Go to navigation
It is currently Fri Dec 09, 2016 2:03 am

All times are UTC




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:30 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Posts: 4
Hello all,

We are thinking of moving into the Birmingham area but are concerned about the school situation. We have twin DSs who would be moving to secondary school in Sep 11 (so therefore taking the test in autumn 10 -- we are in the process of signing up for it). We are currently in an area without an 11+ and good comprehensives so we haven't had to think about this in detail before!

Anyway, what I am concerned about is knowing the differences in **feel** between the GSs (for boys) in the area. I have seen the variation in pass marks but have not visited any of the schools. Obviously we can do that at the open days, but I was hoping someone could kickstart me. I'm thinking of things like which are more focused on which subjects, which have a stricter or more casual feel and so forth. Any advice, information or impressions appreciated!

TreesAreGood


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:04 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:08 pm
Posts: 713
Location: Not in a hole in the ground but in a land where once they dwelt-the Beormingas
Hi Treesaregood,

We've been 'new' to the area for a year now and although, I don't have experience with the other GS in Birmingham, I can offer some advice about KECH as my son is a pupil there.

In terms of subjects- yes, all subjects are very well focused ( I would love to pinpoint areas but when I think about it, all subjects are taught very well). Homework is regularly set (and often quite challenging). In terms of atmosphere, it does have a 'strict' feel as classroom discipline (I'm going by my son) is good. But then again, I wouldn't expect it to be any other way as it is a grammar school.

I'm sure other parents more experienced than myself will enlighten you.
8)


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 9:10 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:51 pm
Posts: 2237
To be honest, in your position I'd focus more on finding the right "fall back" school/s in case of non-qualification - non-GS options for boys in B'ham can be quite unappealing. Once you've sorted that out the geography will probably make your mind up for you as far as GS is concerned.

I don't think any of the B'ham GSs have a particularly strong emphasis on any particular subject, although I know next to nothing about Aston. As far as I remember, BV do three languages from Y8 because they have a language specialism, the others I think all do 2 (AFAIK Five Ways is the only one with a Latin option). I think CHB is perhaps more strongly science oriented, they do three separate sciences from day 1 and all three are compulsory at GCSE. But the differences between them are probably fairly slender in reality.

Mike


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 12:16 pm 
I agree with Mike. You should sort out your fallback option first.

If you can afford independent, then you are not tied to moving to the location of an acceptable comprehensive.

If you can't, then your first thought should be moving to an area with an acceptable boys comprehensive (which eliminates most of innner Birmingham) and,having sorted that, by all means turn your attention to the King Edward's.

While they are not interchangeable, they are all good schools which most people would be happy to send their children. While Camp Hill Boys requires the highest score and, on paper, probably seems to have the best results, this may be largely down to the fact it only takes 93 children whereas Five Ways takes 150. I am told the first 90 for Five Ways will also have achieved the Camp Hill Boys score but, by virtue of the fact it takes another 60 children, inevitably their last score-in is lower and their results will be less impressive. It is a similar tale with Aston, their top students also rivalling the Camp Hill Boys.

I also suggest parents consider their children and their personalities rather than the schools. If they are extremely bright or fairly bright and terribly focused, then Camp Hill Boys may be a good fit because they will feel at home there. If they are fairly bright but more laidback, then they may find more kindred spirits at Five Ways. If they are bright enough but borderline entrants, then they may be better served at Aston because hard work will have them higher up the pecking order, assuming their relative position bothers them.

I would go round the schools in September to get a 'feel for them', then not agonise too much before putting them in your preference order. Chances are the exam will sort out which, if any, is 'right' for them.


Top
  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:20 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Posts: 4
Thanks for these ideas, everyone, in particular to fm about the differences between CHB, Five Ways and Aston. We obviously will need to think about (and have done some research on) fall-back options (and whether to move in the first place!!), but we are happy to move to the appropriate area as we are starting from scratch. It just needs to be on the train line, preferably the one to Birmingham Uni -- or cycle-able to the university itself. We don't like the idea of independents and funding would be a stretch.

One DS tests better than the other and scored solid 5s on Year 5 optional SATs, while the other needs a bit more work but has high 4s -- however, the second is happy to work hard! I would say the first is, in fm's words, "bright but laidback," while the second is perhaps more of a borderline entrant, though I think he will thrive (with the usual caveats about parents' views of their own children!). So maybe I should not think so much about CHB and concentrate on open days at FW and Aston. I really appreciate that analysis -- exactly what I was hoping for. I was already more interested in FW because of its co-ed aspect. I hadn't thought too much about BV because of its location further away from the university, but will take a second look.

Thanks again! Would love to hear more thoughts!


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:01 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:51 pm
Posts: 2237
I wouldn't rule out CHB; ours is not so much laid back as terminally bone idle, but at CHB he's beginning to think that he might perhaps put some effort in because otherwise he stands out from the crowd - which he hates (that's why we sent him there so it's working a treat! :D ). It's not a hot house, it's quite laid back - it's just that everyone is clever so the average standard is very high.

Mike


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:43 pm 
I agree with Mike. Don't rule out CHB. It does work well for the laidback but very clever as they are forced to 'up' their game.

I am not sure how relevant Sats results are in judging who will do what in the KE exam. Firstly, you have non-verbal and I have had several very able, highly regarded at school students who just can't manage this area. I have also had top set math students who have been totally thrown by anything not in the national curriculum while middle set maths students with good English skills have managed the wordier questions. And finally I have had many Sats level 5 students who have very little in the way of advanced vocabulary or have just not been able to spell well enough to do well in the Cloze tests.

I think I would look at each twin individually rather than try to find somewhere that would suit both because there is a fair chance they will end up in different schools, anyway. I know of identical twins with supposedly the same level of ability where one passed for Five Ways and the other didn't pass, and seemingly it was level of confidence which was the main factor. If you are trying to keep them together, you'd be wisest putting down Aston.

Bishop Vesey's is on the train line to the University so, in theory, you could move to Sutton Coldfield, and you could travel while the children don't, or vice-versa. I also have the impression that some of the comprehensives aren't bad in Sutton Coldfield. West of Birmingham you have Halesowen, Hagley, Stourbridge, all of which have decent comprehensives while the commute to Five Ways is made by many children. Finally regions of Solihull have comprehensives as well as being near enough to Warwickshire to qualify for their grammar schools.


Top
  
 
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:31 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:21 pm
Posts: 4
Thanks again -- more to think about. Aston and possibly Five Ways -- and possibly BV as well. Will need to look into the housing situation in Sutton. We have been doing some preparation in case the DSs decided they wanted to sit the exam for our neighbouring LEA; NVR has gone well, vocabulary excellent, maths and VR fine -- the only real problem is speed for both (as we haven't been practising seriously) and spelling (which is atrocious for one). But they are both scoring 80+% on VR so the spelling doesn't seem to be holding them back. What percentages overall do we need to be aiming at in the familiarisation papers (bearing in mind, of course, that slightly higher marks in one section can help make up for lower marks in another)?

I think I would like to keep them together if possible as they will (would) be so new to the area. What is the pass mark for BV compared to Aston and Five Ways? And I know Handsworth is a separate test; is there a reason for that other than that they are not part of the consortium? Why are they not? I see also that BV is traditionally CofE; presumably the KEs are not?

Thanks again, everyone. This forum makes things a lot easier -- I wouldn't have been able to do this only a few years ago! I really appreciate your help.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 8:29 am 
Answering some of your questions/points:

a) commercially available papers are not really relevant for the KE exam so you cannot make any reliable deductions from their scoring in those to how they will score in a University of Durham written exam
b) speed and confidence, however, are major factors in the exam in that most of it is time pressured and some of it your child just will not have tackled beforehand so they will need to be able to think for themselves
c) B.V. has just joined the consortium so there is no way of knowing this year how it will be placed compared with the other schools . My best guess would be that it will be slightly below Aston for this first year as Sutton parents/tutors may be caught on the 'hop' by the new format and still be practising just traditional VR (none of which has been in the KE exam for years), non-verbal and maths in the NFER/GL format.
d) Handsworth Grammar is quite separate. I don't know the history behind this. It is not as well regarded as the KE's and has more discipline problems and teacher turnover as well as poorer results, but then it does not get the really high performers. It is still, however, better than most comprehensives in Birmingham and should be viewed against them rather than against the KE's. Bluntly, when a child doesn't pass for KE, has no private option and has a sink comprehensive as an alternative, parents are grateful enough to have Handsworth as an alternative even if it was not initially very high on their wish list.
e) Handsworth Grammar has a traditional VR test, a short English essay and a maths test. If the child scores over the pass for VR, then they don't bother looking at the other tests. For the pass mark, you are looking at a score of at least 80% and preferably 85% in your commercially available papers to be safe. If they don't make the pass mark, however, the English and maths then come into play, the VR is no longer relevant and the children are arranged in order of how well they have done in the English and Maths.
f) as far as spelling is concerned, this will be relevant for about 40% of the KE English paper (and thus 13% of the whole exam) because our version of Cloze tests expect them to fill in missing letters which cleverly tests their vocabulary and their spelling at the same time

I suggest you trawl through the sticky on the exam at the top of the Birmingham section to get a really good idea of what has been in the exam and start tailoring your practice to it rather than a more traditional 11 plus exam, but keep up the traditional VR if Handsworth Grammar is going to be on your wish list.


Top
  
 
PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:14 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Sep 27, 2008 9:51 pm
Posts: 2237
TreesAreGood wrote:
I think I would like to keep them together if possible as they will (would) be so new to the area.


That may be an issue if one or both don't qualify for GS and go to a comp where most people will have transferred with a hatful of friends from primary. At the KE grammars, but probably to a slightly lesser extent at BV, boys come from far and wide and many of them won't know anyone (CHB is probably the extreme case; about 75-80% of the boys are the only one from their primary).

Mike


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 11 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
CALL 020 8204 5060
   
Privacy Policy | Refund Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright © 2004 – 2016