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South East London secondaries - thoughts please!

(42 Posts)
HappyPrince Sun 21-Sep-14 15:29:14

My son is in year 6 and we are currently trawling schools in Forest Hill/Crystal Palace/Dulwich area. Any advice, either from parents with kids already at schools in this area or prospective parents, would be very welcome. Thank you!

minifingers Sun 21-Sep-14 18:27:14

Year 6 ds also.

So far I've looked at the Norwood school and Harris CP. Will go to Kingsdale and Harris SN this week.

Was really impressed with tge atmosphere and set up at Norwood school. Ds loved it. Not sure how I feel about sending my high achieving ds to a school with a very low number of other high achievers though...

Harris CP - feel a bit 'meh' about it, though it's still the preference for most m/c parents in the area, despite its declining results (which are probably something to do with it being forced to take more low achieving pupils - it was pulled up about covert selection a couple of years ago).

SpringHeeledJack Sun 21-Sep-14 19:08:48

ooh, can I just mark my place

twin girls, y6, Lewisham area- older ds went to Kingsdale and recommends it v highly- we're crossing our fingers for it, but not being TOO hopeful

MaudantWit Sun 21-Sep-14 20:27:16

Have you seen the current thread about Elmgreen? It's a bit empty at the moment, but might be helpful to you once it gets going.

Blu Sun 21-Sep-14 21:02:50

SpringHeeled: there is definitely a MN with dds at Sydenham Girls, and she is very pleased with it, if that is in your area.

It will be interesting to see if the new City Heights Academy on the S Circular relives pressure on Elmgreen and spreads it's catchment wider towards Dulwich / CP.

sydenhamhiller Sun 21-Sep-14 22:51:42

Ahhh, another parent with Year 6 DS. Was also 'meh' about Harris CP. Wanted to like it, did not. Did not want to like Forest Hill and did!

Kingsdale is our closest, but such a Lottery, not holding breath...

Choice schmoice...

minifingers Sun 21-Sep-14 22:59:13

I hear very nice things about Forestdale. We're not in the catchment sadly.

My dd is a Sydenham - think it's a great school, very caring.

Seem to be a good number of very clever, quirky, interesting girls there.

peony68 Mon 22-Sep-14 17:40:30

I have Ds1 at Forest Hill School currently year 12 , but been at the school since year 7 , best decision we ever made he has done really well there .Great teachers who are willing to go the extra mile , modern building with great facilities . He did GCSE exams in the summer and passed all ten with really good grades , some of this down to his own hard work but also the excellent teachers who prepared the boys extremely well. DS2 at Harris Boys Academy East Dulwich in Year 7 , again really pleased with our choice so far ( very different academically to DS1 , smaller environment much better suited to him ) , another modern easy to navigate building , approachable informed staff , smaller than average number of boys for a secondary school , small class sizes (20 max ), so far so good . Much closer to where we live for travelling but wasn't an option for DS1 as it wasn't even built when he was in year 6 and we were looking !! Would have been more than happy for DS2 to go to FHS as well if he hadn't managed to get a place at HBAED , but as I say very happy so far . It's such a big decision to make and its really down to the individual child , only piece of advice is if you can try and visit more than once as you often see different things second time around . Good luck , I know how stressful it can be , I thought it was going to be a breeze second time around but believe me there were plenty of sleepless nights in our house !!

Lambethlady Mon 22-Sep-14 23:08:04

Year 10 Ds at Kingsdale who totally loves this school. Academically thriving , plays trumpet & Flute as part of scholarship program & is actively involved in sport. Most importantly feels safe & happy & has a great friendship group. Sch has organised itself hugely over last couple of years & feels like is back on track & on a massive up. GCSE results this yr very impressive & 6th form starting to take shape. Downside is hugely oversubscribed , Ds was there on sat for open day & huge queues. Lottery makes it frustrating for locals but worth a punt. We were very lucky to get in & would thoroughly recommend , good luck to all of you. grin

pinkdelight Tue 23-Sep-14 10:17:09

A friend's high-achieving DD goes to Norwood School on one of their arts scholarship programmes and loves it. She does loads of extra-curricular enrichment type activities and there's really good communication between school and home to help support her progress. I get the impression the SMT really knows what it's doing and it seems much warmer than say Harris CP.

SpringHeeledJack Tue 23-Sep-14 13:50:03

I know I'm derailing slightly, OP, and that you wanted advice on schools for boys-

anyone have a d at Prendergast Hilly Fields? It's literally on our doorstep, but I can't work up much enthusiasm about it. I'm really not keen on single sex schools- strike me as v odd and antiquated- I know this is a prejudice but somehow can't shake it off

pinkdelight Tue 23-Sep-14 16:36:56

There's been threads about Prendergast here before if you do a search. Think people are generally v enthusiastic about it, if memory serves.

SpringHeeledJack Tue 23-Sep-14 16:52:58

thanks pink

I've already searched, but can't find recent posts on direct experience of the school- it's mostly about its reputation, iykwim

HappyPrince Thu 25-Sep-14 17:20:03

.... Back to boys!! Thanks all. I went to Forest Hill school yesterday and was really impressed. The staff were really open and welcoming and the head librarian was fabulous. I loved the straight talking by the Head at FH, but also his humility. It was refreshing, especially after enduring a particularly bombastic and showy-offy talk by a Head last week. However, it's not just about the Head so it's great to hear how your kids are faring at the different schools.

nooka Thu 25-Sep-14 17:33:47

We used to live in that area (first Penge and then the edge of Beckenham) and would have aimed to get our children into Alleyns, mainly on the grounds of it being one of the few mixed schools with transport links that worked for us. Also my cousins went there and were very happy. In practice we moved instead. I don't know what as an area it has quite so many single sex schools.

I hope you find an option that works for your ds OP.

HappyPrince Thu 25-Sep-14 17:44:19

Thanks nooka. Yes the single sex thing did bother me to begin with but I was reassured by the measures FH school takes to counteract the macho thing and by the fact that they buck the national trend in terms of boys' achievement. Still a worry in terms of socialising with the opposite sex though.

AllMimsyWereTheBorogoves Thu 25-Sep-14 19:03:51

I'm out of the loop here but my daughter (now 22) went to Prendergast Hilly Fields and we looked at lots of schools when my son (now 20) was in year 6. It might be worth knowing that Forest Hill has had a good solid reputation for a long time, not just under the current head, and so have Prendergast HF and Sydenham Girls'. This is not case at some of our other local schools, which seem to go up and down rather more. Decades of good results/steady improvement and oversubscribed admissions suggest that there are good structures in place, a supportive and effective governing body, lowish teacher turnover, mature policies in place and so on and so forth, which I would think are all good predictors that the school will stay on track throughout your child's time there.

We loved Forest Hill when we looked round and were sad not to get a place there for him. His best friend went there (in the end - long story) and was very happy.

SpringHeeledJack Fri 26-Sep-14 12:32:14

HappyPrince my nephews go to FHB and they (and SIL and BIL) really like it. Good luck!

this is more on your Bromley/Lewisham patch, but- we looked round Sedgehill, and it's lovely- reminds me of Kingsdale a few years ago. Nice nurturing atmosphere, in spite of the fact that it's enormous, and the kids are great. At the open day they even encourage you to stick around for playtime, which is unprecedented ime grin

HappyPrince Fri 26-Sep-14 21:19:53

Wow, SpringHeeledJack! Definitely unprecedented to be invited to see playground in full swing! Shows signs of confidence, chutzpah, even, which I think is great! Sedgehill is a bit far from us but it's on our list of places to visit. Thanks!

HappyPrince Tue 30-Sep-14 12:41:20

Can anyone tell me about Conisborough College?

LadyWellian Fri 03-Oct-14 17:35:36

SpringHeeled I'd say it depends on your DD as to whether she would get on at Prendergast. They are very good with the most able and I believe those that really struggle get a lot of help too. Unfortunately I have a DD (now Y10) who is resolutely average and she is very unhappy there at the moment. She doesn't help herself though as there are things she could excel at if she could be bothered. All that is another story, however. She loved in in Y7 and Y8 and I'm just a bit disillusioned at the moment. There are some nice kids there and some less nice. Again, DD has pitched herself on the wrong side of the divide. If your DD is musical - particularly if she sings as well as playing an instrument - they have vg choir and orchestra, and also their own recording studio. You don't have to get a music place to take advantage of these if you are on the doorstep. Also sports facilities are good. At the end of the day, though, a lot of it is 'you get out what you put in', and my DD ain't putting in shit ATM. sad

SpringHeeledJack Fri 03-Oct-14 20:34:59

Ladywellian I hear ya

your DD sounds like my DS sad

I have one v driven DD, and one who is as able, but less arsed.

I can see your DD's scenario playing out with at least one of my DDs

the other I think is used to being at the top, or nearly. In a high achieving school I think she would lose confidence and struggle

StreathamHillary Sat 04-Oct-14 20:12:29

I saw the two Norwood School Bands playing today - they are of a really high standard. It was at a community event, their teacher had gone along to support them (even though the band is run by the borough music service). There were some incredibly accomplished and talented young people. They were also very lovely - personable and friendly and well behaved. I was impressed.

SE13Mummy Sat 04-Oct-14 23:33:23

SpringHeeledJack, we visited Prendergast Hilly Fields, aka the Real Prendergast, last week and were impressed by what we saw in terms of facilities and opportunities. DH particularly liked that the year groups are divided into classes of 20 for art and design classes/that there was clearly enough equipment to go round. DD liked the trampoline because that is a good way of telling what a school is really like hmm and I liked that the headteacher's speech was not about blowing her own trumpet (unlike the speech given by the head of a selective girls school one weekend) but about parents needing to choose a school that suited their children and where their children would be happy.

I have a few friends whose DDs are in Y7 and Y8 (plus some with older girls who've left and are at university/art college) and they have all been incredibly impressed at what a smooth transition their DDs have had, the brilliant extra-curricular opportunities (academic, sport, art and other interests e.g. dance mat club) and what a positive experience they've had so far. The friend of a friend is a head of department there, has been for ages, and chatting to her over the years it's clear that it's a school that values its staff and its pupils - lots of the new buildings were modelled on what the staff said was needed in order to teach the subject rather than by consultants deciding for them. That alone probably explains why the science labs are enormous compared to others we've seen! The headteacher is the sort of person who will take home and launder herself the dirty PE kits of girls whose lives are too chaotic to manage that sort of thing

AllMimsyWereTheBorogoves Sun 05-Oct-14 09:40:41

SE13Mummy, that's good to hear!

Prendergast has had a link to one of the City Livery Companies (the Leathersellers - now largely a charitable institution, like all the Livery Companies) since the school's foundation by a former head of Colfe's. He left money to found a girls' grammar school in Lewisham to be the counterpart of Colfe's (which was in Lewisham then). Colfe's has been sponsored by the Leathersellers since it was founded, so they were a natural choice to get involved with Prendergast as well. They take their links very seriously and have put up a huge amount of cash over the years to help with the buildings. Their nominated governors are always extremely hardworking and effective. I think it makes a considerable difference for the better in the school.

Re the pastoral care - yes, Ms Roberts is absolutely ace in that respect. I have immense admiration for her. smile

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