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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 8:42 am 
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Having now been with my son to Judd and Skinners twice each and St.Olave's once, I am starting to feel - slightly despondently - that this school viewing process is like interviewing candidates for a job. Once you have done it for a few years you start to realise that you really can't tell from the short exposure to the candidate/ school whether the decision you come to is the correct long-term one. It's easy to get fooled by the smooth presentation or the shiny new building or the one good boy who shows you round. But you have to live with your decision for many years (probably) and you might well learn more from references than from the actual interview/ viewing. When I was interviewing regularly we used an internal cross-checking system by interviewing each candidate 8 or 10 times (different interviewers from different levels of the organisation) and having a final interview that was always with the same senior "gatekeeper" director.

So, let's have some cross-references on these schools from others who have seen them. And from parents who actually have children there - preferably at more than one of the schools.

Here is my take on these three schools: biased towards my attempts to work out what would suit a highly-strung, obsessive, lazy, academic and mathematical but uncreative (ie. literal) boy who is modestly sporty but hates football.

The boys we met: there seemed to be a scale of intensity and geekiness/quirkyness ranging from St.Olave's at the high end to Skinners at the low end, with Judd somewhere between but closer to St.O's on this imaginary and arbitrary scale. Put another way, the Skinners boys seemed more rounded and keener on extra-curricular stuff like CCF whereas the St.O's boys were keen on stuff that was parallel to the curriculum like science clubs/ maths clubs etc. The Skinners end of the scale was more laid back and generally relaxed. I was left with the impression that the St.O's boys would pursue activities obsessively and without too much regard for what might be cool. Obviously all of the schools are pretty keen on rugby and St.O's, quirkily again, seem to have their kids excited about playing Fives (which is frankly a bit of a dead-end sport but I expect it is fun for the school days if not beyond). St.Olave's is MUCH more culturally and racially diverse than the other schools, since it draws many peoples from South London rather than West Kent/Sussex. I liked that.

The teachers we met: clearly this is selective and a small sample at that (so give me YOUR views!) but I found much more enthusiasm among the St.O's and Judd staff I spoke to than the staff at Skinners. All were rightly proud of their boys' achievements in exams but there was more feeling at Judd and St.O's of pushing boys further beyond that. The Heads all seemed OK, if rather public school-like. All were proud of their schools, none were overly complacent about their achievements. Skinner's head was big on guns and rugby (but joked about the fact that there was more to the school). St.O's second presentation was given by an hilariously precocious and charming Year 7 or 8 boy who will have a career in politics or stand-up comedy ahead of him (the professions may well have merged by then).

The facilities: St.O's is well funded with attractive grounds and new buildings. Skinners has a beautiful new theatre inside the old chapel and a mix of really old cramped classrooms and some newer blocks. Sports fields are down the road and sports hall is decrepit but being rebuilt. Judd has a mix of the old and new again in terms of classrooms (but more new than Skinners). Judd has better sports facilities having built a new sports hall recently and has an all weather pitch.

I've written enough. Tell me what you think - especially if you have kids at the schools.

TD


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 9:37 am 
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My son has just left the sixth form at Judd and i can honestly say he has loved every minute of it!
He was reasonably shy and unassuming in year 7 and Judd really was the making of him. Most of the teachers (obviously a few an exception) have over the years become more like friends to him.
He made some great friends and enjoyed the work. I never felt he was pushed too hard and knew there was help if he needed it. He left with 4 solid A-levels , gone to Uni, a thoroughly rounded chap - and i think a lot of it was the way the school taught him.
I can recommend Judd but of course, every child is different and i think you will get a gut feeling if a school is right for your child.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:43 am 
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Hi Tired_dad_2008

My son has just started his second year at St Olaves. I really do think a lot of how they enjoy a particular school is down to the child. My son is very bright at maths and has done well in his first year. He hates Rugby but loves Tennis. The teachers all seem to be supportive and approachable but of course expect high standards from these boys. My ds has loved his first year there, made some great friends and found the work very straightforward (which proves to me it's the right school for him). People think the school is full of geeks or as my son says "neeks" (a cross between nerds and geeks) but there really is a mixture. My second son takes the test in November and we're also hoping to put down Judd on our CAF so it will be interesting to see where he ends up.

Good luck deciding.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2009 6:33 pm 
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Judd wins hands down for us -can't fault the school!!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:04 pm 
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Tired dad, what school did you choose to put first for your DS, if you don't mind me asking? Mine really wants to go to Judd over Skinners, but I have a horrible feeling his score won't be high enough. Only a week to go... this whole process has taken forever!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:08 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 4:22 pm
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Location: Tonbridge & Tunbridge Wells
tired_dad_2008 wrote:
Having now been with my son to Judd and Skinners twice each and St.Olave's once, I am starting to feel - slightly despondently - that this school viewing process is like interviewing candidates for a job. Once you have done it for a few years you start to realise that you really can't tell from the short exposure to the candidate/ school whether the decision you come to is the correct long-term one. It's easy to get fooled by the smooth presentation or the shiny new building or the one good boy who shows you round. But you have to live with your decision for many years (probably) and you might well learn more from references than from the actual interview/ viewing. When I was interviewing regularly we used an internal cross-checking system by interviewing each candidate 8 or 10 times (different interviewers from different levels of the organisation) and having a final interview that was always with the same senior "gatekeeper" director.

So, let's have some cross-references on these schools from others who have seen them. And from parents who actually have children there - preferably at more than one of the schools.

Here is my take on these three schools: biased towards my attempts to work out what would suit a highly-strung, obsessive, lazy, academic and mathematical but uncreative (ie. literal) boy who is modestly sporty but hates football.

The boys we met: there seemed to be a scale of intensity and geekiness/quirkyness ranging from St.Olave's at the high end to Skinners at the low end, with Judd somewhere between but closer to St.O's on this imaginary and arbitrary scale. Put another way, the Skinners boys seemed more rounded and keener on extra-curricular stuff like CCF whereas the St.O's boys were keen on stuff that was parallel to the curriculum like science clubs/ maths clubs etc. The Skinners end of the scale was more laid back and generally relaxed. I was left with the impression that the St.O's boys would pursue activities obsessively and without too much regard for what might be cool. Obviously all of the schools are pretty keen on rugby and St.O's, quirkily again, seem to have their kids excited about playing Fives (which is frankly a bit of a dead-end sport but I expect it is fun for the school days if not beyond). St.Olave's is MUCH more culturally and racially diverse than the other schools, since it draws many peoples from South London rather than West Kent/Sussex. I liked that.

The teachers we met: clearly this is selective and a small sample at that (so give me YOUR views!) but I found much more enthusiasm among the St.O's and Judd staff I spoke to than the staff at Skinners. All were rightly proud of their boys' achievements in exams but there was more feeling at Judd and St.O's of pushing boys further beyond that. The Heads all seemed OK, if rather public school-like. All were proud of their schools, none were overly complacent about their achievements. Skinner's head was big on guns and rugby (but joked about the fact that there was more to the school). St.O's second presentation was given by an hilariously precocious and charming Year 7 or 8 boy who will have a career in politics or stand-up comedy ahead of him (the professions may well have merged by then).

The facilities: St.O's is well funded with attractive grounds and new buildings. Skinners has a beautiful new theatre inside the old chapel and a mix of really old cramped classrooms and some newer blocks. Sports fields are down the road and sports hall is decrepit but being rebuilt. Judd has a mix of the old and new again in terms of classrooms (but more new than Skinners). Judd has better sports facilities having built a new sports hall recently and has an all weather pitch.

I've written enough. Tell me what you think - especially if you have kids at the schools.

TD

Did you visit TWGSB as part of your GS assessment..?

Comments from anyone else would be welcomed
Thanks
Villagedad


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:52 pm 
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We really liked TWBGS, I thought it had a good balance of everything and the Head was extremely impressive, but we are too far away and wouldn't have a chance in getting in so are depending on the other two.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:41 pm 
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@Shuff: I liked St.O's best but my son preferred Judd and Skinners. We compromised on the form and put Judd then St.Olave's then Skinners. He messed up (relatively speaking) his Maths paper so scored 409 on the 11+, which on last year's marks would have let him squeak into Judd from the waiting list (lowest was 408). So if marks are like last year I am expecting my email on Monday to offer him either St.Olave's or Skinners. We will then accept whichever is offered and put his name on the waiting list for Judd.

@Villagedad: Yes we went to TWBGS twice in fact. But we live north of Sevenoaks and it is unlikely we would get a place there, and it is as inconvenient as Skinners to get to. It felt like a large school with more normal, well-rounded boys. It had a more relaxed atmosphere than the others I described, which wouldn't suit my son since he is a lazy so and so who needs lots of pressure and discipline otherwise he coasts along. We also went to Bennett and found it very impressive. If all comprehensives were that good then I would be in favour of abolishing the grammar school system entirely. Of course it is also a long way away from us. I would choose Bennett ahead of TWBGS.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:33 pm 
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Tired dad we are similar to you 407 except it was the NVR that let him down. Judd is our first choice too, then Skinners. I keep hearing the cut offs being anything from 404 to 410 and higher, what are we to believe! The waiting is worse than the knowing.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:54 pm 
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I share your impatience! I'll be logging on to the Kent web site regularly during the day on Monday, in case the allocations appear there before the email arrives...

http://ola.kent.gov.uk/kccadmissions/summ_decision.php

The problem is - for you and me both - that the most likely outcome is for us to receive emails saying that our sons got into Skinners. Then there will be months more waiting until we discover whether they manage to sneak into Judd from the waiting list...

Of course they are both very good schools and other people are in far more difficult positions than us.


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