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 Post subject: Solihull School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 10:56 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:23 am
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DS has been offered a place at Solihull....any Solihull parents here with good (or bad) things about the school? Debating between Solihull and CHB. Any advice welcome!


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:09 pm
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
They are very different experiences, though I'm pretty sure there is excellent teaching to be had at both and in the end you will have to make your own decision based on travelling time, cost, other family members and "gut feeling" . Caveat: my experience is limited to one DS who attended CHB for sixth form, and to friends with children at both places over the years.

SolSch is dripping with money and the facilities show it - music block, concert hall the envy of the Borough, lots of other new building, exotic overseas trips, glossy brochures. Many (though by no means all) of the parents are also well-heeled, fairly local, regular supporters of school functions etc. Lots of long-standing family attendance over generations. Some feeling that some of the teachers lower down the school are not yet fully au fait with the ways of girls but integration seems to have been smooth enough -the first cohort of 11+ girls must be just about to leave the 6th form. Leafy (if busy) location close to Solihull Hospital and to the delights of the Touchwood shopping centre. Sport is often seen as one of its strengths.

CHB in contrast feels as if there is far less money sloshing around, and the buildings are much less impressive (although the site has its own share of leafiness by the park). The intake is far more varied ethnically, financially and geographically, with some travelling very long distances. Facilities can feel cramped and maybe Kings Heath High St has fewer temptations than Solihull town centre? There is still plenty going on though, and the music for example benefits from the participation in Birmingham's Music service (assuming that hasn't been cut to shreds).

Solihull School will cost tens of thousands of pounds over the years, even with scholarships, and will no doubt ensure your son emerges well-rounded and confident. I have not always been impressed with tales of 6th form advice there, and (like many schools) it can exist in rather a bubble: spending those tens of thousands will not necessarily ensure A*A*A* and an Oxford place, or even the best advice about other options. However if money is not an issue, and you mix socially with people for whom money is not an issue, and it is close enough for easy travelling to friends etc, then why not enjoy all the benefits you and previous parents have paid for?

If money is tight, and you live within reasonable travelling distance of CHB, it would seem a shame to turn down one of the best free educational experiences in the region, unless there are other good social or family reasons for SolSch. However both places will I'm sure attempt to push their pupils to achieve: CHB regularly tops the exam and university entrance tables and my DS2 thoroughly enjoyed his 2 years there and was certainly intellectually, musically and socially stretched.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 5:02 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:30 pm
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sorry, just checking if there is a typo? choice between CHB and Solihull private school?


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:11 pm 
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No sbarnes, not a typo. Gone through the hoops of 11 plus prep and secured place at both schools( hopefully his marks will be enough).
Had moved child from state to indie in primary , and that worked really well for him. DS is on school action plan due to slight dyslexia and has poor social skills, and not much of a sports guy either. He is academically confident but takes very little to shake it!
Solihull is a 10 minute walk from home, so a very tempting option, however we are not the moneyed kind- will have to make sacrifices to go there.
Trying to decide whether Solihull will work better for DC than a cash strapped grammar school, to make him a confident young man.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:54 pm
Posts: 483
Our daughter had a place at EHS & KEVIHS. After NAD, we visited both schools with her to talk about her special needs (mild ADD/SLD in working memory). Both schools gave assurances that they would be good with the special needs, and we ended up sending her to KEVIHS (a much shorter journey and better teaching of science were the main factors). As she's gone through the school, the assurances about SEN help (and the head having seen her then & picked up on her attention issues) have been a great encouragement when things have been occasionally tricky.

I'd encourage you to visit both schools and discuss your concerns and see if you can find any more - let them do a sales job for you if you have two places. I also recommend tracking down any contacts you have who teach at the school or have done in the past to see if you can gain any insight.

He's obviously done very well to gain places at both - I hope you are able to make a decision you are confident with.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:28 am 
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We also have the choice between KEFW and Solihull and are very similar to greyingmum in that we are not particularly monied and would prefer a more socially and ethnically mixed environment for our DS but have a child with writing difficulties.

I hope you don't mind me repeating something I wrote in another thread about the contact I had yesterday with the SENCO at Solihull who was extremely reassuring, she had DS's exam paper in front of her and so could comment on what she saw. She came up with some strategies of how they would deal with DS and gave me some very useful advice. As well as testing every single new pupil for dyslexia/literacy difficulties - also done at KES -the SENCO and her assistant sit in on all year7 classes for the first 4 weeks or so to observe and hope to pick up any SENs or social difficulties among the children. With class sizes of only about 20 it is not too difficult to see those who are struggling. If children come in with a statement from PS or a diagnosis they are automatically flagged but so are children whose parents have rung in with concerns but no official diagnosis - like me. Depending on level of difficulty they will be closely monitored but not necessarily labelled from the beginning as, in her experience, some new pupils who have previously struggled do thrive once in the new school, and surprise everyone.

Solihull also have taster days. I have arranged for my DS to go in for a morning after half-term and join a yr7 class. I was also able to specify what subjects he would like to take part in (in our case maths and science). I think this is a brilliant idea especially if you are considering sending your DC to a school where they don't know anyone already and/or one you are not very familiar with. Although obviously I realise that state schools do not have the resources to provide such opportunities.

I have a lad at CHB too and he has an Aspergers diagnosis. He has been very well cared for there and their SENCO is fantastic. He is extremely happy there and we have not had a moment of regret about our choice. Parents of boys with Autistic Spectrum Disorders should definitely be reassured that the school are very familiar with ASD patterns of behaviour and most if not all of the teachers are very much autism-friendly. I am not so confident - though have no evidence - of how they would deal with a child with dyslexia or other writing problems. There is an extremely high expectation of class and homework, understandable as all the boys are very bright, but this may well leave children like my DS2 with a severe confidence crisis and the feeling that he was always going to be left behind. When I think about the massive amount of written homework that DS1 had even in Yr7 including writing a collection of 20 poems and an 8,000 word non-fiction piece with references and bibliography both due in I think after this half term holiday - it makes my blood run cold to imagine my DS2 trying to satisfactorily complete this task. Caveat: this was 4 years ago, they may not do it anymore and I should quickly say that my DS1 actually took these tasks pretty much in his stride, he enjoyed the stretch and challenge - as I assume the majority of boys will have done - and experienced a great sense of satisfaction in completing such a long piece of researched writing.

I remember speaking to a member of staff at Aston last summer who had been to CHB to observe and find out how they managed to get such good results. His opinion was that it was down to the sheer pace they work at and the huge volume of work that they get through. He did not feel that such an approach would be appropriate at Aston, where incidently they have much larger and much better resourced SEN team than at CHB or KEFW - maybe something to consider for others in this position applying this autumn.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 2:39 pm 
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i can occur with the last paragraph 100% by JaneM; I was wondering on how CHB achieve the success they do year in, year out. It is down to the volume and the level of studies. The pace picks up in year 10 and I assume is then relentless. The heavily tutored child who made it into the school in year 7 may start flacking around now, unless additional tutorage is being used. No one will confess to this I guess. Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 23, 2014 5:22 am
Posts: 47
Mm, that is an interesting point made by sbarnes. I recently had a conversation with the boss of the agency that supplied our tutor for DS2. She told me that the majority of their clients were actually in the grammar schools already (and KES and KEHS) and not 11+ candidates as I had assumed. They were currently tutoring one yr10 girl at KEHS for English and all three sciences - 4 hours a week. When I think about the amount of homework my yr10 boy gets at CHB I cannot imagine him having another 4 hours of tutoring on top. I think he would go mad.

Sometimes it is really hard to tell what your child will cope with at secondary, I am actually amazed at how fast my lad changed and how he actually started to excel in subjects I would never have thought he would have been any good at given what he was like at primary school. But with DS2 I hope I am realistic enough to know that he would not be able to keep up the pace at CHB or at KEFW, regardless of the fact he scored enough to get in. I am not going to engage a tutor to help him survive in one of these schools, I think that is just more pressure that he doesn't need. It is better that he goes somewhere where the pace is more suited to him. Sometimes it is hard to resist the hype and caché of schools with fantastic results and reputations, but they are not right for every child even if they score enough to get in.


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:47 pm 
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I brought up this issue previously in another thread I.e children in Grammars needing external tuition. I didn't get a clear answer as to why - surely if the children are struggling then the first action should be to ask the school to support them during the school day (mentoring in break and lunchtimes) rather than the parents jumping in and taking care of it at extra cost outside of school hours.

So does this mean that the parents aren't letting the schools know their child needs support (so the school thinks they are doing well when in fact they are struggling) or is it the case that the school knows but for some reason is failing to support the child?


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 Post subject: Re: Solihull School
PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:19 pm 
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I'm pretty sure all of the grammar schools would hope to be able to support pupils in difficulty, after all they recognise that most people have strengths and weaknesses, not all can be brilliant at everything. However I think that their support probably only goes so far. Maybe sbarnes knows better than I do but at CHB there is mentoring at lunchtimes in certain subjects and when they are set in maths in yr10 the lowest set is the smallest and has the most inspirational teacher. If, however, these methods are not enough to keep a child from struggling then what is a parent to do? Apart from thinking they have maybe made the wrong choice of school for their DC maybe they would resort to outside help.

Even more alarmingly, you may think, the example I cited from KEHS was for a girl who was not struggling but whose parents wanted to ensure she got 'A's for everything. The race to the top is pretty scary.


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