Secondary school insights?

I have been following the primary schools thread and found it an interesting read and wondered if anyone had any thoughts about the secondary schools nowadays? Standards, catchments and criteria have all changed since the last threads on these topics which generally said "you have to move" and, although my girls are only young, I am interested in what the options might be. I have noted that the Y6s at St Aidan's (my daughter's school) tend to go on to: Hornsey Girls (our nearest option and current most likely but I'm not sure about single sex and I know they had recent issues with a staff walkout), St Mary Magdalene (partly selective but also religious academy), Grieg (very religious) or move heaven and earth to get into Alexandra Park or somewhere much further afield. I don't know many people who opt for IAMS, even though their reputation is getting better and we are now largely out of catchment for Highgate Wood and Alexandra Park. I have also noticed that the Catholic school on the 210 route to Archway (Mount Carmel) has turned into a secular and co-educational school called the City of London Academy (Highgate Hill) or something, so I am watching that one with interest. Does anyone have any observations on any of the above or other schools that we might be in catchment for?


  • Don't forget Skinners Academy Our experience and that of our boys is that it is excellent although they haven't been there long enough to get to the exam stage. They pick up a mate on the way to school and all three of them cycle through the park each day, great way of getting to school !
  • Oh that is good to know Ali. I came across some of their boys who were volunteering with a community cycling project and they seemed very nice lads.
  • Our girls are both at Highbury Fields. We easily got in a couple of years ago, but as it's just been awarded "Outstanding" it may soon get a bit oversubscribed. And in our view it really deserves the Outstanding - really supportive of all the girls of all abilities, a very good sense of community and a very representative demographic mix, who all get on very well. We went around all the local schools (IAMS, Hornsey Girls, Highbury Grove, Parliament Hill Fields and Highgate Wood) and were only leaning towards single sex because of wanting a really good science education for our girls. We would happily have picked any of the co-ed schools except for the fact that we deliberately visited during school hours and repeatedly saw science classes with very few girls at GCSE level and a lack of any decent or honest answers as to why that might be the case when we asked, resulting in no plan as to how they might address the problem. I'd recommend doing daytime school visits to as many as you can get to, and spending a bit of time understanding what each school values and puts real effort behind. There can be a lot of fudging around all sorts of scores and measures and its worth getting your head around what it really means and what they are making comparisons with. A prior head at Highbury Grove took us through a presentation that apparently "proved" to the parents in the room that Highbury Grove performed better than Fortismere because Highbury Grove had a better Value Add score. Given that Fortismere has a very low number of pupils on free school meals particularly by the time they reach Yr10, just about any school would outperform them on Value Add....and yet that score in itself tells you nothing about either school until you understand what its measuring and how. So like I said, beware and be prepared and spend time working out what is important for you and your kids and then evaluate each of the schools on that and not on Ofsteads or other measures alone.
  • That is probably to do with Duke of Edinburgh's all the kids do it. They are associated with the Skinners Schools in Kent through the Skinners Company. The Master made a great Dr Who speech at the school prize giving last year. The Skinners also subsidise a lot of extra activities for inclusion purposes. eg School skiing in Austria every second year, school trips to NY and other places, placements with families in Spain or France if your doing a languages etc . Equipment for the school etc. Our 15 years old is off to Pompeii on a Geography school trip at February half term. The students are also a very good mix of the local population and it pushes the kids to have aspirations no matter their back ground or ability.
  • Meant to say there are now more kids going to Skinners from SGS
  • edited January 2017
    My son is in Year 10 at GCA (Greig) and is doing very well there. He is a St Aidan's old boy also! We've always been very happy with the school and the Progress 8 measures out recently show the school - and all Haringey state secondary schools - in a good light. Greig is marked particularly highly for progress made by KS2 high achievers and girls. They have a wide curriculum including, happily for us, Latin, as my son likes languages. They have a lot of outdoor activities, including boats and yachts but I don't know so much about them as I like to look at the sea rather get wet. They teachers in particular are very engaging and always happy to talk and they describe a child you recognise. It's a Church of England School but that's as far as it goes; it's the world in one school in terms of race and religion. We are not religious at all.
  • Thanks HelenM. This thread has been quite heartening with everyone singing the praises of their children's school - none of which are a million miles away, private or selective, so thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    For a boy leaving St Aidans is there a clear winning school which the vast majority of parents hope for?
  • I don't know that many children in the older years but from what I have observed, not really, - they seem to disperse. St Mary Magdalene's looks to be getting popular with parents of boys but it depends on how comfortable people feel about the religious ethos (and whether one's children are likely to get in). St Aidan's is a church school up to a point but its admissions criteria do not reflect this and ime there is a range of opinion among St Aidan's parents about whether this was a draw or otherwise when it came to choice of school.
  • PS Grenners - if people are moving for a catchment, it seems to be Alexandra Park School that people head for these days - but Stroud Green is outside it.
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    .....right....Catholic schools if that's what it is are not really up my street......
  • grennersgrenners Ferme Park Road, N4
    I don't want to move to Ally Pally. I love Stroud Green.
  • Yes, ditto. St Mary Magdalene is not Catholic but it is CofE. The current Catholic girls' school, Mount Carmel, is about to become a co-ed non-Catholic academy run by the City of London Corporation. Could be worth keeping an eye on. IAMS is also much improved.
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