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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:50 am 
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Posts: 25
I know it's a personal decision and nobody knows our DS better than us (plus it's not just about 11+) ... but I thought I'd share our problem on this forum in case somebody offers nuggets of wisdom to help us.

Any thoughts greatly appreciated!

DS1 didn't get KE entry (got 214) :( so we were all set for the local catchment school (Langley) BUT following experience of reeyah on this forum, we contacted Solihull admissions and yesterday changed one of our preferences to BV ... and later that day they let us know that DS1 had an offer from BV :D

However, the grins didn't last long as we may have got mixed up with the 'ANY Grammar school must be best' train of thought, so we've asked for some time to think it over - the lady at Solihull was very helpful and said she'd get BV wait for us to decide by Monday morning. Time we need as we never even visited BV.

BV pros:
It's a grammar so will encourage a 'hard work ethos; GCSE results 99% with 5 or more A*-C
DS1 likes science - triple science compulsory at GCSE
It has an excellent 6th form

BV cons:
Last Ofsted report was only 'good' i.e. not Outstanding across the board
Has a language specialism .... DS1 hates French at Primary school
It's miles away from Solihull; there's no green bus. ~1 hour each evening lost that could otherwise be time for homework / after school clubs; We could move closer (upheaval for the whole family; DS1&2 would lose lifelong friends; need to find a good primary for DS2 in Y3)

Langley pros:
Last Ofsted report (2006) was 'outstanding' across the board. [although some say the new head has let things go over the past 2 years - anybody comment on this?]
It specialises in drama & performing arts (excellent facilities plus drama is on curriculum from Y7). DS1 on gifted & talented register for drama for the past 2 yrs. [If you cultivate a strength doesn't this help across the board with confidence and so overall achievement?]
It's a small friendly school (no 6th form)
Walking distance from our (current) house
Although not (currently) close friends, around 5 familiar faces from current primary school year will be there

Langley cons:
It's not a grammar ... DS1 might be 'held back' by lower average peer achievement (compared to a grammar) plus less likely to develop a hard working ethos (he's firmly in the lazy do the min acceptable camp at the moment)
GCSE results 75% with 5 or more A*-C ... but it's streamed so can't really interpret this?
It has no 6th form. School selection again in 5 years time :? . Also, will the GCSE teaching be a bit less directed towards A-Levels?
Triple science GCSE may not be an option (depends on demand)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:29 am 
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sent you a pm


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:32 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2010 9:15 am
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Location: Birmingham
It is a very difficult decision to make. And whichever choice you make, if things go wrong, you could be left wondering 'what if.'

With BV, if you do not accept the school now, you will most likely find it very difficult to enter into the school at a later date.
However, with Langley, if you decided that BV was not the course for you, you can probably get late entry into the school at any point, relatively easily. Especially as your DS1 will be coming from a grammar school.

Whatever you decide, you should definitely arrange a viewing at BV as soon as possible.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:19 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2012 10:13 am
Posts: 112
Hi,
I read your post with interest as Ds comes under langley catchment, he will sit his 11 plus in sept.
We have agreed with him that if he doesn't get into gs he can choose his comp. he has already chose Lyndon . I have my reservations but the new head( who came from Langley) seems to be making an impact for the better and they have a good gifted and talented programme. This is making the whole eleven plus less stressful for us as he will be happy whatever the outcome.
I'm curious to know why you didn't include bv as one of your initial choices ( was it purely the distance factor) also I wasn' t aware that another choice could be added after places had been issued. Am I correct in thinking that if another child who initially put bv as a preferred choice is on the waiting list but has a lower score than your Ds, your Ds leapfrogged that person. Sorry for all of the questions but I' m new to the 11 plus and there seems so much to take in and learn.
I have looked into travel to bv but without the green bus it looks hard work, is there a train from olton station?
Can you go and have a look at bv before making the decision?
Good luck with making your decision!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:15 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:14 am
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Have pm'd you :)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:14 pm 
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Joined: Sat May 30, 2009 12:06 pm
Posts: 2093
Location: Birmingham
I would not just assume you can get into Langley at a later date.
It is a small and extremely oversubscribed school.
If you drop your place there, there are scores of others who will jump to grasp it - and keep it.

I would also suggest that you actually make the journey from where you live to BV yourself, preferably at the time(s) your son would travel, before you make a decision.
This may sound extreme, but I would encourage it strongly.
If he is like my ds1 in Yr 8, he will have a 15kg rucksack as well as sports paraphernalia in tow too.
Your son will presumably need to walk to the local Solihull/Olton train station, get train to Moor Street, walk to Snow Hill, get train to Sutton C, walk to BV. This could well take upwards of an hour each way.

I am NOT trying to put you off but trying to help you make a clear decision here.

You have already changed your mind once in deciding to go for BV when you hadn't originally done so...it would be frustrating for you, your ds, the admissions teams, and other parents, if you were to then accept BV, and in a few month's time, change your mind again. So I would simply sincerely say: Think carefully, make a decision, and stick to it.

If it were a choice between Cockshut Hill (apologies to Cockshut Hill, etc) and this kind of journey to BV, then I would probably be saying - ok, go for BV.
But as you know, it is more complicated than that. You have a small, middle-class, high achieving comp inspected as Outstanding, on your doorstep (presumably - or you wouldn't have a place - its catchment was 0.4km last year). Presumably your son's neighbours and friends will be going there.

As for moving at 6th form, progression to BV 6th form, as with all Grammars, depends on GCSE results and is not automatic. And you may want to move him again then to a closer Grammar such as CH, given that he will have already endured 5 years of communting.
A number of children progress each year from Langley to the KE Grammars or to excellent 6th forms such as Arden's. Tudor Grange now also has its own 6th form and takes children from other Solihull schools.

ETA - walk from Moor St to New St station, not Snow Hill


Last edited by um on Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:17 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
Lottie, yes, parents who jump onto waiting lists at a later date, having not placed these schools as initial preferences, do push others down the list.

I know of boys who were 1st and 2nd on the list for one KE (not BV!), who have just been bumped to 3rd and 4th by late entries taking their position. From their point of view, that is understandably disappointing, when both were really hoping for a place.
Hopefully under the new arrangements, when parents receive test scores before the CAF form deadline, there will be more chance for parents to consider what to do, earlier.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:18 pm
Posts: 25
Thank you all for the advice and PM's. This forum really does help.

For info - the reason why we didn't put BV originally was a) distance b) I was arrogant enough to think that DS1 would get into the KE's :oops:
We left the whole 11+ very late and only got a tutor just before the summer holidays when we found out everybody else going for GS had been tutored for the past 6 months+. I don't think DS1 had covered all of the numeracy syllabus or practiced his weak literacy comprehension area - let alone 'test technique' before the test. So it's probably the verbal/non-verbal reasoning that's got him this far. But I can't change the past or keep regretting what I've not done :(
I didn't find this helpful forum until we got our 'fail' results. [Yes, you're right I also know where DS1 gets his laziness from]

We've still not made up our minds. Travelling such a long distance daily seems too harsh, so we're thinking of moving closer to BV (we only moved to Solihull from London 10 years ago, so we don't have deep roots here).

Before we move, it seems the best route is that I drop off DS1 by car on my way to work each morning (~40 mins - not too bad), then he makes his own way back in the evening either by bus routes (902, 966) or combination of bus & train - all amounting to ~1.5 hours!! :shock: [unless we can come to an arrangement with another Solihull parent?? .. who's DS does the same after school clubs :? ]

We're going to turn up at BV tomorrow morning after trying the drive from home (without DS1 - he can't bear to miss school), and ask for a tour. Seeing the school should help us finally decide.

Finally, I had thought from LEA advice that once you fixed your preferences they would remain unchanged after 1st Jan. Clearly this is not the case. I do feel a bit guilty that our DS has overtaken other hopefuls on the BV waiting list ... but then this whole GS process is elitist and that's what's hard to accept.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 11:14 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 17, 2006 5:12 pm
Posts: 1300
Location: Birmingham
Quote:
Langley pros:
Last Ofsted report (2006) was 'outstanding' across the board. [although some say the new head has let things go over the past 2 years - anybody comment on this?]
It specialises in drama & performing arts (excellent facilities plus drama is on curriculum from Y7). DS1 on gifted & talented register for drama for the past 2 yrs. [If you cultivate a strength doesn't this help across the board with confidence and so overall achievement?]
It's a small friendly school (no 6th form)
Walking distance from our (current) house
Although not (currently) close friends, around 5 familiar faces from current primary school year will be there

Langley cons:
It's not a grammar ... DS1 might be 'held back' by lower average peer achievement (compared to a grammar) plus less likely to develop a hard working ethos (he's firmly in the lazy do the min acceptable camp at the moment)
GCSE results 75% with 5 or more A*-C ... but it's streamed so can't really interpret this?
It has no 6th form. School selection again in 5 years time . Also, will the GCSE teaching be a bit less directed towards A-Levels?
Triple science GCSE may not be an option (depends on demand)


To the PROs I would add
That may get better Univ offers for Langley over BV
I don't also think that the lack of a 6th form is really a CON - if they get good GCSEs then there really are lots of options, not just Solihull 6th form college (which is ok) - lots of B/Ham and Solihull comp pupils go the KE schools for the 6th form.
If they are close to school then that give them and you more time orchestrate a good supplemental academic programme (e.g. OU courses, distance learning, courses at the MAC etc)


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2012 1:16 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
At the risk of making it sound as if all these strangers on the forum are trying to convince you to opt out of a grammar to choose a local comp, I would add to KenR's post that if it was my child and I had the choice between a good local school and a grammar that involved more than an hour of travelling I would choose the former without a doubt. Of course, there are children who travel for longer but I suspect that their alternatives are not as promising.

On the other hand, if when you visit BV you feel that it can offer something to YOUR son that is not there at Langley then I am sure you will find a way to accommodate that - whether it involves moving house or reducing the travel time by giving him a lift.

Btw KenR, I suspect the days of enriching a pupil's academic CV with courses through the OU are over now that they have set their fees at the equivalent of £5000 a year :(

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