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North London secondary schools - faves please!

(89 Posts)
ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 13:44:57

DD is in Year 4 so the secondary school question is beginning to loom. Having rented for years in Whitehall Park N19 and driving myself crazy that we haven't bought, I guess it does mean that if we want to think about moving house for schools, we are in a good position to do that.

So, without any dramatic geographical shift (i.e. I don't think we're contemplating a sudden move south of the river or way out to the west), which schools/areas might we want to consider?

I know bits about all the usual suspects near us (Highgate Wood, APS, Fortismere, Acland Burghley, Parliament Hill) but not necessarily the most current information. But for instance I only even heard of Hornsey School for Girls' existence yesterday and it sounds quite good! So that's an example of my general ignorance on schools.

And no doubt there are others further away from us (Hackney, etc.) which we might seriously consider doing a house move for if we found out we loved them.

No definite preference for mixed or single sex. The main concern I have (other than wanting a good standard of teaching and value placed on music, art, etc., not just strict academic performance) is behaviour. Just somewhere where kids treat each other with decency and respect.

Thanks all!

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CruCru Thu 10-May-18 13:56:53

A friend’s daughter goes to Highbury Fields. She is very pleased with it.

ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 14:03:43

Thanks - that's another new one on me (even though now I think of it I drive past it regularly; just never stopped to think about whether it was primary, secondary, etc.)

What year is your friend's daughter in? Do you know what she particularly likes about it?

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CruCru Thu 10-May-18 14:33:02

She is doing her GCSEs so year 11. I understand that they are very focussed on academics (which suits them). I should mention that this is a school for girls only.

RexManning Thu 10-May-18 14:33:59

Is N1 an option? Elizabeth Garrett Anderson if so.

St Marylebone.

FanDabbyFloozy Thu 10-May-18 14:36:07

Presuming you don't want selective or religious, I'd say you could a lot worse than moving into the doorstep of:
Fortismere (although some people say it has changed recently?), Muswell Hill
Archer, East Finchley
Compton, Finchley

ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 14:40:25

CruCru thanks for that - yes I saw it's girls only. We're currently only just outside the catchment so might not even have to move. So will definitely check it out.

RexManning N1 is an option, assuming we can afford to live there. I grew up in N1 and my parents still live there (well the Hackney part of N1) when it was a place that ordinary mortals bought houses... smile

What's particularly good about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, would you say?

And with St Marylebone, is it realistic if one is not a churchgoer?

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ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 15:03:21

Thanks FanDabbyFloozy. I'll have a look at Compton and Archer, neither of which I know.

With Fortismere, I always assumed that moving to get in there was a no-brainer but I'm also picking up a sense on Mumsnet and elsewhere that it's not necessarily the best choice any more (drugs seem to be a theme). I guess the best way to find out is find some current parents and ask them for an honest opinion.

Anyone on here who can weigh in on Fortismere?

I should add that we also have a DS in Year 1 at a local primary very close to our current house, whom we'd also need to move if we relocate too far away. That's not impossible, but the double upheaval of a house move and school move for him will only be worth doing if we end up somewhere with secondary options for him down the line as well. In other words, either a co-ed for both of them or - if DD goes to a girls' school - then also a good boys or mixed school for him 3 years later.

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CrackingEggs Thu 10-May-18 18:22:35

If your DD would get into AB from your current address I'd stay put. Unless of course you do decide on single sex for DD, then you'd have PH for her and maybe AB for your son. The admissions cut off this year has shrink to 0.9 miles so who knows whatnot will shrink to when the current Y4 North London "boom" class reach Y6. From memory it never got below 0.7 miles.

I suppose knowing that your DD is in a highly populace year should have some bearing on your search. You may well need to move very near a school.

Yes, I've heard bad things about Fortismere - there are some specifics on other threads.

Contact St Marylenone to get their old admission numbers. I believe if you love very close to the school you have a good chance of getting in via the non church route. I don't know where you could afford to love that's very close to the school though. It came top of the list of Lobdons polluted secondary schools.

Anyhow, AB, that's the school people se to be raving about st the moment. grin

CrackingEggs Thu 10-May-18 18:24:44

Sorry, should have been clearer. 0.9 and 0.7 for AB. PH seems to be around 1.5 miles at the moment.

gnatgnu Thu 10-May-18 18:25:14

Just be aware that Highbury Fields catchment has shrunk a lot this year - we were surprised (and disappointed) having been well within catchment for the past few years....

ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 19:52:25

CrackingEggs I hadn’t even thought about the fact it was a baby boom year, but of course you’re absolutely right - it caused us problems with primary school entry (though after a 6 month wait we did get a place at Ashmount). I’m so glad you mentioned it!

Interesting about AB as with that Ofsted (perhaps old now?) and also a recently overheard conversation about kids carrying knives from a parent of a 15-year old boy there (even though she said the school was good) I assumed we ought be avoiding it like the plague! Just shows you do need to get a lot of views and obviously visit the place.

Certainly not ruling anywhere out yet and if we can avoid moving we’d prefer to.

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ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 19:53:10

gnatgnu that’s good (bad) to know...

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CrackingEggs Thu 10-May-18 21:38:35

But Acland Butghley has a new bright Ofsted report, it's now Good with Outstanding leadership.

Sadly the knife incident was likely to be because one of ABs former pupils was killed recently in a knife attack. There has been no suggestion that the victims were carrying knifes as far as I know.

Do go and look at AB, it's become quite the school of choice in our little area. Check out their Progress 8 and GCSE results too, bearing in mind that this was one of the worst effected cohorts, before things changed.

There is another co ed school called St Mary Magdelen-I think? It's an academy in Islington? Children can sit a language aptitude test for a few of the places. Other than that your DD probably wouldn't be that high up the admisdions criteria which goes something like; children from the junior school; children from c of e schools in Islington; distance...

I've got friends who are desperate for one of the Mossbournes. Not to everyone's taste, but if you really can move anywhere North londonish they might be worth a look.

ScrubTheDecks Thu 10-May-18 22:46:20

Camden School for Girls has music aptitude and music ability places.

ZucchiniPie Thu 10-May-18 23:19:24

CrackingEggs that’s really good to know. As I’m new to secondary school intel gathering, I had only seen what Rightmove’s school checker tool had, which was obviously the old Ofsted. I hadn’t actually got to the stage of looking at the school’s own website.

How awful about that pupil. What a tragic thing.

Will definitely add to our list.

We know a family in Victoria Park whose daughter is in Year 7 at the newer Mossbourne so can ask how they’re finding it. I’d be happy moving over that way, having grown up in Hackney and with all my family in that area still. What always annoyed me as a child in East London was the awful transport links (which is why I love where live now as you can get anywhere so quickly) but I guess things have improved a fair bit with the Overground.

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hardheadedwoman Thu 10-May-18 23:24:40

Look at the Wren academy in North Finchley (134 bus route)

Mediumred Fri 11-May-18 03:03:38

We’re not far from you and DD (y5 so not long from having to make a decision) seems keen on Hornsey Girls. I did look round and was quite impressed. Outside of school and in groups the girls can seem a bit unruly (guess as any gang of teens can) but in school the atmosphere appeared studious and supportive.

We have friends with kids at Highgate wood who are very happy with it and the children who are willing to engage can really thrive there. The results at both schools are good.

Out of people able/willing to move, more seem keen on APS than fortismere now, definitely APS seems to be the sought after school for our bit of north London.

Also have you looked at the new City of London academy on Highgate hill? (Formerly Mt Carmel). I looked round there too and it was nice kids and teachers. They are starting from quite a low base in terms of exam results, this will be their first GCSE year so it will be interesting to see how they get on. Definitely the switch to academy status has brought a renewed focus on discipline/behaviour.

Good luck!

CrackingEggs Fri 11-May-18 08:59:11

Here is Acland Burghley's Ofsted report, I'm on my phone ( smashed screen and all) so it's probably not a clicky link.

I'm really pleased with the report, but that's coming from a patent who wants a co-ed comp and who can't move. It's interesting to think if I would be as happy if I had the choices you have. I think I would be as I know some great children who go, or will be starting on Y7. Who knows, but I am going to ponder!

ZucchiniPie Sat 12-May-18 09:57:08

Thanks for all those new thoughts and suggestions. I think even though we could move, we’d much prefer not to, as we love the area we’re in, don’t really want to have to move DS’ school, etc. So moving would be a big decision. It’s more that if we really felt the options here are too limited (from our POV) then we could. But I’m more and more encouraged that we won’t have to.

Mediumred I got very excited when I first saw that City of London we’re taking over Mt Carmel but then hadn’t heard any reports about it. We should go and see it but, like you, wonder how much it can transform into what I’m sure COLA are aiming for just in the next couple of years. Worth keeping an eye on definitely...

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LadySerenaCarlow Sat 12-May-18 10:05:47

My kids (at secondary school in the area) say no to mossbourne.

Lots of drugs everywhere I think so you won't be able to avoid. I know people with girls at parliament hill and Camden - both like them, Parlie more than Camden actually. I know people with boys at AB - they love it. I'll be looking at it for my y5 son and his sister may follow him there.

Have heard about bullying at fortismere- friend with child in y8 not so happy.

Have heard good things about Marylebone but I thought you had to be a church goer.

On knives and drugs - think they're everywhere. My dds have had parties and (recently) group of boys from AB turned up with knives.

Drugs at all the schools I think

And smoking and alcohol rife. - but my girls didn't start getting interested until y10/11 really

Buxbaum Sat 12-May-18 10:10:38

St Marylebone has performing arts places but they are very competitive. This is probably your only shot if you are not churchgoers.

Visit Mossbourne if you are considering it. It is quite intense and very hot on discipline. It might not suit a more creative child.

CrackingEggs Sat 12-May-18 15:53:04

Marylebone has "open" places, at least it did until recently, although I've stopped checking their website for admissions updates as we decided against it. We have a child in the same year group as you and had an awful time getting a reception place so was panicked early on about secondary.

The most recent info I have is from 2016 when their 14 open places went
Band A 0.7111m
Bsnd B 0.7616 m
Band C 0.9665m
Band D 0.5721 mile.

So you would need to move and it's a bit decision for a small chance of a place. However you could probably play it a bit and be in the catchment for both CSG and St Marylebone?

Have you been to any " meet the parents" events? They have a website.

doodar Sat 12-May-18 16:28:31

Highgate wood

Any of those 3, Hornsey school for girls is predominantly Muslim.

Fightthebear Sat 12-May-18 16:33:33

Our babysitter goes to Fortismere and has an offer from Oxford for this year. He loves it.

He says there are stoners at the school but he avoids them.

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