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Sacred Heart Hammersmith (vs Putney High)

(52 Posts)
MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 15:46:56

New to mumsnet and have been searching for information about Sacred Heart High School (in Hammersmith) to no avail.
Our daughter has offers from this outstanding state school as well as 5 independent schools (of which we have for now accepted and paid a deposit for Putney High and declined the others). We are however now having second thoughts and we think that perhaps we could save the cash and take the place at Sacred Heart which is also an amazing school. Also, we are 20minutes walk from SHHS and a 40-50 journey (tube+walk) from Putney High.
Our daughter is very good at sports and likes drama and music, which is why we first choose independent route but is the provision really so lacking at Sacred Heart? We could do a lot of extra curricular stuff with we the money we save! We were also first concerned about class sizes but this might not be an issue in reality (?). Most of the girls I see in the street seem really nice...
I guess what we are looking for is an honest opinion from current parents at Sacred Heart regarding:
*the sports and extra curricular activities provision
*how do the girls get set, and is this just for maths and English?
*how do they identify and stretch bright girls when the class size is so large (33 if I remember correctly)?

We are both catholic and state educated, but not in this country. Although not wealthy by any means (good sized mortgage) we could pay for the fees relatively comfortably (we both work), and therefore it is not just about fee vs free (but we will take into account how much easier life would be with no fees!). We would like to decide by the end of the week and we are very confused at this point. Thank you in advance for your opinions!

OP’s posts: |
LondonUSAmum Tue 13-Mar-18 15:58:33

I have a good friend with a daughter at Sacred Heart. She is regretting choosing the school due to the lack of extra curricular activities available. To be fair, she admits as a full time working and basically single mum it could be that she is not helping her daughter take full advantage of all the school has to offer.

I do know that her daughter is very diligent about her studies and often talks about wanting to do well on her exams and seems to be doing well in that regard. But she is very sporty and now is doing no sport at all besides school PE lessons.

I will ask my friend your other questions.

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 16:13:04

Thank you LondonUSAmum. I really appreciate your response. I thought There was an expectation to do at least two after school activities in the school, but I guess that sports clubs could be oversubscribed. I was thinking of enrolling her in outside sports clubs instead (need to do some research) but I understand if you don’t have childcare to help getting them and back it could be difficult, specially in the early years when they’re still young to travel back home on their own in the dark

OP’s posts: |
testbunny Tue 13-Mar-18 16:59:43

I can't help you specifically about Sacred Heart, MartaHamm, but I am watching this thread with great interest as we are in a very similar position - both parents working and could afford it, with a great indie offer and very good girls state offer with a sporty/musical DD. I have come to these conclusions after talking to others:

- a studious, clever girl (NB. clever and studious!) is likely to just as well in terms of results in both environments.
- the extra curricular will be better in the indie school but a sporty and able child is also likely to make any of the sports teams in the state school (it's the less able / pushy girls that want to play who are more likely to miss out in ). However, having a strong sports 'ethos' throughout the school will help the most sporty and they will be able to get involved in a greater range of sports . Ditto music.
- working parents would definitely benefit from the school taking the pressure off them in terms of extra curricular.
- linking to this, if you work, it may be better for a DD to come home a bit later after the school activities rather than be at home on their own on social media from 4pm (as before, it does depend on the child!)

We are erring on the Indie route. Hopefully that helps.

helloallllll Tue 13-Mar-18 17:43:09

Also similar here - offer from
School v similar to phs and also from state v similar to sacred heart but c of e. Haven't rejected the state school offer yet but almost certainly will although it will be hard!
I don't have direct experience of Sacred Heart but one of the brightest girls I know went there and I also know someone who's 5 daughters went there. All very happy with it but none were in a position to pay for an independent school so they weren't comparing it.
I think we have chosen independent for many of the reasons listed by testbunny ( who I have seen on lots of threads I've been in! I keep namechanging!). DD loves netball etc but is never going to be in the top teams and I feel she will get more chances at the independent. She's bright but slightly flew under the radar at her primary school and will coast if she can. I want her to be a bit more inspired etc and hoping the independent school will do that.
But the state school we are turning down is great, some of her friends are going there and it would have been fine. We would definitely have chosen it over some of the independent offers she got.
All a bit of a gamble and I'm not totally sure what the right choice is!

testbunny Tue 13-Mar-18 18:37:32

Hi helloalllll! It's really hard, isn't it?? We don't believe "only private school will do", but we have the opportunity to send her to a school that we think she will really enjoy and get a lot from as well as give her a push academically. It suits her better than the state school we have been offered (although still an excellent school) so, as we are lucky enough to have the choice, she will go to the indie.

helloallllll Tue 13-Mar-18 18:53:02

Can you say where's she's going?! I saw you on the LMS thread! Is she going all girls or co-ed? That was our other dilemma...and sibling policies.
Actually OP- you didn't mention siblings. If DD had a younger sister it may have changed our decision a bit.

testbunny Tue 13-Mar-18 18:58:25

Girls. I can! PM me!

jeanne16 Tue 13-Mar-18 19:08:19

My DD went to PHS and although we were very happy with it, I just want to make the point that it is very competitive to make sports teams at all of these schools. My DD generally made the teams but lots of friends complained about how their DDs never made any sports teams and they felt they were paying for this but getting no benefit. I remember one Mother complaining about how her fees contributed towards paying for all the coaches taking girls to matches, but her daughter was never on one.

cakeisalwaystheanswer Tue 13-Mar-18 20:45:06

OP - you do need to realise that anyone playing a sport seriously will also be playing extensively at a club, academy, county etc outside of school. Even DCs playing for fun like DD play at a club as well as at school. If you look around any rugby, football, cricket, tennis, whatever club they will be full of DCs from both Indy and state schools.

Prep schools (up to Y8) play a lot more sport than state primaries but it evens out in senior school and one games afternoon a week is standard at most schools for the older year groups. There are of course matches and extra training for those in teams but this won't include everyone.

Sunshine5050 Tue 13-Mar-18 21:13:00

Yes I agree at Surbiton High it's the same few girls in the top sports teams, the PE dept have no interest if you aren't club/ county/national level in your sport. KGS seem much better with a high participation of dc in team sport but of course only 120 girls & boys in the year. OP don't choose private for the sport unless your child is top level.

sandybayley Tue 13-Mar-18 21:16:11

One of the things to consider at PHS is the rowing programme. It's very inclusive and anyone who wants to row can. Year 9 put out 4 eights today at Eton Dorney. All the girls start as beginners in Year 8 and it's a great sport for enthusiastic girls who gave yet to find 'their' sport.

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 21:21:28

Thank you testbunny and helloall. It is a hard decision indeed! We know so many people that would be so happy with a place at Sacred Heart that it is hard to turn it down, specially as it involve us saving the fees and our daughter having a much shorter and easier journey to and from school.
Thank you for the points you have raised. We have a younger daughter (3 years behind) so one more to pay for (accounted for in our “budget”) and we will of course have to go again through the 11+ as no sibling priority should we go private. I guess, if all went wrong at PH she could always go back to SHHS (I understand there is always movement with people moving, and we live local), whilst the opposite won’t be possible. But I think my daughter would be happy in both schools so that makes it harder. We think she is very bright (of course, we are her parents) but not very studious, sports and friends always more important to her, but I hope that changes as she gets older.

A friend in the same situation has turned down and offer from Notting Hill & Ealing for Sacred Heart, but her daughter is not too interested in sports so for her it was the fees and the journey.

I see you are both leaning towards the independent option. I wish your daughters all the best!

OP’s posts: |
Stillwishihadabs Tue 13-Mar-18 21:23:10

I went to SHH (30 years ago) very academic and 2 of us on the UCL rowing team, regularly competed for the county/borough from the school. As others said all fell off a bit after 14.(year 10)

ourkidmolly Tue 13-Mar-18 21:30:00

I wouldn't hesitate to send her to SH.

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 21:35:19

Thank you Jeanne, cake, sunshine and sandy. You are all so helpful!
I thought Putney High had a lot of teams so cater for all levels of ability, but I might have misunderstood... My best friend’s daughter is at NHEHS and she said her daughter is not very good at sports but she is able to try everything she want as they have lots of teams. I assumed it also being GDST it would have the same policy, but I don’t remember if we asked at the open morning. Rowing is interesting but she loves netball, gymnastics, cross country and mainly swimming (sadly no pool at PH). She does these both at school and outside school at the moment, but not competing at county level. The clubs she goes to probably won’t do over 12 years, so will have to look elsewhere at some point. Now I’m wondering if that is not good enough to make it to the teams!

OP’s posts: |
MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 21:40:54

Thank you stillwishihadabs (I still wish too!) - was that Sacred Heart or South Hampstead high? I hear SArcred Heart now does some rowing but I thought it was pretty new, probably very hard to get on the team.

OP’s posts: |
testbunny Tue 13-Mar-18 21:45:50

Best of luck too, MartaHamm!

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 21:46:03

Thank you ourkidMolly. Do you have experience with SHHS?

OP’s posts: |
testbunny Tue 13-Mar-18 21:54:12

I know PHS are strong on most of those sports, and they are proud of their gymnastics, but I couldn’t comment on how easy it is to get into their gym squad!

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 22:04:45

Thank you testbunny.

And apologies for the typos and bad grammar. Writing on the mobile and in a rush.

OP’s posts: |
helloallllll Tue 13-Mar-18 22:07:20

You can look at the fixtures list on most of the school website and see how many teams they have. It may be that the U12F team for netball only play every couple of weeks but that may be enough for some children, especially if they are doing a lot more sport in school than they did at their primary schools. I'm under no illusions that the school DD is (probably) going to will be focussing on their sports superstars but as long as she can play in a match occasionally and do more sport in lessons than she has done I think she'll be happy! (She also may surprise me and be better than I give her credit for- they do so little sport at school it's hard to know!).
At PHS' open day they had all the gym squad doing tumbles across the gym in flashy leotards. We bumped into a Y8 girl we knew and she just rolled her eyes and said PE gym lessons were definitely not like that! They also wheeled out the sixth former who had just won a tennis scholarship to a US University- it all got a bit boring..
Sorry- going off on a tangent!

MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 22:20:43

Thank you helloall. Yes we were very impressed at the open day but also realised they were putting on a show for us all 😀 But I thought it was one the schools (within commutable distance from us) with better sports for girls. We hesitated between NHEHS (same journey) and PHS, but chose PHS as a friend was heading there. Perhaps we should have chosen NHEHS as access to sports was the of the reasons for choosing independent (of course also the other extra curricular activities and smaller classes). I would say my daughter is pretty good level in most of the sports I listed but won’t know what she’s up against until she starts. Definitely not county level as yet!

OP’s posts: |
MartaHamm Tue 13-Mar-18 22:23:53

Helloall, Good idea. Will look at fixtures!

Don’t these schools all do sports clubs (lunchtime/after school) even if the children don’t make it to the team? Doing sports only during PE seems such a waste of facilities!

OP’s posts: |
helloallllll Tue 13-Mar-18 22:27:04

Yes- sure they all have clubs etc. I'm sure PHS will be great if you take it- I know a few who are going there in September- all a real mix. Nice choice to have!

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