Wus, Cls or St. Paul's. ???(25 Posts)
I know this question has been asked many times before. But I would still like to ask you again , especially for my child.
My ds is currently at a state primary school. He's sporty, sensible, a quiet thinker, but very popular at school and has lots of friends. We are a professional family, but have enough saving to afford private secondary education for our DS comfortably (even if we decide to send him to WUS).
My DS has been offered a place at all schools including WUS, St Paul's, Haberdashers and CLS. He also gets scholarship (highest possible) at CLS.
We have not visited WUS, but are requesting for a visit. We have been to CLS, Haberdashers and St Paul's. My DS likes st Pauls and Haberdashers as they have large open space and sport facilities are great. However both schools are the furthest for us. My DS would have to spend 1.30h each way to school. Wus and Cls are both only under 50mins door to door by public transport.
I like WUS by what I have heard about it. My DS received extremely high remarks from the WUS master during the interview. We also were told by the headmaster at St. Paul's that he's one of the brightest boys she had interviewed in the last few weeks. So this suggests to us that my DS will be able to do well anywhere he goes.
Please advise me your opinions about each school so that I will have more information to make our decision.
Thank you very much.
I think 3 hours travel every day is far too long. He will be exhausted and it's likely he will have no friends nearby. Choose one of the closer schools.
Thanks QGMum. I'm thinking the same. 3 hours is too much for him
I had to commute to private school every day for about an hour each way from the age of 10. On reflection my parents really regret this decision as it was also an extremely academic school, and I really struggled to keep up with the workload and high standards due to exhaustion. It would be difficult for your son to get on with his homework on his commute as he will be on a bus, so the combination on early mornings and inevitable late nights will definitely take its toll. With growth spurts and teenage hormones to also contend with, i think these journeys would prove too tiring for even the most diligent students. From a non academic perspective, it also limits socialising and after school club participation as you have transport issues and restrictions. I always felt I missed out because of this, and if your son is very sporty, then I think this would be a real shame. Would you consider boarding school instead?
Either relocate or go for easier commute (max 1hr or less)
I assume this is for 11+? I agree on the commute - even 50 mins is quite a way, although there are other children at both schools, I would have thought, who do similar.
Financially WUS v cls is a pretty extreme comparison which could complicate things , especially once WUS boys move on to great school - just wanted to check you knew that. Saturday school is another factor to consider.
Academically, if he is as gifted as you suggest, and with the greatest respect to cls, Wus would be the clear choice I think - at the top end there are some startlingly gifted boys who could make a stimulating cohort for him. With Vincent square it also has better sports facilities , although clearly not as extensive as Paul's.
Great fuel to hear about your experience, beansbananas. Especially my DS always gets tired when travelling. I'm not keen on boarding, but I might need to consider it now as St. Paul's does offer boarding . Thanks for your advice.
Yes Michaelahpurple. It's 11+ entry. We are aware of Saturday school at WUS and that it's fee will go up at senior school. Thanks for your advice. Very helpful
Fantastic news for your son (and you of course!)! As someone with a child commuting 1 hour each way, I would not recommend going over this time as it's exhausting for a child as well as parents. Hence, the shortest commute is best. I'd say 50 min is not too bad if it's door to door by public transport which leaves WUS and CLS (unless you reallocate for other schools). I concur with @michaelahpurple that WUS sounds like a better option if you son is gifted (based on you post). WUS and great school are known to be fantastic in this respect. Sports curriculum is the same in all the schools regardless of facilities. Have fun choosing as these are all great schools!
DS is at CLS with a scholarship. It is a great school, plenty of extremely clever state schools boys, the atmosphere is excellent. Anecdotally, an extremely clever boy (according to DS) just moved from Westminster to City, apparently the pressure was too much. I was surprised because CLS is also very competitive, and DS had to up his game which he was not happy about to begin with, no more easily top of the class IYSWIM, but your DS seems in a league above objectively, so I think he would be ok at any of those schools. Don't underestimate the commute, it is just under an hour for DS and pretty boring. The homework load is not bad at all though so he is managing.
If your son is very academic, I'd also vote for WUS and, subsequently, WS. CLS is also academic but not in the same league and the range of abilities there is probably much wider than at WUS/WS. I happen to know the former WUS boy mentioned by Threeschools and he left because he couldn't keep up with the academics. Hopefully, this tells you how much more academic WUS is. For an academic boy, it wouldn't be pressure to be there but a joy.
Also, if you're choosing between CLS and WUS due to commute and sports is a big consideration, I'd think that WUS with its Vincent Square (largest privately-owned square in London) and Sports Hall has more than enough space to keep him busy compared to the facilities at CLS. WUS has been putting more emphasis on sports in recents years depsite its academic bent.
DS has played WUS at their grounds and said they were rubbish compared to CLS grounds. One note of caution, these highly selective schools are anything but "normal" and at some point I was having second thoughts because DS was really stressed realising what he was expecting to do in terms of academic work. But he eventually raised to the challenge and started performing as we were hoping he would. In a non selective school he would have to do much less and feel more relaxed.
I would disagree with the poster above.
WUS sports facilities may be 'rubbish' compared with CLS, but they are just over the road from the school and so are available for playtime as well as games lessons. My understanding is that the CLS facilities are some distance which prevents easy use except during games lessons. The Westminster sports hall is very impressive. I don't know the Under school, but the senior school offers a very wide range of sports, to suit almost everyone, as two full afternoons for sport each week. You don't need to excel but you are encouraged to participate and find a sport you enjoy.
Having had two DC go through the senior school, I am not aware of most kids being stressed. And if they were, this stress did not seem to come from the school, but from a minority of parents who seemed over invested in their children's education and performance, to the extent of supplementing their education by home tutoring etc.
OP when you look at WUS, make sure you visit the senior school. At 10 my son was really enthused. He loved the Hogwarts type atmosphere. It is not for everyone, but a perfect school for some.
The fact Westminster operates as a boarding school is a real advantage. DS regularly used to stay for supper and do his homework in the library, sometimes joining friends in the sports hall after. DD too would often visit boarder friends on a Sunday, have brunch at school, do her homework with them, and then they would all go out for lunch.
Another big advantage is the presence of girls in the sixth form. It caused the boys to raise their game both academically and socially, and meant the sixth form became a good preparation for University.
I think WUS is a league above CLS and according to your OP your DS is likely to thrive there if he is happy to become suddenly average or just above. But sports wise you would be better off at SPB, Habs or even CLS. Tutoring is rife everywhere.
That's a really good point about visiting Great School as well as WUS. In fact if you can only do one it probably makes sense to do GS over WUS.
Agree re WUS, DS joined last year almost by accident because the target entry was at 13. CIty offered him academic scholarship, 25 pic off fees, but we turned down in favour of WUS which we have only visited after being offered a place. No regrets, what so ever, very nurturing and supportive environment, sport and other extracurricular is great, they do 2 full sport afternoons, plus n alternative Fridays, go play football in Vincent Square every break, they all sorts of after school sports clubs from fencing to climbing, chrisket , judo etc.
Thank you everyone. Thanks all for your helpful advice. We will visit WUS tomorrow (in a group). Hope my DS will like it.
There has been a small issue I have been experiencing, not sure everyone has had the same experience. Firstly, when I couldn't find the email to invite my DS for the written exam at WUS, I rang the admission office the day before the exam to ask for a resend, the lady didn't ask who I was and told me that she would send to everyone again. She never resent it (I checked with other families). Luckily I remembered the details and my DS got to the exams all fine.
On the exam day, it was very chaotic. We turned up , finding our own way to get in the hall, very chaotic in there, everyone (parents and children ) seemed to not know what to do and where to go or stand. No staff was there to guide . We managed to get my DS a name sticker. The staff who gave my DS the sticker couldn't answer us what to happen next. We waited there, and everyone else was not sure which crowd to follow as people were going different ways. Then we decided to get out of the hall and found out the exam room was across the road. I had to get back to the hall to tell other families to follow my DS.
after that I received the offer by email. I emailed back straightaway to ask for a visit. For 12 days Nobody got back to me. Today I rang the office to find out there will be a group visit tomorrow and then I put my name down.
I am really confused. I thought WUS would be the best to impress parents and DSs in these events. My DS has taken exams at other schools and we have had brilliant experience of how they organized the day, how they communicated with us. I'm not sure what to judge WUS on this as I had always admired WUS.
I do not recall anything that negative during the exam process, it did require few iterations to get the school visit thought but it worked out. Now I must say communication is very fluid , particular compar d to his previous school, no issues . Classes are small 12 plus 12 so there is a lot of individual attention so far.
Our experience of the second exam day was similar vboy. A bit chaotic, but then there were so many applicants. We didn't get our result email until after half term with no apology. Pretty woeful communication.
Heard they had record numbers sitting 1st and 2nd rounds this year which may have contributed to the chaos. Also, bear in mind that 7+ and 8+ entries were also happening around the same timeframe so the admissions office was in constant chaos. Agreed not the best impression and they could have managed it better.
St Pauls SPS has a massive building programme going on for the next 7 years involving major demolition and asbestos removal projects. 125 tons of asbestos contaminated soil and demolition were removed in 2003 at the start of this and many hundreds of tons more asbestos needs to be removed over the coming years from the many CLASP built building on site (which are notorious for the asbestos risks they present).
I really like SPS but I'm put off sending my DS there as I just don't think the risks that come from spending 6-7 months each year for the next 7 years on a major asbestos removal site are worth the possibly marginal advantages in education when compared to other similar alternatives.
Am I being unreasonable and denying him an opportunity, or am I right to prioritise minimising the risks to his future health?
We did the tour of WUS yesterday.
The sport field and sport hall were huge and impressive. That's more than enough even for a very sporty boy. The boys use the sport field at break time as well. The theatre and the assembly hall were of good size and good standard as well. So I think facilities for extra curriculum activities are excellent. They do 2 afternoons of sports and 1 afternoon of swimming. I think it's very good for my DS and our family as he wouldn't need to do any extra sport activities outside school time.
The headmaster was nice. He teaches English as well.
However the classrooms were very small and looked dated, arranged on many storeys of the building with narrow hallways and staircases. I felt very limited space within the building. I was a bit shocked when seeing the classrooms as I would imagine much nicer rooms to match the school's name. TBH i didn't feel comfortable with the space. My DS wasn't impressed either.
Still, organization of the day wasn't very good. There was no presence of staff to talk to before the head teacher appeared. I still can't get this. I'm not sure if this indicates how the staff and teachers organize lessons and activities for the boys.
Hello Vboy, my DS1 went to WUS at 11+ and is currently at the Great School. I was really unsure of accepting WUS because the admissions process was just as disorganised as you say and I felt the school didn't sell itself as well as eg SPS. Once DS1 started, all my reservations fell away. In my experience the staff are great teachers and very caring and not at all disorganised like admissions. My DS1 really enjoyed his 2 years there, was really challenged to think rather than learn and loved being on Vincent Square with the sports centre nearby. He travels 50 mins and is fine with that as he likes school. My advice would be to think more about whether the GS will suit your DS as he will be there for 5 years than to worry about the classroom size at WUS which will only be for 2 years. Whichever school you choose, it sounds as though he'll thrive.
Although it's never good to give a bad first (and second) impression, at the end of the day, WUS's reputation is based on its academics and perhaps it doesn't feel the need to sell itself too much, esp to offer holders. Just be assured that once you decide to go there, the staff and teachers are wonderful and they spend more of their energy on supporting the existing boys.
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