Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

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CarelessWhisper
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Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby CarelessWhisper » Wed Apr 21, 2021 8:40 am

We recently moved to Clapham and dd been very lucky to be offered to start year 2 in Sept with Thomas's Clapham and Newton Prep!

We like both schools and currently leaning towards Thomas's due to distance/commune (seems safer for dd to cycle to Thomas's than NP, from Clapham). We heard NP school run in the morning is a total nightmare.

However, from reading previous threads, we see some daunting comments about Thomas's being "Pushy", "Alpha Boys", "manage students out"etc... Are these true? We really really wish to speak to some current Thomas's parents (especially whom with daughters!)

Our dd is a "normal" child, she's not shy nor alpha, academically she's usually in the middle bunch, just a normal little girl, she's been in a similar prep (in size)  in north London since reception year. 

Thank you for reading this and thank you in advance for your kind advice!

 
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dinosaur
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby dinosaur » Wed Apr 21, 2021 1:23 pm

Hello and welcome to SW London! Hopefully some current parents will come along to give you their views, but I have worked with children at both schools over the years and can give you a bit of insight. 

Both schools are busy with access to drama, art, sport etc and for the right child they do an amazing job. So I would always say to go with whichever is convenient for you. One factor to remember is that Thomas's now have an all-through secondary option and you may or may not know how nice it is to avoid the senior schools admissions process.

However, Thomas's does have an issue with pushy parents and alpha children which I feel it needs to address.  It's a lovely school with excellent facilities, but in my view doesn't treat all pupils fairly and doesn't do enough to stamp out unkind behaviour. It's universally acknowledged that there is a "squeaky wheel gets the oil" and the children I've worked with have had some shocking tales of unkindness and the same handful of children (at times, also those being unkind) being offered their choice of parts in the play or playing for a certain team when their skills / application / attitude  / rotation of opportunities do not merit such an offer. It is hoped that the new Head will level the playing field and sort this out. 

I've not heard of this being a problem at Newton Prep, but do hear you about the traffic and commute to school. 
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TJ74
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby TJ74 » Wed Apr 21, 2021 6:18 pm

Dear CarelessWhisper,
I am a current Thomas's Clapham parent (and have had children at the school since 2009).  I am very happy with it and my children have all thrived there.  I have daughters and I would be very happy to chat with you about my experience if it would help.  Do private message me if you would like.
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CarelessWhisper
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby CarelessWhisper » Thu Apr 22, 2021 9:42 am

Thank you dinosaur and thank you TJ74.

TJ74 - I sent you PM, kindly have a look, thanks so much!
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Lulubear
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Lulubear » Thu Apr 22, 2021 10:38 am

I have children in Thomas’s Clapham and I would be happy to private message you with my insights.  I think the school tries hard to rotate opportunities.  Historically there were some issues a few years back with a few individuals dominating school plays, for example, but they started having several children in the big roles (so they would rotate part way through the play) to give more children a chance.  They also try to be even-handed about rewards and recognitions, certainly in the lower years anyway.  So much so that I suspect the recognitions have little to do with achievement but are meant as a feel good motivator so every child has their turn at feeling special.

As far as pushy parent syndrome goes, I cant say I have seen unfairness of opportunities but also may not have my ear to the ground sufficiently to know if it goes on.  I think the school tries to be responsive to parent requests/ comments and one thing I have learnt is to speak upif you have a concern about your child rather than wait for them to proactively approach you with suggestions/concerns and how they will address them.

And regarding the suggestion of unkind children, there is a lot of encouragement to be kind etc.  

One thing I would say (maybe this makes me “pushy”) is that I think the school could be a bit more academic.  There is a big emphasis on fun throughout most years of the school but if you are considering competitive entrance exams you might wish for a bit less of the non academic and a bit more time on consolidating the 3Rs!  Still, they probably can’t please everyone.  Now the school is extending to 18 there is no pressure to focus on attainment lower down the school so if you are still considering aiming for competitive entrance exams at 11 or 13 you may need to put in more effort at home with them.

Good luck with your choice.  





 
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Goldhawk
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Goldhawk » Thu Apr 22, 2021 11:35 am

There are plenty of pushy parents across Wandsworth - in both state and private schools!
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RumourMill
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby RumourMill » Thu Apr 22, 2021 1:04 pm

@ lulubear  I am very surprised to hear that you think that Thomas's could be more academic. I thought that it dined out on its 13+ credentials? 

The interview at age 3 or 4 seems to be designed to make sure that they take 'bright' children, although how one would know this at 3 or 4 is beyond me.

Out of interest is the senior school big enough to take all of the children from the various lower schools?
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TJ74
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby TJ74 » Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:21 pm

Hi CarelessWhisper.  I have replied to your pm but the message appears to be stuck in my outbox.  I have therefore sent my reply as an email.  Please let me know if you don't receive it.
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Annabel (admin)
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Annabel (admin) » Thu Apr 22, 2021 6:36 pm

Hi TJ74! Your message will show in your outbox until @CarelessWhisper picks it up and then it will disappear ... it is a way of letting users know (in a very clumsy way) if their messages have been opened.

Thanks for your posting and messaging!


A x
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TJ74
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby TJ74 » Fri Apr 23, 2021 5:54 pm

Thank you for clarifying that Annabel.  It has puzzled me for years!
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Annabel (admin)
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Annabel (admin) » Sat Apr 24, 2021 12:58 pm

Pleasure! x
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Janet14
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Janet14 » Mon Apr 26, 2021 7:29 am

@dinosaur you literally hit the nail on the head. We have recently moved out of London and although we had many happy years at Thomas’ and made some lovely friends we were shocked at some of the behaviour of other children and despite kindness being a value they push we were constantly hearing stories of unkindness often by the same children.
My children were very happy there but my older child is by nature a kind and gentle child and found it very hard to compute some of the unkindness he came across often not directed around him but it still negatively affected him. He would list the children he described as the ‘bullies’ (although I think he used that term too easily) and ironically it was often the same children being decorated as the star athletes, main parts in the plays etc. There were a lot of alpha children and it is hard for those not like that to shine in comparison.
I don’t think I realised quite how bad it was till he moved to a new school and it’s like he’s a different child, loads more confidence, doing well academically, getting in to the A teams etc.
Having said that we made lots of friends there, social side was fab and his success at his new school must also lie in the foundations he got there.
I think he also had a particularly sporty/alpha year, it wasn’t much easier with our second child...
Feel free to PM me!
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Janet14
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby Janet14 » Mon Apr 26, 2021 7:31 am

Correction meant to say it WAS much easier with our younger child so we may have just been just a particularly sporty/alpha year group
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dudette
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby dudette » Mon Apr 26, 2021 9:46 am

My daughter said recently she thought Thomas’s Clapham was better than her highly sought-after secondary school! The new head used to be a teacher at Thomas’s and he is fab. I have made life-long friends from among the parents there. I agree that there is an issue with a few alpha kids getting all the glory but hopefully Mr Boller will sort that out.
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MagdaBT
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Re: Need advise from current Thomas's Clapham parents please!

Postby MagdaBT » Mon Apr 26, 2021 12:42 pm

I was a Thomas's Clapham parent and also a teacher at Newton Prep.  Both are good schools academically but very different in ethos and atmosphere.  Our son was happy at Thomas's until Year 7 when he started to be badly bullied by an 'Alpha boy' set - the school refused to acknowledge this and we were obliged to move him at the end of the Year.  Their famous 'Be Kind' motto seemed somewhat ironic to us.  However, he had some excellent teaching there and the facilities and range of activities was very good as was the general organisation.  
Newton Prep is very different, far less formal and very child focused - there is genuinely no 'star system' there.  Academically, it has improved over the years and now NP students gain places at all the major London day schools and famous public boarding schools - their Head of Transfer is excellent.   Newton Prep has a far more international parent base whereas Thomas's tends to recruit more from local professional families.
It all depends on what you want - my experience as a parent at Thomas's was some years and two head teachers ago - but comments on this strand makes me think that some things haven't changed that much there - which is sad because in many ways it is an excellent school.  Newton Prep isn't as well organised and not nearly as smart but is full of happy children and as parents, you will have more influence there - at Thomas's you do things the Thomas's way and as the brand has clearly been very successful, that is obviously what a lot of families want.
If you do go for Newton, try to arrange to get there by bus or by walking/biking - driving there in the mornings is no fun at all!
Good luck with it all!
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