Westminster state schools

(12 Posts)
LittleTurtle Sat 28-Apr-12 12:50:38

Just wanted to hear other mom's opinions on the following schools, in terms of education and social. Also wanted to know to which schools do the kids in them go after (where it feeds) and what is your opinion on them. New to the whole school and kids issues in London. Apoligies if it's been already asked, please do send me a link.

Hampden Gurney CoE
St Vincents RC
St Georges Hanover Square
St Marys Bryanston Square

Are there any other worthy schools, I left out in the vicinity? Not meaning to just name and shame, but I would really like to know.
Does it matter greatly which school for primary? Or will they all jsut end up at the same place anyway?

Melliphant Sun 06-May-12 22:52:26

I've been in the area for a while, so have some knowledge of the schools without having connections to any of them.

Hampden Gurney is of course the most highly sought after (at least for non-Catholics) but personally I wouldn't touch it with a bargepole. They get 100% in the KS2 SATs year in, year out, but what does that actually mean? It's more an issue of pride for the school than a statistic that benefits any individual child. Imagine being the child in the class who's most likely to spoil the record - you can bet they'll be put off education for life by the pressure. As for the bright ones, well they can safely be ignored.

They usually release a list of destinations of leavers (with plenty of spin), but that doesn't seem to be on their website yet this year. They get some into good secondary schools, but generally that involves a lot of extra coaching outside school. Remember when comparing schools that the parents at HG are increasingly high achieving high earners. Socially - if you're pushy and rich, you'll have nothing to worry about.

St George's Hanover Square and St Mary's Bryanston Square are both good and seemingly happy schools. Obviously their intakes are much more mixed and their results reflect that. Don't be put off by an Ofsted "good" rather than "excellent", it might just mean that the school hasn't bent over backwards to impress the Ofsted inspectors. For a truly excellent school it'll just be business as usual when the inspectors are there - there aren't many of those about! Socially - if you're pushy and rich and don't like diversity, you won't like them!

St Vincent's I have little knowledge of, but it will benefit from having decent secondary schools for the next stage. For boys leaving CE schools in Westminster there's really nothing in the state sector (and by 11 there'll be a lot of extra coaching involved to get them into a good private school). For girls there's the excellent Greycoats and the less impressive St Marylebone - and both will take pupils from all the schools, not just HG. Strong commitment to your church is more important, they're not academically selective.

It's a minefield. All the above is of course my own opinion and others will undoubtedly have other opinions.

treefumaster Tue 08-May-12 12:05:19

Just to put a counter opinion on Hampden Gurney - my children are there and it's a lovely school. They are young so not at SATS stage yet but both being very nurtured. I think it's lovely. Admission is literally nothing to do with wealth or pushiness. It's entirely to do with church attendance. There is no other way round it. As for diversity, I think it's as mixed as you are going to get in a very highly sought after faith school. Everyone there is from a christian background, more or less, but in terms of ethnicity it's pretty mixed (very mixed compared to my suburban primary school). My child is in the very small minority in her class as white and English. I think St George's has a pretty similar mix from what I've seen of it.

I had a bit of experience at St Mary's but was not too happy with the nursery. Not at all loving, whereas at HG they are very cuddly with the nursery children. I think the rest of St Mary's is good but not the nursery bit.

I rather like the atmosphere at St George's but I think the headmaster must be due to move on shortly so not sure where it's going.

The other school I looked at before we moved a bit too far away from it to be realistic was Soho Parish School which I thought was lovely and I would have been happy with it had we not moved too far away.

I really don't know about feeder schools. Not at that stage yet.

Melliphant Tue 08-May-12 14:42:43

Hello treefumaster - glad your children are happy at Hampden Gurney. By all accounts there are some excellent teachers there and I'm not for a second saying that it's not a good school. To improve as much as it has done is a fabulous achievement. I just think that its pursuit of awards and league table glory has had a corrosive effect on other schools in the area. Look at the roll call of "awards" on the front of its website - they must spend so much time filling in bits of paper to win these, you'd think they'd have better priorities.

Yes, on paper, admission is based on church attendance (rather than faith, but of course it's hard to distinguish). Frankly, I'd prefer a school where the parents are honest non-believers than one where most have just done what has to be done for a couple of years. Those years are when children should be starting to learn about honest behaviour - the message that some of the children starting HG are getting is that you get what you want by lying.

I've heard good things about Soho too from parents there.

treefumaster Tue 08-May-12 15:19:09

I do share your reservations about the faith aspect to be honest. But St George's is basically the same. The ones that seemed to have free-er entry despite ostensible faith school status are St Mary's and Soho. The one with almost no faith requirements is All Souls and that's because it's not doing as well. It's all a bit of a chicken and egg.

All I would say is, if you are lying to get into HG, you will soon regret it. The faith aspect is taken very seriously in the school with a weekly mass for even the youngest children and some quite deep doctrinal teaching from the very start. So the Christian ethos is very real in the school - if you were lying to get in you'd have to live with the outcome of children who are given quite a strong Christian education on a daily basis.

skifalloverrepeat Tue 05-Mar-13 12:06:17

I have one DD there and another DD who is now in secondary. I entirely agree with melliphant - it's a factory. The headteacher fudges stats (for example attendance) so her precious records are kept intact. She even hushed up what amounted to an assault because it involved a family member, who is herself widely disliked. She massages intake (huge uproar last year because she screwed it up), effectibely interviewing parents at nursery stage so that she gets those who are aligned to her thinking, and families queue up at the right church (Annunciation) to get their DCs in. 75 families with kids at nursery age are currently signed up there, compared with practically none a few years back. The governors are ineffectual, the parents grin and bear it; the question is, are the rest any better?

Melliphant Sat 14-Dec-13 01:03:52

Well - what's happened to HG's beloved SATs results this year then? Did the dog eat them? Did they lose them behind the sofa? Or were they just so good that Mrs Chua was overcome with humility and had to hide them from the world? hmm

Perhaps Mrs Chua couldn't make it to school on exam day, I hear that her presence can be inspirational to the pupils.

Perhaps the buggy parking crisis at the Annunciation is now causing weekly tailbacks at Marble Arch, and the Met Police insisted that the school should try and keep a lower profile, lest full London gridlock follow?

We'll probably never know.

Tistheseasontobedramatic Fri 20-Dec-13 20:07:32

Blimey. I have an older DD and she is very happy. Doing exceptionally well, very confident and looks forward to school and Mrs Chuas lessons. Please don't completely discount it, some of us are really happy there.

Melliphant Wed 19-Mar-14 10:08:54

Tistheseasontobedramatic, glad your daughter's happy there. Have they explained to her what happened to their 2013 SATs results, or how they used to "achieve" 100% year in, year out? Have they tied this in to their Christian ethos?

I guess not.

kittermum Thu 20-Mar-14 12:03:31

I am surprised that HG is getting such bad reviews here... My children go to the neighbouring St Vincent's and I would just love for them to transfer to HG. St Vincent's is an amazing school: wonderful staff, great family feel, really a nurturing atmosphere and good academics but they could do so much more with the children. It's frustrating and I have now transferred one of my children elsewhere ! If you look at St Vincent's and HG leavers destinations, you can see that HG children have the opportunity to go wherever they like.
Local Westminster schools are reviewed here

Melliphant Sat 22-Mar-14 13:11:23

"wonderful staff, great family feel, really a nurturing atmosphere and good academics" - sounds like they've got everything covered pretty well then! They also get good SATs results without fudging them. If St Vincent's is amazing, why on earth would you want them to go somewhere else?

The leavers' destinations for HG may be relatively good because of tutoring as much as anything the school does. The girls may go "wherever they like", but the boys don't get much choice, as the best state secondary schools anywhere near are Catholic (until the free school gets up and running).

kittermum Mon 24-Mar-14 14:00:47

weelllll, most children at St Vincent's get tutored from Year 5 in preparation of potential 11+ exams.
Completely agree that there are not enough secondary schools in Westminster, hopefully that will change with the new free school that should open soon (next sept??)

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