Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

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M&Imum
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Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby M&Imum » Fri Jan 14, 2022 9:48 pm

We are relocating to Balham and have a girl in year 4 and a boy in year 1 as well as a 2 year old boy.
We are in the catchment for Rutherford house and Ravenstone school and looked round both.
We feel lucky that they both seem like really good schools and we were impressed by the time each of the heads took to show us round and what we saw.
But now we can’t decide between them! I think RH is a better fit for our daughter and Ravenstone would suit our son but don’t really want them in different schools.
Any experience people have of either school would be really welcome!
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Coffeeplease
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Coffeeplease » Sun Jan 16, 2022 3:10 pm

Got friends who have children in both. Would say Rutherford House is more academic & has a more of a competitive edge. Some children do very well in the environment (I think progress is quite high) and other children struggle. Know someone who moved their child from Rutherford to Ravenstone because the child was really struggling with the pressure of feeling like she was always underperforming. However, that is not every child and most friends sing praises.
There is also a significant difference in outside space if that makes any difference to you.
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daizmaiz1
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby daizmaiz1 » Mon Jan 17, 2022 7:01 am

Our son is in reception at Ravenstone and our youngest will be going to the nursery after Easter. We’re so so happy with the school. We had the same dilemma as you when we were deciding. I love the uniform of Rutherford and the fact that it’s very academic but in reality in my heart it felt cold and like it was trying too hard. I think Rutherford is for parents who wanted a private school but couldn’t afford it (us!) but the teachers and community at Ravenstone has genuine passion. I think the education at Ravenstone is still fantastic without the almost militaryesque pressure to achieve
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Neptune214
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Neptune214 » Mon Jan 17, 2022 9:41 pm

I have two kids at Ravenstone and our youngest will go there too. We picked the school because it appeared to us to focus on the whole child and we haven’t been disappointed. They work to get the academic results but they also care deeply about nurturing kind and happy children who can regulate their emotions, think for themselves and make good decisions and choices.
The outside space is also a big plus for us. The kids have lots of space to run around outside, get involved in the gardens, enjoy the pond and the chickens. We couldn’t be happier.
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Saturn2013
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Saturn2013 » Tue Jan 18, 2022 7:14 am

Hi welcome to the area!!!!

Both are great schools !. RH is definitely more educational focused and some parents say it’s the closest public school you can find next to private. Parents love it. They also have sensational after school clubs run both by teachers, parents and external programs. The list is endless. Ravenstone is also a great school but more about the whole picture rather than being educational focused, less “forced” homework more “optional” work if parents and the children chose to do it and you assume/hope learning happens in the class. They allow kids to not be stressed and educational be enjoyable. They have some wildly smart children across the school and each year who go off to successful secondary schools. Ravenstone also lacks clubs almost non existent and their afters school provider ends up being more babysitting than fun for the kids. Parents don’t seem to care about the clubs so it’s not to do with covid just not found 2 b important - you will find most parents at pick up, there a huge community feeling as well. You are looking at 2 very different school who really only have location in common. Good luck!!!
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Viv365
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Viv365 » Tue Jan 18, 2022 11:42 am

Hi,

Welcome to Balham!

We struggled with the same decision when looking looking for schools for our child a few years ago so totally understand how difficult it is. My child is very academic and I initially chose Rutherford on that basis but in the end we were out of the catchment area for Rutherford and were given a place at Ravenstone and I am so pleased that's how it worked out.
My child is still doing very well academically but most importantly they are so happy to go to school every day. They love their teachers, learning is fun and they have a great group of friends. I couldn't speak highly enough of the headteacher and the senior leadership team, who are in the playground every day and are very approachable and really listen and take parents' views into account. There is such a strong ethos of kindness and community across the whole school, we really couldn't be happier.
The outside space is also amazing and although I don't think the after school provision is as varied as it is at Rutherford my child still attends after school clubs several days a week and loves them. Plus the school has recently introduced more music provision in school so children have access to piano, guitar, saxophone, singing, etc lessons during the school day.
Good luck with your decision, I know people who are very happy with both schools so whichever way you go I don't think you can go too far wrong.
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Tootsparent
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Tootsparent » Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:21 pm

Hello and welcome to Balham,

I have one in Yr 6 and one in Yr 4 at Rutherford. They have been there since reception. Whilst we were not in the catchment of Ravenstone, we chose Rutherford over a couple of other local schools. It felt like a risk at the time as the school was only 2 yrs old, but it has paid off enormously. I have one quite academic child and one who is not and would prefer to spend all day drawing, dancing and playing. They both are extremely happy.

If you spoke to any of the children, I am not sure they would say they went to an academic school, but they would tell you they take a lot of pride in their work and doing the best they can. They are offered some great opportunities with music, spanish, art and many great trips. The after school club provisions are awesome. There is also a very involved Friends (PTA) so if you want to be involved there are many opportunities for you.

As for it being like a private school, I am not sure that is true from my experience. Overall, I would say it is a really lovely school and despite a bit of congestion at pick up which you often hear people call out as a con, we're very happy our children are there. I also know parents at Ravenstone who are happy. As a parent with two quite different children, the school works very well for them both. I am sure your children would be happy at both. Good luck in deciding!
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Tootsparent
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Tootsparent » Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:22 pm

Hello and welcome to Balham,

I have one in Yr 6 and one in Yr 4 at Rutherford. They have been there since reception. Whilst we were not in the catchment of Ravenstone, we chose Rutherford over a couple of other local schools. It felt like a risk at the time as the school was only 2 yrs old, but it has paid off enormously. I have one quite academic child and one who is not and would prefer to spend all day drawing, dancing and playing. They both are extremely happy.

If you spoke to any of the children, I am not sure they would say they went to an academic school, but they would tell you they take a lot of pride in their work and doing the best they can. They are offered some great opportunities with music, spanish, art and many great trips. The after school club provisions are awesome. There is also a very involved Friends (PTA) so if you want to be involved there are many opportunities for you.

As for it being like a private school, I am not sure that is true from my experience. Overall, I would say it is a really lovely school and despite a bit of congestion at pick up which you often hear people call out as a con, we're very happy our children are there. I also know parents at Ravenstone who are happy. As a parent with two quite different children, the school works very well for them both. I am sure your children would be happy at both. Good luck in deciding!
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RavenClaw
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby RavenClaw » Tue Jan 18, 2022 9:12 pm

Another Ravenstone parent here - kids in Yrs 4 and 2. Also chose Ravenstone over RH and very happy we did so - all the comments here about Ravenstone supporting and encouraging happy, confident and well-rounded children chime with our experience.
Don’t know much about RH, but I’d question the accounts here that suggest RH is somehow more academic than Ravenstone. I think RH might talk more about results - and leave kids feeling under more pressure - but that’s not always the same thing as delivering the best education. (I work in a specialist educational field and am focussed on outcomes rather than processes.)
In our experience, Ravenstone clubs are great, though we’ve only tried music and sport (where our kids have made friends with some RH kids who come to Balham Ballers clubs.)
Overall advice: don’t let this decision cause you too much stress. You have a choice between two great schools and your kids will have a great time at either, then do very well whichever you chose. And welcome to the area.
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puffyisgood
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby puffyisgood » Thu Jan 20, 2022 9:23 am

I suppose ideally OP would get a response from someone with current parental experience of both schools. I can't offer this, but am a current RH parent with a modest knowledge of Ravenstone through friend' kids, attendance at clubs & events, and so on.

As already pointed out, Ravenstone is light years ahead for on-site space. Rutherford's site is barely adequate for the number of kids it has. Morning drop-offs are a mess, though I can't say that this really matters much. Use of the playground has to be carefully staggered/shared between year groups. A couple of the RH classrooms [I think at least one of the ones at the very top of the school used to be a caretaker's office or similar back in the Balham Youth Court days?] at aren't the greatest.

The head at Rutherford is top notch, an absolute force of nature, but has been there a while & IMO seems unlikely to still be in post certainly by the time OP's son is moving through KS2. A number of things may change when she's gone, though of course the limited space won't be one of them.

I'm don't particularly think Rutherford would deserve a reputation for being "academic". It has a lot less compulsary homework than many ordinary primary schools [e.g. I can confirm this compared to Telferscot but don't have direct experience of Ravenstone]. I think really the 'academic' label is at least partly a euphemism for having expensive uniforms and relatively affluent parents who will quietly start paying for tutors once secondary school applications start to loom on the horizon.

Although RH has its share of 'state till eight' kids who slip into the private sector towards the mid-late stages of their journey through primary school, they seem, increasingly, slightly more successful than a lot of local places at filling the gaps that appear as a result. Maybe they need to be because of a funding imperative.

As already mentioned, after school provision is first rate. There's a huge choice of clubs & activities.

As already mentioned, the The PTA is good - there are a few grumbles about inclusivity which aren't totally without foundation but it's IMO probably less bad on this score than most PTA's.
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reb27
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby reb27 » Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:09 pm

Hi there,

I have first hand experience of both schools. Our daughter started RHS in reception and will leave Year 6 in July. Our son also started at RHS in reception, but we moved him to Ravenstone at the start of this academic year.

They are both very good schools, and we're really lucky to have them on our doorstep.

Feel free to dm me for any specific questions. Happy to offer any help.
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M&Imum
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby M&Imum » Sun Mar 13, 2022 9:30 am

reb27 wrote:
Mon Jan 24, 2022 1:09 pm
Hi there,

I have first hand experience of both schools. Our daughter started RHS in reception and will leave Year 6 in July. Our son also started at RHS in reception, but we moved him to Ravenstone at the start of this academic year.

They are both very good schools, and we're really lucky to have them on our doorstep.

Feel free to dm me for any specific questions. Happy to offer any help.

Update - after much delay we’re close to exchange and completion of house in Balham and so hoping to start children in school for summer term.
thank you to all for your replies - it’s clear both schools are really good and we’re lucky to have this choice.
Reb27 - as you’ve had direct experience of both schools I’d really like to get your thoughts especially as you’ve moved your youngest. I’m afraid I’ve tried but cannot seem to be able to DM you, maybe admin can help or forward my email to you? 
best wishes 
Sarita 
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reb27
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby reb27 » Sun Mar 13, 2022 11:38 am

Hi there,

Ok. A long response. Hopefully even handed! I don't want a pile on. Please remember experiences will differ, this is mine.

I'll start by saying I think both are good schools, and you're lucky to have the choice.

It really depends what you're looking for. The reason Rutherford is seen as "academic" is more to do with the class/demographic of the families that choose it, rather than the education the children receive. Many of the leavers go on to private secondary schools, but be under no illusions that this is a reflection of what the school does. This is, in many cases, achieved by extensive tutoring at KS2, funded by parents who can afford the sessions, and ultimately, to pay the fees. The school set homework, but there is no pressure to do it, and no rigour when it comes to marking. The school is very popular, and some of the classes have over 30 children in it. This is great for finding friends in the class, but not always so great in terms of pupil:teacher ratio. I don't get the sense they would be able/willing to nurture talent just in the school. They simply don't have the staff/time. And with the school now full, you really feel the lack of actual space in the building.
The headmistress is extremely hard working, and passionate about her school. She works crazy hours, and goes above and beyond when motivated to do so. However, the senior management team seems top heavy, and communication isn't always the best. I've never been sure who deals with what (very possibly my bad!), and emails/messages are often ignored. The headmistress once actually told my husband "I don't read emails". Things can seem quite chaotic, and I get the feeling that the staff don't always get fully behind the senior management team. The class teachers are good, but they are mainly young and inexperienced, and staff turnover is high. This is probably not unusual for London primary schools, and the kids jog on with it. In my experience, the teachers with a few more years under their belts can deal with it all a bit better.
The Friends are very active, and they are always keen to do events that bring together the community, and help raise money for the school. And the Fairs and Quiz nights etc are great fun. I've made some great parent friends by attending these sort of events. If you want your child to try lots of different activities, the after school clubs are really varied, and I don't think any other school locally (free or private) comes close to what they can offer. And the sports department are very ambitious with tournaments/matches against other schools.

So, why did we move our youngest to Ravenstone? When we were choosing a school in 2015, and went round it, I would have described it as chaotic. They had just had a very negative OFSTED report, the then Headmaster was winding down to retire, and the place really needed an injection of energy. Fortunately, they got that in spades with Joe Croft, the current headmaster. He couldn't have been 30 when he took over (in 2016? It was definitely after we applied for schools). He is just one of those rare people who exudes leadership. He is dynamic and approachable, and the staff seem to genuinely be behind him. When there has been any kind of question/problem, it is dealt with swiftly.
The child:teacher ratio seems much better in the more senior years (think it's bulkier in the early years), and that gives the teachers and LSAs (who are generally more mature and experienced) more time to give each child some individual attention. This has been really important to us, our child has SEN, and we always felt he was a burden at Rutherford (potentially messing up their stats), but he is seen as an individual at Ravenstone. I always used to emerge from Parent consultations at Rutherford with a sense of hopelessness and despair. That hasn't yet been the case at Ravenstone.
The club provision isn't as strong and varied, but there are options, and it's a much simpler process where you deal direct with the provider (not all clubs at Rutherford can satisfy the demand).
The demographic is much broader, and the school has a great community feel. The events I've attended so far seem well run and popular. And, of course, there are also children who will go on to fee paying/selective schools, but probably fewer who try/want to.

I don't know if that's been in any way helpful? Hope so. And as I said at the start, they are both great. Happy to answer any specific questions of comparison if I can.

Best of luck, and welcome to Balham x
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M&Imum
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby M&Imum » Tue Mar 15, 2022 8:08 am

Dear Reb27

Thanks so much for the taking the time to give this detailed and measured reply, it’s really helpful and insightful.
We were also impressed by both headteachers but especially by Joe Croft. He seemed confident and passionate about the school’s values and to create a nurturing and inclusive environment. I also noted their SEN provision which as a paediatrician I’m a bit more aware of.

I also wondered about staff retention (from our experience of London primaries when we previously lived here) and did ask about this at Ravenstone where they seemed to have thought about and mitigated for this but didn’t ask at RH. I was also a bit surprised by the teachers wearing suits at RH which seemed a bit too formal for primary teachers. However we got more of a chance to meet teachers and pupils at RH and they all seemed really engaged and enthusiastic.

TBH we were swinging towards RH mainly because of the after school club provision - we’re both busy doctors so having extracurricular activities on site seemed a real plus as we’re limited in the week as to what we can take the kids to. Because otherwise they both seemed to be great schools and there wasn’t much in it.
However your comments on younger more inexperienced teachers and issues getting feedback on an individual child did make me pause a bit. We also did love the outside space at Ravenstone especially for my son who is very nature and animal loving.

Do you feel there is a larger cohort of staff who have been there a while at Ravenstone?
Do you feel the academic side is as focused on at Ravenstone - our daughter in year 4 is bright but cruising a bit (teachers words) so actually we felt a more ‘pushy’ environment may actually be better for her. I’m aware from the comments that of course academic achievement is as valued and achieved at Ravenstone but we did feel when going round RH that there was an emphasis on stretching their pupils. Which of course isn’t necessarily more important that a nurturing environment but might suit my daughter better who is definitely influenced by the peer environment and expectations.

Can I ask how your daughter found RH and how well it met her needs. Do you think in retrospect you would have sent her to Ravenstone if given the choice again.

Sorry for all questions and please don’t feel obliged to answer them, it’s just your reply has been so helpful.

Thanks too to everyone else who commented and if anyone has anything to add to address the above I’d be most grateful!

I know either school will be great once we start but still finding it difficult to make the actual decision! (Privileged position I know)
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Reb27
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Re: Rutherford house school vs Ravenstone

Postby Reb27 » Tue Mar 15, 2022 12:32 pm

Hi there,

Glad you found it helpful!

From what you’re saying, it sounds like RH may be a better fit.

The club provision is excellent for 2 working parents (which most of the parents at RH are). Even if they don’t always get their first choice of club, then they can try something else, or do after school club!

If your child is bright and academically engaged, then there will be plenty of like minded children. If you’re thinking of paying at secondary level, then be prepared it to do tutoring/kumon/extra homework to get there. As I said, there are 30 + children in each class. My daughter is not especially academic, and therefore not so engaged in school work. I wouldn’t say she has achieved her potential, but I wouldn’t blame just the school for that. She was never going to get into a competitive grammar. Had we chosen to pay at secondary level, we would definitely have needed her to do extra tuition to pass the entrance exam. The teaching at Rutherford isn’t “pushy”, but there will be a greater proportion of parents who want to “push” to the next level!

I wouldn’t worry too much about the staff turnover. The kids aren’t especially bothered by it. They get a new teacher every year anyway. I think Ravenstone do have more teachers who have been there for longer. There are 2 ways of looking at that, as with everything. One could argue that a fresh approach is sometimes better than a staler one! And we can’t ignore he fact that some people don’t agree with free schools period. I think some teachers just wouldn’t countenance teaching outside the state sector, and many parents feel the same too.

My daughter, overall, has had a great experience at RH. It’s still quite a young school, and they haven’t quite got everything running as smoothly as a private school, but it is free, not private.

From what you’ve said I think RH will suit your needs more. No school is perfect, but we are really lucky to have such great choices locally.

Hope it all works out!
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