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PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 1:34 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:57 am
Posts: 350
mm23292 wrote:
I did acknowledge the RMS location, but my original question was not confined to Bucks specifically. Herts Berks & North London or wherever else is accessible.
As for Bucks schools specifically, I can only comment on the one I know. And while I know there are other schools such as Thorpe & Pipers that have often been branded as not terribly academic, I know of children who have performed very well at those schools too, and their parents were very happy. Regardless of which schools I do or don't know, I can only base my opinion on my own experience, and hope that anyone else with other first hand experience, might have been willing to share. Broad brush comments tend to raise eyebrows, whether they are right or wrong.

PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:03 pm 

Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 5:27 pm
Posts: 4431
Location: london
back to you question OP. You mentioned St Helens and Northwood. There are several threads about them on these boards so it is worth searching them out. I am more familiar with St Helens and have only heard positive things about it. Several friends with DDs there delighted with it.
That said, with all these schools, I would seriously factor in location both in terms of your DD's travel time and also where the schools draw from geographically. It may not seem like it at the moment but soon DD will need to be able to independently make her way to and from school with a journey that is not too lengthy. Moreover, in the not too distant future she will be independently making her way to and from friends' houses and it will be mighty inconvenient for her if they are largely in London, as opposed to nearer you. I'm sure any school would provide detail on this if requested and it would be a major factor in any choice I made.


PostPosted: Tue Mar 27, 2018 3:35 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:57 am
Posts: 350
Thank you Mad, very important point, I agree.

And that's quite true Hertslady, the factors you mention most certainly apply where we are concerned. In terms of past, present and future decisions being mulled over on here! As it does for many I am sure. Private schooling is often far from the wealthy domain it is perceived to be. Many people I know have family assistance, and for some like us, it involves huge financial sacrifice, downsizing (or inability to upsize or improve!) borrowing, remortgaging etc. It's not an easy over-privileged choice for everyone. Wherever we end up choosing for our child, we simply hope it will be a place where she can achieve her potential, and be happy, inspired and motivated to learn. And on that note, I appreciate all your comments, thank you.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:13 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2014 3:24 pm
Posts: 31
Slightly off topic

I find it fascinating how the words academic, more academic and less academic are used on this site. What do posters really mean by these terms when used to describe a child or school? How are these terms used to justify a parent’s choice of school, even where there was no real choice for the parent? How are these terms used to justify the type of school that their child goes to or aspires to, or even what type of education system is for the good of the country.

I think that these terms are most often used in the independent v maintained school debate. That said, they probably also arise in the grammar v comprehensive debate and the selective/ partially selective/ non selective debate too.

I would start a new thread to discuss, but I fear that it would be hijack with strongly held views rather than an unemotional, intellectual debate.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:43 am 

Joined: Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:59 pm
Posts: 5298
Ironically, I suppose it depends what you mean by "unemotional, intellectual debate"....? :shock:

Personally, I think a bit of emotion in debate is, to coin your phrase, "good for the country"....the government, for example, take very little notice of the facts about the NHS being badly funded and on its' knees - perhaps the emotive debate might make them think again? Ditto education - broad based facts are ignored - there is very little evidence, for example, that GS are hugely beneficial for the numbers that go there - yes they might benefit individuals, or get a child 0.5 of an improved grade than they would get if they went elsewhere...is this "good for the country"? Probably not - but without an emotive debate, no-one will look up from their smartphone, or cornflakes or whatever.

PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 7:49 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 11, 2014 1:03 pm
Posts: 283
I hope you don't mind me adding my 2p worth (I'm Berks area)

My DD qualified for Grammar in Oct 2014, she is also very able but wasn't the most confident young lady.
Due to this we thought she would be better off in an Independent school with smaller class sizes so followed that route instead.
She was awarded an academic scholarship but this was only worth 20% so we made a lot of sacrifices to be able to afford it.

After completing Y7 she really didn't settle there, so after thinking long and hard and making sure she was 100% sure about it we made the decision to move her.

Thankfully her 11+ qualification was still recognised in Berks (expired in Bucks) and she is now in a Berks Grammar School and is loving it! she is flourishing both academically and socially.
Even though her Indie got comparable GCSE results she finds Grammar more academically challenging which actually suits her.

it is lovely to have a child so happy at school and not having that financial burden is such a relief!

Good luck with whatever choice you make.

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 12:00 pm 

Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:57 am
Posts: 350
What a great outcome, Rhiane. It would be great to have the option kept open after year 7, but unfortunately Bucks is not so flexible. In fact quite a few children who qualified where I live, did not even get a place this year. Such is the mad rat race it has become.

Re the term ‘academic’, I agree Droftaw, that’s what I was trying to understand in the discussion of what made one school more ‘academic’ than another. Is it the teaching? Or is it the kids, and how rigorously they have been selected. And what makes that a better environment for learning? When you take a school that is deemed further down in the pecking order of academia, but know children who have excelled in their care, it makes you wonder, would it really matter? If an academically bright child, is considered suitable for an ‘academic’ school, does being surrounded by children who are all ultimately of that calibre, make that a better environment for success? I know people like Guest are better informed on these matters, than I am, but when you’re pondering the next place for your child, these conundrums can get a little over thought sometimes!
As for the pecking order, within our accessible domain, our head teacher placed St.Helen’s as being superior to RM and Berkhamstead. Which surprised me somewhat, as I had straight A* niece & nephews who seemed to be the norm at Berko, so it all seems rather more confusing than it should!

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 2:09 pm 

Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:01 pm
Posts: 8891
Location: Herts
In our area Berkhamsted is where students go when they cannot get into St Albans and Habs. DG

PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2018 7:06 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:14 am
Posts: 397
Unfortunately I don’t think anyone can really answer your questions because too much of what makes a school a good fit is totally unique to a particular child.
Some will flourish better in a more fast paced more academic school some need more nurturing and prefer to be a big fish in a small pool.
Talking to parents helps but they don’t know your child like you do.
I would narrow your search on geography down to a few schools and then attend as many events as you can.
School fairs,plays and concerts can tell you a lot about how a school is run.
If a bursary isn’t on the cards I would be wary of sitting lots of indies in the hope of a small scholarship. I personally think that puts children under a lot of pressure.
My children’s friends went to all sorts of schools at 11.
None to my knowledge have been unhappy or regretted their choice.
Besides your own gut feelings your prep school head should be pointing you in the right direction.

PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 4:32 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 8:54 am
Posts: 916
mad? wrote:
You mentioned St Helens and Northwood. There are several threads about them on these boards so it is worth searching them out. I am more familiar with St Helens and have only heard positive things about it. Several friends with DDs there delighted with it.

My dd was at St Helen's until last year, she joined the school in Year 7 and came from a state primary.

I cannot praise the school highly enough, in fact I struggle to think of any downsides! Dd was so happy there and the teaching is superb. A few points:

-Smallish classes (20), separate teaching group and form to widen their social circle
-They are set for Maths (and Science later on). Dd struggled with Maths and was in the bottom set until around Year 10. It was the best thing for her, they had a very small group and fantastic teachers. She got an A at GCSE (in fact half way to A*!) which she was over the moon with. Her Year 11 teacher in particular really gave her confidence.
-Great language tuition - girls in Year 7 choose 2 from French, Spanish, German and Mandarin
-Extra curricular provision is excellent, there is lots going on from sport to music to drama
-Strong House system with lots of inter-house events throughout the year, culminating in 'House Arts' in June
-Author visits - dd met Sophie McKenzie and Malorie Blackman in Year 7!
-Lovely grounds, lots of green open space...yet on top of the Met line tube which is handy

It's a great school in my opinion. St Helen's is always seen as the poor relation of Habs, people think it's less academic etc...but if you compare results they are very similar.

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