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Latymer Upper

(95 Posts)
Rifraf79 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:19:53

Our DS has been offered a place at Latymer Upper (year 7) and by a couple of schools further away; We and he really like what we've seen of LU but I'd be grateful to hear from current parents about any down sides/negatives we should be aware of, as well reasons why a bright but not especially cool or sophisticated boy would thrive there. Thanks!

hardboiled Thu 28-Feb-13 17:11:07

OP, sorry this may not be of any value to you, but LU is more ethnically mixed and also socially as they offer means-tested scholarships. It is also known to attract local middle class professional families who will make some sacrifices to send their academic children to it. To me, this is a positive thing. Harrodian don´t offer any bursaries (afaik) and attracts those who don't have to think twice before opting for private education...Or so I've heard. The skiing competition fits the picture... Harrodian will me more mixed ability wise. Your DC may feel more confident there but less challenged...

Seren2013 Thu 28-Feb-13 21:57:05

I just talked to a parent from LU and he said pastoral care is not its strong point. He also said that theatre and the tennis team, both of which are of interest to us, are of a very high standard, so if you are not the best, you won't have a chance to do it. While it is great that the standard is high, I'm also leery of my DC being limited and not having opportunities to go outside of her comfort zone. I'd prefer a place where they encourage students to try new things, not just give opportunities to the "experts". Can current LU parents please comment on this? Are these concerns valid?

Marni23, Someone asked about trips and the answer was "we have lots of them". Yes they named a few, but I'm just giving an example of how the answers were phrased. Lots of generalities. "We're looking to improve this."

Harrodian gets a very bad rap as being a place where rich kids hang out. But the reason we applied is that it has apparently become more selective in the last 3 years and improving its academic record. Yes, the skiing sounds elitist, but, what can I say, my DC skis.

One of the teachers at Harrodian is working with other teachers and parents on building a free school in the local area. I'm just saying that in response to the comment about LU's means-tested scholarships and Harrodian not offering any bursaries.

hardboiled Thu 28-Feb-13 22:25:11

Yes I have heard about the drama ending up as an option for those very good at it only. I assumed it would be the same at all schools, to be honest, when you consider the numbers, you can't always put on a play where 140 children will have a role. They do have some children involved in the tech side of, sound, etc. It is true LU doesn't have a reputation of picking "the kid who's not very good at X" to represent the school at "X". It's something I have decided to put up with because of the many things I do like. Hopefully, DS will get at least an initial taste of everything and then be inspired to be the best he can at what he really wants to continue doing.

Marni23 Thu 28-Feb-13 22:36:24

To be fair Seren2013 they reeled off a very long list of destinations when asked about trips. Maybe skiing wasn't among them, I didn't really notice as we don't ski.

I do think in the end that school choice comes down to gut feel. My gut feel was that LU would suit my DS. But that doesn't mean that it would suit your DC, and it sounds from what you say that you don't think it would.

Another Headmaster on the (endless!) open days/tours we went on said 'there is no such thing as the best school, there is only the best school for your child' and I think he was right. Trust your instinct, and if your instinct is saying Harrodian, go with that.

Seren2013 Thu 28-Feb-13 22:56:45

Hardboiled, You said, "It's something I have decided to put up with because of the many things I do like." Would you kindly elaborate on what the many things you like are?

Seren2013 Thu 28-Feb-13 23:08:49

Another question for LU parents: How much of an academic hothouse is it? Not at all/a bit/very. I've heard that they don't give too much homework, but that this is changing. Is there a trend to become a hothouse?

hardboiled Thu 28-Feb-13 23:56:24

Sure seren...The academic level. The good challenging teaching (I've been told). The fact that it's coed. The fact that it is quite a mix of diverse children (I have mentioned this before) and that many come from state primaries. The 80 min lunch break to do clubs, chill out, read or study. The new curriculum. Their new timetable with longer lessons. The world perspectives course and the fact that they don't sit an exam - learning for the love of it. The knowledge that, when the time comes, if DS decides he wants to take the Oxbridge route they will know how to help him along it - as they do with many. Fab music department, science building, etc. The friendly staff we met. What I saw one day I had the chance to be in the school on a normal day: lively pupils rushing from class to class, friendly with each other, some modest, some quirky, all sorts - not intimidating or ubersophisticated at all. The fact that it was DS first choice.

However, I do agree with Marni that there is an element of gut feeling. For me, there's no such thing as the perfect school. I share some of the concerns about LU's pastoral care but in our case somehow I feel DS will survive it. I do know some children who have not been happy there and have left. But also some children who have been and still are very happy there.

Harrodian has more green and open space! It's all about matchmaking! Does your DC have any preference?

hardboiled Thu 28-Feb-13 23:57:20

I was answering to your previous question...

Rifraf79 Fri 01-Mar-13 10:33:05

Seren. First of all - well done to your DC for earning a choice of schools.

Regarding your homework question... My understanding is for Yr 7 at LU it is not especially onerous -good because it allows the kids to throw themselves into extra curricular: music, drama, tennis, photography, architecture...zumba (!) whatever - there is a pretty exhaustive range available. See the clubs list here:
It also gives them a chance to make friends, learn how to be organised etc. If your child has been to a prep - they will find themselves repeating a lot of Latin and French because of the large state school intake.

After Year 7, the homework ramps up. They stream from year 8 as well. Personally, I am interested in outcomes; Latymer does very well in my opinion at GCSE and A level. If they manage to achieve those results with minimal homework, then wonderful - and if the kids have to work hard at home... well, if that is what it takes. Certainly parents I know who have kids there don't think the H/W is either under or overtaxing - just about right I am told. If your child is academic he/she will still be stretched, I am assured.

Something else you should bear in mind when comparing LU and the Harrodian: LU has 7 (or 8?) classes in Year 7 , with only a couple of classes worth coming up from the Prep. Half of the new entrants are from state school. I rang Harrodian just now, out of curiosity (my DS did not apply for it, and we have accepted a place at LU). The Harrodian has 4 classes in Year 7, about 3 classes worth come up through their own prep. What does this mean? Well, your child will be entering a school where most of the kids already know each other, and even amongst the new entrants I imagine private school kids predominate. Whether this means it's a place where rich kids hang out is a subjective judgement.... Personally I would prefer my child to enter a more socially mixed school, and one in which the majority of the other children are also starting friendships afresh. But of course kids make friends quickly and there is no reason to think your DC won't quickly form strong bonds, and I'm sure the school is very careful to integrate new kids. Also lower numbers at the Harrodian will mean that your child is statistically more likely to be in the tennis team or whatever, though I'd be surprised if it were to offer the sheer breadth of activities available at a larger school.

As you mentioned Drama opportunities - When we toured LU some months back we met a very engaging Year 10 girl in the theatre area who was obsessed with stage lighting. She said she was far too shy to appear on stage, but she had found a role that fed her love for theatre. We liked that.

LetsEscape Fri 01-Mar-13 10:37:32

My DD started at LU in September. I know how hard it is to choose the right school for your child especially if you are lucky enough to have many choices. Here are some of our reflections - I hope they are useful in your decision making:
1) We were concerned about the pastoral care before starting because of comments we had heard. Our child is 'young' and not very confident. We have been very pleasantly surprised. The school is large 166 children so it is helps to be a child who is fairly confident but staff are supportive of the kids but perhaps less hand held then some schools. It is a bit of a jump the first weeks in terms of the need for self organisation. We had a couple of issues at first , contacted the form tutor and had an immediate response. So pretty impressive. You have email contact with all teachers if needed.
We were impressed how well staff knew the pupils at parent's evening and how they would consider individual needs/approaches. They really cared about the individual. Reports are issued twice a term so easy to monitor how children are doing and address if necessary. Lots of communication from school in weekly email.
2) The school is very relaxed and friendly but has a real buzz- unfortunately this doesn't come across in the open day as there are so many people. There are the 'cool' groups but it's so big a year that everyone has found their niche.
3) Food is excellent - important to growing people!
4) Facilities are great. Sports centre/pool about to be rebuilt.
5) Our non-sporty girl but is thriving with the choices- much happier than at primary. Sports is only 1 games and 1 PE session per week but loads of other sports before, lunch and after school. Clubs such as sub-aqua! Most do training after school once a week. Less sport for us was a plus as allows a generous amount of drama, Art , DT on the timetable.
6)The extra curricular club list is staggering and very good quality. Something for everyone. Kids are encouraged to be very busy. Music is inclusive with all levels of ensembles. Quality of drama especially very high. Can't comment how hard to get in , but there is a lot of talent around and that must inspire a higher level. Drama / theatre tech clubs for all are available. Also LAMDA classes.
5) Lots of trips available. All year goes an activity trip in June. There were 7 choices for year 7. There is a skiing trip as well as a huge amount of other trips.
6) From parents further up school I hear that Careers' advice is impressive, rowing is superb (girls and boys), as well as swimming.
7) The school is not a hot house as far as we have experienced. Homework is moderate: biggest problem has been to remember to bring books back. Homework is not set for the next day so allows for managing other commitments. Exams only once a year (June) but unit tests along the way.
We are really happy with the school - Sorry post is so long....

Tintingal Fri 01-Mar-13 17:15:58

Let's not overstate the "diversity" of Latymer. OK, there are indeed many state school kids - in our year, the parents of state primary entrants include bankers, journalists at national newspapers, doctors and a couple of City lawyers (that I know of). The children have gone to excellent W London primaries and have been privately tutored since year 4. It's kind of you to call The Harrodian on Seren's behalf, but you know as well as I do there is quite a lot of parental unhappiness at LU about the kids from the junior school and their behaviour in Year 7. I have been happy with our choice, but know many people who are equally happy with The Harrodian. As Marni and hardboiled wisely said, OP, go with your gut. You know your child better than we do.

Rifraf79 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:34:48

Tintagel, I realise I may have come across as a cheerleader for a school that my DS hasn't even started, especially as I was the threads OP and the original post reflected my own uncertainties. Maybe I have been infected by a dose of self justification as we've decided to send our kid to LU!

I certainly wasn’t overstating the diversity of Latymer as we all know the parental profile of all private schools... Nevertheless, I think you would agree that LU is amongst the more socially mixed Independents in London - and that was my point. The fact that some of the state school educated kids are the DC of bankers does not detract from the fact that a higher proportion of LU kids are from state primary, and probably less moneyed than those who went to a private prep. As for the relative proportion of new vs Prep intake at LU and Harrodian – perhaps I should have presented the facts without personal comment. It would be of interest if I were making the choice. If there is a problem at LU, as you say, with their relatively smaller transfer - I would imagine it would also be a factor at the Harrodian where the proportion is even greater.

We also know a couple of happy Harrodians at the Prep school – their parents are very positive and their kids are staying on to Year 7 and beyond.

You are absolutely right and Seren should do what her instincts tell her is right for her DC, and I am sure she will.

Seren2013 Fri 01-Mar-13 21:43:00

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the long answer, LetsEscape. Hardboiled, DC is happy to go to LU. We will run with that. All your responses have been very helpful. I still have reservations, but after hearing everyone's advice here and elsewhere, I now feel that I might be pleasantly surprised if we go with LU (as in DC will rise to the challenge) and may be unexpectedly disappointed at H (as in it may not be as incredibly awesome as I perceive it to be).

If anyone has more to share, I will check back with great interest.

Chocrock Sat 02-Mar-13 10:12:35

We are unsure about LU for next year, our DS is at the prep school but we are considering moving him for secondary.

I am interested in the dynamic of the current Y7 having heard that there are problems mainly involving the kids who went in from the prep last sept. tint I would be grateful if you would give me an insight as we are concerned about this being an issue for DSs year when they transfer, you can PM me if you prefer.
I have name changed btw.

hardboiled Sat 02-Mar-13 13:04:26

As to chocrock question...if there is any way tint can share the information without compromising his/her privacy...I would certainly appreciate the info aswell, as many of us here are, probably unfoundly, looking for reassurance on a decision we have taken or are about to take this

Tintingal Sat 02-Mar-13 15:43:08

As I have said, I have a DC at LU and am happy with it. As you know, it's tough to get into the school, and there is concern amongst some parents that some of the children who come up through the juniors may not be as academic as those who have passed the exam from external schools. There is also a level of concern about the behaviour of a percentage of these kids. Notice I am being careful here - "some" not "most". Would this put me off? No.

Chocrock Sat 02-Mar-13 18:43:50

thanks tint. We have all been aware for the past few years that the head of the upper has been telling the head of the prep that some of the kids from the prep are nowhere near the academic level of the kids who enter LU at 11+ - aside from thinking what the hell are we paying for at the prep confused we are more concerned about the stories that kids from the prep are causing problems at the upper as they are badly behaved and acting 'entitled' as they feel they have been there for years. It has also been said that they have tried to bully some of the intake?

As you said it is only a few kids and the things I have heard are rumours - although the sources are parents at the prep who have older DC in the upper school.....

mummyitalia Sat 02-Mar-13 21:50:23

We are deciding on whether to send my DS to Latymer at 13+ at the moment, and we're impressed by it. I think on this thread it's diversity has really been over-exaggerated I was talking to one of the teachers who told me that every year the percentage of state school intake goes down by another few percent, simply because the demographic is changing, as it is moving up the league tables. The previous Head has evidently done a marvelous job at getting it from around 100th to now around 30th, and the top co-ed school in the country (I think), so whatever he was doing the new Head needs to continue. I think parents who send their children to LUS expecting it to be slightly less 'rich kid' and 'posh' than other schools in the area will be disappointed - it's completely the same intake to SPGS, G&L, St Paul's, Westminster, although a few years ago it wasn't at all.

mummyitalia Sat 02-Mar-13 21:51:51

But I've definitely heard that it is more of a 'party' school than others - but surely there's always a 'cool' group who do drugs at every one of these schools?

mummyitalia Sat 02-Mar-13 21:57:35

It says on Tatler Public schools guide and some other sites that they get 25% into Oxbridge - that's only 5% lower than St Paul's - is that true?

singersgirl Sat 02-Mar-13 22:44:35

If you're really interested in Oxbridge statistics you need to trawl through the schools' leavers' destinations. Very few publish percentages - it looks as if Latymer got about 18% to Oxbridge last year and 16% the year before versus 35% at St Paul's (boys) last year and around 40% at the girls' school.

But really, what does it matter? The same children would have probably achieved the same things at either school.

mummyitalia Sat 02-Mar-13 23:39:42

so obviously the percentage is rising each year. but of course you're right, the child will get the same results at either of these schools

StoicButStressed Sun 03-Mar-13 00:10:48


Do not want to out myself but feel need to be uber honest to OP - hell would freeze before any of my DC's set foot in either Godolphin & Latymer, or Latymer. I went to one of these schools and - in common with many others there, hated the cliques; the sense of 'entitlement'; the arrogance (could go on but you get gist!)

I SWORE BLIND that my DC's would NEVER go to a private school as whilst all bright, there was no way I wanted them to have even a smidgen of that 'London Day School 'Edge' that can't quite find a name for'.

Agree Latymer does not cater for girls vis sport etc vs. way it does for boys;
Agree Latymer does - on face of it - have a more 'mixed' intake, but that really is down to what another poster said; namely their parents were very savvy re moving to best areas for best state schools then supplementing that with HUGE tuition. Hate the phrase as it's a tad 'catch-all' and sounds derogatory when not meant to be, but bottom line is if you expect anything other than 'posh' kids from v middle class backgrounds then you will have a shock. Am also aware that their pastoral system really is not that great; that if a kid is bullied, the onus is as much if not more on them to 'buck up/fit in' etc than the learning & approp. discipline given to the actual bully/ies.

Having said ALL of that, I DID end up having to send DC's to private school, but WAY out of London; less 'cliquey'; much smaller classes even though school actually bigger; great house system; fantastic pastoral care. As an E.G, can observe just from own experience that whilst that 'entitlement/cliquey stuff' DOES obv still go on there; that i) they crack down on any bullying like you would not believesmile; ii) there are less anorexic girls (is co-ed) there now - i.e. in 2013 - than there were at school I was at in eighties (and know this is even worse now given the VAST peer etc pressure to 'fit in'); iii) the opps for both girls and boys in every area are just HUGE.

If I had a straight choice between Latymer and Harrow, would send DC to Harrow in a heartbeat.

StoicButStressed Sun 03-Mar-13 00:18:07

Whoops, forgot - whilst ALL kids have access to drugs in every school (& any parent who thinks otherwise is just deluded), my obs have been it way less so in the private schools that are NOT London Day Schools. Also, vis Oxbridge etc, DS2 has just got into Oxford for this Autumn and his/their school is ranked somewhere between 6-16(??) in Country wide league tables. But - and it's a BIG but - they also deal with ALL the children really well via using setting but without any sense of 'failure' if in lower sets, and I can honestly say the pastoral care is as important to them as the academic results (that being something that was utterly vital to me when chose school for them).

thatwasalongtimeago Sun 03-Mar-13 01:04:52

Thank you Stoic, however...
DH attended Latymer Upper at the same time you were at Godolphin (are you a mum?) and he came out in one piece and never having been a bully or been bullied, without any sense of entitlement, without having taken any drugs, a caring man, a socialist and a liberal thinker. At the time he was on a scholarship but about half the students were already paying fees - as it coincided with the abolition of the direct grant and the assisted places, etc. One of his best friends was very very rich. Who cares, they loved playing chess together. The pastoral care was good enough and it prepared him for life not being cuddled in cotton wool everyday.

What I am saying is, you obviously hated it, but many didn't. And that was then, and this is now. Every school in London takes bullying more seriously than they did in the eighties. The new Head at LU is very student oriented and has already implemented a new pastoral scheme.

Drugs and sex education starts at home. If you're scared your children will do drugs just because kids in the school do, then you haven't done your job well at home. They are going to live in a society where people take drugs and are on porn websites a lot of the time. Whether they do or don't will largely depend on the values you have taught them. They will also live in a society where there will always be people richer than them. Whether being with rich kids will get to my Ds head or not, again, it will test the values I have taught him at home and his self-esteem and confidence. Eventually, all our DC will face all this, if not at school then in college. And Oxford is no exception - your DD will be able to tell you.

So you swore you would not educate your DC privately but they are at a private school. There MUST be something you like better at the private school. Some of us are in London and London day schools is what we have. We try to choose the one that fits our child and our circumstances best and we get ready to be there for our child all the time.

And finally, you should see the girl cliques at our local comprehensive...

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