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Duncombe Primary School reviews

Does anyone take their kids to Duncombe Primary School? Would be good to know what parents think of the school.


Showing 1 - 25 of 50
Pamela V
Took my 4 children to Duncombe have to say they all loved it. That was going back a few years though. I worked there for many years. I did love working there in the early days but at the end could not wait to leave. Headteacher and governors do not deal with issues property and fairly. Although in the early days there were two previous deputy heads that were really good - moved on to be headteachers and have done well. Just been told recently that there is a new deputy head, she was there just before I left, but strangely enough I did not know that she was the deputy head. The governors seem to sit on and off the panel and you never really know who is who. There is some good staff there, teaching assistants, libriarian and ( art teacher) Lorrraine does some fantastic artwork for plays and display areas. Lots of new teachers that I did not get to know. Headteacher gets lots of resources
(shame though as they are sometimes not used effectively as they could be). Duncombe has never really been high up on the best schools list but I am pretty sure it could be if the governors did their job properly.
Joan G
My two sons and my grand daughter all went to Duncombe school, and now another generation my 2 grandsons and great grandson  also attend.  I dont know about the internal workings of the school, but I can tell you that both of my sons did very well academically  there despite one being quite badly dyslexic. My grandson 6 and great grandson 5 are both happy there and are progressing well. The teachers are very pleasant and approachable  and so is the Headmaster Mr O'Shea
Thank you both! That's very helpful
Jenny L
I removed my daughter from the nursery last year as I did not agree with their policies and found the head teacher very full of himself and obnoxious. The teachers were ok but after I raised concerns about the way they did things I was given the cold shoulder and felt very unwelcome in the school. I chose to send my daughter is a different primary for reception and she has settled very well. She now refers to it as her smelly old school lol each to their own and all that but I have firmly been out off that school.
Thanks Jenny, sorry to hear about your experience - but well done for taking action and changing schools! I think many people would just complain to other parents rather than take action. So which primary school does your daughter go to now? I know there is a school that is moving to a new eco building up the road (can't remember the name).
Pamela V
Its not easy taking children out of school and putting them into another, there is a shortage of schools in the area and lots of people do not really have the choice that they
originally wanted. Even schools that are not so favourable are over subscribed. The
new school in the woodlands is called Ashmount and has always been a difficult school
to get into - always been popular. I agree with Jenny if you are not praising Duncombe
they do get on the defensive side, instead of using comments that are not so good and
working on them, they label you as a troublemaker or a mona. You definitely get the
cold shoulder - that does not only go for parents that goes for staff as well. I spoke
out about safety issues many times while working there and they just ignore you and brush it under the carpet. Try complaining to the governors ha ha that a complete
waste of time,
Pamela V
John this might help you decide on Duncombe on Wednesday afternoon about 20 mins
to 2 you can see them doing the swim run to the Archway swimming pool. I use to
do this run and I think its pretty dangerous trying to get those children across Junction
Road. They should really walk down to the lights further down Junction Road and up
Vorley Road for safety. Its a horrendous trip I refused to take a child once because he
needed a 1-1 and there was not enough staff doing this run. Alternatively, as a headteacher would you put safety first and sort out funding for a mini bus.
Pamela V
no reply from John - perhaps he is still thinking about it.
Dorothy B
Hmmm... Regular swimming lessons seems like a recommendation for a school to me. Not allowing children to walk to the local swimming pool because of the danger of traffic is the reason that we are facing an epidemic of obesity, heart disease and type 2 Diabetes. If Junction Road is too dangerous to cross then we adults should be protesting about it (and driving more carefully). Would we prefer a school where children stay in the classroom doing virtual swimming on screens rather than going out into the real world? 
Interesting that this comment comes at the same time that others are encouraging children in Tufnel Park to cycle to school.
Dorothy B
I've sent the link for this conversation to Duncombe School as I think they should be aware of what is being said about the school.
Pamela V
Thank-you very much Dorothy hopefully something will get done. I bet the TAs who
take them will be thanking me because they will now put on extra staff. I never objected
to the walking. in fact that part I looked forward to as I love walking and am a good walker.
Walked everywhere with my own children when they were small and with a double buggy.
Up and down hills as well. I am pretty sure parents must of complained but hey it sometimes work better when its an outsider.
Pamela V
Dorothy I think you may have misunderstood children did go swimming my point was
insufficient staff on this trip trying to get them across Junction Road was a nightmare.
Pamela V
Just read that I worked in the poorest school in the country. I think we are all pretty
much poor at the moment with no jobs about. Is Montem, St Marks and Pooles Park
poor or not they are in our surrounding area?
Hi Pamela, where did you read that Duncombe was the poorest school in the country?
Jenny L
Hi, with regards to Pamela's comment here is the link

Can't say I'm impressed with the unruly pupils teaching the children!

My daughter is now at Christ the king but only after lots of uncertainty after she was re-offered duncome for her reception place after I took her out.

Unfortunately most the 'good' schools ie coleridge, st aidens, grafton are so over subscribed and where I live is one of those black spots which means I fall within very few. Ashmount is the school moving to the top of crouch hill, I applied for there but they were still using their old catchment for this years intake rather then from the new premises which ment my daughter was 98th on the waiting list even tho I live very close to the new site :/

My daughter is settled now so don't see the point in perusing the waiting list for there when they move.

Assuming you are looking for a school for your child are there any other schools you are considering?
Pamela V
I read it in the Islington Gazette this week's edition,
Pamela V
Jenny glad to hear your daughter is settled - I have never heard bad things about
Christ the King. My old neighbours children went there and they were happy. I
went to Ashmount for a day - when Duncombe was being used for polling day we
all had a chance to go to different schools for the day. It was great fun seeing how
different schools work. I was impressed - I copied some pictures from a book, they
were blown-up (made bigger on photocopier) and the children painted them. I did
not get to see the end result of that display, but it was looking good at that point.
Lots of in-put from the children.
David B
The original story about Duncombe that led to the Islington gazette coverage was in the Times Educational Supplement, and printed in the edition of the 26 October 2012. Its quite a long and comprehensive article. The "poorest" tag relates to the proportion of the school population eligible for free school meals. The FSM percentage in a school is regarded as a rough and ready indicator of the level of financial deprivation experienced by families at a school.

Duncombe is described in the article as doing what would be a really good job by any school, but in Duncombe's case made much more impressive as a significant part of the intake, through no fault of their own, would tend to be challenging to teach. But Duncombe do this. 

here is a link to the article:
I'm with Crouch Hill Park
Thanks for the link David - very good article.

What I don't understand is that Islington provides free school meals to primary age children regardless of income if they complete a form:

So is the label poorest school incorrect? I know there are much poorer schools in Hackney.
It's been really good getting all these comments about Duncombe - thank you everyone.

Jenny L wrote "Assuming you are looking for a school for your child are there any other schools 
you are considering?"

Looking at ofsted our closest options are:
Duncombe Primary School (0.1 miles)
St Mark's CofE Primary School (0.3 miles)
Ashmount Primary School (0.4 miles)
Christ The King RC Primary School (0.5 miles)
St Gildas' RC Junior School (0.5 miles)

Their Ofsted reports give them the same rating of 2 Good, excepet St Gildas' which is 1 outstanding. 

Oldest daughter is 4, so we'll be an in-year admission and we'll be on a waiting list no doubt. As she's under 5, the Government doesn't have to provide a school place - so she might be at home until the next academic year (September 2013).

Any feedback on the other four schools (St Mark's, Ashmount, Christ the King and St Gildas) would be appreciated!
Pamela V
I thought Councillor West fought for free school meals did she only fight for Duncombe?
Jenny L
As far as I'm aware you still have to fill out the form regarding your circumstances for them to evaluate your means regardless of the fact they provide free meals to everyone that's how they come up with that statistic?!

Jon I almost had to wait for a in-year admission as I declined duncombe(I'd removed her from there already) and was offered Copenhagen! Luckly a place at Christ the king came up end of June so and thankful for that.

With regards to Christ the king, it seems like a good school- we are only 7 weeks in so still fairly new to it but my daughter is coming on nicely and has learned a few things :) they are not very strict for a catholic school which I was very shocked at but the reception teachers a lovely! My only gripe is that it's abit like a cattle farm trying to get the kids into class but apart from all is good at the moment.

Is you distance to ashmount calculated on the new or old school for ashmount? If I had to prioritise your school choice then I would say ashmount, CTK, st gildas, st marks then duncombe but that's just my opinion others may disagree. Although duncombe is my least fav it is still over subscribed as another's little girls whose mum I still talk to listed it as first choice, attended the nursery full time still did not get in and that was with appeal. She ended up in Stroud green.

It's a crying shame that all schools aren't at the same levels so we did not have to worry about our childrens education.
David B
With regard to free school meals -and free school meals in Islington.
 They are actually two different things. Forget about Islington for a moment; The Government requires all state schools to provide a meal at lunch time. This has been so for a long time, certainly since 1949, possibly longer. (The Government can also set minimal nutritional standards but whether it does so has varied, as have the standards. You may recall a campaign by Jamie Oliver?) The government pays for school meals for some children. These are the "Free School Meals" generally talked about. Eligibility for Free School Meals is based on a means test, you get them if your income is below a certain level or if you are claiming certain benefits, which basically amounts to the same thing. nationally about 18 percent of primary school pupils are eligible for FSM at present. Its going up...

This means that if you are eligible for FSM you are either in work on a low income, or on benefit. This makes you much more likely to be a household under strain due to lack of money, you are also more likely to have other issues (poor parental health for example) which can affect the children and mean that they require more effort to teach.

Wikipedia put it very well:-

"The percentage of children eligible for free school meals in an area is thought to be a fair measure of deprivation. This figure is therefore used in conjunction with the scores children achieve in SATsGCSEs and A-levels to determine a school's position in the local and national league tables. If two schools get their children to the same scores, the school with the most children eligible for free school meals is judged to have done a better job, as it has been likely to be teaching children with access to fewer resources and less home encouragement"

At the last election in Islington Borough the Labour Party, under the leadership of Catherine West, defeated the Liberal Democrat administration and took over the running of the Borough. One of things they had promised to do was to provide "universal  free school meals." So now everyone gets free school meals in Islington, with the council providing the schools with the extra money to pay for the parents who would previously have had to pay. So while it is true that everyone in Islington gets free school meals, some are paid for by the council, so it is an Islington FSM. Others are paid for by the Government. Its the proportion of children on Government FSM that is quoted in the article on Duncombe.
I'm with Crouch Hill Park
Pamela V
Thanks for that information - is she a govenror for Duncombe?
David B
I believe that Catherine West is a governor at Duncombe, and she is a parent at Ashmount, which is the school closest to where she lives.
I'm with Crouch Hill Park

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