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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 8:58 am 
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Dear Forum Members,

I have been exploring this wonderful resource for over a year now and finally have the courage to ask a question. We will be moving from Berks to Bucks in a few years, so there is still plenty of time to make a decision, but some things need to be planned in advance.

DS is at an outstanding local primary in Berks and we are reluctant to move, but we might have to and here is the dillema: When moving after Y5, we can apply for a place at a Bucks primary school for Y6. Obviously, there would be few places available and long driving may be necessary. Still, even if we manage to find a good primary, I am not sure it would be ideal for a child to transfer to a new school and then, after few weeks, sit the 11+ exams. Our DS is usually shy in new places and can easily be discouraged or frightened, which would most certainly impact the test results. Perhaps it would be possible to get a place at a school and NOT go to that school till after the exams? But regardless of the exams, a new school for only one year can do more harm than good longer term.

Alternative 1: Home schooling for a year using online resources, workshops, catching up on reading, music, etc.

Alternative 2: Independent school for a year, hoping the stress of transition would be better managed. Perhaps entering the new school in summer term of Y5, but places are not always readily available.

Financially alternatives 1 and 2 would be the same, considering lost earnings from commitment to home schooling.

Alternative 3: Moving to Y4 or Y5 of an independent school. Considerable financial sacrifice, but probably best in terms of stress, friendships and chances to pass 11+. On the other hand, his current school is truly outstanding and we do not see much of an advantage academically (sports and music are taken care or locally as well). Perhaps, when considering this alternative the real question should be: Is it better to move an 8 y.o child of a 10 y.o? When would there be less disruption of friensdhips, less stress? At younger age there would be more time to get used to the new place and to build friendships beyond primary school. At older age the child would be more mature.

It appears that quite a few families move to Bucks just before 11+, in time for Y6. Is there a run on local primaries then? Is homeschooling in Y6 a consideration? Perhaps there are schools offering flexi-schooling in such cases?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated.

JW2016


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 9:32 am 
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Whereabouts are you in Berks? We moved to Bucks at the end of Yr 5 and my DS remained at his Berks primary until the end of Yr 6. He took the test in his Berks school (non-partner, out of catchment etc) and I drove him back and forth every day for a year - 40 mins each way. He point blank refused to move school just for Year 6 and for him it was the right decision to leave him where he was. I was lucky that my life allowed me to do the journey i.e work and siblings. You don't have to be in a Bucks primary to sit the exam but living in catchment will obviously give you a much greater chance of a grammar school place.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 10:41 am 
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Thanks for sharing your experience. We are in Wokingham and indeed we considered this option as well, but the driving would be more like 50min each way (thinking RGS, not an option for DCGS), which would add up to over 3h every day. While the child could be up to date with current affairs and have listened to all possible audiobooks, the commute would be exhausting. Adding fuel and car use might make home schooling a better option.

On the other hand, if I understand the rules, you need to be resident in Bucks from 11 Nov, so the actual commuting would be for about 6-7 months, not the whole year. Still easier with booking a local B&B for 1-2 nights a week :).

You write that your DS took the test in his Berks primary. I thought this was only possible in partner schools and that all other out of area children would sit the test at a school in Aylesbury or Great Missenden. If DS could take the test at his school, we would consider this option more carefully.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 11:00 am 
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I'm confused :/ My son was also in Wokingham but we moved to Bucks while he was at the end of Yr 5 therefore only a year's driving for Yr 6 and then he went to the nearest grammar to our new house in Bucks. If we had stayed in Wokingham in Yr 6 we would not have got a grammar place for the grammar we wanted because we lived out of catchment so hence only did driving for a year (year 6). You say you are moving to Bucks? Are you hoping to see if you can get a Bucks grammar place before committing to moving?

If your son's school agrees to administering the test then he can do it at his current school but I'm not sure I would recommend it. I think central testing is probably a better set up. If you want any further info about how I managed, PM me!


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 11:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi JW2016, and welcome!

JW2016 wrote:
If DS could take the test at his school, we would consider this option more carefully.

I doubt very much indeed, for reasons of test security, that Bucks CC would allow him to take the test at his own school when he could reasonably attend a central test. It is only in cases where children cannot get to a test centre that they make exceptions - usually for children living overseas.

There is a much simpler solution to all of this. Stay where you are, let him take the test at a central venue, put Chesham Grammar School or Sir Henry Floyd (Aylesbury) on your CAF and you will be allocated a place at one of them. Both schools almost invariably have surplus places in Y7 each year. There was also one year recently when Royal Grammar School had spare places in Y7. You can then move in the summer before he starts Y7.

The difference academically between any of the Bucks grammars is really not significant enough to warrant the upheaval or financial sacrifice that you are considering. Also, should he not qualify in the 11+, the alternative schools in your area may well be better than in Bucks.

Which year is he in at present? And have you considered the Berks 11+?

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 12:57 pm 
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The test used to be held at many schools outside Buckinghamshire, but due to a leaked paper incident a few years ago only official "partner schools" are now allowed to hold the tests outside Bucks. Children attending other schools have to sit the test centrally during the October half-term break. This year will be the third year of the new arrangement.

(Sorry - cross-posted with Sally-Anne! :mrgreen: )

_________________
Marylou


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Many thanks Sally-Anne, indeed test security would be one issue, but also being the only child taking a test, the outcome of which will determine whether he would join his friends at the local comp or not, would be a bit too risky.

I have been looking at the Bucks system for some time and was under the impression that it was only possible to get an out of county place if you live relatively close to the school, e.g. Berkhamsted or Hemel for Chesham Grammar, as ulimately they end up allocating all places and distance does matter. Wokingham is 30-40 miles away, which means that applicants from much of London would have more chance being closer.

DS is in Y2, so still plenty of time to decide. Yes, Reading School would be ideal, but my rough estimate is that 10% pass, which out of about 10% taking the test would mean 1% getting in, similar to superselectives and having a lot to do with tutoring and pure luck. In Bucks, there seems to be 30% getting in. DS is quite bright and we could try the superselectives, but we'd rather play safe. Indeed, I think that an "ordinary grammar" would be a happier place than a superselective, even for a gifted child. Following this logic, we would also consider Chesham Grammar, Aylesbury being a bit too far, unless he could travel by train from Amersham (actually, it seems that Sir Henry Floyd is the only grammar in Bucks offering IB?).


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 1:55 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
JW2016 wrote:
I have been looking at the Bucks system for some time and was under the impression that it was only possible to get an out of county place if you live relatively close to the school, e.g. Berkhamsted or Hemel for Chesham Grammar, as ulimately they end up allocating all places and distance does matter. Wokingham is 30-40 miles away, which means that applicants from much of London would have more chance being closer.

Both the Floyd and Chesham Grammar suffer from their geographic location (right on the edge of county) and strong competition from the single gender schools that they share catchment with. As a result, they allocate places to every child who applies and qualifies, and still have vacant places - you can see that from here: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/school ... n-profiles Would it reassure you if I tell you that I have known a child receive a place at CGS from as far away as Singapore? Then there was Italy, Switzerland ... Manchester was a shoo-in ... and the same goes for the Floyd.

Quote:
DS is in Y2, so still plenty of time to decide.

Children change enormously between Y2 and Y5. Shy children can come out of their shell, children lacking in confidence can mature and become much more robust, etc. As your son is happy where he is, and the school is good, I would sit tight and put his emotional and social welfare first.

Quote:
Yes, Reading School would be ideal, but my rough estimate is that 10% pass, which out of about 10% taking the test would mean 1% getting in, similar to superselectives and having a lot to do with tutoring and pure luck. In Bucks, there seems to be 30% getting in. DS is quite bright and we could try the superselectives, but we'd rather play safe.
Yes, around 30% qualify, with a further 5% getting in on appeal. There is much less pressure involved in preparing for the Bucks test - just VR, at least at present. Even if the content changes, the test won't become any harder, because it would still have to deliver roughly 2,100 pupils to fill the schools.

Quote:
Indeed, I think that an "ordinary grammar" would be a happier place than a superselective, even for a gifted child. Following this logic, we would also consider Chesham Grammar, Aylesbury being a bit too far, unless he could travel by train from Amersham

Yes, "ordinary" grammars are, I think happier places in general terms. From Amersham, CGS would be much easier than Aylesbury.

Quote:
(actually, it seems that Sir Henry Floyd is the only grammar in Bucks offering IB?).
Quite possibly. I get the impression that most of them aren't terribly interested in it.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:32 pm 
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We were out of county and took the 11+ at Aylesbury County Hall as we were living in Bedfordshire at the time.

My son is doing his final year 6 term in a school in Marlow which is is loving - it is a great school, with some of the children going to the same grammar as him in September. He now agrees tht it was better to move now and do his final year 6 term in Marlow so he has a chance to get to know some of the children going to SWB. Oh - the fact there is a week long residential school trip apparently has nothing to do with it ...

He was desperately unhappy for a long time building up to the change of school, and we had tears and deep despair about leaving his old school and his friends. But he keeps in touch using email with his old friends, and sees way more of his new friends as they are all in the same town as us.

I think (sometimes) listening to what the children want to do is actually not going to help them in the long run - they have never been in a position where they can see the bigger picture and sometimes it is a matter of just doing what you think is right for them rather than what they might happen to fancy at 3pm on a Monday which could be totally different by 5pm on a Friday ....

We only really get one chance at getting this education stuff correct and I am afraid that what my son wants did not really come into it (as in paying for another 7 years at an independent school!) - as I said, he is really happy where he is right now and is very glad I made him move.


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 4:16 pm 
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Faitaccompli, I am happy that it worked so well for your son. I am worried that, if we stay where we are, mine might not be very motivated to do well on the tests, as almost all of his friends will go to the local comp. I wonder if children at this age can be clever enough and do badly on the test in order NOT to get into grammar and join their friends. Of course, it is different if you move before the test and there is no way back.

Sally-Anne, I will have a closer look at CGS. If indeed, he would have been able to get a place every year based on historic allocation, we might stay put and have a go at Reading School using CGS as a backup. Even though the probablity of getting to Reading is much lower, I think that the VR/NVR test uncertainty would work to DS's advantage.

Now that I think about the whole strategy again, I can see three main reasons for moving and moving early (to Y5):
1. In Bucks everyone will sit 11+ and many classmates would go though the same ordeal, whereas in Berks, there may be 2-3 boys from his class that will take the test and parents would be secretive about it.
2. It is easier and less traumatic to break friendships at 8 than at 10. At 10 they might already have girlfriends :oops:
3. Generally less pressure before the exams in Bucks.


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