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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:40 pm 
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I think there are many of us in the same boat here, trying to decide what to do come October and the deadline for filing those pesky CAFs.

I have been to several of the grammar schools and think all of them have excellent points as well as some disadvantages (pretty much like all schools really!) We are very local to Tiffin Boys (10 min bus ride) and so this would be our first choice, just because it really is so local. However, I know the chances of my DS getting in are minimal (well, one in 10 roughly) so we have to think realistically.

We are in the catchment of a comp. which has a fast track stream (not partially selective like Graveney) which is pretty well thought of and it also has the advantage of being a 7 minute walk from our front door. It is ok on extra curricular, but not amazing and there are things that it doesn't offer that I know my DS would take up given the opportunity. My question is, if my DS failed to get into Tiffin, but by a minor miracle achieved a high enough score to get into a school like Wilsons, is the difference in education he would receive between Wilsons and the local comp, worth the daily commute across town to get there? We're talking about an hour's commute every morning, getting out of bed an hour earlier than he would otherwise do etc etc. It's not just about results for me (and I think he could probably achieve well in the fast track of the comp), it's more the intangibles that are making me fret, like "the vibe" of the school, "joining in" and the other experiences he will look back on after at least 5 years at that particular institution.

Any views? :D


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 12:58 pm 
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What is "the vibe" like at the local school? (Maybe that is more important than considering the vibe at the grammar school.)

I was talking to a mother who has a son a the local school, and she commented that her DS would not take part in after school activities unless he had at least a couple of friends taking part as well, as he didn't feel safe.

(This school also has a top stream - so it might even be the same one.)

Would Sutton or Wallington be easier to get to than Wilsons?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:07 pm 
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Well, the comp is generally very mixed (as you would expect.) A few years back it wasn't popular at all and I hate to use the term, but would have been considered a bit "rough". The introduction of the fast track has changed perception considerably (and results have rocketed) but the fast track is a very small percentage of the school. Compared to some of the schools I read about on here though, I have absolutely nothing really to complain about, having a perfectly good comp as my fall back school. I suppose my problem is that the "vibe" at a couple of the grammars seems so much more suited to DS that I have to ask whether we would be wrong to stop him going there for the sake of an hour on a bus (assuming he gets in of course!)


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 1:41 pm 
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2outof3, I think I have posted this before and I will say it again, I am sure your DS would get into Tiffin or any other grammar that your DC like. I will put a small bet on that.

Having said that, I think it is important to consider the time spent on commuting. If my DC were to get a place in a school more than 45 minutes away door to door, I would think twice. As you are rightly thinking, I would not want them to waste 2 hours a day just travelling at tender age of 11+. They rather spend that time in after-school club or in play ground or on their studies.

There is a direct bus from Kingston to Sutton. If Sutton Grammar suits your DS, then that can be a choice for your DS besides Tiffin and the comp. I think I know which comp you are talking about. It is improving but has a long long way to go in my opinion, which may be biased because of our liking for the grammars.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:17 pm 
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As somebody who has just gone through this and chosen the longer commute (although the good local comp was still longer than your planned walk), I'll give my view.

Has your son visited all of the schools? What does he think? Have you spelt out all the pros and cons of the long distance grammars and local comps? My daughter visited all the schools with us and she immediately fell in love with Tiffin. I loved it too but it didn't stop me continually pointing out the downside ie travel. However, having visited all the schools and looked at what they all offered including after school clubs, she chose Tiffin. After we got the offer on 1st March, I again sat her down and asked her if she was sure it was what she wanted and she was adamant that it was.

She is still planning to do all of the after school clubs on offer. She loves sport and that was one of the draws of Tiffin over some of the others we visited.

So, the short answer is, why not ask your son what he thinks. After all, he is the one who will be most affected by it all. Of course, there is always the risk that he will be swayed by peer pressure and what his friends are doing. This was never an issue for us my DD's 3 closest friends were all going to different schools which she would never have considered anyway.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:42 pm 
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Tiffinboys, I think as I've said before, your faith in my DS's abilities is touching, but based on his Sutton mock result may be a little misguided :lol:

Anyway, thanks for your response. We will definitely try for Sutton as that is a much easier journey but I am interested to see what others are thinking (or have already done) who are in the same position.

Scoopy19, I have asked DS but I do think it's very difficult to leave the choice to him. As many people have said on this forum, very few local children sit these tests - even for Tiffin - and no-one else he knows is even contemplating any of the Sutton schools. All of his friends will go to the local comp or another local school (boys only). He very much liked Sutton though, although given the choice he would almost certainly pick the school where his friends are going.

Scoopy, what would you have done if your DD had said she preferred the local school even though she had scored highly enough for Tiffins?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:18 pm 
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2outof3 I would have let her go to the local school as I think she would have done well there academically. The comp is very good so I would have had no problems with that and it was one of our choices.

Only you know your child and whether they are capable of making a fairly unemotional decision about a school. As I said, none of DD1's close friends were going to the local comp so that wasn't an issue however when we discussed it she had no desire to go to the schools they were going to anyway. She was more interested in the opportunities that awaited her at other schools.

We were in the same situation as you are, none of DD's friends tried for any of the grammars or the local comp. There are 2 going to the local comp, 1 boy and 1 girl but neither of them she cares about particularly and just didn't like the vibe at this school.

I agree that you may not be able to leave the decision to him as you know him best. I am not sure DD2 would be able to make a logical rational decision. She lacks confidence so the security of friendship is important and she may well select a school on the basis of friends. However if the difference is between a great school and an outstandng school (as was the case for us) then why not let your child decide if they feel strongly about it.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:46 pm 
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Good question, and I know a lot will disagree, but!!!!!

I would rather 'An excellent school at a distance, than a poor one a stone throw away.' If the school wasn't too bad, and there was a better one further afield then I would weigh up pros & cons.

You can't compare a tiresome school journey of 5 or 7 years to a 1st class education that stays with one for the rest of their lives & influences offspring.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 8:34 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:49 pm
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I agree - I would rather have a little extra travel to go to a decent grammar school - it will be worth it in the long run.

_________________
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:16 pm 
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2outof3,

Short answer is yes, the commute would be worth it to Wilsons. I could have written the same post. We are also local to Tiffin, but DS definitely didn't think the local comp was any good.

The long term plan would be to move towards Wilsons if that's where DS will be offered.


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