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 Post subject: Tommies or Balcarras?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 22, 2018 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:16 pm
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My daughter has just started Year 7 at Balcarras and obviously we live in the catchment area- she walks to school in about 10 mins. My son will be sitting the eleven plus next year and likes the idea of Tommies (if he passes) or Balcarras. I’m completely torn over whether it’s worth sending him on the bus to Gloucester every day for Tommies or whether to send him to Balcarras with his sister. So far I’m extremely impressed with Balcarras and daughter is loving it, but wondering if anyone has had this dilemma and what thoughts are. My son is bright, into his sports and maths/sciences and may benefit from the all boys environment at the Grammar.
Any advice welcome!


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:00 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 12:20 pm
Posts: 487
Just because your DS "likes the idea of Tommies", it does not mean it is the school for him. Visit the school with him (no doubt they will advertise an open day soon) and see what he thinks of it then. A visit to a school can change opinions or confirm them.
The bus journey is his to make, but yours to pay for!
Your DD may love Balcarass, but again, this doesn't mean your son will. Visit both schools, point out good and bad points of both, but don't be detrimental towards either school as he probably will be going to one of them if he does or doesn't pass. Good Luck :!:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:32 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 12:41 pm
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Location: Essex
Perhaps use the bus to travel to the open day? I took DS2 to an open morning at a grammar school about twenty miles away, mainly to see what all the hype was for (we have two boys' grammar schools within two miles of home, but everyone raves about how far superior the other one is).

We looked round. It was okay, quite nice, really. Friendly staff and students, down to earth HT. DS2 said he wouldn't mind going there, good enough pass permitting.

Then I said, well, you would have the option of the three trains we took this morning and the same in reverse, each day, five days a week etc, or a rambling cross-country bus which rarely turns up on time.

Bizarrely, he decided that if he were to pass the exam, there was nothing that school had, that we didn't already have on our doorstep.

(To be fair, the totally unreliable bus has now been replaced by a super-efficient minibus service, which I often use when I have to do that journey, but the previous one got even worse before the operator finally withdrew it at very short notice and it would have been a very stressful option).

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 5:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:44 pm
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Hi,
My son has just started at Tommies and absolutely loves it (we live on the Gloucester side of Cheltenham) We feel that it was the right school for him (fingers crossed it stays that way!)
If we had Balcarras nearby, I would have been tempted not to go down the 11 plus route to be honest. It’s great that you have that school as an option. Go and visit them both with your son again and get a feel for both of them. I didn’t visit Balcarras but I would imagine they are very different indeed. I would say there is no point in being torn until he has sat the test and you know how he has done.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 1:34 pm 
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I have a friend whose son passed for Pates and Tommies. He didn’t like the former but was tempted by the latter and they had a few agonising days deciding, especially as dad was a former Richian. In the end they chose Balcarras as son could walk to school with his older sisters (who didn’t even sit the 11+ as they didn’t want Pates or single gender). Son sat his GCSEs last year and there are no regrets on any level - logistically, socially or academically- for the decision. He is staying to do A levels though his results would have allowed him to access any other school of his choice. I am Tommies’ biggest fan but I would say in your position it is a no-brainer. Balcarras hands down. Ignore those who say ‘oh but it’s a grammar school’ It’s just a school and it is not on your doorstep!


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 25, 2018 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:06 pm
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My boys are at Tommies and we love the school. But if we had an excellent comp within walking distance I doubt we'd have gone down the 11+ route. Also as a mum of three teenagers do not underestimate the convenience of having friends nearby.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2018 8:16 pm
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Hi. Thank you for all the replies.
We went to the Balcarras open evening on Thursday for him to have a look round and he liked it. His sister is desperate for him to go, so they can walk to school together and she can look after him! Unfortunately I didn’t realise we had missed the Tommies one which was right at the start of term I believe so will have to wait til May to see that.
Gut feeling is we will stick with Balcarras but he is determined he still wants to do 11 plus and look at Tommies as he is keen on ‘all boys’ and doesn’t seem fazed by getting a bus to Gloucester every day. So we will see. He may not even pass I suppose!


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 12:07 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:40 am
Posts: 73
Location: Gloucestershire
My son attended Marling and moved to Balcarras 6th form, as Balcarras was the only school which had a particular A level subject he wanted to do. Loved the school, got fantastic A level results, uni offers from top 4 Russel group unis and now has just started his uni course at one of them.
Can’t praise the school enough, I would always choose Cheltenham or Stroud schools over Gloucester in my personal opinion.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 5:35 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:05 pm
Posts: 45
We're close to Balcarras and know it very well, but are just outside catchment. My DS2 has just started Tommies along with 3 friends who are Balcarras catchment, and we would have chosen Tommies over Balcarras. Definitely visit both as much as possible and also talk to the heads. Big Tommies fans in my house, DS1 has just left with fantastic results, having been given outstanding support all the way through, can't praise the school highly enough. Bennetts bus is very easy (if early! :? ) from all over CK and if it's sporty and slightly 'blokey' you're after (although DS2 is neither and still very happy!) Tommies is a good fit. Not to gloss over the cons though - driving across for parents evenings and late pick ups is horrendous at rush hour and we do our share of ferrying about to far-flung birthday parties, but for us it has been more than worth it. I'm a firm believer in horses for courses rather than better/worse, provided the logistics are worth it for you. Good luck! xx


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