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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:27 am
Posts: 2086
Location: Barnet, Herts
Hi all.
My DS has got a place at St Albans School to start in the 6th Form in September. We were thrilled but now there is an element of doubt creeping in.
He recently got the best school report he's ever had and on it his Headmaster said that he is in line for 'a major sixth Form award' which will be 'discussed with him in due course'
My parents (both ex-teachers) think he should stay at his current school where he is happy and appreciated. So really he is a big fish in a little pond whereas at St Albans he will probably be a little fish in a big pond as everyone is of a similar academic standard.They think that a change and all new friends, teachers etc is an uneccessary stress as he starts his A levels.
However DS makes friends easily and when he came to his current school in Y7 from a state primary he didn't know anyone.
The 2 schools are poles apart academically - St Albans is 37th in the FT league tables and his current school is 764th!
Some pupils do achieve 4 A*s at A level but they are an exception rather than the norm.
DS wants to do medicine or dentistry so needs to get top grades at A level.
All opinions appreciated please.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 2:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:27 am
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Location: Barnet, Herts
Mods - would it be possible to move this to the 6th Form section please?
Thank you.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:04 pm 
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Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2012 6:08 pm
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Personal opinion: move him. People have to make new friends all the time and if he is sociable, he will have no problem. You will always be thinking, "what if? " otherwise. So what if he is a small fish? He will be an even smaller one in two years time, but that won't matter. If he is bright, he will NEED people of a similar ability around him to challenge him, stretch him and push him on. St Albans will probably more geared up towards preparing students for medicine/dentistry.

Other people will think differently, but that's what I'd do.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:09 pm 
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Location: Barnet, Herts
Thanks- my opinion exactly!


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 6:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:59 am
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We had a slightly similar situation with DD. Small school, big fish, doing well. Similar ambitions to your son, and similar school profiles. She herself was determined to move. I was scared but knew better than to argue. I won't give all the details here as she would be uncomfortable but in short- she moved.

Never looked back, better than I could have hoped, blossomed in ways I couldn't have imagined.

My message would be - support your child to be brave and do what he wants to do. If he is undecided he may be picking up your anxieties. In which case I would say, try to back off. I know it's jolly hard and maybe he isn't as determined as my daughter was. I think on the whole if you have got this far, he must have wanted it, and he may well regret it if he doesn't go. It's a whole big world out there and in many ways it's easier for them to challenge themselves now when we are there to catch them than later on when we aren't.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
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Was St Alban's the school that said he could do Physics A level without Maths? If so, ask them for the results of students that have done that - in my experience A and A* at Physics tend to be good A level mathematicians.

Go with his choice.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:14 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:27 am
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Location: Barnet, Herts
Hi Guest55,
Yes, it was St Albans that said he could do Physics without Maths. Apparently they have Maths clinics which will help.
We got DS a maths tutor to try and improve his confidence and he said DS has gone from a B to A/A*.
I am all for him going to St Albans and think it will be good for him to have to keep up with bright peers.
Even if he is offered a hefty scholarship , I still feel St A's is the best place for him.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2013 9:58 pm 
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Zorro - I'd still ask ask the question about the results. They should have analysed them to be able to tell you.

I'd still go with St Albans but just keep an eye on the Physics.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 7:16 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:27 am
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Location: Barnet, Herts
Thanks, I will do that.
Do you think he will be ok doing Physics without Maths if he has extra help with the Maths?
His current school say although they usually recommend doing both subjects , as he is ok at Maths he should be fine.
He wants to drop Physics after AS.
The problem is that he really wants to do Geography- enjoys it and is very good at it.So he can't do 5 subjects and won't consider dropping Geography.I think it is a good mix as it's not all sciences.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 24, 2013 10:06 am 
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Joined: Thu Nov 08, 2007 9:57 pm
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Good luck with choices Zorro,

Niece and her very good friend both got 12+ A* GCSE at local comp - no sixth form. (Sussex - no grammars). Niece went to (another) local comp sixth form (Sussex), nearness to home etc. Her friend went to Judd Grammar (Kent), travelling 1 and 1/2 hr each way. The friend is now in 2nd year of med school having got 5 A level A/A*. Niece failed to get a place at med school following 2 cycles. Results were A*A but (only) a Chem grade B (still) after resit this Jan. She'll be doing bio med next year now.

There is more to it than meets the eye, and students at niece's sixth form comp do get 4+ A/A* and Oxbridge each year. But, might it have all worked out differently had she stayed with her friend and gone to the very academic Judd school? We'll never know and it's difficult to make assumptions based purely on one school being more academic than another.

Do you wonder whether the more academic school (St. Albans?) offers a greater chance of success, other than final grades, in terms of preparation etc. for applications to medical / dentistry courses?

Also, on the A level choices, just to add, it might be worth looking at the specification for the board / exam DS will be doing as topics covered might be quite different to DS's current perception of what A levels will be like.

History for example, whilst having lots of choice on the face of it ends up with the teacher teaching the module choices he / she prefers. Those who have DC do History A level will know what I mean - it's not clear cut what they will be learning about. I don't know if Geography is similar, probably not, but maybe worth DS having a look as he is very keen on the subject and it would be awful for him to realise too late it's all about economies and population studies if he prefers land formation aspects. Oh.. and I'm just using the above as an example - I have absolutely no idea what is covered in A level Geography but wonder whether it's one of those subjects like History.
Best wishes to you and DS. :D


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