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which north london girls secondaries have happy children?

(35 Posts)
parietal Thu 07-Jun-18 13:27:24

please tell me about north london girls secondaries. I know the league table results & fancy websites & entry criteria. But those don't tell me which schools have nice staff and happy well supported children.

I'm particularly keen to hear about
- South Hampstead
- City of London Girls
- Francis Holland
- North London Collegiate
- Habs

but any other would be good too.

Thank you

BubblesBuddy Thu 07-Jun-18 14:32:41

I think the problem is, that most parents are hapy with their choices, especially when they are paying. They have expressly chosen the school they think fits their child so you will only get positive responses. Who is going to say their expensive school is awful!?

From my experience over many years, most schools are great. Most children are happy at school. Just look round the schools that are most likely to fit your criteria and speak to some pupils. You have some highly academic schools on the list, so make sure that is realistic and if you think its too pushy, drop down a notch on the academics.

Farewelltoarms Thu 07-Jun-18 14:59:02

I think, probably, that the happiness of the school is probably inversely proportional to how academically selective it is, so maybe Francis Holland?

I have heard lots of negative things about the happiness of the girls at City, not so much the school's response but perhaps the nature of the girls themselves (driven, perfectionist etc). I've heard similar things about the other schools actually though someone told me that North London has good pastoral care. I might know more about City girls because it's the nearest one to where we live.

NWgirls Thu 07-Jun-18 16:58:15

OP, I like your approach. Happiness is key.

Many good points were made in first two responses.

I just wanted to alert you to important changes in the NL consortium's testing, which might perhaps make getting an offer a bit less predictable for the relevant schools (SHHS, FHS):
London Consortium Independent Girls' Schools scrapping 11+http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/3056636-London-Consortium-Independent-Girls-Schools-scrapping-11

DD is happy at FH Regent's Park - where "kind" is part of the slogan.

FanDabbyFloozy Thu 07-Jun-18 18:41:56

@BubblesBuddy speaks sense on this point. Parents who pay for selective independent schools they've chosen are mostly happy.

I learned a lot on my 1st child which I will act on for all the other DC.

Choose the school on the basis of journey: length and complexity on a BAD day, not the TFL journey guide that was measured at 2am during the summer holidays..

Pick the school that is most aligned to your child's interest. If they mostly get A* in maths but your kid is not good at maths, why put her under that pressure to keep up? Ditto sports.

parietal Thu 07-Jun-18 21:44:48

Thanks for the comments so far. DD is v academic & enjoys her work but I don't want her to feel stressed about it.

I've heard stories of v bad pastoral care and/or children being pushed out for poor results at some of these, and wanted some alternative opinions.

So basically, I'm keen to hear any gossip beyond what I get at open days & in the prospectus.

AgonyBeetle Thu 07-Jun-18 22:29:12

Parliament Hill if you’re in catchment. Their high achievers do as well as they would at any selective school, and the pastoral care is outstanding. Lots of happy, confident, articulate girls.

Farewelltoarms Fri 08-Jun-18 12:36:45

I do hear good things about Parli, but then I also know of girls there who've had issues. I think it's an epidemic really, I honestly can't think of a single school where I don't know a girl who's had MH issues, state, private, co-ed etc.

I agree with FanDabby that there are so many crucial unknowables (the luck of the draw with classmates/teachers) that it's worth thinking about the things you can control like ease of journey.

Another thing we learnt is that both City and Channing do 'exploding offers' i.e. they say you've got until the state school offers day to decide whether to accept a place but in reality they'll fill their places and begin rescinding offers. They may well be lovely schools but this, to me, suggests that they're putting their own interests above the families who apply and that this might be a reflection of a less compassionate attitude towards pupils.

Dancergirl Fri 08-Jun-18 12:58:20

OP, I don't know where you live and it may be too far but have you looked at St Helen's in Northwood? Fantastic school. Academic but very nurturing too. It's on the Met line tube plus they have an extensive coach service.

BubblesBuddy Fri 08-Jun-18 13:02:23

What we did was to do was to pick a school where we knew they got good results but didn’t have a stellar intake. DD1 was always in the top 10, sometimes much higher, but there wasn’t a huge cohort of anxious girls. It was a relatively small pond and she thrived. Plenty of north London girls were weekly boarders there as it’s an easy commute! As it’s not on your list, I assume you are looking at Londin only, but if you can afford it, there are other options.

sanam2010 Fri 08-Jun-18 13:29:21

I think St Helen's fits the bill, academic enough but not a hothouse and lots of other things going on. If your daughter is very academic, she might be very happy at NLCS, too. I think the most important is not to push your daughter and do lots of tutoring. If she gets into NLCS without stress, then she will be happy there. If she needs two years of tutoring to get in, she won't be happy and the stress will become too much.

In my experience, very academic and extremely bright children are very happy and inspired in the very academic schools, it is usually those who were pushed in at all cost who are unhappy. But I think St Helen's is missing from your list. Also look at G&L, depending on where you are it may not be too far?

user149799568 Fri 08-Jun-18 16:05:14

...both City and Channing do 'exploding offers' i.e. they say you've got until the state school offers day to decide whether to accept a place but in reality they'll fill their places and begin rescinding offers. They may well be lovely schools but this, to me, suggests that they're putting their own interests above the families who apply and that this might be a reflection of a less compassionate attitude towards pupils.

There's no evidence that they are not compassionate towards their pupils once they've joined the community. Channing, at least, and I believe City as well this year called up parents of prospective siblings to let them know they needed to get their skates on if they wanted their girls to be in the same school.

Yvest Fri 08-Jun-18 21:27:47

Friends daughter is having a horrific time at St Helens, absolutely awful and she hates it. I genuinely think that the majority of girls are happy in the majority of places. What bothers one girl will pass another girl by so. No school will have all girls being happy and you will always hear the bad things as there's not a lot of conversation to be had about a girl who's doing fine and perfectly happy. Personally, I actively went for co-ed as I feel strongly that having boys in the mix is more healthy and breaks up some of the intensity of girls relationships.

bathildab Fri 08-Jun-18 23:12:33

"the happiness of the school is probably inversely proportional to how academically selective it is" - I disagree - I have a fiercely academic child and she wouldn't be happier in a class where she was an outlier. There are no hothouses - just schools that suit some girls and schools that suit others. You will hear bad stories about all schools if you look hard enough.
Choose a school that stands out for you and your daughter when you look around and speak to current staff and students is my advice!

Xenia Sat 09-Jun-18 13:23:52

We had one at Habs and one at North London C and both were as happy as larry. Lots of happy girls.

I certainly don't agree that academic selection makes girls unhappy! Usually those who like working at that higher standard are the ones who get in so they are in the right school for them. I went to a not very academic girls school (private) and it was not a great choice in some ways - no one worked at my level, my essays were read out in class, no one really contributed to debate in class and even going to university was rare. The lack of academic selection was the problem not the converse.

It is probably best just to sit the child for those you think they have a hope in hell of getting into (not all girls can get into them all and even if they might there is still luck on the day involved) and then make them realise whichever they end up with you will be absolutely delighted and let them have fun with the entrance tests. If they clearly won't pass for some of the schools then I would not bother entering them.

FanDabbyFloozy Sat 09-Jun-18 15:11:40

One other thing - these schools pick the kids, not the other way around. It is probably a good idea not to get fixated about one or other and instead look at the ones you are ruling out for some reason. Parents with ranked lists are often disappointed.

buzzingmama Sat 09-Jun-18 19:19:30

Channing is great... you should consider that maybe? Very happy atmosphere

Xenia Sun 10-Jun-18 07:34:26

They do indeed. Our one who went to NLCS at 7 did not get into Habs at 5 despite a sibling there and despite the fact they could not find a book at 3.5 years she could not read of the reading scheme they tried her on (she was a sitter and concentrator so just happened to be a more advanced reader than her sister although in the end they both have similar exam grades). I agree with FanD, don't be fixated. She was disappointed when not getting into her sister's school very briefly but she went to a lovely school commuting in with me each day on my way to work (Kensington Prep and got into NLCS at 7 and actually the fact they went to different schools other than logistics worked out very well - no one in the reflected glory of another etc). I still think it was a bit mean she didn't get a place at 5 at her sister's school however. There is some luck in it which is why it's best not to put too much store into it.

Cauliflowersqueeze Sun 10-Jun-18 09:47:17

All schools have the vast majority of happy kids and a few kids with issues that make them unhappy.

SpicyTomatos Sun 10-Jun-18 16:02:08

Out of interest, are there non-academic private schools for girls, or boys, in north London?

BubblesBuddy Sun 10-Jun-18 18:52:44

No private school can really afford to be labelled as "non academic". It would generally be like signing a death warrant in London!

From my experience of schools labelled "less academic", people are very adept at getting their bright children to shine at them. They like the slightly smaller pond and slightly lesscompetition. No beating yourself up all the time. Children do not need to be around 100% bright children to thrive.

All schools want academic pupils.They want good results and stellar universities for as many as possible. No school these days can make a selling point of 50% into university of some description and the rest into the local college of FE. Many people want their not so bright children to rub shoulders with the brightest and go to the "best" schools. In order to do that, they have years of tutoring. I totally agree with Xenia that it is the wrong thing to do.

Both mine boarded at Queenswood School in Hertfordshire with no tutoring at all. Not before, or during. They stood (or fell) by what the school could teach them. The great thing was all the other activities they did. I saw one very gifted child there (in 10 years as a parent) who was not stimulated. She was definitely in the wrong school because her behaviour deteriorated and she hated rules. All schools have rules of course, so kicking against rules will always make life difficult!

Do look at Queenswood. It always has enough bright girls and, quite frankly, so much else to offer, there is no need to ever be bored or not stimulated in another way outside of academics. For example, drama, music, sport, leadership, debate, House events. There is a huge array of activity for girls and the brightest are often leading the way! Its a hugely supportive community.

SpicyTomatos Sun 10-Jun-18 19:18:27

BubblesBuddy - thanks for the reply. I'm a few years away from having to worrying about it yet, but it is useful to know what it is like.

My naive preference would be for schools to be judged, or want to be judged, on things other than exam results. I have no idea what my kids will be good at or enjoy, but it would be nice to send them somewhere where they might discover this and be supported.

Davros Sun 10-Jun-18 22:43:10

spucytomatoes North Bridge House is mixed ability

Farewelltoarms Mon 11-Jun-18 10:27:32

I was being a bit facetious when I said the least academically selective is the happiest. I think least narrowly academically selective might be true. I think having a very small range of ability can be very demoralising, especially for girls who'd be high achieving in any other setting. Ideally, you want your daughter to be in the top third wherever she ends up.

User149 that's why I used the word might as regards to whether the practice of exploding offers is any reflection of a school's ethos. It's a fact that they use them (and most else we're going on is conjecture or anecdote). People can interpret this fact how they like.

OP, the one school that does seem really happy is Forest. It's co-ed but girls and boys are taught separately. Not as academic as ones on your list but I know academic children there who are flourishing.

FanDabbyFloozy Mon 11-Jun-18 11:48:03

@SpicyTomatos - more mixed ability schools to consider in addition to North Bridge are: Mount House, Aldenham, Mill Hill etc.

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