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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:17 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 9:53 pm
Posts: 170
Location: south west london
Hi everyone - just wanted to say thank you so much to all of you who have answered my many queries over the last few months and have helped me to try to keep sane as March 2 approaches. We have even been on holiday the last week which I thought may take my mind off the whole process but it hasn't !! Am finding it very hard to speak to friends about the decision we may have to make and thought maybe some of you could offer your sound advice ?

Our DD has taken three independent school exams and been offered two scholarships - one for a good fee reduction. She has also secured a place at what would be our first choice independent school (no scholarship) The bottom line is that we can't really afford independent education and these schools were meant as a back up in case she doesn't secure a GS place - Tiffin being ours and her first choice. If we have no GS place on Mar 2 and we do have to make the choice of which independent school would it make sense to go for the cheaper option which is slightly less academic or the school which is more academic which we have always liked and we feel would be more suited to her and her abilities ? The more academic school wants a decision by 5 pm on March 2 and time feels as if it is running out. We have had the results for a few weeks now and are still no clearer on what to do.

Just to complicate matters further we have also found out that she has scored extremely highly on VR and NVR tests at a local partially selective school which may mean she receives an offer there, if she doesn't gain a GS place. It seems insensitive to ask these questions as we are in a very lucky position but we honestly have no idea what to do !

Any advice/thoughts/suggestions gratefully received. Many thanks to all.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2007 10:47 am
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Location: Warwickshire.
You are as entitled to ask for help as anyone else. Please don't feel guilty that your dilemma is less worthy just because you have some great choices. Thank you for asking in a sensitive manner, I'm sure it will be appreciated by others.

As for any advice I can give you. It's tricky really. My first thought was to suggest that you opt for the more academic of the two schools, but that would be a silly choice if you are really going to struggle to pay the fees.

Have you sat down and worked through the finances very carefully? Sorry to sound patronising, it's not my intention at all.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2010 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2007 12:42 pm
Posts: 3817
Location: Chelmsford and pleased
I think that you should put your choices in order of real choice and then put the caveats next to them.

Perhaps

1. Tiffins - may not get a place
2. Academic independent - too expensive (phone them and explain, they may be more forthcoming financially)
3. Less academic indie - not academic enough?
4. Partially selective - not academic enough?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:21 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2009 8:07 am
Posts: 100
Location: London
Also consider what you mean by "less academic".

Could it be that the good kids do well but the league table result is lower because the initial intake is of wider ability.

League tables tell you how other people's children did, not yours. It also depends on the child. Some children will love a school with a very strong focus on academics. Others may thrive somewhere where they can do well academically but without the pressure and competition, and where they will have friends who are good at sports or the arts.

Education and results are not always the same thing. Schools have very different cultures so finding a good fit is important.

That said if you are offered a good non-fee paying place within reasonable commuting distance I would take it. If it does not work out you can rethink, perhaps seeking an occasional or 13+ place with bursary assistance. Paying school fees if you cant really afford them is tough and stressful. With the added risk that if anything happened which affects your financial position you might be back in the state system without the choice you had initially.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 8:58 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2007 8:31 pm
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mynameisbond wrote:
Tiffin being ours and her first choice.


Easy. You know the answer already.

Actually, I think you have a hard decision still... assume she gains a TGS place. (very likely given other results)... are you sure you wish to turn down the scholarships... if you can answer that question I think you are home and dry.

Regards
SVE

_________________
Animis opibusque parati


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:19 am 
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Joined: Sat Oct 24, 2009 4:56 pm
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I'd be very tempted (if Tiffin doesn't go to plan) to go for the less academic school scholarship. What you have to remember is that the most academic indies only take the very top performers at 11....so it shouldn't be a great surprise that those top performers still perform well at 16 and 18. The less academic ones are less academically selective in the first place, but as far as I've seen, the very bright ones going in still get all the A*s later on - ie the teaching is still excellent, all that is different (in some cases - I'm generalising! - and obviously you have to look at the school in question carefully) is the academic abilities of the children. The value added score is often more illuminating than the GCSE and A level results. For some children (my DS included), feeling that you're doing well compared is a very positive thing and drives them to do even better (although I know that others thrive on a more competitive environment). Good luck next week with your Tiffin result - all fingers are crossed!


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:23 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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If you read the 'x-factor' thread, you will see that there are as many opinions as there are children. We are in a position which is only slightly similar to yours in that DS1 has been offered a scholarship too - it is probably at what you would call a 'less academic' school, though my very academic DD, who is already there, is flying high. Even 'less academic' schools, maybe especially independent ones, will want to encourage and develop the academically able children - it is what else the school offers which usually clinches the decision.

We are still wrestling too, as we feel our son will do well academically wherever he goes. It is whether we feel the whole ethos of the place, the 'feel' of it, and the additional opportunities (in our case, for classics, the range of languages and things like debating, unusual sciences) are worth the fees.

Go and look at the schools again, and try to imagine your child in them. A grammar education is fabulous for some people and maybe less so for others. You seem to feel the grammar is where you want your DD to be - if this is based on where you really feel she will be happiest, then your decision has made itself. If you feel she might need and benefit from the opportunities offered by one of the others, get your calculator out! That is the stage we are at now - no easy choice!

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:53 am 
In my experience of many inde schools it is the less/non-selective ones that tend to have a better ethos and nurture and "look after" able children much better. They are not viewed as one of the masses and because a smaller cohort is exceptional they have more money and resources to do exceptional things with such a group. I know of one school which is not selective where 8 pupils have built a device for Nasa :shock: and another school that sent 16 pupils to political debates in the US. It would have been difficult for a school to fund an entire year of similarly able pupils.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:00 am 
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I agree so much with that, Tipsy, and maybe it is why my DD is doing so well. It is nice to hear a good word for the 'less academic' school, which is usually described in more disparaging terms. For some able, but not-very-confident children, it is just what they need. My DD has gone from thinking she was 'thick' (her word) to thinking she can do medicine. It is worth our school fees for that transformation, in just 2 years.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:01 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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Hmm - hard choice. Haven't really go enough info to say which one I would go for assuming you did not get place at Tiffin (and why is a place there in doubt? sorry no nothing about that school or your particular situation).

However, I would just have one note of caution. There are some lovely small girls' independent schools round the country, that are not particularly "academic" in terms of their intake but get great GCSE results and A level results relative to their intake by very, very thorough teaching, module resits etc.

But at some of them (despite printed blurb to the contrary), there is very little extra-curricular stuff compare with a lot of other independent and state schools, no teaching in lessons that strays beyond the syllabus being taught, and in general, a very prosperous intake.

These schools struggle to keep the brighter girls beyond 13 as they leave to join more academically selective independents with 13+ entry, and they don't have a broad range of subjects on offer at GCSE and A level, and by A level have tiny groups doing each subject - not very stimulating if it is a subject requiring discussion unless you thrive on one to ones with the teacher and the teacher is great at getting a discussion going with such small groups.

If the schools that have offered scholarships are like this, you need to consider very seriously whether this is the right environment for your child (go and visit the school on a normal day, look at exercise books, lessons etc ). Don't just be financially seduced or momentarily flattered by the scholarship.


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