Local Talk

RPA or Christ's?

(54 Posts)
QBean Sun 29-Sep-13 21:10:21

DD will be starting secondary in 2015 from an excellent local primary in Kew. We are considering both private and state but given our great experience with DD's primary (and the enormous cost or private secondary) we hope to continue on the state route and our two most likely options are RPA/Christ's. Every year a growing number of kids from DD's school head to Christ's and I have heard good things about it. I was very impressed with the leadership team, facilities at RPA at last week's open day but have heard very little about this school. I would be grateful for any info on these schools from parents with first hand knowledge...Thanks!

Heathclif Mon 30-Sep-13 09:44:53

Hi, There have been a few threads on RPA on the main site including here www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/a1579588-RICHMOND-Richmond-Park-Academy Plenty of parents with positive stories.

QBean Tue 01-Oct-13 21:37:36

Thank you Heathclif. It does sound like the school is increasingly well thought of which is great news! I can't find all that much from current/former parents, so if there are any out there from either RPA/Christ's I would be really grateful for advice! My child is quite strong academically and loves her competitive sports and music, we really would struggle with independent school fees and I would prefer the social mix of a state school, so am hoping to determine whether the financial sacrifice is necessary to find her a good match or whether I could find a school which would really stretch and inspire her academically and also give her lots of opportunities to take part in the extra-curricular activities the independents offer. We will try for Tiffin but it sounds almost impossible and we are out of the waldegrave catchment.

Nelsonelson Fri 04-Oct-13 18:56:20

My daughter has just moved up in to Y8 at RPA and she has had a great start to secondary school. They have this separate area for Y7s (teaching for many but not all lessons and a playground and garden) This means that the Y7 kids go through a gentle transition into secondary and can do it at their own pace. I think that is very caring as 16 year olds can seem quite tall when you have just left primary. Add to that some amazing teachers - and academic progress has been impressive. Also lots of trips, new friends, sport, music. An all round success and a very happy child.

loulou63 Sat 05-Oct-13 11:18:33

Hi all. We were in a similar position to you a few years back - state or independent? I really wanted a state education for my child as I wanted her exposed to a broader social and cultural mix, which always felt more 'real world' to me and she had attended a popular outstanding state primary. At the time, I didn't feel we'd have a choice - Sheen (as RPA was at the time) didn't seem an option and we didn't want her to go to a faith school, so Christ's was out. However, the moment we walked in to open evening at Sheen both my daughter and I were sold! Our minds were made up. She started Year 7 in the school's first Year as RPA and is now in Year 10. The head teacher is amazing and has built up a fantastic team of teachers and support staff (many of them have been at the school for several years, which speaks volumes to me). There is mutual respect between adults and children; the kids are challenged and stretched; they are expected to have and give their opinions; they ARE expected to make their best better - the school's mantra! RPA are dedicated to creating opportunities for the kids to be involved in some amazing projects - my daughter is among a group of talented young writers at RPA who have just had their gothic anthology published. Check out their first book 'Dare You?'! Communication between school and parent is excellent. Parents are informed half termly of their child's progress against targets and 3 target setting days, which parents are encouraged to attend, along with parents evening give ample opportunity to discuss your child's progress - I've yet to hear of another school that involves parents to this extent. The parochial care is superb. I could go on and on. Final thought: Many people said of my daughter 'Oh, well she's bright, she'll do well anywhere' - NOT TRUE! A child will not do well, no matter how bright, if they are UNHAPPY at school - thrilled to report she is HAPPY and doing brilliantly WELL! I hope this helps and wish you all the best in your quest!

catesummers Sat 05-Oct-13 12:31:12

Our daughter has just gone into Year 8 at RPA. She is bright and articulate and really keen to learn and we have been really delighted with the quality or teaching, attention to detail and the dedication of the teaching staff who go the extra mile for each child at RPA. Our daughter has never been bored or feeling that work had been too easy, quite the reverse, she is really being stretched, knowing where she is in terms of levels for every subject and what she needs to do to move on to the next level. Moving from a local outstanding Primary School she found her feet quickly with the independence and responsiblity expected of Year 7 pupils but done in a kind, nurturing and supportive way. The pastoral care is fantastic at RPA from the friendly office staff to the heads of year and tutors all taking taime and really genuinely caring about the childrens well being. I agree with Loulou63, if a child isnt happy they won't learn. I am pleased to say out daughter is very happy and therefore doing lots of great learning at RPA. I can't sing their praises enough.

charliescatmother23 Sat 05-Oct-13 16:15:51

Hello Qbean. I have two children at RPA, and they are loving it! The teachers are brilliant and actually seem to like the children, and they certainly go the extra mile for them! It's worth mentioning that RPA streams pupils from Yr 7 whereas Christs does not. The Yr 7 Acorn is a wonderful idea although I have to say both my children felt very comfortable mixing with the older students from day one. I'm amazed at how many extra curricular events my children participate in:- music, sports, art. They are very proud of their school, and already looking forward to joining the 6th form in a few years time.

QBean Sat 05-Oct-13 23:16:29

All, I am hugely grateful for your replies, and thrilled how positive your posts are! It doesn't sound like anyone who responded is wavering in their opinions of the school, and even better your kids sound really happy. On the open day I felt kids were excited to show off their school and I really liked the head and the teachers I met. I have seen lots of schools and aside from one independent, RPA was the only school I felt had a rocket of energy underpinning it! It felt dynamic and aspirational. I was impressed with the level of detail and thoughtfulness which seemed to go into everything. DH and I have been losing sleep over this, do we move to waldegrave catchment, increase working hours to afford independent etc. so hurrah! I am so pleased to have my impression from the open day confirmed as you never know how much is marketing and how much is genuine. You also hear it is "on the up" but it does sound like it is there.

A few questions- DD is quite bright and tutor suggested we could apply for the popular SW London v. academic independents so I am hoping to be reassured that a bright student really will reach her potential? At one state open day when I asked a teacher about how they stretch the stronger students the answer focused more on the example the stronger students provided to those struggling. Although I appreciate that must be hugely important for the struggling students I wasn't reassured for the brighter ones! Loulou63 it sounds like you have been really pleased with the opportunities at RPA, like the anthology you mention? Am I right that you feel she is being just as challenged and inspired academically as if u had gone independent? And charliescatmum do you feel the higher streams are aiming -and will prepare kids- for top universities one day?
The clubs on offer looked (and sound) fab, and wow, free! DH sunk into despair when he realised on top of fees for the independents, the music, clubs, transport (depending on school) etc all added a huge extra cost to termly fees!
Thanks so much to all of you who have taken the time to reply! Soooo appreciated! I would have said that if it was good or bad feedback, but so SO pleased its good!

Nelsonelson Sun 06-Oct-13 13:20:23

Hi QBean
My daughter is bright (don't want to sound like I am bragging) and has definitely been stretched. She also has very clear guidance on what she needs to do reach the next level up and how quickly she is expected to reach that level. (These are measured in Sats levels) Consequently she is focussed and hard working because she understands the relevance and importance of the work. Top sets do latin too which she really enjoys.
There are plenty of high achieving kids there to stimulate each other.

QBean Sun 06-Oct-13 20:34:50

Thank you Nelsonnelson, it sounds like your DD is having a v positive experience and being challenged too.
Out of interest are most of the kids/her friends local to Richmond? Both RPA and Christ's which I think is now oversubscribed, seem to have a reputational hangover from when many kids out of the borough were granted places. Is this still the case? One of the reasons I would be keen on a local school would be local friends- and hopefully not too far for me and DH to trek in teenage years if they need picking up!

Nelsonelson Mon 07-Oct-13 15:48:32

You are right that is just reputation. There are some figures around about where pupils come from - I have heard it is over 70% live with in 2 miles now. They said at a meeting that is a big change from a few years ago.
Also look at their facebook page or follow on twitter because there are often comments about what the kids are doing - gives you a good feel for their day to day school life.

charliescatmother23 Sun 13-Oct-13 13:45:03

Hello QBean, sorry for the tardy reply. Yes my DD has had extended learning trips to both Glasgow and Brighton Universities. She was also part of the Brilliant Club which was a project with Oxford University - I think Philosophy postgraduates - in fact both my children were involved. I think local primaries were involved too. Do feel eldest child being stretched - she stays for an extra hour 3 times a week for extra tuition (free!) in core subjects English, Maths and Science. All yr 10 and 11 students do this to maximise their potential. And she's still home by 4.30. Another thing I like about RPA is that students mix vertically. The Spain trip last year was a mix of year groups and many of the theatre trips are too. DD brought home forms to see :Phantom of the Opera, Cirque Eloize, The Light Princess, and 1984 (and that's just this term!) at hugely discounted rates. Eldest also did a sailing course in the summer at the Lensbury - which was free! I'm not sure - but I think 80% of students now live within a 2 mile radius of the school. I quite often come home to daughters and their friends having a cup of tea and working on a project - and eating all the biscuits! Hope this helps.

QBean Tue 15-Oct-13 19:55:31

Thank you charliescatmother! I had a tour today and was really impressed, will definitely apply- impressed by the teachers, lovely facilities and children really well behaved, holding doors for us, standing up when head came in, quietly getting on with their classroom work etc and it seemed a happy environment. I really liked all the motivational tools employed to get kids reading. Impressed they do Latin in upper sets and have opps. for dance, rowing, kayaking- and for free. (-: It seemed like a lot of thought had gone into absolutely every detail. Also very much a diverse London school, certainly no set type of child unlike so many schools I have seen, which again I liked. All in all a very nice vibe!

QBean Tue 15-Oct-13 20:04:21

One more query! Thanks for your patience everyone! The GCSE which are in front of me are seriously impressive for a comp., eg 57% A/A* in chemistry. Does anyone know how the marks are/what teachers are like for geography, history, English literature,drama?

muminlondon2 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:13:43

Science results aren't easy to compare unless you know exactly how many have been entered for single sciences, core/additional or BTEC (I think this is the last year it is allowed to count in the league tables as two GCSEs). The important thing is that pupils are entered at an appropriate level, so that they don't fail, have the potential to get good grades, but have suitable options open for them for further study. I think nationally about a third are entered for single sciences, on average.

Have you looked at RPA's website recently? There's an interesting 'Leadership edu-blog' and 'The most able students' which suggests that the aim is for years 7 and 8 to make a whole extra level of progress by end of Y9. There's also a section under 'Parents' with answers to Mumsnet questions! I found that quite impressive. For example:

Where do other children come from?
'The vast majority of our students now come from one of 3 post codes: SW13, 14 and 15. Our largest primary feeder is Barnes Primary.'

loulou63 Wed 16-Oct-13 19:45:17

Hi Qbean
Absolutely - One of the things I love about RPA is that the Head and teaching staff really get to know the kids, know what makes them tick, identify their particular strengths and target them for amazing projects in which they excel - even if they didn't know it beforehand! This isn't only purely academic kids but ALL of the kids. For example, I have a friend who's child went to an outstanding primary, wasn't particularly rated in literacy but RPA has seen and brought something out in him - he performed brilliantly in a debating project. My daughter is now in year 10 and working towards her GCSEs and her results so far have been incredible. In addition, she is being invited to stretch herself further with additional courses that the school, and she, feels she is capable of. RPA NEVER limits their or the children's imaginations or aspirations!

loulou63 Wed 16-Oct-13 19:49:25

OO! Just noticed this post - the teachers are fantastic in these areas! Complete legends!

One4TheRd Wed 16-Oct-13 23:04:04

Hi...I have recently been posting on another thread about RPA and have just read the most horrific account of the school! It has shook me as my DD is just about to join Y8! She is about to move from an all girls "outstanding" school that she just hasn't settled into. I was feeling really positive after having a tour and a chat with the head of Y8, and am very pleased after reading the comments here, but DD was worried by CATS. She is top set for everything at her current school but felt stressed about the streaming based in the cat scores and where they might place her. If you have time please read the comment left by kewmommy on the Richmond Park Academy thread on the main site under secondary education. Anyone reading it would run a mile from the school! Thanks

JWhizz Thu 17-Oct-13 08:49:16

Hi One4The Road, I have come late to the social media arena and discussions about RPA - I've not been comfortable to use social media in the past. However I was so upset by the same comment you mentioned it has driven me overcome my fear of posting! I feel I must defend the school I know and trust, especially at this crucial time when many year 6 parents like myself are finalising their secondary choices, and for parents like you who are changing schools at half term.
My child, now in year nine at RPA, came from a local primary and has had the most brilliant experience any parent could wish for. My child has excelled and blossomed in a way I could never have expected before joining RPA. Mrs Kirby is an inspirational mentor, she is nurturing and caring, and believes in everyone's potential. She is always available to parents, and is so generous with her time and has always been willing to offer her support. It was the energy and quality of the teachers at RPA which impressed us and drew us to RPA. Our trust in them has been hugely rewarded by the most incredible experience... our child has definitely been encouraged to shine, and is superbly happy and secure. The local community is finally realizing it has a wonderful asset on its doorstep, and with continued support this momentum will continue to grow. I hope you have the same positive experience at RPA as myself and the many parents I know who's children are equally happy and making great progress - I wish you well, and welcome you as a fellow parent to this very happy and aspirational school community.

Nelsonelson Thu 17-Oct-13 10:17:03

One4 the road - have a look at the book just published by RPA students - it is in sheen bookshop and I hear it is going into the library too. It is called 'Dare You' good evidence of the great projects RPA students can get involved in.

One4TheRd Thu 17-Oct-13 13:01:52

Thank you so much...you have really put my mind at rest. The comment from kewmommy has been taken down now. I know that not everyone will have positive experiences within a school. I mean, my concerns for changing my daughters school may not have affected other kids/parents at her current school, but I have put a lot of thought into the move and I was sweating slightly yesterday! I hope kewmommy can resolve her differences with the school and I can only hope and pray that my DD has a positive time at RPA.

RichmondTeddy Fri 18-Oct-13 21:10:23

One4TheRoad, I hope that all goes well for your DD and if you get a moment in a few months time please post again to let us know how it is going. It would be really useful to get some feedback from a new parent.

One4TheRd Sat 19-Oct-13 08:59:52

Absolutely! Her current school gave me a bit of food for thought yesterday in our meeting about the move, but I think we will still make a leap of faith into RPA. If it all goes Pete Tong you will no doubt hear from me on here too, a lot sooner! I just have a good feeling about it, Thanks.

QBean Thu 24-Oct-13 23:08:30

All, thank you so much for the further replies about RPA. One4TheRd I do hope your daughter settles happily. I would be really interested to hear how it all goes, like you I just have a good feeling about it but at same time it feels a bit risky as it doesn't (yet) have track record of somewhere like Waldegrave. I look forward to seeing it with my daughter next autumn and I hope she will have the same positive feeling I do....

One4TheRd Fri 25-Oct-13 14:24:24

I am hoping that by the time DD is in Y11 there will be a 98% A*-C inc Maths and English!!!! Hahaha

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now