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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:40 pm 
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Joined: Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:58 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
I'm a newbie on here (lurking for a while, though). I know this is primarily a forum about grammar schools, but wondering if anyone can help with views/recent experience on upper schools in the High Wycombe area? DS has just received his 11+ result which was 113. This was actually a cause for celebration in our household, especially as he did very well on the Maths paper and would have qualified with ease if the grammar schools were just looking for mathematicians! :lol: However, we are not going to appeal as he was not expected to qualify and, having visited both RGS and JHGS, I've come to the conclusion that a grammar school would not be the right place for him in any case.

So now the question is which upper school to put as first preference on the CAF? DS has ASD so needs somewhere which is strong on pastoral care, but which will still push him academically and have extra-curricula activities which interest him. We have visited 6 upper schools but none has come out strongly as "this is the one for us" - they each seem to have different pros and cons. DS is quirky, strong in music (sings in the choir and plays clarinet), also good at maths and computing, likes some sports but only if played non-competitively. Our closest upper schools are Highcrest Academy, Sir William Ramsay School and Holmer Green Senior School. We have attended the open days, spoken to the SEN departments and scoured the school websites, but it's so hard to make a decision. Does anyone have recent experience of any of these 3 schools? If so, what are the good points and not so good points, in your experience?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:08 am 
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Well done to your son on his score, it's getting tougher each year to achieve the qualifying score so a score of 113 is excellent.

You sound like a sensible parent. So many take the grammar-at-any-cost attitude, some without ever having visited the schools they suddenly profess a long-standing desire to get their child into, so it's good that you've visited two grammars and made an assessment of their suitability to your son. What a change - it's normally perceived the other way around.

I'm Aylesbury-based so don't know the Wycombe schools well enough to be able to advise you, so I'll leave others with experience to help out. The only piece of advice I have is that if you haven't done so already, visit your higher preferences on an actual school day because open days are contrived, set-piece events that don't give a real indication of what the schools are like. Good luck.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:24 am 
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I'm not a lot of help but have had heard really good thing about all of those schools. Would just say though, that Highcrest is an All Ability school so you would have to take their 'banding' test in order to be considered for a place. The last one of those is this coming Wednesday so you need to get registered pdq if you even want to consider it.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:37 am 
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Location: High Wycombe
Was just about to post the same as Bustermartin about Highcrest. Would need to take an additional test for there. Reputationally Holmer Green has historically had the edge over the other two schools and their provision for SEND does cover ASD more specifically than the other two schools. Maybe you got that feeling when you spoke to them?
I would also recommend an open morning to see the school in everyday action. Which would be the easiest for your DS to get to and go to after school activities such as music?SWR had a reputation for art at one stage.
As an aside, are you aware of the Chiltern Music Academy that runs out of RGS on a Friday night and WHS on a Saturday morning? Fabulous music making choirs and ensensembles and like a youth club for kids from all the schools in the area. They love quirky too.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:39 am 
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I visited all three over last few weeks, probably holmer green edged it but the school feels quite small and not sure I got a great impression from the head's speech.

Holmer green is always over subscribed and even those in catchment may not get a place. SWR seems to be on the way up and Highcrest has some good new facilities.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:12 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Please do check the past allocation distances for the schools on the spreadsheet on my first post here (Upper Schools are on the second tab, Highcrest is on the third tab): viewtopic.php?f=12&t=54212

Although there is a testing session for Highcrest this week, the application form states that it must be returned at least a week before the test date, so you may have missed the boat on that.

Bearing that in mind, and unless you live very close to Holmer Green SS, your only option might turn out to be SWR.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:47 pm 
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You need to look at allocation distances to check which you stand a chance of being allocated.

SWR has a reasonably new Head who came from John Colet and she's well-regarded.

Is St Michael's a possibility? I'd probably say that was the strongest historically.

I will PM you.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:26 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to reply - much appreciated. Pleased to say my DS has already done the Highcrest banding test, so we're covered should we decide on that school. Sally-Anne - thanks for the allocation distances table - v. useful - based on the previous few years' allocations, we would definitely get into SWR, scrape into HGSS (we are in catchment but on the edge) and probably get into Highcrest (DS's banding score is on the Band A/B border, probably more likely Band B, in which case we would have got in there all previous years listed other than 2015). Of course, next year's allocations could be completely different ...

I've visited all 3 schools during the day (DS didn't want to be taken out of his primary school and he had already seen them on the open evenings, so I went on my own to the open mornings) - unfortunately none of them came out as a clear "winner" in my mind (but equally none came out as a clear "loser" either :? ). I would like to take the best points of all 3 schools, combine them into one school, and put it half a mile from our house :lol: . If pressed for a preference, DS would go for Highcrest, but only because he could walk there, whereas he'd have to take a bus to the other two (or have a very long walk!).

I'll try to seek out some parents of children already at the schools and then we'll just have to make up our minds before 31st. (Of course, we may decide after much soul-searching that we want School A and put it first, only to find we are actually allocated School B...)

MrsChubbs - thanks for the thought about Chiltern Music Academy - we will certainly look into that as it sounds great! :)


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:41 am 
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Hi - I live right between SWR and HGSS. I don't have children at either school (so my view is unbiased), but obviously most of the families around me do. I thought it might be useful to pass on the info I have...but do bear in mind that it is definitely more hearsay and general chat amongst the parents rather than anything concrete or statistical. I thought I might be useful to offer a different perspective though - most contributors on here will be able to offer more logical views based on performance etc...this is more 'word on the street', so obviously a very large pinch of salt has to be taken with that!

Locally, HGSS is definitely viewed as far better than SWR. SWR has had a reputation for not being a great school over the past 12 years that I have lived here, but then a poor reputation is hard to shift, so maybe it is actually OK these days and people just remember the not so good days.

We know of two families who took their children out and moved them to HGSS due to bullying that wasn't resolved. Having said that, we also know of two more families who took their kids out of HGSS and moved them to The Misbourne for the same reasons! I guess most school have some degree of bullying unfortunately.

My mum used to live directly opposite SWR and the behaviour of some of the kids at hometime was shocking...staff were always at the bus stop making sure things didn't get out off hand. That was two years ago though, so maybe things have improved since. I drive past the HGSS kids on the way back from Missenden every day, and their behaviour can also be questionable at times (as I imagine is the same at all schools!), but nothing like SWR.

HGSS didn't have a great reputation before, but I think a few years ago they pulled their socks up (maybe got a superhead in? can't remember), and the school certainly seems to be up and coming and is quite popular now. Before, people locally wanted The Misbourne instead of HGSS, but in more recent years people seem to feel the two are comparable and locals are choosing HGSS over The Misbourne in many cases. SWR doesn't seem to have such positive views...but then again, if they were to get a new/superhead on the case, who is to say that school couldn't be just as good? Over the years I have come to realise that with primary and senior schools, so much can change between the time your child chooses the school and a couple of years later. A change in head can really change a school.

If I am honest, I can't say I have heard of one person who has chosen SWR over HGSS, but of course that isn't to say they don't exist. My eldest goes to RGS, and when we took our youngest to view RGS recently he was shown round by a sixth former who had been at SWR and moved to RGS for his A Levels a few weeks ago. He must have got good grades to move to RGS for A levels. To me, that indicates that despite what people may say about SWR, clearly children who apply themselves still do well there.

I can't offer any views on SENCO type topics as I don't have or know of anyone in that situation locally. All the best with your decision and all the best for your little one wherever they end up!


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 15, 2018 11:45 am 
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Poor behavior at bus stops and outside schools is not just confined to Uppers ... GS also have teachers supervising bus queues.


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