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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:45 pm 
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Hi everyone, DC has "passed" both Slough and Bucks and we live in Hillingdon. Confused on which school to put down as one of the choices. I have seen Hershel but not Burnham Grammar yet. Have looked at the websites and Burnham Grammar comes across as a balanced school - not too pushy but still academic (I know I might be reading too much into it from a website!)
Please can someone let me know if they have experience of either school and any feedback? Or any thoughts on which might be better?
Logistically, the commute is the same.
Thanks.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:47 pm 
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Will write a longer reply later, but I know Burnham has open days this week (check the dates, but I think it is today & tomorrow).


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 12:53 pm 
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Hi, thanks for your reply, aiming to go on Thursday. But could do with feedback from parents x


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:15 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:47 pm
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Location: South Bucks
They are both excellent schools. I have children at one and many friends have children at the other. I'd consider travel arrangements and simply go for the school you can most easily get your child to. That said, I don't know about the recent allocation profiles for the schools and whether or not your child is likely to get a place.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:21 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Allocation profiles are here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=41421

Burnham is around 10 - 12 miles out of area each year, but there's never any guarantee that it will be the same in future.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:22 pm 
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Actually, found a moment now.

I think it is a good school, with the results improving year on year. Like any school, there are good teachers & not so good teachers, but most do an excellent job. It has a slightly shabby air to it, but I believe they are about to spend a lot of money on the facilities. I have found the sports to be a little limited, but that may be because the sports that my sons enjoy are not particularly well supported at the school. Rugby & netball seem to be the main sports, but my overall feeling is that it isn't a particularly sporty school. Maybe those involved would probably disagree, but I get the impression that there isn't a huge breadth of sport. Drama and music are becoming more popular & I believe drama GCSE is now available. If your DC has a particular sport that they are interested I would really ask a lot of questions. I was told that dance was big at BGS - they have one (very good) dance show each year & that is about it.
I have found the pastoral care to be really excellent, they tackle issues head on & stamp on them very effectively (unlike another school I have been involved with where anything that didn't happen on their premises was not of concern to them). The support given to my DCs when they have had problems has been excellent. Communication is improving, although not perfect and the website is awful!
If you are looking for a school which is like a free private school, as some of the GSs in Bucks appear to be, this isn't the school for you. There is a diverse ethnic mix, which I think is positive, but some can find it a negative and children of Asian origin are the biggest group in the school - I am not saying anything negative here, and don't wish to start a debate, but it is a fact. There are some years where there has been an imbalance of girls vs boys with fewer girls, but I don't know if this has happened recently.
The only real negative for me is there isn't a great community feel to it. I think this may be because so many pupils travel from quite a distance, so do not stay for after school activities, or attend functions. It means that few parents get involved in school life & I have been surprised how few parents attend information evenings such as KS3 or KS4 information evenings, and I do get the impression that some parents want to post their children in at one end (from afar) and receive a well educated adult out at the other end. I think this makes fundraising for the school difficult (whether for new buildings, equipment, or whatever).
The school has recently started to push quite a few expensive trips (New Zealand, Malaysia, ski trips to the US), and personally I wish they wouldn't. Some of their other trips are better value (short trips to Europe), and no-one is made to feel bad if they don't go, but if you have 2 or 3 children it would be a very expensive business to take part in all that is on offer.
Overall, I would recommend it, my DCs have been very happy there. Just don't expect a posh, shiny GS, expect a down to earth, friendly, practical sort of place. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Hershel.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 9:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:25 pm
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scary mum wrote:
Actually, found a moment now.

I think it is a good school, with the results improving year on year. Like any school, there are good teachers & not so good teachers, but most do an excellent job. It has a slightly shabby air to it, but I believe they are about to spend a lot of money on the facilities. I have found the sports to be a little limited, but that may be because the sports that my sons enjoy are not particularly well supported at the school. Rugby & netball seem to be the main sports, but my overall feeling is that it isn't a particularly sporty school. Maybe those involved would probably disagree, but I get the impression that there isn't a huge breadth of sport. Drama and music are becoming more popular & I believe drama GCSE is now available. If your DC has a particular sport that they are interested I would really ask a lot of questions. I was told that dance was big at BGS - they have one (very good) dance show each year & that is about it.
I have found the pastoral care to be really excellent, they tackle issues head on & stamp on them very effectively (unlike another school I have been involved with where anything that didn't happen on their premises was not of concern to them). The support given to my DCs when they have had problems has been excellent. Communication is improving, although not perfect and the website is awful!
If you are looking for a school which is like a free private school, as some of the GSs in Bucks appear to be, this isn't the school for you. There is a diverse ethnic mix, which I think is positive, but some can find it a negative and children of Asian origin are the biggest group in the school - I am not saying anything negative here, and don't wish to start a debate, but it is a fact. There are some years where there has been an imbalance of girls vs boys with fewer girls, but I don't know if this has happened recently.
The only real negative for me is there isn't a great community feel to it. I think this may be because so many pupils travel from quite a distance, so do not stay for after school activities, or attend functions. It means that few parents get involved in school life & I have been surprised how few parents attend information evenings such as KS3 or KS4 information evenings, and I do get the impression that some parents want to post their children in at one end (from afar) and receive a well educated adult out at the other end. I think this makes fundraising for the school difficult (whether for new buildings, equipment, or whatever).
The school has recently started to push quite a few expensive trips (New Zealand, Malaysia, ski trips to the US), and personally I wish they wouldn't. Some of their other trips are better value (short trips to Europe), and no-one is made to feel bad if they don't go, but if you have 2 or 3 children it would be a very expensive business to take part in all that is on offer.
Overall, I would recommend it, my DCs have been very happy there. Just don't expect a posh, shiny GS, expect a down to earth, friendly, practical sort of place. I'm afraid I don't know anything about Hershel.


Thank you so much for such an informative post. You are right, the website is just rubbish. I tried to navigate around it to get the information and it has to be one of the worst. However, I did find (when found!), the content useful. I did like the fact that kids are not forced to do three sciences unlike some of the other grammars. Not all kids are suited to three sciences. I understand your point about the community feel. But isnt that in a lot of schools where kids are commuting from lots of different areas? Thank you again, I feel I know Burnham much better now!

Anyone know anything about Hershel?

Thank everyone for your replies.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 7:39 am 
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The two schools are broadly similar drawing the majority of their intakes from Slough (not Bucks for BGS) as reflected by the ethnic mix of the pupils

BGS is probably more accessible by public transport being less than 1 mile from Burnham station whereas Herschel is a bus ride away from Slough station


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 11:03 am 
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Scary mum is spot on about Burnham Grammar.

It looks run down, but the kids are happy, any attempts at bullying/attitude are jumped on and the results are great without anyone cracking up due to stress. GCSE: at the moment it's ranked 63rd in the country (state schools) for A/A* (66%) at GCSE and 106th for A-C (97%); 72% achieve 5 or more A/A*. A level results are currently slightly below the other Bucks grammars, but it's ranked 3rd in county for adding value in 6th form (ie improving results above expectations based on GCSE results); I think that must mean their 6th form has a lower point requirement for entry than some of the other grammars, which would fit in with the school ethos about supporting all pupils rather than concentrating on the highest of the high fliers.

I'm told the website will be sorted next year, and not a moment too soon! The building works will include a new 3 storey building (classrooms, more science labs, new loos & changing rooms, dance studio), a new sports hall, refurbishing the gym into a learning resource centre/library and converting the existing hall into a sixth form study area. Apparently the reason the school was allowed to get so run down was to support the grant application ...

Sport is friendly/inclusive rather than pro. My Y8 is on the rugby team without having ever played before, and only 2 or 3 of the cricket team play for clubs. This is great if you're a duffer as it means you don't get sidelined, but less so if you want your team to be top of the league. Speaking as someone still scarred by playing 10-a-side tennis while the 6 good players hogged the other 3 courts, I consider this a good thing.

Art is lack lustre compared to other schools I've visited (JHG, BH, Watford Girls), and music isn't huge (one orchestra, no bands) despite the best efforts of the wondrous music teacher. Drama is new, but they made a more than decent fist of The Crucible and Animal Farm; sadly I missed the 1950s style Midsummer Night's Dream.

Science is very strong, with an inspirational head of dept.

It is weird how few parents attend events though, and I do wonder if more involvement would make the school feel even better (although as long as the kids are thriving I guess that's all that really matters). And it does mean I won't have to worry about jostling for space at next month's production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:05 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 9:25 pm
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Thank you all for your brilliant replies. Very informative and helpful. I did manage to visit the school on Thursday. TBH, I didn't leave feeling great as I have done when I've visited other schools. But I liked the headteacher and his honesty. He also said that the school was shabby and that they had won a grant and building work will start soon. Again, they were leaving the school shabby on purpose in order to win grants - I get that.

It does have a more ethnic mix but that does not bother me.

Thank you again.


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