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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:07 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:10 pm
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Hello
I've been reading this forum for some time, but never posted before. I've found a lot of useful information in the past so I hope someone can help me now. Thank you in advance for your time.

We are Bucks residents, living in Burnham and my son has just qualified for grammar school. Burnham is our obvious choice and we have all visited several times, but I am just not sure about it. On paper it doesn't seem to perform as well as the other Bucks grammars and is the only one of the 13 not to be rated Outstanding by Ofsted. My impression when looking round was that it felt more like a comprehensive school and I have heard several people say that it is "a grammar in name only". I also found it to be very shabby, with much poorer facilities than the other schools I have seen. I understand that there is a huge refurbishment about to take place which may well address this last issue, though I also have concerns about DS going to school in a building site for the first couple of years.
On the positive side of things, I find the headmaster to be excellent and thought the school did seem to have a happy feel to it. As I know very few people who actually attend this school, what I'm asking for is the view of anyone who has or recently had children there. Do you think the standards and opportunities there are as good as other grammars in the county? Is your child suitably challenged there? How does your child find the extra-curricular provision?
Given our location and the fact that my child is a boy we don't really have any other Bucks grammar options (even though there are others for which the journey would be easy due to my workplace, I don't think we'd stand much chance of getting a place) so I really want to like this school. DS also qualified with a high score for the Slough grammars so several of those might be an option, but not so close or as straightforward to get to. I'd be very grateful if anyone could share their experience/knowledge. Many thanks.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 7:35 am 
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Hello, my daughter is at BGS and I actually can't fault the school. A lot of the other schools' Ofsted results are very old and a lot has changed between now and back then regarding how the ratings are decided. That is not to say those other schools are not still outstanding of course!
DD is so happy at school, has great friends, is being academically challenged, the headmaster is amazing.. it is a very forward thinking school which does not feel stuck in a rut which happens sometimes. I could go on but I am sure you get the drift. If I can be of any more help, just ask.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 8:02 am 
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I think you can't go far wrong, if this is your local school. There would have to be very compelling reasons to travel elsewhere.
I have two sons at BGS, both have been happy there and enjoy school life. They don't do many extra curricula activities (you can lead a horse to water etc etc) so I can't really comment on that. For sports, I suspect that unless you are in to rugby or netball there probably isn't a great deal, but I'm prepared to be wrong on that one. The pastoral care has been very good. Bullying is stamped on immediately (and of course does exist, in spite of what people at some schools sometimes claim). Teaching seems to be good - although of course there are good and bad teachers, as everywhere. If you don't want ethnic diversity this probably isn't the school for you.
It has amongst the poorest funding in the country, from recent press reports - if it was a couple of miles away in Slough it would have much better funding. From yesterday's reports about how well schools do in encouraging those on free school meals or pupil premium to enter grammar schools, it is one of the best, and this is one of the things I like about the school. It is not an elitist grammar school in some leafy suburb, it is a real school with a cross section of society, which has got to be a more realistic start in life. The fact that it hasn't always been viewed as a "proper" grammar school is one of it's strengths, it isn't targeted by the people that some of the schools in Bucks have been, making them private schools in all but name, with most people unable to afford to live in catchment, or possibly the uniform.
The school does run some expensive trips, which I'm not sure sits very well with what I have said above. There are opportunities for trips to New York, Iceland, Malaysia, ski-ing in the US, New Zealand, as well as France, Spain etc. My children haven't done these & don't feel left out in any way.
Please let me know if you have any specific questions. It isn't perfect, but what school is?


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:21 am 
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If you look for my post on Bucks schools Ofsted ratings you will find most of the 'Outstanding' reports were on the old Ofsted framework which was not as rigorous as the current one.

Anything before September 2012 was measured on a very different ruler - a bit like comparing centimetres with inches.

Go for BGS.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:14 am
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Burnhammum wrote:
On paper it doesn't seem to perform as well as the other Bucks grammars


I'm not sure I agree. The following is from the DfE performance tables and the details are for 2015 (it's all about progress 8 for 2016 and I'm not sure how reliable the progress 8 measure is):

Burnham Grammar School
98% A-C incl. Maths & English
95% making expected progress in English
97% making expected progress in Maths

Aylesbury High School
99% A-C incl. Maths & English
97% making expected progress in English
98% making expected progress in Maths

Aylesbury Grammar School
98% A-C incl. Maths & English
94% making expected progress in English
99% making expected progress in Maths

Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School
98% A-C incl. Maths & English
93% making expected progress in English
95% making expected progress in Maths

The Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe
97% A-C incl. Maths & English
93% making expected progress in English
99% making expected progress in Maths

John Hampden Grammar School
98% A-C incl. Maths & English
90% making expected progress in English
89% making expected progress in Maths


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:53 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
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Go for Burnham. From my experience, going to school close to home is such a benefit that it outweighs almost anything else. Easier journeys, no worrying about the weather affecting travel, being able to play a full part in the school's clubs, sports and evening/weekend activities and so on. The biggest benefit to my daughter has been that she walks home, gets in the door at 4pm, has a "tea break" with mum to relax, then hits her homework in a relaxed and fresh state of mind at 4.30pm, when most of her friends are still on a bus only halfway home.

The percentages that loopylala has helpfully listed show just how little there is to choose between schools on those measures. Each percentage point is about 2 children in the whole cohort. Although having posted them, I wonder how many of the "intense parents" that crop up on here around results time will be hastily re-drafting their CAFs to remove JHGS and considering surgery so their boys can go to AHS.... :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2016 1:10 pm
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Thank you for your responses and statistics, they were helpful reading.

We visited BGS again yesterday and I got quite a different feeling from it compared to last time. It probably helped that we were there later in the morning and by then were pretty much the only ones looking round. It seemed a lot happier and more open than a lot of schools I have visited and that strikes me to be a nice environment to learn in. All the students in the classes that we stuck our heads into appeared to be focused and engaged in the lessons, but also enjoying themselves. The teaching that I observed in that short bit of time seemed enthusiastic and imaginative. I think my son would feel comfortable there and, as mentioned by a few of you, there is also the added benefit of it being close to home, meaning he can walk there by himself and have more time and energy for homework or activities after school. DS was very positive about it and thinks he would feel happiest there.

If anyone has anything else to add about the school I'd be really interested to read it. Thanks again.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2016 2:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:33 pm
Posts: 329
You've done the best thing by seeing it "backstage", behind the spit-and-polish of an open evening. From your description, it sounds excellent.


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