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Are we being insania? (Fortismere, N10)

(46 Posts)
boyngirl Fri 21-May-10 13:22:47

I posted a few months ago asking about Fortismere in Muswell Hill, a ludicrously sought after high achieving comp.

So after much searching (heart and house wise) we're about to exchange on a house right on top of the school. DD is only yr 4 but we had to think ahead as needed to move house.

Anyway, we are having serious, ENORMOUS, last minute wobbles. The house is cripplingly expensive and much smaller than our current rental house which has a gigantic garden where our dc and other kids in road play in constantly. So we're going from 5 bed semi to 3 bed terraced house with teensy garden.

My question is, is Fortismere really really worth it or are we buying into a middle class wet dream iyswim?

We've seen the school and loved it. Does anyone have kids there or decided not to send/move near there? If so why? Could do with speedy advice.

Oh sorry our other options are 2 good comps near area we live in so move near there, but neither are as 'wow' as Forti, or private or selective but we dont' really want this for the dc. We love the idea of co-ed, good quality comp and most importantly the idea of them having social life on their doorstep as they grow up, not having friends scattered for miles around.

btw, I totally know this is not a big problem and we are very lucky with our choices.

FiveGoMadInDorset Fri 21-May-10 13:28:06

Personally, no I wouldn't, not if I had other good choices.

turkeyboots Fri 21-May-10 13:31:00

I used to live round the corner in N4 and would give my right arm to be back. Didn't have school age kids though so no help there. But understand your wobbles, as it was the cost of housing which drove us out.

GypsyMay Fri 21-May-10 14:26:53

Personally i don't think Fortismere is all it's cracked up to be, although better for girls than boys. If you believed the media you would think that everyone living in the Fortismere catchment sends their kids there, but it's not true. Loads go to grammars or private in preference.

Of course a lot depends on the new head starting in september. If you have a girl who is put in the top streams then she can do very well and be very happy, otherwise it might be better to put your money elsewhere. As is the case with most schools there is a mix of experiences and the future is hard to predict.

The distance for offers was 0.502 miles on Mar 1st this year, subsequent offers made slightly further out, hope you have checked your distance with Haringey council!

mussyhillmum Fri 21-May-10 14:49:24

Hi BoynGirl. We are on the border for Fortismere and, like you, were wondering whether or not to move closer to the school. Our "catchment" school (although further away than Fortismere) is Alexandra Park School. DH and I went to open evenings for both schools and I have been gleaning every bit of school gate gossip that I can about both schools.

Initially, DH and I were certain that we would want DC to go to Fortismere - better results than APS. However, having looked more closely at the schools we have decided positively against Fortismere.

We have a DS who is very bright but isn't what you would call self-motivated. He really needs a school which keeps close tabs on performance and doesn't hesitate to contact parents if not handing in homework, etc.

My impression, formed by conversations with several Fortismere parents, is that children who are mature, bright and focused will do well at Fortismere. For those who are bright, but lazy or immature, they are left to slide. I think that is why boys tend to do less well than girls at Fortismere.

I have also heard that it is very cliquey with a lot of privledged kids who place a great deal of importance on designer handbags, etc. Many parents have moaned that the kids at Fortismere are arrogent, but the ones that I know seem pleasant enough.

We were favourably impressed with APS - lower in the league tables but MUCH more mixed intake and more kids with SEN. Their added value score, for example, is much higher than Fortismere's. They keep very close tabs on pupils' performance which is what our DS needs. The atmosphere is wonderful and the relationship between staff and pupils is warm but respectful. Parents of APS pupils that I know invariably sing its praises.

Don't get me wrong; I don't think Fortismere is a bad school at all. We decided it wasn't right for our DS and certainly not worth the expense of moving.

It's a big decision - good luck!!

mussyhillmum Fri 21-May-10 14:54:32

Forgot to mention that imo Fortismere's "wow" results aren't that "wow" when you consider its intake. Its feeds primaries consistently achieve a very high percentage of level 5 for year 6 sats. Most parents around here think its results should be MUCH better and that it is far too complacent.

mussyhillmum Fri 21-May-10 14:56:51

sorry that should be "feeder" primaries.

boyngirl Fri 21-May-10 15:03:58

Hey thanks so much Gypsey and Mussy (and others) for your replies.
Gypsey - we are 0.1 miles away from the school. We wouldn't even look at more than 0.3 just to make absolutely sure.
Mussy - Arrrggghhhh! But seriously ur reply is so helpful. Both dc are bright (ever known a mumsnetter who said otherwise?!) and motivated. Well at the moment. I missed the APS open day which I was gutted about but you're right not to fixated solely on Forti, even if we move there.

Another qu - what about actually living in Mus? I know it v well and we have friends there but that's different from living there. Is it a bit competitive yummy mummy? Will I be condemned for buying Daily Mail - yes, yes I read it even tho I'm not a Tory! As long as it's friendly I don't mind tho...

AND what about Coldfall? We'd be moving them there probs.

GypsyMay Fri 21-May-10 15:13:39

Daily Mail! Not in Muswell Hill!

Coldfall is fine, have they confirmed places available in relevent years?

Competitive North London - your children need to be enrolled in at least 15 after school activities otherwise you are a bit slack. Because of the mix of people you are bound to meet some you like!

Good luck

AnnaSergeyevna Fri 21-May-10 15:21:13

The thing that would concern me about your post is the use of words "cripplingly expensive". Sounds like high risk to me.

What if your costs go up or if your dc need extra tuition? From what I've heard about Fortismere and APS is that many parents supplement with private tuition and that that's what's required in order to get the better grades.

AnnaSergeyevna Fri 21-May-10 15:32:01

Mussyhillmum - your post about parents thinking that Fortismere's results should be "MUCH" better and that its too complacent are interesting and certainly at odds with all the complaints I have heard about the school being too focused on academics!

Perhaps the MH community are just very vocal and never satisfied wink

boyngirl Fri 21-May-10 15:45:07

Anna - ha! Yes MH parents certainly have rep for being, ahem, 'involved and interested' in their kids education.

And as for cripplingly expensive - I mean all our savings gone but we can afford the mortgage fairly comfortably if we cut back on all the things I am terribly indulgent about eg lattes, facials, clothes, expensive bags . Ooh I sounded like such a diva then. AND I read the Daily Mail. Maybe I just won't be welcome in N10! But seriously I am more than happy to cut right back on stuff that's totally unnecessary and can live happily without.

Coldfall - they'd be number 1 and 3 on lists, but yes might take a few months to get them in, we accept that and it's fine.

boyngirl Fri 21-May-10 16:30:05

oh cripes, we are literally at point of exchange. I guess I have to take the risk and keep remembering that both options are great ones, and that we are not in the horrendous school situations that some on this section post about

mussyhillmum Fri 21-May-10 17:33:53

Anna - "vocal and never satisfied" - a truer word was never spoken! Prior to the current head, constant moan about lack of attainment,etc. New head brings in streaming, focus on academics and people moan it is too academic!!

Notwithstanding the moans, I think we are very lucky in Muswell Hill to have such great primary and secondary schools. It's a great place to live - lots of green space and very friendly - even to DM readers!!

boyngirl Sat 22-May-10 08:25:30

Thanks Mussy! I will definitely deflect back to the Guardian when we move...until we've made friends. Then it'll be back to the dark side in secret...wink
You're right then MH parents are lucky in all respects. Count your blessings.
so the new head, can't remember her name, what's the buzz about her?

mummytime Sat 22-May-10 18:06:52

Sorry but Fortismere isn't even that amazing, there are other schools out of London which get better percentages. I would also be concerned about any New Head, things can change a lot.

boyngirl Sat 22-May-10 18:48:51

Hey mummytime - re 'isn't that amazing'. Depends what aspect of amazing we're talking about. Do your dc go there? Wld like to hear more.
New head, yeah risky. But can and does happen to any school.
We live in Barnet where loads of (mainly selective) schools have better percentages. But it's not just about results, tho that is a big consideration. It's the social/community/co-ed thing for them as they become teenagers.
I'm kind of decided now I think. Because we have to decide and I can't see we can go hugely wrong (jinxes herself to all hell).

AnnaSergeyevna Sun 23-May-10 10:24:45

Good luck boyngirl.

There are no guarantees whatever you do, plenty of examples where kids have got into the "best" schools and then not done so well - for whatever reason and vice versa.

But the fact that you have put so much thought and effort into choosing and moving, means that you are giving your dc the best start. Nothing better than motivated parents imho smile

mussyhillmum Sun 23-May-10 11:35:22

It sounds like you have decided to make the move - congratulations!

NiceShoes Sun 23-May-10 22:40:35

I don't recognise the Muswell Hill some of you describe.It's not all chattering classes and lattes.In fact it is just a prosperous suburb that is not on tube. Some nice shops and a few pizza chains. The best part is the Alexandra Palace and views across London.

Fortismere is just a secondary school, gets good results largely because the parents are generally professionals and well qualified. The supportive parents will naturally add to the momentum school starts.

boyngirl Mon 24-May-10 13:53:12

Thanks for your lovely well wishes Anna and Mussy!

LadyLapsang Tue 25-May-10 18:32:03

I understand the current head is leaving to take up the headship of St Olaves GS.

MinaTannenbaum Tue 25-May-10 20:35:14

He is, a mere four years after he was given a large Golden Hello to entice him down from Tewkesbury <thanks her lucky stars we decided against St Olave's GS>

NL3 Wed 26-May-10 11:37:53

DS1 is at Fortismere and I really have nothing but positive things to say about it. It's terrific and it has been a tremendously positive experience for DS1. It is increasingly academic which I think is no bad thing and performance is tracked carefully. Teachers, almost without exception, are enthusiastic and challenging and are in constant contact with parents regarding performance, both good and bad. One teacher even rang me to ask could we review DS's french verbs with him, another who missed parents evening because of his mother's death, rang parents the following week to give them a verbal update. It's not unusual to get a phone call on a Friday to say DS has done a great piece of work.

The students at Fortismere are an interesting bunch, very confident and socially adept. All DS's friends love going to school and miss it in the holidays. The parents we know are delighted with the school.

I think only you can answer whether it is worth "trading down" in terms of your house-size but Fortismere is worth it. I met a bunch of sixth formers in the local pub one evening - they were delightful - they all had that lovely Fortismere "buzz" about them.

Best of luck with move if you choose to go ahead with it - Mussy is a great place to live - might hide that copy of the DM though!!!

boyngirl Wed 26-May-10 13:34:56

NL3...I think I love you!
ps STILL waiting to exchange, blooming incompetant solicitors.
pps Do you know what, I might parade through the Broadway with my Daily Mail just to ruffle a few feathers! It causes much hilarity/ribbing from mums at dc current school so I'm used to the persecution wink

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