Kingston Grammar School

(54 Posts)
ohtobeanonymous Sun 28-Sep-14 10:32:43

Having a DD who seems keen to go to this school and being highly impressed by the website and promotional material, I was a little underwhelmed when we went to the Open Day yesterday.

Any current parents who could 'sell' it to me based on their own DDs experience? I am struggling to justify the huge fees for a school which doesn't actually seem to offer anything (other than the fact it is mixed, not single sex) more than DDs current indie (nowhere near as expensive as KGS).

Genuinely keen to get DD into the best school possible for her that we can afford, but she would need some significant scholarships to be able to go to KGS...

tess73 Sun 28-Sep-14 12:52:56

What do you find missing?

irisha Sun 28-Sep-14 13:14:45

Errrr, huge fees?

I don't know what your current indie is, but KGS's fees are not huge in comparison to all the indies that are roughly in the same catchment:

KGS £5,535
G&L £6,060
Notting Hill and Ealing £4,250
Latymer Upper £5,770
WHS/Putney High £5,250/5,290
LEH £5,800

I am not even putting SPGS here - that's where you could say huge fees

So if anything, KGS is at the lower end or middle. I think in London, there isn't really much difference in fees for girls or co-ed schools. The two St Paul's and Westminster are different.

So TBH I am surprised by your quoting fees as an issue for KGS specifically. You may feel underwhelmed, but I think you need to pinpoint more precisely what it is that you were seeking and didn't get from the Open Day vs your current indie.

FWIW, DD got a scholarship to KGS and we turned it down. I had doubts on how well they teach humanities and sports fields that were not on site. On the other hand, I though Maths was absolutely super as well as the sciences. The hockey (that was important to DD) was also excellent.

On of MNers with DD there reassured me re humanities.

I also was not 100% sure on the new Headmaster as Sarah Fletcher was so charismatic and a hard act to follow, but apparently he is quite good and very much of the same school of thought.

All in all we loved KGS, but logistically it was worse than the co-ed we went with in the end. So it was really a choice between locations. The current co-ed runs a bus almost from our doorstep and we liked it very much as well... I actually think maths and hockey are better at KGS than at our current school, but can't have it all.

CountessDracula Sun 28-Sep-14 14:36:48

What are you after? If it is facilities, large site etc then it isn't the school for you!

I would say the things it has that made us choose it for our dd (who adores it) are

- How relaxed and friendly it is.
- The fact that so many children are from state primaries
- The emphasis on independent learning and allowing the pupils to explore for themselves rather than teaching to exams/spoon feeding all the time.
- The fact that they cater really well for all rounders (which dd is) and aren't exclusively obsessed with A*s.
- the extra curricular program which is exceptionally good
- the fact that it did hockey not lacrosse (personal thing!)
- the gorgeous sports grounds in such a beautiful location (they bus them down (and back if needed) and they are pretty close to the school

The main thing that sold it to us was that all the children I know who go there are so happy and positive about the school, they genuinely seem to love it. And that it felt like a similar atmosphere to DD's primary, where she was so happy.

And her having started, I should tell you how friendly and normal the other parents are. It is a very sociable, happy and down to earth place. If you want to be involved as a parent there is so much you can do too.

CountessDracula Sun 28-Sep-14 14:41:15

Oh also, because of the size of the site, open days are a nightmare. Book on to a tour, you will get a much better feel for the school

tess73 Sun 28-Sep-14 14:43:21

I was at the open evening on Thursday, I loved it.

CountessDracula Sun 28-Sep-14 14:46:09

I think Saturday one busier

Alana1975 Sun 28-Sep-14 17:10:54

Countess, thank you for sharing your experience with KGS. Could you please clarify how the principle of "The emphasis on independent learning and allowing the pupils to explore for themselves" is put into practice.

ohtobeanonymous Sun 28-Sep-14 18:40:48

Countess, you could be describing DDS current school which is why I find it so hard to justify paying more (despite what Irisha says, a few hundred pounds a term makes a big difference with our current income and two DCs) but we are highly unlikely to be eligible for any bursary, thus the need to get good scholarships. Definitely NOT looking for a large site with loads of facilities (nor anything like LEH, SPGS, G&L which don't appeal in the slightest, not least because of the commute) ...in fact I think KGS was erring on the too-large side for us with over 800 students.

DDs own thoughts on the three things she liked best were:
1) the lunch menu
2) the sports kit
3) ummmm....not sure

We went to check it out because we have friends with DDs who are also very happy there but I was just a bit underwhelmed by the Head's talk (don't actually agree that 'opportunity' is a USP) and perhaps it was because he was very tired but he seemed lacking in energy and enthusiasm a little. Very nice man, though.

Also the children chosen to speak at the Head's talk and our tour guides did not seem all that enthusiastic (who would be at school on a Saturday? ) or particularly articulate. We asked numerous straightforward questions about the school and activities, e.g numbers of children involved in the orchestras (to one of the music scholars) and they didn't really seem able to answer. Also for the number of students at the school, the numbers involved in sport teams and music groups doesn't seem to be a large proportion which makes me wonder why. For all the fab sports facilities (which are hugely impressive) there are only two netball teams and four hockey teams for girls in 1st year which seems low (certainly less than DDS current school which has fewer students overall).

Staff we spoke to were very pleasant and we got a good vibe from them.

On reflection, I think a school would have to be truly exceptional to compare favourably to DDs current school so perhaps it is less about the fact that KGS is lacking anything - it is clearly an excellent school - but I think I've concluded that DDs are in the very fortunate position of having a place which offers at least the same quality of provision for far less money!!

Sorry to be sharing the school-choice though process in public forum...really want to make the best choice for DD2.

tess73 Sun 28-Sep-14 19:17:36

Would love to know the school your dd is at?! Sounds fab!

Pop1ns Sun 28-Sep-14 19:43:52

I have been on three tours of KGS and all the guides(boys and girls) were very articulate and their brightness shone through.

MollyFair Sun 28-Sep-14 20:05:40

- the dc are encouraged to be independent in every respect
- it's perfectly OK, indeed normal, for dds to be quirky, clever and individual
- the extra-curricular activities are amazing from a pastoral point of view (I speak from the heart)
- the female teaching staff are outstanding role models for the girls
- being in the middle of Kingston adds to their ability to be streetwise and independent
- they mix well with the Tiffin girls and boys on a social level

MollyFair Sun 28-Sep-14 20:07:03

- the sports options are fab higher up the school, inc pilates, Zumba, etc

CountessDracula Sun 28-Sep-14 20:39:59

Alana, it was the emphasis that appealed to me, dd only been there a few weeks so you would be better asking people with dcs higher up the school. Though they are encouraged already to research for themselves and do extra where they feel they can. Other schools we saw didn't emphasise this and indeed I know from friends with dcs there, they are not encouraged in this respect.

Anon, the sports kit is indeed fab! The lunches leave a little to be desired so I hear - am hoping the new head will do something about this (pls Mr Lehec grin )

Speaking of him, he seems a lovely man, very down to earth like the school, not yet as impressive a speaker as Sarah Fletcher (but tbh I have not seen a head at any of the schools we visited who was, including all the "top" ones) . He is a very good fit for the school I think.

tess73 Sun 28-Sep-14 20:54:23

Ohtobe, 4 hockey teams in 1st year is 44 girls! Intake is 120 I think, less than half girls, so a v high proportion in hockey teams!?

ohtobeanonymous Sun 28-Sep-14 21:23:33

Thanks Molly and Countess for reassuring me that if she gets the scholarships we need to be able to afford the fees, she is going to have the choice between two fab schools.

And she may well (apparently) be the first girl on the chess team!

ohtobeanonymous Sun 28-Sep-14 21:27:25

Agree Tess that four hockey teams is pretty standard, but only two netball teams?

CountessDracula Sun 28-Sep-14 23:46:52

There are prob only enough girls left for 2 netball teams after the hockey I should think - only 60 girls in a year, and in the first year you can't do it all - if you want to be in a team you have after school practice and that would mean an awful on top lot for a girl coping with transition to secondary. You can do both if you want obv.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 30-Sep-14 12:29:05

Don't want to out my DD but yes, excellent experience of Humanities, especially History, English Lit, Philosophy, couldn't have been better:-)

But most of all of the relaxed and friendly pupils.

tess73 Tue 30-Sep-14 13:21:37

went to the LEH open morning today
now i really don't know what to do
new head seems down to earth, friendly, relaxed, great
all the girls we saw, heard, met, all perfectly fine
amazing facilities, it really does blow KGS out of the water buildings/space/facilities wise, it has everything.

tess73 Tue 30-Sep-14 13:48:49

oops wrong thread, sorry!

CountessDracula Tue 30-Sep-14 14:32:05

apart from boys!

I didn't like LEH at all, it left me totally cold
Weird isn't it!?

tess73 Tue 30-Sep-14 14:33:57

i felt like that last year, terrible atmosphere. it felt different today.
i actually hate the Hampton boys relationship LEH has. it is neither one thing or the other. they pitch it as best of both worlds but i actually think it is the worst combination -boys there but you can't get to know.

CountessDracula Tue 30-Sep-14 14:35:57

That's interesting that it feels so different.
It was the school that really made dd's mind up about single sex vs co ed. She came out of the bit where they take the children away saying "I'm not going there or to any girls' school, it's just weird" grin

tess73 Tue 30-Sep-14 14:44:33

i know i wanted dd to come back and say no way but she said "hmm maybe". she's been very anti all girls all the time. arghhhhh

dh can't choose between them either, as he insightfully said "we can't make the right decision because there is no right decision, it is just a choice."

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