Sydenham High School(19 Posts)
Hi, I wondered if there was anyone who has a DD at Sydenham High School (GDST), specifically the senior school?
DD is at a local state primary, and is a bright girl, level 4/5 in Year 5. But quite shy, not super extrovert.
We went around Sydenham High's Open Day, and really liked it, it felt like it would be a good fit for her. But a few people I have spoken to have said 'well, if you are going to pay, go for Alleyns/ Jags/ Bromley High' etc.
Obviously I want DD to do well, and as we would be paying (would be first foray into the indie sector), obvs we would like value for money! But I want her to be happy, to thrive, to be in the 'best fit' school. Her brother goes to a grammar, and it's a great fit for him - but I think the kind of academic pressure DS is not even noticing, would really throw DD (her y3 and 4 teachers both commented on how she needs to be more resilient in her learning).
We looked around St Dunstans too. But not much in it in terms of results, and SH is a 20 min walk away for us, not a battle across the south circular.
I look forward to MN wisdom!
It's very small and so has to make hard decisions at sixth form level about the courses it can afford to run. A lot of girls are first generation independent school attenders; when parents fall on financial difficulties, school fees are the first thing to be withdrawn - there are quite a lot of good state schools in the area.
First generation independent school attenders! That's DD1. Possibly. As products of international schools (funded by DF's multinational employer) and the only Scottish state school in the village, DH and I are newbies in the exciting London world of education, love MN as a way of getting some more views.
Right now, when others ask you 'why not school XYZ?' You have no answer because you haven't even looked at them. So perhaps that's something you might want to consider doing.
As just one example of the schools being mentioned to you, JAGS has a reputation as an academic hothouse/powerhouse (which is amply demonstrated by its results). But if your DD is clever, it won't feel remotely like a hothouse to her because it's pace will fit her brainpower. If you have a look, consider the ethos, see what it offers as well as the academic side, you might decide that actually it would be a good fit and is worth a go. Or you might hate it on sight and rule it out, and then be able to answer those who converse with you about it with 'I've looked and it really isn't what we're after'. Because though some thrive in a very selective school where everyone is clever, others blossom in the top sets of those with a more varied intake.
(Note I said 'converse' because unless these peop,e are very close to you, they're probably just chatting and don't really care deeply what choices you make).
DD is at another GDST school not far from Sydenham and will be leaving this year rather than staying on for senior school. Our reasoning is that she passed eleven plus and we have a great superselective she can attend and she was never really stretched at the junior school. I know some whose DDs are happy to stay at the school and others who are not in the junior school who are keen to join. It seems to depend on your perspective but for us it was never our top choice even if money had been no object. They seem to do well and get the best out if the girls given the most academic will head to grammars or the alleyns/JAGS/Sevenoaks type of schools which are far more academic. They manage to get a lot of leverage out of the gdst network and have some great inter school events which challenge the most able/talented/sporty. Also take a comparison between the GCSE and A level results I know a fair number tend to move from the local GDST schools to either grammar sixth forms or other independents as they've had enough of single sex education by this stage or just want a change.
How do you know your daughter has a place at the superselective? (Newstead I assume?)
Thanks for all the feedback.
I think I have seen similar posts from you on the elevenplusforum - your DD's school is one DD's tutor suggested, as well as trying for NW. Interesting you much prefer NW: my worry is that it seemed very pressurised (lots of talk about the many many twilight classes and our guide was doing extra GCSEs in her lunch hours.) I would like DD to be stretched and challenged but I don't want her to be overwhelmed. However I have friends with DD there and they absolutely adore it, sounds like it would be a great fit for your DD too, she must be very excited.
AnotherNewt, lots of great points there thanks. (We have looked at lots of state, but only 3 independents so far, you are right we should probably look at some more.)
Hi Iguanatsil there is no guarantee but she scored a good amount above the historical cut off for the past five years. The cut off score has been pretty similar year after year too. I doubt the school will be suddenly that more popular this year (especially due to lacking a head!).
I am just bumping this for some more feedback 6 months on?
Hi Sydenhamhiller. I have children in the junior dept and i know lots in the seniors. It is a great school, known for its pastoral care and community spirit. Academically it is really on the up as well, being most improved in the GDST tables this year and beating lots of it's rivals. Better than Bromley High if you are going for GDST. It is a different kettle of fish to JAGS but a much much nicer one. Alleyns is mixed boys and girls so again very different. GDST focus is on girls only education which is their great strength. I think it is great!
Thanks Elly79, that's lovely feedback. I have heard from lots of people what a caring place it is, but a couple of parents have mentioned that they weren't sure that their daughters were being stretched enough academically. So it's great to hear about their results.
Thanks so much again.
A woman I know has a daughter who goes there. She said the headteacher is really unkind. Sorry not what you at to hear.
Elly79 on what basis do you say the school is much much nicer than Jags? I am interested in how you measure "niceness" when you are looking at schools.
My understanding is that the HT is leaving, possibly at Christmas?
And it is an interesting point about 'niceness': I think it is similar to the 'feel' that you get when you are looking at flats/ houses and one just 'feels' right. After looking at lots (and LOTS) of secondary schools for DS and DD1, sometimes one that looked amazing on paper (the Ofsteds, results, valued added etc) didn't feel as right as another. But it will feel right for someone else. I realise this hardly scientific
I totally agree you get a good feeling about different schools. I have a daughter at JAGS in year 8 who is deliriously happy and it seems a lovely school to me. Equally I have friends with daughters at both Sydenham and Streatham who are equally happy. Its all about finding the right fit imo and I find comments like those of Elly79 quite annoying and very unhelpful. I think its also worth thinking about where the girls travel in from and so where their friends are likely to live which has a huge impact on them socially. Good luck with your decision sydenhamhiller!
Sorry if you found that annoying SWstressed. It is a rubbish word to use to describe a school. I am only going from hearsay but i completely agree that it is about finding the right fit for your daughter.
JAGS is a fantastic school if you fit it as is Streatham and Sydenham. All have their good and bad points.
Sydenham in particular has a reputation as a very 'caring' 'Pastoral' school which is where 'nice' came from probably. JAGS has more of an academic reputation.
I think all that is changing though as i have heard JAGS has a new head with a pastoral focus and Sydenham is rising through the academic ranks....
HT is leaving at Xmas and there is a teacher from a school in Camden (Queens i think) starting at Easter. All very positive from what i have heard.
I'm an ex-SHS girl, although I left a good number of years ago Mrs Pullen who has just left as head was actually my English and classics teacher (she was there for some 26 years!) and we all thought she was lovely, we've nothing but fond memories of her and she's still friendly spoken about amongst alumni as being a favourite teacher. But like some have said, she's just retired, they've presently got an acting Head with a permanent one due to take up post soon.
I've got a slightly unique perspective as both my parents were teachers at other local independent schools (Alleyn's and Croydon high gdst), it's really horses for courses and while some girls excel at really academically focused mixed schools like Alleyn's, some girls do better in a smaller all girls environment which has a more of a holistic approach, where developing as a confident well rounded individual is considered just as important as exam results - developing the girl as a whole. Due to ill health I left before I sat my exams but still to this day I find things I learned at SHS of great value in my every day life, they're days I wish I could go back and relive and savour.
And even back then we had plenty of girls who left with A* across the board at both GCSE and A-level, we certainly got challenged and stretched, and when I became severely injured they went above and beyond to ensure my schooling was affected as little as possible. Of course there were some teachers we hated, you get that at every school, but on the whole we look back at our time at SHS very fondly and wouldn't hesitate to send our own daughters there.
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