St Marys Calne

(35 Posts)
hoorayforsummer Tue 09-Sep-14 16:28:58

Any thoughts on this school? Pastoral care, academic, do the girls grow out of it. My initial view was that it was quite small, but gets good results. Thx

summerends Tue 09-Sep-14 21:12:49

Might be worth pm ing posters on this thread in case it is relevant.
www.mumsnet.com/Talk/secondary/2176113-Wiltshire-girls-school-Are-any-other-parents-worried-about-the-standard-of-teaching-at-a-small-girls-school-in-Wiltshire

I got the impression that it was stronger in humanities than science at least at A level.

GeorgeL1234 Fri 12-Sep-14 21:21:57

Going downhill rapidly. Private tutoring the norm. Look at results carefully - bright girls being let down. In the good old days teaching was great but those teachers have left and replaced by young state school teachers.

Tansie Sat 13-Sep-14 09:20:12

No! Not state school teachers, surely! shock

I didn't understand that standards had fallen that low... wink

Danty Sat 13-Sep-14 18:06:02

From a parent who understands the problems there and shares the same concerns, to avoid misunderstanding, I think the point being made is that parents paying over 30k a year expect experienced teachers with a track record. It would be logical for newly qualified teachers who join to start teaching the young year groups to gain experience before being given key GCSE and A level years to teach. This is not happening. No other school would be so flippant, and especially not one charging over 30k pa.

Tansie Sat 13-Sep-14 19:57:26

The word 'state' was the trigger for my response, Danty; I'm sure you'll recognise that using that word in a statement that implies 'inferior' is at best insensitive; at worst, elitist and patronising.

Personally I am amazed that fees of £24k - odd a year can be charged for day pupils. Why would anyone pay that sort of money?! Yes, I 'get' Eton; I get Harrow, I get Cheltenham Ladies, I get Wycombe Abbey, but Calne? Seriously? I am definitely missing something. And, in doing so, I recognise that the flippancy with which (some) private-paying parents dismiss sub-standard state teachers; we, the unwashed, may not know that 'in the correct circles', St Mary's Calne is 'up there'.

As you were.

Abra1d Sat 13-Sep-14 20:59:02

St Mary's is a boarding school, Tansie.

happygardening Sat 13-Sep-14 21:20:48

Actually Abra1d St Marys charges £24K for day children. Tansie £24k+ for day children attending mainly boarding schools is pretty normal I'm afraid, these children are often doing everything boarders are doing apart from sleeping there, many arrive before 8 am have breakfast at school and leave after 9 PM and even go in on Sundays.
Boarding fees and fees charged to day children at boarding schools are often broadly similar (and outside of the reach of your average family) regardless of whether it's a big name or somewhere few have heard of.

Tansie Sat 13-Sep-14 21:41:10

You can kind of see why the Big Name Day Schools are well-known, given that their fees are circa £13k p.a. That'd be hugely attractive I'd've thought!

I know little of this 'other' world; but it was my understanding that you either do 'day', 8.30- 4.30pm?; Long day, 8.30-9pm inc evening meal and prep; or Boarding (even then, weekly or termly!). I feel 'sorry' for boarders at day schools, esp like The Leys which makes a big deal of its 'long days', where DC who do this get the 'advantages' of boarding without the separation from family as mummy collects DC at 9pm to come home and sleep in the family home. But I didn't know that Day pupils at boarding schools get 'hit' so heavily! Why?

And sorry for derailing the OP!

Agggghast Sat 13-Sep-14 21:53:43

So what makes 'state' school teachers so bad? That they have to be qualified with a PGCE? Why would any school employ a young, enthusiastic,qualified teacher? Oh no it would be so much better if it was some middle aged Oxford graduate who couldn't get on a PGCE course!

happygardening Sat 13-Sep-14 22:04:38

Day children pay so much at boarding schools because they are often getting everything a boarder gets bar the physical bed at night. So if boarding fees are pushing £34k pa before extras the cost of the bed is £10k a year. This makes the 24k charged to day pupils look cheap.
I don't know what day schools you're talking about but the only one I know anything about is charging £22k+ pa.

happygardening Sat 13-Sep-14 22:14:41

Agggghast contrary to popular belief independent schools are not stuffed with unqualified teachers, middle aged Oxbridge grads or not.
Parents who pay £34k+ a year expect results and schools know this, parents are also very capable of reading the staff list and their qualifications, my DS school sends as termly diary and all staff and their qualifications are listed in it, these parents are likely to be far from stupid, and are able to put two and two together and make four, if they saw rafts of unqualified teachers and the school had poor/or declining results they are likely to what all paying parents do because we are very notoriously fickle and vote with our feet. So why would an independent school worth it's salt employ unqualified teachers who can't teach their subject?

Tansie Sat 13-Sep-14 22:59:01

The (Open)Purse though it's more like £15k I now see..

I suspect the elysium fields which you describe, happy is why Calne parents are 'voting'.

For the record, I only know a bit about The Purse (grin) but the parents I know there, tbh, shove their DC 'in' at one end and retrieve them, 5-7 years later, job done. My bestie has no idea (or so she says- I hope not disingenuously!) what curriculum her DS is doing, IGCSE (yes) or not (no); she maintains homework etc isn't her problem as she pays others to 'deal' with it! And tells me many other parents feel the same way: 'I'm paying a lot of money so I don't have to worry about it'. Which is why it's possible that parents at Calne thought the school had it all in hand. Not all private parents, despite what you read on MN, immerse and surround themselves with their DC's private education; every nuance, the minutiae, the qualifications and CV of every teacher, the subtleties of every curriculum! Many feel they're paying their money, they're taking their choice.

For the record, my bestie never fails to tell me how many of her DS's teachers are 'Oxbridge', inference: therefore brilliant (and better than your nasty state school). They'd be slaughtered in many a state comp, but the reality is, with hand-selected DC, they can cope, can't they?

happygardening Sat 13-Sep-14 23:38:22

I too take the view that I pay a lot of money and trust the school to do the right thing. His school promotes a parents hands off ethos and that suits me. I lack time and the skill to micromanage my own life let alone "immerse" myself in "every nuance" and "minutiae" of my DS's. I don't spend hours reading the CV's of every teacher but as the lack of teaching qualifications in independent schools is frequently mentioned on here I did once check my DS's schools teachers. I do annually check the Pre U results IGCSE results aren't published.
According to the Good Schools Guide my DS's school has the highest proportion of teachers with PhDs, whilst I think this is admirable, having a PhD or for that matter a PGCSE doesn't necessarily make you a good teacher. I personally don't think either sector has a monopoly on fantastic teachers there are good and bad in both sectors, the truly inspiring great teachers who we never forget are always going to be in the minority. I also frankly don't give a dam if the teachers are from state schools originally or how old they are.

hoorayforsummer Sun 14-Sep-14 09:15:08

Thank you all for your contributions - definitely some food for thought. On the face of it their results for A level look as strong as any year, but 20/52 girls not going to uni this year/applying after A levels??? Seems to be the first year a significant number are applying post A levels....and in a year where there were record numbers of university places available.

My gut says that an 11 yr old will feel very nurtured as it is so small, but a 17-18yr old might feel stifled....because it is so small.

Suspect we will pursue elsewhere.

Thanks again - very helpful

Danty Sun 14-Sep-14 09:59:59

Most of the 20 not going to uni this year are retaking. Think you've made wise choice and your gut is spot on.

Abra1d Sun 14-Sep-14 14:21:30

I apologise! That is a lot. My children's Oxfordshire day school places are nowhere near that.

wuffle Tue 16-Sep-14 17:27:29

Why are teachers leaving in droves? What's driving them away?

Returning Wed 17-Sep-14 10:29:02

Just a comment on teachers with PhDs in the independent sector. Surely, having a PhD and ending up in the classroom suggests an element of failure in chosen profession? I say that as a teacher with an MA, by the way, but my MA was in my subject specialism and qualifies me to do additional, journalistic work on top of my teaching. Post grad qualifications are only useful in teaching if they relate to education and teaching, surely? Not sure I'd be too impressed with a staff list full of PhDs - too many failures!

Bue Wed 17-Sep-14 13:53:37

Returning I can see where you'd coming from but I don't necessarily think so. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people who do PhDs don't have a long term goal to be an academic. My DH (teacher in indy school) couldn't wait to get out of academia once his was done, he had no interest in research beyond the specific project he had completed. However he always knew he would enjoy teaching, so went on to do a PGCE after a few years in industry. I'd say about 10% of the teaching staff at his school have one, and I'm sure a few of them are failed academics, but others simply decided that they hated the research side of things or the salary and conditions weren't good enough, etc. Teaching in a top independent offers a lucrative salary and very nice working conditions, which I'd imagine is a draw for a lot of people.

Shootingatpigeons Wed 17-Sep-14 18:58:05

My DDs attended nationally well respected academic indie London day schools that get excellent results, and a proportion of the teachers were newly qualified, though enthusiastic and inspiring, no idea where they did their teaching practises but some may indeed have seen the inside of a state school shock I, and some of the most high maintenance parents in the country, witness the complete fever that takes hold come 11+, those GCSE / A level results do indeed get picked over with a fine tooth comb, had no problem with paying the £15k a year for that mix of youth and energy and experience. Certainly with both of my daughters it was teachers with just that background who made the most difference in building their confidence and enthusiasm for their subjects. So a bit of a sad and ignorant point of view to dismiss their teaching skills and put any decline in the school's educational effectiveness at their door. It is far more likely to be the leadership they are given and the strategies and frameworks in place not just to support them in delivering excellence but in actually managing and marketing the school.

happygardening Wed 17-Sep-14 19:11:21

The PhD debate is an interesting one. One of the teachers at my DS's prep school had one, he was an amazing teacher and the children were fascinated by the subject he did his doctorate in, a eccentric concept like the man himself. One of the dons at DS2's school who has one is adored by the boys, again a completely unique individual and a truly wonderful inspiring teacher and very dedicated to the boys.
Were either failures in their chosen profession? Perhaps there chosen profession was to teach a subject they feel passionate about.
A friend has a PhD sadly for him he never uses it and would be the first to admit that it's not made any difference to his current very successful corporate career. But he dreams of going back to academia to teach others about his subject which underneath the pin stripe suit/corporate man he too is passionate about.

Returning Thu 18-Sep-14 14:17:44

Well, I get the points about people doing PhDs simply for the love of a subject, but if all else was equal, I'd choose a school full of young, keen, newly trained graduates who haven't been stuck in academia for too long, over a bunch of PhDs anyday. Afterall, surely if you are doing a PhD for love of a subject and really want to teach, then anyone who is really any good will be teaching in Higher Education.

happygardening Thu 18-Sep-14 14:51:43

So returning are you saying all teachers with PhD are rubbish teachers?
Do you have any proof of this?
I agree the obvious choice would be academia but we're not all the same are we?
Or maybe like all teachers there are fantastic passionate one, and the good, ok, mediocre and rubbish.

Tansie Thu 18-Sep-14 20:55:57

happy, oh happy! Do not do this! Returning has not said 'all teachers with PhD are rubbish teachers'. Your naive simplification kind of makes you sound like one-of-those-private-parents who can only 'talk the talk' to a certain level ('fascinating' -how many of his classes did you sit in?, 'truly wonderful and inspiring teacher'- how many of his classes did you sit in?...'passionate'- I used to believe in passionate til I realised that passionate is as passionate does..... I hope you don't mean by fascinating and inspiring 'the teachers that got A*s out of the boys who were destined for A*s?) then resort to mud-slinging.

For the record, I went to a girls GS in 1973. My best, and my worst teachers had PhDs. One had a deep passion for his subject (English), and yes, was truly inspirational (in Y10-11 'O' level, and in particular, 'A' level... Y8 took him to pieces, at a GS!)- the other was useless. Maths. Genuinely completely out of his depth. Dull. Maybe passionate in his own bathwater, but being able to impart that passion requires a whole different set of skills.

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