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(75 Posts)
Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 00:49:32


Our DD is bright, but is not very sporty and is sometimes lazy.

Basically, we're looking for a secondary school that is:

1) Highly pressured and stretches pupils academically.
2) Has strict discipline.
3) Does not make sports compulsory.

We live in Fulham. One school nearby that we've have always been impressed by is St Paul's Girls' School. However, it's high fees would be a considerable burden for a medium-income family such as ours. What would be our chances of qualifying for a bursary?

Alternatively, can anyone recommend other schools in the area that would be suitable for DD.



OP’s posts: |
Qqwweerrtty Tue 14-Jan-20 06:32:20

SPGS is not particularly strict on discipline.
Sport is compulsory at all schools.

HighRopes Tue 14-Jan-20 07:28:10

SPGS doesn’t fit the bill, I’m afraid. Its got a very liberal ethos (for example, no uniform, a mobile phone policy that’s basically ‘be sensible’) and the discipline is much looser and less formal than most secondary schools. Sport is compulsory, though (from what dd says) the PE teachers are encouraging and nice to those who aren’t very good at it.

If you want strict discipline and lots of homework / tests and academic pressure, then almost anywhere else will be more to your taste - have you looked at Ibstock Place? From what I hear, it is more that type of school.

GrapefruitsAreNotTheOnlyFruit Tue 14-Jan-20 08:24:50

I think a lot of the academic girls schools go out of their way to be relaxed and nurturing. That's because the girls are on the whole well behaved and hard working. If anything schools have the problem of their students putting themselves under too much pressure and developing anxiety or other issues. So the schools do their best to counteract that.

However if you have a lazy but academically bright girl they will probably thrive at an academic girls school. Because they will want to keep up with their peers.

Obviously you need to go and visit your local girl's schools. Putney High is excellent but a bit less expensive. SPGS is very expensive but might offer bursaries up to a higher income level. You will need to check.

All of them are competitive to get in to.

Lolakath19 Tue 14-Jan-20 08:49:04

Can anyone advise for English tutor to prep for spgs? DD is in year 3 and we are looking for next year.

glittercats Tue 14-Jan-20 08:53:27

OP, When you say “high-pressured,” did you actually mean, “high academic expectations?”

Any selective school will have high academic standards because of the cohort they seek to cater to. But I don’t think any school sets out to be “high-pressure” just for the sake of it. Schools are very aware of the issues surrounding teen mental health, perfectionism, resilience, etc. In fact the three Hammersmith schools, SPGS, LU and G&L have collaborated to host a programme of talks and events for parents and students to focus on such issues.

SPGS is only high -pressured in the sense that there will be girls there who put a lot of pressure on themselves. You could say the same for LU and G&L, but all these schools have a liberal ethos, if anything - ie homework is quite light; emphasis on common sense rather than “rules.” I can’t speak for PHS or WHS, but I imagine it’s a similar situation there.

I’m not sure about bursaries, but I think LU has the most extensive bursary scheme of any independent in the area (over 20% receive bursary funding). You would need to talk to the individual schools.

If, for whatever reason, you want a more structured / pressured, rules-based environment, then I agree with a pp that Ibstock Place may fit this bill?

AJPTaylor Tue 14-Jan-20 09:09:13

So what is it you are looking for?
Private? State? How old is your dd? You describe her as bright but lazy? How would you get her through entrance exams?

HighRopes Tue 14-Jan-20 09:54:52

Oh, and on bursaries the info you need is

In summary:
Awards will be offered on entry to students who meet the School’s normal academic and residence requirements and whose parents have demonstrated their inability to afford a full fee-paying place. Students will normally have attended a maintained school but we may occasionally make exceptions depending on the situation. As a guide, the current total household income threshold is £110k (gross) but each application is assessed on a case-by-case basis. We will consider equity in property, other assets, savings and other sources of income when assessing the application. Any mitigating circumstances in a household which may impact on a family’s ability to afford full fees will also be considered. Parents can contact the Business Directorate at anytime to discuss a possible application.

Trewser Tue 14-Jan-20 09:57:32

Bright but lazy can sometimes mean actually not hugely bright.

Bright means having a curious intelligence which doesn't usually tally with being lazy.

user149799568 Tue 14-Jan-20 10:35:17

Bright means having a curious intelligence

Well, that's one definition, but it's not the one I use. I consider people bright if they are quick studies, understanding things the first time they are shown and making further connections with things they learned earlier without being shown. I've known plenty of "bright" people who are not curious, i.e., do not seek out new knowledge in areas which do not interest them. These people can definitely benefit from learning in an environment with very high minimum standards.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 12:47:46

Thanks for the responses.

My concern with SPGS and other private schools is that they may have a bit of a 'playground for the rich' ethos nowadays, and that this may not foster a culture of discipline and hard work.

Where we live we have lots of very good schools, such as Lady Margaret School, Sacred Heart High School, The Hurlingham Academy, Fulham Cross School, Hammersmith Academy, etc.

I don't suppose anyone lives in the borough of Hammersmith and Fulham and can recommend which are the best schools?

OP’s posts: |
74NewStreet Tue 14-Jan-20 12:49:55

Sacred Heart is an incredibly good school, if you’re happy with a state option.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 12:51:40

Sacred Heart is an incredibly good school, if you’re happy with a state option.

I think you have to be catholic though. Am I wrong?

OP’s posts: |
Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 12:54:46

OP, When you say “high-pressured,” did you actually mean, “high academic expectations?”

Yes, that is what I want, ideally.

OP’s posts: |
74NewStreet Tue 14-Jan-20 12:55:31

Yes, you do. Sorry, it was on your list so I thought you knew that...

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 12:57:07

Yes, you do. Sorry, it was on your list so I thought you knew that...

I was just giving an example of what I understood was a good school in my borough.

OP’s posts: |
74NewStreet Tue 14-Jan-20 12:58:14

Ah, ok. Lady Margaret’s comes highly recommended also.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 12:59:52

Ah, ok. Lady Margaret’s comes highly recommended also.

It's one we are definitely considering. Do you know anything about Fulham Cross? It's literally within walking distance of where we live.

OP’s posts: |
74NewStreet Tue 14-Jan-20 13:02:49

No, sorry.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 13:12:46

So what is it you are looking for?

Private? State? Not really bothered, although we would rather avoid having to pay high fees for a private school if we can find a very good state school.

How old is your dd? 10

You describe her as bright but lazy? How would you get her through entrance exams? She has sat exams in the past and usually done well, and is capable of putting in the effort for the sort of one-off basis, but doesn't get down to homework immediately.

OP’s posts: |
GrapefruitsAreNotTheOnlyFruit Tue 14-Jan-20 14:28:05

It might be too long a journey or you might be out of the catchment area but you could try Tiffin Girls School.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 14:33:23


Why do you recommend Tiffin? It's far away, but I'm interested.

OP’s posts: |
glittercats Tue 14-Jan-20 15:11:32

Liam - I think probably the best thing you can do at this stage in order to gauge the academic differences between schools is look at the GCSE results on individual school websites. Probably focus on GCSE results at this point, as students can move for A-levels anyway.

Just as a rough comparison, SPGS gets about 98% 9-7 grades (the new A*-A) every year - in other words, it’s rare to get a B grade (6) in such a school. Your other local Hammersmith independents such as G&L or LU are not far behind these stats. As a comparison, an outstanding” comp will get something in the region of 30% A-A*. This doesn’t mean that the teaching is inferior, just that the ability if the cohort is far more variable. This will be your daughters peer group and who she is comparing herself to.
So, for instance, from Fulham Cross, I do know a couple of girls who got all 8/9 grades and have transferred to LU on bursary places for 6th Form. They were outliers at FC, but at LU most of the pupils have similar grades.

The reason people are talking about Tiffin is because it gets probably 90 odd % 9-7 at GCSE. So it’s comparable in terms of results to the super- selective independents, but it’s a free grammar school. Unlike most grammars, there is no catchment for Tiffin. But it’s extremely competitive, obviously with a whole industry around tutoring for the exam.

Slightly “easier” independents that still get great results near you could be Ibstock? Some girls schools are in a “Consortium”, so you can sit several of more schools through one exam - including G&L and Francis Holland Sloane Square, both of which are within reach of where you live. In terms of state, I’ve heard very good things about Lady Margaret. Are you in the catchment for that school? Also Sacred Heart. But you need to visit the schools to get the vibe because all DC are so different.

Liam436 Tue 14-Jan-20 15:41:30


Thanks for your recommendations.

Fulham Cross will be our first choice as it seems to get very good results despite a varied intake. But we will apply for some of the other schools in the area as well in case DD doesn't get a place.

We will still give St Paul's a try as well. Might be worth it if we could get a bursary, but I'm concerned about it's lack of discipline based on what some of you have told me.

Distance is a major factor for us and so we won't be applying for a school that's far away.

OP’s posts: |
Glaciferous Tue 14-Jan-20 15:57:51

Tiffin has an inner and outer (designated) area of catchment. No girls have got in from beyond these areas since they were introduced, as far as I am aware, though living outside this area doesn't stop you applying. Designated area postcodes are:
KT1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 17, 19
TW1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17
SW13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20
W3, 4, 5, 7, 13

You won't find any schools where sports are not compulsory, but SPGS has a good range of different things available including things like dance and yoga. They get some choice in this as they get older. DD is not even a tiny bit sporty but she has mainly enjoyed her sports lessons apart from the ball sports which she was never going to like anywhere as she struggles to catch a ball reliably. Lacrosse is awful for the unsporty, though I imagine hockey is almost as bad.

You probably need to look at what individual schools are offering in terms of curriculum etc to see whether these schools are going to be right for your daughter. For us, we wanted the very rich foreign language provision that a private school offers. If I'd had a more maths/science loving child I would probably have been just as happy with a good state option as they will also offer triple science. They won't offer the ability to do so many languages or so much choice in which ones, and this differs between private schools as well. Some schools might make a humanity compulsory at GCSE. There's a lot of variation in what is available.

Also, your daughter's personality will make a difference. DD came from a state primary and was sick of being an outlier. She loves not being the best at everything and having peers (and people who are better than her) in the academic sense. Other children may thrive on being a bigger fish in a smaller pond and get discouraged if they are not always near the top of the class.

As others have said, SPGS is very very liberal and what rules there are essentially boil down to 'be sensible'. What discipline there is seems to be aimed at getting the girls to take responsibility for themselves which very much appeals to me (the whole point of this parenting business is working up to children being independent and confident, really). DD enjoys being treated more like an adult and has responded well to this approach. I don't think she would have thrived in a heavily rules-based environment. She would have spent a lot of time railing against injustice, I think! One of her friends is at Ibstock and DD was outraged to discover that they are prohibited from attaching keyrings to their bags (presumably because the jangling is annoying but DD is appalled at such a curtailment of liberty).

I don't think they work them incredibly hard at SPGS, at least in the lower years. DD gets very little homework (usually much much less than an hour a day, usually about half an hour or so, a bit more at weekends) and has not struggled to fit it in, even with music practice in the mix as well. They don't seem to set homework for the sake of it, only if there is something useful to do. One thing to take into account is that the school day is longer at SPGS than at many other schools and once you have added travel on, it can be a really long day. DD was shattered for most of her first year but is getting the hang of it now. We do live further away than you, though.

There are some very rich children there but equally a fair number from more ordinary backgrounds. DD's closest friends are mainly not in the super-rich category! They mainly seem pretty normal to me (I am also not super-rich).

If you think you might be eligible for a bursary, you should contact the schools directly and ask what you might be eligible for. They will be happy to help.

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