Charlton’s local schools – are they good enough for your kids?

There aren’t any secondary schools in Charlton – but there are plenty nearby. Are they worth sending your kids to, though? I went to one and came out alright, but that what’s it like now? With plenty of friends upping sticks and leaving town, Charlton Champion reader Paul Chapman and his wife recently thought through the dilemma, and came to a surprising conclusion.

As the Dad of two small children (Mabel, three, and Max, nearly one) I have spent a lot of time in the last year or so having a conversation with my wife about schools in and around Charlton.

The feedback we’ve had from other local parents is – rightly or wrongly – that secondary schools in the borough are poor. In fact, of the five parents of young children we have met since we’ve lived in Charlton, three have since moved out of the borough (and London) altogether and in each case I can safely say that the unwillingness to have their children educated locally was the prime motivation. Of the remaining two couples, one send their children to a local private school (which is not something my wife and I could afford to do even if we wanted to, which we wouldn’t).

Recently we were forced to make a decision. For various reasons we decided that we needed an extra room and so, in considering whether to move home, we had to decide whether to move locally (which realistically meant sending our eldest to a local secondary school) or follow a number of our friends to the ends of the earth (in most cases Kent) in search of better schools.

We decided we needed some more information so I went online. This table of 150 local authorities ranked on GCSE achievements was not promising (if you don’t have time to look for yourself, Greenwich is 18th from bottom).

But we looked around a bit more and took heart from this Department for Education site showing that from a very low standard in 2005 the borough is actually making impressive strides in improving local educational achievements.

The percentage of students gaining 5+ GCSEs including English and Maths in 2009, that made it rank 132th out of 150 in the first link was 43.4%. However, considering that in 2005 this was a dismal 34.3%, and by 2010 it had reached 50.1%, this looked to us like an impressive improvement.

Finally, we looked at a local school we had heard was quite good – John Roan – while there are no guarantees as to which school our children will get into – the fact that it looked good and would mean that our kids had the chance of a decent local education with other children they actually lived near to made us resolve to stay in Charlton, where we are all very happy, and throw in our lot with the Greenwich education system.

Of course we know it is not just the school that determines a child’s education achievements and the work we put in as parents as well as a host of other factors will ultimately decide whether Mabel and Max end up in university or borstal.

But the schools in the area will have a significant impact on the education of our two kids, time and exam results will determine whether we made the right choice.

16 thoughts on “Charlton’s local schools – are they good enough for your kids?

  1. ThePirateKing June 22, 2011 / 16:02

    Good post. I think when looking at the quality of London schools vs those elsewhere, you also have to take into account the value in a child growing up having access to all the good bits of life and culture that London offers. I remember half term trips with my mum to the Natural History Museum etc etc all of which made it seem like the whole world was on my doorstep. You won’t get that in Ashford.

  2. SCC June 27, 2011 / 12:36

    We are also a family with our child entering the school system in Charlton, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of primary schools in our area. I also think that the sense of community in Charlton is something that we want our child to be a part of – that alone is worth staying here for. Having talked to people whose children have been through secondary schools here, they were fairly positive about the John Roan school. I think schools can be what the local community makes of them.

  3. pam June 28, 2011 / 23:20

    How great to hear some positives about our local schools. I think you were so right not to be put off before you checked for yourselves. Our middle child is just about to leave year 6 and enter the world of secondary ed, so in the spirit of open mindedness and also relentless nosiness, in the autumn we dragged her to pretty much every state school in the area (“Mummy I dont want to go on another visit, Im missing literacy!”). We were really really impressed by what we saw, by the range of schools in the area and by the changes that have been going on. I am just as prone to getting-it-wrong-and-ending-up-at-borstal paranoia as the next parent but I can honestly say to all you parents of year 5 children, relax, take a deep breath, go and look, and try not to listen to rumours before you have seen for yourself – things are changing very fast in greenwich and schools’ reputations are quickly out of date. And remember, a bus ride that looks impossible at 10 is a doddle at 13.

  4. Charlton Lane Dave July 6, 2011 / 07:28

    Paul – for what it’s worth, I think you made a good decision. Like the other comments on here, school is only part of a child’s upbringing and education. The differences in schools are exaggerated and as concerned parents, you will make as much difference. People who move away for schools are invariably disappointed, in my experience, and if they “move out” they rarely realise what they miss from their children growing up in London and benefiting from a broader life experience as they grow and learn (private schools suffer from this to a similar extent even if the teaching is better). I have four years to go before my eldest goes to secondary school and I am sure I will have a similar dilemma but I will make the best choice and she will be fine.

  5. JJ77 July 6, 2011 / 13:06

    A very interesting post. We moved to Charlton for its houses with gardens and green spaces thinking it would be a goo place to start a family but didn’t really think to much about schools. Therefore when I read about the father of a 3 year old thinking about secondary schools it made me wonder if i had been a little negligent not really even thinking as far as primary schools. Most of the parents of primary aged childersn in the bit of Charlton where I live seem to send their kids to either the Milennium school on the peninsular or Pointers in Blackheath Standard. I was therefore interested in any views on the quality of the primary schools actually in Charlton?

  6. John M-E July 7, 2011 / 10:59

    My son is just finishing his first year in Woolwich Polytechnic for Boys. It was the school he wanted to get into and we were lucky as Charlton is just out of the catchment area (although four other boys from his year at Thorntree got in as well). We are very pleased with the school. The ethics and discipline seem very good for an inner city school. Academically he has come on leaps and bounds. Maths is no longer a problem subject and he came near the top of his year in Science and English. The school has exceptional sports faciities and regularly wins the London Year 7 football competition as well as producing potential Olympics athletes. I would recommend this school to all parents of boys.

  7. John M-E July 7, 2011 / 11:03

    To answer the question above about primaries in Charlton, our boy went to Thorntree, which we found to be a lovely, caring community school led by an excellent head teacher.

  8. Chris July 7, 2011 / 14:01

    The headmaster of Woolwich Poly has just joined Thomas Tallis in Kidbrooke on a permanent basis it seems.

    Tallis’ incumbent has left in mysterious circumstances and parents (I’m one of them) have been left totally in the dark as to what is going on.

    We are promised a meeting next week, but Tallis seems an absolute shambles at the moment.

  9. John M-E July 8, 2011 / 09:49

    WP has two co-headteachers, Chris Plumb and Byron Parker, but it’s not clear on the web if either of them has moved to Thomas Tallis. It still says on the council website that R Thomas is the head at Thomas Thalis but I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the WP heads was moved over, as WP was the most improved boys school in the country in the last Ofsted report. Thomas Tallis was one of the schools on our list (but only third choice). When we visited we thought it was very untidy and the teachers didn’t seem very interested in talking to the parents or knowledgeable. I asked the arts teacher how many of her people went on to study architecture at University and she didn’t know. In contrast to the well-organised daytime open days at Kidbrooke and WP, Tallis was chaotic.

  10. Chris July 11, 2011 / 11:05

    Rob Thomas has gone. Byron Parker is becoming Executive Head until a permanent replacement is hired. He will spend most of his time at Tallis.

    There is a meeting tonight (Monday) about what they call ‘extraordinary’ events.

  11. SCC July 11, 2011 / 11:35

    JJ77, my child is heading to Fossdene, and I know of other children in the neighborhood who are going to Charlton Manor and Pointer. We went around to the six nearest schools to our house, and discovered that all of them seemed perfectly pleasant. Cherry Orchard seemed lovely in particular but we are slightly out of the cachement area and it’s a very small school. That being said, we quite like the head at Fossdene and the overall ethos. Another local parent told me her daughter went to Fossdene and is now at Cambridge, so they must be doing something right.
    I suspect like a lot of things, your local school is what you make it. If parents are interested and involved, then the school can only benefit. Charlton seems to have a collection of interested people, particularly in the last few years. A rising tide and all that…

  12. Rob July 17, 2011 / 15:09

    we are quite new to the area and starting to get to grips with the quality of local primary schools here. Anyone know of any open days or Summer fetes coming up? cant seem to find much on the web…

  13. sw July 17, 2011 / 19:15

    My 18-year old daughter went to local schools from age three up: Sherington Primary, then onto Kidbrooke secondary (soon to be the Corelli Academy). for 6th Form she took up the option of studying at both Kidbrooke – (soon to be the Corelli Academy) and Tallis as Kidbrooke doesn’t do Philosophy while its Drama department is superlative. Of course there have been rocky moments – which child doesn’t have them – but I have nothing but praise for her schools. It is really important to engage with your child’s school – state, independent, whatever. As others have said, it is the parental input as much as the schools’. My stints as governor at both my daughter’s schools were real eye openers and I feel lucky that I had that opportunity. Governorship is not possible for everyone but do get involved even if only to attend parent’s meetings. I was surprised at how few do. All our local secondary schools have got kids into Oxbridge, if not every year then pretty regularly. I don’t have a full list, but one of my daughter’s friends from Kidbrooke got into Oxford last year, another from Tallis will go next year. My own daughter has an offer to study philosophy at Edinburgh – highly competitive – , and will join other Kidbrooke students who went up in recent years. Other friends from Kidbrooke in recent years have got into Imperial, LSE,Bristol, Sussex and on. I do feel frustrated at times by the bashing our local state secondaries get. No, none of them is perfect, but all do a great job, and I agree with a previous comment that you could well move out of the area to be disappointed elsewhere.

  14. Louisa October 21, 2011 / 00:06

    Excellent post – I went to John Roan from years 7-11, then to sixth form college in Lewisham and am now at Oxford University. No school is perfect, but John Roan has a really good community spirit and amazing teachers who are really passionate about their subject and teaching it in an involving and imaginative way.

  15. Victoria November 20, 2011 / 21:36

    I just wanted to give a big up for Sherington School. My daughter is in yr 5 & the school has just had an Outstanding Ofsted report. When she started the school had had a change of Head & had made huge progress from a failing, to progressing school. Under the care & direction of Diane Atkinson & her team of committed teachers, the school is doing brilliantly.

    My former business partner sent her children to Pointers. The family then relocated to South Shields & where they joined the local state primary & were shocked to be a year behind in their learning & had to have extra tutoring to catch up.

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