Islington :St Mary Magdalene Academy v Highbury Grove(9 Posts)
I'm deciding the order of secondary schools and would be offered either of the above in March. I'd love feedback from parents who have children these good but quite different schools.
Hello we're local and looked at both. On visiting, I preferred Highbury Grove (felt livelier), but now that lots of friends' kids have started I think that Mary Mags would have been a safer bet. The things that I wasn't sure about it, its rigidity etc, seem to be the things that make it a safe and pretty high achieving place for its pupils. All the children I know who are there are flourishing. They're all high achieving, though (level 6s and 5s on leaving primary), I don't know if it's less enjoyable if you're not in the top sets.
A caveat though, the catchment is teeny now because of the faith places, the primary school places and now the governors places. It's by far our nearest secondary but dc wasn't offered a distance place.
Grateful for your feedback Thankgoditsover. It's the social side that niggles me with SMM but my son is a lazy middle attainer and rigid could work for him! I can see him making more friends at Highbury Grove but just floating away from extra curricular as he's not a joiner....
Central Foundation is another option - it gets extraordinary results but I think if you're worried about the social side at SMM, then that's going to be a bigger issue at Central. Plus they're about to have building works and it's not really walking distance (presuming you're somewhere near Highbury Corner).
Last distance offered keeps changing too - our dc would have got into all three the previous year, last year didn't get in on distance to any of them.
Keen for DS to walk to school. Just get the impression at SMM you get established groups arriving from faith primaries whereas at Highbury Grove there's more of a mix up.
Anyway hope your year 7 came right in the end!
My DS started at SMMA this September. It's way too early for us to give anyone chapter and verse on it, other than the fact that he loves it so far. He's not in the 'high-achieving' bracket, just fairly bright, albeit scatty. 'Lazy middle attainer' might be a good description for him too. The level of homework was a bit of a shock, but I have no idea how that compares with HG. He says 'they work you hard' but seems fairly happy with that, mostly...
A couple of points in response to comments:
"(T)he catchment is teeny now because of the faith places, the primary school places and now the governors places."
The governors places (aka 'language aptitude') are not based on catchment at all, anyone can apply. That's how DS got his place; we are way out of catchment.
"(I) get the impression at SMM you get established groups arriving from faith primaries whereas at Highbury Grove there's more of a mix up"
I'm not sure that's 100% true, though I'm sure there's truth in it. At DS's primary the staff assumed quite openly (quite annoyingly; it's as if any other schools simply didn't exist!) they would all go to Highbury Grove, so there are certainly blocs of kids arriving there in a piece also. SMMA has this of course, but DS seems to think there's a good mix.
Still getting a feel for the place (secondary is very arms-length for parents so it's a slow process) but you can DM me if you want to ask anything. I signed up for the weekly school newsletter well before DS started to get familiar with the place & I'd recommend that as a starting point.
Thanks for your feedback and glad your DS has had a positive start that goes a long way. I'm really favouring SMM now just crossing fingers on catchment. Its going to be a long four months....
No worries, and good luck! Your DC will be fine in either eventuality. As I said, feel free to DM me if you need to ask anything.
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