Advanced search

Coombe Girls / Tiffin / Kingston Grammar / Surbiton High / Sutton High / Wimbledon High

(174 Posts)
whycantwegoonasthree Thu 14-Sep-17 12:39:25

Hey wise women of Mumsnet,

What's your opinions/ insider knowledge of the above schools and am I missing anything?

They strike me as my best options in the area but I've only had the internet to go on, and a few brief chats with other mums from school (some of whom are a bit hyper about all this TBH...)

I'm in the enviable position of needing to move house before applying for schools and being afford to pay fees if I have to. (Only just, and I'd rather not obvs. but I can.) so my options are pretty open in that regard.

I have 2 DDs, currently in years 3 and 5 at a private prep – not our choice, we were unlucky about where we lived when it came to primary applications. I'm not snobby about it, in other words.

Eldest DD is, I think pretty bright, but a bit lacking in self confidence. She's been talking with her peers and is hell-bent on Tiffin - but the idea gives me chills - it sounds like a scarily competitive place and not especially nurturing. This is said on the basis of not much actual info though.

I went to a GDST school (on a scholarship as we were broke) and had a great time, so am positively disposed to them for that reason - but am unsure of how they differ from each other.

I know nothing of Surbiton High other than it looks very much like a GDST school from the website!

Coombe girls has great reviews, and it does look like I'd be nuts not to just buy a house in catchment and escape the whole selective stressy nightmare and the fees. And I would know that both my girls could go there, whatever happened, and I wouldn't have to go through all this again in 2 years.

But I currently live in Raynes Park, and this wold mean a move further West - which on the one hand would be a shame as I like it where I am, but may be a small price to pay for a guaranteed school place! (We'd get more for your money with houses too...)

I'd really appreciate your thoughts and insight if you wouldn't mind!


Wimbles101 Thu 14-Sep-17 16:35:59

Hi I don't have daughters but know girls of that age and also have a DS who sat 11+ last year.

It all depends who academic your daughter is.
Wimbledon High is getting more and more academic - I hear that girls get asked to move elsewhere more and more now from about yr 3 if ten school senses debt won't be able to keep up. I know of at least 2 girls who this has happened to. They mainly go to Sutton High to Surbiton High a both less academic GDST schools apparently.

Kingston Grammar is also getting harder and harder to get into - of the boys who joined this year one also passed the KCS exam and one passed Tiffin.

Tiffin Girls is as ever very tough - don't put all your eggs in that basket - there is a very larg catchment and you're competing with parents who have dedicated their whole lives to getting their daughters in. On other side I know of an older girl who is there and doesn't rate the school.

Can't remember if LEH is on your list but again it's fiercely competitive. The girl we know there who is in sixth form there is abojr to go to Cambridge to read Maths.

I can't help with Combe Girls although I hear it's good. These things are all relative though.

I live near RP and most less academic girls go to Sutton or Surbiton High.

Don't discount Graveney - it's also selective but a good state option.


Wimbles101 Thu 14-Sep-17 16:36:49

Sorry for typos - speed typing on phone - hope it makes sense 🙄

sandybayley Thu 14-Sep-17 17:19:01

I would also add Putney High to your list given your location. We turned down Tiffin for it (scholarship helped with that decision wink) and DD is really loving it. There are lots of occasions where girls apply to both and only get an offer from one so it makes sense to try both if you like the GDST approach.

Surbiton has some similarities to GDST but it is BIG! That could be a good thing but I was a bit put off by the sheer number of girls.

Don't forget you also have the option of Nonsuch and Wallington. Grammars like Tiffin but with a bit of a different vibe. I think there is a sweet spot somewhere near Worcester Park which puts you in catchment for Coombe Girls but also in the inner catchment for either Nonsuch or Wallington. Pop over to 11+ forum
In the Surrey section and someone will be able to advise.

sandybayley Thu 14-Sep-17 17:20:07

Meant to say 'apply to both Wimbledon and Putney'...

nocampinghere Thu 14-Sep-17 18:11:09

What are your views on girls vs co-ed?
Do your dd's have particular interests: sport (if so, which), music, art, drama?
The extra curricular is the main reason to go private imo if you have bright kids and good state options.
Don't be scared by Tiffin, it's a lot fairer now the exam has changed to maths & english rather than VR & NVR which you had to practice every day for years to stand a chance.

CountessDracula Fri 15-Sep-17 14:42:34

I think they are all good schools, it just depends which one suits your dd first - go and look round them all - quite apart from anything else it's really good fun! They all have their own vibe/ethos, you get a better idea of this on a tour than at an open day, the open days tend to be a real scrum. Talk to the children who take you round, ask them what they like/don't like about the school, ask about the things your dd is particularly interested in. Take dd with you, her opinion will count for a lot.

We looked round about 6 schools (Putney, LEH, St Paul's girls, Ibstock, KGS, Latymer Upper, Tiffin) We quickly decided that we all (dd esp) preferred the vibe of the mixed schools (she came from state primary so was more normal for her). Then it was down to the feeling we got from the schools and that really is horses for courses. We also found the super selectives (Tiffin SPGS) were not what we were after, though dd was v bright she thrives on being at the top of the pile academically, it motivates her, plus we found them rather one dimensional (obv totally subjective opinion, they just weren't for her) . She actively hated LEH for some reason, came out after they were taken off by girls during the open day speeches saying I AM NOT GOING TO SCHOOL HERE :lol:

She is incredibly happy in the choice we made (as are we) and I think the consultative approach is best. It is hard though, we were lucky that only one school really did it for all of us!

FlumePlume Fri 15-Sep-17 20:52:45

OP I had a similar thread last year here.

FWIW, I've now largely discounted Tiffin (not a fan of only one Open Evening a year and no other chance to see the school approach, plus rumour has it as an academic forcing house) and am looking at WHS, PHS, Sutton High in terms of all girls, and Emanuel and KGS for co-ed.

May consider SPGS if dd turns out to be really good at the sample test papers, and also Surbiton High if she'd like a big school.

Discounted LEH and Latymer because of the commute.

OhTheRoses Sat 16-Sep-17 12:27:47

I cannot speak highly enough of WHS. DD has finished and transferred there for 6th form. It was helpful, kind, supportive and inspiring. The staff and head are exceptional.

BizzyFizzy Sat 16-Sep-17 12:48:02

I have taught at Coombe Girls School and hated it. The whole place is grim and over-crowded. The headmistress is fab, and runs the school well, but I could not be happier on my last day.

whycantwegoonasthree Tue 19-Sep-17 12:24:39

Thank you all so much for your helpful responses - for some reason I wasn't getting email alerts so I had no idea anyone had replied!

Views on girls vs co-ed - I had always said I'd only consider girls only - partly because I went to GDST school and loves the all-girls environment and also because I do think girls do better academically in a single-sex environment. I read some studies to that effect anyway, and since they fitted with my preconceptions I accepted them as Absolute Truth. grin

I think DD1 is academic - she is certainly very bright, but needs to knuckle down a bit, but she knows this, I think. I am also aware that she is my PFB though, so I will be checking my ideas regarding her genius with the school...

I think I'm knocking off Tiffin from my list - I haven't heard good things, and even if DD1 is the brightest of the bright I don't want a hothouse. Also the communication from them "Open days are help on X date THERE ARE NO FURTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT THE SCHOOL" left me feeling a bit, "well fuck you very much" TBH.

I'm happy to learn that Sutton and Surbiton are less academic than WHS etc. I do want to know that we have options should DD1 not turn out to be the next Einstein but rather just averagely capable.

I've discounted LEH, simply because my daughters have enough religion in their lives from their father, I'm not about to pay more money to have them indoctrinated further. They've been at a lovely Catholic primary school which has been relatively light-touch of the God stuff, but enough is enough, from my point of view.

Putney is on the list, should have said earlier.

I think it's impossible now to be in the catchment both Nonsuch / Wallington and also Coombe girls - the Coombe Girls catchment has shrunk to 1 mile, Nunsuch is 3 miles and the A3 is like the great wall of China which separates the two. It's also not really where we (myself and DP) want to be for lots of reason to do with work and transport etc. and also I need not to be too far away from EXH house as we share care of the girls. That said, I think there are 85 places at Nonsuch for out of catchment girls though so it's possibly worth a punt anyway?

I've added Hampton Court House for a more progressive, left-field option and also City of London Freemen's School, which a friend had as her first choice for a bit, (although they plumped for KGS in the end) anyone know anything about either of these?

I'd totally missed Graveney, so am now looking that up… thanks for the tip!

BizzyFizzy can you tell me more about Coombe Girls? I'd been starting to think it might be the answer to all my hopes and dreams, but concerned that it's not the happy solution I'd hoped. Good Schools Guide and other reviews have been glowing, but you can't beat and insiders view.

Anyway, first open day in this Saturday at Sutton - so let's see what we find...

Thank you all SO much for taking the time to reply so fully... I really appreciate it. EXH is refusing to engage with the process as he is far too busy and important, angry so have been lacking RL people to talk to about this. (The school mums seem to have all gone a bit mental...)


FlumePlume Tue 19-Sep-17 14:57:22

I think I'm knocking off Tiffin from my list - I haven't heard good things, and even if DD1 is the brightest of the bright I don't want a hothouse. Also the communication from them "Open days are help on X date THERE ARE NO FURTHER OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT THE SCHOOL" left me feeling a bit, "well fuck you very much" TBH.

That was exactly my reaction. Also, I've heard the view expressed (quite forcibly) at the school gates that those who can afford private shouldn't take grammar places for those who can't, which would make applying quite uncomfortable, though if I thought it was a great school I wouldn't let that stop me.

I know that from our primary the middle of the class kids often get into Sutton High, even if they don't get offers elsewhere. It seems likely a really caring school (been to one open evening) and the buses seem to run in a useful way, plus it's sensible by public transport as well.

LesPins Tue 19-Sep-17 15:30:43

We applied to LEH (chose elsewhere in the end) and religion was never mentioned throughout the open day /application process - did I miss something? It did not seem very religious?

nocampinghere Tue 19-Sep-17 20:41:40

LEH is not religious! Where did you get that idea?

whycantwegoonasthree Tue 19-Sep-17 21:36:34

Ah, yup. You're right, I've got it mixed up with one of the others. So now it's back on the list... Is it super scary competitive academic hothousey though?

I've got to amend my spreadsheet now. Yes, I've made a spreadsheet. No, I'm not usually a spreadsheet person. I literally have no idea what is becoming of me, TBH.

I just really don't want to fuck this up for her.

And a bit of divorced working mother guilt stuff thrown in, probably.


themagicamulet Tue 19-Sep-17 21:52:30

LEH isn't religious as far as I know. DD is at Tiffin and we're very happy with it. It's much more friendly, supportive and nurturing than we'd been led to believe, with loads of sport and extra curricular stuff and lots of emphasis on having interests outside academic work. I think the sheer number of applicants they have to process means it doesn't feel very welcoming when you apply but I would honestly say don't let that put you off if you're happy with the single sex thing. We already had one dc at an indie and had offers for dd at some of the schools mentioned here, so experience of both sectors, but no regrets so far.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 20-Sep-17 09:16:38

Ugh. LEH appears to be another fascist lot regarding open days:

'Thank you for your email and your interest in visiting LEH. Our open events in the autumn term are primarily for girls in Year 6 and their parents, although we welcome the parents of younger girls to all our open events. We ask that [DD] does not attend in November and instead either attends one of our summer term open events for girls in Year 5 and their parents or attends in the autumn next year when she is in Year 6.'

Please do let me know if you would like to visit LEH without [DD] in November or whether you would prefer to visit with her in the summer or autumn of 2018. I will then be happy to make an appointment for you.

Honestly WTF?

We're trying to visit schools together to get an idea TOGETHER about what's out there and what they're looking for in prospective students. And given that most applications have to be in early doors next year, it seems logical to get to know the various schools now, (when the majority of the open days are happening, so you're comparing at the same time) in order to be in a position to make a calm, informed decision next year... (And in the interim regarding extra support, or just an understanding that one needs to knuckle down, frankly.)

And what would be the point of going without DD?

And why do they care whether we visit with or without DD? That's my call, not theirs surely? Especially as I'd be F-ING PAYING THEM to educate my child.

Massively off-putting, frankly, this high-handedness.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 20-Sep-17 09:56:08

themagicamulet it's good to hear some positive feedback on Tiffin... If DD turns out to be bright enough then we might give it a whirl - the fact that it's non fee-paying, and selective, and in the right location, is a huge boon, TBH. Which is obviously why the application rate is so high.

And I get what you mean about volume of applications. But it strikes me that more open days might be the solution to that particular problem. Ad a way of ensuring a bit more self-selection

And it's the tone of voice which bothered me. There's just no need to be quite so arsey... is there? but maybe they need to be unequivocal... so as not to be pestered by overly-keen mothers like me.

And possibly I am being precious.

Greenleave Wed 20-Sep-17 12:19:04

Whycant: is your 9yrs old in yr5. Mine is year 5 (state school though) and we dont have Tiffin in our trying list either( I dont want an overly academic school only). I thought mine was academic and blindly believed that we are ok to start preparing from yr5( I took her to a tutor centre to test and they said its ok to start from yr5). I gave her a VR test last weekend and she scored 60%. I should go back to my school list and consider schools do traditional Maths and English only then. And my husband supports whatever I decide, meaning he doesnt participate, I found it ok as then there wont be any argument in this household about the selection process to add the pressure on my daughter. We hopefully will start with a tutor by Oct end(if we pass the tutor selection test).I am giving her couple of tests(last week was VR and the test was 1hr however she had to break it into 2 sections) over each weekend in the mean time, just for her to get used to the routine of sitting still and study/practice as we have never had any academic exam so far

CountessDracula Wed 20-Sep-17 12:59:04

Is she y5 now?
If so be aware that KGS has a 10+ deferred entry, might be an idea to put her in for that is you are considering it.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 20-Sep-17 13:24:09

Yes she's 9 (soon to be 10) and in yr 5.

Helpfully KGS has specimen papers for the 10+ deferred entry so we might give that a try this weekend (my mum who is a teacher is staying and can invigilate!) and see how she gets on.

It's an idea - I confess that getting it sorted a year early would be wonderful...

Greenleave - my EXH is similarly disengaged. But have managed to get him to agree to come to a few open days at least, so we can have some kind of sensible conversations about it in due course.

Its' additionally tricky in that I'm more willing (and able) to pay fees than he is. And while I'd be happy to pay more than half (because I can) if it means the right school for DD, that's not sitting well with him. I'm hoping that when he's seen a few he'll be more willing to make a decision on the basis of what is the right school than anything else.

Where did you get a VR test from? I'd like to try my DD and see how she gets on - and also so I know more about what it entails. She's been doing VR and NVR extra-curricular at school, but I'd like to see for myself how she's getting on with it. And indeed WTF it even is!

I'm going to sit with my mum this weekend and work out what prep we can do with her together. I'm reluctant to go down the formal tutoring route and am hoping with a bit of research and my mum's 4 decades of teaching experience we'll be able to keep prep low-key and in the family, so to speak...

Possibly I am being massively naive and what tutors actually bring is a knowledge of how to play the game (and win). But I'm not sure I want to play anyway, really...

<sticks heels in>

Greenleave Wed 20-Sep-17 13:43:11

I am working too( long hours), till last year I dont even know what date is the homework due. We dont do open day mainly because time off from work is much needed on other things too. We didnt even visit our daughter primary school. Just in the last year meet the teacher meeting, I was lost in the school and didnt know what was her class room and when I asked the head, he asked what class is she in, I dont even know what class. Anyway, I promised myself to be a better mom from You are lucky that you have your mom, we are not native(although she is born here) so English is our main struggle. For some reasons she does well with English and loves writting which made me think that we should focus on schools(private) with traditional maths and English tests. Will need to look at my spreadsheet tonight too. I dont know what book. I must have bought it from Amazon, will take a picture tonight. I have registered with Bond last week, will need to go through the materials. If we have a place with the potential tutor by end of Oct then I hope the tutor will give me some better guidance.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 20-Sep-17 14:13:44

Greenleave - if you PM me your email I'll happily share my spreadsheet with you, as a helping hand from working mother to another... If you think that would be a help... It's got most of the local schools on there, admissions details, open days, etc.

Don't worry, you're (we're) still ahead of the game, i think, so give yourself a break. You're doing fine.

whycantwegoonasthree Wed 20-Sep-17 14:17:26

BTW - I was looking at Bond - but finding it hard to work out what tests which schools do and whether Bond would be useful for the ones we're looking at... Can anyone shed any light on the different tests please?

Puddinglane12 Wed 20-Sep-17 17:04:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: