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Henrietta Barnett, Dame Alice Owens, Latymer or good local option...

(37 Posts)
lastminuteschoolsdotcom Wed 28-Oct-20 16:18:01

Have to make a decision re DD for CAF deadline on Saturday and, without having had the benefit of attending open days this year, I'd really like to hear from people with children at / personal experience of the schools above.

DD has a sibling place at a good local school near us i.e. walkable, but has had a go at the grammar options and is through to the second round of all the ones that we know about (Latymer 1st round results still to be announced but it seems sensible to ask about them all at the same time).

Each school would be a considerable journey (i.e. up to an hour) and, without knowing them that well, it's hard to know whether what they offer beyond her closer option will make the travel time worth it. She's a very able child who I think will be fine academically in most places so it's really down to where she will be happiest. Slightly erring towards HBS of the three above because she's quite geeky and liked what she read re robotics clubs etc I'd heard some historic reports of bullying but that goes back a long way, hence wanting to hear from current or recent parents.

Any knowledge about any of the above much appreciated. I've done a search for old threads but wondered if there was any more up-to-date information.

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Singingrain1223 Wed 28-Oct-20 17:09:35

I'm guessing you have read everything in the forum chats on

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Wed 28-Oct-20 17:20:10

@Singingrain1223 ah, no. I've not visited those. Will have a look now. Sounds ominous!!

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lastminuteschoolsdotcom Wed 28-Oct-20 17:31:26

Just had a quick dig, I couldn't see much about schools themselves just some pretty terrifying threads about exam prep, which I think I'm better off not looking at at this stage given that the second round tests are in the next week or so

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Stokey Wed 28-Oct-20 17:58:16

I don't know much about the other two, but my impression of Latymer is that it's not overly pushy for a selective school. More emphasis on doing homework in a set time and working quickly rather than being a perfectionist. Kids I know there seem like a nice bunch but the area's not the nicest compared to the other two. Do you have a preference of mixed or single sex?

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Wed 28-Oct-20 18:07:34

Thanks @stokey - that sounds like a v sensible approach from Latymer. DD doesn't seem bothered re single sex or mixed. I have a slight preference for girls schools for girls but I think it totally depends on the child and can imagine DD rubbing along fine in either

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lastminuteschoolsdotcom Thu 29-Oct-20 10:08:40

Just bumping in case I can get any more feedback what with the CAF deadline looming...

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Moominmammacat Thu 29-Oct-20 10:37:48

Which is your good local school ... then we can try to judge if the others are that much better and worth the journey.

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Thu 29-Oct-20 10:46:25

@Moominmammacat local option is Camden School for Girls

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Moominmammacat Thu 29-Oct-20 10:48:39

Oh, I'd go for Camden and save the journey. I've known children in all the schools you have mentioned and they've all come out fine ... go for the easy life!

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Thu 29-Oct-20 10:51:07

Thanks @Moominmammacat smile

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PatienceVirtue Thu 29-Oct-20 11:26:18

Gosh if you're near Camden Girls then I think it's at least an hour's journey rather than up to an hour for those schools, though I guess you're the Islington side.

I'd have probably opted for Camden and not bothered with the tests at all, but there must have been a reason why she entered those exams. They're not for the faint-hearted and I don't know any child that's got through them without some sort of prep and extra work.

So maybe reel back and ask yourself why she entered them and what you hoped for from them. Was there an ideal end result or did you not think that far? You also need to think about the relationship between the siblings. Personally I love my daughters being at the same school as they're very different but they bond over laughing at the French teacher's eye make up or whatever. I end up knowing a lot more about the school from their conversations with each other than their conversations with us.

You must know Camden from the inside - are you happy with it?

Oh and does your dd have a younger brother? That might make Dame Alice appealing.

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Thu 29-Oct-20 11:51:10

Thanks for your thoughtful response @PatienceVirtue

DD1 wasn't in a position to look at other schools when she was in year 6 (we were just moving to the area so had to look at non-catchment options because we didn't yet have an address, hadn't done any grammar prep and also DD1, though probably similar in ability to DD2, hates tests and pressure so we thought best to just skip all that). When she got a CSG offer we were delighted and took it. Also it was our only option. Mostly we've been happy (and, more importantly, she has) but communication with parents is a weak point so I feel we don't know much about what's going on, also wasn't v impressed with provision during schools closure.

DD2 is a v different character, quite likes a bit of competition, is v relaxed about tests, and some of her friends were doing the grammars so we thought we'd start as if with a clean sheet and have a look at all the options. She's had some tutoring just in year 5 (most but not every week) but hasn't prepped heavily i.e. little or no homework from tutor, the idea being if she got in fairly comfortably to one of the grammars without loads of support she might really enjoy that environment. But now that they are looking more like an actual possibility, the reality of the journey is kicking in! Hope that makes sense.

I like what you say about having 2 at the same school. My two can be a bit competitive with each other so was wondering if it might also be healthy to have them at different schools - it's helpful to hear a different perspective on that. No other siblings.

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ExiledinIslington Thu 29-Oct-20 12:59:59

Blimey you are in a lucky position! CSG is on our list but place unlikely as DD got Band B which doesn't seem to move much.
I know if kids don't pass the selective tests the CAF can be amended after the 31st October but doubt you can if you just change your mind about them. How does your DD feel about a longer school journey?
I know a boy who is at Dame Alice and loves it and quite enjoys his journey with the other Islington kids.

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Thu 29-Oct-20 16:05:42

Yes, we're in an extremely lucky position - and I really do appreciate that and grateful for having options. But I'm still not sure where she'll thrive the most. I think you're right re the tests, if we put one first and she doesn't pass we'll just get the next choice but we need to be sure we do want whatever she puts first in case she does get it IYSWIM. She's not massively enthusiastic about the journey but does know of kids who quite enjoy the longer journeys and she's quite a sociable type so I think she'd probably be fine with it. But erring towards Moominmammacat's view that a good local is better and that travel time could be more sensibly used doing other stuff

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Moominmammacat Fri 30-Oct-20 09:52:04

Mine were at Owen's, absolutely fantastic and the journey did seem to be part of the fun for the Islingtons. I always kept my three in the same school for an easy life.

LarkDescending Fri 30-Oct-20 10:00:35

DAO is the only one of those I’d consider travelling for if CSG was on the doorstep.

maltravers Fri 30-Oct-20 10:15:55

What were the issues with provision during closure if you don’t mind me asking? CSG may be an option for us for sixth form.

PatienceVirtue Fri 30-Oct-20 12:41:15

Could you actually do the journey/s at rush hour? I know it's not very accurate at the moment as there are less people on public transport but it might give you both a realistic sense of the commute. I remember reading a psychologist saying that we're fundamentally unable to comprehend the realities of a commute in comparison to other attractions e.g. a bigger house, but we tend to get it wrong by underestimating the toll of it.

I know various parents at DAO and they all say their kids like the journey. I only have my experience from decades ago and I absolutely hated my hour bus ride. I now feel kind of guilty that my kids have a half an hour journey to school.

DAO is a much nicer physical space than CSG, Latymer not so much I don't think. HBS I never visited.

BTW your dd must be whip smart to have done so well up against kids who've been prepared to the hilt. Which makes me think she'll probably excel anywhere...

lastminuteschoolsdotcom Fri 30-Oct-20 16:25:53

Thanks so much for responding, all. Lots of positive feedback on DAO which is nice to hear but that is significantly further as the crow flies (though in commuting terms similar...)

@Moominmammacat glad yours were so happy at DAO

@maltravers I don't know if my expectations were too high but the kids really just seemed to be left on their own, lots of reasons why xyz wasn't possible, concerns re safeguarding and equal access for all ruling out anything live (whereas other schools with, for example, higher percentage of FSM seemed to offer more), not so much as a phone call until very late on in the summer term. I know a parent with a Y13 who felt they were badly let down. But then I spoke to another who said that provision was much better during lockdown further up the school so I guess it all comes down to experience and expectations. I think the school is very poor at comms - we get very little feedback academically speaking but again that may get better as you go further up the school. On the plus side, I've heard anecdotally that when there is a problem they are quick to react, which I suppose matters more than them spending all their time reassuring all parents that everything is ok all the time. I'm not sure if I'm being clear but essentially there are very good things about the school (arts, humanities) but some things feel a bit slapdash

That's a very sensible idea but sadly I think we've left it too late! And thank you, she has done really well and doesn't seem to have found the process at all stressful, which does make me think she might enjoy a relatively fast-paced environment. But in the end so much comes down to cohort and finding kindred spirits and there's no guarantee of that at any school.

Thanks again to everyone for taking the time to respond

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lastminuteschoolsdotcom Fri 30-Oct-20 16:26:20

@maltravers if you have any other queries re CSG please feel free to PM me

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maltravers Fri 30-Oct-20 16:35:02

Thank you, that is very helpful, I’m sorry to hear the remote provision was so poor, as there may of course be further lockdowns of this sort. Thank you for being so candid, if I do have other questions I will PM you.

alexdgr8 Fri 30-Oct-20 16:56:03

i think she will get better all round education at CSG; you;re v lucky to have that option.
and any advantages going to a local school, for her social life and after school activities, also more likely to develop a sense of community and civic responsibility.
good luck.
HBS is in a very remote, rather creepy area, no shops at all.

LarkDescending Fri 30-Oct-20 17:16:17


i think she will get better all round education at CSG; you;re v lucky to have that option.
and any advantages going to a local school, for her social life and after school activities, also more likely to develop a sense of community and civic responsibility.
good luck.
HBS is in a very remote, rather creepy area, no shops at all.

Hampstead Garden Suburb may be short on shopping opportunities, but I wouldn’t call it remote and creepy!

ExiledinIslington Fri 30-Oct-20 17:42:05

I wouldn't describe Hampstead Garden Suburb as remote either! I guess it's less "urban" than the Camden Road area.

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