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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:55 pm 
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Are your boys under pressure? Would you call it a hot house in any way? I am having trouble deciding the CAF order! I am particular concerned about choosing GCSEs at such young age, one year earlier than other schools. DS is academic but level of stress and exam pressure concerns me. I would really appreciate your views. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:17 pm 
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WCGS also chose their options a year early and I can't say that I have noticed any pressure. As they say the boys are already advanced and finishing KS3 a year early is not a problem. The advantage is that it then gives them an extra year to do the GCSE's. KS3 results do not go on your university application forms. GCSE'S do. They spend an extra year broadening and working around the subject so that the boys have a better grounding and understanding, or that's the theory. As far as dropping subjects at that stage is concerned they do drop some, but then they also include others, so DS has dropped Spanish and History but taken up Economics and Music.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 3:13 pm 
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Thank you threekids. Anyone from Wilson's? The reason of my concern is the quotes in the Good Schools Guide:

A wonderful place if you’re effortlessly clever, terrific for robust characters who need to work at it. Parents of bright but sensitive stragglers, however, may care to do a bit of soul-searching before calling in the tutors. (...) It doesn’t always do quite so well by the merely bright, not through neglect but because, ‘only certain people can put up with being bottom of the pile’, though that’s a relative term. (...) strength of character and robust self-confidence can be required if you’re towards the bottom of the academic pack – occasional pupils suffering from sense of being ‘at the bottom end of the academic scale’ as one mother puts it, leave early.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:18 pm 
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BusyQueenBee - I suspect that quote would be true of any of the grammars. It is one of the reasons why I feel that huge amounts of tutoring are a bad thing. A child that needs heaps of tutoring to get in will be quite quickly eclipsed by the children who get there without any effort at all. I think only you can judge both how much your son values being top, and how much he has required coaching to get there.

At the top of each year group will be 10-15 kids who quite possibly had no pre-exam coaching, or maybe a few months of doing papers. Your son may be one of them, he may not, and his reaction to that is anybody's guess.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 5:23 pm 
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I agree with ThreeKids - This will be true of most Grammar Schools in London and Surrey.
Some counties send the entire top group from each primary school to a grammar school. A very bright child there would remain at the top since some children who pass might be no more than a level 4 in some subjects. The standard isn’t quite as high because catchment and sibling policies are used and fewer are eligible to apply to these schools.

In London and Surrey, it must be more like the top 5% from the local area who are selected - perhaps not even that. Only the brightest few from each primary school get a place and the minimum ability level will be all 5’s and 6’s. Children going to Wilsons and the other local grammars are therefore accustomed to being top of the top group. At grammar school however, one third of them are destined to be in the bottom group (relative to their new peers of course) for some subjects. As such, a certain amount of resilience is required and enough self confidence to realise that being near the bottom of the very top performing cohort is not in any sense a failing.

Most children would be able to acclimatise to this but perhaps there are some children who temperamentally could not cope with it and would be happier to be top of the top group in a non selective school instead.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 10:29 pm 
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Thank you! How does one know how your child will be? DS is used to be at the top, he has never experienced otherwise so I don't know. He finished Y5 with 5b and is targeted L6, but like you said, so are most of the boys in a school like that. I had a talk with him about it and he said he doesn't mind and it doesn't concern him. But he's only ten and is used to something very different. He is a confident boy but I do feel that a lot of his confidence comes from his place in school.

Some say it's like life, an early reality check, learning that there are some better people out there. Others say children don't need that reality check so early, better to build confidence in a smaller bubble then let it burst when they are mature enough.

Also, there are academic schools that educate, and there are academic schools that just push and push. The daughter of a friend is at a school where they are reminded everyday that they are supposed to get As and go to Oxbridge. I would hate DS being in a place like that because he would believe and absorb the pressure. That's why I was asking about the atmosphere in Wilson's.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:22 pm 
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I think Wilson's is a school that tries to challenge and stretch its pupils (in a good way!). There's lots going on in extracurricular- sport, music, drama, CCF etc and teaching styles which work for boys. I wouldn't be put off by the Good Schools Guide. All grammars are by nature quite competitive and Wilson's results show it does well in getting just about everyone to a very high grade.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:03 pm 
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Barcelona wrote:
Thank you threekids. Anyone from Wilson's? The reason of my concern is the quotes in the Good Schools Guide:

A wonderful place if you’re effortlessly clever, terrific for robust characters who need to work at it. Parents of bright but sensitive stragglers, however, may care to do a bit of soul-searching before calling in the tutors. (...) It doesn’t always do quite so well by the merely bright, not through neglect but because, ‘only certain people can put up with being bottom of the pile’, though that’s a relative term. (...) strength of character and robust self-confidence can be required if you’re towards the bottom of the academic pack – occasional pupils suffering from sense of being ‘at the bottom end of the academic scale’ as one mother puts it, leave early.


Left Wilson's in recent years. Interesting viewpoint from GSG.

To suggest that sensitive characters struggle is difficult to empathise with. To paraphrase a young teacher who taught me there, who had been schooled at boarding school - he couldn't believe how friendly the pupils and school were. Sure, it's not the brady bunch, but it's as gentle as you can probably come...

The people who leave early are generally due to the fact that they are beyond lazy, and unambitious. I found there to be minimal pressure (if any). If you get in you have the brains to do well. Other than the top 15 pupils or so who are very very clever, a bit (not even that much) of hard work and dedication and you're flying through the exams.

The requirements to move into sixth form are far from onerous.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:50 am 
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Thank you oxfordboy, very reassuring.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 6:06 pm 
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My DS is currently a pupil. I think any transition from primary to secondary is quite tough on them. Loads to remember and of course more homework, but I don't think its a hot house. Of course they are challenged, as you would expect from any school. My DS is loving his time there and says the lessons are more interesting. They have lots of assessments to find out how they are doing. Feedback could be better though, you get a termly report which gives a rough guide to where they are in each subject in relation to other students.

So far my son is very happy and not finding it too much of a challenge. He probably gets 1 to 1.5 hours homework a night and they get a few days to do it, however for obvious reasons its best to get them to complete it on the same night.


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