My husband and I are considering a move to Wellington for work reasons. We have a bright 14 yo daughter in year 8 and have been very happy with our choice of school here in Melbourne. The decision as too which school for her was one that we lost much sleep over.
Is anyone able to help with opinions, advice, research or links to assist us make the Wellington school decision. Independent, state or integrated (Catholic). Co-ed or single sex? I need data, but can't seem to find exactly what I am looking for. How do certain schools compare against others? Are there summary tables available with comparative data and trends. Particularly I am looking for the comparative academic performance, but other factors also would be handy (eg. no. and mix of students, range of curriculum available, etc)
We have seen some reports on ERO, but am frustrated that I can't find something that lines schools up side by side. We would appreciate any advice or opinion anyone would have to offer.
Dear Karen, we're agonising over the same question. So far have decided that the private schools seem to offer a better option for gifted kids. Our problem now is whether it will be better to have one parent at home supporting the kids through a school with good intentions and limited resources. Or both parents working to afford a school that seems on the surface to offer more opportunities for gifted kids. I know of one family who are very happy with their daughter's at Chilton St James and another who find that Athena Montessori college offers the right environment. Socially my eldest is very sensitive and there does seem to be a snobbishness in some private schools where girls don't fit in if they can't do the trip overseas, drive the right cars etc.. which may negate the advantage offered by academic opportunities.
All schools in NZ are now required to identify and develop appropriate programmes for gifted children. Some schools seem to be working hard on getting it right, others have a way to go. You'll get a better idea of the attitudes of schools from visiting and speaking to the staff than from ERO reports.
I would love to know which school your daughter goes to in Melbourne, as we are thinking of making a move over there in a year or so.
The philosophy behind the school debate seems very similar across the Tasman. Our daughter is in year 8 now and attends a fantastic school in Glen Iris called Sacre Coeur (www.sacrecoeur.vic.edu.au). It is not a large school, 680 girls from prep to Yr 12. It is an independent catholic school. The school philosophy is very big on pastoral development of the person as much as it is academically focused. It's charter is very impressive, and from what we have experienced so far it certainly is not just lip service. We are extremely happy with the school and so is she - making this decision to relocate temporarily even harder.
We have experienced a range of schools from Catholic Primary, to Government and now private. Must say, I am very much a fan of the private school system in general (except for the fees and related implications).
The Age newspaper produces each year a guide called the "Good Schools Guide". It is a wealth of information and data for all secondary schools in Victoria. I highly recommend sourcing a copy when you are ready. Some other information which may assist is knowing where the private school "belts" are. Property prices in certain areas are high due to range of good schools in an area. Hawthorn and Kew have too many options to consider. I am quite familiar with the basics of many of these schools, public and private, so happy to chat if that helps.
In my searchs I have come across two schools which intrigue me in Wellington. One is Marsden College, the other is Queen Margaret School. Do you have any observations about either of these? We hope to find a school with Latin, as she is keen on taking this right up to her final years.
Karen, both of the schools you mention have a reputation for excellence in education. They are private schools so I believe their fees are around $12000 per annum + extra costs. Not absolutely certain but I think that's close. One is Anglican the other Presbyterian. From my personal experience Marsden is probably a little more snobbish. I have a feeling they did teach Latin at Queen Margaret College. The other possibility might be Wellington Girls College. I don't know if they still teach Latin but when I was a teenager, one way to get in there if you lived out of zone was to take Latin because nobody else taught it, so you got priority if you wanted to do it. There are other similar options in the Hutt Valley. The first website below is for the independent schools association (i.e. private schools); the other is a state-integrated girls school in the Hutt Valley which has a good reputation. State-integrated usually used to be private schools with a special character (usually religious in nature) but which have integrated with the state system and thus their fees are lower (usually about $4000 per annum).
Wellington schools are huge in variety and there are some excellent state schools. What exactly are you looking for? Coed or single sex? etc. If you post your preferences people could advise a school that meets those needs. It sounds like you were mainly interested in private girls' schools, or were those just the ones you had heard about?
Queen Margaret does offer Latin. We looked at it for our daughter, it's a lovely place but we decided against it as we got the impression they were "breeding young ladies" and we'd like a daughter with a bit more "go" in her. Marsden looked impressive but I believe they work the girls very hard. Chilton St James was the school we liked the best, they had a great arts programme and the staff were incredibly helpful, and the girls looked like they were having fun learning, but in the end our daughter decided she didn't want to go to a single-sex school.
If you actually prefer coed there are fewer good options, and you'd have to live in the right area as the best coeds (for the academics) are all zoned and there are no private coeds in Wellington other than the (very) new Whitby Independent which is as yet very small.
Sorry I can't comment on the catholic schools, we didn't look at those as my husband went through the catholic system and would have a fit if I suggested sending our kids there, lol.
Most NZ secondary schools do have streaming for the top kids so that helps. If they're in a streamed class they'll probably get a reasonably decent deal educationally just about anywhere.
Yr1-6 approx $8500 per annum
Yr 7-13 approx $11000 per annum
Shel, I am curious regarding your experience as to the "a little more snobbish" nature of Marsden in comparison to QMC. Would love to learn your reasons for this if you wish to share. I wonder if your views are perceptions rather than actual experience.
Interesting that I found Mardsen to be the most supportive of gifted education when we researched schools in Wellington. The other two schools could not compare on paper as to their provision for gifted girls. Chilton didn't even have a written policy! I contend that Marsden supports learning successfully, maintains high standards and have many staff who really understand gifted education, therefore able to support gifted kids cognitively, socially and emotionally. Professional development is ongoing, which is of course an essential component of supporting these kids. Of course Marsden won't be a 'perfect fit' for every gifted girl. Fortunately though, we have found it fits for our girl.
Karen, Whitby Independent College has just been taken over by Marsden. Whitby is a suburb about 20 minutes drive north of the city centre taking the motorway. A possible choice if you choose to live north Wgtn or Kapiti Coast areas.
One further point to note, another reason we liked Chilton was that it was the only school that offered us any degree of acceleration when presented with evidence of dd's level of giftedness. They may not have a policy, but they were very concerned about dd's individual needs, abilities, personality and wishes. I was really impressed with the way the admissions staff spoke and listened to her at interview. Other schools it was always "well of course we have a lot of bright students here so boredom won't be a problem here."
actually yes my comment was based on personal experience rather than perception. my own experience (admittedly quite some time ago) plus the more recent experiences of people i know. However, I am a firm believer that parents need to choose the school to fit the child. if i still lived in Wellington Marsden would be high on my list of possible school choices for my daughters because of what it offers. I don't think i suggested anywhere in my post that there was any question of the quality of education. :-)
it's okay Helen, - i do understand and i sympathise. My time at Marsden was extremely unhappy and made me swear i'd never put my children through a private school. That's all changed now that I actually have children and have had to try and deal with the state system!!! Also it was a long time ago. Today, i experience the same kind of reverse snobbery where i live because my children go to integrated schools (actually we don't have any full private schools here, just ones that used to be - grin!). there is an insistence on thinking that we must think we're better than anyone else. it's very frustrating really.
actually the place my children have experienced prejudice the most has been at the state schools they used to attend where they were accused of being "posh snobs" because they lived in a big house (we live in a small town, it's kind of hard to blend in like it is the suburbs where we used to live!) and had a nice car etc etc etc. At least they fit in better with the children they go to school with now. don't know what i'm trying to say here really, i seem to be full of contradictions!
Anyway, Karen - hope you are able to make a decision that is right for your family!
As I may have said in a previous correspondence, the challenges and debates are similar in every regard it seems to schools in Melbourne. We have a number of schools locally who have reputations for snobbishness also. There have been many times I have been disgusted by behaviours demonstrated by a small percentage of students and their parents. I think it just adds to the challenge of educating our children in the lessons of life, so a pre-requisite for me is to find a school whose approach to education and more importantly life in general is closely aligned to my own.
In terms of narrowing down the search and focus our preferences will be independent girls school. If finances don't allow that, then an exceptional high school, preferrably girls also. Location is a challenge as I am still "learning my way" Wellington via the net - hardly ideal!! So much to consider.
Marsden sounds fabulous, Chilton intriguing and Wellington Girls School I think we will also look into more closely. Hoping to get over there shortly to check everything out "at ground level".
Please do post feedback your impressions when you've visited, we'd be interested in how you get on.
Another option you might like to have a look at if you want a girls' school is St Oran's. Some friends of mine have just enrolled their daughter for there and were impressed. It's an integrated girls' school in the Hutt, catholic I think but not sure. They always look pretty good on the results league, and integrated is a lot less expensive.
Bear in mind if you want Wellington Girls' (an excellent school, and public) you'll have to be in-zone, and in-zone is expensive, so check out housing prices too! But could be worth it to save on school fees, and you'd get good appreciation on a house in their zone.
Jean, I'm not certain but I'm pretty sure St Oran's is Presbyterian. My daughter goes to Solway in Masterton which is also Presbyterian (we are not religious at all though) and she absolutely adores the place. It is difficult to get her to stay home if she is sick! I figure that's a happy student. I have also heard very good things about St Oran's, one of them being that it has a family feel to it.
I have just read your post on the giftedchildren forum and your daughter sounds exactly like mine! What school did you chose in the end for her? My daughter is taking Latin in the UK and loves it, but has insisted that if she moves to New Zealand, she doesn't want to go to a single sex school (as is in one currently and hates the clickiness). We have the issue of money for private schools as not incredibly wealthy, and would hope to find a school that can still keep her stimulated. Even in a high ranking secondary school here in England, where most students leave to attend Oxford or Cambridge Universities, my daughter is struggling to find her classes a challenge. Many thanks, Micheline