St Boniface RC Primary School

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Cloud
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St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby Cloud » Fri Dec 06, 2013 8:48 pm

I am in the midst of applying for primary places and am interested in any experiences of St Boniface School. I have been to visit it at the open day, liked what I saw but didn't get the opportunity to speak to the headteacher or any teachers for that matter (we were shown around by pupils). The Ofsted report is great, and they seem to get really good results. I guess I would be interested to hear any personal perspectives. There doesn't seem to be much about this school on this site - is that because Tooting Broadway is outside the remit of nappyvalley? Also I noticed from the Ofsted report that loads of kids start off with low levels of English - they seem to catch up and perform really well at KS2. That seems to suggest very good teaching, but is there any special provision for kids who have a good grasp of English at the start? I am hoping that the relatively small class sizes would have a good impact on this kind of thing.

I also noticed that the catchment area for this school shrunk dramatically last year, whereas the St Anselms one grew. Is that because St Boniface is performing better than St Anselms at KS2? Or is this just a coincidence?

Any views or thoughts much appreciated. Thank you.
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Cloud
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby Cloud » Sat Dec 07, 2013 12:58 pm

Anyone?
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mrs_pavlova
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby mrs_pavlova » Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:05 am

interested to hear too!
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erinisle22
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby erinisle22 » Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:37 pm

I hear good things about Boniface but I think you have to be signing in at St Boniface Church quite regularly to get in.
My friend's son has just started reception and she was having some difficulties with his progress but they have been great at talking to her and giving her things she can do with him at home, so from what I understand it is quite a supportive school too.
Hope that helps even though it is second hand.
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Cloud
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby Cloud » Sun Dec 08, 2013 11:21 pm

erinisle22: thank you so much for taking the time to share your friend's experience. It is good to hear that the school is supportive. Just to check, as it's not entirely clear from your response: is your friend concerned that her son hasn't made progress because of something that happened/hasn't happened at St Boniface, or are there external issues that the school is helping resolve?

It is so hard to make decisions about schools when you seem to get such different information from each visit/open day. I have been personally shown around by the headteacher of a couple of local schools, and in each of these cases got to meet some teachers, with others (such as St Boniface), I met only pupils (which is also great as I got to see what lovely, bubbly and bright children the school has, but I got no answers to some of my most important questions), with others, such as the two free schools in the area, there was a presentation and a somewhat uninformative tour. So I have no idea in what order to place my choices. Judging from the recent Ravenstone debate, you have to be careful with just listening to a school's reputation.

Having said that, any more feedback on St Boniface is very greatly received as it is the only school on our list that we know very little about.

Thank you!
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erinisle22
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby erinisle22 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:11 am

Hi Cloud - sorry, yes to clarify, I think the issue with my friend's son was an external learning thing that they suspected and started to become more apparent when he started school. And the school has been more than supportive in helping with that issue.

I'm local and not Catholic - I've heard extremely good things about TPS. Hillbrook is on the up, as is Broadwater and Fircroft is possibly not too far away from me. The only school in our area I am discounting is Franciscan, which is a shame as it is on the end of my street! That is because my friend works in it once a week and what I hear about the teachers attitudes in the classroom and the organisation of my friend's work isn't great.

I'm applying for nursery places and going to apply at Hillbrook and then to TPS for reception, if that helps...
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Cloud
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby Cloud » Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:34 am

Thanks - we know which schools we are applying for but confused as to the order. Just not sure where to put St Boniface on the list - probably very near the top. Slim chance that we will get in anyway as attend mass at another parish.

Interested that you heard good things about TPS: can you share? I have been to the open day and there was a thread on this site a while ago about it, I wasn't hugely impressed but didn't feel I found out much about it.
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LauraBrown
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:17 pm

I'm a happy Broadwater parent if you're on the Westside of Tooting and want to know more :D

Not sure about the order of applications actually - do they allocate all first choice people first so if you live closer but have a school as second choice and don't get your first, do you place behind someone with your second choice as first choice even if they're further away ? If that makes any sense....
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tomsmum2008
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby tomsmum2008 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 12:56 pm

Hi there,
My 5 year old is in Year one there and I know lots of families with older kids there too.
I guess the main factor will be where you attend church, you are more likely to get into the school where you attend church. I know in St Boniface you have to register your attendance by filling in forms after church; we started filling in the forms when mine was one years old to be able to get into nursery. Then of course you have the small catchment areas.

As a school itself I do find it very good. The children seem to do more advanced things than some of my friends other schools…eg…my son had spelling tests and homework in reception…not hard words..”we, be, he, she etc”…you could say it’s being pushy but it does prepare them for year one when they really do knuckle down.
The teachers are really nice and supportive, if the child needs more support they are given it. The small classes are really good too. There are only 24 kids in my son’s class, he has a teacher and a teaching assistant. There is also another supporting teacher for kids who need extra help. Head teacher Mrs kerins is lovely, seems to really enjoy her job and loves the school…and know all the kids names!

There are a LOT of kids who don’t have English as a first language. Mine is English as a first language and I have not noticed this to be a detriment at all. By year one, it seems that all of those kids were bilingual any way which is great as it brings diversity. We went to an Italian restaurant at the weekend and he sang “Ring o’ Roses in Italian to the owner who was very impressed!
The kids do receive reading books of their own level so if they are more advanced they can fly ahead. The classes are also of mixed abilities and the kids are put into groups according to ability, (not that they actively say that they do).

The kids are not only taught the normal 3Rs but how to be better people and help others etc.
All in all a good school.

Make sure you sign the registration forms….its very difficult to get into!
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LauraBrown
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:12 pm

On order for applying, I've just had a look in The Booklet and page 3 explains that your application for each school on your list is considered separately to decide if you meet the admissions criteria and then, if you meet the criteria for more than one school, you are offered a place at the school you listed higher in your list. So, no downside to putting St B down as number one even if you don't think you have much chance of getting in as it has no affect on the likelihood of getting into your second choice.
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erinisle22
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby erinisle22 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 4:47 pm

On TPS, I think the fact that there aren't any bad reviews to be found online is rather a good thing - I tend to find that people who have had unhappy or bad experiences will take to social media and those who are happy or satisfied tend to not get around to it :)

I know personally 4 parents with their children in TPS and one of them is a Teachers Aide too on the class that her daughter isn't in.

All of them only have good things to say of the teachers, the headmaster, the facilities (not one complaint about the playground space but I suppose that will become more of an issue as the forms fill up), the after school activities, the way the school is organised. Each is happy with the progress of their child in reception so far too.

The only negative thing that is said is that the school uniform is a bit bespoke and therefore expensive for a state/free school but when that was raised on Twitter, parents rushed to defend it, so they must be happy.

I went to the open days before the school opened and was impressed with the ethos that was going to be instilled in the school - as far as I can see, they are following through with the emphasis on citizenship and so on.
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papinian
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby papinian » Mon Dec 09, 2013 5:58 pm

erinisle22 wrote:I also noticed that the catchment area for this school shrunk dramatically last year, whereas the St Anselms one grew. Is that because St Boniface is performing better than St Anselms at KS2? Or is this just a coincidence?
I think catchment areas vary quite a bit for both schools from year-to-year. The is because:
- they both have relatively small intakes (30 in St Anselm's and 45 in St. Boniface's)
- often over half the intake is siblings (those Catholics and their big families)
- after siblings, priority is based on Mass attendance on Sundays and holy days of obligation before distance gets factored in

I know people involved with both schools and I think St Boniface's has caught up with St Anselm's and maybe even gone slightly ahead of it. However, I don't think that one school is significantly better than the other. I would be happy for my children to get admitted to either.

It will be interesting to see the number of siblings and distances this year when they are published.

Laura Brown: Re your comment about there being no downside to putting St Boniface's down as number one even if you don't think you have much chance of getting in as it has no affect on the likelihood of getting into your second choice. You are correct re likelihood of getting second choice, but I would caution that it does mean that one of the six (?) choices is then used up. I have heard of cases of people being very unrealistic in the six schools and ending up with none of them - and then having to go to the nearest school with free places. Based on many many years of data it is a waste of time for someone who is not at least a baptised Catholic (ignoring when baptised and Mass attendance) to put down St. Boniface's as a choice.
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Cloud
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby Cloud » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:22 pm

Thank you to everyone for your responses.

tomsmum2008: it is great to hear from a parent of a child currently at the school. It sounds like the small class sizes allow the teachers to focus on the kids' strengths and weaknesses. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences.

I am aware we have only a small chance of getting in, however our child is a baptised Catholic and we hopefully will have the reference from our local priest. In the past few years, children from other parishes have been admitted to St Boniface so it is not completely unrealistic.

And yes, LauraBrown: the schools don't find out about the order of application, so it should reflect true preference.

erinisle22: interesting what you say about TPS too, now you have confused matters for us - not sure whether to put it down as a choice! I guess with the free schools you just have to accept an element of risk.

And papinian, thank you also - I guess there is no science to the catchment area. Perhaps because St Anselms is smaller, it never seems to admit children from other parishes, whereas St Boniface does (although the catchment for baptised Catholics in other parishes is shrinking). Apologies, my initial comment about this was misleading.
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LauraBrown
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 09, 2013 6:56 pm

Erin: has the TPS uniform changed? My friend went to the open day in the last few weeks and thought that the head made a point about it being affordable and found in all major supermarkets which seems inconsistent with the tootingonline chat about how bespoke and expensive it is - compulsory tartan pinafore costing more than 30 quid! So difficult to verify the facts on schools round here sometimes...

Good point Papinian! It seems that the beat advice is always to put down at least one school you know you will get into, relatively near to home (even if you don't like it that much) or you end up at risk of being shipped to the other side of the Borough.
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LauraBrown
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Re: St Boniface RC Primary School

Postby LauraBrown » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:16 pm

And a question on St B: anyone know how they manage to have smaller class sizes? I know they are 1.5 FE but how do they manage the budget for more staff when they still (I presume) get funded per pupil. I've always wondered...
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