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UCS vs NBH?

(20 Posts)
HappyInHampstead Fri 13-Mar-15 16:11:05

I have a DS at a local Hampstead state primary and am interested in looking into UCS and Northbridge House for 7/8+ and/or 11+. I'm wondering what opinions there are about entering UCS or Northbridge House at different age levels (Yr 3 vs Yr 6). I also wonder what opinions there are on going to UCS from the 7+ intake vs 11+ intake vs prepping at NBH from 7/8+ or 11+ to later feed elsewhere later (eg, St.Pauls, Westminster from 13). All opinions are welcome.

MN164 Fri 13-Mar-15 16:41:08

For what it's worth, UCS gets strong approval from my close friends and their sons.

I think once you get on the track with UCS you are unlikely to want to switch to another school (you mention St Paul's etc). Make sure you look at the senior schools of all your options. If you really think you might be interested in StP or Westminster you might end up moving West. Easy to go to an open day in the next few years to find out!

What about Highgate?

I know nothing about NBH, other than it is dispersed between sites and the senior school (Canonbury) seems very small given the likes of UCS and it's facilities.

thankgoditsover Fri 13-Mar-15 17:12:48

The 13+ looks like a right palaver to me. Why not just keep him where he is and do the 11+ for ucs, highgate, city etc and st Paul's and Westminster if they're suitable.

I'd only be interested in 7+ if you wanted them to stay onto secondary in the same school. Doing it twice seems unnecessarily stressful.

HappyInHampstead Fri 13-Mar-15 17:28:50

Thank you MN164 and thankgoditsover. I have considered Highgate, primarily given its proximity and record, but didn't mention it as I've been receiving and reading mixed reviews about it (less pastoral care, too strict vs UCS, a bit "scruffy", etc.) from other sources and local secondary school students from other schools. I mentioned NBH because locals rate it and it seems to have a good record for feeding into City, Westminster and St.Pauls. I'm also curious to know why MN164 thinks switching away from UCS would be unlikely once there because I've read many consider UCS and Highgate to be "2nd tier" compared to the others listed. Yet I take the point about moving west, I (we) am happy in Hampstead after all.

Haggismcbaggis Fri 13-Mar-15 17:28:54

As far as I am aware, 11+ at Colet Court and Westminster is primarily aimed at state school boys. If you are interested - and have a fairly exceptional DS - you would want to be applying for those at 7 or 8+.

NBH is a very different animal to UCS and Highgate INHO. It's fine - but anyone I know who has gone there has done so because they didn't get into the schools mentioned above or Habs at 7 (or 11 if coming from state sector). I know quite a lot of people who are quite "meh" about it. A lot of upheaval in the last few years, high staff turnover etc etc. In saying that, that's someone in the 11+ stream - not the stream preparing for CE.

There are other better prep school options if you are preparing for CE/13+ - The Hall, Weatherby etc etc

HappyInHampstead Sat 14-Mar-15 10:06:01

Thanks Haggis particularly for the comments about NBH. I agree The Hall seems to be the best prep in the Hampstead area (in order to minimise the DS's and parents' commute at such a young age) for the schools listed above. Given a number of posters have referenced Highgate, I'm wondering what the general thoughts here are between it and UCS, mainly in terms of ethos, leadership, pastoral care and academics.

MN164 Sat 14-Mar-15 14:03:58

For clarification, Colet Court (St Paul's Prep) has an intake of about 20 at 11+ (year 7). They allow state school boys to take a test a year ahead (i.e. in January of their year 5) of the normal exams (January of year 6). They call it deferred 11+ and then 11+. This year they have about 10 from state schools and 10 from prep schools. That cohort of 20 join the existing cohort from the 7+8+ intake.

As for "tiers" - all these schools have the ability to get the best from students. I suspect people apply the "how many get to Oxbridge?" test and then classify them into tiers. Westminster and St Pauls are in a class above UCS and Highgate in this respect, but I think that's a overly narrow analysis of the schools.

It's much much more about how your boy would feel at the school, how happy and inspired they might be and how well their interests would be served and expanded by the schools.

Forget the league tables and Oxbridge.

yesbutnobut Sat 14-Mar-15 15:12:41

Have you looked around Highgate OP? You've mentioned reading and receiving mixed reviews but I suggest you go and look at Highgate - I think you'll be impressed.

As an aside, if your child is already at a state primary then is it not already too late for 7+?

Davros Sun 15-Mar-15 09:40:14

We have lloved Nbh from nursery and now through to hampstead senior. But we have not looked for the "highest achieving" tier and much prefer a school that is less competitive with pupils who can achieve their own best. We also like a mixed sex environment and being near to home. Having said that, the academic expectations at the hampstead secondary are very high with fairly serious exams from the get go and plenty of homework and revision.

Haggismcbaggis Sun 15-Mar-15 14:48:07

Yesbutnobut - lots of kids transfer from state primaries to independents at 7+. But most will require a tutor or a parent to prepare the child for the papers (endless threads on here about the tutor v none debate. My view is that you shouldn't need one of your child is at a 7+ oriented pre-prep eg Annmount, Hampstead Hill - that is their job. But a state school kid is in no way prepared for sitting a 7+ nor should they be...)

OP - re UCS v Highgate. Hmmm I guess a lot depends on what your views are on single-sex schools , if you have a daughter coming along. Lots of parents opt for mixed if they have girls & boys as makes life much easier to have kids in the one school. UCS is viewed, at senior level, as suiting a self-motivated boy, it's maybe a more liberal, intellectual education. Highgate considered more traditional, WASP, maybe - very big at senior level. There is of course the new junior school which is going to be rather amazing by all accounts when it opens end of this year. I'd say there is very little between the schools pastorally. Your location suggests UCS of course. It's a rather bugger of a journey to get over to the bottle neck & over to Highgate - but lots of parents do it of course.

Visit the schools and get a feel. What year is your DS?

thankgoditsover Sun 15-Mar-15 16:18:24

Apply to UCS and Highgate and then worry about which you should choose if you get offered both (we didn't so that made our decision much easier). I'd have been happy with either for different reasons. I know lots of children that have been offered one not the other.

Highgate is co-ed and feels much more luxurious and slicker. it also feels like a really stimulating and fun place. It feels more monied, I don't know if that's fair or not, but it's definitely got a celebrity element that I don't recognise in other North London schools. UCS definitely more laid back, evidenced by the fact that the sixth form is proper non-uniform, while Highgate is 'business attire'.

But really, they're both pretty posh, privileged places. UCS isn't going to let a clever boy (and most of them will be) drift along in a haze of their own motivation (or lack of), while Highgate isn't a totally stiff hothouse. They'll both have good teachers and less good ones. The universities they go on to are almost identical. Highgate feels much bigger in all senses, and the presence of girls means that it favours the more mature confident boy. If anyone has the choice, I can't imagine a better deciding factor than the ease of journey.

NWgirls Sun 15-Mar-15 19:32:15

Re NBH, my impression is that the prep is long-established and (very?) good - the kids play in Regent's Park a minute away, head seems strong and has been there for years. Destinations at 11 seem good (with some great) for most girls.

The senior school that starts at 11 (in Rosslyn Hill, Hampstead) is more shaky - good down to earth atmosphere, friendly, but little/not very inviting outside space, quite a lot of turnover of both teachers and kids, and GCSE results (37 / 40% A-A star) are "OK" at best, even if you give them some benefit of the doubt from taking a wider range of abilities compared to more selective (and better?) schools. I believe it is mildly selective - the test is quite easy and probably aimed at level 4 / average ability children. I am not so confident in the current head - this is just based on open days impressions and second hand chatter, though - I do not have a DC there. See the old thread about Canonbury for some more (but a year old) comment about the two senior schools. If you live nearby and you are not 100% confident in getting offers you like better, I would have it as a back-up (and also consider it against the state offer), as we did last year.

It is in my book a clear negative (but not a dealbreaker in itself) that NBH is a for-profit (Cognita) school owned by private equiy firms.

Threeunderthree33 Mon 16-Mar-15 19:40:07

Just to say I have heard really good things about pastoral care at Highgate from a parent. Headmaster's blog suggests he has a good understanding of teenagers. Some difficult issues have been dealt with well, I'm told.

squeaver Mon 16-Mar-15 19:56:08

I can assure you that once you've been through the stress of 7+ (if you decide to do it) you will not want to repeat it again at 11+.

I would say you should definitely consider Highgate. It is a tremendous school with excellent pastoral care and very good academic results. But you may not want co-ed.

squeaver Mon 16-Mar-15 19:58:47

Also, on Highgate, that also goes for the Junior School - although competition for 7+ places is intense: 400 sat for 50 places in January, I believe.

Davros Wed 18-Mar-15 11:34:41

NBH senior in hampstead had good outdoor space, with plans to develop at the front, and excellent premises. It is not at Highgate level but much better than some of the girls' schools as you get further into London, e.g. Queens college and Francis Holland.

mumlivinginNW6 Fri 16-Oct-15 20:34:36

Anyone with little ones in NBH pre-prep (3-7)? Keen to hear some current views about the school as have read so many negative posts about the recent changes and it being profit making...Thanks!

chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 10:39:42

I'm in the depths of exam hell with my lovely son. I'm wondering about how being a child of an alumni factors into selection for schools. My husband and his brother went to City of London School for Boys and I wonder how this will affect his chances. I've heard at Highgate they will take alumni kids even if they don't pass the exam! Can anyone shed any light on this? Anyone with personal experience? Thanks so much!

Davros Sat 17-Oct-15 14:22:56

I don't think that's true about Highgate. DH went there and we didn't even attempt to apply for DD

chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 20:13:53

Ok maybe it's an urban myth. I found it hard to believe too!

Do you know anything about Belmont/Mill Hill? I think people sit it as a back up for Highgate, City, Habs but my son loves it as its a rugby school. Also anyone know anything about Forest school?

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