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 Post subject: Bucks Upper Schools
PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2007 10:27 pm 
Hi, wondered if anyone had any input re the Bucks upper schools, I have been looking at the Amersham School? My son's teacher says he would be better suited to the GS system but typical boy not really bothered although has ability! No prep for the 11+ came home today saying he found tests easy but knowing him could easily have failed! My school said if he didnt pass they would def support him on appeal.....but when we visited the schools the other week he said he preferred the Amersham School to Chesham High! So am now in a bit of a quandry!? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated...


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 9:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2007 3:40 pm
Posts: 359
Location: Chiltern District, Bucks
My personal view is that the Amersham School is good. Others may disagree.

I did the open morning for parents a couple of weeks back and was very impressed with the new Head (arrived from Wye Valley Deputy Headship in Sept 2006) and the apparently robust processes now in place for streaming and for disruptive behaviour.

It has a very strong Maths department - about three quarters of pupils allegedly take "higher maths" at GCSE which is astonishingly high for an upper school. From what I have gathered from two other local upper schools, it is normal for the majority in upper schools (over 50%) to take lower levels of Maths GCSE i.e. intermediate and foundation.

The Amersham also scores well for an upper school on retaining pupils after 16, which kind of suggests the kids are happy with the school. In fact on my figures, I'd currently place it fourth where retention is concerned.....a long way behind Waddesdon (which leads by a mile) but only slightly behind Chalfonts and Misbourne.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 12:34 pm 
Many thanks Dad40 for your comments which I found very interesting. I think my son liked the fact that the majority of teachers were young and enthusiastic at the Open Evening and made a real effort to engage with him, also the girl showing us around was delightful (she turned down Chesham High for this school too!) and absolutely loves it there.

I suppose my concern is this re order of preference. If I put down Amersham which I am occ for then my 2nd choice would be Chesham High ,he doesnt like any of the others Misbourne etc. So if he didnt get in to Amersham as out of area then we could appeal via our school for CHS but this would give us problems at appeal as obviously we wouldnt have put CHS down as first preference. If however I put CHS down first thinking he wont pass (as I need to do this as it is the only in catchment area school he would consider) and he did pass then he would be stuck with CHS when he really wanted Amersham?!

Dont know if I am just confusing things and should just go with Amersham or put CHS as it is in catchment and Amersham isnt.


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 Post subject: preferences
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:01 pm 
Someone with local knowledge may be able to give more info but I think in most areas you should now list schools in your ACTUAL order of preference - they will work their way down the list and offer the highest-ranked school your son is eligible for. If offered one lower down (or not on the list at all!) you can still appeal for any of the others higher-ranked - you can appeal for more than one school at a time as well as I understand it.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8208
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi louib (or even luoib! :lol: )

I think the answer to your dilemma lies in the Allocation profiles for the last 2 years.

In both 2006 & 2007 the Amersham school was able to offer places to all children who wanted it, regardless of their catchment. (So, by the by, was Chesham High.)

Therefore even if you put Chesham High first, he passes and you change your mind you can ask to be re-allocated the Amersham school and will almost certainly get a place. If you needed to appeal I think you would be on strong ground to say "my son has decided that he would rather be top in an Upper School than bottom in a GS, and he likes the Amersham school more than CHS".

However, if you put the Amersham first and he passes, you will not be automatically offered a place at CHS. You would need to appeal and as you rightly say, that could be tricky, having put an Upper school as first preference.

On guesswork, if you are in catchment for CHS but not for the Amersham you would be very comfortably within any likely distance cut-off for out-of-area applications that might be imposed for the Amersham if it were over-subscribed in future.

Please note that I am only working on historical information here and the situation could change in future, but I think it is unlikely. "Past performance is no guarantee" and all that!

Also, bear in mind that Chesham High also has a new Head, so the ethos and atmosphere will be changing pretty radically in both schools over the next few years.

Sally-Anne

P.S. If you register on the Forum I can send you a PM. But you need to decide on that user-name first!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:51 pm 
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Joined: Thu Oct 11, 2007 1:46 pm
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Hi, thanks for that Sally-Anne, any help most appreciated! I have registered as you suggested so would be delighted if you would pm me!! Sorry about username, this was just a random collection of letters so didnt really pay attention to what I had typed before!!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:54 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:39 pm
Posts: 3
Does anyone have recent experience of St. Bernards at High Wycombe ?

My daughter didn't get the magic 121 so we're into the appeal process. We had St.Bernards as our top Upper School but have just read the most recent Ofsted report and it's a bit disappointing.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 3:41 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8208
Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Giles68

I have no personal experience of St. Bernards, but I have heard the same opinion - "slightly disappointing" - from 3 sets of prospective parents. They have been looking at St. Joan of Arc School in Rickmansworth as an alternative, although that may be too far away for you.

However, it is worth noting that St. Bernard's was slightly oversubscribed this year. That is fairly rare among Bucks Uppers, and suggests that the religious ethos is still highly prized.

As a footnote, I should also mention that (from numbers published by Bucks CC) around 10% of applicants were rejected in the first round of allocations, even though there were places available. I am almost certain that this would have been because their religious commitment did not meet the criteria laid down for admission to the school.

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11956
I hear that the Ofsted report was judged as a little harsh for this school.

The Head and Deputy are very dynamic and I hear that things are moving fast. Pastoral care is good and results on an upward trend - I would not worry if it was my local Upper!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:03 am 
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Joined: Sat Dec 01, 2007 1:39 pm
Posts: 3
Thanks Sally-Anne and Guest55. We went to the Open evening and were reasonably impressed. It's really the Ofsted report that worries us. We'll probably arrange a new visit and discuss it with them.

Like many parents we're weighing up our options.

Giles


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