west london private schools - advice please(20 Posts)
anyone have children at any of the below - gettting conflicting reports about them all!
Latymer Upper, Harrodian, Arts Ed, NHEGS, St James Girls
would love to know any inside views - what kind of child suits each one etc.
None of those are particularly academic or that good to be at so I'm not too sure. Places like St Paul's etc are much better.
Xenia But surely they produce "better citizens"? I am shocked that there are some private schools that are "not very good to be at"....
mitten I can only tell you my two babysitters go to Latymer and are lovely confident girls. But other than that, I have no experience as my DC are only little. Have you checked out the Good Schools Guide. I always thinking asking people about schools is so random - you will always find one person to say, it's great and another to say it's rubbish (and they will be so coloured by their own choices for their DC). Best of luck.
I added a message then removed it because a bit insulting to one of the schools. However, I'm back again and feel I must agree with Xenia to extent, if you're after tip top academics and exclusive feel then St Pauls or Westminster are the ones people go for, also City of London, marginally less exclusive but 1st class academics. However would like to defend NHEHS here, it is v academic and a fun place to be with the caveat that it is decidedly down to earth and not at all flashy or glam, like a grammar school but not for free! Like all GDST, girls are from a variety of backgrounds and I think this is a good thing but if you want the full on, big name public school experience then it will not be for you.
Arts Ed is primarily a performing arts school if this is what you want it is v good and I know several children who are v happy there.
Harrodian is v glam and exclusive, not famous for its academic achievement but has nice grounds and facilities. We didn't apply because of the off putting £100 reg fee!
St James has a very unusual spiritual/ethical approach, if it appeals to you then you will be happy there as some friends of mine are. Will not appeal to trad types.
Latymer is my personal least favourite I have heard reports from friends with children there that it can be aggressively competitive and also that because of all the rich and famous pupils and parents you can feel like the church mouse. I went to the open day in 2006 and the head gave a v aggressive speech
'this is a school for clever children, the cleverest children in west london' he boomed to a somewhat stunned hall full of parents, altho in fact as Xenia also pointed out the cleverest tend to go elsewhere.
Referring to former colleagues he assured us that
'we've been weeding out the deadwood'
Still it remains v popular round here with highly competitive entry and v glam/super sophisticated once there. I also have friends who are happy with it and know nice kids who go there.
I notice you haven't mentioned Godolphin and Latymer - a fantastic school along the lines of St Pauls Girls. Hampton boys is also excellent on all counts. Ibstock Place and Emanuel also worth a mention, considered 2nd league academically round here but for that read they actually have taken on the task of educating people who are not geniuses and are in fact doing a very good job - children I know who go there feel valued and much is expected of them. Ditto Francis Holland/More House.
Good luck with your search, West London is a war zone when it comes to 2ndary schooling, your children must be immaculately tutored geniuses and/or you must be filthy rich/extremely poor or prove yourself a Christian, preferably Catholic. If you can't manage this you will have to move/send kids off to board/grit your teeth and send 'em to local non church state.
thanks Ellsworth and Turniphead - you're completely right that for every positive comment you get negative ones - hence my confusion!
I'd like a fairly academic school - she's bright but a bit hampered by mild dyslexia in spelling - but generally her intelligence gets her through but I'm not sure she's a top flight St Pauls type girl
I feel Harrodian will be a bit too casual, have heard Ibstock gives 3 hours homework and is organisationally a mess and have some concerns about the spritual side at St James.
NHEHS was quite appealing - very like my own school I felt - a girls grammar - but we live in Chiswick so others are closer and I'd rather cut out traveling time if poss
We can walk to Latymer so its tempting!
I'm quite keen on it at the moment - they do push the 'we're for clever kids' bit but the children seem happy and there's lots of other stuff to do - music, theatre and sportswise. But it may well be competitve as you say
I didnt try for Godolphin - thought it might be too academic and traditional - might have been wrong choice.
We've had a tutor the last 2 months once a week to help with the dyslexia and she's also been great on exam technique and we do an odd practice test at the weekends. But I dont want to cram her for something she cant keep up with so my view is she's either bright enough or she's not. I'm hoping the schools will select her in a way - the ones that offer her a place will do so because she's right for them. Who knows
But many thanks for your comments - anyone else know Latymer well?
I know quite a lot of people with DCs at Latymer. It has changed in the last few years and is now quite competitive. The girls who go there seem to be the very sparky, bright, articulate types and I hear that the boys who like it are either the ones who can cope with/ignore them, or who like being organised by them.
Godolphin has a very able intake, but is determindly non-competitive. There are absolutely no rankings and no question of being asked to leave after GCSE (unless there has been endless conflict, but that would be true in any school); having accepted a pupil into year 7 it is assumed that she will be able to do well at A level, even if there is a wobble at 15. Genius is not put on a pedestal, but expected to be used for the benefit of the school (eg: distinction at Grade 8 piano? Good, you can accompany the class singing.) The discipline is effective, but applied with a light and often humourous touch. The ethos of the school is matter-of-fact, although there are some little madams there there are also some quiet types. They all seem to get along. Unkindness is overtly outlawed. The wonderful Head is leaving at Christmas, however.
ArtsEd is a performing arts school; I believe an audition is required. Pupils are generally aiming for a career in theatre. Their performances are usually full of talent scouts. It has an amazing buzz and the ambition and work ethic leads to it being taken for granted that excellence in GCSEs and A levels will be striven for along with the performance skills, but academic ability isn't a big deal.
NHEGS seems a good, popular school. Good results. Pupils seem pretty normal. I haven't heard any adverse reports.
As you can see from another thread, Harrodian seems to be loved or hated. I know two people with DDs there and they are very happy with it. Both sensible families, one family very musical.
I know a several people with boys at St James' boys' school. The foundation has a particular ethos and an emphasis on being a civilised person. There are meditation sessions and classical subjects such as Greek and Sanskrit are valued above IT. Boys I know there are all happy with it, but I know nothing about the girls' school.
Surbiton (less academic, more 'arty') and LEH run buses from West London. There is also Putney High.
Ibstock is hard to read. Many of the staff are long-staying Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and have a cheery, down-to-earth, let's-do-our-best-and-goodmanners-only-please way about them. I met a teacher there who said that she thought the pupils there were the nicest she had ever taught. The head, however, seems different - more formal.
I would really recommend visiting and getting a feel for the Head. If you feel comfortable with him/her you will probably be happy with the school, if you don't gel with him/her there's a good chance you will not be so happy with the way the school is run.
Sorry for the long post!
BTW you will probably find, wherever your DD goes, that some of the children have quite considerable journeys. Within reason it seems common to go for the 'best' school (for the child) rather than the easiest journey.
thanks westend girl - all sounds very sensible - and I do recognise journey isnt everything - its just having had a long one myself for my 7 years at school I'm conscious of the extra benefits that time can bring. But it's by no means the biggest factor.
Agree with you on the importance of the Head - I'm very taken with the new one at NHEHS and impressed with Latymer's - so along with everything else I think they're my favourite. Am now beginning to wish we'd considered Godolphin though - might see if they'll take a late application. Would it normally be considered harder to get into than Latymer or NHEHS though?
thanks for your thoughts
For the last couple of years G&L has been one of the most sought after schools, even rumours of people choosing it over St Pauls. Last year there were queues around the block at exam time and they couldn't interview everyone, as they used to do. Latymer was like this but now it is easier to get in for girls, still v hard for boys. NHEHS easiest of the bunch, altho academically it always out-performs Latymer and IMO it is a nicer school.
Beware of the St. James schools. They are run by a religious cult and, in years past, had a horrible history of abuse, including a finding by an independent panel that criminal activities occurred. Certain teachers determined as responsible for some of the abuse still teach there. Google the sites run by former pupils - they are horrible to read.
I know this may be a little late but I was searching for entrance exam papers online and I came across several mumsnet threads about secondary schools and as I, and most of my yeargroup, absolutely ADORED Godolphin and Latymer I thought it would be important to let all of you know. It may not produce the same insane Oxbridge entry results as St Pauls Girls but it has phenomenal pastoral care and gets all girls into really good universities: girls who at other schools would never achieve those sorts of successes. It does get about 17% of the year into Oxbridge, about 5% into Ivy League Schools (that is to say only 5% go to US universities and all go to Ivy League Schools!) and the rest go to Bristol, Edinburgh, Durham, Nottingham, Manchester, UCL, LSE or Leeds. It was very sociable and friendly, in a way that I didn't find more high pressurised schools like SGPS and yet got better results than schools like Francis Holland. I can really tell that someone went there as it gives you self assurance but not overconfidence and it definitely does not make you always need to prove that you are academic (unlike SGPS...). I really, really loved it and I think most girls you'll meet from there would agree, unlike at many other London girls schools.
Also it came top in the country for IB, has incredible school trips (Sinai desert anyone?!), great facilities (e.g. hockey pitch onsite) and brilliant teachers.
I really cannot reiterate how much I loved it. Also if your daughter is thinking of leaving in 6th form, I would urge her to stay as I think it makes a big difference having teachers who have known you since you were 11 writing your references rather than people who have only seen one year's worth of work from you...
Anyway, thought I'd just let you know that.
P.S unless you think I'm bitter against SGPS I got in there too at 11 and decided to go to G&L...and I'm SO glad.
Not many of the schools seem nice. I suppose competition is always selfish
In particular response to kris007, I have a DD at St James girls school, and think it is a fantastic place. I know of its past history and would not want to underplay that, but that is very much in the past. Also, to describe an organisation as a 'cult' is very loaded. 'Cult' suggests brainwashing and there is none of that - but I can think of several mainstream churches, for example, who go in for 'cult-like' practises. And no, I'm not and never have been a member of the philosophical society that founded the school.
As to the girls school nowadays, more children go from outside the founding society than from members of it, and I think that speaks for itself. The Headmistress is great: very proper, high standards and expectations, but teaches all the girls in year 7 and the sixth form and has an open door policy for them. The ethos is on knowing yourself and service to others. They are silent for 10 mins at the beginning and end of the day, during which time they can meditate if they choose. It is a really lovely place. Talked to a parent who has children at both this school and a very academic famous London school and they were very clear about which one had been best for their child. Go take a look (although it is quite popular!)
Private day Schools for boys in West and Central London. My son is due to start boarding in September but he is having a few niggling second thoughts. He is 11. Yikes!! I am no smother mother but feel I should consider a London day school option all the same. I am looking for a second tier level school as although he is bright his concentration levels vary and he is quite quirky. He loves sport, but hes not an A or B team player so not a St Paul's or Westminster. I would like a school which provides a more nurturing environment as opposed to the hot house approach. Any feedback would be gratefully welcome.
Have one at Latymer and another at Nhehs and happy with both schools. Latymer is great for independent children Nhehs perfect if your child prefers more careful academic security. Results about equal so no worries there. Most good schools like these deliver As and A* at A level. Why fuss about which one will do this for your child.
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