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Channing vs St. Helens vs St Alban high school - North London Girls Consortium

(14 Posts)
nizzy123 Mon 31-Oct-16 23:50:15

Can anyone here advise me on the level of difficulty getting into Channing and St Helens schools. DD is state primary schooled and whilst top-table and bright, didn't make the cut for state selectives. I am looking at options that are not too far, realistic but don't want to overburden DD with too many exams.

Would Channing be easier to get into than St Albans? I am worried if Channing might be harder as its meant to be our backup plan. Has anyone heard of a girl that got St Helens but not Channing, or got into St Albans but not Channing? We prefer Channing but don't know if we should put down st Helens too which is a little further away.

Any advice most welcome.

jaguar67 Tue 01-Nov-16 08:29:45

Hi Nizzy, these 3 schools are spread apart - before getting into any hypothetics about entry chance, I'd look at travelling time (not even simply distance). They're all great schools. SAHS has come out of the consortium this year and there's a big unknown how (if at all) it will effect application rates. For that reason alone I don't think anyone can guide you on likelihood of success rate there. I've heard anecdotally lovely things about St Helen's as a school (nothing negative about Channing either, just not within my orbit!) and whilst academically stringent, doesn't get quite the application numbers of say Habs or NLCS. Hope that's of some help and good luck!

nizzy123 Tue 01-Nov-16 09:48:13

Thanks jaguar67. I've been looking at travel times to these schools and STAHS takes 30min by coach; Channing takes 35 mins by tube; St Helens just under 1h by coach, which whilst further, may be do-able.

So it would seem reasonable to exclude St Helen's from our back up list due to travel time, however, if it is the easier of the lot to get into, I might be removing our safety net.

If anyone has applied to any combination of the above schools or heard of others that have, it would be useful to get some idea of the relative ease of offers (or should I say difficulty getting offers)... for these schools.

lunchboxtroubles Tue 01-Nov-16 11:22:24

Channing has been in financial trouble lately - their main contractor on their building project left midway through and they have been fund-raising +++ from parents. you might want to find out where they are on that and whether higher than average fee increases are planned to make up the shortfall

bojorojo Tue 01-Nov-16 12:10:48

My DD was educated in a state primary school and went to Queenswood near Potters Bar. It is expensive for day girls I believe but you would almost certainly get in. Have you considered them? My DD did their entrance exam and had an interview but had no special prep at all. She managed perfectly well without tutoring (as indeed she did throughout her time there!). We felt there was no pressure with the entrance exams and the interview allowed her to talk about her interests. I would have a look if you haven't already and lots of girls come from North London.

Zodlebud Tue 01-Nov-16 13:11:33

St Albans High is VERY academic and I would worry that if your daughter has not been successful at 11+ grammar tests then it might not be the best place for her.

My daughter sounds very similar to yours although a few years younger. She will sit 11+ but not the St Albans tests following a couple of visits to the school and talking to friends with daughters there. It is a fabulous school and I know exactly why you like it. My husband and I decided that we would rather she was towards the top of a less pressurised school than the bottom of the class there, although it did take me a while to get my head around it - it's the best school in my area academically so why wouldn't I want to even try?

QGMum Tue 01-Nov-16 13:27:25

In my experience selectivity can be gauged by rankings in GCSE league tables so for the schools you list St Albans would be hardest (ranking 16 in Telegraph Indie league), followed by St Helens at 31 and Channing at 40. St Helens and Channing are so close together though that I expect girls get offered the same from these two and one cannot be considered a back-up. Queenswood ranks 138 so should be easier.

Remember that most of these schools are good and as long as the school is a good fit for your dd she will do well.

nizzy123 Tue 01-Nov-16 16:25:34

That makes sense. Thank you for all your viewpoints.

bojorojo, I hadn't heard of Queenswood. Will look into it.

Zodlebud, it's a difficult one, isn't it? I've been debating the same. We went over the sample paper and it looked do-able within the confines of home however, as the selective exams proved, performance on the day, is a whole other story.

GQmum, I did suspect STAHS would be more competitive cf the other two however I don't know St Helens and Channing compare due to the different area coverage. I would have expected Channing to be more competitive than St Helens as it would be within the reach of a higher population density being more in the city and with the likes of Highgate/Hampstead/Islington population. However, I might be completely wrong.

Zodlebud Tue 01-Nov-16 18:29:05

I would have Queenswood as second choice. Expensive but a really great school - lots going on as well as a good academic record. I know a girl in Y8 there who is really flying. There's an expectation that the girls there will reach their academic potential, even if that's not four A stars at A-level.

Too far away for us to consider unfortunately.

The school we have chosen actually has a bit of a reputation for taking girls who didn't pass the 11+ but are average and above academically. There is an entrance exam and interview but they are testing for average intelligence not the super bright.

Subject to passing the 11+ of course, I actually find myself in a bit of a quandary as to whether to send her to the fab grammar which I feel is a "better" school or this lovely independent where I know she will be encouraged to be herself and excel in whatever areas her talents lie, whilst being comfortable with the learning pace and being towards the top of the class.

So blooming confusing!!!!

FanDabbyFloozy Wed 02-Nov-16 18:53:52

Hi OP - from our school we regularly see kids who are top quarter fail to get selective state schools but succeed at some or all the schools you mention here. The ones who get the state selectives have often been preparing for years with specialised tutors.

Of the three schools you mention, they are all much the same in academic standard, i.e. really strong.

Queenswood is a very good school with amazing facilities but perhaps less academic. Expensive than most other comparable schools..

nizzy123 Wed 02-Nov-16 20:28:34

@Fandabbyfloozy - That gives me some hope. I'm finding that I oscillate between feeling like "we can do this!" to "we need to aim lower". Queenswood looks lovely on the website but the price tag is a little heavy, given fee increases and that we have DD2 to consider in a couple of years.

Am going to look at St Margarets in Bushey tomorrow. They seem a bit lower down the league tables but with still good results. Given your suggestion that the schools I've mentioned are of similar level, it would be sensible to have a safety net like St Margarets.

@Zodlebud - you've got a difficult question there. I did ponder what I would do if DD had managed to get a state selective. I had veered towards sending to the SS as there is a good mix and the vibe I had from the school was good as they were semi selective and evidence showed how well they supported the varied intake. The extra £15-20k spare a year would have been useful too. I guess your gut instinct will come useful here and, of course how your daughter feels about the two schools.

Good luck- TBH I can't wait for all this be over!

FanDabbyFloozy Wed 02-Nov-16 21:52:07

Nizzy - sent you a PM

bojorojo Thu 03-Nov-16 18:02:57

I can assure posters that Queenswood has plenty of academic girls, but not perhaps a great depth of academic girls. For what it is worth, my DD scored 140 in the Bucks 11 plus but we preferred Queenswood to our local girls' grammar. The reason is it expensive is the fairly long standard day and it really wants to woo weekly boarders whose parents live in London. I would say, judging from my DDs cohort, that there are more than enough academic girls to work with but it is perhaps a more inclusive school than some of the others in terms of nurturing the slightly less academic. It has excellent drama and this really brings on the less confident girls and the sport is outstanding. I think if you visited, you would understand where the extra fees go. The school is not just about pure academics. It is much broader than that. I also think league tables just show the intake and not the quality of teaching and value added. In practice, children do well where they fit in and are happy. My DD loved Q from the day she set foot in it and never wanted to go anywhere else, even though we live in Bucks. I think this is also a useful thing to do. Go to open days with your DD and see what she likes. Children have a very strong instinct about where they want to be and as mine was boarding, this was an essential part of the process.

nizzy123 Thu 03-Nov-16 18:36:21

I couldn't agree more about league tables not being everything. We really liked St Margaret's today. In fact, it is much further up my preference list than some of the more "academic" schools. This, because there are more opportunities for my daughter to develop in a holistic way, to be nurtured in a way that excellence is aspired to but without feeling like its a never ending race to try and be as good as everyone around you. The flexi-boarding is also attractive as it would be a great way to improve independence and timekeeping (something DD could do with). The staff, girls, head and school came across really well. Queenswood sounds like a wonderful school too, given what you say and what I've seen on the website. I am sure it's worth the fees.

Unfortunately, for us, we also need to consider DD2 and the bank balance and potential squeeze. Whilst we are fortunate enough to afford private schooling for them, the financial pressure to have to see two DD with fee increases would put more pressure on us than we would like.

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