Highgate vs Dame Alice Owen(5 Posts)
Hi all, posting for the first time. We are in the very lucky position of being able to choose between Highgate and Dame Alice Owen for our DD for secondary. They both seem like great schools and it's a very hard decision. Our DD seems to favour Highgate but I think this is mainly because she will have several friends going there and it is more familiar to her (we live very close). Ignoring the money issue (although obviously that's a huge issue!), id be very grateful to hear of anyone's views/experience/knowledge of either school!
I have one dc at DAO in year 7. So far it seems v good. Children are kind to each other, appear motivated by their teachers, like the school and do well academically. There's a new head teacher and it will be interesting to see what changes she makes.
As a snapshot the school's progress score at GCSE is solidly strong rather than outstanding. Although the attainment scores are really very good. The students access a range of top flight universities when they leave, so an academic child at either DAO or Highgate would do just as well at either school probably.
I would imagine the DAO/Highgate cohort comes from broadly similar professional backgrounds. It seems a happy school with a huge amount of extracurricular options and is lucky to have the £900,000 funding per year from the worshipful company of brewers ( a partnership going back to the school's foundation back in the 17th century).
If I had any criticism to balance out the positives, I would say that the entry criteria really restricts entry for pupil premium children. The tiny catchment area (for the 22 local kids) doesn't really include social housing, and everyone else has either come in via the exam or music or being the younger sibling of a child who has got in through an exam route.
So perhaps DAO and Highgate will be very different in the next few years as the increased public focus on the role of schools as a driver of social mobility for disadvantaged children changes DAO's entry criteria. Only a good thing in my POV.
These are just my musings on the subject. Other than having a child in year seven at the school I have no other insight!
Hope it helps with your choice. Best of luck either way.
Congratulations to your dd! I don't have the answer but also interested in views as we're looking at both these schools for next year.
Thanks so much for your reply Farfallina, it's so helpful to hear from someone with a dc at DAO. One thing I would be interested in too - does your dc know many Islington kids in her class/year? We are Islington residents and one thing that worries me (apart from the journey!) is whether my dd would have many friends locally or whether they would mostly be nearer the school. Also how much homework does your dc get on average during the week? Thank you so much for your help, really appreciate it! And choc coffee - best of luck for next year!
The islington children all get to know each other - at the end of year six Islington parents get a list from the school and invite the year 7s to an informally arranged picnic on highbury fields - so the children and families start to get to know each other. Then there are realistically 2 trains in the morning for the Islington children to get to Potters Bar so they travel up as a cohort and travel back together.
There are always some Islington children in every form, teaching group, PE group and tech set. Having said that, children will always develop their own friendships, and not necessarily based on locality. DAO is great. But it's not a local school for Islington families. Similarly Highgate students will travel from a variety of places.
So the children may well develop best friendships with students from 20 miles away. But they are independent travellers from the outset and there is always parent taxi.
Ultimately you trade the reputation and ethos of either school with the fact it's not a community school for Islington and DAO is 12 miles away and outside the M25!
I think it all works well seeing students develop through the years. So long as the friendships are solid and happy, the distance wasn't a key criteria for us. Plus there is the Islington travelling cohort where friendships develop anyway.
Hope this helps
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