Parts of the country with both grammar schools and decent comprehensives?

(76 Posts)
traipsingalong Tue 02-Oct-12 13:47:51

Could anyone list any parts of the UK which have both grammar schools and reasonably good comprehensives? We are aware that we're going to need to move house at some point before dc hit secondary school, and want to give them the best chances - i.e., a stab at a grammar school, but failing that, a reasonable non-selective secondary within catchment.

We're happy to consider any areas really although we are not rich, so sadly, areas close to London are going to be off limits for us.

losingtrust Tue 02-Oct-12 13:59:43

I would personally choose an LEA that has no grammar schools as the Comprehensives and therefore has good comprehensives but close to an LEA that has grammar schools, but bear in mind they would only take the very top and would be predominated by private school primary children or need heavy tutoring. Somewhere on the ouskirts of a big city. Solihull or Grappenhall Hayes, Cheshire are too examples for me with good comps.

teacherwith2kids Tue 02-Oct-12 14:23:08

Parts of Gloucestershire would seem to fit that specification, if you pay very careful attention to where you live in terms of catchment areas.

nagynolonger Tue 02-Oct-12 14:39:30

Lincolnshire still has the counties boardering Lincs. Very rural so maybe not much choice/lots of travelling. We have friends who say Rutland schools are good. Lots of other parents will have similar ideas so you will be buying a house in an expensive area.

Blu Tue 02-Oct-12 14:44:45

Good comps are very selective, in that the top stream will be highly stretched and challenged, lower streams will get the support and learning speed that enables them to do best etc etc. Some are 'banded' to ensure that they take an equal number of children across different ability bands.

Grammars arguably take the top streams out from the comps and therefore affect the comps.

Though doubtless there will be occasional specific locations that offer good comps and grammars.

Matesnotdates Tue 02-Oct-12 22:07:23

Dorset? Decent grammars and comps - also look at Devon which is cheaper, that have a couple of good grammars there.

JustGettingByMum Tue 02-Oct-12 22:59:26

North Wiltshire - specifically Chippenham, Malmesbury & Bradford on Avon all have good comps and no Grammars

I was going to say Gloucestershire too! Particularly the Cheltenham area, and Gloucester itself.

CouthyMowWearingOrange Wed 03-Oct-12 02:11:17

Parts of Essex. No, honestly. I'm thinking Chelmsford and Colchester, maybe Brentwood, Southend.

Mutteroo Wed 03-Oct-12 12:31:20

Another recommendation for Lincolnshire & Rutland. Great if you enjoy countryside & quietness.

LittenTree Wed 03-Oct-12 14:31:22

I am a strong believer in the 'fact' that if there's a grammar, the other local secondaries cannot, by definition, be comprehensive.

I don't know if you'd call the Salisbury grammars 'super-selective' (certainly weren't when I went a thousand years ago!- though the girls does very well in the League Tables)- but if you placed yourself between Salisbury and Romsey, you would have the grammar possibility in Wilts or the Hampshire comps such as Romsey's Mountbatten. Thsi has a ctachment but, right now, DC from a fair distance out are getting places. I know the girls GS has no catchment as such, it's 'reasonable travelling distance', I understand, which, for the 'more ambitious parent' apparently means a 40 mile drive each way twice every day, I've heard tell....

Or you could move to near Winchester and get at least 2 very good Winch comps, or into Chandlers Ford (check your catchment carefully!) and get into Thornden which, in academic terms, is the top performing comp in Hants. You can get a nice 3 bedroom house in this catchment for £230k.

castlesintheair Wed 03-Oct-12 19:03:41

Bournemouth and Poole and nearby parts of Dorset have great comps and grammars.

mummytime Wed 03-Oct-12 19:49:04

I would look at the league tables and see where the very top Comprehensives are, and move in close to them. A top comprehensive can get a reasonable number to Oxbridge each year, maybe some to Overseas Universities, a fair number to other Universities, and also get a fair number into apprenticeships and other college courses.

If there are grammar schools around then it is unlikely that the "comprehensives" will have enough to have a top cohort who can aim for Oxbridge etc., which is a real problem for "late developers" or those who aren't all-rounders.

RustyBear Wed 03-Oct-12 19:56:40

Wokingham has very good comprehensives, and is close to Reading, which has two top-performing grammars - Reading School for boys and Kendrick for girls. DS went to Reading School and did well there, DD didn't get in to Kendrick, but went to The Holt in Wokingham and did just as well there, in fact better than some of her friends who did get to the grammar - and even better at Farnborough Sixth form College, so there's a lot of options. Houses are very pricey in Wokingham though.

TeaDr1nker Wed 03-Oct-12 20:03:44

South MCR (Trafford borough/Altrincham/Sale) have good grammer and comps.

I would also suggest looking at online league tables and then rightmove to see if you can afford to move to those areas. Also consider how far away you would be willing to live from that school.

Just another note to add, I understand our local grammer school does the following for entry - all the children take an entrance exam, but for some reason those that live in the next borough have to achieve higher results than those nearer the school, to get a place IYSWIM

roisin Wed 03-Oct-12 20:17:57

Lancaster is good.

OwedToAutumn Wed 03-Oct-12 20:22:10

Bromley has two super selectives, and is quite close to Bexley with traditional grammars and Kent which has a mixture of traditionals and super selectives. There are also some very good comprehensives.

HesAwayAgain Wed 03-Oct-12 22:00:12

Lincolnshire again. Large parts of the county are not in catchment for the grammars, and many people choose not to do the grammar thing for the transport (you have certain designated transport schools for your address), so most of the comps (not all though!) are excellent. So we're currently awaiting grammar results for a "best of the rest outside catchment", and if she doesn't get into that one, we're going for an Outstanding CE comp that's not our designated (but is closer, go figure), which we should be all right to get in even at this distance because we're church-goers. The designated comp is all right though, at least if you're g&t or have special needs.

motherinferior Wed 03-Oct-12 22:01:50

Wot Blu and LittenTree said.

steppemum Wed 03-Oct-12 22:11:57

there are a few grammars in gloucestershire, but not enough fo rit to be a grammar system, so there are good comps too. The grammars are all slective on results, best get in regardless of where you live, there is no catchment at all.
The grammars are in gloucester, cheltenham and stroud
We live in swindon (very cheap good housing grin ). very good primaries, some of the best in the country. We are looking at stroud grammar, as it is 30 minutes on the train from swindon. There is also a very good comprehensive about 20 minutes bus away (not in swindon itself) We were very surprised at how easy it is to get to stroud which is a long way away.
There are buses to all the grammars form miles away, so depends how far you want to travel

Lilymaid Wed 03-Oct-12 22:14:16

Cambridgeshire doesn't have grammar schools but South Cambridgeshire in particular has good comprehensives (Village Colleges) that feed into sixth form colleges. One of the sixth form colleges (Hills Road) is selective and compares with the better grammar schools.

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 22:34:22

I don't think grammars and 'good' comprehensives are compatible! A 'comprehensive', by definition takes a comprehensive mix of children, not available in a grammar school area.

Non-grammar schools face an uphill struggle, with 30% of the more able, being 'creamed' off. They also usually have a less affluent intake, as many of the grammar school children will have been tutored for the 11+ and will continue to receive private tutoring throughout their secondary school education, bumping up the grammar school results even more.

If I had my time again, I'd move to a totally comprehensive area.

AngelEyes46 Wed 03-Oct-12 22:40:41

Alcofrolic makes a good point although Sutton has good grammars and comps.

teacherwith2kids Wed 03-Oct-12 22:56:48


Gloucestershire, as referred to upthread, has a few, very good, grammars, and quite a lot of very decent comps - because the grammars are so few, the numbers creamed off are very small from each school, and therefore there is a possibility of good comprehensives (more, say, in Cheltenham with only 1 grammar than Gloucester with its 4, but in general across the county there is scope for good comprehensives to thrive - some of whose results exceed some of the grammars)

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 23:05:58

Some hope somewhere then! smile

GreenShadow Wed 03-Oct-12 23:07:02

Those considering Gloucestershire, don't forget the Stroud area, which also has grammar schools and decent comprehensives

tiggytape Wed 03-Oct-12 23:07:53

Alcofrolic - not incompatible at all.

In Sutton, Gloucestershire and other areas too, getting into the grammar school is so hard that the comps take many children who achieve level 5 and level 6 in their SATS (i.e. traditionally thought of as being grammar school ability).

So called super selectives have no catchment area so only a tiny fraction of local children will get a place at grammar school. In a primary school with 60 in Year 6, 3 might go off to grammar but the rest of the top group - perhaps 15 or 17 children will all go to the comp despite having very high ability / very high SATS scores etc.

In some areas 30% are creamed off to go to grammar but in other areas it is more like 1% - 8% so has no effect on the local comps at all

alcofrolic Wed 03-Oct-12 23:33:50

As I said, some hope somewhere. smile
Where I am, they're totally incompatible.

GrimmaTheNome Wed 03-Oct-12 23:45:55

>Lancaster is good.

Or other parts of lancashire. There's only about 4 grammars left in the county, so mostly its 'proper' comps ..though quite a lot are 'faith'. The trick is to live in the catchment of one of the good comps but near enough a bus route to the nearest grammar and then if your kid is bright enough to get a residual place you've got both options. You can probably do this from parts of cumbria too- I think round kendal theres a choice of good genuine comps.

BackforGood Wed 03-Oct-12 23:50:09

In Birmingham, it's not a "grammar school area", so the top 10, 15, or even 25% academically don't go into grammars, but there are (I think it's 7) grammar school that still exist. However, as B'ham is such an enormous authority, this only means the 1-2% most highly tutored pupils don't go into the "comprehensive system", still allowing room for some comprehensives to be very good. There are no fixed catchment areas here though, once you've fone LACs, Statements, (sometimes faith) and siblings, it's on door to door distance, so getting a place from one road one year, doesn't guarentee a place the next year.

sashh Thu 04-Oct-12 08:31:44

I am a strong believer in the 'fact' that if there's a grammar, the other local secondaries cannot, by definition, be comprehensive.

Not always, Wolverhampton has a girls grammar but not a boys. And many gorls who pass the entrance exam chose not to go there.

Many moons ago when I was at school in Lancashire the RC schools were comprehensive, the other schools were grammer/high school,, although selection was at 13 not 11.

LittenTree Thu 04-Oct-12 08:44:39

But surely that only means that the boys schools are comps but not necessarily the girls? It doesn't alter the fact that if you cream off the top academic layer, the remainder do not represent a truly 'comprehensive' intake.

I fully understand why this isn't a popular idea- the term Secondary Modern comes loaded with negative assumption, after all, doesn't it? (and I always thinK true 'Bring Back the Grammars!' supporters should be obligated to spend between 70 to 95% of their protesting time crying 'Bring Back Secondary Moderns!' to reflect the number of DCs whose futures were potentially blighted by failure at 11... but that's a different post!)

Farewelltoarms Thu 04-Oct-12 11:14:15

Yes litten and all the Londoners who tell me they're moving to Kent 'for the grammars' should likewise make sure that three out of every four times they replace that with 'for the secondary moderns'.

tiggytape Thu 04-Oct-12 11:35:28

But Litten - if the grammars only take the top 1% to 8% of local children then obviously, the other local schools will be comps because the vast majority of top group children will not be at the grammar school.

In London the grammars take a tiny fraction of local children so the other schools nearby are true comps (a level 5b minimum is required to get into their top sets for example and many children attending them start with a mix of levels 5's and 6's across every subject attend and finish by getting places at Oxbridge)

There are comps right on the doorstep of the grammars where well over 75% of all pupils get 5A*-C grades (including English and Maths) which is higher than some comps in areas where no grammars exist at all.

LittenTree Thu 04-Oct-12 15:32:20

Tiggy- the clue is in the term 'super selective'. In some places in Kent, the grammars take 30+% of the DC; in some of the London grammars, they take 1%, as you agree. I believe some NI GS take 50% of the DC!

The point I made is that if the 'local GS' is 'just' an ordinary GS, they will have creamed off all of the local 'A' stream in its entirety.

And, tbf, 75% of all DC getting '5 passes at GCSE inc Maths and English' isn't really such an achievement, is it? That 'measure' merely says 'solid achievement' to me, not bloody amazing- 13 A*s says that to me! The 5 (only) GCSE DC wouldn't have gotten into a GS 30 years ago, let alone now!

Ingles2 Thu 04-Oct-12 15:37:23

if you move to near Tenterden in Kent, you can be in the catchment for a super selective, a selective and an excellent comp...
And it is a comp, it has a grammar stream as only a small % of children in the immediate area choose a selective.

happygardening Thu 04-Oct-12 17:11:33

Agree with •Justgettingby• North Wilts I understand it has high performing comps but you can also apply for entry into the grammar schools in Glocestershire including Pates at Cheltenham one of the countries top performing grammar schools.

tiggytape Thu 04-Oct-12 17:57:36

LittenTree - I think you misunderstood: the 5 passes A*-C is the minimum each of those 75% achieve.
It means 75% got a minimum of 5 very good GCSEs in key subjects and that statistic includes the ones who do get 13A* grades and go onto Oxbridge as well as the ones who get 10 GCSEs at A - C grade.

This is considered a high achievement by any school's standards.
The average comp gets about 50 - 60% of 5 A*-C inc maths and English and the best grammar gets 99% or 100% 5A*-C but that doesn't mean none of those children got more than 5 GCSEs! 5 is just the benchmark they use to ensure like for like comparisons.

ItsRainingOutside Wed 10-Oct-12 00:50:31

South Somerset, with easy access to Colyton Grammar in Devon. Lots of good comps, academies within half an hour travelling time. Try Huish Academy in Langport or Castle School in Taunton.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 10-Oct-12 08:49:29

Do children honestly commute to grammars in Gloucestershire from Wilts? That's nuts. confused

I probably live closer, yet can't think of a single child that does this.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 10-Oct-12 08:52:47

Actually I don't live closer than Malmesbury. Still seems off though.

BitOutOfPractice Wed 10-Oct-12 08:59:13

I'm in Essex. We have grammars here ( which I fundamentally disagree with but that's another thread) and my dd goes to one of two ofsted outstanding secondaries in our small town

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 10-Oct-12 09:20:50

Odd not off. Blinking auto correct.

I'm with other posters here; I'd avoid grammar areas altogether. As a parent whose child moved up 5 sublevels in Y6, the idea of my child's secondary school career being decided by a test at the start of Y6 seems ridiculous to me.

JustGettingByMum Wed 10-Oct-12 11:41:03

Jenai A fair few travel to Stroud Grammar schools from Malmesbury. I think there is a bus for them.

But I agree, not sure why anyone would look at a Grammar school, when you have a good comp on your door step.

Farewelltoarms Wed 10-Oct-12 11:53:31

Jenai - wow 5 sub levels, why do you think that was?
Mind you, my ds did something not dissimilar in y2 and I was v glad I'd long abandoned vague plan to do 7+ as he'd have done v badly one month and v well the next.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Wed 10-Oct-12 14:44:57

He had a little bit of tutoring Farewell, but in all honesty I'm not actually sure it was that which helped (it was one of the well known companies - not Kumon).

I was pretty gobsmacked, I must say. In a good way, obviously grin

I'm not sure if his SATs score is artificially inflated now or not; his secondary don't set until Y8 so they're not reliant on Y6 levels. Time will tell, I guess.

figroll Wed 10-Oct-12 16:25:35

Birmingham? There are some excellent grammars there but also good comprehensives. The Birmingham music service is also pretty fab with a plethora of orchs, ensembles and wind bands.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:05:43

If you move to a grammar area be DARNED certain that the alternatives are good - just in case.

notyummy Wed 10-Oct-12 20:08:02


TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:12:50

Where are the comps in Lincolnshire?
It has a completely tripartite system.
DH has worked in some of the Grammars and some of the SecMods there - there is no top set in the non grammars.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:16:18

32 Lincolnshire Secondaries got less than 10% Ebacc last year.

Decent Comp schools get over 20%

notyummy Wed 10-Oct-12 20:44:27

There will be some poor comps around the coast and possibly in Lincoln but not that many. Am amazed at the 32 figure btw- there aren't that many secondary schools in the whole county. Does that inc North East and north Lincs?

I don't work in education so am not a specialist. I do know that a lot of people who choose to live in Lincolnshire do it because of the schools, and the fact that there are decent schools combined with cheap property which is hard to find. Low wages though.

I live in a small market town where there is a boys and girls grammar, plus a comp. All perform very well.

DorsetKnob Wed 10-Oct-12 20:47:33

Dorset, excellent secondary schools in Gryphon School, Lytchett Minster and Thomas Hardy, Purbeck has just got a new headteacher and is on the up. Aldo grammar schools in Poole and I think the Bournemouth secondaries are good as well.

Northernexile Wed 10-Oct-12 20:48:20

NI has excellent schools, both selective and non, but guessing that might be a leap too far for you OP?

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 20:52:02
63 Secondaries on the table, of which three have since shut.
Interestingly Skegness Grammar gets high results but DIRE Value added .....
As I have said before, Lincolnshire does make their school split work better than Kent , but the rural rather than commuter belt nature has a lot to do with that.

notyummy Wed 10-Oct-12 21:03:19

Interesting stuff. Thanks. The English Bacc stuff is interesting too. Looks the quality of provision is patchy. It is still an affordable option if people want to relocate for schooling (although not every area of Lincs....) but be able to afford to buy or rent. A lot of people are priced out of other areas where schools are good.

PrincessOfChina Wed 10-Oct-12 21:04:04

We live in Birmingham and DD is tiny but secondary schools will be a big deciding factor if we ever move. We have the choice of trying for the very good grammars, or going comprehensive which (in our catchment) means a very good girls school.

I dread moving somewhere where there is no "choice" of system.

TalkinPeace2 Wed 10-Oct-12 22:45:05

we have no "choice" - its comps or private ; but it does not seem to cause a problem.
I LOVE the fact that we do not have the 11+ and the stress that goes with it

difficultpickle Wed 10-Oct-12 22:49:09

Bucks/Berks borders. We live in Berks so have comprehensive system but are also in catchment for Bucks grammars.

kilmuir Wed 10-Oct-12 22:51:10

talkinPeace2, not sure how long ago your DH worked in Lincs but my DD is at Bourne academy and is in top set for English. they are in sets for most subjects.

hmc Wed 10-Oct-12 22:52:40

Where I live on the Hampshire / Wiltshire border there are good single sex grammar schools in Salisbury, and some very good state comps like Romsey Community School.....

PrincessOfChina Thu 11-Oct-12 10:39:15

Talkin I think my worry comes because where I grew up there was no choice - even between Comps. You went to your local school and that was it. And unfortunately (although I look on school days fondly from a social pov) my school was terrible. They focused on pushing everyone to get 5 A-C's but didn't think at all about pushing further those who were always going to achieve that.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 11-Oct-12 15:52:21

He's worked at Bourne academy. Compared with a true comp it has no top set. No offence but that is the case - the top set are at the Grammar.
Indeed, that is why my kids are NOT at my local comp, they are at the one up the road - but I still did not have the stress of the 11+
if I could move nearer to the A36 I would !!!!

chocolateshoes Thu 11-Oct-12 15:57:28

as has already been said Lancaster. The grammars there take from quite a wide area so you can be well positioned for either QES in Kirkby Lonsdale or Ripley in Lancaster for your comps

GrimmaTheNome Thu 11-Oct-12 16:03:25

Ripley is faith, so if that's your fallback you need to check the admissions criteria. If your kid is bright enough to get a residual place, you can go as far south as Broughton (just north of Preston) - a comp which people move house to get into catchment for.

JenaiMarrHePlaysGuitar Thu 11-Oct-12 17:44:36

EBaccs have been mentioned upthread; using the number of pupils attaining this is a little unfair now, seeing as the goalposts changed before the last lot of students started their GCSE courses.

TalkinPeace2 Thu 11-Oct-12 18:11:10

I agree - the sort by 5 actual GCSEs (any 5) is just as clear in Grammar counties.

KitKatGirl1 Sun 28-Oct-12 14:01:35

For anyone reading this thread, please take note that TalkingPeace doe snot know what she is talking about wrt Lincolnshire.

There are definitely true comprehensives here. If you live in Lincoln itself you are a minimum of twenty miles from a grammar school. Lincoln and surrounding villages are by far the most heavily populated part of the county. All the schools in this areas are comprehensives. There is one independent school which is so small as for its intake to have minimal to no impact on the intake of the surrounding comprehensives. Obviously there are some villages where you start to reach a cross-catchment possibility of a grammar, a secondary modern or a true comprehensive.

There are 13 grammar schools in a county of 70 secondaries in total. Around 15 secondary moderns. These are all in the smaller outlying market/coastal towns. The grammars have smaller intakes than the comps in and around the city, usually a 3-4 form intake rather than the 6-8 form intake at the comps in the city/suburban areas. Over half of the grammars are also single sex which many many parents do not like and so many children who pass the 11+ or are capable of doing so do not go there anyway, making the 'sec mods' better and better until there is a tipping point of many other brighter children seeing more opportunities at the sec mods which are now more like comprehensives and therefore opting to go there. Sleaford is a good example of this.

By my rough calculations, I think around 10% of the children in the county are educated at a grammar, making possibly another 25% at a secondary modern (though there is much grey area in which sec mods have a 'top set' intake and which don't: see reasons above). Leaving around 65% of the county educated at proper comprehensives.

Please tell me, talkinpeace, why you never respond to my comments correcting your mistaken view of how our county is organised? It is a very large geographical area and your incorrect description is akin to describing how one smaller county's educational system works by looking at its neighbours.

Mandy21 Sun 28-Oct-12 15:06:59

South Manchester -we are in Trafford, which has a number of grammar schools, Altrincham Boys and Altrincham Girls Grammar Schools are particularly well thought of and always do well in the national league tables. Very difficult to get into and so the alternatives in the area are good too. Housing is expensive particularly around Altrincham and surrounding areas though.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:05:55

I'd not actually noticed that this thread had new posts on it.
ANY school with a selective school within its orbit of parents is not comprehensive.
Not worth arguing about though, as Gove is turning the blooming lot into Academies anyway.

KitKatGirl1 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:27:02

But you can be up to 30 miles from the grammars in the middle of the county!!! As I said that's further than going across several authority boundaries in other counties. Do all other comps in other counties suddenly become not comp if there's a selective school 30 miles away?

Don't want to keep hammering the point but I think it would be helpful to anyone reading the site if you would stop referring to lincs as fully selective. It really really isn't.

KitKatGirl1 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:30:14

Yep, I think there are few secondary schools left here which are not academies but they're not allowed to get more selective, are they, only less? So I suppose that's good.

TalkinPeace2 Mon 29-Oct-12 20:30:40
OwedToAutumn Mon 29-Oct-12 20:38:06

Has anyone said Bromley?

There is a boys' and a girls' super selective, and some very good comprehensives - both single sex and coed. There are some fairly average schools, as well, though.

KitKatGirl1 Mon 29-Oct-12 23:04:34

Ahhhh! Yes, you have to be in the top 25% of the ability spread in the county to go to a grammar but that doesn't mean they take the whole top 25% of the whole county - you also have to be near one too!
There are no grammar schools for at least a 20 mile radius of the cityof Lincoln. There are nowhere near enough places for the whole top 25% of the whole county; just the top 25%of those market towns that have grammars.
If you live in Lincoln or surrounding sprawl or the many surrounding villages (the very most heavily populated part of the county) you will go to a true comprehensive.

How difficult is that to understand? I repeat, is any school that is 30-40 miles from a grammar in any direction in the country no longer a comp? In geographical/distance terms it's like saying Leicestershire has no comps if Notts has grammars (it doesn't).

(Bangs head on table).

KitKatGirl1 Mon 29-Oct-12 23:37:02

FWIW, I don't think I stand a cat in hell's chance of convincing Talkinpeace that she misunderstands the educational provision in my county; I merely hope to clear up any confusion for anyone else seeking advice on moving to the area (whichever way round - hoping it's fully selective or that it's not. It's not).

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