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City vs Forest vs Belmont?

(39 Posts)
chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 12:46:08

We are in the process of applying for City Boys, Belmont/Mill Hill and Forest at 11+. The number applying for the small number of spaces is just absurd and only North Bridge house seems to be a sure thing. I know everyone takes more than one but I'm trying to ascertain how difficult it is to get into Belmont & Forest as my son really likes both. City extremely selective as far as I can see! Help!

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Sat 17-Oct-15 15:05:01

Forest is a big school and takes a lot of children. It is much easier to gain a place at Forest than at City. In our area, Forest used to be a "sure bet." That is no longer the case. It's important to prepare and be sure to go to an open day, where they will provide you with a sample test, at least at Forest they will, I don't know about City or Belmont.

Swimmingwithsharks Sat 17-Oct-15 15:11:11

Well you have to sit entrance exams for all of them so surely it would just depend on how academic your son is. Yes Northbridge and Belmont are normally seen as the easier of the schools to get in to. It seems like your son loves the beautiful grounds of Belmont and Forest. City is definately the most academic and urban of them. I think all the schools are selective, just depends on what level the bar is set and whether your son can get over it. Would his current school give you advice as to what schools would be a good bet for him? They usually advise on at least 3, the fall back, the sure bet and the aspirational.

chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 16:39:51

Yes Belmont & Forest both more my son's level academically- he will end year 6 level 5 definitely not level 6 which I assume is the City boys requirement. He is also very sporty so both good there too. Belmont has slight advantage as he loves rugby and Forest doesn't have rugby. We have a very strong alumni connection with City-3 members of my husband's family went there- so we are rolling the dice for that reason. I don't know if alumni counts for anything though???
Forest seems more academic than Belmont. Is that the general consensus? Just hoping to have a choice. I'm not normally a super anxious type but this process is gonna kill me!

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chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 16:41:42

And thanks so much! Yes I've been to all the open days twice now and have practice papers which we are working through. They are tough. I bet most grown ups couldn't pass the 11+ maths!

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Sat 17-Oct-15 17:24:53

I know Forest is a big football school, I've heard that they run 7 different teams per year group! I don't know if that's true. I know local boys who had been into Rugby who switched to football once at Forest because it is such a focus there for the boys.

Forest also has a lot of money for scholarships. If he is good enough to get a place at City, you may find yourself deciding between a place at City and a scholarship at Forest.

chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 19:19:31

You are a wealth of info! I had a feeling football ruled at Forest. My son also a very keen swimmer and cricketeer and they all have pools which is great. Honestly, City is a stretch for him so I'm focusing on Belmont & Forest. Is Forest equally academic to Bancrofts? I haven't been there but my friend's husband works there and really likes it.

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chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 19:24:08

In terms of sure bets- is North Bridge House the only option? Someone mentioned Aldenham to me but I don't know much about it.

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Sat 17-Oct-15 20:45:45

Bancrofts is more academic than Forest. It's much more difficult to get into. It has a reputation for pushing the kids harder academically than Forest, too.

I don't know where you live, but if you need something academically gentler (though still selective) have you considered St Edmunds in Hertfordshire? They have a lot of private school buses dipping down into North London. It's a Catholic school, but many non-Catholics send their children there. Beautiful grounds, the boys do play Rugby and a reputation for solid pastoral care.

chicagogirl Sat 17-Oct-15 23:03:53

I'm in Crouch End and no I hadn't heard of it but will look right now! Great tip! All he wants is rugby and a swimming pool!

Sending in all the applications this week, so very stressful but it will be over soon I keep telling myself.

I just subscribed to the online version of the good school guide and it chimes with everything you have said- brilliant!

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chicagogirl Mon 19-Oct-15 22:49:47

As I was looking at St Edmunds, St Alban's popped up too. Do you know anything about St Alban's? Is it very selective?

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Mon 19-Oct-15 23:25:10

I don't know St Albans. I believe it would be more selective than St Edmunds, but less selective than Habs Boys.

squeaver Mon 19-Oct-15 23:29:00

If you're trying for City, why aren't you trying for Highgate? That's the most local for you and has all the sporty stuff.

chicagogirl Tue 20-Oct-15 00:21:48

Yes Highate amazing too but trying to keep the number of exams low. I'm already at 4 or 5! I don't want to torture the poor boy but my friends son is taking 8 exams as she says one must carpet bomb the schools to ensure a spot somewhere! Is this reasonable!

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Tue 20-Oct-15 08:00:36

Chicagogirl you seem new to all this smile. So was I. I found the 11+ Forum very useful for picking up opinions, gossip and tips, beyond what I could get at my children's school gates. They are a little crazy over there, but you might find a skim through some of the boards focussing on your geographic area helpful.

My own DD took 4 exams. This was a lot for kids in our area. The children in DD's class took 2 or 3. My understanding is that this would be as nothing for DC in west London who are taking 7 or more routinely. (I am going on hearsay here.)

Interestingly, the two DC who only took 2 exams, got no offers. The fact that Forest is turning DC down now who would have certainly had offers 5 years ago means a lot of families in my area are now sitting St Edmunds as a backup. Or out and out preferring it, if they want a less competitive school experience overall. Or they may have large families and want to choose a school where they feel certain all their DC will be accepted.

Surely you should do this like US college applications: 1 stretch school, 1 safety school, and then about three likely schools.

chicagogirl Tue 20-Oct-15 19:47:17

Yes I am new to this. This is the first time we have done the 11+ and I'm American which makes it harder as I don't know my GCSE from my O level- or is it A level!?

Yes 4 sounds reasonable. I appreciate I'm bouncing around a bit here but does anyone know anything about Merchant Taylor's? My friends son loves it, it's got rugby and swimming and although it's selective it doesn't seem insanely so. Any thoughts?

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HeighHoghItsBacktoWorkIGo Tue 20-Oct-15 20:24:35

Go here:

You will find old threads with lots of gossip and details. Just remember that people often shorten Merchant Taylor's to MTS, so you might have to search on that.

chicagogirl Wed 21-Oct-15 00:32:40

Thank you so very much! On my way to the site now! You are a star!

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Needanadulttotalkto Sat 24-Oct-15 02:50:53

Hi, regarding the schools you've mentioned:

City - probably the third most sought after school in London after Westminster & St Pauls. Very tough entry. If Belmont MH is 'more at DC's level' I'd not even bother with City.

Habadashers - roughly as hard to get into at City, especially in the last couple of years. Very pressured. Amazing campus!

St Albans - nearly as hard as Habs. Not renowned for good pastoral care, so I have been told. A lot of people apple to it along with Habs.

Forest, Bancrofts, St Edwards - I dont know much about these. Not as famous as any of the above. Forest appears more academic than Belmont though, going by league tables.

Highgate - about as difficult as St Albans to get in to, I believe. Stunning school!

University College School - slightly easier than Highgate to get into. All boys. Great facilities. Another really amazing school you should consider.

Belmont Mill Hill - they select pupils from just above average upwards. Best facilities and grounds that far in to London. Would certainly be a great choice for a sporty boy. Lovely school! Becoming very popular.

North Bridge House - i imagine entry is a bit like Mill Hill?? Not too sure what academics are like, but an awful lot of parents were very unhappy with the school a couple of years ago due to management issues. Plenty of Mumsnet threads on this topic!

Aldenham - lowest academic results of any of these schools, but an absolutely lovely place to go. Great campus and pastoral care apparently cannot be faulted. I have never heard a bad word about the school.

Hope that helps!

thankgoditsover Sun 25-Oct-15 12:25:43

I'd argue that City is easier to get into than either UCS or Highgate by dint of numbers - they've got so many more spaces to offer.

Having said that I know people who've been offered places at one but not the other two in each of them (but more who've been offered all three or nothing). I don't think any of them can be used as 'back-ups'. UCS def harder than St. Albans - there's only 20 something places at 11.

Needanadulttotalkto Thu 29-Oct-15 04:22:32


Assuming you're right on the numbers then I'd totally agree.

chicagogirl Thu 29-Oct-15 14:38:14

Thanks ladies!

That is amazing information! Yes I assumed City, Highgate UCS very competitive- where are all these little geniuses coming from??? Based on this advise may pass on City, Highgate & USC as they don't seem possible.

My son wants a rugby school and opportunities for swimming which Mill Hill have. I recently been told about Merchant Taylor's which has a bus coming through Crouch End but a bit of a schlep. Does anyone know about how tough it is to get into?

I just wonder where all the not gifted and talented, but bright above average kids go? It's very distressing. I like what I hear more and more about Aldenham but no rugby or pool! Honestly!

Any advice on Merchant Taylor's much appreciated!

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nightsky010 Thu 29-Oct-15 17:23:56

The "normally" bright non gifted kids don't appear to exist in London Preps ;-) There are many (too many) kids in London with very pushy parents with a lot of money who will do whatever it takes, and have been planning from conception. (Apparently you have to conceive at the right time of year to make sure DC will be a September / October / November birthday so eldest in year!...... My jaw dropped when I heard that!!)

Merchant Taylor's and Aldenham are leagues apart academically. Really a very long way. Id say if you're even thinking about the other schools of the Highgate/ merchant Taylor's sort of calibre as a half realistic prospect then you're not an Aldenham person!

Mill Hill would be a better school for academics than Aldenham.

If you think Highgate / city, UCS are waaaay out of your league I'd say Merchant Taylor's would be tough too. I could be wrong, but I think they want 65% at Commin Entrance (8 subjects) which I'd say is a high B, but within a fairly demanding curriculum. Do check on entry requirements though, in case I'm wrong.

If DC is pretty normal think Mill Hill sounds like an excellent choice with Aldenham as a backup if something goes wrong?

chicagogirl Thu 29-Oct-15 19:03:50

Yes both NorthBridge & Aldenham will be our back up schools.

I know Highgate UCS and City are all too academic and more importantly oversubscribed for my little love.

I just assume that many people use Belmont & MTS As backup for the above mentioned schools. Also MTS only have 340 sit, with 220 given an interview then 170 offers for 50-60 places. So odds not terrible? It's just if my kid's levels ( above national average but not too set) are good enough. Most kids in too set at our school are 5c at the end of year 5.

I don't want to make him take exams for no reason. I think I better ring the admissions people and go from there.

It seems easier for girls. He is an academic child but just not wildly so. He values sporty, extra-curricular greatly.
I think Forest might be a winner. We went to the open day and loved it. It's not quite on the radar yet....yet!

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chicagogirl Thu 29-Oct-15 19:30:33

Sorry I meant top sets.

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