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 Post subject: Am I missing something?
PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:27 am 
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Sorry about this and I really do not want to offend anyone but could someone tell me why everyone seems so intent on getting into the Gloucestershire grammars? I am not from the county and am therefore unfamiliar with the Gloucestershire comps but the results from the grammars (apart from Pates) are not much to shout about - are the comps really awful? I am not trying to be offensive but what is it about the grammars that makes parents want to go through so much upheaval to get in? I see a lot on the Pates website that sounds fantastic and their results are fabulous too but after that the others have mundane, out of date websites and (in some cases) average to poor results at A level. Is there something that you guys from the area know that isn't obvious to others? I may be being really naive so do please enlighten me. My husband and I are considering huge changes for our family in order to pursue a grammar education for our two children but apart from one in particular I'm not yet convinced the others are worth the trouble.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:34 am 
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littlebaker wrote:
Sorry about this and I really do not want to offend anyone but could someone tell me why everyone seems so intent on getting into the Gloucestershire grammars? I am not from the county and am therefore unfamiliar with the Gloucestershire comps but the results from the grammars (apart from Pates) are not much to shout about - are the comps really awful? I am not trying to be offensive but what is it about the grammars that makes parents want to go through so much upheaval to get in? I see a lot on the Pates website that sounds fantastic and their results are fabulous too but after that the others have mundane, out of date websites and (in some cases) average to poor results at A level. Is there something that you guys from the area know that isn't obvious to others? I may be being really naive so do please enlighten me. My husband and I are considering huge changes for our family in order to pursue a grammar education for our two children but apart from one in particular I'm not yet convinced the others are worth the trouble.


Difficult isn't it - one of the problems if you live in a selective area (and I am not from Gloucs) is that the comprehensives are anything but - they can find it difficult as the top band of children have gone elsewhere - in Skiptpn they don't call the local non selective a comprehensive because it isn't one. When this happens people get more keen to go to the GS as the alternate is less attractive. I don't know the schools there - am aware that Pate's is similar in results to the schools around here.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 10:59 am 
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Location: Gloucestershire
littlebaker wrote:
... but after that the others have mundane, out of date websites

Welcome.

I'd strongly recommend not judging schools by their websites, nor for that matter, brochures or other marketing materials.

Come and look round the schools. Each one has its own distinct character.

When we first started looking at secondary sector schools in Y5 for my elder daughter, we did an extensive tour of the ones that were within reasonable commuting distance of our house - initially without DD. The two furthest were good (comprehensive) schools, but the distance & cost of travel outweighed any possible benefit of DD going to them.

We then toured the two closest comps & the girls grammar (even closer to us) in Y6 with DD. One of the comps we ruled out as it would just not suit her (that was both her opinion and ours - we'd more or less decided that the year before without telling her).

Both the grammar & the comp would suit her character & interests well, so we let the 11+ decide.

Did we look at the GCSE, A level, added value or OFSTED reports? No. Both schools have good reputations locally. The comp has a reputation for having a 'rougher' element, but that doesn't seem to affect the brighter children there.

If we were **** bent on pushing her to the extreme, then maybe we would have looked at the other grammars, and had her commuting 1 1/2 hours each way per day. We prefer her to be part of her community, to go to the school that her friends (some from nursery, others from primary school) go to, and one that suits her character. She loves it there and is doing pretty well.

We've just done the same with DD2, and, with her input, come to the same conclusions, even though they are different children. Only problem is for her, that a couple of her friends have decided to make the hike up to Pates. Oh well.

Had they been boys, then I suspect that we may have made different decisions.

Hermanmunster wrote:
one of the problems if you live in a selective area (and I am not from Gloucs) is that the comprehensives are anything but - they can find it difficult as the top band of children have gone elsewhere

I don't know the comps over there, but that may be the case in Gloucester or (to a lesser extent, due to only having one super-selective grammar) Cheltenham.

However, I know of quite a few children in the Stroud area who pass the 11+, then decide to go to one of the local comps, and the top streams at these schools do produce great results.

The further you get from Stroud to the S & E, the more comprehensive the comps become, so one comp I know has a 'grammar' stream, set & taught together from term 2 or 3 of Y7.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:18 am 
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Thanks for that capers. I had already thought it best to visit the GS but when I called I was given a curt reply along the lines of your children are too young to be visiting and when they are in year 5 or 6 we have an open evening that you can attend!!! Bearing in mind we live over 70 miles away it isn't really easy to 'pop' over one evening. This was especially the case at Pates who gave me the impression they had no need to go out of their way to let interested parents in as they were so highly in demand that they could make the rules. I can understand this to a certain degree because it would be disruptive for the pupils to have people traipsing around but we do not want to wait until yr5 or 6 before we can see if the schools are actually worth all this thought and effort. Hence the fact that I had to fall back on the results and the websites. Don't tell anyone (!) but I even considered sitting outside a few GS to see what the kids' behaviour was like - how ridiculous is that, but you get desperate!

Where were you implying by saying southeast of Stroud, because that's heading in my direction. Is there a good comp my way that streams in all subjects (Lady Berkeley?). I'm getting the feeling that the comps aren't that bad which makes me even more confused by the intense need to get into the GS :(


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 12:39 pm 
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The HSFG in Gloucs has a dreadul website, but it's a great school. Our daughter loves it and is doing very well.

The two best comps in Chelt - Balcarras and Bournside, which both got between 74-75% A-C at GCSE including Eng and Maths this year - are good. Some of the pupils outperform grammars. I know of a girl at Bournside got 8 as and 4 a* at GCSE. Just goes to prove the comps can produce great results on a par with Pates and the grammars in Gloucester and Stroud. All the parents of kids at Bournside I know think it's great.

OK the grammars are great and get good results, but they are not along in doing that and the comps such as Bournside have far superior facilities to some of the grammars.

And the new academy in Cheltenham will have the best facilities of all. They are so good that Pates will be using them as part of its involvement with the new academy. I know the head at Pates is a keen supporter of All Saints. As part of the co-operation, some A-level pupils from the academy will go to Pates for certain subjects and there will be co-operation between the teaching staff from both schools.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:07 pm 
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Quote:
My husband and I are considering huge changes for our family in order to pursue a grammar education for our two children


Can I ask why? Grammar schools are just schools, after all. I'm sure there are many good schools where you live, catering for all abilities. In Gloucestershire most of our schools are good, too, but because the grammars teach at a faster pace we felt our daughter would be happier with that, than the local comp, which teaches in mixed ability tutor groups for the first two years. She also felt she would prefer all girls, which ruled out the comp.

I have to say unless your local schools are totally unacceptable, I would think very hard before doing anything as major as relocation just for the schools - what if your kids get in and hate it? It does happen.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:25 pm 
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Location: Gloucester
Gloucestershire does have some very good comprehensive schools,however it also has some schools in special measures and others that achieve very poor results at GCSE.It also depends on where you live-our local catchment school is one of the schools in special measures.That leaves you little choice but to try for the grammar school if you think your DS has the ability.

Things are not always black and white!

GM


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Hi pixiequeen, the reason we are willing to make huge sacrifices is because we want the best for our children like everyone else. We have two awful local comps and a third very average one. I have friends in Kent who rate their local grammar very highly so I started to look further afield (we have no GS here) to see what the closest GS's were like. The problem I am having is that Gloucestershire is the closest county to us with grammar schools and we can't relocate any further because of work so it was the Glouc GS that I looked into. Taking Pates out of the equation (although even their French A level results this year were poor) the remainder of the GS didn't seem to be doing amazingly well (bearing in mind you have to pass an exam to get in and I would think most parents of these children are really supportive and encouraging). I was just a bit surprised and wondered if people were only clamouring over the GS because they had low opinions of the local comps in the county (again apart from a token few such as Balcarras). When I look into A level performance league tables (having very little else to use for comparison) GS do do very well across the country, but the Glouc ones are not the best performing (Pates aside) and I just wondered what else they had going for them that was better than the local comps. Even your comment about your daughter's GS being faster paced is helpful as these are honest opinions that only people in your position can give.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 5:17 pm 
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when I took my ds to visit our local comp,we looked in on a year 10 maths class. The pupils were trying to find the area of one face of a cube with certain measurements given. We thought it was a little easy,especially when teacher said "dont worry about doing the maths, you can use a calculator :shock: " Also a friends group who went into the class after us observed them doing the same excercise with a pyramid, the class couldnt't work out the answer but the 10yr old ds could! This is school which was on 41% gaining 5 grade a-c, where I have spoken to newly qualified teachers who stayed a week and left the profession. Talking to parents who have dcs at the school it does appear to be a lot better than it was though.
My ds is going to grammar.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 05, 2010 7:00 pm 
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Littlebaker, I wonder if you would do better to look at GCSE results for the different schools as comparisons, rather than the A Levels? All of the Grammar schools take 'other' children into their sixth forms, and as far as I know, so long as a child has enough GCSE's, it's easier to get in this way. Therefore it's not a true reflection of how the school performs in Key stage 3 and 4.

My DD has not started at her Grammar yet, so I hope the information I am giving you is accurate! :D

Pros for us at Grammar were the fab, buzzy atmosphere, confident, articulate, polite children. Cons at local comp. were the way the teachers all felt the need to explain the discipline policy to us, and Ofsted's opinion of the teaching.

There is a less local comp. that we would have been very happy with (possibly more so than the grammar, as comp. is co-ed and a better social mix), but it would have involved a bus journey (leaving at 7.30am) whereas DD will be able to walk to the grammar school. Much of what Capers said re: community and friends applies to us too.

Hope some of this helps.

Pixiequeen


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