Best State secondaries in Cambridge?

(36 Posts)

We're planning to move to Cambridge in about 18 months or so, and the main deciding factor on where we move to will be the best possible secondary school for our DDs. Now, I don't much understand the UK education system with "specialist" schools (there were just plain ordinary High Schools in both my and DH's countries) but I'm we'd want a school with emphasis on academic achievement, with an eye to good GSCEs, then A-levels and university. DH and I are both academic, and so far the DDs appear to be too.

So which schools are good - not just purely academically, but also with good after-school activities, arts programs, a nurturing atmosphere etc....

daphnedill Sun 15-Sep-13 01:36:03

The highest achieving school in Cambridge itself is Parkside, which is very over-subscribed. If you're looking at schools outside the city itself, the highest achieving are Comberton and Linton Village Colleges.

exexpat Sun 15-Sep-13 01:45:48

Don't know about years 7-11, but Hills Road has a reputation as one of the best state sixth form colleges in the country.

Lilymaid Sun 15-Sep-13 13:33:43

You might find this recent thread helpful.

Ooh, thanks Lilymaid, that thread is very helpful!

We actually have friends who live in Comberton and have told us how good their local secondary is but I though it was local bragging! Apparently not!

Lancelottie Sun 15-Sep-13 14:12:57

Ignore the 'specialist schools' bit. It really doesn't make a lot of difference. I'd also treat Ofsted reports and 'best' results with a healthy scepticism, personally.

How old are your girls, and what are their current interests? Will they need to go into a local primary first or straight to secondary -- in which case, the question is going to be 'Which schools might have spaces?'

Well, I didn't put my DD's ages as you'll probably laugh at me blush - they're only 5 and 8. But while I think that as long as you live in a 'naice' area, the primaries should be okay, it's secondaries we're concerned about, and once we get to Cambridge we'd prefer not to move around too much so want to get it right first time if possible.

DD1, in yr4 is academic enough, and from the looks of it will probably be heading into one or another branches of science. Her current passion is geology.

DD2 is in yr1 and her current passion is princesses and pink sparkly things so who knows... grin

I don't hold too much stock in Ofsted reports, which is why I'd like the opinions of people who actually know the schools.

Lancelottie Sun 15-Sep-13 15:54:36

Always good to plan ahead smile but bear in mind that schools change, as do catchments (or in this case feeder schools, which isn't quite the same thing), and headteachers come and go.

Our two nearest schools have both had a change of head in the past three years. In one case, I'd say it's revitalised an already 'good' school and it will soon be excellent in anybody's book. The other is not in my view a change for the better but is currently trading on the rep established by the previous excellent head.

alimac87 Sun 15-Sep-13 17:30:05

Comberton, Swavesey and and Sawston Village College are all villages outside Cambridge, feeding into Hills Rd 6th Form if they get the grades. I think Comberton and Swavesey are both Outstanding. So you can live in a village and benefit from more house space.

In central Cambridge, you have Parkside and Chesterton Community College with Parkside being smaller and very academic middle class, and Chesterton much bigger and more of a mixed profile. Both do pretty well but slid down a bit in recent Ofsteds. Parkside is opening a new school in a few years time, in the Trumpington area to cater for the population increase there. Lots of pearl-clutching about future standards but no one really knows. If you are dead set on Parkside you need to make sure you are living in the catchment and unfortunately that means high house prices.

daphnedill Sun 15-Sep-13 20:43:58

If I were moving to the Cambridge area, I would definitely try to get into Comberton's catchment area. However, beware! A new school is opening in Cambourne with Comberton's Principal as Executive Principal. Nobody knows yet where the admissions borders will be drawn, so you'd need to get as close as possible to Comberton. Hills Road is great for academic students, but the five years leading up to Sixth Form matter too. There is a vast difference between the Cambridge schools and Cambridgeshire Village Colleges.

Lancelottie Sun 15-Sep-13 20:56:28

Umm, I don't think it's that much of a mystery, is it?

From the website:
Comberton VC gives priority to children living in the catchment areas of the following primary schools: Barton; Caldecote; Coton; Hardwick;
Bourn; Meridian, Comberton; Haslingfield.

Cambourne VC will give priority to children in catchment for Monkfield Park, Cambourne; The Vine, Cambourne; and Jeavons
Wood, Cambourne.

What did you mean by 'a vast difference between Cambridge schools and the Village Colleges'?

Lancelottie Sun 15-Sep-13 20:58:40

Cambroune VC is already open, by the way: here they all are -- awww!

Lancelottie Sun 15-Sep-13 21:01:40

Cambourne not Cambroune...

daphnedill Sun 15-Sep-13 21:13:51

I know what it says on the website. However, there is a great deal of anxiety about how it will work in practice. What's absolutely true is that some of those now in Comberton's catchment will not be in the future. People who don't know the area need to do some research.

I should have written that there is a vast difference between Cambridge schools and between Village Colleges. Don't assume all the Village Colleges are good, just because they're in leafy areas and don't assume all schools in the City of Cambridge are good, just because Cambridge is know for its academics. Another factor in Cambridge is the number of pupils who go to the independent schools, some of which are highly selective and offer very generous bursaries to the very able but poor. Many of the very brightest pupils in Cambridge don't go to state schools.

daphnedill Sun 15-Sep-13 21:16:19

I'd forgotten that it opened this term. Oooops! ;_(

KatAndKit Sun 15-Sep-13 22:47:28

Impington Village College is a very good school (I used to work there) and serves a number of villages to the north of Cambridge. Comberton VC also has an excellent reputation. Impington has the advantage of offering the IB qualification alongside A levels in the sixth form.

daphnedill Mon 16-Sep-13 09:11:28

Personally I'd rather eat worms than send any child of mine to IVC, but maybe that's just me. It suits a certain kind of child, so check out whether your dc is the right sort. The IB results depend to a great extent on the highly-motivated students from abroad. Most of the able students from the main school go to Hills Road for Sixth Form.

EeTraceyluv Mon 16-Sep-13 09:21:36

offer very generous bursaries to the very able but poor. Many of the very brightest pupils in Cambridge don't go to state schools.

This is a joke right??

The majority of 'very brightest pupils' from 'ordinary' homes in Cambridge certainly do not go to the independents and 'generous bursaries' are a thing of the past. I should know, our dd passed an entrance test for one of the independents, the school were very very keen to have her - and tried their utmost to get us a full bursary, but simply couldn't do it. The bursary we were offered wold have been generous had we had twice the income we are on, but then we wouldn't have got that much iyswim.
DD is currently at on of the best primaries in town with many brighter than average pupils from well off families and very few of them are entertaining private education, in fact they were quite horrified when I spoke of the possibility of taking her out.

KatAndKit Mon 16-Sep-13 10:40:27

Well it is some years since i worked there so perhaps things have changed in the meantime, i moved away from the area in 2006. What is your opinion based on out of interest? As i say i am not in that area anymore so just pure curiosity.

Lancelottie Mon 16-Sep-13 12:30:28

That's the thing, you see, schools change over time, and children differ. There's no one right answer to 'which school should I aim for?'.

We live near a school that people move to get into. After a term there, it was all too obvious that our son was sinking. I still regret the extra two terms it took us to bite the bullet and move him to the less 'outstanding' school, where he's flourished ever since.

I know I'm not the only one on MN to say this -- and as it turns out, not even the only one from here to pull a child out of that school because they didn't fit.

Lancelottie Mon 16-Sep-13 12:33:35

Hmm, I should maybe clarify given the rest of the thread, 'that' school wasn't Impington or Comberton.

My daughter just started at cambourne village college and it's very good so far. It's linked with comberton and has a lot of the same staff and the same principles of learning. I initially moved here 9 years ago due to being in the catchment area for comberton so this is perfect.

Lancelottie Mon 16-Sep-13 12:45:01

Cheese, years ago my mother was one of the first staff at a brand new high school, and she said it was bliss for the first four or five years. The new children and staff were all so keen to make it work, and of course it was small and friendly.

Add on Comberton staff (yes, CVC is very good still from all I hear, and isn't the new head ex-Comberton?) and I'd say you're on to a winner. Hope your daughter keeps enjoying it (and apols if I shouldn't have linked the news item above, but it was such an appealing photo)!

EeTraceyluv Mon 16-Sep-13 13:07:03

I love the cambourne uniform grin

Lance yes the head was comberton's deputy and seems like a lovely woman. Ah just seen the photo grin my dd is in it smile
It's great for her to be able to walk into school rather than bus too.

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