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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 12:19 pm
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Location: Gloucestershire
Please help! We are in the happy position of needing to choose between 2 great grammar schools. I thought it would be an easy choice, but it really isn't. I need more information on Pate's as I have very little to go by, not having even visited yet! :oops: I didn't think I needed to consider Pate's.

I've been mulling over all the issues and deciding factors, and will list them below. Have I left any considerations out which could affect things, and can anyone give us more information about why Pates would be a better choice for a child over another Gloucestershire GS?

:arrow: She has a sister at Ribston, nearby. So if DC were to take place at Pates, it would mean different term dates, different school uniforms, different routines, locations, teachers, children and activities for each child, and the consequent extra work for me, and lack of those helpful overlaps and familiarity that being a one - school family affords. On the other hand, it gives an insight into how another school does things, a bigger pool of contacts perhaps, wider life experiences, opportunities and additional ideas.

:arrow: There's a 15 minute walk to the 7:30 bus to Pates, return to bus stop at 4:30. Local grammar is a 15 min walk, at most, set off at 8:15am, return home about 3:45pm.

:arrow: Another school, separate from (sometimes bossy) sibling might be the perfect setting for our second child!

:arrow: Pates have excellent results, and child is in top 120. Would it be the best place for her, as she has a place there, and would be able to keep up and develop skills she might not otherwise, so would it give her a head start above another gs? Or is this a red herring and actually a way of hiding pushy, hot-house teaching with little risk of come back from parents who have pushed their child to get there, or put academic results above other factors. (League tables don't tell you HOW the school gets the academic results, how do Pate's get theirs?)

:arrow: Pates is mixed, which would suit our DD as she does get on well working in a mixed (bright) group, but makes friends with girls, so there would be fewer girls in her class to be friends with. She does make good friends well in different settings with down to earth, sensible, friendly types - what if they are not her type in her class? (Its likely that one or two of her friends from school would be going to Ribston which is the biggest pull for her, but not something to base a decision on imho.)

:arrow: It is likely that the local gs would have slightly smaller class sizes.

We will go and visit Pate's and will make a decision - and feel great that both are good options. It is a wonderful thing to be spoilt for choice, and to know that whichever one we choose, someone will be glad of the place we give up for the other one. Still, why am I not feeling happier about this?


Last edited by fruit salad on Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:14 am
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Where would your child like to go?

She will need to see Pate's to decide, of course. But I would listen closely to her wishes in that decision-making.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:16 pm 
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Good luck with the decision - we are in the same boat and also didn't go to look round Pates as we didn't think it was a viable option at the time.

Now we have the results we are having second thoughts and so will see what DD thinks after a look around the school.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 29, 2008 4:56 pm
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Well now, you do have a dilemna.
We had this last year (DS1 passed in top 120 for Pates and so could luckily have his pick)
He had always said Tommies as it is 10 min walk from home and he reckoned mates would be going there from primary. However, we had tears and upset as we wanted him to consider Pates as a realistic option as well. Not tears because he did not want to go to Pates but because he felt so much pressure having to make a decision. In the end I said "OK, Tommies it is." His face fell. So we knew it should be Pates :) Vesting that level of decision entirely on a child can cause them degree of stress and we certainly felt, that as his parents, we should not devolve the decision making soley onto his 11 year old shoulders.

He is in year 7 at Pates now and has settled in well. We are now here AGAIN, in the same lovely position, with DS2! He wants Tommies as some of his mates 'might' get in! I am encouraging caution as his mates may not even be in the same school or class. I know it would be easier if he chose Pates as DS1 is already there and we have our car share sorted. It is a little inconvenient as I work 12 miles in the opposite direction and so some mornings I am meeting myself coming back!

I do think once you see Pates your decision will be made. We thought it was amazing and loved it but never dreamed no 1 son would get it never mind no2 as well! The work is briskly paced and DS1 is kept very busy but I am assured it is the same at all the grammars. I put it down to slacking off so much in Year 6 and relaxing once he knew he had grammar 'in the bag'. Mr Fenton assured all the parents that if their child passed for Pates they would be up to the challenge. I would not say there has been any 'hot housing' just classes which are succinct.

Allow your DD a good look round and I think you will come to a consensus. I hope we do!!


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:47 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2009 11:14 am
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If location is less important, then it's a case of choosing whether you would prefer for your daughter:

-a school with a majority percentage of boys
-which has a military element (the cadet training)
-which introduces new year 7 pupils to shooting practice (according to earlier posters on viewtopic.php?f=16&t=16360&start=0)
-a competitive vibe IMHO

or whether you prefer:
-a girls' grammar with the specific focus this provides
-Ribston because of its specialist Humanities status
-a nurturing ethos


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:23 am 
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Pate's striking me so far as very 'supportive' and lay out of the day plus 'enrichment activities' etc and very little homework means it's all pretty stress free ... so far!! Not a horrid hot house at all and that's with doing key stage 3 in 2 years. Anyway have heard of 2 more girl passes one boy and a girl on the waiting list. Looks like the weighting of the paper must have been changed to restore the sonny balance of the last couple of years.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 11:51 am 
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Ribston and Pate's are quite different and distinctive. One woman's meat is another woman's poison! :wink:


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 12:07 pm 
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Quote:
introduces new year 7 pupils to shooting practice


Ahh, yes!! One of the most exciting parts of the induction day for my DS1. As he recalls the girls really enjoyed it too :) The school does run a very successful Combined Cadet Force for the older pupils (y9 onwards I believe) which is very popular with girls as well as boys. The most important thing is it is non compulsory and no pressure would be brought to bear to join but can be a great opportunity to try something new which is not offered at all schools.

One thing to bear in mind for the future reference, I see a lot of students applying for Uni and those who have experience of DoE and CCF tend to get on extremely well with their applications as they add breadth and substance to their personal statements.

As for the pastoral element, I do think they are well looked after and we recieve a weekly update from the head of Year 7 on their progress in general. Also any concerns can be mailed directly to their form tutor or the teacher in question. The head operates an 'open door' policy and has, on many occasions, requested that parents mail him directly if they need to discuss an issue or arrange a meeting.

I have no experience of Ribston directly but my friends DD started there in September and she seems very content and happy with how her daughter is progressing.

At the end of the day, go see, then decide. Horses for courses :)


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 3:51 pm 
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It all depends on your priorities - I do agree with the poster who said that you need to be careful not to just ask the children to decide - how they feel now may be very different to how they would feel after three weeks at the school. I think we need to help decide which school is best for them not just see which school they feel they like after a short visit.

The key thing is to remember that at this stage you will be amazed at how much personal bias creeps in from those whose opinion you seek. I would advise against believing criticism of one school from parents / students who do not know it! Sour grapes come in all sorts of packages, often very subtle. No school is perfect but there is so much spin and propoganda from people whose children do not go to school x - if you hear a rumour, ask the school or parents whose children attend the school! Even then, when you ask parents who know a school first hand, weigh up what you know about them - are they usually optimistic / praising or pessimistic and pedantic about things?

Is it so hard - they are all good schools! Phew.

Some better than others, that seems to be true

For me I would look at things that are facts and illustrate what the truth is...

- Attendance and exclusions - happy and well behaved?
- Were 'rules' or 'relationships' stressed when you went to Open Eve? - even boys needing structure actually, long term, need a school that sees and knows tham as individuals
- University progression - which Uni routes do you aspire to for your DS - they publish destinations
- Extra curricular - is there a real list or just a vague promise of extra curricular clubs?
-Applications / admisions standards - with 2000 applicants across the county each year, over, say, 5 years - what do most people say - what are the most popular - success is a self fulfilling cycle
- Exam results - duh!
- Communication - how easy is it for you as a parent to know what is going on (without relying on a teenager) and, therefore , be able to help with general stuff, things coming up, trips to plan for, academic progress etc
- Co-ed or single sex - you just take a choice on this (if you are very lucky) - which one seems best?

Sorry - ramble


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 4:24 pm 
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well said Gloucsdad. You are quite right when you mention personal bias. There are many many prejudices which can creep in both positive and negative. At the end of the day, there are not many people who complain about Pates, or the grammar of their choice, once their DC is ensconsed. It is important to think carefully and weigh up all the pros and cons so that you never look back and say "I wonder should I have.....?"
We ended up with pen and paper doing the for and against for both schools :D Nice place to be really.


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