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Wandsworth secondary schools - Southfields Academy?

(28 Posts)
citychick Wed 19-Jun-19 12:01:52

We will be returning to Wandsworth after several years away from the Borough and are looking for a senior school for DS - Year 8

He'd like to be in a mixed school with great pastoral care, the opportunity to make friends, plenty of sport and some fun extra curricular activities to get involved in.

I know that that Southfield's Academy has great facilities, but are the kids happy there?
Are parents happy with the school?
What's the mix of cultures like?
DS has come from a small school abroad and has been the minority for a few years (mainly Asian and we're not).
We'd love a mixed feel with good behaviour.

This school has had a reputation in the past - not great, bad behaviour etc etc.

What's it like now?

Many thanks for reading.

OP’s posts: |
Lemonmeringue33 Wed 19-Jun-19 13:43:57

This document shows you how secondary places in Wandsworth were allocated last year. You can deduce a lot from it.

The schools that parents want for their children are over subscribed.

Southfields academy, yet again, was not.

citychick Wed 19-Jun-19 13:56:54


thank you for the information, I will take a look.

OP’s posts: |
Lemonmeringue33 Wed 19-Jun-19 14:06:32

Also, bear in mind that you can apply to any secondary school in London. You are not limited to the borough you live in. Depending on your transport links, it can be easier to go to a school in another borough.

If you are applying for a Y8 place you will have a lot of choice because most places are allocated at Y7 and people do not tend to move DC once settled. There are however families moving out of London so vacancies do arise.

You can put yourself on the waiting list for as many schools as you want. So in your position I would look at all those schools which were massively over subscribed at Y7.

Wandsworth Council will push Southfields because it has empty places.

citychick Wed 19-Jun-19 14:27:01

Thanks, yes that is exactly what i thought.
Graveney is our closest as the crow flies, but we also are interested in Bolingbroke Academy. BA is full ATM but we'll go on the waiting list.
Ark Putney is too far away really.

Also looking at the Harris academy Wimbledon but Merton Council request that we bring all our paper work in person but we are not back in the UK yet. So that's a bit frustrating. Hope we can work something out.

I'm nervous about Southfield's Academy. I'm just not sure it's the right fit for him. Or all of us.

thanks again for your info.

OP’s posts: |
Lemonmeringue33 Wed 19-Jun-19 14:31:17

....not sure that Merton Council can do that. Might be worth getting some advice from the admissions experts on here

Lemonmeringue33 Wed 19-Jun-19 14:33:10


AveEldon Wed 19-Jun-19 14:39:42

Have you considered Chestnut Grove?

prh47bridge Wed 19-Jun-19 14:46:00

As the OP is not in the UK the council does not have to accept an application from her at this stage. It seems the OP will be living in Wandsworth so she cannot apply direct to Merton Council. If she wants a school in Merton she applies through Wandsworth Council.

Merton do require people returning from overseas to apply in person, if possible accompanied by their child. The documentation Merton request suggests this is to check that the child is entitled to education at a state school in the UK. There is nothing in the Admissions Code that would prevent Merton doing this.

Hellywelly10 Wed 19-Jun-19 14:46:10

I dont know much about southfields. I think it may be really hard to get into BA, graveney is very accidemically focused. What about chestnut grove?

citychick Wed 19-Jun-19 14:59:10

thank you for all your replies.

We will speak to Wandsworth and merton councils.

Although we will return to Wandsworth, DS actually attended a Merton primary school up to year 4. So he is on the system. Also had a SEN at that time from Wandsworth so they should be able to bring up his file.

I will have a look at Chestnut Grove, thanks for the suggestion.

I do agree that BA will be hard to get into and that Graveney is academically challenging.

OP’s posts: |
Celeriacacaca Wed 19-Jun-19 15:29:02

I'm a local and insider and would encourage you to have a look at SA. You can book a tour via the website or phone. It's very hard to make a judgement on something that you haven't had the chance to see first-hand! The leadership at SA is excellent and so is the teaching and pastoral care, not something I could always say about the more sought after local schools that my DCs attended.

There is a lot of local snobbery about SA (and also ATA) but don't be swayed by that. Interestingly, SA takes a significant number of students from other local "academic" schools during Y7-9 who have been "encouraged" to move on because they're not making the grade academically, or are taking longer to settle within the harsher disciplinary regimes at some of these schools. Once at SA, these children go on to thrive and become very happy, successful young people which, I guess, is what we want for our children.

citychick Wed 19-Jun-19 15:37:26

Thank you for your note. I agree, it's so hard.
I've read reviews about many schools in the area, and they are all over the place...some good some bad, it's difficult to say.
DS is coming from a small school, with very mixed abilities.
I've heard also about the snobbery surrounding SA. That's being ongoing for years.

We shall continue our research - all opinions are greatly appreciated.

OP’s posts: |
Mumsnutishere Wed 19-Jun-19 16:08:45

I am local to Bolingbroke Academy and I would avoid it tbh - despite the discipline policy kids are out smoking dope on the common after school most nights (when they aren't causing trouble in local shops).

I've heard good things about Southfields Academy from parents who removed their kids from Bolingbroke due to the above issues. Ignore the snobbery, try to hang out near these schools at coming out time, it's a real eye opener!

TheRedBarrows Wed 19-Jun-19 20:03:13

Graveney is a comprehensive school with added selective classes. You don't have to be an academic high flyer to get a place there, so for an individual child in their appropriate set not more challenging than anywhere else.

It is a huge school and I would not say the pastoral care is the best, but it does have good teaching.

It is worth putting your name down because there is turnover, and if you live near you have a chance of a place.

Chestnut Grove has a good reputation these days.

Is Bolingbroke the one that is a bit boot-campish / very strict and structured?

DeadDuckFace Wed 19-Jun-19 23:27:09

I went to look at Southfields Academy for DS and was really impressed by the facilities, leadership and every member of staff I spoke to, genuinely. However, on the day of the tour I heard a girl screaming (while we were on the tour during lesson time) and then a whole load of staff running past to deal with her. It really put me off which may be unfair but the impression I got was it's a really good school with a mixed school population, with a number with behavioural issues.

Celeriacacaca Thu 20-Jun-19 09:52:52

DDF, not doubting what you heard/saw but I am very surprised to read this as, in all the years I've been here, I've never seen anything like this. If there is an issue, and they do happen from time to time, staff are all trained to respond in a calm and clear way - no running, no panicking etc - as sometimes children do have meltdowns and/or mental health issues that require sensitive and careful handling.

Like all London schools we have a mixed population, particularly as we are non-selective, but the behaviour of students is very good, as testified by Ofsted in their last inspection in 2017 - "Inspectors observed high standards of behaviour in lessons and around the school".

I'm all for challenging misconceptions, especially those I hear perpetrated by local people who have never visited the school, which is why we are happy to offer tours during any normal school day, rather than just during a tightly stage-managed open morning or evening.

citychick Sun 23-Jun-19 06:19:26

Thanks all for your input. It's hugely helpful.

I have a few more questions but need to go out. Will come back soon.

OP’s posts: |
HWest1832 Fri 12-Jul-19 12:24:43

Just thought I’d add to the conversation. I have recently been to visit Southfields Academy and thought it looked very good.

Lots going on, VIP visits (Theresa May was there a few weeks ago), school trips, arts, music and an excellent maths department. Great facilities and a lovely spacious, bright, building with well-designed outdoor space. I couldn’t help thinking, If this was a private International school with the same facilities (amazing football pitches, a swimming pool and a nice quiet residential location backing onto a park) it would be £7000 per term (!)

The pupils and staff seemed relaxed and happy and the staff were very warm and welcoming. Excellent staff retention, in some cases over decades. Class sizes are kept small as part of their policy.

Sixth form results are good. One Oxbridge, and some medical school placements and other good outcomes. We are looking at independent and state secondary and I have no problem at all keeping Southfields on the table and would rank it over a couple of private schools in terms of values – and value! -- in terms of it being a good personal fit for us in terms of location and ethos. Glad I went to visit.

JoJoSM2 Fri 12-Jul-19 22:31:48

On paper it looks like a totally average comp.

HWest1832 Sat 13-Jul-19 08:41:04

Yes, on paper it is indeed a totally average comp. I decided to visit to see if it had anything extra that doesn't come across on paper. Also, as others have said before, almost all better-performing schools in the Borough are partly selective in some way, so results reflect intake.
Ashcroft - technology test
St Cecilia's- specialist music and maths places
Chestnut Grove - specialist language and art places
Graveney - academic test
Burntwood - single sex, academic test
Ernest Bevin - single sex , academic test
Bolingbroke -- feeder schools, many in an affluent area so arguably socio-economically selective (not sure this counts)

I was surprised to find this , and surprised to find we are not otherwise in a safe catchment area for a single one of the above schools. In the event of not getting specialist place, Wandsworth Council is bound to offer us Southfields or Ark Putney so I wanted to visit to see how I felt about them.

Who knows, maybe they should ALL just start offering specialist places!? Since the majority of Wandsworth schools do it now, it would then be an even playing field. I'm sure if Southfields did it would suddenly go up in the rankings and people's estimation. But that's probably a topic for a separate discussion.

JoJoSM2 Sat 13-Jul-19 09:09:38

It seems that there are more and more 'fake' comps in London with fudged admissions criteria. Tbh, I thought I'd see much worse when I looked up Southfields. Nothing wrong with it and the facilities sound lovely.

citychick Sun 06-Oct-19 15:06:54

A very late thanks for everyone's input.
We are still abroad but putting in application for schools for 2020.

We are considering SA and Chestnut Grove. SA being much closer. We've been informed that we are about 700 on the waiting list for Graveny. So that's pointless. And we've discarded Bollingbroke Academy.

If anyone can offer up any more opinions on SA and /or CG that would be much appreciated.

City chick.

OP’s posts: |
Lifesatoot Mon 20-Jan-20 16:57:03

Following this post with interest. We are in Tooting and researching schools for our daughter. We visited CG and loved it as did most people I spoke to on the day and since. It feels like a smaller, more nurturing version of Graveney i.e. mixed backgrounds, friendly bright kids and lots of opportunities. I had a good chat with the SENCO and she was very helpful and encouraging. I liked the head a lot - they want happy kids and have won awards for anti bullying initiatives, inclusiveness etc. If we were in catchment it would be our top choice.

It's a bit further away but have you considered Lambeth Academy? I've heard the pastoral care is great. A very bright girl who lives nearby attends and is very happy there.

One choice we have is moving into Graveney catchment but we are concerned about pastoral care being low on their list of priorities. Dunraven is Streatham also sounds great but we don't want to move that far ideally. Def can't afford Balham for CG sadly...

Alice12 Mon 10-Aug-20 14:52:41

Hi, I wonder if anyone can give me any more information on comparing Southfields academy , st cecilia's and Ashcroft?.. looking at 6th forms for this September. Amy advice most welcome, thanks.

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