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Anybody have +/- experience with Newton Prep?

26 replies

morningglory · 07/08/2007 14:26

Forgot I had signed DS for assessment at Newton Prep until I got a letter this am. We've moved since I signed him up, and was wondering if, should DS get accepted, it would be worth the 30+minute driving distance for him to go there? I'm willing to spend the 2 hours on the road per day if it really is that much above the other good, but not-selective private schools in London. Many thanks for your input.

OP posts:
GroaningGameGirly · 07/08/2007 14:34

I don't have personal experience, nor do I know anyone else who has. But, they are always advertising which makes me as most popular and therefore oversubscribed schools don't seem to need to advertise. It is well-known amongst my group of friends, in that it is fairly local to us (or was, when my DDs were small, but we've moved since) and it was generally considered to be a school for "rich thickies". Not very nice, I know, particularly seeing as none of us actually have DCs there but lots of my friends did look but then chose other options. I guess what I'm trying to say is that is it really worth all that driving (morning/afternoon traffic being vile around there!) when there are other schools around?
Sorry, MG - that wasn't really very helpful or even kind advice, and you've undoubtedly had a good look around and liked it. Have you looked at anything else, though? You need to factor in the fact that your DS will make friends who live more locally to the school and that you might therefore end up driving again quite some way for playdates at weekends, which was what happened to us and I hated it! Also, he may want to go to activities after school but not on the premises with his friends, which will also mean you hanging around the area of an afternoon.
I hope you won't take this post the wrong way - I'm just trying to say that you might want to look at other alternatives too before making your final decision, but I'm not very articulate!

morningglory · 07/08/2007 17:33

Gosh, that seems to be different than the press about the school. It bills itself as a school for gifted children, and apparently won't take children with IQs less than 130 (except if you are a sibling). Not that I think that DS is gifted, I just like the emphasis on art and theatre which the shool seemed to have during the tour.

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fridayschild · 07/08/2007 20:07

DS1 was in nursery there for half a term only - we moved after we got the place, thought the commute might be worth a try until we found somewhere else. I don't think "rich thickies" is fair or accurate to be honest - it is pretty academic even for young children.

We found that regardless of the commute it was not the place for DS1 - he was more interested in playing than learning to write his name, so we withdrew him. He's gone to the local state school's nursery where he was very happy so I can't compare it to other pre-preps I'm afraid. Friends of friends also had their DS1 in nursery at the same time, and he is going elsewhere for reception: again, I understand this is because the boy turned out to be not swotty aged 4. I thought the staff were nice, and tried to help DS1 settle. They did manange to improve his handwriting in the short time he was there, but I think that's too young to force a child if he's not interested so we've let it all go to pot since then!

We have friends with their DD in reception, and she is very happy there. I think if you fit in to their very strong school ethos it would be a good school - but the child has to be right for the school.

They do have an issue with retaining children at age 7, because many will then transfer to the prep-school linked to the public school of choice, and that might be why they're always advertising. It also might be why it's worth you looking at more local schools and not bothering with the commute.

shergar · 08/08/2007 12:00

My friend's two children go there, and she is very happy with it, but I would say that they are not particularly academically inclined. However, the uniform chokes me with laughter every time I see it.....tartan shirts and weird knickerbockery breeches for the boys, anyone? (Girls' hideous flouncy tartan dress not much better!!).

fridayschild · 08/08/2007 13:23

Remembered overnight - there is a new headmaster there as of this year. If you take your child to the assessment you could ask whether that is making a difference to the school.

morningglory · 08/08/2007 20:50

I definitely will get him assessed, but I'm sceptical about how they can judge his intelligence by a 15 minute meeting with DS, myself and a senior teacher (they have gotten rid of the educational psychologist as of this year).

The uniforms are pretty silly, but I like the fact that kids can stay till 13 and avoid the pressures of 7/8/11+, and I really was impressed by their arts facilities.

Head seemed a bit stuffy (is the ex-head of Arnold House), but the school has such a strong ethos, I'm hoping that he won't change it too much.

OP posts:
Tranmeremum · 20/09/2007 13:30

My daughter has just completed the nursery year and we were really pleased with the school. Have only taken her out as we have just has a 'surprise' new baby and can't do two sets of private fees!
Def not a school for 'thickies'. They assess and some of the childrens are very, very bright. If your child is bright and likes a bit of pressure I think it's a great school (and I like the uniform!!!)but it wont suit eveyone. Our daughter thrived on it and is way ahead in her new class in reading and numbers. Jury is out on the new Head (we felt he seemed a bit starchy and remote)- we chose the school orginally because we loved the old one.
We commuted there by train. Have to say my 3 to 4 year old hated the journey on squashed trains and her friends were def scattered so that is a downside if you're not local.
I think they advertise because they don't operate a wait list. I think that's quite refreshing, I got fed up with phoning schools who said you had to put the child's name down at birth - rediculous!
I'd say go for the assessment and visit the school at elast one. The art is superb and the kids are great- relaxed atmosphere even though they do push the three r's etc.
It does sound like the school is changing and if they are removing the psychologiest etc maybe it will loosen it's IQ emphasis - not sure if that's good or bad as I found it nice to have a school that wasn't just selcting on abiltiy to pay (they do have some full scholarships for age 7+)

Wilbur · 20/09/2007 13:48

Ds1 and dd both go here and it suits our family very well. Yes it's quite academic (groaninggamegirly, I think you may be mixing it up with one of the other preps nearby in terms of its reputation), but it's also a lot more relaxed than the other private schools we looked at. I LOVE the uniform - corduroy shorts and plaid shirt, choice between sweater or sweatshirt for the boys, cord pinafore for girls, all easy wash and quite smart, no dreaded expensive blazer or cap or tie, thank god. I love the emphasis on music, art and drama, plus as it's a relatively new school (set up in early 90s) it has no heavy traditions to clutter up the children's day. The years are named same as state schools (Year One, Two etc) rather than things like Pre-Prep One etc, and because it's in a non-glam part of London they have been able to buy a lot of land at the back so they have a big all-weather pitch and the kids don't have to be bussed out to playing fields. Only slight drawback is sport, but they have this year upped the amount of sport in the curriculum and are encouraging more running about in general. As I say, it suits us - we travel a little way to it (where abouts are you? We are in Balham) but I usually take the train which is 3 stops and takes about 8 minutes. Friends are scattered, but several are v close by and we have close by home friends too, so it's not a big deal for us. HTH.

Wilbur · 20/09/2007 13:52

Tranmeremum - I think I know who you are. I think I had a lovely long cuddle with your new baby at a party in Wandsworth this summer and didn't want to give her back. How are you guys doing?

Tranmeremum · 07/12/2007 22:02

Hi Wilbur- trying to work out who you are but the description fits!! We're fine and loving having our two girls.

Needmoresleep · 20/02/2008 14:06

The school is changing quite fast. Posh dry-clean-only duffle coats are being added to uniform options, though not yet compulsary. Wonderful art teacher is going on an 18 month sabbatical, and selection may now include an interview with parents.

Not necessarily bad. Just different. Boys sport is much improved and there is a much more trad prep school feel. However with a push to keep as many on till 13, there is a sense that girls further up the school may get a shorter straw. It may be that DD is better off transferring to GDST or similar, where in all girls environment she might have a better chance to shine.

As with all schools, do your homework. Meet the Head. Some parents love him. Others felt more at ease with his predecessor. Look through the very good website and in particular the archived copies of the weekly Newton News. The latter in particular will give a pretty full and fair picture of the current vision and priorities, and the extent to which is is worth travelling past other schools to enrol your child.

Seenalotmum · 04/08/2012 16:41

Newton is for all abilities...gifted, all rounders etc. it used to be for gifted only. the homework can be 'full on' especially for a parent with 3 or more children! It is results driven as with all ind schools. Nice firm but fair head, though a word of caution if dealing with the Bursar, many parents say that his style of management is fundamentally flawed.

KingscoteStaff · 06/08/2012 22:21

Newton is a fantastic school for sparky children. The teaching and learning are outstanding - wonderful, passionate teachers who inspire the children.

The head of Art is utterly wonderful - my entirely untalented son adores art with her, and the work that the more gifted students produce is astounding.

Sports are excellent, particularly cricket, athletics and cross country.

I would say that it seems to suit children who are motivated and enthusiastic - it certainly is not a place where passive students are spoon-fed information.

Berealmum · 05/09/2012 23:03

Newton Prep thrives on segregation based on ability. If your child is not part of the gifted 30 % your child will be isolated from the very good educational attention provided. The school profiles itself in terms of excellent schools that the 30 % go to. You do not want to know where the rest goes. Parents are in fear of the headmaster. Very few of us dare to talk about the reality of the segregated school system designed to profile the excellence of the top students.

The school has hygiene issues.

MrsRobertDuvallHasRosacea · 06/09/2012 14:22

You seem to have a bee in your bonnet about NP berealmum

Donelaborate on the "hygiene issue"

amidaiwish · 07/09/2012 11:00

sounds hideous.

dinosaurinmybelly · 07/09/2012 13:27

It does sound hideous from your description berealmum. We were considering it for DD and are registered for an assessment this term. It has just occurred to me though that I would have a very long school run from Clapham South.

mumcares · 17/11/2012 22:38

not sure about the percentages, but do think that bearealmum has a fair point. We have had our children at the school for a number of years and have realized that this is indeed the core of its business model. We have decided to have our children attend another school. being educated with children of the same intellect knowing that other pupils in the same year who may not be gifted are separated and treated let's say differently is not how we want our children to learn about life.

the hygiene has improved, but it is still quite dirty.

te8579 · 18/06/2013 19:47

I trust me this school is for clever kids who are full of ambition

te8579 · 18/06/2013 19:47

thats a gr8 thing

elmsliegirl · 05/08/2013 08:35

I have two grandchildren the first who attended N/P from the age of 8 to the age of 11. This child had suffered 4 years of being crushed by the state system and so we were extremely grateful when N/P assessed him as having an exceptionally high rate of intellectual ability. Something that had been totally disregarded in the state system. The teachers at N/P worked tirelessly to help him overcome the learning difficulties he also had. He went on to gain a place at another great school. His sibling started at N/P at the age of 5 and has been there 4 years. He is a completely different kind of child with completely different talents and needs but is being nurtured equally well by N/P. The main thing is that they both love and respect their teachers, they both want to go to school every day even though the journey is arduous. They are both motivated to work. Having had a negative view of schools and teachers both as a student, a mother and as a drama teacher I would say that I am very happy that the 2nd grandchild thinks that bad schooling and horrid teachers are purely relics from the victorian era.

meditrina · 05/08/2013 08:51

Newton Prep abolished selection by "IQ" (ie pitching itself as a school for the gifted) some 6or 7 years ago, and abolished setting (for everything except maths and English) two years ago.

The ethos and performance of the school changed and nose-dived under the just-departed head (some children having to stay on to year 8, because they received no 11+ offers at all; outflow of parents since learning support dismantled).

I note this thread started in 2007, so OP probably made her school choices long ago. New head starts this September.

emmystyle · 05/08/2013 18:38

Lucky people with children at Newton Prep.

New deputy Head starting this September. Ex Westminster Under man, former Head of History. Well respected at WUS, highly capable, outdoorsy and not one to just talk, inspirational to children when he teaches history, especially the history of London. Straight A grades among the vast majority of children for his subject, loads of experience of year 8 scholarships.

WUS's loss. A big loss. NP's gain. Watch Newton Prep do well.... it will only be a matter of time. The right man for the job.

zorazora · 09/10/2013 12:23

Can anyone tell me what NPs assessment now involves? I've would be looking at DD joining for year 3 and DS year 4. They are currently in the state primary and while it's the best state primary in the area is it far from brilliant... Is it something I would need to get them tutored for Shock (considering what they are currently learning about maths could be fitted on the back of a small envelope)?

SWMum123 · 04/08/2016 15:28

Have been considering Newton for my daughter, but am underwhelmed by destinations given the expense. Also heard complaints that the headmistress makes it very difficult for children to move on at 7+, gives poor recommendations, the school doesn't provide test prep or support for leavers. Apparently, there is NO parking and the school is doing nothing to remedy, which would be a major issue for us, and I've heard that it's hard to get to by public transport, as well. Has anyone else experienced these problems? It seems like Newton had such a good reputation a couple of years ago...are these new changes?

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