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 Post subject: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 1:57 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:35 pm
Posts: 4
Dear all
We're looking for somewhere to buy in Trafford with the aim of getting our one-year old into a good primary and maximising his chances of attending a selective school when the time comes. I appreciate this is a little early but we figured we'd have to go through the same decision making process sooner or later anyway.

I understand catchment areas can change with time. Therefore we thought we were best off buying as close to our chosen primary as possible. What this means is that we need to pick a primary (or a small selection of them) _now_! That's a bit unnerving. And we also realize various other caveats apply to our strategy -- for instance he might not be academically oriented at all. Our aim, however, is pick the school where he gets the best academic peer group. Whether or not he chooses to make use of it we think being in an environment with a motivated and capable cohort can only be beneficial to a kid (well, in most cases anyway).

We've been looking at KS2 results and ranking schools based on the percentage of students that attain level 5 and 6. Do these percentages have a correlation with the percentages that clear the 11+ exam? I.e. can it be said that if school A has a higher level 6 than school B, more kids from A will get into grammar? This doesn't seem to be generally true for pupils in Sale Grammar, looking at a list that I got off the whatdotheyknow website. For instance Park Road primary has more level 5 and 6 than, say, Brooklands but the latter has more kids getting into Sale Grammar. I presume other factors come into play, such as coaching?

All of this really leaves us with a little unsure of which schools to pick.

So, I thought we'd get a sanity check from more experienced parents on whether we are thinking along the right lines. Also, does anyone have suggestions for primaries in Sale and Altrincham -- preferably non-religious? We've identified Park road primary, Tyntesfield, Brooklands, Cloverlea, Oldfield Brow, Well Green and Park road accademy. are there other good ones?

Finally, does anyone know how can I get a list of the primaries that pupils in Altrincham and Urmston grammar have attended?

Many thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 2:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Nov 27, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 723
I am not in your area but thought I would get the ball rolling with a reply...
In my experience/opinion (bearing in mind Trafford could be different), which primary school one's child attends is largely irrelevant to whether or not they can pass the 11+. Some schools have a great academic reputation and others have a poorer one but there are many factors which impact on that. For example, local to here is a primary school with a 1-form entry which has had superb SATS results for years (so good one wonders how :roll: ), advises parents of SEN children that they might be better suited elsewhere and has not had a single 11+ pass for the last 4 years (and has large numbers trying). In another school (the one my children attended), also a 1-form entry, about 1/2 mile away, their SATs results look worse, they have (relatively) large numbers of children with quite significant SENs and have had an average of 2 passes a year for the past 4 years.
Around here, everyone who wants a selective school place has to tutor their child because the level of the exam is higher than the work they will have been doing by the end of year 5. So the school has less relevance than the tutor (and the child themselves) in some ways.
We assumed my dd would go to a particular primary school (not the first one I mentioned) because lots of friends/acquaintances etc told us what an amazing school it was and we lived nearby (and were moving even nearer). When she was 3 and I went to look round it I came home and cried. Sad I know but I was devastated at the thought that she had to spend 7 years there. This is an outstanding school with amazing results and I have never heard anyone say a bad word about it. I just assumed I was not ready for the thought of her starting primary school. Then we ended up moving a mile in the opposite direction a month before school applications had to be in. I rushed to a primary school I'd never even heard of before and the minute I walked through the door I knew she would be happy there. It was the best decision ever and she was as happy as can be.
I appreciate I'm waffling but what I am trying to say is that there are lots of factors involved in what makes a school right for your child. Academics is one of them. But so is the atmosphere, the ethos, the teaching staff.... My children have gained so much from being around children with significant special needs. I could never have given that to them in any other context. I would not have put that high on my list of priorities for a primary school at the beginning - but now I appreciate it.
When your ds is a bit older make sure you view all the schools and really try to imagine him being there for 7 years not just where you want him to be at the end of it all....


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2015 5:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 7:35 pm
Posts: 4
Loobylou-
No you're not waffling - experiences such as yours are precisely why I asked the question, so thanks for sharing!

It's not that we only value academics although re-reading my post that is what it seems to suggest. We do appreciate that school life would be about a lot of other things as you mention, so completely agree there. The challenge is that other than academic performance, it seems hard to measure and compare schools on the basis of those other factors and be able to do so reliably and consistently. To reuse your example, yes, we'd like our DS too to grow up to be sensitive of those with special needs but unless it's an extreme case of a school that explicitly turns pupils with SEN away -- like the first one you mentioned -- it's hard to say if one school would develop his sense of empathy more than some other school.

So I guess we were using exam results as crutches because anything else that needs subjective judgement is prone to biases. Maybe it's time to re-think this.

Thanks again for your useful input.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 7:57 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2011 12:19 pm
Posts: 52
I am happy to share my experience. We lived in a different local authority and put our son forward for Alty Boys as an out of catchment candidate. When we got the results in October, we were confident that he would get a place the following March because of his high score and decided to move to Trafford. We moved him in Year 6 to a primary school in Trafford and he sat his SATS in Trafford. My reason for mentioning this is that 5 of the 4 children that had secured a place in Alty Boys were boys that had moved to Trafford in Year 6 after the 11+ results. so really the school played no part in their 11+ success, yet when we went to the Alty Boys pre entry day other parents were commenting on what a great primary school this was just by looking at the number of boys in our primary school uniform. Don't get me wrong the primary school was great, and I realise that this could be an anomaly but many parents put the success down to the teaching of the school. we didn't have a tutor and supported our DS at home. I would also be careful about the correlation between 11+ success for those achieving level 6 in SATS as not all schools put forward children for level 6 SATS in the same way and some parents also choose not to put their children through the additional stresses, especially as at that point parents know which school their child is going to.

I started of doing exactly what you are doing, looking at league tables etc and brought a property in a different local authority next to our preferred primary when our son was 18 months old, partly because I didn't have anywhere to start with and this seemed to me to be the best way I could measure how successful a school was. However, the school league tables position changed by he time my son got to primary school age and I can't describe the stress that caused and regret I had. I appreciate that This is unlikely to happen in Trafford, but things can change. If I had my time again, I wouldn't give such a great emphasis on how many students are going to grammars, level 6 scores or league tables but would pick a decent area where I could afford the best possible house. I would then checkout the nearby schools and go for the one that feels right for Parent and DS at the time...you'll get this feeling as soon as you visit. I do believe that for most children 11+ Success is based on support at home/tutor rather than the school alone and as most of the primary schools in Sale/Altrincham are really good you can't really go wrong.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 2:21 pm 
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Posts: 152
My experience is slightly different. I do think school plays a large part in success in the selective school exams but I do agree there are other factors which matter (general aptitude / intelligence, motivation at home, tutoring).

I do think the league tables and SATS results are indicative but they're not the be all and end all. My children's school was 2nd in the national league tables a couple of years ago, had amazing entrance exam results that year (something like 22 of 26 girls passed for Altrincham Girls). The following year it slid down the table s little, entrance exam results were good but not as good. There had been no change in teaching, ethos or whatever, just a change in the cohort. So just remember that the SAT / league table results are a snapshot and there are usually other factors at play.

You don't say how far away from Trafford you live at the moment. Just before we moved (I had an idea of schools but hadn't made my mind up) we visited schools, we visited at weekends and struck up conversations in coffee shops etc to ask parents which schools were well regarded, then we rented for 18 months. Joined various toddler groups. Also gave me an insight into what we needed to consider as a plan b if they didn't pass (some of the catchments for the local secondaries are even smaller than for primary schools).

One other point to bear in mind in answer to a previous post - certainly for the Altrincham Grammars, the address used for initial allocation of places is the home address when you take the exam. For Altrincham Boys, the catchment is quite small so if you live out of catchment when your son takes the exam he will need an "out of catchment" score to get a place, even if you move into catchment after the results. The "out of catchment" score varies each year but it is usually quite a bit higher than the "in catchment" score.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
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Location: East Kent
It will be another 10 years before you child sits the eleven plus. Schools can change drastically in that time ..for the worst and the better. There is also a lot more to primary school than year 6.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 4:46 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:03 pm
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Location: Cheshire
All of the primaries in Trafford and in surrounding effluent areas are much of muchness,it's more to do with the aspirational nature of its demographics rather than the teaching standards imo.
In fact teachers in areas like Wythenshawe are probably better and more qualified! and on the whole do a grand job in such challenging circumstances.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
Catseye wrote:
All of the primaries in Trafford and in surrounding effluent areas are much of muchness,it's more to do with the aspirational nature of its demographics rather than the teaching standards imo.
In fact teachers in areas like Wythenshawe are probably better and more qualified! and on the whole do a grand job in such challenging circumstances.


I'm sure the areas around Trafford aren't that bad, are they?

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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 5:03 pm
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Location: Cheshire
Wythenshawe(the biggest council estate in Europe)! Is a very deprived area adjacent to Trafford-most here would rather be dead than their DC attend one of their primaries even though they have some of best and highly paid primary school teachers in the UK.


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 Post subject: Re: Choice of primary
PostPosted: Sun Dec 27, 2015 5:53 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2012 8:39 am
Posts: 837
Catseye, I suspect ToadMum was referring to your choice of the word "effluent". :-)

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