Thanks to both TM and MHD. We are in N12 so although I've considered Latymer, am worried about the commute. I think it could be a nightmare - or very long, anyhow. I know that there isn't a good school on our doorstep but wanted as easy a commute as possible to counteract the pressures that I'm sure secondary school will put on my son. TM, I agree with the obsession with exam results at QE. We went to the open day and the boys seemed pretty happy (we know a few who are there) but there is no doubt that they push them hard. MHD, the fee paying schools are more of a back up. Hadn't considered any of the ones that you mentioned so will definitely look into these - thanks. As for Owens - heard really good things (a few of my neighbours' children are there) and will be looking at this too.
I went to Latymer back in the '90s and would recommend it over QE Boys - it's still very academic, but less of a hothouse and with more of a liberal/arty/musical ethos. Turns out quite well-balanced individuals with a wide range of interests in my experience.
QE seem obsessed with raw exam results and their position in the league tables - I believe there has been some recent controversy over A'level choices where the school actually stipulated which subjects individual students were 'allowed' to choose based on their GCSE results. Latymer is comparatively laid back (although possibly less so now than when I was there) - students only take 9 GCSEs to allow for extra-curricular interests; subject choices are based on what children are interested in, rather than solely what they're good at etc. Latymer has its faults, as do all schools, but I really enjoyed my time there.
If youre thinking of QE Boys, then surely you must know about The Latymer School in Enfield which IMO is actually better than QE Boys. Both my niece and nephew went there and currently one a GP and the other a dentist in north London.
Friends son went to City of London Boys on a huge scholarship/bursary and currently awaiting A-Level results. Was rejected by Oxford after interview for PPE earlier in the year. Friend had a good laugh (seriously) saying Oxford dont know what they are doing. Knowing his son, Im inclined to think he has a point.
Thinking of QE Boys - well, praying that DS gets in! - does anyone else have any recommendations for schools in north London? DS is at a state primary - does anyone have advice on getting into a good independent school from a state primary? thinking of the likes of City of London Boys...any advice is most welcome!