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North London Parents - Fortismere, APS, St Marylebone, Wren?(20 Posts)
We will need to move next year and our church allows for us to have a chance at Wren and St M, but which of these would you recommend for an average ability girl? I can't get in to see any schools now of course. Is Fortismere all that?
Fortismere - Seems huge and quite a lot of reports on here about everyone tutoring all the way through (not an option for me) or being stuck in low sets all the way through. Why do people move the world for this school?
St M: All girls (prefer co-ed), but nice.
APS: Catchment so small, but seems better all-round.
Wren: Hard to find info about it and visits not possible now.
Anyone with kids at any of these? They all seem good but clearly I can only move once and need to get it right.
My children are at APS and they both love it. My son in yr 11 so has actually just left and he had an amazing 5 years there. He has an EHCP and the support was excellent and exactly what he needed to learn.
My daughter is much more academically able and is doing really well.
I've found it to be a very inclusive and supportive school with high ambitions for all it's pupils. Communication is great too.
It is a big comprehensive and it's not perfect, but any issues we've had have been dealt with swiftly and well.
We looked at all of these for DD who is in Y7 and has an EHCP so our needs are a bit different but here's my observations:
Fortismere- I think the big appeal here is that nearly all the kids are from similar wealthy families who value education so in the end they do well because of family input, I wouldn't say the school has anything to do with that from what I saw and know anyway. Huge huge drug problem.
St M- Extremely overcrowded, tiny building and all girls eat lunch in tutor rooms. Nice dance rooms and the below ground sports centre is cool. The SENCO was very honest that they wouldn't be able to meet DDs needs so we didn't pursue it any further. They were very honest about their annoyance that Westminster is forcing them to increase their PAN. Some of the corridors are massive fire hazards. Hugely effected by the cuts to the point they no longer take annual whole school pics to save money. Pain to get to from North London too.
APS- Worth the hype in my opinion and @owlmummy might be able to tell you a bit more.
Wren- I really liked it but too far for us. Nice alternative to APS if you're religious and can get in.
I know someone who has 3 kids. The eldest 2 are at and just left Fortismere. Their youngest won't be going to Fortismere as they haven't been overly impressed by it. I think they're the wrong way for APS but are considering Wren for the youngest.
Also know someone with a DD at St M and love it (mum and daughter).
Wren is soooooo strict.
Detentions for everything. Punishments for everything. 11yo girl I know (very swotty and quite clever) is plain scared of it and keeps her head down non stop. Too scared to for anything fin related. I know 15yo boys there, they hate it. One is clever and very well behaved. Hes disillusioned by the excessive detentions (reflections as they're known) and admits he lies about everything to avoid getting in trouble as you can get in trouble for almost everything (not standard school things). He would have done really well at any school, he has a job on weekends and holidays etc do is keen to work hard but the school ethic is quite strict and definitely isnt for everyone and probably has done him no favours. For some children it might force them to work for gradesc etc, for those who could do it without such strict controls it might backfire.
The school itself is a nice building. It gets good grades
St. M gets a thumbs up from me. DD goes there and has really thrived. Mostly excellent, highly dedicated teachers, and great headteacher. Pastoral support is fantastic.
Another thing I like about St. M is that it's very mixed in terms of race, class, and even religions (for a church school), which is imo, a strength of the school. Compared to, say, Fortismere, which is overwhelmingly white and middle-class.
Yes, the building is cramped. Girls eat in their form rooms, which initially I didn't like, but DD loves it because there's no horror of the big cafeteria and they all chat with each other. Friend of mine told me this arrangement is common in Japan, where space is at a premium.
Wren very strict and regimented.
This is all really massively helpful, thank you all. @owlmummy, that's so good to hear you love APS that much, and same for the St M love. @malmontar intrigued (slightly shocked) by 'huge huge drug problem' at Fortismere. What does that look like?
Wren sounds really awful tbh. St M sounds pretty good. Have been edging towards Fortismere, or was until this...
We looked at St M for DD last year. The head and staff were v v impressive but I couldn't get over the tiny building, polluted Marylebone Road roaring past (and girls having to cross it to get to Regents Park for outdoor sport), didn't like lack of lunch provision either. It has quite a snooty reputation; all the (white) MC parents in my neck of the woods are obsessed with it. Those two facts may or may not be related. Gets great results though.
Have you thought about Archer, OP? I know several people who are very happy with their DCs there. APS does seem to be the gold standard though, never met anyone with a bad word to say about it (but too far from us to have seen for myself so that's purely hearsay!)
I have a dc at Fortismere. My experience has been that behaviour/bullying management is poor and communication is dire. Unless things improve we won’t send dc2 there.
Friends’ experiences at the Archer or APS are much more positive.
Also, not everyone at Fortismere is wealthy, I think it’s about 18% FSM.
And not all children of wealthy parents are academically motivated, some are really badly behaved with parents who back their child rather than the teachers.
I’m not aware of a huge drugs problem other than lots of them smoking weed. Not sure other schools are different on that.
Fortismere seems to get quite a hard time on Mumsnet. My kids are happy there, doing well. They are both quite bright and motivated. It’s a big school and not as strict as APS, I quite like that. I don’t want them sitting in detentions because their shirts aren’t tucked in, or they have forgotten their pencil cases. There is some brilliant teaching and of course some less inspirational staff, like in all schools. I think the provision during lockdown has been really good,my Y10 DS has been working hard and has been well supported.
I don’t think everyone has tutors but is it so bad if there is a bit of tutoring? My friends DD at a nearby private girls school had tutors in all her sciences for GCSEs to give her more confidence. That didn’t make me think the school was at fault. And as for drugs, and as others have said on several threads, it’s an issue in most London schools to some degree, I’m not aware of Fortismere having a really bad drug problem.
@Zinnia you're talking about the wrong school! St Michael's is a Catholic grammar school in North Finchley and nowhere near Regents Park! It's all girls until 16 and mixed in the 6th form.
I know these schools as I'm in the area and St Michael's gets the thumbs up from the parents with kids there. Yes it's cramped but there's a new building and more to come too. However the kids I know there are smart - all were top quarter at least in their primary classes. You'd want to check that works for your child. It is very multi-cultural and not as middle class as other selective schools.
Wren - marmite school. Many parents love the strictness and behaviour, and results are really good for a non-selective school.
The site is great too. I'd say it's worth a look for sure.
Compton is nearby and also worth a look.
@NOTANUM St Marylebone is the school in the thread title. No-one's mentioned St Michaels's hitherto, as far as I recall?
Visited Wren two years ago and did not like it. Very 'rules rules rules' and without much reason why - figured our well-behaved daughter would be stressed out by so many rules and so many penalties. It was the only school on our preliminary list that we decided not to put down.
Some friends looked at Fortismere and was v concerned about behaviour, although I know some people have a positive time of it there as well.
@Zinnia Ha I'm so sorry!! I have totally read that wrong.. Need to get to Specsavers
@Notanium, well that's all good to know about St Michael's too, not that we are close. @silverfag and @fightthebear, that's all really really helpful, getting first hand actual experience is great.
@Zinnia and everyone, Archer and Compton on the radar but cluelessly tbh. No idea about them, I'll look into both. Wren does sound fierce, and not in a good way.
Don't blame you at all, NOTANUM, I was just about to say why on earth do people find it a problem where to move when 3 schools mentioned are within "touching" distance from one another in north London where indeed Wren and St. M is just 5 minutes walk up the road! And I was wondering why is St. Marylebone in central London thrown into the mix here in north London? All very confusing and I must admit I don't even know where or what is APS.
I was, of course, like you thinking of St. Michael's Catholic Grammar in north Finchley where my DD attended many moons ago and to pitch this school against the likes of Wren, Fortismere, etc is a no-brainer.
St. M is thrown into the mix because you can get in either 1) through a church place or 2) through a performing arts place. Those routes allow for quite vast geographical distance. Hope that helps.
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