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Recommendations for Free Secondary Schools

(13 Posts)
Rowenag Thu 09-Jun-16 08:38:22

My DD is currently in Year 2 at a lovely small outstanding primary school in a nice area. We are very lucky and have had a brilliant experience so far. I was also lucky in that I went to a small, lovely private secondary school when I was young so in an ideal world my preference would be to move her into a fee paying school once she leaves. Unfortunately realistically we will not be in a position to do this financially unless we win the lottery between now and then. We rent our flat and we would be prepared to move anywhere within London (preferably within zones 1-3 for work reasons) in order to be close to a really good free school. The smaller the better. Just wondering what our options are? Can anyone recommend an excellent state school with a nurturing environment that will give her a happy and good experience at secondary school. Due to my educational background, all the local secondary state schools do look massive, tough and scary to me (which they may not be!). Thanks in advance.

Cleo1303 Thu 09-Jun-16 09:25:06

The only one I know of is the West London Free School.

However, as you would like her to go to a private school you could always see if she has any talents which might get her a scholarship to one, and some scholarships are topped up by bursaries.

Apart from academic scholarships, many schools offer scholarships in sport, music and drama. For sport you could sign her up for local swimming, netball and hockey clubs. For drama you could see how she gets on at Stagecoach. For a music scholarship she would need to get to Grade 6. It's best to have two instruments. If you choose one unusual instrument that also helps. Harp, bassoon, organ, oboe, or something similar would be good.

I wish I had known all of this when DD was in Year 2. I'd have signed her up for everything!

minifingerz Thu 09-Jun-16 09:58:20

There is no evidence that children in small schools do better, once intake is adjusted for.

I would be careful about projecting your own issues onto your dd. She may settle absolutely fine into a big school. Most children do! Why do you think your dd is any different?

My own ds is in year 7 in a massive, massive comp. He's a very sensitive little boy, very musical and a bit neurotic. Although it took him a couple of terms to get used to the workload and the environment he's really happy now and doing well. Really you don't need to be a hard nut to cope in a big school.

TaIkinPeace Thu 09-Jun-16 17:33:44

I went to a small private school and am really pleased with my kids massive comp
and even more pleased with the mahoosive 6th form college

mummytime Thu 09-Jun-16 17:58:39

There are lots of very good things about big schools!
More money, so usually more resources. Also much more chance to meet people you really gel with. If it is a school that "knows" it is big, it may well have great systems to make sure no child "falls through the net" (my DC's 2000 school does this much better than a local 1000 one, from my experience of being in both schools).
If your DD is 7, she will have changed massively by the time she reaches 11.

mary21 Thu 09-Jun-16 18:11:09

Schools like Lady Margaret, Christs in Richmond, Turing House, St Cecilia's are smaller but not small.
Its hard when you have a 6/7 year old imagining them at a big comp but its more about how a school arranges its self and ensures it knows its pupils. Bigger schools do provide more resources and a greater pool of liked minded friends.

mary21 Thu 09-Jun-16 18:29:34

Just thought Reach Academy in Feltham is genuinely small so the do exist though I doubt its what you are looking for
A couple of other smaller schools Grey Coat Hospital and Archer Academy. oh and St Richard Reynolds
I am shred by year 6 though she will want to to school with her friends

bibbitybobbityyhat Thu 09-Jun-16 18:35:02

Both my sensitive, nerdy, non-trendy, gentle children go to mahoosive scary London comps and are very happy. Don't wrap your kids up in cotton wool! it is so unrealistic and anyway at a huge school they will find like-minded souls. In a small school they will just be in a smaller pond, which can be worse if they are not in with the "in" crowd.

Rowenag Thu 09-Jun-16 18:35:52

Thanks for replying everyone! She does have anxiety and is sensitive and is currently having some therapy at the school to help her confidence so I guess that is why I am wary about a big school. But as you are all saying, she could change massively between now and then, plus it certainly sounds like big doesn't necessarily equal bad! She is talented at dancing and singing but hates performing which is a shame, again that might change, but probably wouldn't want to put any pressure on her to get good enough at one discipline to get a scholarship although if she turns out to be very gifted at something I guess it might happen organically. If anyone can give names of big free schools that are London based that they know to be really excellent to let me know them too? Thanks again.

Marilynsbigsister Thu 09-Jun-16 22:03:18

If your dd has a lot of anxiety issues, why on earth do you not remove her (and yourselves) from the whole bloody rat race ? Move out of London , it's not the be all end all of everything. !

You may have 'London centric' jobs but you pay the price, literally . How about having 'normal' jobs and a normal life in East Sussex, Shropshire, Cornwall...and commensurately small secondary schools. Honestly, London really is HORRIBLE and you will only realise that once you leave it. You will then wonder why you spent so long having a massively lower quality of life there when the rest of the country have learned better. (Apologies for smug statement, but none the less true)

We used to live in London. DH earned 120k, I earned 70k.
Our mortgage was 450k
I never saw him.
We paid 2k in child care for other people to spend time with the children.
The older children in private school because local schools were crap. £4200 a term.
We moved out.
DH earns 45k
I earn 35k
We don't pay anything for child care.
Older dcs at great, small state school before getting into top (and I mean top) uni's
I spend the evenings with my husband.
We live in fresh air (can't be under estimated)
We have a quality of life.
We aren't poor, we aren't rich. We have one good holiday a year. No more skiing at half term...
Boo hoo... I'll live . Every weekend is a holiday.

lacebell10 Thu 09-Jun-16 23:23:46

Riddlesdown high school in sanderstead purley is massive but have collegiate mindset so have 3 class intake into each of four colleges but most lessons are done in their college building except for art music drama PE and dt. The first half term they spend all lessons in their tutor group and continue to have a lot in their tutor group through the year. Top sets in each college do Latin. They've just got awarded outstanding including for pastoral care.
My dd1 is looking forward to starting as well as 10 of her school friends.

Rowenag Thu 09-Jun-16 23:54:43

Lacebell10 - that sounds like an excellent school, thank you.

Rowenag Fri 10-Jun-16 00:06:02

Marilynsbigsister - thank you for your advice and for so clearly explaining how you have improved your quality of life. It sounds like you have really made the most of your move. smile We need to be in a City though for various reasons. Neither of us drive, and neither of us have skills that would enable us to find work outside London on the kind of salaries you have. I work in TV and my partner is a DJ. Plus I really really love living in London. I know we will find a suitable school for our daughter somewhere here. It is really interesting hearing different view points though. Thanks again.

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