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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:24 pm 
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My daughter has been lucky enough to receive offers from SHHS and FHS-NW1 (Regents Park) and I wonder if anyone can offer an insight into either school. We are torn - both look to be great schools and are about the same travel distance so that is not a deciding factor. Nor is headteacher, as each school has, or is about to, have a new head (although the new head at SHHS is currently unknown).

Ranking about 50 school places above FHS-NW1 (SHHS at about 25, compared to FHS-NW1 at 75) SHHS appears to be the ‘better school’, perhaps more likely to help my daughter reach her full academic potential and/or with better quality teachers.

However, I don’t know if these league table positions translate in quite such a simple way. Maybe the exam results merely reflect the entry cohort? Or maybe as the more overtly academic school, SHHS focusses on results to the detriment of broader subject range/has more homework/is higher pressure (possibly curtailing GCSE/A level choices, to ensure pupils only attempt exams they will get A-A* grades in) whereas FHS-NW1 will provide a more all-round/lower pressure/more flexible education (free choice at GCSE/A level etc). Other factors - FHS-NW1 is half the size of SHHS and all pupils start together in Year 7 rather than ½ coming from junior school.

My daughter is bright but not overly confident and I don’t want to place her in a school where she may feel like a failure if she’s not a straight A grade student (I don’t know how well she did in the exam). Equally, we don’t want her to miss out on having a fantastic education in an ‘academic’ school. So, if anyone has any thoughts about the general ethos of either school and particularly whether FHS-NW1 can still deliver to the best of a pupils’ potential (whilst not flogging her if she doesn’t hit the A grade heights) I’d be very grateful.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 4:53 pm 
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Location: Essex
Are you actually both 'torn', or does your DD have a preference?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:07 pm 
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A good question Toadmum - she is away at my mum's so I was trying to get a feel for things before we have 'the chat'. I think she will have a fairly strong opinion but I wonder/worry whether it will be based on the feeling she got from the interview itself so therefore won't be a true indicator of how she will 'fit' with the school longer term. So thoughts on the schools themselves would be really helpful.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:34 am 
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I have visited both schools and I would give my 1 vote to SHHS which I applied and loved.
I found SHHS was bright, academic but still less pressured, well balanced. I loved the bright library to be the centre of the school life and new built facilities and soft seating for girls to relax. English is fantastic with creative writings.
Very good reputation among parents. This can be your solution for academic + less pressure.

+
GDST is fantastic wider community to enjoy in variety ways. Lots of joint-competitions and trips would be very interesting and that was one of reason I loved.


SC


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 9:24 pm 
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If your Dd has a preference follow that.
Shhs is a great school, but I met quite a few girls that have been unhappy there while I never heard anyone unhappy at fh.
This is my personal opinion anyway and like in every school You need a bit of luck!


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 11:30 am 
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I think your point about the girls all starting together in year 7 is a good one. There is no doubt in my mind that the atmosphere at SHHS (particularly in years 7 and 8 ) is affected by the existence of entrenched friendship groups coming up from the prep school. This tends to express itself it two ways - firstly in the obviously very strong bonds between groups of SHHS prep girls, and secondly in the inevitable painful fracturing of some of those groups due to the addition of an incoming group of new girls. It can get a bit tense.... and a bit difficult to find where you belong. The upside of schools like Francis Holland is that all the girls are in the same position, starting afresh - I think that's very healthy.

As I've mentioned before on here (I think) SHHS is a very local school, whereas Francis Holland, possibly due to its central London location, seems to have a wider catchment. If you live in Hampstead, you'll find lots of local girls at both schools. If you don't, then your daughter may feel more isolated at SHHS than at FH.

I think you may also be right about the exam results reflecting the entry cohort - SHHS tends to be chosen by the more academic girls ahead of FH. Whether the teaching standard is any different, I couldn't tell you. But SHHS is not a particuarly pressured environment in our experience, and there is loads of stuff going on there beyond the curriculum.

I would also add that SHHS seems to have had difficulty retaining staff in recent years. It's definitely wobbled a bit. The new building is wonderful, the new head seemed to be pretty good too but she's jumping ship, as is the Head of Sixth Form, we have now been told.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 12:00 pm 
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On an open day tour of the school, a girl at SHHS was asked, "What's the one thing you'd like to change about the school?"

Her reply was, "It would be perfect if they made this into a Jewish school." The girl had been perfectly charming and it was obvious that she immediately realised her reply wasn't particularly tactful but it might hint towards the friendship groups that may arise within the school.

For various reasons, I have some familiarity with eating disorders in teenagers. Needless to say, they're prevalent in the selective North London independent and state schools - stuffed full of highly driven young ladies - but how the school supports a student when a problem arises is quite telling. I don't know about FHS but what I know of SHHS in this respect isn't too flattering.

nyr


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:51 pm 
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Flummoxed, you are spoilt for choice between two terrific schools. For what it is worth, a view on SHHS from a parent of two very different DD's, both of whom sat for FH as well (I liked both, too).
We don't live in Hampstead (inner London - the independence a commute brings is an early source of pride), and both DD's went to prep elsewhere. Oldest (DD2 accepted) is v happy at SHHS, loving the liberal but obviously blue-stocking nature of the school. The girls seem quirky and differently clever.
The school expects to mix up existing and new friendship groups quite sensibly (as do Channing, or City, etc).
New heads at both schools of course - so there is an element of chance there. I'm sure the general nature of adolescent girls to find occasionally hard roads to womanhood are an issue for all schools, and perhaps mine are yet too young to have encountered eating and control disorders. Certainly the concern isn't unique to any one North London school..
Good luck choosing - I suspect your DD cannot make a wrong choice here.
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