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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:16 pm 
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Hi,
We have a big dilemma and need your advice.
Both schools are amazing which makes our choice even more difficult.
Has anyone been in the same situation when choosing between top state and top private school? So stressed.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 3:34 pm 
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Many people have this dilemma, but the decision will always be a personal one. When a private school is concerned it often comes down to finances. Are you sure your DD will be offered a place at DAO?
Which did you think would be the best fit for your DD when you looked round? Which is easiest to get to? Are there particular strengths of the schools that match your daughter's interests?


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:40 pm 
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Hands down I'd pick DAO.

From all I've heard and observed, I've decided that the difference between most independents and most selective schools is too slim to call: you gain on the sports side in a private school but you lose the social mix and resilience side.

I speak as someone who loved STAHG too.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 10:32 am 
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I know a few people who have been choosing between Habs and DAO over the years but don't know anyone personally who was choosing between DAO and STAHS.
I did not have a dilemma between state and indie (we didn't apply for any indies) but I guess I can tell you the things I like/like less about DAO and that might help you weigh up those against what you know about STAHS? I am not comparing the school with anywhere - some of these things are probably true about many schools; this is just my experience.
I have two children at DAO, a dd and a ds.
1) I think the pastoral care is very good. I think the children know how to access it and it is very accessible. Whenever mine or their friends have wanted support it has been offered immediately and very well. There is a big focus on dealing with stress, on mental health issues and on seeking help whenever needed.
2) The relationships between teachers and students is excellent and gets even better as the children get older.
3) The teaching is mostly superb and the interest and excitement generated by different subjects is fantastic. My teaching friends from other schools are very impressed with what is taught and how it's taught. My dd is very "academic" (if that's the right word) in that she loves learning for its own sake - she has really thrived in this environment. My ds (who on paper is "cleverer") does not care so much about the learning - he also likes the school but has a very different experience in that I think he would feel the same about any school whereas I think dd has benefited hugely from being at DAO.
4) All the subjects get the same emphasis. They care as much about a child's effort in food tech or Art as in Maths or History. I really like that. I know people who don't because those parents care about academic subjects more than what they perceive as "soft" subjects (their words not mine). Neither of mine are doing any tech subjects at GCSE but the 3 years they had doing them were excellent.
5) The year group is big (200+) but they divide them into forms, teaching groups and tech groups so that everyone gets a chance to get to know lots of people. (They also split the year in half so you are only ever with half the year except at clubs etc). Again I like that. Dd does not have close friends in her form but hers came from her teaching group. Ds has friends from all his groups. But there are definitely people that dd has never spoken to her in her year.
6) I like that the school is mixed (I probably like that more because I have one of each). Dd's out of school activities tend to be rather girl-heavy so I like the fact that she mixes with boys every day. She's almost 15 and has absolutely no interest in the boys though and I wonder if that's a case of familiarity breeding contempt. My impression is that the girls on the whole day-to-day do a bit better (academically) than the boys and are certainly more represented in prizes etc in the lower school. The girls certainly feel very free to be very outspoken and strongly feminist (again something I approve of!)
7) Sports seem good. The girls' PE department seems to be more inclusive and there seem to be more opportunities. The boys' department seems more strict and there might be fewer opportunities to get into teams. The sports' teams are fairly traditional - hockey, football, netball and athletics for girls, football, rugby, cricket and athletics for boys. They do other stuff in PE (table tennis, tennis, badminton, gym, dance etc) but there seems to be less emphasis on these. If your dd has a particular wish to do lacrosse for example, there isn't any.
8 ) Music is superb. If your dd plays an instrument/sings then she will get plenty of opportunities if she wants them.
9) It's a very encouraging environment. There are always postcards/emails etc coming home congratulating them on their attitude or a good piece of homework etc. There used to be a very active merit system but that seems to have reduced a bit in the last couple of years.
10) It used to be compulsory to do 2 languages at GCSE but that has been dropped from this year's year 9 I believe. Languages offered by the school are French, Spanish and German. There is a degree of choice but not guaranteed. You can do Italian at an after-school club. There aren't any other languages.
11) They don't do Latin/Classics. That's the only thing I think is a real shame but that's only really because they were my favourite subjects at school and I'm sad that my children don't get to do them. I am not sure they are bothered!
12) My children feel that computing teaching is not particularly great. But they both hate that subject so I'm not sure how fair their assessment is. It seems to be reasonably popular to continue with it so there must be people that think it's fine.
13) You have to drop drama in year 9 (having done it in year 7 and 8 ) but can pick it up again at GCSE. There is a very active drama club though.
14) I think it's a very friendly school and has a great family atmosphere. I feel that I have still got a feel for the school even though obviously we're not there day to day. I think that people's experience can be quite different though. I was chatting to a friend the other day whose oldest child is in year 11 - other than parents' evenings she's not set foot in the school since her child started. She and her child are very very happy with the school but she doesn't feel a particular connection with it. We are probably at 10 or more concerts a year, sports matches most weeks, school plays etc (just because our children are involved in nearly everything) so feel much more connected with the school. I suppose it depends on your dd how much school involvement you will have.
15) The school is inclusive. I know that the data shows that the intake is significantly above average in terms of attainment and I am sure that that is true. However there are plenty of children with SENs, some of which are significant. I personally like that very much - I know parents who find it surprising and who don't like it. I am also aware (partly anecdotally and partly from a little knowledge about specific cases) that there are some children placed at the school who have found it difficult at previous schools - I think that this speaks positively about the school. Most of the teachers' children seem to go to the school. Parents come from a very wide variety of backgrounds but there seem to be a lot of teachers among the parents.
16) Emphasis is on effort as much as achievement. There are an equal number of "endeavour" prizes as "achievement" prizes at the end of the year.
17) Maths is the most popular A level subject, closely followed by History.
18) Homework is reasonable. Maybe 45 minutes to an hour a night in year 7. Generally a bit less on average in years 8 and 9. It definitely ranks up in year 10.
19) I genuinely feel hugely fortunate that my children get to go there. They feel that the teachers care about them as people (and how they do) and they are very happy.

I am sure whichever choice you make your dd would be happy. Good luck with your choice!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:44 pm 
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2 other things OP.
1) There is no setting in year 7 except for PE. There is setting in Maths and Languages from year 8. There is no setting for anything else (in year 10 the double science students are in a different class).
2) For many GCSE subjects the class sizes seem quite small - between 18 and 24 students in many, some even 15. This is not true for all subjects but does seem to be for quite a lot. This does seem to be a nice size for getting good interaction and feedback. There is a good range of GCSE options and - unlike friends in other schools I have come across - it seems very easy to get the combination of GCSEs the student wants to do.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:08 am 
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Thanks Loobylou and others for taking time to reply.
This information is very useful.
My concern with STAHS vs Owens is the drive and push that children receive.
I think teachers in a private school will give kids more individual attention/support or push rather than in Owens. Therefore, it is up to a child and parent to motivated, be on top of things in Owens. May be even get tutor? While in STAHS teachers are more supportive and motivated. I might be wrong. What do you think?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:28 am 
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Bluemarine wrote:
Thanks Loobylou and others for taking time to reply.
This information is very useful.
My concern with STAHS vs Owens is the drive and push that children receive.
I think teachers in a private school will give kids more individual attention/support or push rather than in Owens. Therefore, it is up to a child and parent to motivated, be on top of things in Owens. May be even get tutor? While in STAHS teachers are more supportive and motivated. I might be wrong. What do you think?

I don't think you can generalise between private/state or even these two schools, it will depend on the teacher. It is up to the child to be motivated anywhere. A lazy/disengaged child will be able resist wherever they are. As for tutors, they really should not be necessary anywhere. Good luck.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 9:32 am 
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Thank you, mad? I agree.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:05 pm 
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Why would you think that the STAHS teachers would be more supportive and motivated?

Do you have a reason for thinking that? DG


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 22, 2018 2:51 pm 
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Daogroupie wrote:
Why would you think that the STAHS teachers would be more supportive and motivated?

Do you have a reason for thinking that? DG


One would hope that they would be supportive and motivated (to help their pupils achieve their potential, presumably). The question is rather, why would you expect teachers in any other school to be less so?

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