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Best Schools in London (girls)

(94 Posts)
happymum77 Wed 27-Nov-13 14:22:14

How would you rank these London South London Grammar Schools:

nonsuch high school, cheam
wallington high school for girls
newstead wood school
bexley grammar
townley grammar
(I do not list others as I cannot get to them by train)

Also, which are the best independent schools for girls right now?

Day schools:

St. Pauls
City of London School

Boarding Schools:

Wycombe Abbey School
Cheltenham Ladies
Sevenoaks ?

I need to start planning the school for my little ones.

happymum77 Wed 27-Nov-13 14:27:00

thanks for replies... smile

also seems I should have added amongst others of course, to the boarding schools...

Benenden School - Kent
Catherine's School - Guildford

Ladymuck Wed 27-Nov-13 14:31:38

How old are your dds?
Ranking - on what basis? There are plenty of league tables if you are interested in GCSE/A level results. Harder to measure co-curricular. Most schools will give you an idea of uni destinations, but fewer will be able to give you idea as to how the girls turn out. The relative positions of schools change according to yeargroups (so much down to the choices of a specific intake), but broadly a Top 20 school remains a top 20 school, a top 100 school remains a top 100 school.

As a digression of the most unique school open evenings I visited showed what a number of their pupils had done following their A level in Drama or Theatre Studies, not just looking at which pupils pursued a career in theatre production, but also at pupils who went into other fields but still found their studies useful and pertinent.

The best school is one which presents your dd with a wide range of challenges and activities and experiences to help her work out who she wants to be and have the determination, skills and resilience to go forth and be that person. Only rarely do they need the very top number of A*s in order to that.

meditrina Wed 27-Nov-13 14:37:38

For private day schools, you need to add JAGS and NLCS.

Dibbleofficer Wed 27-Nov-13 19:39:52


Londinium Wed 27-Nov-13 19:41:13

I would suggest you short list them and then go and lurk outside at 3 or 3.30 p.m. This will give you a good idea. This said I have never actually done this! All those grammars have 1500-1200 girls applying. In London you have a huge variety for girls compared with boys. Can second Benenden and St C mentioned above. I believe the Head of B used to be Head of St C. Putney and Wimbledon High also good for day and with juniors. Also Notting Hill and Ealing. Further out Guildford High is also very popular. Wish I had got all this advice much earlier!

Londinium Wed 27-Nov-13 19:43:09

Sorry. Meant 1500-2000 applying though this may be hearsay and it is only if your child is sitting that you will know exactly. eg for the three boys schools in Sutton there were 2,225

Sundaedelight Wed 27-Nov-13 19:43:28


St Paul's
City of London
Godolphin & Latymer
GPST Wimbledon/Putney/Surbiton/Sydenham/Blackheath High School


Wycombe Abbey
Downe House
Cheltenham Ladies'

Shootingatpigeons Wed 27-Nov-13 20:45:54


St Paul's
City of London
Godolphin & Latymer
GPST Wimbledon/Putney/Surbiton/Sydenham/Blackheath High School

But that is just a notional list based on academic results and snobbery / parental ambition / what sounds best at dinner parties

It makes huge differences out of actually quite small variations in results. The fact is that every one of these schools can and does enable a bright child to fulfil their potential providing it is the school that matches their personality and talents The most selective get the girls that pass exams and get the best results, but that is not to say they would not get exactly the same results individually elsewhere.

My DD, though she had wanted to go there based on reputation and prospectus etc., hated St Pauls' when she visited, she found it cold, arrogant and intimidating, the opposite of engaging, and rejected their offer. She is far from the only girl I know who have done that, especially as you have a range of good schools all within a few hundred yards of each other. She knew when she walked out of the interview that another school on this list was the one for her and she thrived there. Her sister insisted on following her (against my better instincts) and it was not a happy experience and she just actually achieved better results at AS at another school further down the tables where she finds the teaching more encouraging and focused on her potential..

Go visit the schools, pick the one that is right for your DD, not the one you think is "best" via some subjective generic measure.

NearTheWindmill Wed 27-Nov-13 21:36:17


Rung down I'd say:
Surbiton High
JAGs (we loved Jags but we're too far West).

Tiffin Girls
(Can't comment on Wallington and the others on the list)

Rung down I'd say:
Sacred Heart (Catholic)

But both are stringent on church attendance or you have to live very very close to them.

My DD went to one and it didn't work for her - the indy she went to isn't on the list and she has entirely different ideas for 6th form.

Eastpoint Thu 28-Nov-13 05:43:09

There is no one 'best' school as all children are different & need different things.

I think children are happiest if they are at a school near their home so they aren't tired from commuting & can have an active social life. The school needs to have good public transport links so they can travel independently, who wants to have to catch a school bus when they are 17?

I don't think there is any point commenting on individual schools as I don't know your daughter, what she enjoys doing or where you live. Also the boarding schools are very different socially to day schools, far more expensive so open to a less broad range of families. Does this matter to you?

NearTheWindmill Thu 28-Nov-13 07:59:13

I have to totally disagree with you Eastpoint on the travelling issue. DD went to a local school first and it was a complete disaster and to be fair I had a tiny doubt in my stomach because it was regarded as the holy grail. At the end of Yr9 she has caught the school bus to a school about 15 miles away (I can never quite remember) but the bus leaves at 7.40am. It was the best thing we ever did for her and should have done it straight away but we were worried about the journey/accessibility as it is impossible to get to on public transport.

She's lucky in that her bf lives not too far from us but it's my life that has had to adjust more than hers and my schedule that has to fit in a trail down the motorway and back at least once a week.

There is a "right" school for every child, but it might mean compromise on all sides.

Marni23 Thu 28-Nov-13 09:33:11

NearTheWindmill not sure what you're basing your rankings on but I can't see any criteria by which JAGS is a 'rung down' from WHS and PHS? Obviously exam results aren't everything but JAGS GCSE and A Level results are always higher and given the extent of the co-curricular activities there I can't believe they'd be inferior either?

I'm genuinely interested to know what your reasoning is. BTW, we love JAGS too, as does DD who has been there for a number of years!

happymum77 Thu 28-Nov-13 13:20:14

Thank you to all of you! smile

The best school - tricky question, but generally, I will go for objective measures, such as % of Oxbridge places - and I am extremely keen for the kids to attend the best place they can, and some place full of rejects of say St Paul's. In essence should they fail SPGS, I will seek a different solution rather than a nearby rejects school. Distance - not that important, all mentioned seem to be within 45min of home. DDs will be 11, and will be joining from good CoE school.

Thank you for adding JAGS and NLCS to the list. JAGS works in terms of location - though just, but NLCS is bit too north.

Would appreciate more rankings in terms of the Grammar schools, as well as the boarding ones. Is Marlborough not on the top boarding schools list?

Also, co-ed schools we will also like, if not prefer. Would be keen for instance on designing some optimal way for the girls to enter Westminster at 16+ intake.

Are there any other good schools with 16+ intake? Some reserve option would be nice. Girls are 9 and 7 now, so still some time left, but we are in the process of forming a plan now, hence any input will be appreciated.

I reiterate that we are very keen to avoid a school full of SPGS rejects.

happymum77 Thu 28-Nov-13 13:23:54

sorry, small typo above.. should have been

...and NOT some place full of rejects...

I am sure that most of you understood this though.

Once again thanks for your posts. Would be keen on more grammar school comments.

offblackeggshell Thu 28-Nov-13 13:28:21

There is a very long running thread discussing Tiffin in here somewhere.

Patmos Thu 28-Nov-13 13:33:58

So if your dds are rejected by SPGS you don't want them to end up with similar girls? Perhaps those girls will feel the same way and not want to be with your dds!

Incidentally, I went to one of the day schools mentioned below and then to Westminster and Oxford, having turned down SPGS because I absolutely hated the place when I went for interview.

HawtChocolate Thu 28-Nov-13 13:34:12

Henrietta Barnet
St Michaels Catholic Grammar

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Thu 28-Nov-13 13:34:26

Umm .. a St Paul's rejects school would mean Godolphin, Putney High, JAGs, etc etc, lots of girls rejected by SPGS go to these schools, which are also very highly rated. Conversely, some girls rejected by these schools end up at SPGS (though prob not as many). Only the top tier of girls would be encouraged to apply to SPGS. And btw SPGS is not perfectl. It gets lots of girls into Oxbridge but they're bright girls who would have probably got in from wherever they went. Quite a number of girls don't like it's pushy atmosphere. As the others said, go and see for yourself.

Patmos Thu 28-Nov-13 13:42:59

oh and you don't need to have been at a co-ed to have an advantage of getting into Westminster. You just need to be bright and do well in the interviews.

OP, are you considering tutoring? A state school, no matter how good, will not prepare your dds for grammars or selective private schools.

Patmos Thu 28-Nov-13 13:43:58

Sorry, forgot to say that SPGS exam for 11+ contains science, which most state school children will not have studied to an appropriate enough level at that point.

Bonsoir Thu 28-Nov-13 13:51:25

I know plenty of ex-SPGS in my generation. It certainly produced a lot of very earnest blue stockings - women who are still ultra earnest in their mid-40s.

NearTheWindmill Thu 28-Nov-13 13:51:41

All I base my opinion of JAGs on is that dd didn't get onto WHS, was reserve for PHS but got into JAGs on the first round. We loved JAGs as did DD and thought it the best all rounder but we are SW London and the journey was horrendous. We thought about moving but that would have caused unsettlement for DS who would then have had a difficult journey. We went for the wrong compromise and moved dd at the end of Y8 - a difficult journey but not as difficult as JAGS. To a school so right for DD but full of rejects I'm afraid OP. But a nuirturing environment that has allowed DD to apply to Westminster and KCS for 6th form so don't be too dismissive OP.

happymum77 Thu 28-Nov-13 13:56:31

Yes, the science exam worries me of course, hence the concern that coming out of state school system my DDs are already at a major disadvantage. Tutoring will of course be needed and done.

Did not mean to offend anyone on the rejects schools issue, but you know what I mean. I just want the girls to be in the place full of bright kids, as this is what makes the school in my opinion. Naturally I cannot be sure that my DDs will get in, but would be keen to consider different options, perhaps in line with what Patmos has done, which seems very rational... change at 16+ and back into Oxbridge track.

BTW Patmos, how did you find Westminster as a girl? Was it perhaps bit intimidating? Would you think that it prepared you better for the co-ed environment at Oxford?

Patmos Thu 28-Nov-13 14:05:59

But, Happymum, even if the girls were rejected by SPGS they are often still extremely bright. My dd now goes to one of the GDST schools listed and I'm sure there are plenty of SPGS rejects in her cohort, but the school still sends plenty of girls to Oxbridge and nearly all GCSE grades are A* or A.

The boys at Westminster were not boys I really wanted to hang out with and I avoided them like the plague at Oxford. I wasn't intimidated at all by them, but rather pitied them mostly, with their "let's score the girls out of 10 on their appearance and shout it out across Yard" games hmm

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