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Wetherby Senior.

(41 Posts)
TheLovelyBoots Mon 13-Oct-14 21:30:39

I just went to the open night. The head is impressive, but they're very traditional and the facilities (as described - not in place yet) are probably not competitive.

Any thoughts?

Michaelahpurple Mon 13-Oct-14 21:59:06

Wetherby's track record in building their prep school over the last decade is pretty impressive and lord knows another boys' option is needed in central London.

I would in abstract have said that I was less keen on schools run as businesses but have found it hard not to be impressed by the efficiency and client-focus of Wetherby. They have identified what their parents want and they deliver it. It seems to be the only prep which understands the power of good communications with parents.

All suggests well worth considering, although inevitably a bit of a flyer given first cohort issues (although I expect they will recruit at 11 and 13 to help a quick roll out) and that secondary is more complex than prep.

TheLovelyBoots Tue 14-Oct-14 06:51:52

Interesting, thanks Michaela. I think they would run a super-efficient GCSE/A-level operation. I think it would be less of an "experience" for the kids, though?

The head seemed to view D&T/IT as vocational, whereas at Kings or Marlborough (for example) they're viewed as a springboard into engineering - they take it seriously. This didn't really sit well with me. This is part of an overall theme, I don't think they have the facilities to compete with other big-name schools.

I love the customer focus. This is sorely lacking at our current school.

Michaelahpurple Tue 14-Oct-14 16:11:28

It is curious how poor many schools are at customer focus - such an obvious area to tackle , but so neglected.

wonderingstar01 Tue 14-Oct-14 16:28:14

Look at the other senior schools/colleges in the Alpha Plus Group to get a sense of how much clout the head will have versus input from Group level. The Colleges in Manchester, Birmingham, Cambridge and London don't do so well academically but there again, they tend to be full of kids who have failed first time round.

Their primary schools are well favoured in part due to their celebrity and royal links but in my opinion, the senior schools don't fare as well as parents tend to favour the better known proven options.

Needmoresleep Tue 14-Oct-14 18:23:15

Isn't the point that there is serious competition for boys places in established schools in West London. KCS, SPS and Westminster are very selective and schools like Latymer Upper, KGS and Hampton, increasingly so.

Fewer boys want to board and there will be the demand. Parents may favour the better known and proven options, or schools with better facilities, but, frankly, not all will get places. It sounds as if Wetherby could provide a useful fall-back to newly arrived expatriates, the less academic or late developers, or those wanting to switch from state to Indi.

This need for facilities is odd. In the past girls went to small central London schools without great facilities (Queensgate, Queens College, More House etc) whilst their brothers boarded. If boys don't want to board, and don't get into one of the more established schools, they may have to accept the equivalent facilities that their sisters get.

TheLovelyBoots Wed 15-Oct-14 09:03:48

Needmoresleep I don't have any daughters so the point is possibly lost on me - but the girls' schools you've mentioned aren't good comparisons because they're in Central London. Girls likewise can choose schools in Zone 2/3 and enjoy better facilities.

I don't think Wetherby is a major gamble, all other things being equal (i.e. no economic collapse in London) it will probably be on par with Latymer in 10 or 15 years.

I agree with your assessment needmoresleep that it appeals to people who have a slight disadvantage in the higher-stakes schools, and it may be good opportunity for less-able boys to get into a school that aims to be and will likely become "academic". We're considering the school (my son is sitting the November exam), but I really hope we have an alternate choice. I'm shocked at the caliber of boys who are rejected from the higher-tier schools these days.

TheLovelyBoots Wed 15-Oct-14 09:05:20

Their primary schools are well favoured in part due to their celebrity and royal links but in my opinion, the senior schools don't fare as well as parents tend to favour the better known proven options.

Does anyone know what percent of children go on from the lower to senior school?

username009988 Wed 15-Oct-14 09:25:47

Hi LB
The Wetherby Pre Prep website says approx 30% of each year group goes on to the Prep. I'm surprised it's not higher. Boys leave at the end of yr2 and 3 and go to Westminster Under, Colet Court plus all the usual suspects for boarding prep schools.

We have been looking at girls boarding schools and they have all been commenting that the number of girls sitting assessments has started to rise again after several years of recession hit numbers, so maybe this will take a tiny bit of pressure of some of the London day schools if it applies to the boys too. The whole system has become ridiculous with the only winners seemingly being the tutoring industry.

I think Wetherby will be a success in the long term - there is a need for more boys schools but as with all schools that are starting from the beginning there will be some risk, but when you weigh it up, Wetherby will want to make it a success in order to give their parent body the option of a 4-18yr education with no angst around entrance exams along the way. I'm surprised there is not more info on their website - if they want people to get a feel for the ethos etc they should be raising the profile on the website.

Good luck to your DS for his entrance exams.

TheLovelyBoots Wed 15-Oct-14 09:31:32

thanks Username for the info (should have looked, lazy me). I was likewise surprised at the lack of information regarding the secondary school on the website - it's seemingly quite stealth at this point! I'm not even certain they've put the exam date or the kind of exam it is on the website - this is just scrawled in my journal from this week's headmaster talk at the senior school.

sdavlistentomother Tue 10-Mar-15 14:49:35

Does anyone have any more information on the new senior school? There is very little information on the web site. I understand it is opening in September.

Michaelahpurple Wed 11-Mar-15 10:25:01

I know a few people whose boys have sat for places and rumour has it they have increased the numbers joining in September. You can't go and see it until September as another school is in there now, so perhaps they will up the marketing then

Nick baker is great , my favourite head of the London schools I have visited.

sdavlistentomother Wed 11-Mar-15 13:18:02

Thanks Michaelahpurple. We are shortlisting senior schools and would like to stay central. Do you think it will be competing with City and Latymer off the bat ? How rigorous have people found the selection process ? Has the intake for September mainly been from the prep ?

Michaelahpurple Fri 13-Mar-15 19:25:56

The children I know who have tried were from cameron house and westminster under. All three have places

It won't be competing with Latymer imminently, but there is a big under served market for boys a notch below that.

sdavlistentomother Sat 14-Mar-15 18:53:34

We will be trying for Westminster, City and Latymer but will now throw Wetherby into the pot. It's great to have another to add to the list for Central London.

Mominatrix Sun 15-Mar-15 07:03:51

I have no doubt that Wetherby Senior School will be successful as there really is a need for another boys day school in London. I do have my reservation about the school though for various reasons.

First, whilst Wetherby prep has been successful in growing and having a decent range of results, it is not in the same league as the top or just below league of prep schools in London. It does serve the population of boys which it takes in in an adequate fashion, but its broad range of results is obscured by the enormous amount of tutoring which goes on for 11+ and 11+ pre test. This is not unique to Wetherby, but it is so very prevalent there.

The Senior school will struggle even more so as the great majority of the very academic and highly academic boys will have chosen the established names. This leaves them with a very different pool of applicants than the one who will choose schools like Latymer Upper or CLSB, which are long established schools with support systems and cultures already in practice. It definitely will not be in Latymer's league as Latymer's appeal is to those who choose an academic co-educational school and is getting stronger each year as this is an idea which is increasingly popular, particularly with the influx of people from places where single sex education is seen as strange.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to cater for those children whose strengths are not necessarily academic, and there is the greatest need for this kind of school in London. My scepticsm arises from the fact that off-the-bat, Alpha Plus will charge a premium price for a school which has not proven to have premium results. I do know about the parent organization behind Alpha Plus, and its rationale for getting into the schools was the (and I am paraphrasing here) the guaranteed 5% increase in profits a year. No matter how good the school, this ethos does not sit well with me.

Alsoflamingo Sun 15-Mar-15 07:51:28

Interesting points about the cohort issue Momamatrix. But my sense is the massive pressure on places in London day schools means that perfectly able and academic children will fail to get places at the 'usual' top schools - not because they aren't bright, but simply because the ratio of applicants to places is off the scale. So surely the trickle down effect means that the so-called second/third tier schools get filled up with these bright kids and overall academic standards rise?

Agree with you about the profit motive behind Alpha Plus. Doesn't give one a warm, fuzzy feeling. But I suppose ultimately the proof will be in the pudding. I have heard amazing things about Nick Baker and imagine he will hire a cracking team.

TennisMom Sun 15-Mar-15 19:04:51

At the end of the day, Wetherby Senior is filling a great current market need for a central London boys' day school for those who can't get into the top Tier 1 schools. Competition for these places is getting more fierce and Wetherby has a good enough brand name that they will attract the top candidates who didn't make this cut.

I am sure they identified this need through their own experience of seeing their kids in Prep who are bright but didn't get into these schools and have nowhere to go.

They are a business and it's a smart business move. There is an existing market need and they are creating a product to meet this need.

sdavlistentomother Mon 16-Mar-15 21:24:07

Mominatrix - boys who missed offers and remain on waiting lists tend to score only a fraction below those who get offers according to the head at Latymer. Where are these boys supposed to go? To say that they are not "academic" is ridiculous. As for tutoring at Wetherby...there is tutoring everywhere. The most of effective type of tutoring is of course done by parents. No outside tutor can compete with that. I think Wetherby Senior will be hugely popular - maybe in the style of FHS Regents Park - in the top 50 rather than top 10. Mind you I don't think City is in the top 20 ?

Mominatrix Tue 17-Mar-15 06:09:10

sdavlistentomother, I think you are misinterpreting what I said above.

In terms of tutoring, I did say it was rampant everywhere. I also said that it was particularly prevalent at Wetherby, to deny that is naive. If at 7 and 8+ levels families at the PrePrep hire live-in tutors and also hire motors to come on holidays (yes, this does occur, and I do know someone who tutors many Wetherby boys and charges £100 per hour for his/her services), you can only imagine what the pressure is like at senior school level.

In terms of pressure for places, yes, there is an increase, but the biggest factor in the increase in pressure is the sheer number of exams being taken per child. A child who was placed on the wait list for Latymer will also have taken other exams and if they were a just miss for Latymer, it would be doubtful that they would be left without a spot anywhere. If they are left with absolutely no spot, they were either too ambitious in their list of schools, or (less likely) did not apply to enough of a range of schools.

In terms of top whatever school - what determines your top whatever? GCSE scores? A level results? Oxbridge entry? desirability by the West London set? all round experience? The first 4 don't make a top school to me - they just tell me how selective their intake is. To me, CLSB is a "top 10" school because of all the academically selective schools in London, it has one of the broadest socioeconomic intake for a reasonable price. This broad intake and its location, along with proven good teaching and a long established post-senior school machine, make is a very dynamic school, and one which, according to a high ranking Oxford don I know, produces a great product (in fact, he was telling me to move my son from a school , which according to your criteria would always be top5, and save a pot of money).

I have stated and will restate that the school will be a success in terms of money generated for the parent organization and interms of numbers attending as their is a need for a less academically selective boys school in Central London.

sdavlistentomother Tue 17-Mar-15 10:09:38

I was referring to the Times rankings. We will be applying to CLSB but when we went on the tour l was underwhelmed. Nothing particularly bad just a bit ...cold..ordinary...boring even? Maybe l was unlucky with my tour guide. We will look again. If you want to avoid commuting outwards for school the choice for boys is so limited and then there's the business of getting an offer.

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Mar-15 11:16:45

My guess is that the new school will usefully fill a gap but will struggle to compete with CLSB or Latymer Upper for quite a while, if ever.

The advantages are:

1. It is in Central London. Over the past decade of so, number of boys looking for London day places has risen dramatically. At the same time schools like Latymer, Emanuel, Highgate and KGS have turned co-ed. "Safe" fallbacks like Emanuel, Ibstock and Harrodian, are no longer safe, and other choices (St Bens, Whitgift, Radnor House, St Dunstans, Eltham College) are some distance away. There will be a fair number of boys who are either reluctant commuters or reluctant boarders, simply because a local option is not available. My guess is that if you were to look at he many nearby preps (Hill House, Garden House, Newton, Thomas', Eaton House, Eaton Sq, Fulham Prep, Sussex House and and and, though surprised to hear of interest from Westminster Under) you would find 2 or 3 boys in each who fall into this category. Some may be reluctant to join a school in its first year, but within a year or two, and assuming satisfactory word of mouth, I assume application numbers will rise. It will probably be as a fall-back, but given the shortage of places elsewhere, plenty will use that fall back.

2. The Alpha Plus group will have the resources and determination to make this work. I am assuming that in the short term they can schedule experienced teachers and tutors in both Wetherby Prep and DLD, to either teach or oversee teaching. They are already doing this with the Head. DLD provide short course GCSE teaching, and Wetherby teachers will be used to preparing for the Westminster Challenge etc. Much better than a complete start up with an entirely new staff team.

3. It might be fun to be part of a new intake. Particuarly for a boy who perhaps has had his confidence undermined at a robust selective prep. You would get a lot of attention and early responsibility.

Disadvantates are

4. Lack of facilities and smaller numbers may prevent good level team sports or restrict the choice of sport. Though as I said above, girls schools manage.

5. The extent to which the desire to make profit is visible in the early days. Even if not profit, there will be plenty with the experience of growing schools where money is being put aside to provide facilities for the next generation.

6. A more mobile population. This can be a criticism of Portland Place, though others really like PPs diversity and its wide academic range. The word is that Radnor House were pretty active in the early days in squeezing out children whose behaviour was affecting others. My assumption is that Wetherby, by using its brand, is seekng to provide education for those likely to remain for the duration (13-16 is only 3 years) and will have the resources to live with empty spaces should they have to ask a pupil to leave.

sdavlistentomother Tue 17-Mar-15 13:29:07

No - it's going to be 13 - 18 so A levels also.

Needmoresleep Tue 17-Mar-15 13:37:42

Yes. However there will be some movement in and out for sixth form. What I meant was movement within a course, either GCSE or A levels, which can be a problem in schools which take international families.

I would predict additional demand at sixth form. DD knew a few boys who wanted to stop boarding. Not such a problem for girls as there are intakes at Westminster and KCS as well as the usual suspects. There dont seem to be as many places for boys. Certainly Latymer Upper were rejecting some very strong candidates.

Merse Fri 27-Mar-15 19:02:45

Hearing they have poached loads of teachers from Merchant Taylors. Does anyone know if that is right?

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