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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:26 am 
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With the Test now over and thoughts turning to school preferences, what do people think about the options for Sevenoaks boys?

Our DS is a likely 11+ pass, but I'm not expecting a super-selective score. (Practice test results late in the Summer holidays ranged 62% - 90+%, so highly variable!) Last year, an 11+ pass would have got him into TWGSB, but only just, in respect of cut-off distance.

Both Trinity and Knole are walking distance, but does the time-saving on school travel and greater opportunity for independent study at home compensate for not being at a grammar school? DS is very studious, conscientious and enthusiastic about learning, having overcome some earlier learning difficulties and progressed from remedial English to top set.

Any advice/information from parents with children at any of these schools would be much appreciated. I'm also interested to know what people's thoughts are after school tours this month and next.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 3:33 pm 
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Location: West Kent
My Ds is now in 6th form at TWGSB and he wouldn't even consider looking at another school as he has been very happy there. He has a lovely group of friends, very hardworking and all round great kids. Before he started I was very nervous of it being such a large school, especially as he was at a very small primary and has never been sporty, but it has never been a problem for him. He says that it was a good thing, as there are enough of all types, creative, sporty, sciencey etc to find likeminded friends.
There has been the odd troublemaker as I think would be the case in all schools, but it has always been dealt with swiftly.

I can't comment on the other schools, as I have no direct experience of them, but have nothing but good things to say about the staff and Head particularly at TWGSB.
Don't worry about the bus journey btw. They get used to travelling around very quickly and it becomes a big part of their social lives and helps them be independent.
Best wishes to you and your Ds for results day.
Minty


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 5:04 pm 
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Thanks, Minty. It's very helpful to have your perspective after several years' experience of TWGSB. My DS isn't very sporty either, so you've reassured me on that front too. Thank you for your good wishes and best of luck to your DS in his 6th form endeavours.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:04 pm 
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I can't do the local comparison for you, but we too had a very successful twgsb experience in the family which ended two years ago with fantastic results.

My dd is in year 7 and has a long school journey. I did not as a child and I detest seeing how little time there is at home to do homework or anything else. Also, all the clubs are at lunchtime and it's difficult to eat, attend them and have time with friends.

If I had a local option I would go for it if it was ambitious enough academically. It sounds as though you need to stand at the gates of Trinity and interview year 8 parents of top set children and ask to view their exercise books from last year.

I don't think that Knole can offer the range of academic subjects one might hope for in the sixth form, but then there is a lot of sixth form swapping.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:10 am 
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mystery wrote:
My dd is in year 7 and has a long school journey. I did not as a child and I detest seeing how little time there is at home to do homework or anything else. Also, all the clubs are at lunchtime and it's difficult to eat, attend them and have time with friends.

If I had a local option I would go for it if it was ambitious enough academically.


Slightly confused by this part of your response Mystery when you seem so passionately against a Sevenoaks grammar school?


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:08 am 
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Ah - I'm not against a grammar school in any particular town but my own personal preference would be for it to work well alongside whatever already exists in the relevant area (not just that particular town) and be the best use of limited public funding at the time. Without clearer information I am not sure whether or not a Sevenoaks grammar school fits that - and I certainly don't think that a council should be spending £16m or so constructing a school building when there is no approval for a school to operate from inside it. It seemed at one time as though that was what was going to happen and I found that shocking. Also, again at a personal level, it would not be local for me nor many others who live in the Sevenoaks District so I have at times pointed out that I am not sure that the demand for it is as portrayed in the headline figures which assume that it would be the most local option for children who live in Sevenoaks District. Maybe from this you have assumed I am completely against it but that's not actually the case. If there's a good case for public money to be spent on it rather than something else and it's not to the major detriment of other schools, then fine.

If I lived in Sevenoaks at this point in time I would probably have been hoping that, in the absence of approval for a grammar annex, that Trinity would be allowed to use more of the site and become an excellent larger comprehensive and that Knole also would strengthen and gain popularity in the areas in which people see it as not a good alternative to a grammar.

If I had a child at Weald, I would probably also be keen to understand whether or not Weald could cope financially and logistically with the costs of operating an annex at this distance, particularly in the early years when it doess not have a full set of year groups.

I personally don't see why a child who can pass the grammar test shouldn't do as well or better in the top sets of a good comprehensive. It is hard for people to know with a new school like Trinity whether this will turn out to be the case or not.

I hope Chimera-ma gets some answers from people with current experience of Knole and Trinity but it's probably hard on this particular website to come across that set of people.

I wonder if Trinity would let you look at the exercise books of a top set year 8 and year 9 child. That would give you a good feel ---- but maybe later in the year once they've done some work.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:13 am 
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mystery wrote:

If I had a local option I would go for it if it was ambitious enough academically. It sounds as though you need to stand at the gates of Trinity and interview year 8 parents of top set children and ask to view their exercise books from last year.

I don't think that Knole can offer the range of academic subjects one might hope for in the sixth form, but then there is a lot of sixth form swapping.


I think sixth form options at both Knole and Trinity are likely to be limited, except in co-operation with other schools, the problem with Trinity being its small size (4FE). However, there is also the option of starting at one or the other and then applying to transfer to a different school for the sixth form (Weald of Kent?), subject to successful GCSEs.

It is so difficult getting a handle on the relative merits of Trinity and the Knole grammar stream, both being so new.

Trinity's recent OFSTED report was less good than I expected, but accommodation issues will have placed additional demands on staff and students and I think it will be difficult to get a reliable picture before they are settled into their new, permanent building 2016-17.

Knole's GCSE results this year should have been better, I feel, if there has been a drive to raise overall standards since the amalgamation of Bradbourne and Wildernesse. Presumably too, some of the grammar stream teachers have also been involved in teaching outside of the grammar stream, so their successes and failures are reflected in the school's GCSE results.

If anyone can offer anything evidential or even hearsay on any of my speculative points, that would be much appreciated!


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:20 pm 
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If you knew you could get Judd or Skinners would you be weighing these up against the local options?

I really do sympathise. My oldest chose superselective with long journey over a good comprehensive in another county with a comparatively short journey. I will always wonder what if.

If I was you, I know I'd consider Knole and Trinity long and hard but then probably end up plumping for Tunbridge Wells Boys Grammar because I'd chicken out on the unknown aspects of Trinity and Knole. It would purely be the journey to TWSGB that would be the sticking point for me.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2015 7:56 am 
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Yes, I'd be considering Judd and Skinners' too, particularly given DS's sciences orientation, although I know he'd worry about all that rugby for sport. Judd is our nearest boys' grammar; I preferred Skinners' in respect of school tour impressions last year. The commuting would still be the key issue.

I do worry about the 'guinea pig' aspect of choosing Knole grammar stream or Trinity and will be trying to find out about year-on-year progress, value-added statistics on forthcoming school visits. Teaching staff absenteeism at Knole and a lack of quality cover were issues for one of the grammar stream kids I asked questions of last year, so that needs investigating too, and I was hoping that there might be some knowledge of that expressed in this forum.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2015 11:32 am 
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I know someone with a child n ow in year 12 at Knole who spent some time in the grammar stream so I'll ask them if this rings a bell.

I also know someone with a child in year 8 at Trinity so I'll ask them for their imprssions this year. I'll PM you.

Problem is that most parents don't have much of a clue about whether their own child is really making progress or not until they see the GCSE results! I really only have some idea myself by looking at my child's exercise books - what school says etc can be a bit misleading I found at primary level - can't speak for secondary level yet.

It's made harder now by the new curriculum - I'm not even sure that many schools are now geared up with system where a parent can be told the were something or other at the start of the year and now they're something else.

When you ask the majority of parents how their child is doing the repeat to you what the teacher has said or what was written in a report ............ if that's accurate it's fine but if it's not (unfortunately my experience) it doesn't tell you what you need to know. That's I guess why having GCSE results for a school gives a certain degree of comfort.


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