St Paul's Boys School(16 Posts)
My DS has been fortunate enough to to have been offered a place at SPS for entry in 2018 (13+ entry). He is not uber confident but he knows his mind and is kind, hardworking and confident without any arrogance. We have heard a few negative stories about life at the school (mostly second-hand) but we had a very positive impression of the school when we visited last year. I would be very grateful if any parents with DSs at the school could give me their views - negative and positive. My biggest concern is my DS going from a small Prep school where he is thriving to St Paul's where he might well see himself as being less academically able than the other boys.
He also has offers from Latymer Upper and KCS so we are very confused about which one to choose. Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Both SPS and LU are closest to our house (approx 30 minutes door to door) and going to KCS would involve having to get either the school bus or the tube (1hr journey one-way).
Thanks in advance!
I have a DC at LU who I would describe in similar terms to your son. My DC is generally happy at the school but has been subject to low level bullying by some of the (ahem) more confident pupils over the past year and a half. It hasn't been serious enough for me to alert the school so I can't comment on what their response would be. However, it makes me wonder if you need to be uber confident to be truly happy there. I think LU is an extremely good school, but I sometimes wonder if my DC would have been happier somewhere "kinder".
Thank you Wlondonparent. That is good to know. Do you think a school like St Paul's might be considered 'kinder'? My son is a bit geeky and not very sporty (although he thinks he is very cool) so I don't know which school would be the best fit for him. I love KCS and Hampton too, but they are quite far from us so I don't know how my son will cope with doing that journey everyday, especially with a heavy workload.
For my part, l can cope with anything except bullying. Even "low level" can be quite insidious and upsetting. I think it's something more likely to be suffered by girls in Y7 - 9 in my experience especially where there is a significant number of "cool" girls about. I think in SPS it's the workload & teachers that are more likely to be tough. The head isn't really the kind type is he? More businesslike. My take is in SPS worry about workload/tough teachers. In LU worry about the cool kids. I would imagine the more academic the school the less scope there is for unkindness as the kids are so busy. This is completely hearsay of course. I welcome contradictions as l'd like more info on these two myself. Anybody else?
I would absolutely second everything that Wondon says as our experience at LU has been very similar. I know quite a few boys in the upper years of Colet. I would say they are the types to put more pressure on themselves re- grades/sets/class positions (or maybe it's the parents) One boy I know at CC for instance, has all sorts of tutors - for history and science and even one for art! The CC boys I know are definitely less streetwise than my DC and their friends - very little idea about pop music and the like. Obviously, being a boys school, sport teams at CC are more likely to influence social hierarchies, but I think CC is probably a more facilitating atmosphere for the more quirky or "geeky" child too. In very broad terms, I would say LU is more edgy socially, but less of a hothouse environment. Which one is "kinder" depends on the child. Just my view though!
Our ds was at St Paul's - clever, uncool, quirky boy. Loved it and was happy from day one never having really been happy at prep. Totally un-sporty but nobody really seemed to care, plenty of other things to be good at. Fab tutor system - his tutor knew him and never missed a single thing he did or achieved and everything was always mentioned in reports etc. Yes, it's an intellectual power-house, and yes, some of the boys are super, super bright (ds somewhere in the middle but well able to hold his own and probably benefitted from learning with boys cleverer than him) but they all rub along in an atmosphere of rather laconic, tolerant, good humour. Gentle in the sense that there's plenty of room to find your own niche and nobody judges. Teaching is second to none and they know how to get the best out of bright sparks. Great success for us and ds. Good luck!
Hi Visualcontrast. Can I ask when your DS ' interview was and when the offer came. We are on tenterhooks and a little confused. Many thanks.
This is all really helpful everyone - thank you so much! I've been thinking about it all day and I think we are leaning towards KCS and St Paul's over LU but I am planning to visit all the schools again to clear my mind. Does anyone have a DC with a longish commute? How are they coping with that combined with schoolwork/extra curricular activities etc?
CaringMom, my DS had his interview at SPS in January because he was sitting 11+ entrance exams for two schools and we needed to know either way to make a decision. He got an offer last week along with the others.
I certainly wouldn't choose KCS over SPS and definitely not if he has a long journey to get there. SPS has a reputation for being good with quirky pupils.
I rather like the new head, he seems down to earth & quite funny. He isn't pompous in anyway and is trying to improve the boys' self-image - there is a termly newspaper now which mentions all sorts of different achievements, from sporting prowess to academic success in international competitions. There are lots of different types of boys at SPS, between 170-190 a year so there is a huge range of personalities. I think boys from smaller preps thrive on the opportunities in the 4th form, (yr9) as it is often the first time they have been able to play rackets or work in a proper theatre. The work load isn't very high in the 4th form so they can get settled. I agree that the tutor system is very good, my son's tutor is a fantastic match for him.
Although my DC will not be going to either, I personally would choose SPS over LU any day as a) SPS is a much nicer site b) the academics are better and c) I suspect there is less pressure to be "cool" and quirky kids would fit in better. Indeed for many bright London boys SPS is their number one choice and I know kids from North London hoping to go there (I think there is a school bus) who will go locally (Highgate/UCS etc) if they don't get in. I would have thought it's an easy choice on paper but the problem for us parents is that at the end of the day whether one's DC is happy at a particular school is a bit of a lottery depending on making good friends/ their peer group/no bullying etc .
Your DC has done well. St Paul's is a fast and intelligent school, speaking from our experience my advice would be if your DC was tutored or worked very hard for these exams, SPs is like that the whole time, so beware. My DC2 was in the top set for all subjects at his prep school and got offered a place at SPs, which we accepted, he is now struggling with confidence and is not in the top set. Which is fine, but I want him to thrive and be the confident prep school boy he was. This has been hard for him (and us). DC1 is at KCS and thriving, like you, a longer commute but well worth it, for us it is the right school and can't fault it. I suppose it just depends on your DC, only you know him, both great schools academically. Also they always have someone to travel home with so the distance never really a chore. DC3 probably sitting both next year!
DS started at St Pauls in September and absolutely loves it. He comes home each day buzzing - the teaching is really inspirational. He is very able in English/History/Philosophy, but is less naturally gifted on the Maths and Science side. I think he feels stretched on the Arts side and supported on the Sciences!
His year group has a massive range of interests - County and National sportsmen, extraordinary musicians, programming geeks, poets... They all have huge respect for each others' abilities and interests - whether they share them or not! Year 9 at SPS is a great opportunity to try lots of things - the only compulsory activity is Rugby, but as they put out A to G teams, there is a standard for everyone!
I would agree with a pp about being wary if you DS has needed tutoring to get him this far - they work hard and fast from day one, and a lot of the work requires independent learning.
I think the commute matters less at 13 than it does at 11, although you probably want a single bus/tube journey.
DS is on the 6th form (year 11) at SPS. Like most boys he came from a small prep school which they all do apart from the Coletines. Like your son he had a couple of other offers, one at Westminster and one at MTS. We were happy to let him chose as they are all good schools although we were secretly v pleased as we felt SPS was the one that would be best for him.
Three years into the school I can say he has been extremely happy there since day 1 and really makes the most of the wide range of activities available. In his words "all the boys here are weirdo's in their own ways so everyone fits in somewhere and that's cool." There are so many things for the boys to do that there really is something for everyone - and if you don't want to do anything that's ok too.
Academically DS is not amongst the brightest at the school but the teaching is superb - he is always coming home with some random thing he has learnt. The boys seem to bounce off each other are there seems to be a competitiveness that makes them work hard - I think teenage boys are naturally competitive and this seems to be well directed. The teaching staff seem to be very encouraging and build they boys self esteem unlike my daughters v academic school which is brilliant at making v bright girls feel dumb
The tutor system also seems on the whole to work v well. We know of only one parent who has not been happy with their son's tutor.
Please feel free to PM me if you have any further questions
We have an interview at SPS. I read here that parents go to be interviewed but letter says there is a chance for parents to ask questions which is not an interview. Does my wife need to go? She will be working.
Hi everyone, I can't thank you enough for all your help and advice. I am planning to reply to some individually later today.
LateNever I wouldn't say the parents are interviewed. It is an informal chat where you are given the opportunity to ask questions about the school and the admissions process. I don't think it is important that your wife goes too although it might be nice for her if she can get away from work for a bit. My husband and I went together but the boy who arrived after us came with his father. I am sure it would be fine either way.
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