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St Mary Magdalene Academy - personal experiences(5 Posts)
I am considering St Mary Magdalene Academy for my DC and would like to hear from someone that currently is attending the school.
I know that the entrance requirements are quite competitive and the school looks quite academic.
There's also general consensus that the school 'is not for everyone' or has 'distinct flavor'. I searched previous posts, went on the open morning, and still can't quite figure out what that is?
I get a feeling that the school is geared mostly towards arts/music/drama. Is this correct?
Any advice would be highly appreciated.
DC just started in Year 7 on a governor's place at SMMA and we couldn't be happier with how it's going so far, although obviously it's early days.
It seems to be a no-nonsense but very caring place. Clear rules and expectations, plenty of incentives for engaging academically and socially, and understanding and supportive staff. The kids seem nice and DC is really happy, despite the inevitable ramp up in homework. There is quite a lot, but it doesn't seem crazy hard. I've nothing to compare it with though.
Your DC can sit the optional governors test (essentially Verbal Reasoning) to have a chance to get in regardless of distance. They take most by distance and then 20 or so best performing others from the test results (around 500 sit). Unlike a lot of other faith schools, there is no church criteria, so that may give you an indication of how strong the faith flavour is. That said, they do champion their Christian values, there is a prayer room and a chaplain who seems popular and runs various clubs at lunchtimes.
At the start of Year 7 everyone sat another similar test, and the best performers have had the chance to join the Mandarin excellence programme, which so far has been brilliant (but fairly full on, with an extra early and late class a week). They have streamed for maths (same stream for science).
They claim their specialism is languages and global citizenship, and all Year7 students study Chinese culture. We were drawn to this, because in London we found it unusual to find schools which have a broad general language offering (for example many do the bare minimum but will provide excellent support for students to get qualifications in their native language, which is wonderful, but not so useful if you are native English)
I would say music is a strength and something they have been recently investing in - not sure on the arts/drama side. DC has been given a violin for the year which they are learning together in class, and there are quite a a range of groups and additional instrumental lessons available (although many have waiting lists).
I don't think sport is particularly strong (although very hard to tell at the moment with COVID restricting things)
They have good links to businesses in the city, so there seem to be lots of work experience, career advice opportunities further up the school.
Normally there would be vertical tutor groups (small form groups with children from a variety of years to help build school community) but that's not been possible this year.
Hope that helps, we would definitely recommend.
Just to clarify by "no church criteria" I meant there are no church attendance forms to fill in. After looked-after, siblings and the linked primary school Year 6, places are allocated 70% open (purely by distance) and 30% other Islington CofE primaries
It’s the middle class school of choice in Islington. Most of their intake is by distance but the “governor’s places” ensure they can get more of the students they really want. I am not being cynical or critical - that’s just the truth.
I don't have DC there myself but know many families who do and they are, without exception, very happy with it. I also had some contact with them for work reasons a few years ago and their pastoral care seemed excellent then though of course that kind of thing can change quickly.
People seem to feel they are good at meeting the needs of very different kinds of children i.e. from the good all-rounders to the ones with additional needs. I've heard there is quite a lot of homework though. The mandarin excellence programme, from what I've heard of it, sounds fab.
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