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Prendergast Hilly Fields & Graveney School

(34 Posts)
user1475317873 Sat 01-Oct-16 11:39:49


I am considering these two schools for my daughter who will start secondary school in 2018 and I would like to hear opinions from parents with girls there. Also, what are the chances of getting a music place at Prendergast? do you have to play an instrumt to a high level or can you also sing? is it very compentitive? what's the test like? and most important what's the school like in terms of atmosphere, sport, extra curricular activities.

For Graveney: What are the chances of getting an academic place; I believe there are 60 places based on the Wandsworth test; is this a reaslitic option? with children there who can tell me what the school is like.

Thank you

Noitsnotteatimeyet Sat 01-Oct-16 15:07:48

Which do you live closest to? Lewisham to Furzedown every day would be a nightmare commute for an 11 year old

However if she does the Wandsworth test you'll know her result before your application form goes in so you'll know if it's worth putting Graveney down

Fwiw I have a child at the school - it's ok but my dc goes there as it's our local school - it's not so good as to make up for a long and tiring commute

user1475317873 Sat 01-Oct-16 19:17:18

Thank you

We are 2 kilometers away from Prendegarst so that's definitely the closest.

Blu Sat 01-Oct-16 22:49:45

That would be a nightmare journey to Graveney! As for chances of getting an academic place at Graveney: well that depends on your dd's abilities. It is 'super-selective' in that for the 60 places distance is not an offer , so there can be applications from miles around, including families doing the whole 11+ tutoring thing.

State schools are not allowed to offer scholarship places for music on levels of accomplishment, it has to be on 'aptitude' , so no, no instrument at high level needed. Though of course those who are used to playing and singing will presumably feel ore comfortable with the tests. They will tell you at the Open Days whether singing is included.

Have you visited these schools? You can visit when you are in Yr 5, you don't have to wait til yr 6, but di definitely visit all your nearby schools. is Sydenham within reach? Everyone I know who has girls there speaks very highly of it.

Is Prendergast your closest secondary?

If your dd is musical there are other S London schools that offer music scholarships - Kingsdale, if there is a bus that goes your way along the S Circular, and they have a lottery admissions system so distance is not an issue - except for the journey, of course.

villaoformen Sun 02-Oct-16 12:45:24

Our DD is thriving and happy, both academically and socially at Graveney. Very little difference to Alleyn's, where our other dc is, in terms of teaching and aspirations. But and it is a but, no school is worth an awful journey for your kid.

user1475317873 Sun 02-Oct-16 18:30:36

Thank you Blu and Villa, very useful information.

We live in East Dulwich; half an hour bus ride from Prendergast and one hour from Graveney, 2 buses or walk and a train (according to google)

I will check when the opening days are for both schools, also will look at Kingsdale and Sydenham School as the chances of a music place in Prendergast and an Academic place at Graveney are not that high.

Blu Sun 02-Oct-16 18:40:10

And are you looking at Charter?
Catchments for schools can be quite tight, but lots of good schools in the vicinity.

villaoformen Sun 02-Oct-16 18:53:40

Don't discount Graveney, it may be worth putting on your list as you have 6 options. Best advice I can give you is do the journey your dc would have to at the same time they would be travelling. If it seems acceptable (bearing in mind the long day and probable after school clubs) go for it.

There are now 70 selective places at Graveney but I would advise practicing over the next year using Bond books and then GL Assessment books. The last few years there have been around 2000 applicants and a score of 250 out of 280 have been enough. The test is roughly 80 questions in 50 mins, so they need to sustain answering a question accurately every 40ish seconds, right to the end. After the scores have standardised it effectively means just dropping a few points in each test. Defo possible but needs practice imo.

SE13Mummy Mon 03-Oct-16 02:42:47

Prendergast has full details of the music aptitude test in the admissions section of the school website. Last year (current Y7), 142 girls applied for the 12 music places. Presumably most of them will have been girls who sat the initial aural test and applied under the music category even if they weren't one of the 60 to be invited to audition. There were definitely more than 142 who took the aural test last October. We spoke to the head of music when DD1 was in Y5 who mentioned that the standard of playing/singing really doesn't matter and that it's about the child's potential and her interest in/passion for her instrument. I don't think my DD was asked about grades in the audition but she was asked about the sort of ensembles she'd like to have an opportunity to play in.

The home to school distance for the last place offered this year was 1141.620m (inclusive of the 30 additional girls admitted as a one-off bulge class) so a child who lives 2km away is unlikely to get in on distance.

Our experience so far is that it is a lovely school with a lot of opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities. Homework is a bit tricky to plan for as there doesn't seem to be a homework timetable but that's hardly a deal-breaker. DD1 is loving her Y7 experience so far, has a good group of friends and we're pleased that we chose Prendergast over grammar school (she had a guaranteed place).

user1475317873 Mon 03-Oct-16 14:49:05

Thank you all very much for taking the time to reply; this is very helpful

Blu: I am not sure we are in the Catchment for the East Dulwich Charter; we are1.5 kilometers from the hospital; perhaps when they increase the intake to 240; just wondering whether this school is going to be ready for 2018; haven't seen much happening on site. Anyway it will be one of our 6 options with Kingsdale and Sydenham (once we see them)

Villa: We are going to the open day at Graveney next week and will go by public transport to see if it is doable. 80 question in 50 min does seem tough, but we do have a year to prepare. What's the school like in terms of sports and arts? do children find it overwhelming because of the size?

SE13: This is very useful; also good to hear such a positive things about the school; the catchment is tiny though but I guess after sibblings and music places have been allocated there is not much left. The size of the school is ideal I think as you get more opportunities for extra curricular activities. It does look like a lovely school.

Blu Mon 03-Oct-16 15:00:59

Charter ED are operating out of an upgraded primary school for this year and next - it looks quite good on their website.

There was definitely a catchment for the original Charter in parts of E Dulwich, though I think that went down a bit after the shenanigans abut the footpath form Dog Kennel hill was sorted out. So as this school is additional, and closer, and also Kingsdale has increased its intake, I would have thought that catchments would be inclined to spread.

It is a very well thought-of school.

Noitsnotteatimeyet Mon 03-Oct-16 15:07:33

Our experience at Graveney has been a bit mixed to be honest.

Plus points - much of the teaching is excellent; if your child is in extension they're surrounded by very bright, mostly motivated peers; it's local (for us) so my child can walk to school with local friends; if your child is musical (mine isn't!) the music is excellent and some of the trips are wonderful opportunities (Iceland, Berlin, First World War battlefields)

Stuff that's not been so good - it's huge (34 in my child's class, nearly 450 in lower sixth alone) so it's very easy for a quiet, less confident child to get overlooked; the special needs department has been slashed this year, from 7 to 4 and another's going at Christmas, so if your child needs any extra support I can't see how that can be effectively given as the workloads for the remaining staff are unsustainable; extracurricular opportunities in sport and drama are limited and unless your child is extremely good they're not going to represent the school as there's usually only one or at a push two teams for the more popular sports; behaviour in the lower streams is not great and the school is lousy at communication - emails are unanswered, the website is often out of date etc

It's been an OK experience so far but not brilliant if I'm honest and certainly not a school I'd make my child travel long distances for.

Yes, the results are good but considering the super-selective nature of some of its intake you'd expect them to be

Offline Mon 03-Oct-16 16:54:16

My experience with Graveney (know many kids there, have worked with some of their young people in an off-site setting) is that it is a good comprehensive school, like many other good comprehensive schools across S London. It's results demonstrate the intake, many families in the catchments for Charter, or Dunraven or Haberdashers or Prendergast, Burntwood, Bolingbroke etc are confident enough about the top set education in those schools not to bother with the test or the journey to Graveney (or other selectives). It's a very good school and one of mine may well go there for sixth form in a few years, but just because it has selective places doesn't make it qualitatively different from any other very good school.

user1475317873 Mon 03-Oct-16 17:35:26

Notitisnot and offline thank you very much for your honest opinion; this is very helpful.

I do think that many opportunities in terms of extra curriculars are for the top sets in most of the good state schools as they have so many children and resources are limited; same thing for sports.

villaoformen Mon 03-Oct-16 20:21:49

TGH I've found that even in private schools the opportunities in sport can be limited. My other dc (and many of DC's friends) have had to find teams outside their private school in order to take part. Ditto drama. Even the school trips abroad have limited numbers. At Graveney sports and the arts are very much encouraged, of course everybody can't be picked – that would be unrealistic – but if you're kid has a talent for them then they should fly. It has a brilliant art department (and an extension art class) so that area is taken seriously.

As for behaviour, if your dc enters the school via the Wandsworth test, they will be milling around with either Extension or Upper kids, who are very bright and as far as my dc's experience lovely. I'm not sure about the SEN dept though.

I was worried about the size but they are very good at keeping the school manageable for the kids and that hasn't been an issue at all.

Maybe things have improved lower down the school, we haven't experienced any problems with communication – quite the opposite in fact.

I think as long as you approach schools realistically, they can't be perfect and they don't suit every child, you can't go far wrong with any of your choices.

Offline Mon 03-Oct-16 21:54:22

I don't think there is any difference in the extra curricular offer in schools between sets . They all get offered the same clubs etc. once they are in secondary there are so many sports and music opportunities outside school, it doesn't have to all be in school,

reallyanotherone Mon 03-Oct-16 22:00:12

If she wants music seriously consider Kingsdale.

A kingsdale "scholarship" will include music tuition, instrument hire etc. Prendargast may get her a place, but you still pay for her music. So I am told by a friend who picked kingsdale over prendergast, havimg got scholarships at both.

Offline Mon 03-Oct-16 22:19:01

The music offer at Kingsdale is very good .

But they do expect music scholarship people to participate in lots of activities as required, so be sure she is very into music if you go for it.

user1475317873 Tue 04-Oct-16 08:03:06

Thank you

I find all the comments very useful. I think we will see all the schools and keep all the options open as we really can't guarantee we will we get a place in any of them. Graveney: only if she gets one of the 70 places; Prendergast: only 12 places for music; Kingsdale: Lotery; Charter: not sure if we are close enough; Sydenham Girls: Will look at the admision criteria.

Offline Tue 04-Oct-16 11:58:47

Harris ED?

citykat Tue 04-Oct-16 12:29:13

I have heard Charter ED are not setting at all, even for maths. I haven't made it to the open day so am not sure what to think, whether there was misunderstanding and they mean not in Y7 but will at GCSE for example. Nothing on website. Anyone know?
Another school ED children seem to be going to is Elm Green- 2 Stops in the train. Not especially musical but well regarded.

MyNightWithMaud Tue 04-Oct-16 13:12:38

Do go to the open events. I was very keen on Graveney until I went to the open day, where there was something undefinable about the place I disliked.

user1475317873 Tue 04-Oct-16 13:53:17

Haven't considered Harris ED; will check it out. Thank you

Strange that Charter ED is not setting; will ask them in the next open day. The one in Red post Hill does settings for Maths, Science and English I believe.

villaoformen Tue 04-Oct-16 18:01:10

Trying not to be offended MyNightWithMaud! They're right though, you can be dead set/not keen on a school on paper and that can all change once you visit it.

Maarias Tue 04-Oct-16 18:22:12

I don't have kids at Graveney, but do know others that do in the selective streams.

Mostly they are very happy with academic, but the sports is lacking.

Re. the Wandsworth year 6 test, which we have just taken, the kids who are also prepping for the 11plus tend to find it pretty easy - it's not as challenging, although now that NVR has been dropped by the grammars completely they don't have a complete advantage anymore.

The kids I know in the streams were Grammar candidates who missed out on a place for whatever reason.

I have been to the open day and actually really made me like the school. Lovely setting, really bright and articulate year 7 tour guides and good talk by the head and kids. All in all it's a thumbs up from me. smile

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