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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:12 pm 
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Hi,

I know this may have been discussed before but I would like to know exactly how 'intense' life at a grammar school is? how much homework do kids get per day? what happens if they can't keep up?

We would only consider the following schools:
KE Aston
Handsworth Grammar
Bishop Vessey
Queen Mary Grammar School

We are starting the prep for our DS for next year's 11 plus but part of my thinks he may be better suited to a school that isn't intense. Although he is bright and in almost all top sets at primary, I just think an intense environment might be too much for him. He is not competitive academically and takes things in his stride. I imagine he would flourish in a smaller class where he wouldn't be overwhelmed by the high performing super bright grammar kids.

He is also a summer baby and is literally a year younger than some of the kids in his class! He is year 5 and getting grades from 4s to high 5s. Next year he should be getting mostly 5s and possibly 6 in reading.

I am thinking that even if he gets a high mark in the 11plus, is he actually cut out for life at a grammar school?!

I would appreciate any advice.... thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:30 pm 
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Hi my DS sounds a bit like yours - not competetive - just goes with the flow a bit lazy at times but left primary school with level 6 maths and level 5 in everything else so he is capable. He has been in yr7 at a boys GS for a term and seems to be coping fine so far. He likes being with other boys who want to work - though there are still some who mess around at times. He does not seem intimidated by anyone else in the class particularly. I do see he is coping with the homework probably better than I might have thought and the staff do seem to give a warnings and extra time for homework whilst they settle in to the new home work regimen. His first report was fine so have to think all is ok so far.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 2:45 pm 
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DC17C wrote:
Hi my DS sounds a bit like yours - not competetive - just goes with the flow a bit lazy at times but left primary school with level 6 maths and level 5 in everything else so he is capable. He has been in yr7 at a boys GS for a term and seems to be coping fine so far. He likes being with other boys who want to work - though there are still some who mess around at times. He does not seem intimidated by anyone else in the class particularly. I do see he is coping with the homework probably better than I might have thought and the staff do seem to give a warnings and extra time for homework whilst they settle in to the new home work regimen. His first report was fine so have to think all is ok so far.



Thanks for this. I get the impression that different grammar schools have varying levels of intensity? which school is your DS at?

On average, how much homework does he get a week?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 3:30 pm 
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Sorry I am not in your area as in Gloucestershire - so replying in a more general way.Hopefully you will get some more local responses. Home work has been 1-3 pieces on some nights and nothing on other nights as DS tends to save everything for the night before it is due!! Not how I would like it to be - but it is his work not mine and he has to make it work or face the consequences. Time spent varies from a few minutes to around an hour. My DD who is year 8 at a girls GS does more but I thinks she enjoys spending more time on the more creative pieces.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:00 pm 
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Hi Hopefuldad7

My DS has been at KE Aston for half a term. Like you we were worried GS was not the right place for him. Well he has proved us very wrong!

Despite the homework being a slight shock (DS has said himself that this was because after SATs at primary school they didn't do much and then we had the summer break) he has settled in really well.

Homework varies for night to night, some nights he has none others 2 or 3 pieces and he has never spent more than an hour completing all of these. He has also had a couple of longer projects that have been given which he has had several weeks to complete (he usually spends some time on these at the weekend).

He has a routine of doing his homework early evening and then allowing himself some 'free time' later on. The fact that if homework is not handed in on time boys can be given a Behaviour Point also seems to be an incentive to get it done!

Far from being intimidated by any boys that may seem more able than him at school he has been inspired to try harder in subjects he doesn't do so well in. The schools Reward Scheme may also be a factor in this (if they have enough Achievement Points at the end of the year boys can attend a Rewards Afternoon in the summer term - usually a visit to the cinema).

We have just received his first Progress Card and it was excellent so we are very pleased we made the decision to send him there.

Hope this helps you with your decision.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 25, 2013 4:20 pm 
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I think you should make the distinction between amount of homework/work intensity for different years.

My own DD is coping fine in year 7, but then she's only half a term in, has no pressure and is still in the settling in phase as far as I'm concerned. There will be children who got next to no homework thoroughout their primary school years, so they're hardly going to be bombarded with homework as soon as they start! :shock:

My oldest chose not to go to a Grammar, however he cruised through Years 7 and 8 and is getting bombarded in Year 9 (as they start following GCSE courses a year early). My friends children in Years 9, 10 and 11 have a far greater work intensity than when they started. Of course they do!! However at this stage, I feel it's less about the amount of work (it is what it is) and more about how they are supported through their studies.

Incidently my youngest sounds like yours (without being in top sets for anything though) but for him we have accepted that the right school will choose him, rather than the other way round. He will cope wherever he makes the score and that will be the right place for him. We would be glad to have the choices you are aiming for!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 9:05 am 
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Thank you all for your comments. This is really useful.

So I'm getting the impression that if he does get enough marks to get into one of those schools I've mentioned, he may be ok. I suppose he would adapt and go with the flow of the GS environment. Year 7 is more about settling in and doesn't appear to be overly intense. Obviously the intensity would increase in later years.

I just wondered if he didn't settle, how would schools support?

Also, do you know of anyone who had option of GS but chose Priory or another independent?


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:44 am 
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There are numerous threads on Indie v Grammar, both in the Birmingham section and elsewhere on this forum.

I sincerely suggest you do a search for indie v grammar, Priory etc.

As for how schools support, this forum is full of individual opinions and experiences. You can't ever have an absolute surety about your individual DS, it's probably better to ask the schools on Open Days as general opinions here for the schools you mentioned may not be forthcoming or indeed relevant. Children at all schools are supported to varying extents. It's not as though schools want your child to be miserable/fail but the support would vary according to the ability of the children there to begin with. And yes, children do sometimes have to move schools for whatever reason.

Choice between indie and Grammar really depends on the child. For my oldest two we had choices of KESvCHB and KEHSvCHG. One went Indie, the other Grammar. That was based on our impressions of the school and how we thought they might get on.

For both of them, we did the exams (only B'ham consortium and main Indie) and decided according to where they got the score/place offered. We decided after results day for DD2 in October, we didn't have high hopes so didn't overly discuss schools, (other than going to Open Days of course) because we didn't want her, or us, to be disappointed in case she couldn't get in.

For DS2 we are thinking of having to spread the net further as he has had numerous problems, compounded by the fact he is very young for the year. Just going to take it in our stride, do the exams and worry about individual schools later.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 9:40 am 
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Thank you all for your words of wisdom and sharing your own experiences. Very useful!

I will see how DS2 gets on this year with his 11+ prep and hopefully the most suitable option will emerge...


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2013 1:42 pm 
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I can only comment on KES which is just out of your area - in Year 7 they have a maximum of 1 hour homework a night (usually made of 2-3 subjects). Sometimes the work set is a larger project that may take them a couple of weeks to complete. Inevitably, some nights it appears as if there is no homework and other days it seems like they have a lot but there is a strict homework subject timetable for each night and most of the teachers adhere to it. In year 8 the amount goes up to 1.5 hours a night and in Year 9 to 2 hours. It sounds like, for a young for the year child, your boy is doing well - generally speaking, the boys we know who have gone to KES are all L6 or 5A maths and certainly 5A/B English - nothing lower than a high 5 however - but it is an exceptionally competitive school to get into so that is not surprising. The question to ask is, is your son motivated to try hard - HE needs to be the one to apply himself to the homework/study/revision etc and as long as he is putting the effort in, he should be OK with the level of work (both amount and difficulty). Also, how will he cope if he suddenly finds himself the bottom of a bright pond? As a young for the year child, he is doing well and is probably ahead of his peers in his primary, but he may find he is right near the bottom in a GS - will he cope emotionally? Certainly, my son's school is full of very competitive boys (some of the parents are ten times worse!!) who excel in everything music, sport, academia....and it takes a fairly strong character, who has been one of the best at primary to suddenly realise they are one of the average. But schools are so much more than a the sum of their parts - look at each one for pastoral support, extra curricular activities, community links, facilities...the list goes on. All I would say is, however, don't always be put off by "poorer" facilities if everything else seems right. We have a very prestigious private school here, with facilities that make most parents gasp - but if your son is not the sort of boy to want to play rugby on one of hundreds of pitches, or isn't a budding international swimmer/fencer/army cadet/etc, etc, etc...maybe it is worth considering a school that has less facilities but more that are in tune with him. Good luck!


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