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Henrietta Barnett School vs North London Private Schools

(33 Posts)
user1477356791 Tue 25-Oct-16 02:08:44

My DD is in Group A after the second round of the HBS 11 plus exam, which means she is likely to get a place. She will also be sitting NLCS, SHHS and Highgate. I think she has a good chance of getting into all schools.
My DD currently attends a selective private school in SW London but we will be moving to Hampstead, so we are looking for a school in North London.
I wonder if HBS offers altogether less with regards to general opportunities compared to private schools and is mainly very academic.
I was extremely impressed by the Head of NLCS and then heard she will be leaving!! Less impressed by the Heads of SHHS and Highgate.
Any advice on HBS compared to North London private schools would be greatly appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
evenstrangerthings Tue 25-Oct-16 13:57:16

Looking at the "end of the road" - Uni destinations- HBS gets around 10% into Oxbridge whereas for NLCS it's 30%+ (check the websites for the latest figures). A friend has a girl at each and has said that the local tutors are booked full of girls from both schools by the GCSE year. My daughter was at NLCS from reception until end of Year 3 when we moved abroad. She's now in 6th form back in the U.K. and I suspect she'll end up going to the same Uni (not Oxbridge) as she would have if she's stayed at NLCS for all those years. If your daughter is a high flyer - NLCS is more likely to get her into Oxbridge and it does have excellent facilities and an amazing track record - but you do have to weigh that up with the costs and also consider which school your daughter prefers from her visits.

user1474361571 Tue 25-Oct-16 15:22:38

NLCS is more likely to get her into Oxbridge.

Schools don't get pupils into Oxbridge. Pupils get themselves into Oxbridge, through their ability and potential.

I am far from convinced that any good school does particularly better than another good school in helping pupils get into Oxbridge. The different statistics mostly reflect the selection of the school e.g. Westminster gets a lot into Oxbridge but it selects based on Oxbridge potential. Provided that a school sends pupils to Oxbridge regularly, which HB does, then they don't have a disadvantage at getting pupils to Oxbridge relative to a school that sends a higher percentage of pupils to Oxbridge.

For NCLS v HB, it really depends on what you are looking for. Private schools have better facilities, co-curriculars etc because the funding per head is higher. I doubt that the A level results for a given child would differ much between either school. Both are somewhat pressured schools that wouldn't suit every child.

Threeschools Tue 25-Oct-16 15:42:45


Threeschools Tue 25-Oct-16 15:59:06

"A friend has a girl at each and has said that the local tutors are booked full of girls from both schools by the GCSE year." shock

user1477356791 Tue 25-Oct-16 16:40:27

To be honest my opinion is that a child of high ability will do well at any of the very selective schools, so this would not be so much my worry. HBS in fact sends between 20-30% to Oxbridge. I wonder if there is a broader range of non academic areas such as sport, art, music etc. and more opportunities for personal development, confidence building, debating abilities etc. in a private school. On the other hand a state school would have more "normal" pupils with less of a sense of entitlement, which is a good thing. Apparently, there seems to be less bullying etc at HBS but I don't know if one can say that categorically.

OP’s posts: |
Bue Tue 25-Oct-16 16:47:28

My friend went to HB and her twin sister went to NLCS (they were each allowed to choose their schools). Both went to Oxford and both have done well career-wise. I suspect if the schools were reversed they still would both have gone to Oxford and ended up in the same careers. So I'd simply choose the school that's the best fit. (I'd add that my friend is considerably more down to earth than her sister, but that may be just be personality!)

user1477356791 Tue 25-Oct-16 19:46:05

Thank you for all comments! I cannot believe that parents still tutor their children for GCSE, if they go to such highly academic schools.
We have not visited HBS yet, as we were on holiday already on their open day. We really liked NLCS but I am a little concerned the Head will change, as the Head has such a profound influence on the school.

OP’s posts: |
spike1709 Sat 29-Oct-16 10:46:36

For what it's worth, I think the impact of a head on big, established schools Like these is often overstated. SHHS is also getting a new head in January.

These are all amazing schools in their own way. Obviously most with that choice would go for hbs because it's great and free! Other than that, it depends whether you want mixed or single sex. Also, if you're living in Hampstead you would need to weigh up the NCLS coach. I agree that similar sorts of students from all these schools get into Oxbridge - very bright, self-motivated, )genuinely into their subject. All schools will have excellent systems to prepare the students for the application process.

horsemadmom Sat 29-Oct-16 19:36:33

Hi User.......,
I'm an NLCS mum (1 DD finished and another still there). DD2's closest friend is at HB. First of all, congrats on Band A! Best of luck for round 2.
Note of caution- the entrance process between the indies and HB can throw up some shocks. Do not assume that your DD will get offers from all the indies. I am not presuming that this is your assumption but, as a general note of caution to others reading this thread, every year a fair few get HB places but not top indies and also the converse. DD2's younger sister got an HB place but no top indie (CLSG, NLCS or even SHHS) offers.DD1 had friends' sisters who got HB but not NLCS- even as siblings- and we know others who got NLCS, Habs and SPGS who didn't get round 2 at HB. The CEM rewards a certain style of preparation and skill and indie interviews can trip up over-tutored girls.
I wouldn't worry about Mrs. McCabe leaving. NLCS is (like its logo) a ship that sails serenely on. The change of Head at SHHS was occasioned by two poor inspections and internal in-fighting. Not the situation at NLCS. NLCS always does things in a scarily orderly way. It's a plum job and will attract top candidates. The new Head will work alongside Mr. Shoults (academic Head) from January and hand over in September.
If you have the choice between NLCS and HB, you can't go too far wrong. NLCS has more sport and better facilities. HB is free. A bit more of an ethnic mix at NLCS and a bit less economic mix- although, it humbles me that how many parents at NLCS sacrifice and do without to educate their DDs there. Longer school day at NLCS to fit in clubs and sport but the coach is a godsend. Hampstead to school is 45 mins and the girls socialise, work or sleep.
DD1 has just started at Oxford (40% Oxbridge almost every year). I don't know what the prep is like at HB but, NLCS replicates a tutorial style of teaching in the 6th form. Whether you chose Pre-U or IB ( another difference), the teaching is challenging and socratic. HB did really well this year with Oxbridge. In past years, a high proportion of girls have been steered to London unis for cultural reasons (by parents). It's great to see this change.
You can always PM me if you have any questions!

horsemadmom Sat 29-Oct-16 20:09:20

And BTW, Neither of my girls was tutored EVER. It drives the school mad that there is an arms race amongst a minority of parents who refuse to believe it when they are told that their DDs are 'doing just fine'. I got an earful from one of DD2's teachers last year at parents' evening because I followed a string of eejits who wanted to know if their DD was top in that subject and ,when they didn't get an answer, asked for recommendations for outside tutors! Putting extra pressure on perfectionist girls is a recipe for disaster and one step below outright child abuse!

user1477356791 Sun 30-Oct-16 22:12:13

Dear Horsemadmom,
Thank you so much for your extremely helpful, detailed posts!
Although it would always be a bonus not to have to pay school fees, this would not be the main reason for us not to go private. My DH feels it might be better perhaps to send our DD to a more "normal" school with less overprivileged children, which nevertheles needs to be very academic. I am concerned a little that perhaps HBS will be mainly academic. DD is actually in group A after the second round. DD was assessed by a psychologist, as she has always been incredibly hyperactive but without any social issues and was found to have an exceptionally high IQ, apparently in the 0.03% range. She constantly needs stimulation and can be exhausting but is generally liked by other children. I entirely agree with you. When you put additional pressure on already highly motivated and very bright children, it might end in disaster, as these children are already so perfectionist. I have to tell my DD to stop working on projects rather than get her to complete them! Your DDs sound similar. My DS, however, is rather different and much more relaxed. We are thinking of St. Anthony's for him. I might pm you when we are back from holiday. Thank you for offering!

OP’s posts: |
horsemadmom Mon 31-Oct-16 12:44:21

Your DD sounds like most of the girls at NLCS! My DD1 was a bit of an exception as she was sooooooooo laid back, did homework when she could be bothered and never spent more than 45 minutes writing anything (including her UCAS PS). DD2 is much more perfectionist. I'm very strict about setting a time to down tools with her and she has a very busy social life with friends from lots of other schools.
I completely understand the desire to send DCs to a more 'normal' school. As indie schools go, NLCS has quite a range due to geographical catchment and a good bursary pot. I help with interviews and get to chat to hopeful parents every year- believe me, I see people who do not fit the indie school stereotype in any way. My job is to keep the paneling and portraits from scaring them off.
Your DS is like mine. He happily snoozed through UCS.
Enjoy your holiday!

clubnirvana Tue 27-Dec-16 00:20:42

both are good schools and both have that "prestige" feel.
just depends on how loaded you are! my plan is to take my daughter out of nlcs junior and get her into hbs in a few years time. I will be saving at least £125000! i could buy myself an audi R8 with that money! being a parent of a nlcs girl has been a real eye opener to me. coming from a very humble and frugal background, you get to see how the top 2% of the UK population live.

to quote you "My DH feels it might be better perhaps to send our DD to a more "normal" school with less overprivileged children, which nevertheles needs to be very academic". I agree with your husband. we fathers think the same.

your child will need to mingle with people from every type of background. this is not possible at schools like NLCS unless you encourage your child to interact with other children from all kinds of backgrounds. this is why i encourage my DD to make friends from other schools. in particular state schools.

at the end of the day you just want your daughter to be happy and archive the best to their potential. to me HBS is just a "free" version of nlcs.

horsemadmom Tue 27-Dec-16 08:12:35

I prefer parents who prioritise a great education for their daughters over a flashy car.

Ciutadella Tue 27-Dec-16 08:36:59

Hi horsemad, i am opportunistically jumping in here following your aside about ds! How did you and ds find ucs - particularly for 6th form? How do the girls joining then change things (if at all)?

WhiskyAndTwiglets Tue 27-Dec-16 08:52:41

I know NLCS very well (and the brand worldwide). I wouldn't send my daughter there. I didn't want her crying if she didn't always get an A* or (true story) does get an A* but gets the lowest A* mark in the class. She has never had a tutor either and whilst I know a few parents don't tutor, so many do! Its a pressure cooker atmosphere and how are those poor children supposed to cope when they leave? What actual skills do they have other than being taught to the test to pass as highly as possible?
If my teenager wants to go to Oxbridge, I know at her current school she'll be given guidance on how to get herself there. She's at a Midlands coed boarding school where she gets muddy and into mischief and she has no commute and there is NO tutoring 😊
I get you are only asking about Day schools, but I'll just put that out there as for us, the all round opportunities were only found boarding.

horsemadmom Tue 27-Dec-16 09:57:03

Hi Ciutadella. DS is probably a bad example. He loved UCS and is even living with ex-UCS mates at uni this year. He wasn't particularly motivated (bone idle) and one of those boys who neither struggled nor excelled. He sort of got ignored and I'm not a pushy parent. His A level results were awful - really awful, not NW London indie awful. Did get into his first choice uni (AAB course, BBB offer, not even gonna tell you how badly he underperformed that) due to the course leader taking a shine to him on open day. DS has since blossomed academically and studying what interests him. I think we were at the tail end of the ancient regime at UCS. Lots of staff changes and a much tighter ship. Girls haven't changed anything but the results in the league tables.
Whiskey, the tutoring/helicopter trend is pretty recent at NLCS. In DD1's cohort, it was unheard of. DD2's year has seen an increase and school is cracking down on it. Plenty of help in school for DDs who are under confident about a subject. Frankly, that pressure is about some parents and their unhealthy attitudes towards achievement. It is by no means a school wide culture. I can assure you that my DD1 left with much more than the ability to pass exams. She has just finished 1st term at Oxford and loved it. Only downside....she got completely overcommitted post-freshers fair after signing up to too many clubs which were run by ex-NLCS girls. Her Cambridge friends reported the same phenomena. NLCS girls leave knowing how to run things and confident that they will find the 25th hour in every day. Time management and leadership. DD1 also reported being more academically confident than most of her coursemates because she was used to tutorial style teaching. Her friends at other universities (and there certainly are many excellent ones besides Oxbridge!) have all come back reporting how easy they found the transition and management of the workload.

Howdoyousortoutboys Tue 27-Dec-16 10:21:16

I didn't want her crying if she didn't always get an A* or (true story) does get an A* but gets the lowest A* mark in the class.

The pressure would be the same for both schools. And it is enormous. I have a DS in a top selective school and a DD in a school that doesn't select on academic performance and I can tell you that DD is much happier, less stressed and more confident about her abilities than DS in his top school. All DS can see is that he is in the middle set for maths and he hates it with a passion, he feels like he is not good at maths anymore, and will not understand that even the lower set in his school get As, and that the very few in the top set are going to pursue maths at uni. It was very difficult to deal with, I have provided a maths tutor at his own request, and he is calming down now but it was a stressful time.

Ciutadella Tue 27-Dec-16 10:25:23

Thanks horsemad! Love the 'not nw london indie awful' comment! I'd heard there is a new head - has that made a significant difference? and are dparents in general very well off ('not just nw londin indie well off'!). As hampstead house prices are now sooooo expensive.

Im surprised to hear about tutoring at nlcs as well - not something i'd heard of before. Not sure i agree about new head making no difference - though perhaps nlcs runs itself more than some other schools, i think in some schools it makes a huge difference, and it is surprising how often it seems that a school changes character with a new head. I agree that nlcs should get a lot of v well qualified applicants though.

horsemadmom Tue 27-Dec-16 11:06:31

New NLCS Head has been named- she looks good on paper. Coming next January and school will be run by deputy head of pastoral until then. My take is that they opted for the best candidate and not just the one who could start soonest. My only concern is that she will be moving from a very mono-cultural school (in Chester) to the salad bowl of NLCS. Co-incidentally, this was a concern with the new Head at UCS. It did take him a while to 'get' the UCS vibe. I saw from my Ds's school magazine that there have been some key staff changes and retirements at UCS. Changes that I wish had been made while he was there and could have benefited. Hey ho! UCS does have some extremely wealthy parents but nothing compared to Highgate. All of my DCs have friends who represent the spectrum- from scholarship/bursary families many of whom are first generation born in the UK to a handful who are well off in the sense that they can pay fees AND go on nice holidays. None of my DCs have mates with indoor pools. In fact, when DS was in year 7, he stopped being friends with one boy because he was rude to his nanny.

Ciutadella Tue 27-Dec-16 11:13:15

That is interesting horsemad, i had assumed ucs parents would be richer than highgate parents. Don't know why but thougt hampstead house prices were higher. But i suppose both schools have sufficiently big intake that there is a wide spectrum of wealth in both! Indoor swimming pools take it to another level i agree.
As a general question, did you think the girls slotted in quite easily into 6th form at ucs? Neither of your dds were tempted? (I gather some girls from nlcs do head there...)

horsemadmom Tue 27-Dec-16 13:36:54

I think Highgate looks sparklier and the fees are higher. It's also more public school in feeling which isn't surprising as Saturday school and boarding houses were going until 15 years ago. That stuff appeals to some parents (Russians) more than the scruffy, desenting UCS tradition. The money in Highgate lives behind higher gates than in Hampstead- houses with a lot more grounds.
I think girls slotted in very well at UCS. It had been co-ed for 3 years by the time DS got to 6th form. We missed any teething troubles. DD1 was tempted by co-ed but ultimately IB and the staff in her subject departments were too good to miss. The 6th form at NLCS is kind of the intellectual gravy after the grim GCSE years. From her year, 1 went to UCS, 1 to Highgate, 3 to Westminster, 1 to Camden, 1 to HB and 1 to 6th form college (wanted an unusual subject). In the year above, 3 went to UCS as a friendship group.
DD2 won't be moving. I wouldn't trust anybody else with pastoral care in her case. She is a catalogue of quirks which might not be appreciated elsewhere.

Ciutadella Wed 28-Dec-16 18:24:10

Thanks Horsemad, a very interesting comparison between the two! Hadn't realised that saturday school and boarding were quite so recent at Highgate. My impression is that a reasonable number of the girls going to ucs are from shh, but there is a fair variety from other schools as well.

Your dd2 sounds great (so does your dd1, obviously!) - a catalogue of quirks! How wonderful that she's found her school 'home'!

WhyOhWine Mon 09-Jan-17 18:27:09

I am not particularly familiar with HB and NLCS, but know SHHS and Highgate as I have DNs there. A few observations:

1. I think the "catchments" at both HB and NLCS are wider than at SHHS and Highgate, ie children travel there from a wider area. This may or may not be a consideration for you, but one of my DDs in particular is very sociable and values having local friends that she can meet up with for a couple of hours here and there without it being a big event that requires organisation in advance and a journey around London/M25. I think this is sometimes under-valued as an issue. A colleague has a daughter at NLCS who wanted to leave for this reason, although was ultimately persuaded to stay but does feel a bit out of it socially compared to some of her friends from primary who went to closer schools.

2. My impression is that both Highgate and SHHS are less socially diverse than NLCS if you do decide on private (perhaps explained by the narrower catchment!).

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