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Clueless in West London - Private Secondary school advice needed please for DD and DS

(53 Posts)
joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:03:19

I'm utterly clueless about the private school system.

I didn't grow up in London, and niether did DH, and neither of us, or any of our family have ever been in the private school system.

However, we are in a position financially to put both DD and DS into private school once they reach 11. Although the preference would be to put them in a decent state secondary, it doesn't look like that's going to be possible.

They will go to local state primary school because we believe in it, and we are in the catchment area for one of the best state primaries.

They are both still so young, but I feel like I need to start getting my head around where would work for them and us when the time comes. It all feels a bit overwhelming - the great unknown.

Ideally, we'd want them in a co-ed school. Also, and I know this may sound ridiculous to some of you (!) but I'd want them in the kind of school that didn't smack of old style public schooling. Somewhere that had the best possible mix of people given the obvious class and social restrictions of private schooling. I can't bear the thought of a bowler hat and a pin stripe blazer...which is terribly inverted of me, but there you have it.

I realise a lot of this is down to the fact that I don't want to feel like we are outsiders - not having come from generations of public schoolers.

Anyway. Ramble over.

How can I start getting to grips with what schools are available, whether it will matter that the DC's aren't coming from a "feeder" school, and whether they are going to suit who we are as a family.


orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:08:47

Whereabouts in west london?

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:09:20

Chiswick smile

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:15:07

How old are your dc at the moment?

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:16:14

Teeny tiny. 3.5 DD and 18 months DS. But both August babies, so DD is starting primary in reception in September.

MrsMattie Mon 09-Mar-09 17:16:54

Why private? Just because you can? have you investigated the state schools and grammars near by?

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:18:48

Yes, Mrs Mattie. Of course I have. Not just because I can, at ALL. I hoped the OP made that clear - obviously not. I honestly do not want to get into a debate about state and private on this thread as I feel sick enough about it all as it is, so if that's your angle...

MrsMattie Mon 09-Mar-09 17:19:22

No, I wasn't trying to start a debate, it's just that you live in an area of London with some great schools. That's all.

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:22:08

If you go to the good schools guide website here you can enter your postcode and your local (ish) schools will come up on a map, both private and state.

Your dc are tiny (a bit like mine!) and tbh if you are thinking of private only at secondary level, I'm not sure what you can do about it at this stage, as it won't be clear which direction your kids will be heading re: academics, music, drama etc. I'm not sure how helpful any school tours will be at this early stage. It might gie you an idea of what is out there, and you can start off by familiarising yourself with that, have a look at the websites etc....

If you are thinking about moving them into the private sector at primary level (age 7 perhaps?), then I think now is a good time to be getting prospectuses, going on a few tours, and getting a feel for the school environments.

Do you have local friends with kids at school anywhere (have made that sound like a particularly stupid question, but I'm hoping you know what I mean....)? Personal recommendations are always useful....

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:22:13

Really? Then I'm genuinly all ears.

Sorry to be prickly, but it's something I can literally drive myself mad thinking about. I know I'd feel much more comfortable in an excellent state secondary, but Chiswick community school gives me too much pause for thought...though I gather there is a new head now.

donnie Mon 09-Mar-09 17:24:03

if you 'believe in' the state primary system why don't you believe in the secondary one as well?

unfortunately your OP has invited a debate about state vs primary - check it out "the preference would be to put them in a decent state secondary......."

well - why don't you then? are all your local secondary school crap then?

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:24:15

You live a bit further west than me, I'm only (slightly) familiar w schools as far west as Hammersmith. Have no idea what secondary state provision is like in Chiswick, so can't comment on Mrs Mattie's statement. We live near great state primaries, but no great state secondaries unfortunately....

donnie Mon 09-Mar-09 17:24:30

'state vs private'

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:26:25

Thanks Orangina - yes, there are a couple of mums I know locally who are going down the private route but they are all going as of now (reception). They have also said pretty much the same as you in terms of not knowing where they'll end up at secondary until you know the child better. I guess I should just sit tight for the moment.

I think what I am looking for, if I'm honest, is some reassurance that there are private schools out there that might suit us. TBH, I feel a bit intimdated by it all, but I want the best for the kids (but also want them growing up rounded individuals). Ha ha - what we all want I suppose!

MargaretMountford Mon 09-Mar-09 17:28:20

what's the prob with Chiswick Community School out of interest ? (my friends dd goes there - ds might have if we hadn't moved out of London)

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:31:13

Donnie - If I can't get a bit of straight forward advice on MN anymore without all this bullshit, I'm fucking off. Seriously - this is not AIBU, or Other. I just want some advice from some folk who might know something. Who knows where my DC's will end up. Maybe in one of the great schools mrsmattie is about to tell me about <hopeful>

But honestly - please go and try and start a row somewhere else, because I'm not interested. And I have categorically not invited any debate.

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:33:27

We are sending our dc to the local state primary (assuming they get in?!) and keeping a very open mind as to if and when they cross to the private system. I haven't a clue what will suit them at secondary level, though am aware of which private secondary schools locally are well respected etc. Have no idea if they will suit us/dc.

Have no idea if we will even still be living here in 8-10 years time.

Sit tight for the moment, and don't worry about it. I'm sure you'll work out what's best for you all in due course. smile

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:33:58

The ofsted is not great, and the behaviour of the kids on the high road at chucking out time has, at times, seen the the police come out and get involved.

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:36:00

Thanks Orangina - sounds like you're in the same boat as me - but a bit calmer about it all.

Will check out that link in the meantime though. Thanks.

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:37:05

The thing is, whatever school you find today, state or private, that looks fantastic (or terrifying) can be completely turned around within a matter of years. So who knows what (say) the state provision in your catchment area will be like in 8 years time. If your dc are going into a good state primary, that's a great start. Not everyone has access to that...

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:38:28

(I refused to do that "fill out the pre-prep school application forms whilst still in the post natal ward" thing that I was recommended.... so either I'm laid back, or I'll be pulling my hair out in x years time for not having sucked up to the private schools for the last few years...... watch this space!)

donnie Mon 09-Mar-09 17:39:21

how can you expect up to date advice when your dc is only 18 months old? get a grip.

MittenKitty Mon 09-Mar-09 17:41:15

closest private secondaries are Latymer Upper - mixed, Latymer and Godolphin - girls and St Pauls - girls - all in Hammersmith ish

there's also Harrodian - Hmmersmith/Barnes

and various others in Ealing, Putney etc - Good Schools guide is a good start and there are some independent schools websites whose names i cant remember but you can put in your postcode and they show you whats near

to raise yet another issue certain people will hate, many of these schools are very competitive and state educated children will usually benefit from a bit of coaching in the last year to get up to speed wih how to do the entrance exams - even if you are at a good primary like Belmont

most schools you register for around November the year before you want them to go and do the exam in January

hope that helps

joshhollowayspieceofass Mon 09-Mar-09 17:41:59

Well, if it all goes wrong we can comfort each other about our hairless heads. smile

orangina Mon 09-Mar-09 17:42:30

Helpful Donnie.

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