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Parliament Hill School

(22 Posts)
caliseo Thu 02-Mar-17 10:53:49

Hi Everyone Our daughter just received her secondary school place which is parliament Hill School. This was our 3rd choice and happy to have a place! Anyone have a daughter there?. My daughter will be the only girl from her class going. She's really arty and creative and the school looks like it will suit her. Please let me know your experiences. Thanks

HPFA Thu 02-Mar-17 13:40:04

Don't know it personally but recently someone wrote a piece in the Times about getting in to Oxbridge despite being homeless. She went to Parliament Hill and said it was an amazing place. 32% A and A* at GCSE
www.parliamenthill.camden.sch.uk/Exam-results2 is very good for a non-selective school. Hopefully someone will come along with personal knowledge but it seems like a very good school.

mimbleandlittlemy Thu 02-Mar-17 15:43:51

My nieces both went there, youngest one left 6 years ago. They both did very well academically and were happy there - hopefully someone with more recent experience will be on soon though who might be able to help.

Vinorosso74 Thu 02-Mar-17 18:02:46

I've heard some positive stuff about it and think it will be one we look at for DD in the coming years.

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Thu 02-Mar-17 18:29:06

beaveronline.co.uk/poppys-story-from-homelessness-and-hostels-to-cambridge-graduate/

I couldn't find a Times article, but found the above. Excuse the name of the site! It seems the girl was at the sixth form. I do know other young women who were in similar situations who were helped enormously while being at parli.

Don't have DC at secondary yet but friends children go there. Some have chosen it over CSG. So far I don't know anyone who has had to Make a choice between PHS and St M though.
We decided not to jump through the St M admission hoops for a variety of reasons - one of which is the single sex, distance, pollution... Although the favt that it didsnt have a sibling criteria was a big pull for it for us.
pHS wouldn't be out first choice for the single sex reason but would choose it over St M and CSG. Although St M does pull at my heart strings a bit.

Maybe it will work out well for your DDs if they are at different schools? It's lovely on the Heath, beautiful place to go to school.

You have nothing to lose by appealing for the other school, apart from sanity though!

What does your DD want to do?

YouMakeABetterDoorThanAWindow Thu 02-Mar-17 18:31:09

Btw I have been in the art departmental Parli, it looks amazing.

caliseo Fri 03-Mar-17 13:10:37

Thank you everyone I really really appreciate all your encouraging comments! Thanks so much for taking the time to write!

AgonyBeetle Fri 03-Mar-17 16:37:53

I have a dd currently in Y8 at Parli.

After much debate we put Parli as first choice, over LSU or Camden Girls, and above the selectives that dd was borderline for.

We're really happy with our choice, no regrets at all. Parli has a lovely buzzy creative atmosphere, outstanding pastoral care and good relationships among the girls. Academically it's good, though obviously not a hot house - they differentiate the work well, and set creative, interesting homework in manageable quantities. They're ambitious for their high achievers, but thoughtful and careful about supporting those with difficulties.

I know quite a few families who've chosen Parli over CSG, including several who sent older dds to Camden but younger ones to Parli, make of that what you will.

I was concerned when they announced that Mrs Higgins was leaving, but now they've appointed Ms Creasy I feel pretty confident it will continue in the same vein - they have a very cohesive SMT and middle-management team with a strong vision for the school. And I'll say again that the pastoral care is very very good - at our first Y7 parents' eve her form tutor was fully up to speed on my dd's friendship group, which girls from other tutor groups she was friends with, who she was hanging out with at lunchtime, and what extracurricular clubs she was taking part in. They're very thoughtful in how they apply discipline, it's the antithesis of the zero-tolerance-detention-for-breathing-wrong kind of policy. And the girls respond well to it as far as I can tell, there seems to be very little real unkindness or bullying. Obviously there are different friendship groups, but we've not come across the kind of scenarios where the cool girls try to psych out the bookish ones, or anything of that kind - it seems to be fine to just be who you are.

My dd is quite quirky and did have trouble with being picked on at primary school, but she has really blossomed at Parli. Happy for you to PM me if you want to know more.

smile

Nowdecide Tue 02-May-17 14:42:09

hello
we've just been offered a place at parly and i'm not sure what to do. we all loved it when we looked around but it's a bit of a journey for us and i'm a bit worried about the headteacher moving. I'm also wondering if changing budgets will squeeze the pastoral care, which is important for us. i'd got my head round DD going elsewhere. argh.
lovely to hear your daughter has blossomed agonybeetle. i'm just rereading your post. it says all the right things.
maybe i' overthinking it?!?

caliseo Tue 02-May-17 15:45:24

I went on Friday with my daughter to meet the teacher. It was very positive the teacher was really lovely and kind and seemed genuinely interested in my daughter who she is and the things she likes and enjoys and her strengths and the things she would like to improve. There were also girls from year 9/10 i think who chatted with my daughter while i had 10 minutes with teacher which i thought was nice. The whole experience gave my daughter and i the impression that they were really caring and that the school wants to the girls to get the best out of their school experience!

SamBee1 Wed 26-Jul-17 14:20:34

Jumping in this a bit late, but thanks to AgonyBeetle - really good information.

Caliseo - my daughter starts in September too. We're really happy, and chose it over CSG. My only reluctance is the building works, but I like the new head and her form tutor. Well, I would have preferred it not be single sex, but can't have everything. Very positive vibes for the school - I really think it's on a continuous improvement curve at the moment.

Shows how much it's improving that from 1 child the previous year, 10 this year from her Primary School are going this year (out of 16 girls). I wouldn't worry about her not knowing anyone as those girls have all been split up and they will make new friends really quickly.

NofGreenGables Thu 19-Oct-17 12:46:00

We went to see Parliament Hill recently and were found it a bit of a let down. The head confessed to doing the presentation for the third time around yet it was still full of typos and dates that were years off. the most compelling speech was delivered by a great girl who had been at the school only about a month. The 6th former said "I love my extracurricular" - repeatedly. I am a little peturbed that as a spokesperson for a SCHOOL that no teachers helped the girls up their game, helped them prepare or correct any glaring grammatical or communication errors. The whole experience was one of well meaning mediocrity. No real ambition or passion from the girls who all seemed happy enough but not articulate or insightful or self-aware. Rubbish in the middle of the corridor that noone picked up... things that just gave me the impression that the standards were not high and had no concrete aspiration to be. Compared with UCL Academy which was vibrant and brimming with enthusiasm and energy and motivation and smiling faces, it paled.

The feedback I get from those with experience of Parli is "such and such is really happy there" - which is all well and good but the results are average for the area / demographic and it seems a bit dozy and undynamic to me. I'd love someone to prove me wrong and convince me otherwise.

I'd welcome your thoughts.

AgonyBeetle Thu 19-Oct-17 14:50:45

Parliament Hill is very much a community comprehensive, with a very mixed intake. The overall results are generally somewhat above the local and national average, but are not stellar because the intake reflects the local community, ie plenty of girls from academically ambitious professional families, as well as large numbers from far less advantaged backgrounds. Unlike some other local schools, there is no banding and no covert selection of the intake. All the evidence suggests that those girls who have the potential to get top grades do as well at Parli as they would have done at any other school - if you want strings of A* grades, there are plenty of girls achieving those.

They aim to do their best for all the girls and give all of them opportunities to participate and do their best, rather than select or rehearse them in order to present a particular image of the school or to manipulate their league table position. Whether you think that's a good thing or a bad thing will obviously depend on your point of view. Ms Creasy is perhaps not as obviously engaging a public speaker as her predecessor, but it's her first term as head, so it's early days. She comes from a very strong senior management team, so I'm confident that they should be able to keep the school on track.

IME the teaching is generally good and sometimes inspirational. Girls who have the potential to achieve highly are pushed and incentivised to aim very high indeed, and given plenty of encouragement and inspiration. It is a mixed intake, so they have to acquire a degree of self-motivation, but I'd see that as a positive tbh. We've never felt the school was in any way mediocre - sometimes idiosyncratic, yes, but always true to the ethos of liberal comprehensive education, rather in defiance of the spirit of the times.

It's very much a get-out-what-you-put-in kind of school, but if you're not feeling the love at this stage, it's probably worth looking at the alternatives to see if you can find somewhere that is a better fit for what you're looking for.

NofGreenGables Thu 19-Oct-17 15:39:37

AgonyBeetle thank you for taking the time for such a complete and honest answer. I like the comprehensive system, I just - as you said - wasn't feeling the love. I felt they could me more supportive, more attentive. I did LOVE the language department, very limited choices but wow did the staff show enthusiasm and passion. I have a lot of time for that. Many thanks again

SamBee1 Thu 19-Oct-17 16:19:59

My daughter's only one half term into it, so won't make any big assertions at the moment except to say she's immensily happy so far (but tired, really seems pushed). But I did want to say I had a similar experience this time last year when I went to see Camden School for Girls. The most inspired evening I had was at Acland Burghley which I think has an incredible headteacher and is finally making big strides, but appreciate that many people may give it a wide berth (i'd urge you to go visit though).

And as AgonyBeetle says the GCSE results at Parli this year were far above national average (with the exception of a couple of odd subjects like Art which surprised me) - perhaps you don't appreciate how mixed the intake at Parliament Hill is?

AgonyBeetle Thu 19-Oct-17 18:08:13

The other thing I would say about Parli is that (in our experience) the pastoral care is outstanding, and contributes hugely to the fact that so many students are 'very happy' there.

When we had a meeting with the form tutor at the first Y7 parents evening, she knew exactly who our dd was friends with (girls in other forms, mainly), who she spent lunchtime with, what extra-curricular clubs she did, and very gently made suggestions about how she could handle particular social situations.

Whenever I've emailed a teacher (other than the maths dept, ahem) I've had a proper, thoughtful, reply within 24 hours, and if something needs to be discussed face-to-face, they'll arrange a meeting.

They're also good about managing friendship issues between the girls, which is something I've heard less positive things about re another much more popular local girls' secondary. It's not hugely cliquey in terms of relationships between the middle-class girls and others (though the muslim girls to tend to stick together) and there's no stigma attached to working hard and doing well - dd has been called a 'geek', but in a jokey way, by the same people who then want her to help them with their homework. smile

I know school isn't just about 'being happy', but having seen the fallout from people with children in much pushier schools, I really wouldn't underestimate it either.

NofGreenGables Thu 19-Oct-17 18:11:08

AgonyBeetle I think you are right. That all sounds very reassuring. It really helps to have the insight of others. Thanks again.

Paperclipmover Thu 19-Oct-17 22:03:46

I really wanted to like Parli but I'm afraid I came away with similar feelings to those of Nofgreen. The open morning I attended was chaotic, simply badly organised. .The first lesson we were shown into was the childcare class. I asked the girl showing us around about DT, she mentioned textiles and home ex but not resistant materials. Now I'm already concerned about single sex and this put some red flags up for me. I'm worried that some girls are pushed into this seemingly sexist path.
I thought the school buildings looked incredibly neglected. I know schools don't have much money but compared to AB, Parli looks awful.
I'm really pleased to hear two positive accounts of Parli though as I want to like it. We will probably go for AB although with one more year to decide PHS has another chance to sell itself to me.
I'm also really happy to hear the new head is well thought of. I wasn't totally convinced but am prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt . It was maybe unfair as I was comparing her to mr Johns at AB . I suppose the circumstances around the schools are do different that that was unfair. She's trying to maintain the status quo while he is changing things.

SamBee1 Fri 20-Oct-17 11:46:28

With regards to the state of the buildings that is perhaps fair - but do not forget the monumental rebuilding that is going on - in 2 years it will be an almost completely different school. It's very tough to maintain the remaining structure quality when they are largely due to be demolished. You'll see some info here: www.camden.gov.uk/ccm/cms-service/stream/asset/?asset_id=3609165&

It will be a very different building soon, one of the most modern in London and a great centre of teaching (I hope!). BTW, they are they very strong in computer science - I don't see any evidence of my daughter doing any more home economics / textiles than I did at AB 20 years ago! You've got the benefit of time on your side, so definitely revisit next year. Mr Johns is fabulous btw, but AB was a terrible failing school in recent times - dare I say it - a pale shadow of when I went... i'm sure it become a school of teaching excellence under him. It was just a couple of years too early for us, plus 8 of my daughters friends went to Parliament Hill from her primary school (vs none to AB).

AgonyBeetle Fri 20-Oct-17 19:06:42

Yes, what SamBee said about the buildings. The current state of the buildings at Parli is definitely run down, because they have been in limbo about the rebuild for several years (they were all set to go before the current y9 started, but then there were technical problems wrt a drain under the site that nobody had known about. Or something. Anyway, it was all on hold for ages.) So little/no investment has been made in the current buildings, since they vast majority of the teaching space is due to be replaced in the next year or so. The loos are apparently particularly Not Nice (shudder). But that's the nature of an under-funded school in the middle of a complex renovation project.

Burghley had a full refurb about three years ago, so should be looking much fresher and brighter. I'm glad it's coming across well now, as it's had a difficult few years, and parents have been stoic in their support for the school. When we did secondary transfer they still had no head, and I found the open evening there a bit disorganised and unimpressive, although I've always had a soft spot for the funky vibe and the bouncy (sometimes a bit chaotic) kids.

It's horses for courses, I think. But remember there is lots of movement across all the schools (this being London) and there are several girls who transferred (voluntarily, rather than being pushed!) from Parli to Acland Burghley, and some who have come the other way.

AgonyBeetle Fri 20-Oct-17 19:08:53

And wrt to the Resistant Materials - they absolutely do do metalwork and plastics etc, but for some reason that I can't remember they don't call it Resistant Materials in the way that other schools do. Hence why you probably got a slightly confused response to your question. Plus also the wonderful DT buildings were mothballed as part of the renovation project, and have been spread across other parts of the school as a temporary measure.

Paperclipmover Fri 20-Oct-17 20:49:58

Thank you so much, both of you. I really appreciate tour responses.

Who knew if be such a snob about buildings, I certainly wasn't expecting to. The secondary I went to would make most NW London parents hyperventilate with shock! It is good to know that it's not because of poor management but rather due to future plans-I can love with that.

I certainly hear happy PHS parents and your insider information just adds to that.

We are lucky enough to be able to wait, we will go again next year and see PH and AB and decide. DD is adamant that she's going to go to AB and I'm happy that's becoming a positive choice. So in a very lucky position of hopefully and probably bring able to choose between two lovely schools.

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