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 Post subject: Opinions about Newstead
PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 9:39 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:37 pm
Posts: 7
Have been lurking for a while, Newstead is our nearest selective and looking through many threads I am a little concerned that it seems to be the only school that some people have reservations about. I'm just wondering what it is about the school that gives some people a negative impression since it seems very successful and some people are happy with it.
Are there discipline issues, any more than any other school? What is the level of parental involvement, I've always felt comfortable discussing DD at her current school but am a little worried that since she has some difficulties she may not get support should we decide to try this route.
Any thoughts or comments would be welcomed. Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:09 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 20, 2009 9:17 am
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Interesting topic.

This has been on my mind the last couple of weeks too. It is a good school and a few of my friends (not very close) have their children there(they have only begun Year 7 this year). Everyone seems to be in a rush to get their girls into Newstead but once in how is it ?
My daughter has some difficulties too but she is good in her studies and I am worried she wouldn't get the necessary help either.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:24 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:47 am
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My daughter started Newstead in September loves everything about it. She settled in very easy. My concerns for her was that there wouldn't be enough sports for her. She is in every team sport possible and is enjoying every minute of it. We thought she may struggle with the homework fitting it in but have had no problems. There was a maths piece she couldn't do so took it back in not done, half the class couldn't do it so the teacher went through it with them. She feels under no pressure hopefully this is the way it will stay.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:33 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:21 am
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I find this very interesting too. We went to view the school, knowing what a fabulous reputation it has and really expected to find something amazing. Maybe that was the problem, our expectations were too high, but we walked around it wondering what all the fuss was about. And felt that compared to our other options (Dartford and Wilmington) Newstead had nothing special.

Head teacher and head girls talks were very inspirational and it did change my opinon of what we'd seen. However it did not change my DDs and she is not keen to go there.

Cant quite put my finger on what we didnt like, it just didn't seem like a "fun" environment to learn in. And I wondered how my "bright but normal" daughter would fit in, as most of the girls we saw seemed very different to her. Also the school was ridiculously crowded to the point we couldn't even enter most rooms. We turned up at the start of the open morning (9.30am) and had to queue for an hour to even get into the school.

We're still trying to keep an open mind on this and DD will sit the test. If she is selected, then my plan would be to ask the school for another visit during the working day and hopefully guage a better impression of what it is really like. Obviously I'm not going to send her to a school she's not happy with but I think we need to keep our options open as we have very little choice where we are.

I do know people with children at the school that rate it extremely highly. I also hear rumours of how pressurised it is, but as this is 2nd hand information I tend to take it quite lightly! There will always be someone with something bad to say about a school but these tend not to be people with children actually attending there.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:14 pm 
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We are also considering this issue at the moment.

DD passed the Bexley exam with a top 180 score and so has already secured a selective place. I liked Bexley Grammar school very much and it is my first choice. DD however wants Newstead Wood and I suspect this is mainly because she has picked up on the idea that St Olave's/Newstead Wood schools are the hardest to get into and therefore must be 'the best'. However I'm really nor sure. For a start she's a tomboy and I worry about an all girls school for her. It will also be a long daily commute. I agree the open day was very crowded and didn't show the school in the best light.

We entered NW first on the CAF and DD is working for the test, but I still have some doubts.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:20 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 21, 2009 11:26 am
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Have already passed some views on Newstead ( see earlier thread ) I think what i was trying to say is that it is not the be all and end all - have a pretty good view after 3 years there . There are a lot of other schools equally good . If starting again i would say the main minus points are , lack of disipline , a rather odd mix socially ( some not allowed out and others out every night !)and the girls come from miles apart so as long as you dont mind ferrying between dartford and croydon it wont be a problem .Daughter has not felt any pressure at all and has been allowed to coast ( admittedly mainly her fault) The school will not pick them up if they drop standards and plenty do but still have acceptable results as in the main they are very bright ( see the value added scores ). Having said all that she s happy which just goes to show it doesnt matter where they end up so no need to stress !!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 2:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:43 am
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I have to agree with georgex. As a Newstead parent I have absolutely no complaints about the school and the quality of the education my DD is getting -- not just academics but sport, music, extra curriculars and also pastoral care. To answer some of your individual worries:

waytogo: We have not found any disciplinary issues at the school. Obviously there are a few stray cases. We have found parental involvement to be very high and the teachers positively encourage you to be involved.

Ang's mon: As I said pastoral care is excellent

Lass: I would certainly consider the school a 'fun' place to learn. On any open day schools are very crowded and you dont get to get a real feel for the school. So yes, its a good idea to go another day. Yes the school does place lot of importance on academic performance, but I find that the girls get motivated by their peers. It is one of the top perfroming grammars after all. Further there are 30 kids in a class, so if you feel your DD needs individual attention then maybe a private school is a better option where class sizes are smaller.

Peter: The distance should not put you off as the school draws gilrs from a wide catchment area, so all the clubs are at lunch time, and they very rarely have to stay late

Hope this helps


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 06, 2009 1:21 am
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Location: Sevenoaks, Kent
I concur with vrm and georgex. My daughter joined Newstead in September and is thoroughly enjoying it. She made new friends quickly, likes her teachers and the work, has joined several clubs (music, cookery), and even gets stuck into her homework as soon as she gets home. And I agree that parental involvement is strongly encouraged.

Lass's comment that her daughter "is not keen to go there" reminded me that my daughter felt exactly the same way this time last year! I would say don't be too concerned about this - at this age, parents definitely have a better idea of what's right for their child. In any case, my daughter changed her mind pretty quickly once she discovered how many of her friends were hoping to get into Newstead - and by the time March came around, she was thrilled to be offered a place.

I'd have no hesitation in recommending Newstead for any girl fortunate enough to be offered a place there.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 15, 2009 2:06 pm
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All this info. is really useful! Is it right that the clubs tend to be lunchtimes, as our daughter would be keen to play in the orchestra but we do live a long way and after school would be difficult? The open day was pretty hopeless, wasn't it - maybe they need to do several like other schools so it's not so crowded. Anyone had their letter saying what time slot they've been given for the test? We loved Townley and that's out DDs second on the CAF, which is a great back up. Wish it didn't all get dragged out until March though.. :roll:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 23, 2009 4:23 pm 
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Location: London
We're in the first group (8.30am) for our test which to be honest I prefer as my daughter is comparatively "sharper" earlier in the morning!

Hope this isn't too off topic: we liked Newstead but wonder if surreptitiously we've been drawn to it because of it's broader reputation, rather than because we feel very strongly it will specifically suit our daughter. Don't get me wrong, I think she would do well there and her teachers agree, but I went to visit Townley Grammar last week and thought it was really lovely.

What would you say were the main similarities and differences between Townley and Newstead?


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