved a fair amount of close supervision and intensive teaching to improve results, which has created some tension amongst those who signed up for something different, especially as there has been some effective exclusion of pupils who did not, or could not, buckle down. However that may have worked its way through in as much those joining now know what they have signed on for. Also it can be cliquey, not as diverse as some other selective schools.

Christs was a disaster area, nearly closed but was reinvigorated by a new regime but it has been a bit of an uphill battle to change perceptions as well as results and it is still not oversubscribed . Richmond Park Academy nearly matched it's results this year (Christs 93* 5A-C, 73% incl.Maths and English , RPA 91%, 61%)Sounds as if the Head at RPA is achieving exciting things. Both schools about to get sixth forms, the lack of which I know has been a put off for some.

Overall though I would recommend you narrow down your list and visit, there is no substitute for going around a school and getting a feel for whether it is right for your child .

QuintessentialShadows Tue 11-Sep-12 21:02:37

Thank you. I really appreciate all this input.

I have now prepared registration papers for Emanuel.... Much appreciated heads up!

It is true that it could be cultural as much as social. He has had to adjust a lot, from London to provincial north of Norway, and then back to London again.

Copthall, we are in the middle of a nice triangle of good primaries surrounded by affluent neighborhoods, so maybe you are right in your assumptions.

I think I am ruling out St Celia and John Bosco, along with Wimbledon College.

We are now narrowed down to:

Kingston Grammar
Kings College School

Gunnersbury Catholic
St Richard Reynolds Catholic Secondary School

Need to update my spreadsheet but will be back!

ICwhatUmean Tue 11-Sep-12 21:22:20

We have experience of King's College School and found it to be a kind and inspiring community of both students and teachers. There is a wide range of types of boys (and now girls) at the school but they are all distinguished by their affability and friendliness. There was absolutely no experience or sign of any bullying. Not tolerated but more importantly I don't think it even crosses the student's minds. They do the IB but are now reintroducing "A" levels to run alongside the IB. Our DS just finished five years at King's and it was, without doubt or exception a wonderful place for him from beginning to end. If there is an Open Day on the weekend - go. Talk to the students you'll see there. Speak to the teachers. If it is right for your son (and it sounds like it might be) you'll know immediately.

Annelongditton Tue 11-Sep-12 22:48:23

KCS is a great school, but its hugely popular at the moment and all of the preps in our area received significantly less offers than they did for St Pauls (which isn't on your list?". One of the most annoying things when visiting is to be told by an old boy from DS's prep that over half his year group were offered places when he sat the pre-test.
Kingston Grammar people either love or hate, DS and I didn't love it, probably not helped by viewing it immediately after Charterhouse. The sports ground is quite near Hampton Court Station, that is a long way from where you live.
I like Ibstock, I think it offers something different and it has great facilities, but I wouldn't send DS there because I think that he would under achieve, but am considering it for DD. It may suit your DS, you really should go and look.
I know nothing of Emmanuel.
It is worth bearing in mind that the situation regarding school places in this area has changed a lot over the last 5 years, schools which used to always have places available can now be a lot more selective as the numbers applying have increased so much. This will start to show in the league tables as their results will improve as the years pass.

Copthallresident Wed 12-Sep-12 00:14:31

Are you aware that the decision to establish St Richard Reynolds as a VA Catholic School, in order to allow it to be an exclusively Catholic School, is the subject of a Judicial Review. I am guessing you will be if DS is at a Catholic Primary but perhaps you won't get both sides of the story in what has been a very contentious debate. There is a new law that came into effect at the beginning of the year, before the Council issued it's proposals, that requires Councils who need a new school to invite proposals for Academies which must limit faith admissions to 50%. A judge has ruled that on the face of it the Council did acknowledge the need for new school places and whether that law was therefore enacted needs to be resolved in the High Court, so there is a case to answer, and it could go either way. Hopefully the matter will be resolved in the next couple of months to give parents certainty and those bringing the action have tried to ensure that happens but the Council is making full use of it's deep pockets to intimidate them, and implicit in their threat that high costs will be incurred is that the legal process will be dragged out. A measure of the complexity of the issues, and strength of feelings, is that there have been three New Secondary Schools for Richmond threads on Mumsnet, the first two filling up with 2000 posts!!

Some recent posts that have highlighted what might be particularly relevent to you in your decision is that the College will not move out of the original school building until 2014. The classes that will start in 2013 will be housed in refurbished buildings behind, which are a mish mash of prefabricated and delapidated buildings. Presumably the intention is for a rebuild once the college leaves, and for a few years of building works.

Catholic posters have conceded that the school is unlikely to be oversubscribed locally for some time. One of the issues was that existing schools such as St Marks, Gunnersbury and Gumley, and Sacred Heart would become full in the course of the next few years but until the new school is built and becomes established parents will still persue places in those established popular schools, and some will also have sibling priority. In addition the Oratory is a lottery of goodness and I can't see all those parents who have been pushing their 10 year olds forward as alter boys, arranging the flowers and polishing the silver are going to give up now!! That is good news in terms of you travelling from a distance, if you are not in one of the Parishes who will get priority, but the assumption is that most of those who will find the new school an attractive proposition will do so because their only other option is St Pauls in Sunbury, which could mean some long journeys to playdates and parties!!

Copthallresident Wed 12-Sep-12 01:15:37

If you are near Ibstock do you realise there are Hampton / LEH buses from Barnes and along the Upper Richmond Road. Hampton is another school which the boys seem to love, academic but also down to earth. And having the girls next door and sharing joint extra curricular activities gives them a gentle experience of mixing with the opposite sex ( although that possibly does not include the bus itself!)

Copthallresident Wed 12-Sep-12 09:16:47

Hampton and KGS both have their main point of entry at 11, so they recruit a lot of boys from State Schools at that stage. There are 4/5 classes at 11 at Hampton, and around three quarters come from state school (another two classes are added at 13 and it ends up being near 200 boys in the year). There are around 100 places at KGS, they get 50/50 boy / girl. KCS has a Junior School with main point of entry at 7 and then 13, so I think the numbers of places at 11 are very limited and it is incredibly competitive but you would need to check that .

I take Annlongdittons point about KGS not being as impressive on a visit as the more leafy schools. I actually found myself dreaming when we had to make the decision between KGS and other schools that it lay amidst rolling acres! It is very urban but it felt right in so many other ways for one of my DDs. However I can only say that it's pupils do love it once they get there and thrive and frankly I wish that I hadn't been so influenced by the availability of open spaces, and exam results.

You would also need to check how the land lies with tutoring. I would imagine given the tutoring culture in West London, and the fact that a lot of boys at private preps have extra tutoring to get in to the very selective boys schools at 13, that getting in to KCS from a state school without tutoring would be difficult. Others may have first hand experience. It is generally accepted that if you are at a state primary around here and are going to put your child into entrance exams for any of the selectives that your child goes to a tutor to prepare. However to what extent this is due to parental anxiety and to what extent the schools requirements is another issue. The schools say that they are looking for potential and can spot tutoring and will take it into account and that reading widely is more important . We were coming back from overseas at 11 and took the exams abroad. DD1 was at the equivalent of a good state primary overseas and just had a nice cosy weekly session for an hour with tea and cakes for one term with a favourite former teacher who knew nothing of the West London schools to help her with exam technique and literacy skills (she is a Maths/ Science geek but loves reading) and she got into all four superselective schools she applied for. However the Heads at two enthused after the interview about the great experiences she had had overseas and how much they welcomed pupils like her. I don't know how much allowance was made. Both Hampton and KGS have sample questions on their websites you could look at, as well as visting the schools to help you decide what they seem to be looking for and what is right for you and your son.

I'm going on a bit but I know only too well how bewildering it is when you are coming in from outsidegrin

QuintessentialShadows Wed 12-Sep-12 10:39:47

Thanks for suggesting Hampton, I will have a look at their website.

I am so glad I posted. Lots of useful information here. Thanks! smile

Mrshighandmighty Wed 12-Sep-12 11:39:34

All three of my boys attend Emanuel, and I'd recommend you go along to the open day on the 29th September - I can't express sufficiently how happy we are with the school. Its not super-academic (on the same lines as St. Benedicts in Ealing for attainability) - all three of my boys failed Hampton/KGS/Latymer so we're not talking uber-ability here! But the school has welcomed them with open arms and are pushing them sufficiently hard to improve their academic marks every term right from the off (my oldest is in year 9 which is when it gets really interesting!).

Best of luck with your decision!

QuintessentialShadows Wed 12-Sep-12 13:17:04

The Emanuel open day is in my spreadsheet! grin

Not made it to the calendar quite yet, there are so many open days!

Dh is just chuffed to discover that the Father of the Internet went to Emanuel.

I better get that registration form in the post!

swanthingafteranother Wed 12-Sep-12 14:46:37

My son is a Gunnersbury boy, and we didn't find it difficult to get in. Academically challenging, I thought it would be more relaxed than it has proved to be! My son is v happy there though...I think your son's creative talents would be well nurtured, and science etc - they definitely love the geekier boys and encourage them. They also have G & T programme. Very relieved he hasn't gone to CV if the homework at G is as full on as it is...A few issues with feedback,pastoral care and marking (see my slightly panicked earlier thread) It is a very academic school and the music has been excellent.and ds1 12 is happy to go to school every morning and v enthusiastic about everything he does there...Still, like all schools you have to put in a fair amount of effort to support your child, and there are no shortcuts.

castlesintheair Wed 12-Sep-12 18:38:04

Is KCS the same place as Kings College Wimbledon? Sorry for hijack.

We are going to see the latter on Saturday for my Year 6 DS but have little hope as I heard they only take 20 boys at 11+ ??? He's reasonably academic (high 5's end of year 5 - not even sure if that is "academic" these days) but still ...

Emanuel is on my list. I thought it was a lovely school and am really pleased to hear mrshighndmighty's comments (if you've got anything more to add please share!). I am using it as my "safe" option (ha ha) for DS who is also going to sit Hampton/KGS/Latymer but I'd be really happy if he ended up there especially as I have 2 other DDs, the eldest of whom isn't as academically inclined and the facilities for drama, art, sport etc are fantastic. We also live in Richmond and I'd be much happier to move nearer it than out towards Hampton smile

Christs is our local state school and I know a lot of great kids who go there including DCs from my DS's class who will go there. It has improved a lot since I have lived here (10 years) but as someone else said not as much as Richmond Park Academy (RPA) has done in last 2 years. RPA is definitely a school to have a look at if you are heading this way. Great site and facilities and more improvement to come including a 6th form, and the new head is an excellent marketeer unlike the head at Christ's, which explains it's lack of momentum in improving imo.

Both DS and I liked Kingston Grammar. I actually loved the urban feel of it and think they have made excellent use of the space. I agree though, it's got the marmite factor.

Ibstock I know from local hearsay and agree with other poster who said people are pulling out their DCs because of change in ethos. This is happening a lot. Was also slightly put off the place when my friend went to look round and was told they had no children with SN and no facilities to help them.

That's all I know about the schools on your list. Good luck. Will be checking back for updates.

Annelongditton Wed 12-Sep-12 20:44:32

Yes KCS is Kings College Wimbledon, it does only have a small intake at 11+ but that shouldn't put you off. It is by far the prettiest of all the London boys day schools, and I think we got spoilt by viewing it so early. If DS hadn't got a place he was looking to board because he wanted somewhere which had a similar feel.

I wish there was a Latymer equivalent in the Wimbledon area, everyone who views it seems to love that school. I have never dared look though as if I did we may have had to move.

I think that swanthingafteranother makes a very good point though,

"Still, like all schools you have to put in a fair amount of effort to support your child, and there are no shortcuts."

Mintyy Wed 12-Sep-12 20:48:07

Goodness me! I live in south east London and had a "choice" of precisely two secondary schools.

<<investigates move to SW London>>

Copthallresident Wed 12-Sep-12 23:35:08

castleintheair I had heard of people with DCs who were diagnosed with even mild SLDs being told to move on as they would not be able to support them at Ibstock. You were right to be put off because it really is out of step with the attitude taken by other schools many with much more impressive academic reputations. Hampton and Latymer have fantastic support units for pupils with SLDs and KGS is catching up too. A lot of schools use the Durham tests in Year 7 not just to measure value added which Ibstock ironically trumpet about on their website but also to help identify pupils who should be tested for SLDs that haven't been diagnosed. As many as 10% of pupils at even the most selective schools seem to end up with extra time and additional support. So any parent would be unwise to say lack of SLD provision isn't an issue for them. Ibstocks academic ambitions don't seem to have stopped the steady trickle of the brightest off to more academic schools either. DDs' friends who have left report that they found the teaching very narrow and uninspiring because they are working everyone so hard towards quite narrow academic goals. And it doesn't seem that the pupils are very respectful of difference either, a few have left because of low grade unpleasantness because they weren't the Ibstock type. However, brilliant extra curricular and it does seem to be a perfect choice for some DCs. Very lively social life for parents as well wink

Latymers rise in popularity is metioric! It was impossible to get into the sixth form this time from another selective school with less than 10A*s predicted, harder for girls to get into than KCS. With 90% GCSE A/A* it exceeded the results of Hampton and LEH, and yet in the 11+ entrance exams for this GCSE cohort it was a lot easier to get in, and some of those parents who live and die by league tables were looking down their nose at it!! I know a few parents grinning smugly now!!!! grin It was too far for my DD sadly and we were done moving after the last 3000 mile hop.

Annelongditton not just school. Dropped DD1 off at uni naively thinking right it's over to her now...... I have plumbed the depths of my ability to provide practical and emotional support more in the last two years than I did in the previous 14, and with added time on the road, and then I look at friends who have DCs who left uni in the last two years and realise its far from done .....

wombley Wed 12-Sep-12 23:39:49

I would give KGS a swerve. Recent stuff I've heard is not great on the pastoral care front.

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