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 Post subject: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 2:21 pm 
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Anyone else go the Open Evening last night?

Our daughter has been studying for the 11+ for over a year with a view to entering AGS based on what we have heard about the school. We went along to the Open Evening last night and were really disappointed. It felt more like a comprehensive than a Grammar School. The school was completely different to Stratford Girls Grammar which we visited a couple of weeks ago. That felt a little more like what we expected of a Grammar School.

Did anyone else go last night & get the same feeling or have we misread the school?


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:09 pm 
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gillw wrote:
Anyone else go the Open Evening last night?

Our daughter has been studying for the 11+ for over a year with a view to entering AGS based on what we have heard about the school. We went along to the Open Evening last night and were really disappointed. It felt more like a comprehensive than a Grammar School. The school was completely different to Stratford Girls Grammar which we visited a couple of weeks ago. That felt a little more like what we expected of a Grammar School.

Did anyone else go last night & get the same feeling or have we misread the school?



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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:20 pm 
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I'm not sure anyone can get a real feel for a school during the mayhem that is an open evening, Gill! Phone the school and ask for a visit during a normal school day - they are happy to accommodate.

Comparing AGS to Shottery really depends on your expectations of what a grammar school is and what would suit your DD best - the schools are very different and you'll find fans of both on here. And if you want a feel for a comprehensive, I suggest you visit Myton in Warwick, North Leamington or Kenilworth Schools - again, very different schools to AGS / Shottery :)

JD


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 3:22 pm 
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JamesDean wrote:
I'm not sure anyone can get a real feel for a school during the mayhem that is an open evening, Gill! Phone the school and ask for a visit during a normal school day - they are happy to accommodate.

Comparing AGS to Shottery really depends on your expectations of what a grammar school is and what would suit your DD best - the schools are very different and you'll find fans of both on here. And if you want a feel for a comprehensive, I suggest you visit Myton in Warwick, North Leamington or Kenilworth Schools - again, very different schools to AGS / Shottery :)

JD


We saw AGS, KES, Alcester Academy, Chipping Campden and St Benedicts Catholic, so 3 "comps", AGS felt more like a comp than any of them! But I completely and utterly accept that it depends on what you are looking for and that I know loads of children who are extremely happy at AGS and wouldn't swap in a month of sundays :) :) - just speaking as we found.


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:06 pm 
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You can't really compare a single sex school (Shottery) with a mixed school - they are bound to feel very different. AGS is a bigger school (numbers wise) with a very big 6th form and, until all the new building is completed, will feel a little cramped going around, especially on an Open Day which can only give a flavour of the school. AGS are very proud of their show-rounds that you can phone up and organise - here you can see the school on a working day, shown round by one of the pupils.

The other advantage of AGS is that it's AQS (qualifying score) tends to be lower than Shottery!


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:44 pm 
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kenyancowgirl wrote:
You can't really compare a single sex school (Shottery) with a mixed school - they are bound to feel very different. AGS is a bigger school (numbers wise) with a very big 6th form and, until all the new building is completed, will feel a little cramped going around, especially on an Open Day which can only give a flavour of the school. AGS are very proud of their show-rounds that you can phone up and organise - here you can see the school on a working day, shown round by one of the pupils.

The other advantage of AGS is that it's AQS (qualifying score) tends to be lower than Shottery!


Gosh, I don't mean to be facetious (???spelling?!) but isn't comparing them kind of the point? To see what you think? I am a big believer in gut feeling and although AGS is indeed undergoing change etc, and it was just an open evening, I think that the fact that the OP felt it didn't come across well is one that should be taken seriously by her. I totally agree that a follow up visit during the school day is a good plan, but equally, as you say, these schools are very very different and maybe AGS will turn out to be not the school for the OPs dd. I do have to say too that having gone to 5 open evenings, AGS, as I said above, did not sell itself well to us either. Keen to say though, as before, that I know lots of happy children there.


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 8:04 am 
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I think AGS is at a redefining point, its a new era. When I went to open day the year before it had a different head and I felt a real buzz, the staff were all keen to engage and we left excited saying 'want it!' 'want it!'

We went to the parents evening recently and as before there was a presentation by the very new head (he hasn't had a term yet!). It did feel a bit different school, he certainly didn't come over badly, very differently to his his predecessor who perhaps lets say had an authority the op was perhaps expecting for a Grammar. The staff also seemed a bit unsure about engaging too.

A change of head and other staff in a school can have radical change in atmosphere as its a people business. I think they need a chance to find their feet and style and we will see where we go from there. We have to have confidence the governors would only appoint someone carefully that will be good for such an important school.

What remain the same is good facilities, high quality teaching, an ethos of achievement and social maturity and top results at the end. This can't be guaranteed at a Comp.

Ultimately 'feel' does matter but its not a deal breaker, to me Henley 'felt' fantastic, lively, great facilities, lovely kids and a passionate no nonsense head. Would I give up my AGS place to send my child to Henley. Nope!


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 9:17 am 
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Yes Yamin,

I was replying to the OP's point that: "It felt more like a comprehensive than a Grammar School. The school was completely different to Stratford Girls Grammar which we visited a couple of weeks ago." In the fact that a single sex school would feel VERY different to a mixed school but you would EXPECT it to - you can't directly compare them as they are very different to start with. AGS will feel more like a comp than SGGS for the nature that it is mixed. But, as I pointed out, it has other selling points that make it attractive to some and not others! Horses for courses!


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:00 am 
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Thanks to all for replies. I do absolutely get that this is purely down to personal views and feelings and each person will have a different opinion on the same school. With an outstanding Ofsted they must be doing something right. I guess we had very high expectations of the school based upon what we had been told about it by several people. Sadly this expectation simply wasn't met on the Open Evening.

To address some of the points raised in this thread.

We do plan on going back to have another look as we need to rule this school in or out. I phoned the school yesterday, but they will not arrange any viewings until September as it's the 6th Form who do the tours and they have left. Again, on a personal note this has annoyed us as we now have to wait a couple of months before we can go back.

We have viewed a number of schools during our daughters schooling. Living in Worcestershire we have the 3 tier system (at the moment!) so we viewed 3 First Schools, 3 Middle Schools and now plan to view 3 Grammar/High Schools for the next part of her education. We absolutely believe in first impressions and gut feelings on schools. That is the whole point of Open Evenings and comparing Shottery to AGS is completely valid. As they are both Grammar schools, the way they manage their schools & pupils was clearly very different and this was visible on the Open Evenings. In our opinion Shottery took a lot of pride in the appearance of their school and pupils. Their pupils were immaculately turned out and well spoken. The school was tidy and very well presented and you could tell they had made an effort to show off their school. Our experience of AGS was completely different. The school looked untidy and scruffy. For example School Blazers stuffed into pigeon holes, school bags piled up in corridors. There appeared to be little consistency with the uniform with pupils looking different from one another. Our guides raced around the school as fast as they could eating as they went so it was difficult to understand what they were saying and we ended up losing them and walking around ourselves. Therefore we need to go back to see the school in operation - sadly this will now be in September. Having said that, the facilities in the new buildings were superb as you would expect and the curriculum seemed very comprehensive. They also don't have the vertical tutor groups which Shottery have. We're not against them, but are a bit nervous of them.

Sadly, with the change of Head at AGS, we did not get a sense of the leadership style during the Head Teachers talk. The Vice Principle gave the impression of an army style culture driving hard for results, whereas Shottery felt it had a more nurturing approach. We were also basically told that Year 5's enter bottom of the class in Year 7 so we felt this was demotivating for our daughter to hear and gave the impression the school were putting the children down before they even started.

We have another school to view next week which is a High School so it will be interesting to see how this comes across.

These are just our views based on what we saw and the impressions put in front of us during the open evening. We will go back and look again, but in my opinion we really shouldn't have to. AGS need to work on improving their open evenings to create a better first impression.

If this post feels a little biased towards Shottery, I can assure you this is not the case. We went into the 11+and viewings with the expectation our daughter would go to AGS. We viewed Shottery as a comparison. AGS is much nearer to us than Shottery so would be much more convenient. However, the Open Evenings have changed this and caused confusion to our plans... :shock:


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 Post subject: Re: AGS Open Evening
PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2014 10:33 am 
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Don't be too disheartened that you can't look round just now. If AGS is anything like our grammar, next week is activities week and end of term week tends to be services, speech days etc. Half the kids will be out and it wouldn't give you a true picture.

Just to be clear, as a family we really didn't like AGS and didn't bother putting it down. Partly the distance was a turn off but mainly it felt quite chaotic which wouldn't suit our two - we didn't see enough to make us discount those things in favour of our local comp. but, it was irrelevant as both boys got KES.

My point is this, open days are never a good way to solely judge a school - you may get a different vibe seeing it in a different way. You may not, of course! You may also find that other schools are very good at selling themselves on open days, but when you dig a bit deeper about the pastoral side, etc that reality is not as good. And, inevitably, there will be an element of compromise. Good luck with your search - don't forget to factor in travel costs as it can be quite significant from some Worcs areas!


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