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PostPosted: Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:51 pm
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We are moving from Chislehurst in Kent to either Blockley/Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire or further into Kent, around the Tunbridge Wells area. This move is mainly to be close to decent schools, our daughter will start primary school next September but we are trying to think ahead about secondary schools too.

Our dilemma is this - Kent has many more grammer schools that Gloucestershire but the mainstream comprehensives seem to be pretty poor. The reverse seems to be true of Gloucestershire. Our children are pretty bright but we think it would be a bit foolish to assume that they'd get into a grammar school so we are also thinking abourt back up options too. Privately educating our kids is an option for us but not our preferred choice.

Therefore, is Kent a better choice on the basis that there is a greater chance of them getting into a grammar school but we would have to look at private education as a backup? Or, should we look at Gloucestershire on the basis that schools like Chipping Campden and The Cotswold School are very good but all things being equal, are there simply fewer grammar school places to be had in Gloucestershire?

Other questions on our mind:

Is it painfully competitive for grammar school places in Gloucestershire?
Is Chipping Campden really a good school?
Does anyone know if Blockley Primary School is better/comparable to St James and Ebrington?
Are we worrying a bit prematurely about secondary schools?
Do kids get bored living in places like Chipping Campden?

Any advice relating to any or all of the above questions would be much appreciated.

Best regards
Darren


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:17 am 
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Hi Darren,

I really think you should look at wider issues than schools when deciding where to live. Rural Gloucestershire is very different from Tunbridge Wells; and not just in schooling. You speak of Chipping Campden, which is lovely, but a long journey from all the grammar schools here - the nearest would be Pate's in Cheltenham, which would take close on an hour at the very best of times, which mornings are not likely to be. Pate's is one of the hardest schools to get into in the entire country (and it might not suit everyone either), so you might be looking at the the Gloucester (single-sex - again not everyone's cup of tea) grammars, which would take even longer, or Stroud - longer still. I am not sure about public/school buses from outlying areas either - a friend in Winchcombe has to drive her DC to Cheltenham Racecourse (20 minutes) in time for a 7.30 bus to Gloucester. Gloucestershire is super-selective - around 5% of children get into grammar, which I think compares unfavourably with Kent. Selection is by VR only and is extremely competitive - many of the private schools start teaching VR in Year 2 or 3 and the parents buy in private coaching on top. It is almost unheard of for an un-coached child to get into GS here, though I have heard of one child this year who has.

Cotswold School is not especially highly regarded but has outperformed some of the GSs this year in A level results. No idea about CC. Most of the secondary schools here are very good, and their fortunes wax and wane in cycle, it seems. Because the grammars are so very selective, the standards in the non-selective schools, especially but not exclusively in the north of the county, are generally very high. Quite a lot of people in rural areas don't even try for GS, for logistical or ideological reasons, so there are very bright children in the catchment schools - a friend of mine's daughter has just got a clean sweep of A*s from one. It is very easy to get caught up in the rather overboiled GS culture here and overlook the other possibilities, though if you are out in Blockley or somewhere you would be less likely to encounter it. Of the 2 primary schools you mention, I know a bit about St James and Ebrington as I know a member of staff there: it is 2 federated tiny schools and seems a very happy place, with good results as you would expect. If you are looking for a small village school I imagine it is fine. There are also good bigger ones - again, depends on your taste and what you value in a school. One of the 'best' primary schools, results-wise, here, is one I would not have sent my own children to under any circumstances; others probably feel the same about the school I chose for mine. Horses for courses, and all very personal - it has to 'feel' right to you and your child.

Be aware that once you get over the border into Worcestershire the system is different, with first and middle schools still the norm. A bit further and into Warwickshire and you are back with superselectives, though a totally different selection package and I think a tiny incy wincy bit easier to get into on account of more places per head of population(may be wrong on this). People do come from London, Bath, Wales to try and get their children into the Gloucestershire grammars :? .

I really do think it comes down to lifestyle though and what you want in other aspects of life. Personally I wouldn't have moved here for the schools alone - definitely not that much of a pull. You need to come and spend time here and ask if you like the area (and it is beautiful) and all it has to offer, better than your alternatives. It is very early to think of secondary before your daughter has even started primary - so much could change, with academies, changes of government etc.

Hope this helps. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Aug 24, 2010 9:51 pm
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Hi Amber

Thanks for such a detailed and helpful reply.

My wife is especially keen on the Cotswolds because it is closer to her family in Sheffield than Kent, however, I remain a little concerned that rural life will be a little too quiet for us. Kent is a more comfortable option and there are some very nice villages and a very good range of grammar schools but the mainstream options are pretty poor. The good primary schools are extremely competitive and we are keen to try and avoid as much of that environment as possible.

We both want to provide a decent lifestyle for our children and I want my wife to be as happy as possible. I am lucky in that I run my own company so can work from home as much as I like and just commute back to London a couple of days a week so I'm pretty content to live wherever. We have friends in Paxford and have been up quite a few times so we know the area quite well and spent a day driving round virtually every village in the north Cotswolds, hence we decided on Blockley & Chipping Campden.

I think in honesty we are overanalysing the many variables that are going into this decision and should probably rely a bit more on gut feeling.

Did you move out to the Cotswolds from London/Home Counties? How did you find the transition?

Kind regards
Darren


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 3:48 pm 
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Darren,
I sent you a pm. Please feel free to pm me if you think I can be of further use. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:50 pm 
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Location: East Kent
The Cotswolds are lovely and so are parts of Kent.( I am a Cheltenham girl living in Kent now),

so much can change in even the best of schools in seven years that i think you should go with your gut feeling rather than to dwell too much on schools.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:00 am 
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If moving to Gloucestershire then why choose such a rural location? There are plenty of other areas to live with excellent schools.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:37 am 
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For info: the priority circle for the South Warks grammars (Stratford and Alcester) includes parts of the Cotswolds.

http://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/Web/corporate/pages.nsf/Links/74A8E1D93CB366948025758C004786EB/$file/South+circle2010.pdf


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:37 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
I was just going to suggest a similar thing. I know of children from Adderbury (south of Banbury) who go to grammars in Stratford upon Avon, but also know of people who moved closer to Stratford (after eldest daughter go a place there). Chipping would not be too bad a journey.

There are, as far as I know, two grammars that take girls in Stratford. One is more artistic, the other more academic, but obviously both are for bright children. My friends who moved have one daughter at each school - both passed for both, but the children have different interests. Both are happy & doing well.

That's about as much as I know about Stratford schools.

I wonder if the parents would consider moving closer to (say) Tewkesbury / Winchcombe areas? Better for the M5, still Cotswolds (well, maybe not Tewkesbury, but the villages are nice around there), and there's probably bus routes to Pates (used to be as my other half did it as a child from the Gretton area).

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 29, 2010 9:15 pm 
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There are two grammars in Stratford - one for girls, one for boys. Alcester is mixed. I'm not sure which would be said to be the more academic or artistic. Entry to all of them is pretty competitive, but as they have a catchment area (the priority circle), they're not strictly speaking superselectives. Children from outside the priority circle can join the waiting list after the first round of offers.

I've no direct experience of it, but Chipping Campden High is very highly regarded round here (Warks/Glos borders).


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:32 pm 
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bus through the northern villages, yes, to Pate's. Otherwise, it's the race course for the Gloucester grammars (or various points in Cheltenham etc, but for us northern villages it's the race course). Painful, but you get used to it. Ish.


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