Diocesan School for Girls v St Cuthbert's College - which school is better for me?


#1

Does anyone have personal experience as a student or a parent at Dio or St Cuths? I would also like to know how competitive these all girls schools are.

Can anyone give me a perspective on:

  1. Which school has the strongest academics?
  2. What values define each school?
  3. Which school is stronger for athletes?
  4. Which school has a better leadership culture and prefect selection process?
  5. What school performs better in overseas education?
  6. What is the student culture like at each school?

Any other thoughts are also most appreciated?


#2

As a former Proxime Accessit of Diocesan, I can’t offer insights into St Cuthberts as I didn’t go there but here is my perspective on my time at Dio:

Dio greatly values leadership and service. The school places a large emphasis on giving back to the community and the school through giving up your time whether that be through volunteering or by representing the school in clubs.

Strong relationships are encouraged between teachers and students and there are a lot of support networks outside of classes for additional learning. It is expected that if you are having trouble with a class, you will take the initiative to seek out one of these networks.

In terms of the student culture, Dio is a competitive school. Everyone there is vying for good if not top grades and this environment can be beneficial or decremental depending on the person.

If you are someone who is driven by seeing those around you working hard then this environment will likely push you further. However, if you are someone who can be intimidated by a competitive environment, this can be challenging. It is also generally expected that you are involved in extracurriculars while at school.

Overall, Dio sets you up brilliantly for both applying for universities and jobs. I personally believe students from Dio emerge well prepared for the professional world with strong networks and skills to succeed. The strong emphasis on service, extracurricular activities and grades means that you are set up well to be a strong candidate for university scholarships and places in overseas universities.


#3

As parent of two girls, one at each of St Cuths & Dio we feel pretty lucky to experience both Schools and all that they have to offer. We are early in their journey to graduation.

Both Schools excel in academic achievements with our perception (reality maybe different) that St Cuths has historically had higher results. This maybe because St Cuths seems to have a very strong focus on individual performance, excellence and winning - individual performance appears paramount to St Cuths.

We have loved the slightly softer side that is Dio - culturally it is a very interesting comparison but for us too early to say how that plays out over 5+ years in terms of impact on the girls.

The winning focus culture of Cuths has a risk if individual and team performance is left unbridled and not aligned to the Schools values which are strong.

For those interested - both girls started at reception at St Cuths and after 7 years we moved our eldest to Dio to make a change and push her a bit. The youngest has stayed and loves it.

It seems both Schools are struggling to defend against the term issue or distraction that comes from Kings and St Kents and in time all Private Schools face with non-linear education offerings. Short of mergers to make co-ed offerings or blended learning experiences their franchises will get eroded over time.

With offerings like Crimson families might save their bucks for programmes like theirs that are non linear.

Disclosure - I am on the Advisory Board of Crimson.


#4

Hi Anonymous11,

I went to Dio from 2001-2013 - which makes me a “Dio Survivor” and I personally had a fantastic educational experience there although I can’t comment on the relative strength to St Cuths.

However, I would definitely agree with what anonymous3 commented about the abundance of extracurricular activities available as well as the focus on leadership. The culture at Dio isn’t as international or globally focused as some other schools, so people generally do these activities for their own interest rather than in order to build a university application (since New Zealand schools generally only look at academics). In my cohort I’d say 90% of people who went to university stayed in New Zealand. So while people were academically focused and competitive, there wasn’t the intensity that you get at some schools - AIC for example (where the majority of the student body usually pursues an overseas education and extracurricular activities are often taken to build candidacy).

In terms of resources at Dio, I found that they were fantastic so if the student is innately driven then they can leverage this and really excel. The teachers are generally great with only a few exceptions and Dio is also pretty tech focused in both classroom setup and curriculum. For example, since around 2008, most classrooms in both the junior and senior school have had smart boards and projectors (I graduated in 2013 as well as state of the art building and sporting facilities (I’ll include some images of this and some other newer facilities to give you a clear idea of the standard here). I’m sure there’s been even more tech additions since I left and I believe they’re also planning to open a new science block in the new couple of years. Furthermore, all senior students must also work from laptops and learn computing skills as well as how to use a number of online programs/platforms.

Overall the quality of education and resources at Dio is very high. So if you’re choosing schools and want to go overseas, then the fantastic resources and quality of education at Dio will be a strong platform to get you there. However, in my cohort at least - this wasn’t mainstream culture so be prepared to motivate yourself and be proactive in jumping into leadership positions, extracurricular activities and getting extra help from the teachers.

Hope this helped!


#5

Hi anonymous11!

I’m an old girl of St Cuthbert’s College, so perhaps I can give you a bit of insight into the culture at this private school over Diocesan.

In terms of academics, St Cuths has been very focused on striving for excellence and personalised learning. Historically, St Cuths has done better than Dio in both NCEA and IB, and we have generally had at least 1 student receive a 45 (full marks) in IB every year - recently this has not been the case but I don’t believe it was the lack of calibre in the teaching and more rather the motivations of the students. The teachers care a lot about achievement and making sure you’re working to your full potential, and while this is very good for those that are academically driven and strong, it may cause those that struggle to feel like they are being neglected or left behind. However, if you do find academics relatively easy, the school is pretty good at making sure you’re challenged in terms of skipping year levels in subjects and starting NCEA early etc. Currently, St Cuths girls receive more scholarships than any other school - they’re currently at 69 scholarships from the 2016 leavers.

Value wise, apart from striving for excellence, the school motto is “by love serve” and community service is an integral part of the school. There are term food banks and mufti days, as well as an abundant amount of opportunities to participate in tree-planting, street appeals, the local elderly rest home and more. Also in the school, there is a culture for senior students to assist with younger year levels in peer support programmes, tutoring programmes and in a “big sister/little sister” programme. The school really cares about how you help your local community.

I believe that St Cuths and Dio are pretty on par athletic wise. While I was never really involved in athletics, I did notice a prevalent rivalry between Cuths and Dio, especially in hockey (which Cuths has beat Dio in lately). There is now an ETP programme that is designed for emerging talented athletic students, where they work with a trainer, nutritionist etc. at school and take time at lunchtime and during classes (often the already mandatory PE classes) to train.

St Cuths really values leadership, especially in the final year of school, and pretty much every girls gets an opportunity to be a leader to some extent. At the top are the head girls and prefects, and this is chosen through a democratic vote. It’s a bit complicated, but essentially the year 11s going to year 12s, the year 12s going to year 13s, the year 13 prefects and the staff all get to vote, but their votes are all worth different weightings. The top 8 girls voted for prefect then go through an interview and speech process, where they perform a speech to the entire school, and they are then voted on for the role of head girl and deputy head girl. From my experiences, this voting system has allowed for wonderful prefect teams and head girls every year, and the girls chosen are always very suited for their roles. Apart from prefects, people have the chance to be house captains for whatever house they’re a part of (there are 8 houses in total), a committee leader of the committee they’re a part of, or tutor group leader. There are also opportunities to be music group leaders, cultural group leaders and team captains, and Cuths really tries to make sure that everyone has a go at leading something, and if you’re already in a leadership role, you can’t take on another.

I don’t know about Dio, but St Cuths has had a pretty good time with overseas unis, with a lot of girls opting to go to Australia over NZ. I think overall, most stay in NZ, but often choose to go to Victoria or Otago over Auckland, but many do get into Australia. We do have girls who also receive places in Oxbridge universities (or other English universities) and American unis. Some are athletes, but other girls also get in purely based on academics (+the other things required). The college counsellor is pretty honest, in the fact that they will support you on your endeavours if they think you have a chance, but tell you straight up if they don’t think it’s likely for you to get a place. There is however, a great stress on students by the school to choose a degree that’s more likely to get a job (i.e. Med, Law, Business or Engineering).

The culture at cuths is pretty competitive but also uniting. The girls support each other and understand what everyone is going through. There is a difference in whether you choose IB or NCEA and you’re often locked up in separate worlds depending on what you choose but overall the people you meet and the memories you make prove strong. There is a great emphasis on exceeding in whatever you do, academic and otherwise, with most girls participating in at least 1 sport and 1 cultural activity, and always doing everything to a high standard. Particularly in your final year, when you are the oldest in the school, the leaders and also able to take advantage of the privileges in seniority, there is a strong sense of sisterhood and unity. Everyone does well though, if they choose to embrace the spirit and take advantage of the driven nature of the school.

One unique part about the college that I feel like I should also mention is the Kahunui camp, which happens in year 10. This is a month long camp at the Kahunui campus located 5 hours from Auckland, where girls live with around 22 others in houses (8 to a house) for a month where you learn survival skills that are relevant to future careers, flatting, as well as survival in the bush. You have to cook and clean for yourselves, as well as learn things like making a fire, hiking and sea kayaking, in an intense environment with no internet or access to a cellphone etc. It’s interesting and tense but ultimately rewarding and everyone is stronger by the end of it and friendships that would never form in the classroom are forged.

Woah sorry that turned out way longer than expected but I hope this helped!


#6

So far all of the comments about Dio have been positive or neutral and while I would agree with what’s already been said, there are some key elements of culture that are negative and haven’t been brought up.

I’ve been to Dio for a long time and I have to say that there is definitely some strong elitism in terms of cliques and wealth. People place a lot of focus on which “clique” others are in as well as what kind of clothes/brand they wear, music they listen to and even the jargon used in speech. This constant social pressure to be stylish, “cool” and beautiful places a lot of pressure on the students and has lead to many issues. A common issue is eating disorders. In my time at Dio I was close friends with 3 people with eating disorders and knew of around 11 more -some of whom have not recovered despite the fact that they have long since graduated.

It’s also quite racially segmented. The main demographics of European, Asian and Maori and Pacific Islander mostly stick to themselves and racist jokes amongst friends are common and sometimes even said to the race involved - with the expectation that the person will find it funny rather than be offended.

I would say that my overall experience at Dio was positive and the resources were strong, but these were aspects of culture that deeply affected me. I’m sure these are issues that all/most schools face; however, I thought it was important for people reading this forum to have a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of Dio’s culture and not just the positives.


#8

I agree with anonymous34s comments - thank you for bringing up some of the cultural issues that tend to surround these schools. I attended Dio from 2005-2010 and moved to King’s for my final two years 2011-2012. I studied NCEA, and academically, Dio placed more emphasis on academics and achievement in NCEA than King’s did - however, CIE is far more popular at King’s than NCEA and tends to be taken by the students who look for an academic challenge. I was interested in the arts and humanities at school, which was well supported at Dio but not in the curriculum at King’s - there is no Drama class, and only Media Studies and Design offered in NCEA. I was very much an all-rounder, and King’s fostered this much more than Dio. However, I think the extracurricular culture at Dio has changed quite a bit since I left, which is great to hear. The house spirit at King’s was also far greater. I mean, at Dio I didn’t do the cross-country, because if I’m not a runner then what’s the point, but at King’s I (and many many students) actively trained for it so as to not disappoint our houses and let them down! My parents couldn’t believe I would get to school early to run laps of the field and up and down the driveway with other students from my house.

Their is a large culture of wealth and popularity at Dio, more so than I found at King’s. At Dio I did feel judged by what my parent’s jobs were, whereas at King’s because there are so many boarders and students on scholarship, kids have all sorts of backgrounds, and the culture therefore focuses on you as a student and what you contribute. The King’s house leadership system is excellent and the relationships you form with kids inside and outside your year group are much greater than what I had at Dio.

I can’t comment on St Cuths (although I do know they have a culture of winning which is more suitable for some students over others) but King’s was a great choice for me to spend my final years as someone who liked to get involved in as many activities and challenges as possible and aim for a leadership role which had an impact in the school. It also helped students not like me, who needed help coming out of their shell if they were more introverted, because I felt there was a great culture of getting involved and just trying. For students who struggle academically and take NCEA at King’s, they won’t be pushed for the good grades like at Dio. Many of my friends had fantastic experiences at Dio and wouldn’t have gone anywhere else, but for me King’s was a great choice for my final years.


#9

I attended Dio from Year 7 until Year 13. As a student that focused primarily on academia and my peer support, I can recommend the school as one that excelled in all areas of a high school. Dio was best at its ability to encourage students to become all-rounded, with its great resources and abilities to offer a huge range of sports, academic subjects, volunteer work, and other educational prospects. One thing I loved about the school was its focus on appraising students, giving them opportunities to be recognized. The awards, prefect roles, leadership opportunities were given to those who deserved them. The board were very sound at overseeing issues and decisions of the school.


#10

I was lucky enough to attend St Cuthbert’s College for all 13 of my schooling years and in my final year I had the honour of being Head Girl. While I cannot comment on what it is like at Dio, I have been exposed of all parts of St Cuth’s and feel very strongly about the positive impact the school can have on young women.

The academics at St Cuthbert’s are exemplary, with incredible staff who are willing to go above and beyond for their students. I have been offered so much help in the past by my teachers, even when I wasn’t head girl, who understand that their students also have many other commitments that they wanted to develop as well as academics. This is due to the emphasis the school puts on being an all rounded person. St Cuthbert’s achieves some of the highest NCEA results in the country and does extremely well in IB.

Over my 13 years at St Cuthbert’s, I think the values that stand out to me the most are resilience, independance and service. There are many values projects and extra curricular activities that enable students to learn more about these values in themselves. These values were particularly made apparent in Y10 when all girls go to St Cuth’s Kahunui campas for a month at a time in intakes of 24 girls. Completely independent from our parents, we learned to be tolerant and to serve our group members above ourselves.

St Cuthbert’s also values sports and has recently introduced ETP for its most competitive student athletes. This is a special group that gives its students a period a day to train for their sport instead of going to a class. Other students are also able to partake in a range of different sports at our college from table tennis, to waterpolo, to hockey and lacrosse.

Leadership is highly valued at our school and their are opportunities for leadership throughout the 13 year levels. There are Y6 and Y8 house captains and opportunities for Y9-Y13s to lead younger students in the many extra curricular activities there are. There are many opportunities for leadership in Y13 including Committee leaders and House Captains, which are voted for by students and teachers of their particular group. For prefects and head girl, it is very much student choice. At St Cuthbert’s Y12, Y13 (Y11 and Y12 at this point) and teachers vote for their prefect group (Max 10 votes). The top 8 votes have interviews with the Senior management and give a speech to Y6-Y12 (of that year) and staff in December. Y11, Y12 and staff all vote for who they want to be head girl the following year. The girl with most votes is made head girl, then the next 3 votes are made deputies and then the rest are made prefects along with 11 other girls (leadership team of 19 the following year).

At St Cuthbert’s there is an emphasis on academic excellence and resilience, which encourages students to continue to work hard if they do not achieve what they may have wanted. There is strong sense of sisterhood at our school, which means the students encourage each other to do well rather than seeing them as competitors. There is a ‘We’re all in this together’ attitude.

I am so thankful for the opportunities St Cuthbert’s gave me and when I left I knew it was a community I would always be a part of. I hope this gives you some insight into St Cuthbert’s.

Dio is also a great school and I have many lovely friends from there too.


#11

If you want to excel in NCEA, why would someone go to Diocesan if St Cuths academics are strong comparatively? Any ideas?


#12

Hey anonymous11!

I’m a Dio old girl and had a generally good experience during my time there.

Academically speaking, the quality of teaching can be very high, with some teachers producing the best NZQA Scholarship results in the country in their subject. As anonymous3 said, there are also a number of support networks available to you should you reach out. When I was struggling in particular classes, my requests for additional guidance were almost always met with unconditional willingness from the teachers, who would give up lunchtimes or stay in after school to go over things with me.

That being said, the quality does vary with huge disparity and some subjects in my final years had to be entirely self-taught; it could be for this reason that Dio generally does well in IB (in the class of 2015 there were 8 (44% of) students who scored above 40, with two 44s and two 43s), but there isn’t often a 45 scorer (one in the history of the school).

There is a strong incentive to take part in activities outside of the classroom at Dio, with most girls being involved in several at any one time. In general, this makes for a student body that is well-rounded and of strong time-management abilities. The range of activities is quite traditional; as such, there is much opportunity for one to take initiative and pursue her interests by starting up a club or team.

The performing arts, in particular, are very strong at Dio. In 2015, the senior school orchestras and choirs all won Gold at their respective competitions, and the chamber music, dance and drama fields are consistently successful in their pursuits also. The arts faculty is by no means under-looked by the school, which is building a new performing arts centre to be completed in a few years’ time.

During my final year, I found that the school was generally unsympathetic about my wishes to study at an institution overseas. Often our ambitions were discouraged, and we were pushed to stay in New Zealand for university. Much of the overseas application process for me was therefore self-driven and unguided. However, with the school’s recent success in overseas university admissions and the growing number of students looking to study outside of New Zealand, we can hope that this culture will soon shift towards increased understanding and support.

Though there are aspects of the school that I very much disliked, I enjoyed my time there and came out with great friends, strong networks and valuable skills for university and the world beyond. Overall, the school is well-resourced and, as could be said about any school, initiative is required on the student’s part if she wishes to make the most out of it.

Hope this helps!


#13

I went to St Cuths from the common entrance at year 7. I graduated a couple years ago. I think neither is better than the other and the reason for this is that each school suits a different individual and they both go through periods of good and bad. When I started in 2009 St Cuths was definitely doing a lot better than dio and had a few good programs. My parents knew I liked art and they felt that the art department were very impressive. Please also note my mother was a dio old girl. They chose st cuths because they thought it would suit me better. Around the time I started I had some nasty run ins from girls at dio but that is not a reflection on the school. And then later ini my education dio started to pick up where st cuths lost its mojo. At dio I think there are more cultural opportunities and oppportunities to do different trips and so on. It seems like they have a variety of subjects that I would have enjoyed. Meantime st cuths has a range of hugely academic subjects and of course excellent grades to go with it. But that environment isn’t for everyone. (Especially not me, I would have preferred a range of more practical subjects). So around 2013-2014 I think St Cuths started to have high competition from dio. St cuths is going through a bad spot and dio a good spot. If I was going to start now I would go to dio. And my mother still wishes she sent me to dio ( but only so we could go to old girl events together ). Pick the school that best suits you child. Love the arts? Go to dio. Love high achieving sport and academia? Go to St Cuths. But just go on your opinion not others. My cousins daughter started at dio recently and loves it but she was going to go to St Cuths but was told not to by people who said st cuths girls are nasty. All girls can be mean. It’s part of the deal. But education is really important and impressive at both of these schools. Not to mention that have excellent staff who care!


#14

[details=Summary]This text will be hidden[/details]I am a Dio survivor (13yrs at Dio) so what I have experienced of St Cuths is either second hand from a St Cuths friend or have come across when compeating against them. I found the pastoral care at Dio second to none - they have helped me with prolonged sick periods, academic help, sporting advice and university application advice. From what I’ve heard from friends, St Cuths pastoral care isn’t quite so comprehensive and all encompassing as there is a very strong emphasis on individual success. Sometimes at any cost. I personally do not think I would have enjoyed St Cuths as I am very much a team player in all walks of life.


#15
  • Which has stronger academics? What school performs better in NZQA and IB?

I graduated in 2014 from St Cuthbert’s and attended the school for 7 years. I found that St Cuths was consistently stronger in both NCEA and IB than Dio. Every year, we’ve had large numbers of students score 40+ and in my year we had two score 45, as with the year before mine. The number of NCEA scholarships we receive top the nation, and the percentage of students receiving Endorsements with Excellence grew year by year.

The academics at St Cuths are incomparable and the teachers go above and beyond and really invest time in their students. I’ve talked to students from other schools (Kristin, AIC, etc etc) and I’m horrified by how dismissive some of teachers were described to be. (I’m sure they are great schools, this is from my friends’ stories and limited perspectives). At St Cuths, I’ve emailed teachers throughout the holidays and had them give me extensive feedback on my work. If I missed a few classes or was struggling with an assignment, my teachers would meet up with me after school, in their lunch breaks, before school – whenever! And they were happy to do it. My maths teacher ran weekly lunchtime sessions for anyone who needed extra help. My French teacher did the same with her HL girls. My tutor group teacher would give me crash courses in NZQA Bio scholarship during our tutor group periods. IB is taught fantastically and the TOK program is especially strong compared to other schools. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for my teachers at St Cuths and I cannot thank them enough.

I will add that I was among the more ambitious students, and so St Cuths really gave me the extra push to excel even further academically. The IB program in St Cuths has a strange stigma of being put on a pedestal where a large proportion of the cohort (5 or 6 out of 30) would switch to NCEA because they are getting 4s and 5s instead of 6s and 7s. It’s almost as if scoring under 34 or so means you should reconsider whether IB is “right for you”, whereas there isn’t anywhere near this kind of pressure in Dio or Kristin from what I hear. That being said, if you are someone aiming for 40+ or even a 45, it is a great environment. If you are not, the comparisons have the potential to get a bit disheartening and harmful on your self-esteem and mental health. However, St Cuths was never a competitive environment (nothing like AGS!!) and all the girls in IB were very close friends and supportive.

  • What values define each school?

Sure, the school values its academics and striving for excellence, but as mentioned above by others, the school motto is “By Love, Serve”, which means to provide service out of love. I used to joke about this motto as it was so often repeated but having left the school now, it has really stayed with me. The school really does value service and there are so many opportunities provided to the students. People leap at the chance to work with charities, so much so that sign-up sheets for charities like Ronald McDonald House would be full within an hour. During my time there, I’d volunteered for 7 different charities, and there were even more on offer. This value of serving truly seeped into every aspect of the St Cuths community.

  • Which school is stronger for athletes?

I can’t comment much on this as I was more of a performing arts girl but from what I know, there have been a handful of students receiving sports scholarships to US universities every year. We have a stellar new sports centre with gym/swim membership included, as well as a relatively new (a couple years old now) performing arts centre. I do agree with others that Diocesan is stronger in performing arts but St Cuths definitely still holds its own.

  • Which school has a better leadership culture and prefect selection process?

St Cuths emphasizes leadership almost too much. If I had a nickel for how many times our year group was told that we were “leaders”… However, St Cuths has never been “all talk” when it comes to leadership. It is true that the more you hear something, the more you believe it. In Y13, there is a leadership opportunity for everyone who wants it. Leadership was very strong at St Cuthbert’s and almost everyone who comes out of the school is a confident, self-assured woman who has no doubt she can succeed in whichever field she so desires. Girl power is strong at the school, and dare I say feminism – we come out of the school knowing our worth because we are shown it every day in the classroom. This all culminates in moulding girls at St Cuths to become natural leaders.

The prefect selection process is very democratic, but enough has been said on this topic already so I won’t dwell on it.

  • What school performs better in overseas education?

I’m surprised to read that one poster on this forum from Dio was discouraged to pursue studying overseas! Every year many St Cuths girls gain admission to schools around the world. From my cohort, I can name ten off the top my head who are currently studying in Australia, many who are studying undergrad/direct-entry medicine. The careers counsellor was absolutely extraordinary and supportive despite my slightly naive aspirations to study medicine in the US. She never told me bluntly that I couldn’t do something but she was definitely honest (I just chose to remain optimistic about the situation) and full of information. Unfortunately she left the position at the end of 2016 but I don’t doubt her replacement will have the same expertise in overseas tertiary education.

  • What is the student culture like at each school?

By Year 13, there was very little (if any) stereotypical “private school girl cattiness”. Yes, it was definitely evident in intermediate/early high school years, but people grow out of it. I believe Kahunui in Y10 was essential for this as it not only taught leadership skills and independence but also got people out of only interacting with their respective cliques. Sure, every intake at Kahunui had its fair share of drama (put eight 14/15yo girls into a house together for a month, what do you expect to happen?) but almost everyone is absolutely sobbing on the last day over having to leave. Everyone comes home from Kahunui with more life experience and respect/empathy for each other.

It’s true there is a division between the NCEA girls and IB girls – not from elitism/snobbery but simply because the IB girls are a smallish cohort who spend so much time together that it’s natural they become closer. Likewise, NCEA girls spend all their class time with each other. I still maintained my friendships with girls studying NCEA and saw them at lunchtimes, as did everyone else in IB, so it wasn’t like there were two separate worlds in Y13 or anything like that.

Like I emphasised above, the environment was very supportive and uncompetitive despite the school-wide expectation to excel academically. Students help each other, catch each other up on notes, and are a genuine, mature bunch by the end of it all. There really isn’t a sense of tall poppy syndrome. Assemblies almost always featured some one/group walking across the stage to receive an award because achievements were always celebrated and encouraged. You want your friends to succeed and you will help them to do it, as they will do the same for you.

All in all, my experience at St Cuths significantly shaped the person I am today – not just academically, but in leadership and values also. I’m sure Dio is a fantastic school, but I can’t recommend St Cuths enough.


#16

To be fair, the career counsellor not telling you you can’t study medicine in the US as an undergraduate is not exactly doing the job very effectively because if you know that a pre-medical program has to be completed first it would let you make faster decisions about subject choice and goal planning.


#18

I attended Dio in the junior school up until year 9.

In my opinion, when at schools such as Dio, Kings, St Cuths, St Kents that are known for turning out exceptional all-rounders, it largely reflects on the child whether they will take it upon themselves to go further in their academics. I understand that each year when results are out, these schools are all neck and neck. Each school will offer extensive supplementary help because it reflects well on them when their students achieve- the only variable here is whether your child has the motivation to pursue it.

If you want a school that essentially ensures your child achieves academically, you are best to go to a school that focuses exclusively on that. I have never come across a school that will push a student to be world-class in every single area (with myself and my siblings covering 8 schools [4 public & 4 private] between us!!)

I have no experience with St Cuths, however their marketing, target demographic & branding seems very similar.

The values that define Dio: bullying.

My experience with Dio was very negative, and at the time I felt very alone. I do not think that my experience was universal, as I know many girls that found a great group of friends and then were able to take full advantage of what was on offer. Furthermore, my experience is nearing the decade-old age mark so things may have changed though frankly nothing has been visible from the outset.

I still am affected by years of bullying at Dio, and I would classify it as my biggest obstacle to where I am today. My family’s association with the school went deep so it was even more difficult to convince my parents how terribly I was getting along. They were convinced that there is ‘bullying everywhere’, or my favourite ‘that’s just how girls are’. This is absolutely NOT the case! When a school allows a culture of elitism based only on your looks and your wealth and not anything a student of 5-18 years can actually control, you cannot expect a community of pubescent minors to regulate it in any manner that is anything other than incredibly destructive. I was certain at the time that I was the one who was in the wrong and would never have friends- it’s silly to blame everyone around you for not liking you, right?

Turns out that once I was taken out of that environment, I absolutely thrived in a more academic setting. On my first day of my new school, everyone was so nice I was certain they must be the fakest people ever, as the idea of 25 nice teenagers was so foreign to me. I graduated early as a top scholar (after having failed Dio yr9 due to my depression), and when my 21st came around I struggled to limit the guest list to under 150. I appreciate my friends now more than anything because I know what it is like to have 0. Despite the social anxiety and lack of confidence that I still sometimes struggle with, I got out early enough and was OK. I can’t say the same for some of the other girls I knew.

Gone are the days where I would starve myself for 5 days in a row at age 13. But anyone from Dio or St Cuths (where I have heard it is actually worse) will have about 5 names pop into their minds of girls who had spells in hospital, had to repeat a year, or still have to struggle today with an ED developed at school. How can a school let this happen? This is only the tip of the iceberg.

If you are confident your daughter will walk into school on her first day and meet great down-to-earth girls, send her to Dio and she may have a good experience. However you should also be prepared for the alternative outlined above- it is far from the exception.