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London secondary school ideas for sporty/musical girl - advice?

(45 Posts)
martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 12:25:35

My DD is in Year 4 now and I am wondering what might be the best secondary school experience I can achieve for her.

She is quite lively; on all the A teams at school, on development teams in tennis, sailing. Musically writes songs will have Grade 2-4 in two instruments. Academically she is above average in French, Science, Maths but nothing extraordinary.

Am renting so can move to east or west London. Considering free schools like Mossbourne but wonder if I should attempt a fee paying schools (e.g. Putney High?) where we may get a bursary? Would the experience far outweigh the financial sacrifice?

Many thanks for any advice in this matter.

AnotherNewt Wed 04-Nov-15 12:40:49

It might be worth looking at fee paying schools, and see if you fit their bursary criteria, or perhaps in this case scholarship backed by bursary.

You'd need to ask what performance level they expect of their music scholars (grades? orchestral experience?) and how they assess sports scholarships. For some, it is very much about club references (her development teams might fit the bill) but also check if there are any preferred sports - some schools definitely prefer some to others (PHS has specific trials for gymnasts, then all the rest) or at least want excellence in their major sports, though if they assess potential (rather than just having attended the right clubs by age 10) the good all rounder, stalwart of school A teams is in with a chance.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 12:51:47

Thanks for your interesting points AnotherNewt. I often wonder what sports I should encourage her in. She likes gymnastics but we have no serious clubs within commuting distance currently. Swimming she competes in.

I struggle with the idea of making an effort with rounders or netball as they seem to have such little shelf life but perhaps I am wrong?

She does not play in an orchestra currently as she takes lessons and exams outside of school but perhaps I should look into this.

AnotherNewt Wed 04-Nov-15 13:05:30

I think you need to be guided by her, both in terms of whether she joins orchestras and ensembles, and which sports she takes up. She must already have quite a load, with 2 instruments and 3 serious sports. And if you're going to add to that it really does need to be only what she really wants to do. Because there's never any guarantee she'd secure a scholarship, or even if she did whether it (possibly plus bursary) would actually make the school affordable.

And both music and sports scholars have a lot of demands made on their time (for one, keeping up progress on individual instruments/singing; being in choirs, orchestras, ensembles, concerts; providing music for drama productions etc: for the other, training for sports, additional performance training, fixtures etc) so really only suit the DC who want it to be a major part of their lives.

The major sports in girls schools are typically netball, hockey and athletics (including cross country) probably some or all of with gymnastics, swimming, tennis, cricket, football and lacrosse thrown in too. Rowing later on (most don't start until year 9ish). Excellence in other sports definitely looked on favourably, but may not be enough to secure a scholarship (as they will be looking for those pupils who will help their teams win). But you really need to ask each school.

Now' the time to do your homework, in terms of visiting the schools and seeing what they are like all round (academics and ethos, as well as potential scholarship areas). And also visit the state schools and investigate their entrance criteria (eg would you have to move to the same street to be sure of entry). And then ignore how you'd afford it, and decide which looks best for your DD. Because what you value in a school for her may well be found in either sector.

newname12 Wed 04-Nov-15 13:05:33

I only know SE london.

There are several good schools with "scholarships"- as in no money, but bumps you up the admissions list.

Prendergast and Haberdashers Askes are excellent schools with music priority.
Kingsdale has sports and music scholarships. Sports are either general- i.e natural aptitude and school sports ability, or specific, where you're expected to be competing your sport at a national level.

Gymnastics, if she's not at a serious club and she's 10, likely won't be a high enough level.

Private schools all have sports and music bursaries, but they are only a nominal amount off the fees. Lots of those.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 13:34:06

Thanks for the feedback. I will look into Prendergast and Haberdashers Askes.

I should do this: 'visiting the schools and seeing what they are like all round (academics and ethos, as well as potential scholarship areas)' but so many around London that I am not sure what to shortlist?

If I stay in my current house I could get into Mossbourne Academy but not sure if I should be making the effort to try for something independent instead and what the effort should be. Would you just be a number at a city academy? I like the idea of her being somewhere where her individual talents can be nurtured and where she will be happy and excited by school.

Regarding sports and music DD wants to do everything all the time and I would ideally like to cull any less useful activities this year seeing as she seems to like them all equally and is spreading herself maybe too thinly across them.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 13:46:41

Would the Good Schools Guide be able to offer me any significant direction in this? Not sure what resources are the most useful, people who know this sub-sector may have an overview of what children tend to fit into which secondary schools? I am all thumbs at this I am afraid and am not part of any network of people with older children who were similarly circumstanced.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 04-Nov-15 13:58:32

Putney has strong tennis teams, she would have to be at least county level to be in with a shout at a tennis scholarship, development squad is nowhere near strong enough. Sailing, not really a big girls day school sport.

Similarly for music, unless she focuses and concentrates on one instrument she will not be doing well enough for a music scholarship.

Your DD actually sounds like a lovely, rounded, interested in everything girl who would be welcomed at any school. Unfortunately, for scholarships and even some bursaries Indy schools want to see a level of excellence, i.e. something they can put pictures of or boast about in their brochure.

I hate to think of your DD spending the next couple of years cramming one instrument/one sport/or just cramming academically to get a discount to an Indy school you assume may offers something better. Go and look at Mossbourne, maybe it offers exactly what you want ( I live miles away and never heard of it).

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 14:17:11

Thanks cake, this is a nice summary. So I should be focussing on a school whose fees might be achievable, would pass exams and would fit in culturally.

Any suggestion of a school that my daughter might enjoy that is not one of the most expensive or intellectually exclusive? Would like to look at a few before giving up entirely.

It may not be possible to get into one but then if you don't try you will never know.


neuroticnicky Wed 04-Nov-15 15:29:11

In West London, I would have a look at Holland Park which has the advantage of being free, in a great location and with excellent sporting facilities (and a good girls netball team).It also divides children into 4 academic bands and the standard of the top bands is now pretty high (I know a few kids there who declined places at the likes of SPGS and Latymer etc).

The chances of a music scholarship at a decent school are pretty low unless you are grade 8 in 2 instruments etc. Also the schools tend to ignore instruments (such as piano and guitar) which are not orchestral i.e. they are basically looking for people to play in the school orchestra which can be something of a a poisoned chalice if you get the wrong type of music teacher.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 17:44:01

That is very interesting to know, thank you neuroticnicky.

Waitingandhoping2015 Wed 04-Nov-15 18:24:52

Yes the chances of a meaningful scholarship are slim. For sport you need to be County level - school A team at Primary is pretty meaningless I'm afraid. Also it needs to be a sport (or sports) relevant to the school's teams. For music I think Grade 8 is exaggerating somewhat... at DS school one of the music scholarship boys is Grade 4 violin. DS got an all rounder award for his academic level, sport and guitar (G5). As it's not pure music the instrument itself was less important - he plays electric guitar and hard rock!

So basically you need to find the right school that fits and take it from there...

MarvellousMarv Wed 04-Nov-15 18:27:24

I believe St Dunstans in SE London does significant fee reductions for those with sports and music scholarships, and you do not have to have a Grade 8 by Yr 7 to get one. I may be wrong though.

I know someone with a DC on a music scholarship who was Grade 5 in Yr 9, I think.

At Kingsdale the music scholarship helps you get in (no guarantees though, I don't think) and is then worth thousands in free music tuition and trips. It is a lottery so you can apply from anywhere in London.

I have friends with kids in Mossbourne and it sounds like a regimented bootcamp. But visit and do your own research, of course. You can't just assume that the famous and feted state schools are actually the best or what you want.

Haggerston seems to treat kids as individuals.

South of the river I would look at Charter, which shares some sports facilities with the private school next door and a great arts offer, Dunraven which has an excellent music offer, and both seem to have happy pupils.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 20:23:42

Thanks for these ideas, I suppose I am worrying that Mossbourne may be a bit joyless.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Wed 04-Nov-15 20:53:31

To be clear I am not saying don't try, you have been given some excellent suggestions and you should look in to them, but be prepared for it not to work out.

I know nothing of Mossbourne, but friends DCs are in state schools and they all seem to do sport, play instruments and have very happy school lives. So if it doesn't work out it isn't the end of the world.

Good luck.

MarvellousMarv Wed 04-Nov-15 21:35:12

Camden Girls is a state school
with music aptitude places. It always seems a very happy school to me with strong values.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 22:41:24

Cake - I was not being sarcastic. I think all the comments have been really interesting and helpful and I am better informed than I was previously.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 22:51:09

Camden Girls I was unaware of, I am surprised by its aptitude criteria. Interesting.

AgonyBeetle Wed 04-Nov-15 23:17:01

Mossbourne is bootcamp central. Fine if you like that kind of thing, but not if you don't.

Lots of people obsess about Camden Girls and would go private if they didn't get it. They are hot on music, less convinced by the sport. It's the polar opposite of Mossbourne though - arty, liberal, laid back. Or Parliament Hill, which is in many ways nicer than Camden, just not as fashionable (which some would see as an advantage). Much nicer setting too, on the edge of the Heath, Camden is very cramped and urban. Or St Marylebone, which has music/dance/drama places.

Basically there are loads of good schools for girls, state and private. We've done state, and I don't really see what extra my dc's private peers have had apart from flashier facilities and the kudos of a big name private school. But if you want the private option there's loads to choose from too.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 23:35:18

I am going to visit Camden Girls. I am not a snob I just want my daughter to be in atmosphere that she will thrive in and enjoy. A state school would help me save for university.

I have nothing against a bit of vigour but I don't want a miserable work camp environment. Yes to aspiration, inspiration and perspiration no to a dry and joyless experience.

AgonyBeetle Wed 04-Nov-15 23:46:21

In that case, skip Mossbourne and holland park, and look at Camden, parliament hill and st marylebone. Possibly also Grey coat hospital in Westminster. They are all great schools with a creative, energetic atmosphere, where a bright girl can get grades as good as the ones she would have been likely to get in a private school.

You'll have to wait until next autumn for open days for state schools now, though, as the current years admissions round has finished.

martiniDirty Wed 04-Nov-15 23:53:26

Thank you very much AgonyBeetle, a creative, energetic atmosphere sounds promising.

jeanne16 Thu 05-Nov-15 06:49:02

Just be aware that state schools such as Grey Coat are massively oversubscribed and so hard to get in ( esp now they have the daughters of Cameron and Gove attending). Also Holland Park may be fine if your DC is in the top band but it is pretty grim for the rest of the pupils ( and has a difficult time retaining teachers because by all accounts it is a dreadful place to work!).

AnotherNewt Thu 05-Nov-15 06:57:27

Greycoats changed its entrance criteria for last year's entry. And if you do not have a language place (super selective) or a sibling in the school, the distances for entry have fallen considerably.

And Waitingandhoping2015 is right about being in A teams isn't enough. It only works if they are A teams from known sporty schools which play a lot of fixtures (tends to favour preps) and when the PE teacher explains the level of performance properly in the sports reference.

nightsky010 Thu 05-Nov-15 07:09:05

Do not consider Habadashers! She will need to be a straight A student and thrive on pressure. One of the hardest schools in London to get in to.

If you decide to look at the private route, Mill Hill Foundation is strong on sports. Forest is also strong on sports, I've heard, but I don't remember if that's co ed or not. Grey Coat is impossibly hard to get in to.

Personally I'd look at lots of the brilliant schools further out rather than the central ones.

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