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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2020 12:02 pm 
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This is something of a perennial issue on these forums but we are really struggling to decide what to do and would appreciate any input / insight from others who have DCs at the schools in question and/or dealt with the state v independent question.

DD has an offer at STAHs and also Parmiters through the academic route. DD is not at all interested in sport, drama or music but loves art and DT and is pretty academic across the board. Although we listed Parmiters as our first state choice as it requires a higher consortium test result, I think I actually now prefer WGGS..

The bigger dilemma however is STAHS or state. Affordability is not a massive issue but some lifestyle adjustments may be required if our youngest also then goes independent for senior school in a few years. DD loves STAHS, as do we, but the real issue we are grappling with is value for money – would DD be better off going to a pretty good state school (Parmiters / WGGS) and we could put aside say half the saved school fees to give to her when she finishes school / uni? Any thoughts / insights much appreciated.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 10, 2020 6:38 pm 
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I don’t know either of the schools but write as a parent who has DD currently in independent prep school and for whom we have just chosen state grammar over selective independent for secondary.
First of all, a high achieving motivated child is equally likely to do well at either school. The value for money really relates to the extras you believe STAHS will offer that the other school doesn’t have. How do the facilities for art and DT compare? What about subjects currently offered for GCSE and A level? (Of course, the subjects on offer could change in future). How do the extra curricular opportunities match with DD’s interests? There’s no point being dazzled by e.g. fancy sports facilities if DD is unlikely to use them. If you choose the state option, you may be able to address some of the perceived gaps by e.g. paying for out of school activities, family theatre trips, foreign travel experiences etc and spend far less money than you would on school fees...
Value for money will always be subjective in the context of school choice. Good luck with your decision.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:12 am 
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Thanks for your response JM40, some helpful thoughts - Good point re being able to supplement any potential extra-curricular gaps at state schools.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:18 pm 
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Location: Reading
we went for indie primary, grammar secondary and then indie 6th form. Not having to find the money for fees for 5 years meant that we could say yes to trips more easily and, as it happened, DH was made redundant when she was in yr 7 so fees would have been a challenge altogether for a while.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:39 pm 
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I can’t comment on those specific schools either, but have just chosen an independent option over grammar, which hasn’t come lightly, as the financial constraints are huge; but the grammars just did not compare in rounded education terms. Yes they look good at first glance on the league tables; but delve deeper, and it’s a murkier picture. Particularly at A level, and that was a surprising revelation. And taking grades aside; it leaves little else. Although your child may not be sporty now, it is having the opportunity to try different sports and activities, that can fuel a passion later on. Our daughter has had respiratory problems, which have undoubtedly been bettered by her growing enthusiasm for sport. And although she may not be A team material (yet)..she is hugely enthusiastic. At grammar, there is little scope for participation, unless you are picked for the competition teams, and that’s a tall order when there are almost 200 children to choose from.
Likewise with music; the independent offers great facilities and opportunities to practice and participate. Not so at the grammar. We visited the grammar a few times, and every time felt a little more disenchanted. It’s all about getting them in..and turning them around with their minimum clutch of 5Bs at the end, in the hope they can stay for 6th form. Yes some do better, and are naturally bright and may thrive...but some do worse, and I know quite a few. And a lot will fall somewhere in the middle. At the independent we chose, there is a huge sense of purpose beyond the mere clutch of grades. A vibrancy and enthusiasm for so much more, and an energy that was palpable as soon as you walk through the door. We just didn’t feel that at our local grammar. Interestingly, the other high flyers in our child’s prep, are not taking up their grammar places either, so it seems we are not alone! Good luck with your choice.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 12:51 pm 
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Gosh...that doesn’t sound anything like our local grammar school at all! Very important that the OP looks at the one on offer in their area, because it sounds as if the grammar school offer varies hugely round the country.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:35 pm 
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Location: Reading
mm23292 wrote:
I can’t comment on those specific schools either, but have just chosen an independent option over grammar, which hasn’t come lightly, as the financial constraints are huge; but the grammars just did not compare in rounded education terms. Yes they look good at first glance on the league tables; but delve deeper, and it’s a murkier picture. Particularly at A level, and that was a surprising revelation. And taking grades aside; it leaves little else. Although your child may not be sporty now, it is having the opportunity to try different sports and activities, that can fuel a passion later on. Our daughter has had respiratory problems, which have undoubtedly been bettered by her growing enthusiasm for sport. And although she may not be A team material (yet)..she is hugely enthusiastic. At grammar, there is little scope for participation, unless you are picked for the competition teams, and that’s a tall order when there are almost 200 children to choose from.
Likewise with music; the independent offers great facilities and opportunities to practice and participate. Not so at the grammar. We visited the grammar a few times, and every time felt a little more disenchanted. It’s all about getting them in..and turning them around with their minimum clutch of 5Bs at the end, in the hope they can stay for 6th form. Yes some do better, and are naturally bright and may thrive...but some do worse, and I know quite a few. And a lot will fall somewhere in the middle. At the independent we chose, there is a huge sense of purpose beyond the mere clutch of grades. A vibrancy and enthusiasm for so much more, and an energy that was palpable as soon as you walk through the door. We just didn’t feel that at our local grammar. Interestingly, the other high flyers in our child’s prep, are not taking up their grammar places either, so it seems we are not alone! Good luck with your choice.


We experienced a polar opposite so definitely do your own research. DD was not sporty and sports were valued much more highly at the indie so she never got a look in. The overall standard at the grammar was lower which meant she could make it into a team and actually played some matches for the first time in her life. Both options had a year group of around 90 in our case.
For music DD didn't really flourish till she started working with Berkshire Maestros (who don't work with Indies). 2 grade 8s later and she got a music scholarship at the indie for 6th form - she absolutely would not have made this progress without Maestros.
No one at the grammar would have been satisfied with a clutch of 5Bs - there were an amazing number with 8+ grade 9s at GCSE.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 4:46 pm 
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mm23292 I can't think of a single Bucks grammar school that would be happy with the results you say(although I'm not sure if you mean Bs or 5s). Of course there is more of a variety of attainment at Bucks grammars as they take 30% of the children, but I think they aim much higher than you ssy. Sport can be mixed, depending on the school. Are you going outside Bucks for an independent school?


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 6:52 pm 
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Are you able to shed more light on what you mean mm23292 by the murkier picture?
I’m not in Bucks but we are close friends with a family who’s children have recently finished at Dr Challoners boys and girls.
The experience they have had has been a million miles away from what has been described above.
The extracurricular opportunities have been amazing.
I do wonder if it’s a harder decision to choose a grammar when a child is at a private primary.
The majority of bright children from our local preps choose grammar over independents.
The independents struggle to fill their places as a result particularly the 4-18 schools.
I personally wouldn’t choose an independent if significant family sacrifices had to be made to do so.
I think doing so puts children under pressure and isn’t good for families.
A childhood is so much more than education.
Most children will be fine at whatever school they go to.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2020 9:56 pm 
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I also can't comment on either school you mentioned but my children are at state school which has offered them a phenomenal amount of extra curricular activities, breadth to grow as people and a genuinely enjoyable time at school. I have friends with children at some indies who are very happy with their children's experiences (St Albans is one of them but the boys' school) and I have friends with children at different indies where they are unhappy and where their experience is significantly less positive than it would have been at the local comprehensive.
I think it comes down to where you can imagine your child thriving best which is not (always) the same as where they have the best equipment etc.


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