Putney High unfriendly?(27 Posts)
There is a strong perception in the primary schools in our area that Putney High is an unfriendly school with sharp-elbowed, snobbish, elitist parents. A large number of people won't even apply there.
I can't believe Putney's social profile is vastly different from, say, LEH or Wimbledon High? Just doesn't make sense. Or am I wrong?
I need to decide secondary schools in a very short time so any quick thoughts much appreciated
We know people who are happy with their dds experience in the senior school, they do not live in Putney. They are not snobby, elitist, sharp elbowed etc, just normal women, two of the girls are old enough to row, which they really enjoy. Girls all travel to school independently & have done since they started. The women aren't the type to go to coffee mornings, health clubs etc so maybe they are lower profile?
No you are not wrong. Choosing a school on the basis of stereotyping the whole of the parent body is a bit odd. There will be some parents like that at any private school but there will also be other parents who do not match that stereotype. I know quite a few parents whose DDs go to Putney and none are like that.
All you could say is that the intake at Putney and Wimbledon may be a bit more local, though girls travel in by train to both from a reasonable distance. Therefore you may get more of the type of parents who tend to choose to live in Putney (or Sheen Richmond etc.) or Wimbledon (and area). Whereas at LEH you will get the type of parents who tend to live in Richmond, Putney, Wimbledon etc. alongside those who live in Ealing, Hanwell, Southall, Windsor, Ascot, Woking, Cobham and Esher (where the buses come in from) . Stereotype them how you will.
In reality the parents at all these schools are surprisingly diverse given the cost of the fees, plenty can only just afford it.
And in my experience the friendliness of the parent body at any school varies from year to year rather than school to school. The reality is that most of the secondary schools keep parents at arm's length anyway, it is your DCs school, in which they will grow up and find their own independence and identity seperate from you. They are old enough to make their own social arrangements so you rarely meet other parents beyond those of your DDs closest friends. It comes as a bit of a shock for parents who have been used to a primary /prep where the parents muck in
and constantly poke their noses into everything and have a social life alongside. Some years may arrange lots of social functions, some none, often they struggle to even get someone to volunteer for class rep for the friends or to man the stalls at the Fair. And you will struggle to persuade your teenage daughter to be seen dead there as well (until she is in the sixth form and needs to flog something for Young Enterprise)
Lots of factors you need to take into account when choosing a school, the parents aren't one of them.
I am a PHS mother. On the whole I don't recognise the stereotype the OP mentions. The few senior school mothers I know (who don't seem to be any different from any other independent school mothers in the area) have v much a supportive background role to their DDs who are free thinking, independent, well taught and lovely teenagers with strong friendships and quite capable of standing on their own two feet in school without needing or wanting their mothers to get involved.
However, my DD did go through PHS junior school and I certainly did see a few sharp elbowed, snobbish parents in action there with their little darlings.
Secondary, though, is very different from primary - as Shooting with Pigeons says - as the parental involvement is much less, I am very happy to say.
I have heard similar about Putney High, but I think some of it stems from people's justifications for the schools they actually chose and need to find reasons for rejecting (or not being offered places at!?) the others. I do think SW parents can get caught up in the circus of secondary places and so ideas and stereotypes like this are bandied around a lot. Make up your own mind by going and seeing the schools as many times as you can and talk to people with DDs at each if you can about their real experiences.
I know some lovely people who send their DDs to Putney. Honestly you get all sorts of parents at all schools and I don't think it's helpful to put this very high up your agenda.
Personally I would let a DD have a big say in the matter as it is her who will be there for the next few years. Does she like the atmosphere? What were the teachers like? What are the facilities like for sport / music / science? How did the girls seem who show her around on open days. What do you and she think of the leadership? Support her in applying for the school which she feels is the best fit and which you think will support her best academically and pastorally given her particular personality, interests and abilities.
I don't think you are wrong, OP. My niece is in Y7 there, and her family is very friendly - and Shooting is right, you won't get to mingle all that much with other parents unless you want to, and I'm sure that if you do (eg PTA etc) you'll find the other parents involved will be the sort who want to mix and be friendly too.
Not sure about the Junior school, but the secondary school seems quite normal to me!
I'm also utterly convinced (from experience) that going on gossip/word-on-the-grapevine can be very misleading where schools are concerned. Go and see, take dd to see, and see how you both feel afterwards.
That said, my brother wasn't all that excited about PHS when they looked around 'its ok' but his eldest dd is very happy there now, and fits the 'independent, free thinking, well taught' description below.
I don't know the school, but as a general observation, parents are pretty remote from day to day school life once at secondary.
There are two state primary schools in the very small town I live in. One is perceived to be "snobbish". Both schools have their share of "sharp-elbowed" parents. The "haves" and "have nots" at both schools suffer from an equal share of snobbism, inverted or otherwise and that tends to be the stuff that people stereotype and gossip about. BUT they are a minority.
The vast majority of families at both schools are just nice people who want the best for their children. Have a look at the schools, if you are satisfied with them academically, from an extra-curricular point of view and pastorally, then let your DD choose where she thinks she will be happiest. It's her school career, parents come into play WAY less than in primary/ prep schools (usually the less teenagers see of their parents at school, the better!) and if she is happy and thriving, she will do well. Never base choices on the gossip or behaviour of others, check it out using your standards, not theirs.
I sort of agree with most of Pukkapik's comments re the elbow type behaviour, as a parent of DD at PHS, I have come across one or two that behave like that but not on the main. However, I have to say that it is surprising how involved the fathers are at the school and how they treat everyone quite fairly and equally, I can't say whether the same applies at other schools (my DS goes to a different school, and have yet to meet a father at that school)
I'm local. My dd didn't get into PHS at 11. We had a miserable two years elsewhere and then moved her to a Surrey school. She's a bright girl but quiet and academically she has blossomed a bit later. We liked PHS and our only concern was that she might be in the shadows a bit. A lot of people bitch about PHS but a lot of people around here have dd's who don't pass the entrance or who do but can't afford the fees and some of it is quite bitter imo.
Most of the girls who go there are happy as far as I know; as are their parents. There has been a bit of pressure in recent years in relation to the girls who perhaps might have been a bit overtutored to get them in but that happens a lot around here. It's a small school so it turns down more than some other schools and some of the parents of the girls who get turned down or who can't afford don't seem to be able to take it very well.
Of my adult friends I can honestly say that the women I know who are former pupils are amongst some of the nicest women I have ever met.
I went to PHS and it had that rep even then (mid-late 80s). Couldn't have been further from the truth tbh. A fair few of my older daughters' friends went to PHS too (they're now all at Uni) and I've never heard anything but good things.
It is academic, more intense than perhaps Wimbledon and Streatham, so there are (and always were, even in my time) the odd pushy parent, tutoring their daughters, but on the whole the secondary parents are a lovely bunch. PHS is definitely one I will be considering for my youngest DD when that stage comes in a few years.
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Um to 'diverse backgrounds...partially the problem'
I hear everything about PHS, from wonderful to dreadful, and tbh the only children I know who go there (including my 12 year old niece) are very happy, and have great friends. I don't know many, admittedly.
I do know two adults who went there as girls, and they absolutely loved it. One had a few tricky moments with one teacher, one with one girl in her class (but her teacher was very supportive), but overall both very happy.
I don't know about parents generally, but my brother and SIL are very friendly
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Is there anything wrong with working in a prison? As far as professions go I would say its a pretty noble one!
I wanted to share my daughter's experience to make sure parents of prospective pupils have realistic information. Obviously , everyone is entitle for their own opinions ( including various "smells") Surely you expect certain standards and certain children when you pay, and this is normal. I have no experience with state schools, but have experience with 4 private schools from the age of 8 when we moved to this country and PHS was the worst. Dr Lodge is a good manager of this "enterprise", and I am sure some extremely obedient children were happy in PHS, but not all. Thus the school can not be called a good and happy environment. A number of girls left after GCSEs and did not stay for 6 form, which tells something about the school. Unless you are a parent of a child who actually went to the school I don't think you can share and honest and objective review of the school.
One of the nicest people I have ever met went to Putney, her mother is lovely too (she is 30 though!). They are even kind to a pleb like me - my mother was a barmaid. And I'm from the north. IMAGINE!
Every single girls school in London has an exodus at sixth form when the lure of boys and a bigger pond gets greater - that doesn't tell you anything about a school at all ...
My daughter went there from age 7 and she was very happy and had lovely friends. They all got impressive GCSE results. Some did leave for 6th form but that was more for the lure of boys rather than a critcism of PHS. I have no idea where some of these bizarre comments come from.
I think there are some sharp elbowed few, particularly in the junior school. You can see how some mothers congregate in certain social groups in the playground and events which is slightly embarassing in this day and age. Then again this cannot be avoided in the short run as similar people have similar interests etc!?
What some of the parents don't realise is that occassionally sharp elbowed comments that they tell their DDs get naively passed onto the other school children and back to the other parents, and make you cringe or laugh.
However, from what I can see, the sharp elbows will be constrained to a smaller proportion of parents of DDs in the senior school as there is a greater mix of pupils from different backgrounds.
To stop my own DD becoming a snob, I have tried to teach my DD to recognise the value of money, live frugrally and try to help those less fortunate than herself. We even have to told her a white lie that can only afford to live in a relatively small/modest sized home, and as a consequence she never has harassed us to buy her anything. Hopefully, this will also build her hunger and drive to achieve more later in life, without becoming elitist or a snob.
We're very positive about Putney High.
To be honest you'll find sharp elbowed parents wherever you go. My DD joined Putney age 11 having previously attended a great state primary. The pastoral care is wonderful (we have another daughter who attended another good school, so we are in a position to compare). The teachers are excellent - my now 16 yr old DD really rates them. We also found the parent body to be very friendly and sociable. Personally we're glad and we had our state school years as it has grounded our DD but we have no regrets about Putney. She's probably staying for sixth form tho she's looking at mixed options like KCS and Latymer Upper too. I suspect she'll stay put but it's good to look.
We've friends who have girls there and are very happy. The negative stuff around Putney High is, I think, because they ask a fair chunk of children to leave in primary. In my friends DD class about a third have left having been told they aren't up to it.
The perception is that they are very quick to tell parents that their girls aren't going to cut the mustard rather than offer support. The secondary part of the school is more stable as all the girls have passed the 11+.
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