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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:37 am 
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Hi everyone, I'm just at the start of this whole process, with my eldest in Yr 4 now... we have literally a 2 minute walk to the local comp which is pretty good, achieving 70%+ A-C. All the same I would like to consider the options. We are not too far from Slough, offering 4 or 5 great grammars.

What I would like to ask is whether you have opted to send your child to a school further away even though you have a *pretty* good school much closer? If so, do you ever feel that you or your child miss out on other aspects of school life that would have been easier if they were at the local school instead?

E.g. Less stressful journey, more time at home, more socialising opportunities for your child with other children in the neighbourhood, more involvement by parents in the school community, more opportunities for parents to communicate with teachers? Is it also potentially a less pressurised environment?

Is it still worth it anyway, or do you ever have moments of regret?

As a parent of a child with special needs (statemented) I benefit from frequent, brief informal chats with staff to gauge how things are going. I guess as he gets older this is less likely to happen anyway even in the local school as I am unlikely to be bumping into the teachers in the school grounds.

Probably like many of your children, my son is on the Young, Gifted & Talented list at Primary School. I wonder whether by sending him to the local secondary school, he will be encouraged well enough and will happily achieve 3/4 A*s potentially, and still be challenged, fulfilled and well-prepared for ongoing education.

I don't know that much about Grammars other than they have selective entry and aim to achieve very high standards. Of course many of the school have excellent all-round facilities, great pastoral care etc. However I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on why you decided to send your child to a grammar -- what you felt it gave your child over and above a local school that was also doing quite well but not 90%+ necessarily. This is a genuine question, as I am new to all this, and don't want to apply to Grammars just for the sake of it.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advice.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 10:52 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 14, 2007 2:02 pm
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Location: Herts
In a nutshell, the further off school gives my DD the opportunity to be surrounded by equally able children. She hated sticking out at primary by being top in everything. Now, there's no shame in being clever & actually doing your homework -it's the norm.

She's just started Year 9 & has absolutely no regrets about passing the local comp on her way to school every day!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:00 am 
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Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2009 3:38 pm
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Location: Maidstone
Open days at most secondary school are happening now and if you are not sure if its worth it I would encourage you to go to the open days at your local school as well as one or the 2 grammars you have in mind. That will solve some of your woes as you'll get a better feeling of whats suitable for your DC. You can ask how they cater for the G&T at your local comp and if they do streaming. Apart from the general ethos, I tend to look at the curriculum and what may suits my DD. I have a grammar local to me that I am not paricularly keen on it because of the subjects they specialise in.

When I look at results I just dont look at the overall 70% GCSE, I drill down subject by subject grades and that normally gives me a clear idea of the school's strength and weakness. Some schools will have more pupils taking and having good grades in pyschology, business etc while some might be more sciences.

While I dont agree with all your benefits of a local school, travelling time is something you need to look into and think about. Kids from grammars tend to be from a wider catchment and an hour's travel seem quite normal.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:11 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 15, 2010 6:27 pm
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My son is in yr 6 so we're not quite there ourselves and I would be also be interested to hear what others have to say about Grammar vs non-selective in general terms.

Here in West Kent it's School Open Evening Season right now. The best thing you can do is to actually visit all of the schools that you're considering on Open evening and get a feel for them yourself.

How long would it take to get to the Grammar Schools in Slough? How would your son child travel? If it's by bus would your son be comfortable with that? If you're driving him in will you be allowed to drop him on site or will you have to drop him some way away and let him walk in on his own? Some schools will provide reports every 6 weeks, some have online links for you to see what's going on regularly, others will be happy for you to be in close contact by phone or meetings, some won't. Is he forgetful? Will he lose things? At lunchtime some schools have cards to get your lunch with... There's one in my area which uses thumbprints so there's no card to lose. Do they have Social Skills classes for kids that need them? I've hardly scraped the surface and there are so many other elements that can come into choosing the right school for a child with Special Needs before you even consider the academic results.

My Ds is in Yr 6 (with a dx of High Functioning Autism - No Statement) and we're currently looking at a number of schools. He took the 11+ but the more I hear and the more I see of the schools locally the more I'm leaning away from a Grammar setting for him. We will be looking at Skinners' & Judd next week and although we'll go with open minds I don't expect to find them more suitable for him than another school we've already visited. Each child is an individual and what works for one won't work for another. Academic results are very important to me and I want my son to have as many options as possible when he leaves School, but I also want him to enjoy School as much as possible and to grow as an individual and it may well be that he's better off in a slightly less academic setting but with great Pastoral care. We've got a month to work it out!

Without knowing how independent your child is, and how motivated he is it's really difficult to offer any advice beyond... go and look for yourself!

Good luck. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:44 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 25, 2008 12:59 pm
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Another factor to consider is single s e x v mixed s e x schooling. Our DS is very much a boy’s boy and really enjoys an all-male environment whereas our daughter prefers a mixed school (I know this is contrary to received wisdom, but it works for our DCs).

Also echo those who have said to look into streaming/setting at the comp. DD is at the local upper school but gets extension work in several classes, more/more difficult homework and classes in extra subjects (ie Spanish) at lunchtimes. So although what they do in class might be slightly slower paced than at the GS, I would say that she, as an individual, is being given work which is on a par with what my DS gets at his high-performing GS.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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Echo everything above, there are comps and comps, grammars and grammars. You need to look at all aspects of both schools and see which ticks more of your boxes.

On the results side, as Sherry says, look at results in more detail - grade by grade, subject by subject (GCSE and A' level -some children just will not budge school once they've made their friends). Compare with the national percentage getting each grade (some results can look great until you see just what a high percentage do get A or A* nationally in that subject and then you realise its not that grade). Try and get results child by child too (obviously they will scrub out the children's names but you want to get a feeling if your child would be one in a million at that school getting a good string of A*/A at GCSE or A' level or whether they would have company.

Try and give your child the message that a particular school is not for life; that way if school starts to plummet badly, or particular subjects are taught desperately badly by the time your child commences A level, you will less of an uphill struggle convincing kid to change school.

Try and see the schools on normal days, not show days. Try and see kids moving round in the corridors between lessons, on way to breaktime, outside at breaktime. All this tells you a lot about a school and whether its you child's kind of place or not. Show days show you how much effort the teachers made for the show day.

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:20 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:47 am
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Thanks for your responses. My DC is getting more independent, will hopefully manage the journey ok. I am a bit nervous as we have seen some challenging behaviour, he can get very anxious. We are working on this with active listening, behaviour management and anger management. He is trying to come to terms with his physical disability, which is no easy thing. He has a very mature outlook however and I'm hoping in 2 years time, this will not be as much of an issue as it is now, so my current instinct that I want to be close enough to nip into the school if things kick off is probably over the top and unwarranted.

Current primary has been excellent at setting work at appropriate levels, streaming etc. Need to look into local secondaries but unfortunately have missed the open evenings literally by a few days! :( Anyone know whether these are generally only run in September or whether they run later in the year too?

As this is a forum for people interested in 11+ exams, I apologise if my original question about whether Grammars offer more than a good local comp seems a daft question to most of you. :oops:

Let me put it this way, assume that a child attends a 70%+ comp, is capable of achieving and does indeed get straight As. On paper, this matched the As they would have achieved at a grammar school. Therefore I am trying to see what are the differentiating factors that would make a Grammar more beneficial to their education in this case.

E.g. The ethos of each school is important, facilities offered, extra-curricular activities, trips and visits by speakers, and as some of you have already mentioned - being surrounded by other bright kids with ambition.

I.e. What I am thinking is - if he does go to the comp and still get straight As, what will he have missed out on by the end of it?

Sorry if I am spelling it out, I just want to get clear in my mind all the factors to consider. If this is all obvious to you, please ignore this thread. However if you are willing to take the time to add to this idiot-proof checklist it would be much appreciated :)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:56 pm
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No he won't have missed out by the end of it, unless your particular grammar offers something that your particular comp does not. It could even work the other way round. There are some grammars which offer a narrower curriculum, and allow the children to take fewer GCSEs and A' levels than some comps.

The thing that many people worry about with comps is size - child misses out as in bigger class / year group / school - but this is not necessarily the case; and peer group - child misses out because "more likely to fall in with the wrong crowd" at comp than grammar, or misses out because smaller pool of likeminded friends.

Only careful perusal of the results and the schools themselves will tell you whether any of these things are relevant in this particular instance. Don't worry about the Open Days. It's better that way as you'll get a tour on a "normal day", not a "show day" - see my comment above.

There are grammars round here which I would love to send my kids to, and there are grammars round here which would make me wish I lived back in my northern home town and used some of the excellent comps there.

Every school is different! Nobody could or should give you the answer on here that it will definitely give your child a better education / social life / start in the world, because it is a grammar and not a comp.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:07 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 12, 2009 9:23 am
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Our local comp was in a bad way, so we were glad to have access to grammar about half an hour away. For one of our children, gregarious and confident, this appears to be plain sailing. However, our other son, now yr 9, has an anxious, solitary and chaotic character. He is very academic, but has had a difficult time socially. He does not easily make friends, and was not comfortable with phoning classmates or inviting them round. Because of the distance, many of them are not local, and I eventually asked the school to help out because, of course, I never met these children and had no contact details for them. Things are slowly improving, but I would say he is still rather isolated.
When at the local primary school, he had lots of friends, and I think things would have been easier socially if he had gone to a local secondary where most of the children were also local. This is not to say we would do anything differently given the chance again, but it is just a different perspective to add to all the other comments, many of which I agree with.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:31 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 30, 2010 8:47 am
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Thanks everyone, your comments really help. :)

I will certainly make sure I visit the schools and let my instincts guide me from there.


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