I am trying to decide what the best primary school to send my gifted child to as we are unhappy with his current school. does any one know what the best primary school in Christchurch, preferably in the South West of Christchurch?.
We might need a little more background to be able to help you. What = best?
GaTe Teachers at my local primary rate Paparoa St as giving a wow GaTe programme, but I also know of a local parent who couldn't wait to leave the area./school b/c it was full of the parochial ChCh people who never say hello, goodbye and whose 2 children never made any friends in the 2 terms they were there.
Yes, we are looking to! Would love to chat on the phone it is so hard to find a match. We have actually sold our home so we have the ability to move into a zone when we find what we are looking for - hmmm drastic I know but we had little choice. I have visited at least 8 schools in Christchurch in recent weeks and I am still searching..................
I have looked around at ERO reports and been to see a couple of schools, it really will be what fits best.
Have heard good things about Ilam and Avonhead, good music at Westburn and have heard good things about Elmwood (but be prepared to get turned down for a visit until you have either recieved a place with the out of zone ballot or are in zone, ridiculous for people who may be looking at moving!). Waimairi is also good and the zone is a nice area too. The principal is very onto it and the way the school is structured and the classrooms run look like a gifted child could definately do well in the environment. I have heard Paparoa street have large class sizes and do know of people chosing not to go there. Fendalton has a good rep but was not all that impressive when I went to visit.
It really depends on what area you want to move into. It is hard work finding a good school or one that fits your child but the best way to know will be by meeting the teachers and having a look around, asking questions and making sure that they have answers for them.
Feel for you - have been through this a couple of years ago. Came down from Northland with 3 children (I had my second child tested for giftedness when she was 6 and she was in the 99th percentile for most things. I suspect my other 2 are also gifted). I had a look through about 8 schools in the area including Ilam, Fendalton etc. Finally settled on Russley School. My children are happy and well catered for with very capable teachers, maths interchange classes, chior, orchestra, many sporting opportunities etc and the parents are very friendly. I was wanting a more balanced school where they didn't stand out and had friends of more like minds which we certainly found. Good luck in your quest.
I have no experience with other schools, but I would highly recommend Windsor (Burwood). My 5yr old daughter has been there less than 6 months and I am already very impressed with the school. The principal is fantastic, the teachers passionate, and we have had no problems with my daughter getting what she needs. They have catered for her brilliantly, and none of it has had to come from us, they have instigated it all. We have been fully involved, and feel welcome to discuss anything with the teachers at any time. Good community feel (even though it's a big school - around 600 pupils) and parental involvement in the school too.
We are only in the second year of primary school - had a terrible first year where ds was being looked at for autism and adhd, lots of tests later and no he's 'only' gifted (no funding for that), the principal was quite derogatory when he got the results back. Anyway the Pysch suggested Ilam and its been a complete turn around for us, we now have a fantastic child who loves going to school. I sung its praises in more detail further down this thread in May. I know that at the moment I'm totally biased because of the difference we have seen in our son and that it may not last forever but Ilam and the teachers involved with him at the moment saved my sanity.
Thanks for all your replies. My son too, is in the top 2 percent, which I sometimes feel is not a blessing for him, as he has only just started to make some friends, and when I did mention that we may change schools he had a melt down. I will definately look at Russely and Ilam, as both schools feature regularly.
My children go to Waimairi, and once the oldest had had her talents and abilities recognised we have found them to be very good. My eldest is in her last year there now and has had a very positive experience. They have had all sorts of strategies in place for supporting these children, and they have also been active in identifying the second child, knowing that sometimes it runs in families, they actually looked out for her.
Several people did suggest that Ilam was the place to go, but I feel that we have been well served.
We've experience with a Ilam and have experienced the positives. There is a lot of knowledge on gifted education, there are lots of gifted children so there are many like minds, they will accelerate children, and of course there are things like withdrawal programmes. However, we also had difficulties, with only one teacher being responsive to ongoing bullying experienced by our child. The other teachers' reponses have been, IMO, quite appalling.
Our child has characteristics that perhaps make him vulnerable to being bullied. If you think that is the case with yours (and often gifted children may be so very different that this could be the case, as they become targeted) then I would advise checking out not only the school's G&T policy but also their behavior management and bullying policy.
I can't offer firsthand experience but have also heard great things about Windsor, and Fendalton.
If you have a daughter, Selwyn House is great. The gifted co-ordinator a bit slack, but no matter as the classes are small, and they were fabulous at extending our daughter (years 1-3). Their Math and ICT programmes are phenomenal. She loved robotics .Sadly, we haver moved away - would send my girl there again in a heartbeat.
My daughter goes to Selwyn house. It has been fantastic so far. The GATE co-ordinator is currently on sabbatical - but before she left was very involved with us - and that was only at preschool! The school has filled us with confidence in the way they have handled everything that HG involves. But - of course - they are an all girls school- so not much help to you.
I have heard exellent things about Medbury and Windsor.
for a new entrant Fendalton is not strong. Promises lots on interview but fails to act through. Friend at Waimairi is at least getting regular feedback on her son's attainments although not specifically targetted re a GATES type programme.
We live in CHCH east (North New Brighton) and are currently looking at Freeville Primary which I have heard wonderful things about- however unsure how it caters for gifted children. I am going to make an appointment to visit of course, but as I am very new to this, am unsure of the questions I should be asking? We have also heard fantastic things about Ilam school and Waimari, but cannot afford to move house/zones currently. We are also in zone for Parkview primary, but have heard nothing about this school. Does anybody have any advice/recommendations for schools over Parklands/North New Brighton?
Thanks in advance :)
They are exactly the schools which we are zoned for. We found Parkview useless when looking round. Clueless. My friend's son goes to Freeville and is struggling with reading. The classes are big and the work seems to be quite easy. They didn't seem to have any advice for him except "read more".
We applied for Ilam out of Zone and I think it may have helped that we had his test results to support the application. They seem to have quite a few places - especially at the beginning of the year. It's a half hour drive for us but has definitely been worth it. A year later and I'm still really happy with how things are progressing for him. We are quite fortunate to not have experienced any problems with bullying at this stage (and he would be an ideal target) but it may be more a result of his excellent teacher than the school in general - I don't know but can only speak for our experiences so far which have been all good.
Thanks :) I had a feeling Parkview wasn't a great option, but had high hopes for Freeville!!! So what out of zone school did you opt for Anon? And are you happy with the school?
Yes Rose I may just have to try and go for Ilam - I hear its the best :) Would be almost a 40 min drive in morning traffic for us, but sounds like it could be worth it :) My niece goes to Waimari, and have also heard that its quite a good school. Thanks for the advice!
You'll be out of zone for Banks Ave but have you considered them as a possible out-of-zone option? We looked a few years ago and were very impressed with the principal's attitude toward giftedness; the timing was just all wrong for us. It would be a little closer as an out-of-zone option for you.
We had three on our list. Ilam was one. They seem very good about extending the gifted. We went to one not too far out of zone - but I won't say which. Waimari was on our list too. The driving put me off.
We are thinking about moving house. But the school seems right at the moment.
Yes we are just out of zone for Winsor, and also Banks Ave. They are definitely schools we have considered applying for, however the only thing that put us off was the intermediate options - Chisnelwood and Shirley Intermediate. I have heard there is a bit of bullying at both schools, but then I guess that could happen at any school :)
We pulled our child out of Ilam school last year due to the bullying by both children and parents. We had other children go through Ilam and they found it very good, unfortunately the culture has changed over the last year. I have heard good things of Avonhead and Westburn.
We almost moved a child out of school because of bullying. In our experience, the teacher's responsiveness to the bullying is crucial. There are responsive and unresponsive teachers everywhere I guess but you also need a school culture that is supportive of the bullying victims.
How sad that the *parents* are involved in the bullying. How awful. Did the school approach those parents?
I hope things are better now Eliz.
Dairne / Fleur - what did you decide on? How is it working?
Hi Anon :)
Still struggling with a decision!! I think I am afraid of making the wrong one :)
I have also heard that Queenspark is a good school (although need to find out more), however it seems they may not take out of zone enrolments. I can only but try! I have just found out that Freeville has a GATE coordinator which I guess is promising. Lots of pondering and researching to do!!
I can understand your concerns about making the wrong decision. It's tough, and, when you are considering a commute there are other factors involved. Arranging playdates after school is a big one - playdates at home after school are difficult because of the travel time involved. Also, if there are afterschool activities, not being able to go home between school and these activities can be difficult. Imagine having a child at Ilam/Fendalton/Waimairi/Avonhead and having an extra-curricular class in town or closer to school at 4pm. Going home for a snack or rest etc before the class is not an option - you'd have to turn around and go out again. I don't want to sound negative - you can schedule things to minimise these issues - but they may need consideration as your child gets older and wants to become more involved in other activities.
FWIW, we commute to school - I often change my mind on whether or not it's worth it. We still commute, which should tell you something I guess.
Re Queenspark, good luck. From what I heard last year, they may have had places at certain year levels. IIRC, the places may have been in the higher year levels but it is still worth talking to them.
I'm also looking for the best school for gifted children in ChCh. We are in Dunedin where my son was tested for everything under the sun (autism, adhd, even something called DAMP) until they decided he was "simply gifted." George Street Normal School, where he is currently in year 2, has been amazing in their flexibility to adapt to his needs and particularities and we would love to find a similar school in ChCh.
Many of you mention Ilam but do any of you have kids at St. Albans? We were very impressed with their openness to gifted children. The Principal seemed very aware of gifted children's needs since her own son is gifted.
Also, do any of you know anyone who goes to Discovery 1?
Hi Christine, We have an EG child at St Albans in Yr1. We looked at all the schools in ChCh which have a strong history of offering GATE programmes but finally went with our local school. My thinking was to start with the local school and then if it went wrong we would then look at moving him. The school have been great and very proactive. The two class teachers he has had have been very open to any suggestions I have had and within 2 weeks of the start of this year they had initiated an IEP meeting. My son goes to a YR 2 class for literacy and numeracy as we decided he wasn't ready for a Yr 2 class for all subjects and he was happy socially in his current class. They even send a runner for him as he has a tendency to get a bit "sidetracked" in the playground.
They have a new GATE coordinator in the Junior school who has a strong background in working with GATE children and although they still don't have a GATE extension programme at Junior level there are a lot of activities going on further up the school.
The school have a lot of children with special needs so they are very used to dealing with individual needs and they certainly seem to value their tall poppies. So far I am really pleased with my decision.
We have 2 highly gifted girls and they are now both at St Margaret's College in year 3 and year 6. They are being so well catered for and are happier than they have ever been. They were at Fendalton Primary up until mid way through last year and I would not recommend that school.
Thanks Anon for your input on St. Albans. Of all the schools that my husband visited, St. Albans and Ilam were the ones that he was the most impressed with in terms of their openness to difference and willingness to adapt to gifted children.
In the end, we have decided to try Ilam. It was extremely hard to find a suitable house in the zone but it looks like we might have found one. So it looks like my son and I will finally be joining my husband in ChCh for the next school term.
I have been reading through many blogs, forums etc to get some idea on parents honest opinions and experiences at primary schools in christchurch.
We had our hopes set on a place for our daughter at Rudolf Steiner but the reality is the waitlist is too long or us to prolong keeping her out of school.
She turns 5 at the end of July and we are not zoned for any schools that we are interested in.
We have heard that Elmwood, Ilam, Waimari, Selwyn House and St albans could offer the best - our girl is shy on the onset but she craves music, art, drama and freethinking and is best nurtured with a patient and open minded curriculum.
We have applied for out of ballot zone enrolments - but as we wait I feel that there may be no space for her in the next term.
Are there any points and comments on the schools above and also suggestions on where else to try.
Am becoming anxious to be honest and any comments would be so appreciated.
Re: what is the best primary school in christchurch
Date: 07-05-10 10:47
Good luck Aroha.
I echo what "Eliz" wrote (back in February) about the bullying (from children and adults) and the change in culture at Ilam. Some kids there have it great - there are pull-outs, like-minds, some fantastic gifted-friendly teachers. Our child is not one of those children who has it great there. We're leaving soon and can't wait: Ongoing bullying that is not addressed.
Have you thought of Westburn? I've heard they have a fantastic music programme.
Re: what is the best primary school in christchurch
Date: 10-05-10 10:42
Sorry to hear you are having problems with Ilam School. So far we have been really pleased with the things they are doing for our ds but concerned about the bullying comments, especially from Parents? How is that manifested - are they knocking the gifted aspect or?
I know you won't want to say too much on here but I would be interested to know what year your child is in (just wondering if this is something we will have to watch for in the future) and which school you decided to move to?
Hope it all works out well for you in the future. It's hard enough dealing with our children without the extra pressure from others. Best wishes.
Re: what is the best primary school in christchurch
Date: 11-05-10 06:29
No, I wont say much, except for the fact that he's not a junior anymore. It's been difficult from the start. Perhaps not giftedness so much as 'differentness'. Ilam has some great teachers and problems have been handled differently with different teachers but we do feel it has become harder over the past year or so. No decision yet on the next school.
St Margaret's has a primary school and there is a strong drama, music componenet in the school. Excellent drama teachers. The school is very strong on pastoral care and the senior girls have responsibilites for mentoring in the primary school.
Fendalton has a new very experienced GATE co ordinator so changes will be happening in the school. They now have an OT based in the school one day a week doing parent/pupil appointments on site. The OT is screening new entrants for dysgraphia.
Westburn has a special music program
Re: what is the best primary school in christchurch
Date: 16-06-10 09:40
We have two gifted children at Avonhead and despite thier reputation, I have to say that they do very little for gifted kids. Their Gifted and Talented programme is very on again, off again depending on what other things are going on and not all gifted kids get access - it seems to depend what year they are in. Very disappointing.
Hi - just reading thru all of the comments - I am moving to ChCh from Wellington in the New Year. My husband is set on Clarkville area. Does anyone know if the schools in this area nad also teh high schools (zoned for Kaiapoi) cater for giftedness (I also ahve a child at the other end of the scale although I suspect that the school ahve this quiet worng and have to cater for his needs). Thanks for any help.
There is no best. Check out the Principal and ask them all the hard questions then ask to see that in operation. Many wont be able to show you what they just rambled to you about. They love getting gifted children but don't put much money into them. Paparoa St not the school people think it might be. Northcote nice and friendly but haven't heard good things about Redwood. My friend had a very clever child who did extremely well with a teacher last year but they pushed him for an inexperienced teacher. That wasn'y too appreciated by that parent.
Bit like Oaklands, Paparoa St category. Good luck and keep us up to date
Just had to write about St Albans Primary, we had a terrible experience with a year 1 teacher there and I would rather sell one of my internal organs than send a child to that school again. I think in the main all state schools are pretty similar it's individual teachers that matter. We now send all of our primary age children to a private school and if you can afford it St Andrew's junior school has amazing teachers (every one) who cater individually for each child. This is of course much easier with half the class size.
I also had to write about St Albans School. I am a new teacher and leader at St Albans with responsibilities for the G and T programme. I am proud of our school and what we offer children and families. I am very sorry you had a negative experience at our school Kate but as a school we are constantly growing and moving. We respond to feedback and seek to improve. I have worked at two Christchurch schools where needs of Gifted children are prioritised and specialist teacher time allocated. I am glad St Andrews works for you and your family. I agree in many instances the individual teacher makes the biggest difference and I strive to place children with teachers who have empathy and an affinity in teaching highly able children. This is not all teachers just as it is not all teachers who have the ability to work with special needs children at the other end of the spectrum. I suggest parents of children with special abilities visit the school and ask for an appointment with the GATE coordinator, if there is one or not is the first telling sign! You will quickly ascertain from this time if the school is the best fit for your child and family. Secondly, check the ERO report. Recommendations will indicate if individual needs are not being catered for. Our ERO report is great.
Hi Teacher - Just wanted to say a special thank you for responding to Kate. There are some amazing teachers out there who bend over backwards trying to accomodate children. Just as there are some very average teachers and I wonder why some of them are in the job!
It is excellent that you are in St Albans and are working with G&T. Good on you and I hope that more and more teachers follow in your footsteps.
We encourage teachers to write on the forum as you have just as much to contribute as we parents!!
We are based out in Rangiora and I was just wondering if anybody had heard anything about the schools out here. I have a 6 year old son who has just been identified as gifted and I'm trying to decide what to do next!!!
I would safely say Cathedral Grammar, if you are eager enough to pay the fees. It's not that hard to get a scholarship there but they teach about four years above the children's level so by the time they get to high school they have already learnt half the curriculum. It is a very disciplined school as well.
My girls attend selwyn house. They have been well catered to for their needs. Staff are kind and caring and manage their the girls 'gifts' well. Expectations are high and being a high achiever is expected. Scholarships are hard fought as it is such a good school.
Tricky question and i guess each of us can only answer from our own experiences. I certainly do not have knowledge of ALL christchurch schools!!
Our children were at Christ the King school ,were both tested and said to be GIFTED but were both seriously BEHIND at school.
Their achievement was extremely POOR.
We have since moved our children to Ilam School (as we were not really keen to go the Private School Route)
I cannot say enough about how happy we have been with the move. The school has SO many extension programs in place for various areas of study.
Both of our children have begun to steam ahead, the entire culture in the school is wonderful and friendly.
There is also a great international mix at the school - with children from so many countries around the world.
It is a difficult thing to recommend a school - not knowing exactly what it is you are looking for, but if you have a child with areas of giftedness, I happily recommend that you have a look at Ilam school.
I have a daughter aged 11 and son aged 10 who both went to Avonhead School. While the school is quite good up to about year 4, years 5 and 6 leave a lot to be desired. My highly gifted daughter, while acknowledged as gifted was left to stagnate. Although she was placed in the top maths class (they interchange for maths and spelling according to their level), she was ahead of the teacher who, quite frankly, should never have been teaching maths. To be perfectly honest, I would say my daughter didn't learn a thing at school in Year 5 or 6 (One Day School helped her get through the week!). This year, she is at Cobham Intermediate, in an accelerated class and is feeling challenged and having fun. I would also add that despite having been an absolute star in maths at Avonhead (and having scored 9s in her maths PAT every year, as an more objective indicator) she has been having her ass kicked in maths by the kids who went to Ilam School. I'm not worried: She'll catch up but this is where you find out exactly where your primary school performed and where it didn't! My son, in Year 6, is twice exceptional and Avonhead has also not done much for him. The so-called Gifted and Talented programme at Avonhead is very intermittent and of questionable content. A waste of time by all accounts. Furthermore, as my son has been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder we approached the school about getting him an FM device to help him hear what's going on in the classroom and were pretty much told to lump it and pay for it ourselves. Very helpful. I have no idea what Years 7 and 8 are like at Avonhead but after Years 5 and 6, the risk of more of the same is not something I would want to contemplate.
I will give credit where credit is due, so... Apart from generally good teaching in years 1-4 which I have already mentioned, there is one very good point to be made about Avonhead. Bullying is very well dealt with. Very little bullying takes place, and small instances of bullying are taken very seriously and dealt with very well.
My highly gifted son went to Fendalton which was a COMPLETE disaster! Even with the report from the Ed Psyc showing that he was highly gifted they wouldn't include him in their GATES programme as he's also twice exceptional and has dyslexic and dysgraphic tendencies. He was so bored and so mis-understood. The Special Needs Co-ordinator was wonderful, and really supportive, but the Principal and Senior Management were horrendous!! We got him into Ilam on the ballot and it's much, much better. The teachers and management understand him and lots of parents have had similar experiences with other schools. He's not thriving yet, but it's definitely the very best place for him. Good luck with your decision - it's a big one, and hard to make!
Interesting to read the comments about Ilam, and also the comment about Cobham. My gifted kids went through Ilam, fairly recently. Complete disaster, whole family hated our time there, sure there are extension programs but they're not offered to all gifted kids. We know we're not the only ones who feel that Ilam is great - but - only for "some" gifted kids. Be very cautious. Nightmare years. (I did hear they have a new principal though?).
Cobham on the other hand - what a difference. Definitely recommend that school for Intermediate. How refreshing!!
I have just read through this thread and was also interested to hear anyones opinions on Clarkville School. We are in the residential red zone so have to shift and hubby is keen to head out that way if we can. Our son is 6 and been assessed as gifted. his current school is pretty good and dont want to shift him but will if we have to. Thanks
My son is 6, been assessed as "gifted" and at clarkville school. Pros and cons (as with all things) but the GATE coordinator is WONDERFUL (been the light at the end of the tunnel for us at the moment). If you are interested go and meet with the principal - they tend to be a forward thinking school (in my opinon) and therefore do some things a bit different from the normal (which I really like). Good luck :)
I must say my daughter is 5 and she started at windsor at the beginning of the year, She's a very layed back or not the brightest I should say but Windsor has completely changed her attitude, she's very keen and eger to know and learn more, she's constantly asking questions about how? why and whos. She's all of a sudden become a completly different child so hungry and desperate for more knowledge. Its just blown us away. I would highly recommend Windsor, But then it's not the school that influence a child its the teacher, and the parents working together with the teacher.
Hi, our 5 year old has been accessed as gifted and we looked around at at a lot of schools that would cater for her needs...we settled on Beckenham School. They have a fantastic music programme, an extended curricilium that caters for all her needs....not surprisingly, she is blossoming and definately heading in the right direction as to our educational choices. Our other two daughters also went thru the GaTe programme and needless to say are over achievers.
Hi , My son is only 2 and a half, we are currently in zone for Merrin Primary, I wondered if anyone had any experience there. I have head people say it is good but not from anyone with 1st hand experience.
Hi been reading through these replies. As with all schools be prepared for some great and some not so great things about whichever you choose. I looked at LOTS of schools when my first child started and chose Freeville. My first daughter is now at high school doing NCEA level 2 she is in the top class and doing very well. Freeville has a history of great principals, high caliber staff, inclusive modern teaching environments etc etc and our learning output is in the top 10 - 15% of all schools in NZ. Read our latest ERO report!!
However we do do things differently we lead in new educational practices. We've been doing for years what the ministry is now trying to move other schools towards. We team teach, our day is broken into learning blocks. We expect and support our children to set and achieve their own goals and own their own education. We want our children to become critical thinkers and to strive to be the best they can be. We have a close knit highly involved community where all parents are encouraged and welcome to be as involved as they like. But does this work for all. All children are different. Both my daughters esp the 1st was off the charts with reading however my son has had many learning difficulties and has had to have reading help. Freevilles reading recovery program is excellent and he jumped up 9 levels in 1 term. The 3 things I value most about Freeville or would look for in any school are
*Niceness are the children nice, do they ALL play well together.
*Parental inclusiveness and school / teacher feedback / knowledge
*X factor that hard to define quality the point of difference we all want which could include the words, Future thinking. Adaptability. Attitude.
In the end what sold Freeville to me was watching the children play in the playground over all the schools I'd looked at Freeville kids cared. they cared about each other I saw the big kids stop and help the little kids I saw the little kids run up and hug older kids and I noticed that they all seemed to know each others names.
The staff I talked to were interested and could and did offer intelligent suggestions to adapt things to suit my child/ren (my first daughter was very small with health issues an ex prem) I loved that parents, child and teacher are the unit that make learning happen. I loved how inclusive the community and school were. And yes Freeville has the X factor in spades. I like how my children seek out learning and think about the whys, who's and hows and how motivated they are to find the out of the box solutions to any issue.