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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:14 pm
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Hi I was just wondering if there were any parents with children at Newstead how their children are finding the school? Are they happy, is the pastoral care good, do they enjoy lunch there, what are the facilities like. Has any one moved from private sector to grammar for secondary and if so how did they find the increase in class sizes?
Would you recommend the school to a prospective new parent? Is there anything a new parent should be wary of with the school? On the open day the school wasn’t shiny and new but the girls all seemed very happy. I have heard horror stories like the toilets are not clean or dont work and that the books are old and there is lots of children with mental health problems there but I just don’t know if these are true or not. As I said the girls I saw seemed very excited on the open day to show case their school. Thanks for your help.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 23, 2018 11:52 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:24 pm
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
Advice2018 wrote:
Hi I was just wondering if there were any parents with children at Newstead how their children are finding the school? Are they happy, is the pastoral care good, do they enjoy lunch there, what are the facilities like. Has any one moved from private sector to grammar for secondary and if so how did they find the increase in class sizes?
Would you recommend the school to a prospective new parent? Is there anything a new parent should be wary of with the school? On the open day the school wasn’t shiny and new but the girls all seemed very happy. I have heard horror stories like the toilets are not clean or dont work and that the books are old and there is lots of children with mental health problems there but I just don’t know if these are true or not. As I said the girls I saw seemed very excited on the open day to show case their school. Thanks for your help.


Hi DD is in Y9. It is very much a school that will suit some girls and not others. DD loves the school. To answer your questions in turn:

Yes my DD is very happy at the school. Far happier than she was at her private school

Pastoral care: we haven’t had need to use it. DD has a friend with needs and she has been supported. The girls are very supportive of each other and tend to turn to each other in many instances. At the recent Ofsted inspection the inspectors were asking LOTS of questions about pastoral care and mental health.

Lunch: it is too crowded, food of a ‘meh’ quality. They take it in turn to have late lunch so they don’t miss out on the popular choices which run out. The new Y7s get to go first for a while why they get used to things. Some girls take packed lunch. Good though is the option to buy lunch type food at break, as break is so late it is almost like an early lunch anyway. This is helpful too for those who do twilight classes (like Latin or Mandarin etc) at lunchtimes.

Would I recommend the school? Yes but only if you /your DD felt it was a good fit.

The school is far from shiny. They spend more on the teachers. They have had spruce up days where parents help with decorating etc. It is less shiny by far than DD’s private school but she says she prefers Newstead, yes the toilets could be better but they aren’t unusable. With loads of girls the plumbing does take a hit every so often and they had an incident where things were blocked for days and some toilets out of action. It got fixed but not before the girls had to eat lunch in classrooms for a few days due to ‘the big stink’. They took it in good grace, if you want perfection then it won’t be the right environment.

You ask about class sizes. I don’t think these are important and there are studies that show it is about the quality of the teaching and not class size. But that aside DD moved from a private school of 24 girls to NW with 27 so hardly a massive shift. Also the school is big enough that she has found some lovely friends which she struggles with in a smaller school. They stay in their form in Y7 for all classes except DT. In Y8 they also have different classes for maths and languages.

Some things I know other parents have worried about is the use of mobile phones. NW have a very different policy to many other schools. They let the girls use their phones to enhance learning. E.g in maths they’ve all downloaded a graphical calculator and use it in lessons rather than have to buy one or watch on a screen. They respect the girls will use their devices responsibly. They also respect when the girls add to the lesson with additional knowledge of their own.

The teachers are good at getting back to you if you have questions and they are helpful and supportive. The Governors communication skills would come in the category of ‘must try harder’. Read the minutes of the Governors meetings to get further insight. The reasons behind the latest inspection turning from a one day into a two day inspection are also unclear and the results will not be known until after CAF submission deadline.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 24, 2018 8:35 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:14 pm
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Dear Pettswood Fiona thank you so much for taking the time to post such a helpful and comprehensive reply- I really appreciate it.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 12:33 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:24 pm
Posts: 5
My DD has just started in Year 7 at Newstead Wood. We have limited experience, but she is loving it there so far. She says the girls are really nice and friendly, and the older students are very helpful. Her classmate says that the girls are much nicer than the girls at her primary school! Each Year 7 class has a couple of sixth-formers assigned to help out, which is great for helping the girls to settle in.

My DD really likes the school lunches, she says they're much nicer than the lunches at her primary school. She says the queues can be long though, so sometimes it's quicker just to get a sandwich from the canteen. She loves being able to buy snacks there at break time.

The work seems quite challenging, but that's what I would expect from a grammar school. The girls seem to help each other out a lot with homework queries (there are numerous email groups set up for each class and subject).

My DD says some of the teachers are shouty/boring/weird, but other ones are really nice! I'm guessing this is probably the same for most schools...

The school is shabby and less spacious compared to some others - we really loved Weald Tonbridge for its facilities, especially the shiny new gym and dance studio, but it was just too far to travel. We have always liked Newstead, it's a bit quirky, and we think the new headteacher is great, very enthusiastic.

As PWF says, I would recommend the school, but only if you / your DD felt like it was a good fit.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 7:14 pm
Posts: 40
Location: Chislehurst
Agree with the two previous posts, it does depend on your DC. There are 1 or 2 DC who do not settle at a school each year, yet there are 100s that do..

We were lucky enough to have to make this decision last year, and were not solely considering NW. Some schools had "All Steinway Pianos" (private), or impressive IT, science or engineering facilities (grammars). Each school had its own strengths and weaknesses.

But, the main difference between the private and grammar was Non-Selective vs Selective. The reality is your DC has earned the right to go to a Selective school, and so too all the other students in their class.

If the alternative is to go to a Non-Selective school (free or fee paying), then potentially the question in latter years from your DC will be "Why did you not send me to the school where I earned a place?"...


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 7:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 10:24 pm
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
I would add to zcacmxi’s post that DD turned down places at selective independents, one supposedly tougher to get into than Newstead so it isn’t always about earning a place vs independent - the concept exists in both sectors. In one though you have to also have money or qualify for a bursary.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 25, 2018 8:13 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 27, 2017 7:14 pm
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Location: Chislehurst
PettswoodFiona wrote:
I would add to zcacmxi’s post that DD turned down places at selective independents, one supposedly tougher to get into than Newstead so it isn’t always about earning a place vs independent - the concept exists in both sectors. In one though you have to also have money or qualify for a bursary.


Quite right; all too often on the surface categorisation is simply "Private" or "State". Yet these are methods of funding only and give very little other detail about their strengths or weaknesses. One method may lead to smaller classes sizes, or shinier facilities..

"Selective" or "Non-selective" with both methods of funding exist. For us, the local private school we were considering was less-selective than the grammar alternatives. So the decision boiled down to that; and the shiny piano did not compensate.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:41 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2018 10:14 pm
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BR5mum and zcacmxi thanks so much- that’s so helpful. It’s so stressful making decisions for your children and your answers and Pettswood Fiona’s have made the
Decision much easier. Hope I’m able to help someone out next year!


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2018 11:49 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 17, 2017 9:40 pm
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My DD has just started in year 7 and so far so good. If I said that she liked the school it would be a massive understatement! She thoroughly loves it and is downstairs before anyone else in the morning ready to go!

DD thinks that the girls are all wonderful and extremely supportive (across all years). She has joined a number of clubs which she enjoys. My DD has never been one to be impressed by shiny new things and it was very much her choice to go to the shabbier NWS over some schools such as Tonbridge and Weald.

I know a number of girls at Tonbridge and Weald who feel the same about their school so it very much is about choosing the school that fits your DD best.


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