If you are in a hurry, why not just read this summary, including the FAQs.
It didn't take much research for us to identify that academically able children at Rowdown Primary School, and New Addington primaries generally, had a poor choice of secondary schools available to them. In fact, there is no Outstanding (in Ofsted terms) secondary school which a child from New Addington has comprehensive access to. And all those available to children from New Addington have a poor - or at best inconsistent - record of achieving progress for high attaining pupils at Key Stage 2. So we felt that New Addington children were not only often economically disadvantaged but were being educationally disadvantaged as well. We could get into a debate on the cause and effect of this, but rather than talking, it was the Foundation's ambition to do something about it. Read our review here. Education in the New Addington Area Update
There are some excellent schools around Croydon, Sutton and Bromley, but the comprehensives all have very narrow catchment areas not including New Addington and the rest are selective or, for a few of the comprehensives, semi-selective. A lot of the better state schools are also faith schools which some parents feel uncomfortable for their children attending, especially if they are not of that faith or of no faith. Most parents are not aware that there are options for high attaining children outside comprehensives and even if they did know of and aspire to these grammar and independent schools, they either assume they are out of reach financially, competitively or socially. We believe the choice of secondary school is key to a child's future progress at school and by widening the choice of schools available, it will eventually lead to better qualifications and greater career choices and prospects. So we set out to inform parents and help pupils to aspire to a top quality secondary education.
We all know that many children from more affluent backgrounds get support to pass 11+ entrance exams whether through having a privileged prep school primary education, being privately tutored at home or just getting support from well educated parents. Parents living in New Addington are much less likely to be able to provide this sort of support.
So, the Foundation has tried to level the playing field for academically able kids from New Addington by setting up a Tuition Programme.
Initially the Tuition Programme saw four or five pupils at Rowdown identified by the school as being the most able in their year group, or showing the most potential academically, being provided with extra tuition one evening after school. Groups were established for Years 3, 4 and 5 with a tutor provided through the very professional and friendly Fleet Tutors. The lessons supplemented each child's learning in English and Maths and introduced them to verbal and non-verbal reasoning with a view that their parents may choose to enter their child into 11+ entrance exams for the better selective schools in the area thereby widening their choice of secondary schools available to their son or daughter.
We put together information on the benefits of a selective secondary education and the local schools offering this. We also arranged group visits to the best grammar and independent schools in the area to break down any pre-conceived ideas of parents that these type of schools were not for their children. We sat down with these schools and explained to them the aim of the Tuition Programme and we have been impressed and pleased with the level of support they have offered .
It must be remembered that being offered places at both grammar and local private schools is extremely competitive. The five Sutton-based grammar schools have around 4-5,000 entrants to their initial selection exam for a total of c.600 places. The private schools may have lower entrant numbers, but the standard required to win scholarships and be awarded bursaries - a necessity if parents from New Addington are going to be able to afford to send their children to these £16,000+ per annum schools - makes the pupil's performance requirement as tough as the grammar schools.
In April 2017, Trinity School offered to take over the tuition of Year 5 pupils from the Foundation and expand the scheme to 15-20 pupils which meant we could approach other primary schools in New Addington to nominate their academically able pupils. In 2018 they did the same and were joined by Royal Russell School, offering tuition to up to 20 Year 4 pupils. Trinity then further expanded their tuition to 3 classes of c.20 pupils meaning we could look beyond New Addington for suitable candidates and are now bringing children from 12 Croydon schools into Trinity on a Saturday morning for two hours of Maths, English and Reasoning tuition. More on these later.
Achievements So Far
We have now had seven years of the Tuition Programme and will have a total of 58 successful graduates at grammar or independent schools in September 2022, together with six additional children having gained entry to local semi-selective state schools.
Perhaps inevitably, the success rate has dropped as the Programme has expanded as there are only so many bursary and scholarship funds available. However, we do also consider that it might be partly due to the Covid-19 lockdown having had a greater adverse effect on the education of children from lower-income families compared to their more affluent peers, meaning they lost competitiveness. Having said this, we are still extremely proud of our role in giving 58 children a live-changing opportunity at some of the top secondary schools in the country:
It's not been an easy ride for many of these children, their parents, the tutors or the Foundation. A lot of effort has been put in on the front line and behind the scenes to give these children the chance that they are their parents deserve for the best possible secondary education. Here's a few of the successes in a "rogues' gallery"!!
With 23 children at grammar schools and 35 at fee-paying independent schools, we truly believe we have had a huge impact on these young people's lives. Not only will they benefit from the top class academic offering of these schools being amongst the best in the country, they will also have access to excellent extra-curricular opportunities as well as the alumni contacts that such schools bring with them.
We have worked closely with the independent schools, especially, to maximise both the number of children receiving offers and the levels of financial support available to them. We are so grateful to all the main local private schools for their support detailed below. We can truly say that all of them are committed to social mobility for Croydon children.
Where Are We At Now
We now have a total of 68 children receiving tuition; 48 in Year 5 from 12 Croydon-wide schools and 20 in Year 4 from the six New Addington primaries.. This could not have happened without the kind co-operation of Royal Russell and Trinity Schools.
We were so grateful when Trinity School first offered to host a group of up to 20 Year 5 pupils in 2017, enabling us to bring in three other New Addington primary schools and this increased to 24 children in 2018 meaning all six New Addington primary schools could nominate four of their brightest Year 5 pupils to attend Extension Lessons in Maths, English and Verbal Reasoning for two hours on a Saturday morning at Trinity, free of charge to parents, primary schools and to us. They were then so impressed with the way the children learnt, in 2019 they offered to expand the Saturday morning tuition to three classes of around 20 per class. This means we now have 13 primary schools Croydon-wide recommending a handful of their most academic children. The schools now involved are: Applegarth, Castle Hill, Fairchildes, Good Shepherd, Rowdown, Tudor (all New Addington) and Downsview, Gonville, Heavers Farm, Monks Orchard, Selsdon, West Thornton and Whitehorse Manor from the wider Croydon community. Trinity cover the cost of the tutors, provide equipment, the rooms and refreshments as well. Hence this is a very generous offer from Trinity and one we are honoured to have received. The lessons are challenging - as is the homework set - and focused on stretching the pupils' understanding of the subjects. But Trinity have also designed the lessons to be fun and entertaining: it is a Saturday morning after all! The lessons run for the whole calendar year (therefore into the pupils' Year 6) during Trinity's term time, with the key dates being the September grammar school entrance exams and then those for the independent schools just before and after the turn of the year.
Using Trinity as an example, we persuaded Royal Russell School to offer lessons to a Year 4 group of pupils, also up to 20, from the New Addington schools. To be honest, it didn't take much persuading as Royal Russell management were keen to offer these Maths and English Masterclasses together with an introduction to Verbal Reasoning, recognising that they can contribute greatly towards our aims of social mobility over the long term. These Masterclasses take place for an hour after school on a Monday at Royal Russell. RR are a perfect partner for this younger group given they have the Junior School there and are therefore very used to teaching able 9-10 year olds. Again, there is no cost to parents, primary schools or the Foundation so we are indebted to Royal Russell for their generosity. The majority of these children go onto attending the Saturday morning tuition are Trinity giving them two years of being challenged. We hope that this will improve the number of children gaining passes and offers at the entrance exams at the end of 2019 and start of 2020 with the necessary scholarships or bursaries.
All the pupils are keen to learn and the parents are enthusiastic as well: this is a vital part of a child's nomination for the Programme.
The Rowdown Foundation is lucky enough to be finding lots of able and willing supporters for our Tuition Programme. We would like to say thank you to all individuals and organisations working with us to help change some young people's lives forever by giving them the opportunity of attending some of the best secondary schools in the country. Most of the independents have helped by waiving or reducing registration fees (often £100+ and quite prohibitive to low-income families), have welcomed visits from the boys and girls on the Programme with their parents, some have moved goalposts to offer financial support along with their offer of places and all are enthusiastic about working with the Foundation to promote social mobility in Croydon.
Trinity School were the first of the selective schools to go out of their way to help the Foundation firstly by a group tour, then by helping Christopher to win his bursary place at the school and then by joining the Tuition Programme offering Saturday morning tuition to 20+ pupils. We would like to thank Mr Kennedy, Headmaster and and Mr Price, Director of Admissions, Mrs Meyer (Admissions Registrar) and the tutors they have engaged specifically for the Programme: Miss Earl, Mrs Hayward-White and Mr Beesley. “At Trinity, we want to partner with local schools and other organisations to support education across our area. We are delighted therefore to be working with Gary Coy and the Rowdown Foundation, as they are connecting us to children whose potential we can help realise. There are many able boys and girls in our area who will thrive at an academically selective school, and we want to engender the belief in parents of any means that a place at Trinity can be for them”. Trinity have used the connections made with the primary schools to offer some additional sports coaching. In addition, we have a growing relationship with their Alumni and Bursary Fund team to work on raising more funds to support children on the Programme. As of September 2022, there will be eight of "our boys" studying and enjoying their lives at Trinity School.
As noted above, Royal Russell School has joined the Tuition Programme by providing Masterclasses to a group of 20 Year 4 pupils from New Addington schools. Their Headmaster, Chris Hutchinson, has always been an enthusiastic supporter of our aims and genuinely believes in social mobility. He says "“Royal Russell believes in giving the opportunity of success to all of its pupils and is delighted to be supporting local children and the Rowdown Foundation in this inspired initiative.” He is enthusiastically joined by Mrs Bannon, Deputy Head of the Junior School, and her team who have put together an exciting schedule of Masterclasses for the group. Their commitment to the Programme is also shown by the large bursaries and scholarships offered to five graduates of our tuition. As Royal Russell is the closest independent school to New Addington, they are keen to expand the relationship with the primary schools there. They have sent a language teacher to Rowdown Primary School to provide an extra learning opportunity for the children and, in return, Rowdown have given one of RR's trainee teachers a placement to increase their experience of the local community. They have also recently offered a Sports Taster Day, giving 60 New Addington children an opportunity to experience sports they might otherwise not have played.
Croydon High School for Girls, a member of the Girls' Day Schools Trust, have also joined the list of schools helping the Foundation. In 2018 they provided the girls with extra lessons in the Autumn term to help boost their studies ahead of entrance exams. They also offered the girls an 8-week "Confidence Club" whereby the girls were able to gain confidence by various activities including performance poetry, debating and writing. These things have continued (with a hiatus for lockdown) on an annual basis. The Headmistress, Mrs Pattinson, is a keen supporter of the Foundation's aims: “We are extremely proud to be supporting the Rowdown Foundation in their efforts to widen educational opportunity in Croydon. I lead a dedicated teaching staff who are able and willing to offer their time and expertise and to work with the Rowdown Foundation to achieve their goals.” We will have six girls at Croydon High from September 2022, all with substantial bursaries and scholarships as well as extra help towards uniform. In addition, we have partnered with them on workshops in Art, Science and Drama where we organise New Addington based children (in Years 4-6) to participate in a number of after school lessons making use of Croydon High's fine facilities.
We also thank Jonathan Wilden, Executive Headteacher of the Folio Education Trust and Jamie Bean, Headmaster of Wallington County Grammar School. They have provided revision lessons, welcomed visits from the boys and parents and kept us all updated on their admissions processes. Mr Wilden put their commitment as follows: “We are delighted to work with the Rowdown Foundation to ensure that children from disadvantaged backgrounds have the life changing opportunity of attending their local Grammar School. We will do as much as possible to support [the Foundation] to ensure young people and local families have the choice of selective education.”
Old Palace of John Whitgift School have also been positive about the Foundation, especially since one of our young stars joined their ranks in September 2017. By September 2022 there will be 12 of "our girls" at Old Palace showing their commitment to social mobility in Croydon. Historically, they provided places on their October half-term revision course free of charge to Year 6 girls participating in the Tuition Programme as well as offering the primary schools at New Addington to opportunity to join a dance workshop at the school. Mrs Burton, Headmistress, is extremely keen to build on the relationship with the Rowdown Foundation and is the first to organise a dedicated tour of her school for those on the Programme. She keeps a close eye on each Rowdown girl at the school to make sure they are making the most of their wonderful opportunity.
Whitgift School is also keen to support the Foundation. The number of boys offered places at Whitgift has increased over the last few years and in September 2022, this will total seven. They have supported us by guaranteeing free places for our children on their excellent week-long Summer School, which is always very popular and over-subscribed. They always host a fascinating tour of the school before their entrance exams and many of the boys participating fall in love with their excellent facilities and the wonderful tea and cakes provided for the Q&A session afterwards.
Woldingham School is not in Croydon (just across the border in Surrey) but it is situated not very far at all from New Addington. Over the years they have taken five of our graduates, many of which are on full scholarship/bursary support. During the pandemic lockdown, they were kind enough to donate around 20 of their laptops for us to distribute to children around Croydon to help with the switch to online learning.
When online learning became so vital during lockdown, we were lucky enough to partner with the excellent Atom Learning to get access to their online 11+ learning platform for all our boys and girls. Both Trinity and Royal Russell Schools were able to use this to set work remotely for the children on the Programme. Even now the children are back on site, access to Atom Learning has continued and we now have 400+ Rowdown Foundation children that have or did have access to it. Thanks to our agreement with Atom, we are able to offer this without charge to the families, something that would normally cost up to £50 per month per child. We are so very grateful to Eliana Shahabrany and Atom Learning.
We would also like to thank the primary schools for their co-operation: at times we have to ask them for information that we are sure they would rather have the time for other duties. Their enthusiasm for the Programme helps to keep us motivated.
We try to be apolitical, but would like to thank local MP, Sarah Jones, for her support for the Foundation. Sarah came along to the Rowdown School Awards Day in 2018 to present the awards and give a little speech about inspiration and aspiration. She has told us that she loves the idea of the Tuition Programme and will support us in any way she can.
And finally, we should thank Chris Philp, MP for Croydon South, who has added his support to the Foundation's aims of social mobility. If we can win cross-party support for helping the disadvantaged but academically able children of Croydon, who knows what the future might bring!
Applications to join the Tuition Programme can only be made through the primary schools that have joined the Programme. We usually ask for the schools' recommendations in November or early December in their Year 4 (for Royal Russell) or Year 5 (for Trinity). If you believe your child would benefit from our tuition, please contact the Head Teacher at your child's current primary school and ask for them to be considered at the appropriate time. Whilst occasionally we do have a child drop out of these extra lessons, we do not maintain a waiting list.
If you have any questions on the Tuition Programme please do use our contact form to ask us.
Unfortunately, the Foundation does not have enough funding to cover the fees of private schools if a pupil successfully passes the entrance exam. However, we hope to be able to provide tuition that is good enough for the candidate to pass the entrance exams and win bursaries or scholarships to the school and that has proved to be the case so far.
The Trustees have agreed to set up a fund to help towards the costs of registration, application or joining the admission selection process. With many of the selective schools reducing their registration fees for the 2019/20 exams, it means we have been able to cover all of the remaining exam fees for any parent that has applied. We cannot promise that we will be able to do this every year, but we will continue to ask the independent schools to support these families by reducing their entrance registration fees and we would hope to be able to cover the majority of the remaining amount subject, of course, to certain criteria centring around a reasonable prospect of success and fulfilling their part of the bargain: regular attendance and completion of homework etc.
In addition, the Trustees have agreed to have a fund available for the parents of Rowdown children successfully gaining a place at a fully selective school (grammar or independent) to ease the financial pressures of life at such a school. These schools often have more particular - and therefore more expensive - uniform and equipment requirements and, given the often more affluent nature of many parents of children at grammar and independent schools, more costly school trips. In the case of fee-paying schools, there is often some residual fees left to pay after scholarships and bursaries have been applied. Where a family can show that their child might miss out on a school trip or might even miss out on attending the selective school, then they can apply for a grant from the fund. Payments will cover up to 50% of the cost incurred by the parent. Maximum grants per family apply and the fund is first-come, first served although the Trustees believe they have allocated enough to cover what might be required over the academic year.
Any parent requiring some financial assistance should contact the Foundation through their normal communication route. We will only accept applications for financial assistance from parents of children that have been on the Foundation's Tuition Programme.