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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:19 am 
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I found the whole process of secondary transfer a complete nightmare!! I hadn't realized how much it could consume your life. Looking back, I really was not prepared for it. There were plenty of sleepless nights and lots of worrying.

I thought that by creating this thread it could be used as a good tool for parents who will be embarking the crazy journey later in the year.

Unfortunately, where I live, there is a state school (sorry, community school) very close by, which just was not an option for my dd. We didn't look around it but now I feel that we should have. We did however look at a non selective school for which we were out of catchment. We really liked it and would have put it 3rd if we thought that we had a realistic chance of getting in. As it happened if we had put it 3rd we probably would have got it this year. Every year is different.

Myself, and a very, very small handful of parents, took a real gamble by not putting any community schools when choosing preferences. By doing this I was told several times by fellow parents and friends that, if she didn't do very well on the test, she could be allocated Westfield college as all the other schools would be over subscribed . I felt that my dd was academic enough to gain a place at one of the SW consortium schools. This year, for the first time,our local community school was in fact over subscribed!!.

It was really important to place my preferences in the correct order and not waste a choice. Many factors came into account especially the statistics table on this site.

For example, there was no point in putting Queens school infront of Rickmansworth as Rickmansworth took a higher pass mark. Or putting Rickmansworth in front of Parmiters. Of course, we had to take into account the actual visit to the school and how my dd felt. Thankfully our views were the same. She was adamant that she did not want to go to a single sex school so we didn't even look at it!! Maybe in hind sight we should have?

The other problem is that you really do not know if your child has the ability to gain a high enough score to get into the school. I feel that this, too, is a complete gamble. She always did brilliantly on the tests at home...but on the day with nerves, ect, it could be so different.

In reflection I feel that we sold our daughter short when choosing the preferences. We had quite secure choices taking in to account the pass mark system.
Now knowing her score she could have gained entry to all the consortium schools.

Our choices were,

1st--Parmiters
2nd--Rickmansworth
3rd--Queens.

We could have put CD but chose not to as we would have then been putting very high pass mark schools and I felt that was too much of a gamble and pressure on DD. Plus DD didn't like the feel of the school. On this issue we did differ. We really felt that we were going to be very very lucky to get Queens. Which we would have been so pleased with.

Fortunately DD gained a place at Parmiters through the academic route. We are absolutely thrilled and delighted.

There really is not enough information for parents and you really do walk the journey alone. Some parents share information and some just avoid the issue. Most of the parents who shared information managed to gain a place at one of the consortium schools. Knowledge is power.

DD has read this post and has asked me to add:

"The test was exactly what I expected it to be. It may seem fairly easy but you really have to take your time and read every question carefully and at least three times. Lots of my friend said that it was so easy however they did not finish the test. Especially forgetting to do the last page of the VR test!!. The people at my school who were very confident that they would go to a academic school ended up at a local school. Not doing as well as they had thought on the test. Some are appealing but have got one of their choices. That is why it is so important to only put schools that you would be happy to go to. I know that we made the right choices. I loved all the schools we chose in different ways"

I hope that this thread will help you when making your choices. This site has been invaluable to me.

Many Thanks
xx


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:02 pm
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Location: Herts
Thanks for this. But intrigued as to why you felt your preferences "sold your DD short". Is this because you now know she could have got into CD?

As your DD was on the waiting list for Parmiter's - albeit for a short time - I think you're more aware than some just how important it is to be content with all your choices. That said, I think a banker school is essential.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:24 am
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Thanks tense,

I really liked CD but felt that I could not put it as it would have been 2 top ranking schools together. I tried to cover all the pass mark options. Unfortunately for us there was not a banker school which we felt was acceptable. We gambled and it paid off for us. We resigned ourself to the fact that Parmiters was just a dream choice. We feel so lucky to have eventually gained a place. So very very lucky!!
The main problem is the tests. I feel that I never gave my daughter enough credit and did not believe in her ability. None of us really know. As you said you have to be happy with all your choices.
You must ask yourself, for every preference, if you (and dc) would be happy for your child to go there. If the answer is no then you should consider not putting it down. I was able to say 'yes' to each preference we chose.
xx


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:34 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2008 8:26 am
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Location: Watford, Herts
(By the way, when you write "state schools" I think you mean "community schools", as all the consortium schools are state schools.)

I would say that people should first work out their true preference order of the schools without worrying about the statistics, and consider all the possible schools. For the next step, cutting your preferences down to the 3 allowed to Herts parents, the statistics can be useful for eliminating wasted preferences. You also need a banker, as tense said, and this may involve dropping a school from your original list. But at that stage you should be dropping some of your preferences to fit the 3, not changing from your true order.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 8:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:34 pm
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Location: Watford, Herts
While I agree that you should only put choices that you are happy to go to, we tried to cover all angles and put in a "dream" school as well as the non-selective school that we prefered should the test day not go too well. This was one that we knew we would get should the worst come to the worst.

I would advise people to look at the non-selective schools as you may find that they aren't as bad as you think and it gives you an opportunity to select one as a preference instead of being allocated the least popular should the test day go badly.


Alison


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:57 am 
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I think that it is important to take a very good look at your childs academic ability and discuss your choices, if permitted, with their class teacher. Every child is different and if my circumstances had been different, e.g. my child was of average ability, then I would have most definitely chose to put a community school. Therefore I would agree, in those circumstances, that it is essential.

My Head teacher seemed to think that you should only consider your child for the academic test if they were a strong level 5 in literacy and maths. This information was given way back in September 2009. Was that the right advice??…… Also, if taking the music test then the child should have grades in a chosen instrument. That was not good advice, as this year, a child at my dd school gained entry having only ever played the recorder and not completed any grades. A musically gifted child!!

We decided that we were in the good position to give our child “a fair crack at of the whipâ€


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 10:19 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:34 pm
Posts: 213
Location: Watford, Herts
Given the lack of success at appeals stage for the SW herts consortium schools I would consider putting (and did put) a non-selective school (or having an independent school if finances allow it) as a backup as even a bright child can have an off day.

Sounds like you have a lot of support and guidance from your primary school which is great to see. That is a very big help in making what can be difficult choices as there is so much to think about.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:02 pm 
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Posts: 87
Location: West Watford
I feel extremely fortunate that my daughter was allocated our first choice of WGGS. She is a high achieving child but my reasons for wanting the school were not primarily academic. My older daughter left the school last year, my younger son is still at WBGS and emotionally my youngest always thought she knew which 'her' school would be - until the removal of the cross-sibling rule. Also, her ruling passion is Art and doing the rounds of the schools in October revealed facilities and opportunities that none of the others matched. Well, it is a Visual Arts College.

However, I felt, and still feel, that academically, she would do as well at our second choice: Westfield Community School. With 3 level 5s she would go into their top band. (Personally I'm not a big fan of banding and prefer the mixed ability classes of the Watford Grammars, but my point of there are plenty of able children at Westfield). She would start one modern language and have the opportunity of a second fast stream (I think I'm remembering that correctly), and the maths text books used are the same as those at Parmiters and Rickmansworth.

I think the essential thing in the process is to look at ALL the schools that you could bear to travel to and not be swayed by playground talk or statistics. The latter are in any case based on children who entered five years ago. I do agree though it is wise to have a banker school.

As far as music goes, there was a thread about this earlier in the year: by and large it seems to be musical children without musical experience that get through (I know there are exceptions but that does seem to be the rule). So if you go this route as 'practice' for the academic test do tell your child there may be an audition at the end of it!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 3:22 pm 
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Hi,

I experienced the transfer in 2009 and would I do anything different then probably yes.

We did look around all schools including the closest community one and then made a list of the Schools we preferred and reason's why.
I allowed my Son a huge amount of input into this and one of my favourites we ranked as third although tbh I think my son had discounted this school something I would change for next time would be to ensure my child understood they could be offered any school and possibly none.

I would also try and find out prior to completing the CAF how many children were likley to transfer as this did have an impact in 2009 and the distance I thought schools would go to are dramatically different for 2009 compared with this year.

The other major thing I would change is not rely or become complacement by what Primary Schools says. Children can muck it up on the day and my DS did.I had not factored this into my thinking.

When we were allocated our third choice school I was quite happy but my Ds was exceptionally upset as he had never really considered the eventuality of attending this school. I was very shocked by his reaction and realised I should have made it clearer that he may be offered this school.

I would certainly advise people to put a community school on their CAF We didn't and it so nearly backfired in a big way for us.

There is an awful lot of rumour and hearsay attached to the tests and some parents do not want to share any information regarding them. this is entirely up to individual people but if I am asked I always direct people to this site and clearly advise them to visit a school prior to writing it off due to bad press it received a year ago or more.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:22 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 24, 2008 1:25 pm
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I'm not sure of your system, but it seems fairly hit and miss and shouldn't have to rely on an alchemy of luck, excessive research and sleepless nights!
In Glos, we are lucky to have properly informative results delivered within a fortnight of the tests (only 2 VR tests which cover all 7 grammars [for which each gender is eligible for 4] in the county). This will be reduced to results within a week. We have no sibling rules, no catchments, it's purely first, or highest :? , past the post. But, we ARE armed with sufficient information to make intelligent choices (we can list 4 schools). So, if you are not top 160 for our superselective, you don't waste a choice on listing it.
The wait is still agony. The lead up to the tests is wretched. We have what we call a twilight zone, which is when your child has passed for one of the grammars which does not indicate a rank scoring and when there are more passes than places, but we're not left to guess to quite the extent that parents in other counties seem to have to, and I lament that not all LEAs take this stance.


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