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Any SE Londoners out there? Looking for secondary school advice moving on from SE26 primary...

(25 Posts)
sydenhamhiller Tue 12-Feb-13 22:18:12

I feel very ignorant on this topic, and would love some advice. With primary school, it seemed relatively straight-forward: we applied for one of our closest state primaries on the SE23/26 border and luckily, we got in.

Now my eldest in 9. And lots of parents seem to be moving to Hayes/ West Wickham/ Beckenham. Friends in Beckenham (but not in the hallowed Park Langley catchment) are moving out to Hayes/ West Wickham too.

All this...movement is starting to unsettle me. Potential moral dilemmas aside, we can't afford to go private. I don't really want to move. Kingsdale is our closest secondary, but has a Byzantine admissions system, which leaves us Forest Hill Boys and Sydenham School. Which I was OK with, until I've just seen that they are around the 50% mark for A-C GCSE.

So where do SE23/26 state primary kids go on to? Do primary schools publish this information? <Trembles at thought at approaching Head about this...>

DC1 is very able - he's in Y4, and his 'ladder of achievement' shows his current attainment is at Y6/Y7 level. (Which I am given to understand is average for prep schools, so not to get too carried away smile.) I have resisted, but am now thinking perhaps I should think about the tutoring, and grammar school entrance exams. How do I find out what's out there? How do I find a good tutor? I feel very green suddenly - everyone else seems so clued up on this stuff! I'd be so grateful for any local knowledge and advice.

pippibluestocking Tue 12-Feb-13 22:57:32

Sydenham Girls and FH Boys both have v good reputations, know children that go to both and very happy, as are their parents, no concerns re their progress (thought pass rates for 5 GCSEs Inc Eng and Maths were higher than 50%, pretty sure SG was around 65%). KD may be worth a shot but it's a lottery for a place and just be aware that some are concerned about the SMTs management style (lots of threads on here about it, though school seems to have forced the deletion of most!). Sedgehill isn't bad, Conisborough College is def on the up, best valued added score of all the secondary schools in Lewisham and not in a bad area. You could consider Harris Academy in Crystal Palace but you may not be near enough?? Very popular and well regarded. Re grammars, you need to think seriously about how your child will get there and whether it's practical. I suppose St olaves would be the nearest but again think about the journey and also the new head, who is not popular with some of the pupils or parents (look at Bexley / Bromley 11+ forum). Re tuition, ask parents of children in Year 6 who you know put their children through the 11+ if they can recommend anyone). HTH - good luck!

pippibluestocking Tue 12-Feb-13 23:01:37

You could also consider Askes Hatcham College but you need to check how far out they went last year (this will be in the secondary schools admissions booklet which you can get on-line from Lewisham Council) to check whether you are anywhere near enough

SminkoPinko Tue 12-Feb-13 23:25:42

The dfe website has a good breakdown of how high/middle/low achievers do at GCSE in individual schools, which might be quite reassuring, especially as you have a child who is doing well. Even Kingsdale, which had a very poor year GCSE result wise this year (hopefully a blip), got the vast majority of its high achieving children at least 5 good exams.

aliasPrickleandJones Wed 13-Feb-13 10:36:02

I would echo pippi in saying that we were very impressed with Sydenham Girls and know people who are pleased with it. I think it is having substantial building work done on it which apparently is well managed so far.

Kingsdale is marmite and is not a banker as it is a lottery and also v. high demand. Quite how the recent poor GCSE results will impact on demand for places remain to be seen.

If you are on the Sydenham and Forest Hill train line into Croydon then many of the Sutton grammar schools should be in commutable distance.

Good luck!

sydenhamhiller Wed 13-Feb-13 10:43:36

Thanks Pippi and SminkoPinko.
Had considered St Olaves - we're miles away, but on train line from Victoria to Orpington. I travelled across a city to an international school as a child, so not majorly hung up on travel...but that was '80s Holland. I do like FH boys, but DS is such a quiet, studious child...I always assume an all boys school is better for a very extrovert sporty sort. (Am trying desperately not to be PFB here!)

I think we are too far away for Harris Crystal Palace - and Kingsdale...who knows what is going on there, probably nothing, but I strongly dislike the way they get any discussions shut down, on this forum and local London ones.

Thanks for feedback, appreciate it.

motherinferior Wed 13-Feb-13 10:53:07

You're looking at out of date info if you think the results are 50 per cent. Sydenham's latest GSCE results are around 66 per cent girls getting at least 5 A*-C including English and Maths. FH is similar. Both schools are on the up. FHB also has, believe, excellent pastoral care and is good at looking after non-blokey boys - it specialises in performance arts, and I know at least one young man who's come out as gay there (always a good sign IMO of a school which isn't insisting on a certain stereotype of blokiness).

ToffeeCoffee Wed 13-Feb-13 11:11:24

DS1 is in year 5 at an SE26 primary. He's also academically-inclined. I considered St Olave's but really can't justify putting him through that length of journey at age 11 (or the rampant elitism, but that's for another thread).

I've heard good things about Forest Hill from friends with sons there. Its results are just above the national average, and reflect its balanced intake. Looking at the DfE performance tables (and I've spent too long doing this), there were 69 boys at level 5+ in year 6 in the latest GCSE cohort. I find this encouraging; it's hard to see how they couldn't be catering for the more academicallly able with that many at a good level. The curriculum/GCSE options look reassuringly traditional - triple science for the top 50 in the year, and the taking up of a second language in year 8 (but I do find the performing arts specialism a little offputting).

Harris Crystal Palace seems to be the school of choice for parents from my neck of the woods and the results there are (unbelievably) good. Does anyone know how there intake is so skewed, given that they are also supposed to have banded entry?

Loved your post MotherInferior. I wonder if we could have the number of out pupils as a measure in the league tables? It's an impressive sign.

motherinferior Wed 13-Feb-13 11:43:22

I can assure you also that there are plenty of bright, academic girls at Sydenham too grin. DD1's bunch of mates are cheery, bright slightly geeky kids who make one's heart sing.

FatalFlowerGarden Wed 13-Feb-13 12:36:12

Fwiw, I went past FHBoys on the bus this am and there was a huge poster outside proclaiming ??83% A-C at GCSE... But the bus was going quite fast so I could have misread!

motherinferior Wed 13-Feb-13 13:00:01

Yes, but that 83% may not include English and Maths. The 65/66 per cent definitely does.

LondonMother Wed 13-Feb-13 13:25:13

It's a long, long time now since we were looking at schools for our son but we'd have been delighted to get him into Forest Hill. Sadly we lived too far away. Good luck when the time comes!

sydenhamhiller Wed 13-Feb-13 13:58:26

Motherinferior - loved the thought of 'out pupils' in league tables, and your description of 'slightly geeky kids who make one's heart sing'. Wonderful term!

Have friends with kids at FH, friends whose kids are going to FH, but their sons are more socially...adept? mainstream? than mine, who likes to explain tricks of the 11 x table to his peers, and wonders why they wander off sad.

Like Toffeecoffee I also find the performing arts specialism a little offputting. Not shameful academic snobbery I think, but because whilst performing arts would be fab for DC2, they bring DC1 out in a rash. Maths specialism, that's what we need to track down!

I do appreciate everyone taking the time to write down these positive comments about our local comps. So many school parents seem to moving to BR2, I started to wonder whether they knew something I didn't/ don't. And they say "well, you know, the local schools..." I should have stronger faith in my own decisions, but was feeling shakey with so many people opting out of the schools I thought I was happy with!

Langley Boys/ Girls catchment is going to shrink beyond imagining smile

motherinferior Wed 13-Feb-13 14:03:30

I wouldn't worry too much about the specialism, I think it's just to balance out the expectations of Blokiness; Sydenham is a maths/science specialist school (as it's girls-only and has other sterotypes to counter) but DD1 is doing three languages in Y7 and there's plenty of drama to keep her busy (and music is pretty good there too).

Forget the tut-tutters. Most of them are motivated by hearsay and snobbery. And not academic snobbery, I should add.

RedHelenB Wed 13-Feb-13 22:58:02

Surely if your son is bright he would easily be in that 50%? Maybe you need to check that there are as & a*s in the results? FWIW, you can't beat going round a school when it is operating, get a feel for it.

When dd1 chose her school one of the plus points for me was that the head talked about gcse results at the end (despite them being good for our local area) & was far more bothered about wanting the children to come & ways of learning etc.

uptomyeyes Sat 16-Feb-13 20:35:59

Maybe too late to add to the discussion, but my DS1 is in yr 10 at FHB and DS2 will start in September. If its any consolation on the geek factor, DS1 can recite his tables up to 29x, forwards and backwards in under 15 seconds, so don't despair Sydenhamhiller, a boy with an interest in multiplication factoids can get on just fine at the school.

DS1 loves FHB, he is proud of everything about it. He is a bit all singing all dancing so fits the performing arts side very well. But it isn't rammed down the throat. They have outstanding maths and history departments and DS1 who is decidenly mainstream academically is taking maths GCSE 18 months early - ie after half term. There are boys in his year that took gcse languages last year because they had a flair for them. I suggest you atend the open day in October and take a look.

sydenhamhiller Sat 16-Feb-13 23:13:23

uptomyeyes always good to hear from another parent whose DC likes multiplication so much!
I meant to attend the 2012 Open Day, but had just had DC3, and was in sleep-deprived chaos. All poised to attend any Open Day going in 2013...

Thanks to all for the advice/ opinions, much appreciated.

StiffyByng Wed 25-Sep-13 20:49:05

Sorry to awaken a zombie thread, but how are you finding open days, Sydenhamhiller? We are looking in the same area (possible even from the same primary school) and finding the choice bewildering. We have the complicating factor of applying on social/medical need so have a wider choice of possibles, but finding the experience head spinning! I shared your Kingsdale reservations, but to our surprise we all really loved it. Ditto Deptford Green, also unexpectedly. Would love to swap notes.

swhobbit Wed 25-Sep-13 22:57:47

Ds at Kingsdale yr 9 & loving it , very academically challenged & has added music free lesson each week ( if a musician ) & g8t sports opps. Gcse blip last yr seems to have been resolved , was to do with move away from less academic Diploma choices being dropped ( which had previously inflated results not just at KD but many schools )
Best results ever this year & school seems very much back on track. Is a very very happy cohort of kids that are passionately loyal to Sch which says a lot after all the negative media press. Worth a punt grin
Good luck , it all works out somehow !

NynaevesSister Thu 26-Sep-13 12:31:25

Just wondering if Kingsdale is your closest, why not Elm Green? Is there something wrong with it?

StiffyByng Thu 26-Sep-13 13:11:24

Sydenham Hill is quite a way from Tulse Hill.

StiffyByng Thu 26-Sep-13 13:13:33

And meant to say, we went to FHS today, and the maths department there is apparently the best in Lewisham. They have kids taking GCSE in yr9 if they want to. We were impressed.

NynaevesSister Thu 26-Sep-13 13:34:27

It isn't that far from Kingsdale and it depends on where in Sydenham Hill you are. I just thought I would ask in case there were issues. Sorry it wasn't meant to offend you in any way.

StiffyByng Thu 26-Sep-13 13:54:43

It's not me!

pooka Thu 26-Sep-13 14:01:16

I live in BR2 and so many of my friends are moving to BR6 (for Darrick Wood).

Just goes to show the absurdity of the situation.

I think the Langley catchment might actually get bigger this year - certainly at the girls school, but possibly boys too. Darrick Wood and Hayes seem to be the Bromley schools of choice for co-ed.

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