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

One4TheRd Sat 26-Oct-13 07:32:10

For what it's worth they are sending her home some Latin work to do over half term!! Not at all what I was expecting!

Nelsonelson Sat 26-Oct-13 15:53:16

You would have to ask them for their results for girls only to be able to make a comparison with Waldegrave. Across the country girls do better so that makes girl only schools appear better than mixed schools which normally publish the combined figures

One4TheRd Sun 27-Oct-13 10:55:58

I have never heard of Waldegrave school as I live in Putney, but yes, their results are very impressive indeed! You are right about girls achieving higher then boys and RPA is a slightly boy heavy school. I think that if the year on year improvement continues, and I believe that it will due to the provisions for the current Y7 8 &9, then it will be a serious contender in the borough. I am really excited for my daughter to be a part of it!

QBean Mon 28-Oct-13 06:35:18

Thanks Nelsonnelson, interesting point- I will keep that in mind when comparing coed vs single sex.

One4therd- you made me laugh! That's fantastic DD will be studying her Latin, just how you both envisaged spending her half term I'm sure(-;

muminlondon2 Mon 28-Oct-13 10:39:00

You can see results for girls/boys 2012 on the performance tables website. Look for the 'English as additional language and gender' tab and you can check Ebacc, progress in Maths/English and average point scores. It gets updated in January with this year's results.

One4TheRd Mon 28-Oct-13 16:36:12

Thanks for that muminlondon...what a lot of info! It mostly seems to be from 2011 when you look at the results in detail. It will be interesting to see if the streaming they have put in place will have an impact over the coming years...I got the impression that they are really pushing the attainment through KS3 and this should hopefully spill over into future results.

My fingers are crossed as my daughter starts next week!

The children with "low prior attainment" are pin pointed straight away and are receiving lots of additional help which I don't believe was in place before. From what I gather the "high prior attainment" children are also being pushed so I would expect the "Value added score" to improve.

Not sure where the Latin fits in to all of this!!! grinwink

muminlondon2 Mon 28-Oct-13 18:03:44

Yes, it's too early to use 2012 GCSE data to assess RPA proprly since it became an academy. There had been a lot of faffing about by politicians in deciding the sponsor when that intake started. 2013 data will be more useful.

Whatever the current years 7-9 are doing gives a clearer idea of the direction of the school it sounds promising. Good luck.

One4TheRd Sat 09-Nov-13 07:42:01

Just to say that my daughter has had an amazing first week! I haven't seen her this happy in a while. She seems to have made quite a few friends and she thinks everyone is really friendly! Long may it last!

wheresthebeach Sun 24-Nov-13 22:55:45

Glad to hear such positive things. I was impressed by open day but have since been told that the police are called daily to the school. Does anyone know if this is the case or why people think this?

localone Mon 25-Nov-13 14:18:03

Wheres the beach: I am a parent at this school and I am offended by this comment. This is so untrue - ask the other parents. I wonder why you would listen to idle gossip and then post it up here?

You might not be aware that all the schools have a PCSO attached to them - and the one for RPA told me last year that although he is hardly ever at the school he is glad he is attached to RPA because the kids are lovely and much better behaved than many of the kids he has to deal with in this borough.

One4TheRd Mon 25-Nov-13 14:53:04

I have a feeling that if the police were called there daily my DD would have burst through the door telling me all about it!! She would have found that very exciting!! Just school play auditions and someone falling off the trampoline so far I'm afraid!

wheresthebeach Mon 25-Nov-13 18:34:56

Thank you One - a helpful response!

As I said Loca I was impressed by the school but worried when I heard the other feedback. So...check on Mumsnet. Don't know why you've taken it so personally.

QBean Wed 27-Nov-13 22:12:22

One4TheRd how is your daughter getting on?

One4TheRd Thu 28-Nov-13 06:25:48

Hi QBean, she is really loving it. They have big exams coming up next week and unfortunately for her some of them will be covering topics she hasn't done before. All of the teachers have been understanding and advised her what to brush up on but basically not to worry too much. They have also been very understanding about her needing to miss some afternoons for rehearsals for a show she is taking part in outside of school...luckily the HOY 8 is also head of drama. So far everything is very positive and such a long way away from how she was feeling at her old school. grin

Sheenee Thu 09-Jan-14 16:19:49

Hi. How did things go for the rest of the term - I've heard more good things from neighbours and others with children there but wanted to see if that stacked up with what others have found

One4TheRd Sat 11-Jan-14 15:54:41

Hi Sheenee, she is loving it and very happy. There is parents evening this Tuesday so that will be my first opportunity to speak with teachers. Saying that, I have had great email communication with a few teachers and I am really happy so far. There has been a choice of school trips this year, Amsterdam and Berlin, and the take up on the trips was the best they have had in awhile, so that is another positive. A new drama suite and new canteen have just opened and all in all no problems at all.

RichmondTeddy Sun 12-Jan-14 16:53:10

Fantastic to hear that she has settled in so well.

Sheenee Mon 13-Jan-14 18:34:04

That's great news - how's it going academically? You mentioned your DD was in the top set in her previous school - has she been well looked after in this respect as well.

One4TheRd Wed 15-Jan-14 19:09:34

There is a clear set up with regards to ability and DD is in the higher set. All of the teachers I have spoken to seem very aware of her capabilities and where they expect her to be by the end of the year etc. I was really pleased with their feedback, even though she's only been there a short time. This term will be much better to see how she is pushed and taught as the exams in May will reflect a whole terms work, rather then just a few weeks. So far homework has been about what I would expect from any school, and she is enjoying all of it. For me, the fact that she has met a lovely bunch of girls, and boys, that she is friends with, I couldn't ask for anything more!

Sheenee Sat 18-Jan-14 11:50:26

That's great to hear - glad she's enjoying it so much.

QBean Fri 24-Jan-14 21:27:37

One4TheRd, thanks for keeping us in the loop, very pleased to hear your DD is enjoying it so! Can I ask if she ever mentions discipline being an issue in classes in terms of low level disruption? I got the impression they run a tight ship but would be interested to hear first hand.

One4TheRd Sun 26-Jan-14 00:15:17

It's something I ask her about often!! From what she tells me there is far less disruption in lessons then there was in her previous (outstanding/all girls) school. Teenagers will always "chat", but people are not regularly sent out of lessons for bad behaviour, though she does find some of the boys annoying! She is able to complete a lot of work in lessons, leading her to having less to do at home - some homework can be completing what they have started in the lesson. I can't speak about the other classes though - I don't want to imply that the lower sets are more disruptive, but there are definitely some "characters" in other classes that she speaks about! But like I say, all very positive for us at the moment. Private would never be an option for us, financially or otherwise, and I feel that this school is giving her the best of both worlds! ANY part in the school production of Wiz, will be the icing on the cake!

QBean Sun 26-Jan-14 22:11:31

Music to my ears! I do hope she gets a part in the Wiz!

Parents at DD's school and other local primaries recently invited for a wine and cheese evening to get to know RPA. Very impressed with their initiative, one of questions was why should your DC go here and not to an independent? Again, impressed with how spot on they are, and excited by what I see on website. I am looking forward to the evening!

Had experience of having to drive recently to a popular out of London independent and was shocked by how far it was, I had been worried about trek from Kew to RPA- as although it's not too far there is no direct public transport route, but I think I have been spoiled by primary school on doorstep and need to get things in perspective!

One4TheRd Mon 27-Jan-14 13:31:00

I think that by the time they reach Y7 they are far more able to travel then you might think! DD has been travelling to and from the National Theatre via Waterloo station since August on her own (part of a show there). I only pick her up after evening performances. Her previous school was two bus rides away. They just get on with it and meet up with friends on the way. I find that it pushes DD in the morning as she doesn't want to miss everyone at the bus stop! The oyster card is like a right of passage!!!

Sheenee Mon 27-Jan-14 17:45:25

QBean - do you know what date the evening is?

One4TheRd Mon 27-Jan-14 22:40:49

I think it is on12th Feb...there is a wine and cheese evening on the school calendar I have in the kitchen!!

Sheenee Tue 28-Jan-14 17:43:17

Brilliant thanks - I got in touch with the school and apparently there are fliers being sent out for years 4 5 and 6 this week.

QBean Sat 01-Feb-14 12:55:03

Hi Shenee, sorry for delay, yes flier just came home in DD's book bag! It's 12th 6.30-8, you have to email/phone school to book- which I have just done!

Sheenee Thu 13-Feb-14 18:52:01

Hi Not sure if anyone else went but there was a good turnout last night. The yr7 parents I spoke to all had very positive things to say (although I guess if you are the kind of parent who would go you'd probably have an upbeat message). Nevertheless I was impressed

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