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North London secondary school - Fortismere Vs Alexandra Park?

(7 Posts)
phr1 Wed 07-May-14 12:55:16

I am currently not in the country and have to choose a location to live when I am back in July purely base on recommendations and research. As I am not able to physically be at the school and have a firsthand impression I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on these two schools.
What would you say are the pros and cons for each of these schools?
What is your personal experience and what are the main differences between the two?
Both outstanding schools relatively close to each other but Fortismere appears to be more popular with a smallest catchment.
For some reason Alexandra Park School does not seems to have the same buzz associated with its name, is there any truth in this assumption?
I am planning to attend open days when I am back in the country but in the meantime we have to rent somewhere and "somewhere" hopefully will be near enough to the school of our choice.
My son is entering yr5 in September 2014.
Please help!

mumoftwo100 Wed 07-May-14 18:08:49

2014 data:
Fortismere: 0.5343 miles
Alexandra Park: 0.5625 miles
So pretty similar catchments actually.

Fortismere: Catchment huuuugely advantaged (1 million £ plus houses), traditionally very competitive to get in - lots of short-term renting etc, meeja boho arty-liberal feel, Outstanding Ofsted, draws from Muswell Hill's top primaries (Tetherdown etc) so the majority of kids enter achieving the higher levels on Sats, of course it gets stellar results at GCSE and A-Level. It's best for bright children with minimal issues.

Alexandra Park: More mixed catchment, drawing from a wider social demographic, so properly "comprehensive" in that sense, but actually getting quite popular - I would say it has the bigger "buzz" as the meeja crew has been colonising the local houses for their pfb's as they get priced out of Fortismere, so the catchment's shrunk dramatically, not as arty as Fortismere, and even though it has less of the intake achieving the higher levels on Sats it does better on the value add (actual teaching), so results are still "good" in that sense.

Obviously there is lots of hype around Fortismere, and if you do want it locate yourself sub half a mile to be sure, but it wouldn't be the end of the world to be offered Alexandra Park instead, both are actually very good, take a tour round the schools and see which ones right for your ds smile

phr1 Wed 07-May-14 20:20:52

I just found this on the BBC website while trying to get my head around the different definitions of secondaries:

*"What are Specialist schools?
State secondaries often specialise, which means they have an extra emphasis in one or two subjects. Schools can specialise in: the arts, maths and computing, business and enterprise, music, engineering, science, humanities, sports, languages, and technology."*

What does Fortismere and APS specialise in? Are parents expected to guess what their child we do well at as early as yr7? How dominant this specialization becomes in choosing an academic direction?
And which one of the two schools in question focus on the arts more?
DS is very creative and can do with an inspiring creative approach but at the same time loves computing?

mumoftwo100 Wed 07-May-14 20:53:46

If you want creative, you'll prefer Fortismere 100%.

mumsneedwine Wed 07-May-14 20:58:01

Specialisms no longer exist. It was all to do with funding.

SLM Wed 21-May-14 14:57:50

My son is at Fortismere and is keen on sport, but not Arts. However I do know it has a fantastic very active Music and Drama department. If Art is his thing then there is lots on offer in this department too, with specialisms such as Photography on offer further up the school.

I don't know about APS I'm afraid, other than as Ive said on my other post it's also a very good school.

jcwfitness123 Tue 14-Jun-16 12:02:26

Hello there. We had two sons in Fortismere, and became increasingly frustrated with the laissez-faire view towards homework (teachers were banned from giving students detention for not completing homework, only a warning system was used). Our eldest son who had done very well at Primary school was under achieving across the board. Communication with the school is very difficult - emails and phone calls are ignored, or responded to unsatisfactorily. One parents evening when our eldest was year 10, we were told that he "didn't do homework". We asked what the school were doing about it... because it seemed to us that homework was optional. Our son said he didn't do it because he knew he didn't have to. I wrote in to the current head and asked for a more robust approach to be taken, which of course can sit hand in hand with a strong pastoral regime. To cut a long story short, the quality of response I got over several weeks was appalling. Our boys are good at home - normal, fun-loving lads who would rather be on their skateboard than doing homework - they need pushing as well as supporting. Fortismere is ideal for self motivated intelligent and well-organised kids.

Anyway we decided to move our younger son to start APS in year 9 (option year) and it was the best decision for him we ever made. He moved and flourished immediately. He works hard, and is cared for. Our eldest didn't want to move - we didn't force him. We have got first hand experience of both schools, and hands down we would choose APS every time. They are passionate, extremely caring, well-organised, very responsive and respectful towards parents, they are strict enough without being punitive. Our youngest loves it there, and would say himself it is a much better school. It has a rich ethnic mix of students with a feeling of real equality. We recently attended our youngest's graduation ceremony as he is now year 11, it was an emotional and powerful event - well planned, with a great speech from the head (who has a strong presence, unlike the head at fortismere), we were so impressed with the passion and integrity of all the teachers, who clearly all genuinely really care about the children.

I hope this is helpful to you! Good luck.

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