Independent secondary school advice SE London(11 Posts)
I am hoping someone will be able to advise me. I am looking for potential secondary schools for my daughter (is that DD, I am not actually sure what that means but have seen it in other threads!!- you can tell I'm new to this)My preference would be girls only but would consider co-ed. She is bright and bubbly and quite strong academically.
We live in Eltham and she currently attends a prep school in blackheath. I have been to see blackheath high which I quite liked but it doesn't seem to have a very good reputation but I am not sure why? I would really appreciate some insider feedback from someone who has either been there or taught there recently. I have also seen bromley high but didn't like that as much, though it has a nice pool!
I am also considering colfes and would appreciate any knowledge or tips on that.
JAGS and CLGS both look good academically but I just think they are too far to travel to make them really feasible/ compatible with normal family life for us....
Finally people have mentioned st dunstans which might be do-able distance wise but i am not sure....
Basically I am looking for an all round school with good academics but also clubs/sport/trips, where she will be stretched in a positive way. I also want her friends to live within striking distance so she can see them after school/weekends....
Any top tips or thoughts on these schools greatly appreciated!!
I would not recommend Bromley High based on previous experience but it sounds like you have discounted it anyway. (I do agree though they have a nice pool!) JAGS is a very high achieveing school and if it was feasible that would be my first choice. Colfe's results are ok but I've never been impressed by the buildings and look of the school.
There is Babington House is Bromley as well which is all girls but I don't know anything else about it.
Good girls private schools seem to be lacking in that area unless you are willing to travel. It's a shame there isn't an equivalent of Eltham College but for girls in the area.
Babington House is very small and non-selective academically. I would not send a confident, academically able child there, I think. Everyone I know with girls at Colfes is very happy with the school, it has a solid reputation for children of all abilities.
If you live in Eltham are you considering the 11 plus for your dd? The NW Kent and LB Bexley grammars are excellent and if your dd is very bright and motivated there is also Newstead Woods in Bromley.
I can honestly say that locally I think the selective state secondaries are every bit as good as any of the independent options and several of them are IMHO better. It does depend on what you want, of course.
No real advice other than to say I really liked Colfe's when I looked at it as a possible for DS and know several people who've sent children there. What about Townley - an all girls grammar - in Bexley?
OP, not sure you'll get any information here that you won't get from listening to other parents at your daughter's prep school, especially if she's at the academic one. However.....
My impression is that Colfe's and BH have their work cut out in attracting the most academic senior school students, because parents who set most store by academic results and prestige (and let's not forget, have the money) opt for either the Dulwich schools (JAGS/Alleyns) or Central London or some of the prestigious Kent schools (eg Sevenoaks) and accept the commute of 1hr plus, or in the case of the Kent schools go for boarding if available.
The parents who set most store by academic results and want a selective school but don't have the money work towards the eleven plus. Because Kent and Bexley have lots of grammar schools, they are not insanely hard to get into, unlike eg Newstead Woods which is Bromley's only girl's grammar school and super selective. Plus they are handily clustered around the railway line and the A2/A20 so accessible - I am in Greenwich but have neighbours with daughters at Dartford Grammar, Townley Grammar and Mayfield.
Plus on the whole the Greenwich comprehensives have improved a lot over the last ten years.
So in practice, I think that Colfe's, BH, St Dunstans and Eltham College are all good schools but are competing hard for students. I agree Colfe's buildings are not gorgeous (IIRC the core ones were built when it was still within the state system) but it is a school with a good reputation locally. Anecdotally, I am told that they will work a lot harder to support individual students than some of the more "prestigious" schools. I don't know much about BH seniors - might ask my neighbour whose daughter is there.
Thanks all for your feedback. I quite liked colfes when I went to look at it. The buildings seemed fine to me, I am not as interested in the aesthetics of the buildings as the staff/ pupils!! I know JAGS is supposed to be academically great but I have heard it's a bit of a hothouse and also a long trek from us, my DD would have to leave the house at 7 to get there, which seems pretty hard for an 11 year old....
Elltee it would be really useful if you could ask your neighbour with a DD at BH seniors what she thinks of it, as I don't know anyone there and would really like some insider info!!
Just one last (unrelated) question- I know that DD means daughter and DS means son but what on earth does the other D mean??? Darling? Dearest? Pleas someone let me know, it's driving me crazy!!
Sorry, didn't answer the grammar questions... I thought Townley had some really good points but was just too large in terms of numbers for me! I don't think the staff would know the children well enough- just a personal opinion, I may well be wrong.
I haven't been to Dartford but I have heard it's ok, maybe I should have a look at it. The trouble is if you miss the open days with the grammars you seem to miss the boat and can't get to look round....
Having said that I think I will prob end up going down the independent route, I value the small class sizes that they provide...
Have you been to any of the BH open days? My neighbours DD is there and they are very very happy with it. She is being pushed hard and supported to bring her up on her weakest subjects [previously at state school] and seems to be extremely hard working and given a lot of rope to achieve well above academic norms in areas where she has strong interests.
Discipline seems to be good and there is a healthy emphasis on food and sport. At present I'd have no hesitation in sending my DD's there. I have similar concerns for a commute to Dulwich at 11. Doable but a little unnecessary.
My only concerns are the A level results are not amazing but it is a tiny year group [imo] and I suspect a lot of girls move onto co-ed options at that point. There is a new head which has come from North London Collegiate [I think] so I suspect that while the school ethos remains non-selective [ish], that more emphasis will be placed on achievement for and retention of the extremely able.
That is really helpful, thanks v.much for posting Softly! I really liked it at the open day I went to but it seems to have a poor reputation locally. I agree about the sixth form which seems really tiny, but I think you're right and lots of people move at that stage... A commute at 16 seems very different to one at 11! I'm hoping to go to another one in the spring and take my DD ....
BH is a selective school now, my DD's friend went to breaside and did not pass their Y7 exam, so i would say the standards have gone up a lot. It has a very good rep locally now i would say and will be sending my DD there for nursery.
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