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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 9:51 am 
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Dc is currently at grammar but is keen on Balcarras Comprehensive Sixth Form. The requirement to start with 4 A levels and the fact they are one of the only schools to do AS levels is a big selling point. Why would other schools not do AS levels if they are so important?

Looking at entrance criteria, Balcarras are at grammar level - 2x6 and 3x5. Oversubscription criteria for external students is 2x7 and 3x6! They will most definitely be oversubscribed.

It really annoys me that Balcarras bang on about being against selective schooling - they did at sixth form open evening - yet they quite clearly are selective!

After 5 very happy years at a grammar and being predicted very high GCSE results, I'm really not that keen on DC going there and I feel DC should stay at grammar.

I'd be interested to hear what others' views are.


Last edited by Flash on Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:19 am 
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Where is Balcarras?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 10:23 am 
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Cheltenham


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:01 am 
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Most over subscribed sixth forms could be called selective.
Is there a particular reason your DD wants to move? Subjects, friends etc? Often a change of scenery at 6th form is a good thing.
Hopefully some local people will come along with their thoughts, but my feeling is that at this age it should be her decision, and where she feels most comfortable (within reason for ease of getting there, quality of teaching etc etc).


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:41 pm 
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Moving schools at Sixth form can be a very positive thing to do...it can allowed young people to experience making and living with their own choices, and experiencing a transition to being more independent...before the bigger jump to university


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 7:56 pm 
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However there are also negatives!
I'd get her to explain her reasoning and talk her through your concerns.
If she can make a sensible case and listens to your concerns then I agree, let her make the choice.
If there are issues like travelling etc then make it very clear what you are prepared to do and what shes got to deal with herself!


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 8:17 pm 
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I was in your position last year and we made sure that we visited all the sixth forms DS was interested in. I also knew other children doing the same.

I got DS to write down what he liked about each school to help him decide. He wasn't keen on the fact that Balcarras wore sweatshirts and polo shirts as he preferred smarter dress among other things including the course staff. We also looked at ease of getting there from where we are on the other side of Cheltenham and felt it would actually take him longer than catching the bus to Gloucester.

Now to be positive in the fact that I know a girl who moved there from Denmark Rd for September. She wanted a change in scenery and children. The grades needed were lower than STRS and Pates but similar to DR/Crypt. It also meant she could leave home later and walk or cycle. She is very happy and settled.

They are a selective sixth form as they have high entrance qualifications and don't offer other courses for those who will not do as well, they have to go to othe sixth forms or the local college.

DS actually stayed put and is enjoying his A-levels but is struggling socially and a part of him wishes he had taken the jump and had a new start but keep his current academics.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 10:38 am 
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Thank you for your replies.

I think the main attraction to Balcarras is friends who are currently there and will stay for Sixth Form. We are the wrong side of Cheltenham to get there easily too. I'm all for moving schools for good reasons. It may be that dc will have to move for different subjects but will still have the choice of 2 Grammars.

We have str and Pates open evenings in the next couple of weeks, so I'm hoping there will be some attraction there.

I think a list of pros and cons for each is a good idea MedievalBabe. Like your son I also prefer a smarter uniform.

It seems all children at Balcarras have to start with 4 A levels and EPQ is compulsory which may be too much for some. At Pates EPQ is optional. It's interesting how all the schools differ.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 6:13 pm 
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DS is at STR and they encourage you to start with 4 A-levels but not compulsory and if after a certain point you decide to drop a subject will help your DC. DS started with 4, sat his Y12 exams in November and dropped a subject. They do not have to do EPQ either.

One of my friends has a DD at STR who has come from another school and she likes the fact that if in the afternoon they do not have lessons and are maintaining their grades they can sign out and go home, parents get an email letting you know they have signed out of school and why. They do also have to do activities on a Wednesday which are either sport or community based for those not sporty.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2019 1:13 pm 
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Many schools opted out of offering AS levels when the reforms took place (last year?). They still exist, and you can take them at the end of Year 12 before dropping the subject or going on to take the full A-level in Year 13. DS's school agreed to fund his AS exam when he wanted to drop the subject, but the school would not fund any AS levels if the pupil wanted to continue studying the subject for A-level.

AS results are probably no longer important as they do not count towards A-level grades anymore. They are now primarily only used as an indication of the possible A-level result. This may contribute to the reason as to why they are not offered. Not doing them frees up time for the class/teacher to focus in greater depth the content of the A-level course. I believe it also saves money for the schools as they will no longer have to pay for students to sit them.


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