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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:04 pm 
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We have just got in from a meeting at our daughters Primary where the headteacher from the very well regarded Comprehensive came over and had a chat to Yr6 parents about the school. We have always been impressed with this school - its just across the road from our Primary and the children are well behaved and respectful, plus the exam results are extremely good - its very high up the league tables for a comprehensive school. We were also very impressed with the headteachers speech , and with that from several pupils that came over to talk to us. The only reason we set off down the path of the 11+ was that we are out of catchment for this school (it was an amazing stroke of luck I managed to move my two older children to the highly sought after feeder Primary seeing as we were out of catchment) and I wanted to maximise our options. Our local comp is poorly performing school with appalling results and discipline issues.

However, tonight we spoke to the headteacher of the "good" school and she assured us that because of the fact our children attended the feeder Primary and the fact we are only literally one road out of catchment, she could practically guarantee us a place for our daughter. We are quite shocked at this news and wonder whether we should now bother with the 11+.

The nearest Grammar is 20+ miles away and would mean a long journey. Plus, although our daughter is bright, she is not "genius" bright and would certainly be pushed to her upper limits at a Grammar. She is also not a confident child and I feel she would thrive at the Comp who made it clear one of their main objectives is to bring out confidence levels and nurture children with new experiences through a wide range of subjects and extra curricular activities.

My only niggle is, if I dont put her in for the exam and she DOES get allocated the "dump" comprehensive there is no going back. She seems happy enough to take the exam but, hand on heart, Im not sure its the right path for her. Any comments?


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:18 pm 
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Hi Jessmum !

Might help if we knew whereabouts in the country you are - set up can vary .... HOWEVER the way that the CAF works is that you can put the GS first, if your daughter passes and is allocated a place (this will depend on either the score or distance - varies with schools) she will be able to go there.

If she doesn't get a place (either score or distance again) - this will not affect her chance of getting a place at the school you like locally which you would need to put second.

Remember put them in the order you really want! - if they aren't eligible for the first school then her second placed school is considered to be her first.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:39 pm 
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Location: Trafford
I would also add caution in relying on what the head said about feeder primary plus one road out of catchment equalling guarantee of place. If allocation for this good comp is done purely on distance (which is normally what happens but, obviously, we don't know what school we are talking about) then feeder primary will not come into it at all and you could find yourself, having relied on the head's words, not getting a place at this comp after all because you live too far away.

If I were you I would be checking carefully the oversubscription criteria under which places are allotted at the good comp.

If you love this school then you could put it first on your CAF, the grammar second and a back up third (depending on number of choices you can make) that you would be happy with. If you get into the good comp then that's great, but you have the grammar as a back up and a further back up too! Of course, if you really prefer the grammar that's another story :)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:39 pm 
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First off, check the admission criteria VERY carefully.

Secondly think very hard about which school you want your daughter to attend. If the head is right and you want that school first, put it first.

You would be foolish not to do the 11+ - there are no guarantees in this life. What if the birthrate is up this year and your dd misses out on that school and you don't bother with the 11+?

All your choices will be treated as first choices, you don't need to worry about that. You just need to make sure you put them in the right order for your needs.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 9:43 pm 
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I am wondering which county you live too as that seems such an odd statement from a Headteacher. Is it a faith school by any chance because state secondary schools dont have feeder primary schools. Its all about your postcode unless this is diff in some parts of the country so thats why I am so curious.

I would tred with caution because no Headteacher can be quite certain what will happen, what if there are more sibblings or more kids closer than you to this school? If its a faith school then check admission criteria to make sure yours is listed as feeder primary.

The best way is look at the admission criteria carefully and see exactly what it says in terms of oversubscription. Personally I wouldnt put all eggs in one basket. I am assuming you have already started prep for 11+ why not just go for it and perhaps use it as a backup. Since you arent keen on the other comp surely it will be shooting yourself in the foot if this one you arent even too sure about doesnt materialise.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:00 pm 
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Location: Solihull, West Midlands
sherry_d wrote:
state secondary schools dont have feeder primary schools.


Not necessarily true - our local comp a few years ago had just a catchment, but the LEA was caught out one year with a larger than expected intake needing an extra form and tried the following year to introduce a "distance within catchment" overriding criterion to get the numbers down again. Cue howls of protests from children on the outer fringes of the catchment who had been assured by the visiting comp headmaster that "you'll definitely get a place if you live in catchment" at the beginning of Yr 6, lots of panicking and last-minute 11+/ private school entries, and ultimately 6 more children got in on appeal, on the social grounds of staying with primary school peers and of past expectations. The following year the admissions criteria were amended to give priority within catchment to children at the named local primaries. A similar situation has arisen at other popular comps in the borough I understand. It means late movers or those at private primaries are at the back of the queue within catchment, then those at the feeder primaries who live OOC

Not quite the same situation I know - but shows the variety of possibilities in different areas. I would reiterate the advice to check the admissions criteria again, and again, and again, (cut and paste on here if still not sure, there are experts who understand these things) and don't believe anyone who gives you anecdotal advice based on what happened to someone their friend knew five years ago. And put the schools in the order you really want them - in the situation I described above one neighbour's daughter took the 11+ as a backup (grammar 15 miles away) but the local comp was her first choice. (and she's just gone off to read medicine, but that's another story...)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:09 pm 
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Location: london
jessmum wrote:
We have just got in from a meeting at our daughters Primary where the headteacher from the very well regarded Comprehensive came over and had a chat to Yr6 parents about the school. We have always been impressed with this school - its just across the road from our Primary and the children are well behaved and respectful, plus the exam results are extremely good - its very high up the league tables for a comprehensive school. We were also very impressed with the headteachers speech , and with that from several pupils that came over to talk to us.
fantastic...
jessmum wrote:
However, tonight we spoke to the headteacher of the "good" school and she assured us that because of the fact our children attended the feeder Primary and the fact we are only literally one road out of catchment, she could practically guarantee us a place for our daughter. We are quite shocked at this news and wonder whether we should now bother with the 11+.
Ignore her, check the admissions policy carefully but rest assured that no-one is in a position to guarantee you anything.

jessmum wrote:
The nearest Grammar is 20+ miles away and would mean a long journey. Plus, although our daughter is bright, she is not "genius" bright and would certainly be pushed to her upper limits at a Grammar. She is also not a confident child and I feel she would thrive at the Comp who made it clear one of their main objectives is to bring out confidence levels and nurture children with new experiences through a wide range of subjects and extra curricular activities.

Then the comp is your first choice.
jessmum wrote:
My only niggle is, if I dont put her in for the exam and she DOES get allocated the "dump" comprehensive there is no going back. She seems happy enough to take the exam but, hand on heart, Im not sure its the right path for her. Any comments?

and she takes the exam as the grammar is your back up.
Good luck.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:21 pm 
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Thanks for the responses. Im in Essex and no its not a faith school. The head said they had lots of children from our particular area and that no child from the feeder Primary has EVER not been granted a place (although some out of catchment children who attended have had to go to appeal). She also told us that she herself added 5 places to last years intake to accommodate children who appealed. I didnt think this was possible but I dont see why should would lie to us. And it is true, the majority of kids in our road DO go to this school (the others go to Grammars with only 1 attending the catchment "not very desirable" comp). I do think she has a very high chance of admission but there are certainly no guarantees as many of you have pointed out. There is also an out of catchment entrance exam for this school- but the head said this wasnt essential for us due to the fact she was at the feeder primary and so close to the catchment boundary. It was designed for children who live much further out - as I said, its a desirable school with excellent results.

The Admissions clerk was also at the meeting and he said if we put a selective first and was accepted, if we turned it down, we would NOT automatically be offered any of our other non selective choices - I think this is what has bothered me the most - if she gets a place and we decide for whatever reason, not to accept it, its not a straightforward "move down the list to the next school" option. I didnt really understand this, but there is an open evening next week, so I will need to enquire more into this.

As things stand now, I think we will carry on with our 11+ efforts. She is having 1hr 20mins tutoring a week and we do Bond books at home, making steady progress and I suppose it does seem a shame to just stop everything at this final hour. She is in an elite set for Maths (a group who has special tutoring from the Comp I mentioned above, doing work up to level 6) but she is in the middle set for English which worries me - although I spoke to her teacher today and she assures me she is working at the top of that set and its only her spelling keeping her down from the top group (she has always had problems with spelling, even though her stories and comprehension are at quite high levels), G&T for art and is slightly above average in science. I THINK she could cope at a Grammar but Im not 100% sure - there are some real high fliers in her Primary and I think she feels she isnt good enough sometimes - something I feel will get ten times worse in a Grammar environment. Its such a worry and I just dont know what to do for the best.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:34 pm 
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Location: Trafford
jessmum wrote:

The Admissions clerk was also at the meeting and he said if we put a selective first and was accepted, if we turned it down, we would NOT automatically be offered any of our other non selective choices - I think this is what has bothered me the most - if she gets a place and we decide for whatever reason, not to accept it, its not a straightforward "move down the list to the next school" option. I didnt really understand this, but there is an open evening next week, so I will need to enquire more into this.



On Allocations' Day you will be offered one school place. Let's say that is the grammar. If you decide that isn't the right school then the problem you have is that all the places at the other schools on your list will have been offered to other people so, unless you then go on the waiting list for one of these schools and are fortunate to gain a place due to other people's turning their places down, you will be unsuccessful. The LEA will offer you another place but they can only offer places at schools that have available places. Unfortunately, they tend to be the ones people aren't as keen to send their kids too.

Edited to add:
In terms of the admissions' criteria for the comp you like the head sounds on dodgy ground, if only in terms of she/he having no say in who gets allotted places in March. Even at the appeal stage - the school may have had to take 5 kids on appeal, but it's the appeal panel (not the head) who determines the outcome of appeals. I am sending a PM to a fellow moderator here who knows the Essex system well and may be able to advise you better.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2010 10:42 pm 
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Location: Maidstone
solimum wrote:
sherry_d wrote:
state secondary schools dont have feeder primary schools.


Not necessarily true - our local comp a few years ago had just a catchment, but the LEA was caught out one year with a larger than expected intake needing an extra form and tried the following year to introduce a "distance within catchment" overriding criterion to get the numbers down again.


Certainly nothing like that down here and thats why I was curious which counties still had feeder primaries schools. Just faith schools which have feeder primaries.

Jessmum I still think you still need to look at the admission criteria for the school just for the peace of mind. If your DD knows she is going to this comp it may be a struggle to keep her motivated unless she doesnt know about it. My little understanding is you need to score quite highly to get in Essex grammars and if you have been assured and checked the admission policy for the school then there seem very little point in doing the 11+ but I would check and check again before the decision.

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