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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 27, 2016 12:34 pm
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Dear lovely parents,
This is my first post. But I have browsed the forum many times and gained many advices from you indirectly and wanted to say thank you first!
Long story short, our son sat CSSE, didn't reach the required scores. We didn't consider to travel far beyond colchester either ( live in ipswich). So our choices are left as Woodbridge or ipswich school (got acceptance to both, no scholarship). And got into local academy comprehensive ( kesgrave high school). It is pretty much too late to leave the school choice till this time but we are being indecisive and unsure about the prospect of spending a fortune but at the same time, unsure about comprehensive ( even though I heard good things about KHS, it is a very big school too). Any thoughts would be gratefully appreciated. I need to be decisive now :shock: . Do you have experience at any of the schools. If it helps, my son profile is average academic ability, youngest in class, easily distracted, talkative and lots of sense of humour, friends love him, but not self motivated for academic purposes, into music but not into sports. Thanks in advance. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 5:42 pm 
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Ok, not recent personal experience (I was a KHS pupil myself but that was a long time ago!) but I have friends/relatives with DC at all three schools. My impressions are:
The Ipswich school would be the most academic, but probably also the most pressured. Not good with SEN, a friend moved her dyslexic son from there to another Indi and he is much happier now. Sport and music both strong.
Woodbridge is less academic but still does fairly well. Music is particularly good across a range of instruments and choirs. Warning - friends are likely to be scattered across rural Suffolk and sometimes late summer borns are down a year (so your DS may still be significantly the youngest)
KHS is a better than average comprehensive with a generally very local intake. Music was poor in my day but I can't comment now as none of my cousins that are there now are particularly musical. They are however happy with the school.
I think for me it would rest on the relative importance to you of the smaller school/ class sizes, the extra curricular activities and the financial burden.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Thank you so much Minesatea for kind information on all 3 schools. It is really helpful. I was worried if my post wouldn't be accepted because it is not about grammar schools anymore (unfortunately for us). But you have kindly answered it and I am very grateful.

For DS, I think what we have to look for is : a school that will do a little push academically (hopefully not to the extent of making the child unhappy at school) as he is not self motivated. And a school with some music facilities, even though he is not top notch in music. it's coincidence that you mentioned SEN, we are suspecting this easy distractibility and talkativeness and thinking of getting him assessed. To me, he seems like he could do more than average if he would focus more and less distracted). Do you know how Woodbridge is with SEN? I guess small class size would help him for less distraction but he is not a top achiever and we are unsure if we should pour that much money :shock: and wondering if outcome would be any different. I have never thought of younger group option for him. It would have been a great solution. I thought we couldn't do that in UK. I should have explored it while he was in primary.

In your opinion, how would an average student do in these 3 schools? Will he be better off or lagged behind in an academic school? Do you know any average students in these 2 indies? Will he be ignored in the middle in state school just because he is at required level? I know it will be just a guess, but it would really help my thinking. Thanks for your kind help.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:16 am 
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Experience of Ipswich is a years old but I wouldn't say it's overly pressurised environment.

There is a lot of compulsory sport but it's not necessary to be gifted to enjoy the opportunities.

Music is strong but opportunities to participate right down the scale .

There is a danger in many schools that average children get 'lost' but it's not a given even in a big comprehensive. If there are signs of lack of concentration and indications that your DD may get led into disruptive behaviour to enjoy being popular then a school that will support and stretch sounds a good fit.


Other considerations would be the financial impact of fees on the family ( especially if there are siblings who might might need the same) and traveling ( daily and for seeing friends - for your DS and how much time you have it ferrying is needed).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:56 am 
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Thank you KB for kindly sharing the experience of Ipswich. I like the sound of it. stretch but not much pressurised, opportunities to enjoy sports even if child is not very sporty, music for all abilities. It sounds a good fit. Financially, it will be a stretch, not comfortable affordability, that's why we are thinking hard. (That will seriously affect family lifestyle, no holidays, both mum and dad working all extra unsocial hours :? )

But we are weighing the possible outcome and our sacrifice because what you have written is spot on with what we are worried: indication that he might get into wanting to be popular and lost track ( right now, his only priority seems to entertain the friends with silly jokes and make them laugh : :?, being younger than peers is a problem too with maturity). For travel, I think they have bus route towards us, but for seeing friends, we might not have left any time to drive around since we will be working extra hours :cry:

In your experience with Ipswich, what is your impression on Ipswich towards average students academically? Have you ever come across any average students at Ipswich among your DD/ DS's friends? (Because one of the teachers from his primary said that, upper average in this primary probably means lowest or lower average set in Ipswich and he might not get any attention and could affect his confidence because there will be not much children below his attainment unlike in this state primary. Whereas in KHS, there will be definitely some below his attainment. ) That's just her opinion though. I am trying to work out a good fit based on experience like yours and Minesatea on these schools and weighing out financial commitment and possible outcome. I am really grateful to both of you for sharing your experience on these schools. And I am really eager to hear if you came across any average student in Ipswich and their impression. Many thanks again. :)


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:28 pm 
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Sorry, unsure of Woodbridges SEN support. My friend moved her DC to RHS.
Yes, the August borns I know at Woodbridge have been a year down since reception.
I think it is difficult to advise on "average" ability and think that the fact your son has won a place at Ipswich should mean he is academically able to cope there. The grammar school heads always advise that it is what your DS does once he gets to the school that is more important than where he came in the exam, so I guess your question is which schools ethos will suit him best and where will he be happy and thus work hard. There you may have to go with your gut feeling (or his!).
There is an argument that middle achievers benefit more from private education than high achieving, self motivated pupils who should do well anywhere!

(I am finding it hard to think of KHS as large school, it had 750 pupils in my day!)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 8:12 am 
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Thank you for the kind reply Minesatea. Yes, I will just have to think about which school's ethos would suit him and go with gut feeling. if we have to go with his feeling, it's Woodbridge ( because of hands on CCF experience they offered to him, and he said everyone was friendly and the fields are huge and building has lots of facilities), his dad's guess is KHS (mainly because it is not fee paying and thus we can spend more money on outside tutors etc if he needed, whereas if we poured all our salaries into independant option, we cannot do tutor etc for him at GCSE, and his thinking is that if he doesn't do well in KHS, there is option to go to other options but if we choose inde first, he won't get KHS back, his thinking is different from mine, mine is all about my son's strength and weaknesses and where he will suit) ( KHS is an academy now by the way, they got 1800 now). As for my choice, I am very indecisive as I thought of a lot of pros and cons in each setting, :? but I need to be decisive now. All of your information and thoughts has been very helpful and I am really grateful. I guess we will have to go with his decision for the hope that he will try hard where he is happy. Thanks again to everyone.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 9:37 am 
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OP, i don't know any of the schools personally but i do have some thoughts on the indie vs state route. I went to private school and it was a real push for my parents - to the point where it made us unhappy as a family. Any big, unexpected expense was a crisis and, as you suggest may the case for you, my mum had to work long hours to be secure. As a result, we had very little family time and no parent at home when we returned from school. As a consequence (and because I wasn't a very driven or self-motivated child), there was no-one there to supervise homework, etc and I didn't try very hard (and didn't do as well I could have done). This in turn caused conflict between myself and my family.

Of course, every family is different and I don't know your personal circs - but think about being under that kind of pressure for at least 5 years and how you might cope as a family.

Also, re: your concerns about your boy's concentration, etc. How does he respond to delayed rewards? One of the markers for ADHD, for instance, is a child's inability to delay gratification or to self-discipline in hope of delayed reward. This is one of the reasons why ADHD children find it very difficult to, for instance, focus now on work, knowing that when it is done thy will get to go out to play, etc (it's all to do with dopamine release).

Best of luck with your decision.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:54 pm 
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If your DS has been offered a place at Ipswich then he will be able to cope academically.
There are plenty of 'average' pupils there and the school is set up to deal with a range of abilities.
I do know there are a (very) few children from their own prep school who they do advise would be better served elsewhere so if your DS has been offered a place the school will be happy he is suited to them.

If finances are tight then with any fee paying school do take account of annual increases and check if there are any extras. But don't be put off by tales of expensive optional trips - these are for a small minority and he won't feel left out by not going. Some of the families at the school are well off but there are many who aren't.

Also many schools ( & Ipswich certainly did) have 2nd hand uniform shops which also stock games kit. My children at various stages had specific non-essential kit ( eg hockey sticks) as Christmas or birthday presents.

It's true that it would probably be easier to move from state to indie but you would need to make sure he doesn't fall behind academically before making the move and he might have to wait for year 9 entry.

Many families go without holidays and upgraded cars to meet school fees but the 'both parents working long hours' issue is worth weighing up, especially if your other half has doubts.

Very tricky decision - wish you all the best with it.


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