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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2021 6:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:59 pm
Posts: 7
Just looking for an up to date opinion on the school. I expected to love it but went for a tour on Monday and left feeling flat and underwhelmed.

The tour was odd due to restrictions- hardly saw any lessons, couldn’t go into specialist room or speak to staff and the poor Year 7 girl couldn’t answer any questions about curriculum, trips - she didn’t even know her way around the school because they’d been stuck in their form rooms all year. We then had an opportunity to talk to the head of sixth form who didn’t know much about KS3 and couldn’t answer questions.

The buildings looked shabby and I was expecting that but I thought there would be amazing, inspiring teaching on show! But I also know that it’s a hugely oversubscribed school.

What do you as parents think of it? What do your children think? I know my daughter would be ok with pressure but I also want her to be excited and inspired.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2021 7:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:24 pm
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
Newstead is a bit like Marmite, you love it or hate it. DD was a good fit and has had five amazing years there. She recently turned down a place at a top top public sixth form as she sees herself thriving there for her A levels.

But you will find comments ‘on the other place’ that say it is a hotbed of mental health crisis. This wasn’t DD’s experience but could be someone else’s and any school could have those experiences. Some of the issues come from the parents who put pressure on their children.

Schools buildings are shoddy at Newstead. The buildings are not leaking or freezing but the general air of scruffy is because they spend more on good teachers. We parents haven’t been able to go in for ‘Spruce up Saturdays’ for a while to take the edge off the worse of it. DD went to a sparkly primary but the teaching was mediocre to lacklustre and I know what I would prefer.

If you have a great comprehensive on your doorstep do consider that. For DD this school was her geographically closest. She has friends who travel a long way as their local state choices are not great and have siblings at private school - one mum says her daughter at a private school had atrocious teaching during lockdown compared to amazing learning at Newstead. DD has made some amazing and diverse friendships as a result of the ethos at Newstead. Mr Blount is definitely taking the school in the right direction - but no hiding the fact that before him the school had a range of issues which I am sure are no secret.

DD has had a few ‘meh’ teachers but not more than a couple in her entire five years. The Head has also weeded out these in recent times. Most are inspiring and encouraging. They respect the girls for their input and revel in being learners themselves on some occasions. At DD’s previous school she was reprimanded for adding some facts in a lesson and being told not to do it again, at Newstead it is more holistic and learning with experienced but not overbearing teachers who respect and understand they are teaching very bright girls. It also never suffers from a lack of teachers, most teachers stay for years. I have a friend with a son at a nearby comprehensive and her son gets a physics lesson with a real physics teacher once a fortnight. The rest are with general or other science teachers or cover.

Happy to answer any other questions here (preferably as it is helpful to all) or via PM if you’d prefer.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2021 8:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:59 pm
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Thank you- that is really helpful. I hope I can fire some questions at you! What does you daughter like about the school - I think we, as parents, are concerned about academics but I’d be interested to know what her plus points are. Does she have friends from the edges of the catchment?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 14, 2021 9:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:24 pm
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Location: Petts Wood, Bromley, Kent
DD managed to make her closest friends on the far reach of the catchment but the plus point being they all became self sufficient in public transport use and had a policy of ‘my house - I walk my friends from the station’ so all they had to do was get to the station and the local friend would meet them and walk from there as they were familiar.

It is also such a diverse school that no one group is in the majority. I think this makes it easier to integrate along with school cultural days and clubs like soul club, yukele group, drama, coding, debate etc

Plus points: friends, teachers respecting the students, minimal disruption, being given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to take responsibility, teachers going the extra mile, curriculum choices (totally free to choose combination at GCSE, not in blocks like some schools, plus wider choice of subjects), library, acceptance of diversity, if you are sporty great, if not sporty can still be active without feeling useless too (they have tie ups with evening and weekend hall users to offer electives in fitness and sports leadership etc), Classical Civilisation.

Minus points: toilets, school meals, BBC taking over the school when alumni achieves something as it can be disruptive (but yes a bit fun and a bit of pride too), some girls whose parents have mapped out their entire futures before they’ve joined the school.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 9:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:59 pm
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Thank you- that’s all super helpful and reassuring. It’s such a stressful process but made so much worse when you can’t visit any schools.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 15, 2021 12:41 pm
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Our daughter is currently at Newstead and our first impression was exactly the same as yours. How can this school with such a brilliant reputation look so tired and scruffy? It looked worse than almost all the other schools we visited. The girl who showed us around was super enthusiastic and the results speak for themselves so we decided to go with it.

Her experienece at the school has been excellent. The school is very well organised, handled the lockdown really well and all the girls we know are happy and thriving there. The teachers have pretty much all been excellent and my daughter has had lots of opportunities to take part in extra-curricular activities and take part in external competitions etc. We live a way away and she has lots of train buddies. I have never had any experience of the 'hot house' pressure either. My daughter struggles with a few subjects but all we have had is support and encouragement.

I have children at other grammar schools and i think Newstead is far superior. I would definitely recommend it.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2021 6:37 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:59 pm
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Thanks - it wasn’t so much the shabby building that left me feeling flat, it was more the lack of information and anything to actually see! I got shown around narrow, gloomy corridors and empty rooms! I’m happy to accept that the morning wasn’t representative of the general atmosphere- Newstead really was our absolute first choice until Monday! I suppose I expected a super enthusiastic member of staff telling me about their great school and that wasn’t what I got. I know it’s been a tricky year though and everyone is just ‘done’.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 10:39 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:59 am
Posts: 156
Hi there,
DD1 is in year 10, I cannot praise Newstead enough, my daughter has had a great experience at Newstead. She has had amazing teaching, made a diverse set of friends and has had the opportunity to do many extra curricular subjects like Latin & Japanese. The curriculum is more diverse than other schools and there are unique options for GCSE study. DD1 has grown into a mature, responsible young lady who is kind and compassionate and her confidence in herself has blossomed in her time at Newstead.
My DD1 has a mild learning difficulty and Newstead student support has been very helpful. DD1 wants to stay in Newstead for 6th form. Although she has passed the other grammar exams too at 11+, we chose Newstead as DD1 preferred the school. DD2 goes to another grammar and by far Newstead is superior in my experience. I am delighted that DD3 is starting in September. It has always been the no 1 choice for us. However I do agree that they do not market themselves well. We live on the edge of the 9 mile radius so had other grammar options too but definitely have made the right decision by choosing Newstead.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2021 2:59 pm
Posts: 7
Thank you sobz. It’s relief to know someone with a positive experience thinks it’s a marketing problem! Can I be nosy and ask where you live? We’re in Crystal Palace and I’m interested to know if there are many girls from this way. I’m assuming my daughter would pick up other children on the train route anyway? I’ve heard rumours of mini buses organised by the PTA but the school didn’t have much info on these.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 23, 2021 5:22 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:59 am
Posts: 156
Hi,
We live in Greenwich - the coach we use is organised by lewis coaches
http://www.lewis-school-travel.co.uk/ you can check if they do any routes via crystal palace? Most of the girls do use public transport though. Is your daughter starting in September?


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