(53 Posts)
AngelEyes46 Sun 03-Jun-12 20:40:06

Can anyone tell me - my sil is looking at the above schools - her ds is in year 5 - been tutored for the last 6 months. Top within his primary for maths and science, goodish at english. Is musical but not particularly sporty. Also looking at whitgift but would be looking for some type of scholarship.

SheBlackhawk Mon 04-Jun-12 00:34:30

If he is musical, have they considered Trinity? Whitgift of course is also excellent with music. They say Wilson's is very academic, very hard to get a place.

gazzalw Mon 04-Jun-12 07:05:36

What particularly do you want to know? Don't know anything about the public schools (Whitgift or Trinity) although there was a long thread at the beginning of this year that you could search for. However, DS passed all three 11+ exams he took for SGS, Wilson's and Wallington and has a place at one of them so ask away....

Think all the grammar schools are sporty as well as academic. We have had to rate our son's sportiness for his school!

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 07:11:47

If he's musical I would think about Trinity. There are scholarships for both academic and musical ability plus bursaries (as there are for Whitgift). I think trinity is the one generally considered "best" for music.

I don't know anything about Wilsons or Wallington really. We turned Wilsons down for DS2 (wrong school for him).

AngelEyes46 Mon 04-Jun-12 10:55:36

I thinks she's worried that her ds may not get any of the above schools. With the grammar - his tutor says that his maths is fine but he needs to think quicker - does anyone know about this? I know a lot of dcs enter into the exam and a lot pass (and I think her ds would) but what should he be aiming for at this stage, i.e. should he be getting 100% from practice papers? I will tell her about Trinity (I always thought that Whitgift was better for scholarships). The independent schools - I know she would be over the moon if they got but would have to be with a scholarship - does anyone know what Whit and Trinity go up to? If all else fails, she has either Riddlesdown that they live more or less next door to which is a good safety net - any views? or John Fisher - they are RC but her DS was baptised late so she is concerned about.

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 11:25:01

gazzalw you had to rate your son's sportiness for his school? This is what scares me about this boys grammars, DS is not sporty at all and doesn't like the male rough stuff - rugby he will hate for sure. Do you think all the three grammars you mention are the same? What about the geeky types who prefer to sit at the piano, surely there are some around those schools...? Would he be eaten alive?

Classicsgirl Mon 04-Jun-12 12:23:20

Our son is not at all sporty and is heading to wilson's with a non sporty friend this autumn. I gather from past parents that although sport is very valued, contribution in other fields is equally rated. There seems to be a lot of music and we've already been given details and email of the head of music so we can get lessons arranged upfront. So I wouldn't rule it out on that score...!

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 12:31:41

Scholarships at Whitgift and Trinity go up to 50%, but it would be an exceptional boy who got the full 50%. IIRC you can combine different scholarships (but I am a bit hazy on this) and you can definitely have a scholarship and a bursary.

Obviously the pot of money for these is limited and not guaranteed.

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 12:32:59

Thanks classicsgirl. That's reassuring. I'm hoping, dreaming, really next year to be in the lucky position of choosing between a grammar and an indy with a scholarship... she dreams on If that was the case it is the music, drama, etc that would decide it for us.

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 12:34:12

I imagine that rating your son's sportiness is only to ensure that the "delicate little geeks" don't get shoved in with the A team rugby players smile

As an aside, there is at least one boy in DSs year at T who sits out rugby in the library grin

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 12:40:41

Oh yes Soup...That's where DS would be if they'd let him. Table tennis on the other hand...grin

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 12:42:08

BTW Soup...We visited T and loved it sooooooo much.

gazzalw Mon 04-Jun-12 12:46:22

I actually think the rating sportiness is to ensure that the houses have an equal mix of sporty vs non-sporty to make it fair. Our DS is not very, very sporty but he does like sport. But I did comment that it is rather subjective to rate one's own children given that some parents consider their children to be gifted at everything and some might be a lot more modest about their children's achievements!

Having been to a grammar school myself, as did DW, I would say that they are all big on sport to be quite honest. Used to have sports colours for excelling pupils. That is not to say that a child who is not very sporty will be at a disadvantage, just that they are keen on making the most of all of a child's talents - and all the better if it's a sport in which they can bring the school glory!

Metabilis3 Mon 04-Jun-12 12:56:31

Well, my DD1 is at a Grammar school and although the sporty kids get their space, it's fine to be most decidedly not sporty. In fact I'd say the majority of the kids in her year group aren't sporty.

gazzalw Mon 04-Jun-12 13:06:46

I would expect the sportiness factor to be less of an issue in girls' schools than for boys though, wouldn't you?

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 13:08:02

Yes because girls don't do things where they may get sweaty or have to exert themselves. hmm

Metabilis3 Mon 04-Jun-12 13:23:25

It's a mixed sex school. smile DD1 is veryactive but her sports - swimming, surfing and bashing her siblings- aren't done at her school. And she is dyspraxic so she can't do ball games or stick games at all really (most lessons they get her to run laps round the outfield so she can't hurt herself or anyone else and she loves that. She's not a 'runner' like I am - she doesn't run unless forced to - but she is fit so she can easily manage a moderate canter for half an hour/40 mins with no worries)

gazzalw Mon 04-Jun-12 14:14:11

Er no, but all recent sports drives seem to have been aimed at encouraging girls to do more sports, so assume there is a proven issue about girls not engaging in the same way that boys do...

Ladymuck Mon 04-Jun-12 14:52:39

When you say musical, what sort of level are you talking about? At Year 5 this can mean anything from constantly rapping through to Grade 5+ on several instruments. Would household income mean a bursary is a possibility - Whitgift foundation are relatively generous on these. If they earn too much for a bursary but not enough for the full fees then do not visit the indie schools - the music at the grammar schools can never compare I'm afraid.

The entrance exams for Wilsons & Wallington are pretty time pressured to be honest, there are plenty of bright boys who don't pass but still get good scholarships at Whit & Trin. As the exams are fairly tough, and of course you can only get an offer from one state school, the differences between sports and music are more negligible than you might think.

Date of baptism (ie <1 year) is pretty crucial at John Fisher, as is frequency of mass attendance.

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 15:10:59

the music at the grammar schools can never compare I'm afraid
That's a direct answer. Anyone with a different experience?

Metabilis3 Mon 04-Jun-12 17:05:01

Well, my DD1 hopes to do music as a career. To be fair she doesn't just do music at school though and her first study instrument she doesn't actually learn at school. I went to a comp but all the years above me were grammar and several of the girls I knew at school went on to conservatoire and are still professional musicians today. Equally, I know several people who went to private school and who now make their living from music (ranging from performers to composers) so, the only thing you can take from that is that it's impossible to generalise.

Metabilis3 Mon 04-Jun-12 17:07:23

Ah, sorry. That was obviously a specific question about those 3 or 4 schools rather than grammars in general. My only direct experience of music at those schools was being roped in whenever Trinity wanted to perform Noyes Fludde. grin

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 17:51:28

Speaking only from experience of Trinity, the difference musically I think would be the lessons they offer "in house" (for a fee though) and the seemingly endless array of opportunities to play in some kind of band, orchestra or quartet. And the choir.

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 17:52:33

When I say In House I mean you don't have to do the lessons outside of school time as the teachers come in to teach on-site.

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 18:53:24

Do grammars have in house instrumental lessons?

Metabilis3 Mon 04-Jun-12 20:35:56

@hardboiled Of course they do. As do comprehensives too. The difference with Trinity of course is that it isn't even the best school for music in it's own road. grin wink

I mentioned above that my DD1 doesn't learn her first study instrument at school - that's only because she has lessons under a regional scheme (we don't live close enough to London for her to do a Saturday conservatoire thing). She does learn her second and fourth study instruments at school though. (the third study is also done outside school but this is due to personal preference as much as anything).

SoupDragon Mon 04-Jun-12 20:40:35

It is if you are a boy smile or not catholic.

My memory of in house lessons in my comp were that they were pretty dire.

Hardboiled Mon 04-Jun-12 21:17:38

When I last checked Wallington's website there was very little mention of music in their newsletters, news, etc. It was quite shocking really how much sport there was instead. I don't know if that means anything but it probably does? When you compare with the Head's newsletters in Trinity...

BooksandBrunch Wed 06-Jun-12 10:11:15

I think @Ladymuck has summed up my view of the whole thing. Trinity definitely the most musical of all the options with music scholarships available also, albeit, he'd have to be performing at a very high level. There are many kids at the top of their class who are still unable to pass the grammar schools exams so it's not an indication of his chances. Speed is definitely an issue in these exams with time left over for checking your work. I would go for them all, the grammars and the indies, although like Ladymuck said, don't even visit the indie's unless you'd be eligible for a bursary (which can be up to 100%) or can afford it as it will only do your head insmile. That way, at least you'll hopefully have a few options on the table to weigh up and choose which suits him the most. Unfortunately, John Fisher and the like are even over subscribed with applicants from kids who were baptised within six months of birth, let alone any later, and with weekly attendance, but still no harm in whacking in a form - but definitely DO NOT pin your hopes on it as an option.

AngelEyes46 Wed 06-Jun-12 22:16:27

The above posts are worrying. My brother and sil would not be entitled to a bursary but i don't think could afford full fees. Their DS is musical but not exceptional and not at all sporty (irish dances if that helps). He is a clever boy but needs to practice with his speed. The family do attend mass and have done so for years but the baptism was delayed for a number of reasons. Any thoughts on Riddlesdown.

Ladymuck Wed 06-Jun-12 22:43:20

The good news is that the "baptised at less than 6 months old' category has gone for 2013, but that won't help if he was over a year old when baptised unfortunately.

Has he sat the Sutton Grammar mock test this year, as that would give a rough indication of where he sits within the cohort?

Riddlesdown has a good reputation, but can't say much about the music. But it is definitely the preferred choice for those who don't pass the faith test or 11+.

Have to say it wouldn't be my first choice, but apparently the music teacher at Thomas More is amazingly inspirational. I know that parents of a Whitgift music scholar were very impressed by a recent performance.

AngelEyes46 Wed 06-Jun-12 23:04:38

Thx - will let them know about Sutton - have just looked at their website and it looks as if there is only one more test date. Know about Fisher - my ds' go there. They changed from 1 year to 6 months and back again to a year. I know some boys that did get into JF though although they were baptised late. It's sad re: thomas more as the rc primary schools view the school as 'last place i would send my dc to'. I know this could open up the view that if you want your child to go to a catholic school, why not the ones that are as 'successful' as others but the children have ideas that it's a scary school. my sil feels as if she is in a no win situation - worried about baptism, so much competition with grammar and although cd possibly afford private fees, not sure if could afford all the extras. Riddlesdown is a good school but wouldn't be her first choice if 'fitted' into any of the other criterias. Feel that RC schools should adopt the same criteria as CE schools, ie baptised rather than baptised before a particular date.

Ladymuck Wed 06-Jun-12 23:10:53

No harm in looking at Archbishop Tennisons and St Andrews if they are active church members, though presumably that would depend on whether their parish priest was willing to be referee. Used to be the case that that wouldn't be possible, but don't know these days. But 40% of Tennison places go to non-C of E church goers.

tiggytape Wed 06-Jun-12 23:29:21

The Catholic schools like JF have a space on their forms for you to explain delayed baptism. If it was due to illness for example you are allowed to submit evidence of this and have it considered.

To be honest though, the school has always been oversubscribed in recent years (a bit like some of the single sex Kingston / New Malden catholic schools) with children who are in the very top criteria. Unless you have early baptism (or late with good reason), weekly mass attendance and Holy Communion taken at the correct age, you definitely cannot bank on a place.

The Grammars (Kingston and Sutton) are similar in the sense that nobody can really bank 100% on getting a place even if their child is extremely clever - the competition is just too numerous and fierce. The number of applicants creeps up every year and the standard required does too (you are in direct competition with every other child who sits the test to get a place as it is the highest scores that win regardless of how high the other scores might be). Every year there are lots of surprises about who doesn't get a place and there are many primary schools where even the top child in the whole of Year 6 doesn't get in. It is definitely worth doing but you'd need a plan B.

You can enquire abotu the mocks but normally the spaces get booked up ages in advance. They might still have some spare though if people drop out.

And there's no harm looking at Trinity - the Whitgift / Trinity bursuries and funds are known for being some of the most generous and lots of their pupils receive some sort of help.

BooksandBrunch Thu 07-Jun-12 00:58:28

Oh gosh, please don't bank of the results of the Sutton Mocks! Had two friends DS's who got really high scores and neither even passed, Sutton, Wilson's or Wallingtons let alone get offered a place (note, often people pass but still don't get a place. Four hundred may pass, but there are only 120 or so places)! The mocks don't include a writing test and the actual exams do, which might have some bearing as to the reason why. The school will warn you too, it's just to get the kids used to an exam environment. They are run by the PTA, so even if you ring up late, you can still get a spot as the money goes towards their kitty. I think a friend of mine got a space from calling just a few days before. Like @tiggytape said re competition, the same applies to Wilsons and Wallingtons - it's firece; and each year the numbers rise and the kids get more clever. But who knows, he could be one of them, it's not impossiblesmile.

Archbishop Tennsion have a great ofstead report, the kids are nice and if they are active in the church then they shouldn't have problem getting a reference from their priest. A catchment area also applies though. Not sure about being musical either, their specialism is Maths.

Please do not rule out Whitgift and Trinity as their bursaries are so generous and on a sliding scale for people earning up to around 70k'ish (Can't remember the exact figure). What a lot of people fail to take on board however, is not EVERYONE gets a bursary even if they're eligible and even if they get offered a place. I think it's something like the top scoring 70, or something like that.

Have you looked at the feeder school, or at least the schools most of the kids go onto? Are they that tragic?

I think it's just good to remember you have six preferences, not six choices and therefore to have as many back up plans as you can. It is a stressful time, there's no doubt about it. On a positive note, most get one of the schools on their list, which may not sound positive, but it is. For those who don't, they get offered the schools that nobody else wanted and that can be heartbreaking.

Hardboiled Thu 07-Jun-12 01:10:26

You are all saying the truth which is good. But this is putting me off having DS sit all those fiercely competitive exams for the grammars, after all the stress and preparation...It could be so diappointing for him. All those children who don't make it every year, even the ones who were top of their class in primary...sad

BooksandBrunch Thu 07-Jun-12 01:10:47

BTG also really worth considering. A few with late baptisms from my ds's school got a place there. Kids always look nice and the old head has just returned, bringing the school right back up with some great plans for the futuresmile

gazzalw Thu 07-Jun-12 08:07:06

The problem is that you don't know if your nephew will pass unless he tries...if you don't go down that route you may spend the rest of his school career thinking "what if?". DS did the grammar school exams and did pass all three (without doing mock tests) and has a place at one of them. Whilst he is bright (and has always been on the top table), he is not super bright.... I just think you have to go with your gut instinct about your child. We always thought that DS should be clever enough to get in but you just can't second guess these things. What DS had in his favour is that he quite likes doing exams, doesn't get anxious and is speedy (so he completed all his papers). You cannot underestimate the importance of all three - several of DS's classmates failed by a few points ostensibly because they didn't finish the papers.

I think being on the top table in itself isn't a reliable marker of ability as it very much depends on the class. Some classes of children are decidedly average whereas others are very clever. DS's class is known to be a 'clever class' and he and five of his classmates got places at grammar schools or the selective streams in nearby comprehensives - a very good innings from a school with a very mixed intake.

I think the whole secondary school application phase is very stressful whether one's child does tests or not. It is worth a try but you know your child better than anyone and know if it would be too much. Have you talked to his teacher? Our son's teacher indicated at a parents' evening at the end of Year 5 that we should be considering grammar schools for him.

Oh and this idea that grammar schools don't cater for musical children is not true. Experiences of everyone I know who went to a GS (including myself) demonstrate that children who are very gifted at music do get lots of support and nurturing. DW's school had girls who played the harp to grade 8 and there were always piano recitals, singing duets etc....in assemblies in the mornings.

What's wrong with SGS by the way or is just not local enough?

Good luck to him - it is a stressful time but at least this year some of the grammar schools are doing two-tier testing so that parents will know before the 31st October CAF deadline if their children are of the required standard to put the grammar schools as preferences. And by this time next year hopefully your nephew will have the school place he wants!

Ladymuck Thu 07-Jun-12 09:27:54

Tennisons has a reasonable string of ensembles/informal concerts etc. St Andrews seems to have even more, and has lots of pupils going onto the BRIT school. I would think that the issue with the reference is not whether it is acceptable to the school, but whether the parish priest will support an application to a non RC school. Also the CofE allocation is barely oversubscribed, whereas the non CofE quota is always oversubscribed.

What sort of level is your dn in terms of instruments?

Obviously the grammar schools do music. The comparison is more that whereas Wilsons has a brass ensemble, Whitgift has 8 or 9 brass ensembles.

The Whitgift foundation is on one hand very generous, but if your income is in the £60-90k bracket it is still going to be quite a stretch if you have a mortgage etc. But if dn is musical enough, especially on instruments that they want, there may be help. But I would be wary about looking at these schools if you would need a significant (>20%) scholarship to afford to attend, as the gap with some of the other state schools is quite large.

tiggytape Thu 07-Jun-12 10:04:03

Hardboiled - It is pretty daunting but if you don't try, you won't know. I suppose the important thing is to make it very clear to DS how these things work. He will have a fair idea himself because, to prevent cheating, all boys sit each exam on the same day and a result there are thousands of boys all descending on each school for the tests. They would each be aware of the large numbers of other applicants so it is not so hard to explain to them the odds and the fact that a child can do incredibly well and be very clever but still not get a place.

As BooksBrunch said with only 120 places, 400 passes and thousands who want a place, logic dictates that simply being clever isn't going to be enough. A great deal of speed, accuracy, calmness under pressure and even luck can play a part (some boys hate creative writing tasks so get lucky if asked to write something factual and vice versa). I think children can understand if told that such exams are a bit of a long shot even for the most gifted and able purely because of the numbers of people applying and this can be explained to them to lessen any worry that failing to get a place would disappoint them or undermine them.

Ladymuck Thu 07-Jun-12 10:25:07

The odds are helped by the fact that most boys will sit at least 3 grammars, and some will sit Whitgift etc too. There is a good degree of overlap between the 400 or so who pass each grammar, as well as those who sit the grammar exams as practice for indies or different areas.

breaktime Thu 07-Jun-12 10:25:13

gazzalw, which one did you choose - was it SGS?

gazzalw Thu 07-Jun-12 11:19:48

It would be interesting if the schools could tell one what degree of overlap there is.....DS and one other boy in his class passed the three Sutton Borough ones but from the 11+ Forum it appears that some might just pass one or two or sadly none at all...(as was the case with most of their classmates).

What is disconcerting though is that it is apparently possible to pass all three but still not score highly enough in any one test to be offered a place....

By the way DS is not brilliant at English at all and sure his English will have let him down, so thank goodness for the NVR/VR elements ;-)

I'm PM'd you breaktime!

BooksandBrunch Thu 07-Jun-12 12:00:09

Hi Hardboiled, I won't deny, it has to be one of THE MOST difficult times of a families of my life, because with all that prep, some pass everything, others pass some and fail some; and I know of those too who had tutors twice a week and didn't pass a single exam, grammar or otherwise. Indeed although there is overlap, like Tiggytape said, all 400 of those kids who are passing are still not being offered places. The head master at Sutton did give us a ratio of how many actually get offered a place amongst the three grammars, but for the life of me I can't remember. I will say this though; there is one little boy I know of who passed all three and got offered Wilsons. The Mother called the school, to find out if he just scrapped through because, she didn't want to put him in a situation where he was the bottom of a pile and they said, for all the boys that get offered a place, there is like a point difference between them.

I really don't want to freak you out; I spent so, so, so long worrying about it, I wouldn't wish that on anyone else and in my case it turned out well in the end and I'm the most unluckiest person alive smile. Also like Tiggytape said, only you know your child. It's difficult. Indeed he may be one of those kids where everything is like waters of a ducks back. I speak to rather a lot of Mums and I know of only one tragic case out of around 25 parents that I know personally. And for even those that didn't get their first choice, their seconds and thirds really weren't that tragic and they soon warmed to it. Just over too months now, no one really talks about it anymore and everyone's happy. Which proves that it really does work out in the end.

It's a bit difficult to recommend without knowing exactly where you live, but you do still have some good choices. PLLLLLLease also check out Wimbledon College. As a catholic you'd have priority over the other applicants and they fast stream the top two sects. They have a music school, good results and operate similar to a private school. They also attract a nice caliber of parents. Moreover, even if you live far away, the RC element takes priority over other applicants and they too still get a place, so you would be in with a good chance.

tiggytape Thu 07-Jun-12 12:04:57

It is not unheard of for boys to pass all 3 exams and not get offered a place at any grammar school. But on the flip side, some boys only pass one exam but score highly enough on it to get offered a place.

The same happens with the girls' schools because some of the schools set written English tasks as part of the test and some of them don't.

BooksandBrunch Thu 07-Jun-12 12:05:49

PS: Every schools has a music department, irrespective of their specialism, as I'm sure you're aware. I suspect your initial query was relating to how extensive and how much resources each school allocates to it.

bb100 Mon 23-Jul-12 22:39:41

As regards the sports question, my son made it very clear at Wallington Boys that he didn't like rugby and so he got to do badminton and table tennis instead. They do a range of sports in lessons and so the boys soon find something that they do like.

As regards the tests, Wilsons are dropping the verbal reasoning test this year and there will be some children entering on distance from the school (so long as they pass the test). My son and his classmate didn't have any tutoring or prep for the tests and they both passed Wilsons and Wallington boys - so if your child is expected to get level 5s it is worth entering them.

My experience of Wallington Boys has been an excellent one and I would recommend it.

penelopewellingtonbowes Mon 05-Nov-12 14:34:02

John Fisher is much easier to get into thesedays; you don't have to go the interview process route (your son being interviewed alongside his parents).

Or the musical or academic places route.

It's much simpler; all you need to do is being involved in parish activities and have high mass attendance.

The selection policy at John Fisher was banned in September 1999. There is no selection at the school since 1999; period.

confusedperson Mon 05-Nov-12 15:58:32

For those who are talking about delayed baptism, how much of "delayed" is acceptable and what accepted valid reasons?

tiggytape Mon 05-Nov-12 16:08:25

All sorts of things: illness / living abroad / living somewhere with set dates for baptism / family upset / postnatal depression / bereavement / job situation / health and availability of God parents...... anything really that may have meant that a child could not be baptised in the first year of life. Normally though if it is more than 2 years, you'd be hard pressed to explain it although of course some people will have genuine reasons for having to delay.

confusedperson Mon 05-Nov-12 16:18:31

Thanks tiggytape. Mine was baptised just a bit over 1 year so hopefully our reasons will be enough when the time comes.

ercroydonmum Thu 06-Dec-12 13:15:19

I would recommend looking outside of Croydon and Sutton, since John Fisher stopped it's selection policy and Coloma has become more laid back standards among these schools (which were once very very hard to get into are slipping).

Trinity and Whitgift have benefitted from the demise of the few good state schools as have the Sutton Grammars and Tiffin's of this world too.

Try for Worth, around 15k per annum and not as selective or Ewell Castle (the same). My son failed his Fisher interview and religion test so we had to send him to Worth, then tried again for Fisher 6th form. Of course all this was back when John Fisher was one of the best state schools in Surrey.

Asterisk Tue 11-Dec-12 11:10:57

The music at Trinity is phenomenal. I was at their Gala concert last week and it was a joy. The music dept is very well organised and the teachers are enthusiastic and committed. My son happily gets up at 6.30 am to attend jazz practice before school (something terribly wrong about jazz at that hour...). The music scholarships are tough though -- I seem to remember you need to be minimum Grade 4 to even be eligible to apply at 11+. Also, Soupdragon, I think you'll find that they now have a non-contact rugby team for those that are convinced that rugby is a blood sport. I don't think that delicate child was allowed to opt-out for long!

If you're going to go for Trinity or Whitgift scholarship, it is wise to sit both. Then if you get scholarship at less-preferred school you can try and negotiate.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now