Putney High vs Wimbledon High or alternatives(53 Posts)
Our DD's teacher has suggested these schools for her at 11+ next year.
DD is bright but sensitive and can be anxious, so we are looking for the holy grail of a girls' school that is academically stretching but not overly pressured and with great pastoral care. Her academic and extra-curricular interests are more creative than, say, scientific/sporty.
I have been to visit both schools and am finding it hard to distinguish between them - clearly both great academically, the girls who showed us round were fabulous, both heads were impressive and both schools talked very convincingly about pastoral care. Obviously we may not be fortunate enough to have to choose between them!
I would be very grateful for views from people with personal experiences about the main differences - if any - between the schools or if there are others in SW London that might suit. We would happily consider less academically renowned schools if they could still provide challenge and the pastoral care was good.
If possible, take the kindest school. Also, choose the school with the easiest commute. After long days, a long commute is hard. It makes it harder to make friends. Consider the sorts of parents at each school. Parents who share values with you and can afford the same sorts of things are useful. I attended a girls private school with much richer girls who wore cashmere sweaters, whereas I wore rather felty hand me downs. Also, avoid a school where most girls are given lots of allowance. It's hard to develop bad habits if you can't afford them..
My DD went to Putney High and did well there and was happy. Personally I think the differences between Putney High and Wimbledon High are exaggerated. I would choose the one closest to where you live.
Thank you both.
Erica, I am definitely looking for a kind school and one with good values, but I wasn't able to distinguish between Putney and Wimbledon on those criteria based on my visits. Jeanne may well be right, and the differences not great.
Fortunately, the commute is very similar, and not long, to both, so that isn't a factor.
I appreciate the input - thanks again.
Have you thought about Sutton High School as an alternative? Not quite so academic but big on pastoral care and well suited for girls who don't like to be overly pressured/hot-housed.
Have you considered co-ed?If so look at KGS.They offer good pastoral care and it is a good down to earth school.
I would second pop2. KGS is definitely a kind school and doesn't ramp up stress, but tries to diminish it & gets the best from its students.
Now that both my DC are in secondary, I realise just how important the caring backbone of the school is.
Aren't those both pretty selective/competitive schools?
Thanks to everyone for the input. I wasn't looking at Sutton or KGS due to distance -they are probably too far, but I'll look them up.
Dozer, the schools are certainly highly selective, but I'm trying to understand whether or not that translates to huge pressure once in. It is often assumed that highly academic = more pressure and good pastoral care = less academic, but I'm not sure why this would be the case and whether in fact it is. I am looking for pretty highly academic PLUS excellent pastoral care, and hoping that's not too much to ask!
IMO they might well have good pastoral care, but some of the pressure/issues come from peers and the cohort of parents.
I don't mean with those schools in particular, just very selective - and especially girls' - schools.
And some of what you need to assess is about your DD (rather than the school environment and pastoral support):
1. Where would your DD likely sit in the cohort, academically? (This can be hard to judge, but whether the schools are seen as "stretch" or "very likely" is one indication)
2. How comfortable with (or stressed by) this would she feel? Would e.g. being "average" be a problem in her own eyes, given her personality?
3. Is there a kind, warm and friendly, supportive feel? Does she feel at home?
My own DD1 is not very competitive so does not seem to be stressed by being middle of the pack. And she is really happy at school, with good, supportive friends and (mostly) great teaching, so I am confident that she will reach her academic potential whilst also enjoying her education. Pastoral care matters, but fit is also crucial.
(DD is not at one of these two schools; Francis Holland Regent's Park, by Baker Street tube - probably further away than you want - but a kind and quite academic school.)
Thank you Dozer and NWgirls - those are really helpful points.
Clapham Junction, Countess. Which I know gives us a lot of options by train in theory, but we would prefer not to go too far afield if possible.
I think you are right to look at commute as one of your priorities.
Check what the distance is from station to school as well. PHS is very close but you have to walk up a hill. I think WHS is reasonably close too. KGS is very close. I think all 3 are on main roads & KGS & PHS do half sports on-site & half off-site, though that may have changed in the last few years. So look at the travel issues back from their off site - do they bus children back to school or can they go straight home if it's easier?
Well the commute to KGS would be fine, there are tonnes of them on the train. They bus them back to school after games (is one afternoon per week) or they can get the train from Hampton Court. However, it is a long drive, so if you do need to go to Kingston to pick up it would be a real flog for you (unless you get the train I guess). Though I think it is what you are after (academic and good pastoral care) if I were you I think I would try and find something closer to home.
Have you looked at Emanuel? A bright child will thrive at any of these schools, maybe she would be top of the pile somewhere like Emanuel, personally I don't think that's a bad thing... don't rule out the less traditionally academic schools without looking carefully into them. If your child is happy they will perform better than if they are constantly stressed because everyone gets A*s in everything and if they slip up they will be under the microscope. Also they will have more time for homework and a better social life if school is relatively close.
To me the pastoral side of things is the key. Any school that skims off the top performers will and should perform well. This doesn't mean the other schools aren't just as good!
Oh also talk to the school, see what sort of percentage of the children come from your area, this will give you a good idea of whether it is a suitable commute. When you go to the open day they have a map showing numbers from various postcodes etc.
i don't know many at KGS who come from as far as Clapham. A few from Putney. Many from Wimbledon, Sheen, Richmond but not as far as Clapham.
No me neither, only one I can think of in dd's year from Clapham
SCHS? Easy to get to from Clapham Junction. Historically not as academic as the other nearby GDST but catching up fast under current headmaster (helped by increased demand for independent places locally enabling it to be more selective). Very kind and nurturing with a good mix of girls. Facilities undergoing a big improvement which should be finished by the time your DD would start.
Alleyns in Dulwich? Co-ed rather than girls but very academic with a decidedly arty bent.
Thank you Eeyore. We have visited SCHS and thought it had a really good feel to it and the journey would be fine for our DD too, so we are definitely considering it. It hasn't had the most academic reputation in the past though (although I believe that is changing) and I would be grateful for any thoughts about what it would be like for a very academic girl - probably absolutely fine!
I'm not sure I'm afraid. I have friends with girls there who are very happy and anecdotally it seems to be on the up (lots of kids from between the commons Preps going there now when they wouldn't have considered it 10 years ago).
Certainly not going to be like a JAGs or SPGS cohort where they'd all be top percent nationally though.
Tricky one as most of the super academic schools owe their success, at least in part to choosing alpha types and encouraging competition amongst them. Not necessarily a bad thing but not for everyone. On the other hand the gentler schools are less of a safe bet academically.
Good luck :-)
Thank you Eeyore. That is exactly our dilemma, and I appreciate your input.
Judging by the girls dd knows who go there it's still nowhere near as academic as WHS or PHS, let alone JAGS/SPGS. In dd's cohort at school every girl who applied bar one got offered a place, none of those offered scholarships (some quite hefty) took them up, all preferring to go to more academic options even if that meant paying full fees. The girls who went to SCHS were all lovely but on the whole were less academic and tended to be quieter too. They all seem very happy but I don't think it would be stimulating enough for an extremely bright girl
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