Grammar or Music Scholarship at Comp

(22 Posts)
Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 09:15:57

DD is a clever girl. She is at the start of year six and sitting on level 5b in her sats. She is 10 going on about 30 and a happy girl. SHe does her school work but is not passionate about academia. She does not really read for pleasure. Her close friend at school was taking the 11 plus and she wanted to take it to see how she did. I let her and she did about three hours work doing some test papers and getting familiar with the format. There is a huge culture of professional tutoring of three years plus here and I genuinely did not expect her to pass. Only she did. She stands a really good chance of a place at the grammar that is closest to us.

For twelve months we have been planning for her to go to a comprehensive with a music scholarship. She plays sax (grade 3), cello (grade 2) and plays in numerous ensembles. I am musical and work in music.

The 11 plus result has thrown it all up in the air. I think we are struggling to see the wood for the trees at the moment.

The comp with the music scholarship offers free music tuition on two instruments and numerous ensembles. A music trip to Germany every year. The school itself is OK. Rated good in Ofsted. 71% of children get 5 x gcse grade a - c with english and maths.

The grammar is really lovely and small and we did visit it and liked it but this was before the result. She can learn one instrument there, there is a school orchestra and a choir. She can keep up one of her out of school ensembles.

She has no clue what to do and we keep wavering from pillar to post.

Other factors are she can get to the grammar on one bus, the travelling is minimal. The comp is an hour on two buses (not good buses and a stop in a very rough bus station) so the likelihood is we would drive her there and back.

She might go to the comp with friends. Less likely with the grammar.

.......We have no experience of grammar schools and I don't want there to be too much pressure and I don't want her hating her school years. I am not sure she is the archetypal grammar school pupil? She is not academic and pushing herself all of the time it just comes naturally.

Opinions are gratefully received.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 09:17:19

Grammar school results for the same measurement are 96%

basildonbond Sun 22-Sep-13 10:04:46

Well if the two schools were equidistant then you'd have more of a dilemma but grammar with an easy journey vs comp with hell journey? Can't see there's much contest really - just think how much more time shed have for music practice etc

If she's passed the test with minimal tuition then she's 'grammar school material' so I wouldn't worry about that aspect

ThreeTomatoes Sun 22-Sep-13 10:14:17

I agree with basildonbond. The journey to the other school would be the decider for me.

Are there really only two choices in your area though?

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 10:23:17

Our closest school is a bit naff. We are walking distance from a flagship academy but don't stand a chance as the catchment is minuscule. The next closest decent one has a catchment that halved last year due to excellent results and the music there is naff if we did get in this year. We are looking at one on Thursday whose catchment was a bit bigger last year which is outstanding with good music. The next closest grammar she hated. So we have closer schools but the comp with the music scholarship was best for hitting all her needs. Also last year there was a great bus service from a place we could drop her and in June of this year they reduced all it's runs hence the bus station. sad

tiredaftertwo Sun 22-Sep-13 12:02:18

I agree with basildonbond too - I'd always say go for the closest school if it is a good option in other ways too, and this one sounds great. School is not your whole life and you can't predict at 10/11 what will work out best for a child, and some of it can be random. Having a short journey leaves so much more time for other things, for gaining independence, and time and space in your life to sort out any problems. Most secondary school age kids I know would hate the idea of being driven after the first year or so.

The overall level at the comp is irrelevant - if your dd has passed a GS test with minimal practice she is likely to be in top sets/streams. They may well get similar quantities of hw and academic pressure as the GS (that is how lots of schools operate) - what sort of results do the high ability children get there? - you can see this on the govt tables.

Where friends go irrelevant too IMO and IME - can be a mixed blessing anyway.

I wouldn't worry about the tutoring thing - sometimes this is needed and makes a difference, sometimes it is all hugely exaggerated and very few of the rumours are true. Your dd is clearly able, and unless it is a tiny school with a very narrow demographic, I can't see why she wouldn't fit in.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 22-Sep-13 14:21:37

Are you sure she would actually get the music scholarship, though?

SanityClause Sun 22-Sep-13 14:59:01

Yes, Russians, all the schools which offer music scholarships near us demand a much higher level. I know one girl who had about grade 3 violin, and grade 6 piano, who was offered an exhibition, not even a scholarship, at DD2's school.

Grade 2/3 level is obviously praiseworthy, but not scholarship material, unless she is playing music of a much higher standard, but hasn't done corresponding exams.

I do know a boy who also won an exhibition at another local school who had only grade 1 violin, but played a grade 5 piece for the audition, so passed exams are not that important - the schools like to make their own decisions.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 15:12:15

They want aptitude, commitment and a grade three on entry. They take a simple mat and audition, it's not an indie. She only started the saxophone in January so has done really well.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 22-Sep-13 15:59:52

I wish I lived where you do, OP!! If only for the free music lessons (thinking glumly of the amount we shell out every month for 3 kids having 9 different sets of music lessons between them).

I'd still go for the grammar though, in your position with the comp as backup (it sounds like the grammar place isn't guaranteed?)

SanityClause Sun 22-Sep-13 16:05:00

Sorry, I wasn't trying to sound sneery. It's just that the scholarship may not be "in the bag", so to speak.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 16:29:08

No it's fine I appreciate the independent ones can have much higher requirements.

We pay for all lessons at the moment, cello at school is subsidised but saxophone is a private arrangement. The comp is a total anomaly and the brainchild of a committed music head and supportive governors who finance it.

It's a nice school but if you compare the grammar and comp academically it's hard to choose music over all of the other opportunities.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 22-Sep-13 17:15:28

Bemused What I would say is, I can completely understand choosing music over everything else - many of my friends are professional musicians, I only turned away from that path myself quite late on, my DD1 is determined to do music. But - sometimes, however much you might want to do music, it isn't going to work out. Sax is quite a difficult instrument to get to a decent level at young, because of the need to have decent sized hands (my DD2 who is Y6 and TINY can't reach many of the keys on her brother's sax). So maybe it is a goer for your DD - but on the other hand so many kids are grade 5 by this age. I think you need to be clear that winning a music scholarship to this school may not mean that music will be her career - so you need to consider other things than music as well. You might not even save that much money if you are having to drive her there and back every day. And it's not like she can't carry on with her music lessons at the grammar. It sounds like she is a really clever girl, and since she asked to do the test and passed it with basically no work then surely that's an indication that the grammar is where she should be?

friday16 Sun 22-Sep-13 17:37:12

Rated good in Ofsted. 71% of children get 5 x gcse grade a - c with english and maths.

If the grammar school is only managing 96% on the same measure with a selective intake which takes 20% (Kent/Buckinghamshire) or about 4% (super-selectives) of the ability range, then the comp is doing very well indeed.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 22-Sep-13 17:39:03

It's a selective comp though. The music thing will drag in more MC people (from clearly a LOT further away than a 'local' community). On that basis 71% is great. My DS's comp does better than that and it has no specialism, no scholarships and it doesn't even have a 6th form (so many MC parents don't give it a thought)

friday16 Sun 22-Sep-13 17:59:33

"is not that great", presumably. Yes, I'd missed that part: schools able to select 10% of their intake on any basis (all of which boil down to "MC children whose parents can be bothered to enter them) will do better because of that.

And OP, assuming it's a standard admission policy school, they aren't allowed to select on the basis of attainment, but have to use "aptitude". The normal tests for music are rather odd aural tests, "how many notes in this chord?" and so on, which don't align well with actually learning to play an instrument. That they have Grade X in Y isn't necessarily going to help.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 18:24:36

There is a closer comprehensive but its furthest distance offered halved last year. This leaves us right on the edge of it this year. They posted results this year of 82%. They are 100% non-selective, the flagship academy with another tiny catchment (we dont have a cat in hells chance though its our second closest school) is at the same level and again 100% non-selective. DD did not like the other comprehensive as the music was really pretty naff.

Russiansonthespree DD has no clue what she wants to do really. Last month she wanted to open a cafe. SHe does love and enjoy music thoroughly so the scholarship was more the opportunity of being able to partake in so much music (and for free). However the fact is she can do music and can continue at the grammar should she choose to. I work in music but I am not the main breadwinner by any means its more a bit of bit money and for the sheer love of it smile

thank you for all your comments.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 18:31:04

friday16 they audition them and the performance mark is the most important before as you say all the aural stuff that being said they did give grade three as a guide for entry.

NomDeClavier Sun 22-Sep-13 18:38:59

Tbh I'd go for the grammar. If your DD is very good she may not end up taking music lessons at school for long and will get frustrated by the level of the others who aren't as talented or committed.

Is there a music centre on a Saturday near you that she could join instead?

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 22-Sep-13 18:47:34

I honestly think that since they are setting the bar so low for music, the music there just can't be that great. I can't understand why you wouldn't want the grammar on the facts presented.

circular Sun 22-Sep-13 19:32:37

It can be tough fitting in tuition on several instruments in the school day. Catchng up on lessons missed, possibly unsupportive subject teachers. And if at the school based on her music aptitude, is likely to be expected to join in much extra CA, some if which could well be after school. With a long journey anyway, could well mean giving up her established music commitments.
If the school is some distance away, would that mean different peri teachers too?

For similar reasons, my own DD1 turned down a specialist music aptitude place for 6th form at school 1hr 15mins away. Instead, chose a local comp, selective 6th form, similar exam results. Good (but not as good) for music, but can continue with all her other music activities, plus for the one instrument she does learn at school, same peri teacher.
And she does want to do music at University.

Bemused33 Sun 22-Sep-13 19:57:41

It is the best music department in the area and the ensembles are great and we wanted it for her as something to add to her schooling experience.

Seeing it in black and white and prolonged discussions has made us realise that she has to go for the grammar place and we can support the music within and outside of the school.

Circular - its all before school and during lunchtimes and we were a bit unsure when she would actually eat on some days. The music scholars are taught in classes of 25 and have access to their own common room but there is a lot of work to catch up on and she would miss blocks of RE. She has no idea what she wants to do when she is older.

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