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Bright DD's - grammar/independent/local school? What do you reckon?

(16 Posts)
NotJustAnEssexGirl Thu 21-Jul-11 10:36:25


I have two dd's in year 5 and 3 at a state primary. We are in a grammar school area, and there are also a few independents relatively close by.

Both DD's are bright - not G&T as far as I know - but top sets sort of thing.
They have just had their reports with their levels on them:
DD1 Reading 5b, Writing 5c, Maths 4a
DD2 Reading 4b, Writing 3b, Maths 3a

Do you think these sort of grades would be a definite or just a likely grammar school place? Are they good enough for a scholarship to an independent? Or, do you think going to the local school will be fine as 'bright kids do well anywhere', and it would mean much less travel time?

I want to do the best for them and just don't know what would be the best thing. We haven't started looking round yet, and don't want to take them round the independent schools if there is no chance of them getting in. Same for the grammar - we aren't planning on tutoring, but I know some parents already are - I don't want to show them things that they can't attain, if you see what I mean.

Anyone else going through/been through this?

SkelleyBones Thu 21-Jul-11 11:59:55

It seems to depend on the competition as to whether they will get in, I know boy children scoring above that have not got in but girls that have with less.

drivinmecrazy Thu 21-Jul-11 12:05:01

Am in Essex and my yr5 DD1 is 5Bs in everything, and am going for grammar school (chelmsford or Colchester), but know its still a long shot just going on the statistics of how many apply versus how many places. Her tutor put it well when he said that at grammar school they will be surrounded by kids who are there because they want to learn, but indie will still have their fair share of kids who are there just cos their parents can pay. I think Grammar is the preferential route but still a lottery i.e. how they perform on the day, who they are up against and how much the child wants it.

kalidasa Thu 21-Jul-11 12:27:48

I grew up in Essex (Brentwood/Chelmsford area) and now work in higher education so know a bit about the schools round there. Ime the grammars are excellent in terms of results but can be quite high pressured and not necessarily very "rounded" - more results-oriented than really intellectually stimulating, if you know what I mean (though obviously varies a lot school to school, and in even within schools it can change a lot with different headteachers and even year groups). In the independent sector there are some good schools round there but nothing of the first rate in purely academic terms - probably because the grammars cream off quite a lot. You will get more in the way of sport/music/facilities etc though. I've heard good things about New Hall which used to be v. small and genteel but is apparently on the way up. Those wanting a very academic school in the private sector mostly either commute into London (e.g. City) or board.

MrsBartlet Thu 21-Jul-11 13:26:44

I think it is worth trying the grammar school route with those levels. My dd is in Y9 at CCHS (Chelmsford) and she got 5cs at the end of Y5. She is absolutely thriving there.

We haven't found the school to be high-pressured as kalidasa says. On the contrary the school seem to be very aware that some of the girls have a tendency to put pressure on themselves and told us to monitor how much work the girls did to make sure they weren't over-doing it. We have also found the school to be very well-rounded - they are very into sport and music and the girls seem to have a huge amount of fun.

kalidasa Thu 21-Jul-11 13:43:08

That's good to hear that CCHS seems well-rounded. It's certainly an impressive place with really excellent results. Two of my sisters were there with somewhat mixed experiences (especially of the sixth form) though I think in judging schools even relatively recent experiences can be very out of date because the ethos and atmosphere can change quite quickly, so it's always best to go by what current (not even recent) parents and pupils say; and also by your own feel for the school. Quite a few move for sixth form anyway if they want to go co-ed at that point.

pointythings Thu 21-Jul-11 21:13:30

If we had grammars in our area I'd be trying to get my DDs in - they are also in Yr 5 & 3 and levels very similar - DD1 5c, 5c, 5c, DD2, 4c, 4b, 3a. But no grammars at all, just independents, and as a leftie I just don't like the idea of paying for better education when it should be a meritocracy. I think you should try for the grammar, OP.

Fortunately local secondary is improving and well-supported bright kids do well there, and there are some good sixth form colleges in my area so it is going to be state all the way.

confidence Thu 21-Jul-11 21:20:58

What kind of "grammar area" are you in? Do you mean the catchment of a single near-impossible-to-get-into superselective like Tiffin or somesuch, or a generally selective are like Kent or Bucks? It makes a big difference.

I'm not sure one can really extrapolate SATs levels all that accurately to likelihood of an 11+ pass. They are different things, and most 11+ tests attempt (somewhat dubiously in reality) to test innate ability and potential rather than sheer academic achievement. It's probably true that nearly any kid likely to pass the 11+ would have reached a certain level of attainment at SATs just by virtue of being that bright (and to that extent I think yes, the scores you report are of that level). But more than that one can't really say, particularly with there being so many different 11+ tests, in different schools and areas.

spinwiz Thu 21-Jul-11 22:30:54

Whilst I am no fan of Victoria Beckham ( I do rather like David) I am apalled to read that some ex pupils of Haberdasher Aske Public School apparantly feel that the school is too posh for the Beckham Children. If this school bases entry on academic ability, indeed this should also apply to the Beckham children. To the ex pupil who apparantly made a comment on mumsnet that the Beckhams are too working class for haberdashers I say this. Academic ability is not necessarily related to class. There are many many working class children who are extremely intelligent and possess probably more academic ability than some so called middle class children. Naturally many middle class children have far more advantages than working class children. I think this is a very snobby comment from someone who appears to think themselves superior simply because she attended Haberdashers.

spinwiz Thu 21-Jul-11 22:33:48

oops in my haste to write my comment I forgot to write Haberdashers with a capital H.

BrigitBigKnickers Fri 22-Jul-11 06:58:50

They are similar results to what my DD achieved at the end of year 5. She took the 11+ in Essex and has just completed year 7 at Westcliff (a little easier to get in to than CCHS even when you live out of catchment). We have been very pleased with the school.

The 11+ in Essex is very difficult (in recent years the English has included comprehension tests on Bleak House and Tess of the D'urbervilles!) and it's particularly difficult to get into CCHS. They have no catchment so it's simply the top 120 marks that get given the places.

On the question of tuition- lots of the maths on the Essex 11+ is not in the national curriculum so even a 5a would not necessarily be enough unless your DDs have had extension work into level 6 by the end of year 5 (the test is in November of year 6.) Apparently the tests have got harder and harder over the past ten years to account for the fact that many DCs are tutored.

It also very much depends on how they perform on the day. My DD was in a very bright year group and quite a few of her friends took the 11+. Several were extraordinarily bright (all 5as at the end of year 5) getting over 90% on all their past papers but didn't cope well with the pressures of the exam and so did not get the required marks for a grammar school place either in Essex or Southend.

On the Independent front my other DD goes to Brentwood which is a fab school (facilities are amazing.) It is selective and the test is similar to the 11+ (English Maths and VR) but it's easier to get a place. They do have some scholarship places for general academic ability and also sports and specialist areas but I know there is great competition for these. They are co-ed but teach the girls and boys separately which works well IME.

I also know people whose DCs go to New Hall in Chelmsford (also co-ed but teach separately) and speak very highly of it.

PS where in Essex are you?

Theas18 Fri 22-Jul-11 16:45:31

So difficult to say, not knowing your local schools.

Are the grammars "ordinary" by which I mean get a certain mark in the exam and live close enough , you get a place, or highly selective (like ours), where they start at the top and allocate places till they are full without area boundaries or anything?

In theory 10% of kids here get grammar places, but allowing for the prep kids, that doesnt mean 10% of yr 6 in the state primaries get places iyswim.

Not sure if a "top set" with no G+T aptitudes would get a place at grammar here. My kids (not a stealth boast, they just are!) are the brightest of the bright- DD1 got the form prize for general all round academic achievement from Years 8-12 (still waiting to hear re yr 13) and DD2 has got the prize in yr 7 (its her 1st year there) so they, I assume amongst the 4 most academic in their year (4 forms).

Could I have realized how bright they were from their primary results- don't think so at all- get a 5A and that is it, nothing higher assessed mind you I guess they were in the 5s very early on in yr5.

Knowing what I do now, having the eldest pass through the school I wouldn't have let DD2 sit the exam it I'd have thought she'd have "just" got in. I think the worst place to be is the bottom stream in a grammar- you are actually pretty bright but you never get to feel like that as you are always running to catch up...

Certainly round here the independents would be idea for the bright but not astronomically bright child- brilliant results and a fun setting with a bit more nurturing ethos.

Because of the set up here with grammars I'm afraid most of the "community schools" cater well for the not very academic child with lots of NVQs etc but the GCSE results are poor and the expectations low (because the bright kids aren't there IYSWIM).

NotJustAnEssexGirl Sat 23-Jul-11 13:47:59

Gosh - thanks for so many replies, I didn't expect that!
I don't want to be identifiiable, but we are between Chelmsford/Colchester for those that asked. We only moved here a year ago, so this whole grammar/tutoring/independent thing is all a bit of a mystery to me - previously the girls were just going to go to our local comp like everyone else. Now we have this apparent 'choice' and I don't know what to do.
School say they won't tutor girls for the 11+, so if we do go that route, it will be on our own. Like the PP, I don't want the girls to just get in and struggle in a grammar, so I am trying to see if these report grades will give me an idea of whereabouts they are in terms of ability. Gosh, it is all so hard isn't it?
Thanks for raising all those points - lots of food for thought...

mumzy Sun 24-Jul-11 08:19:42

I think the 11+ exams for the 4 Essex superselectives Grammar schools are seriously hard ( same goes for Tiffins, Henrietta Barnett,latimyers and St Olaves). These schools are usually in the top 10 of all secondary schools in England often beating £30k public schools in their academic results. I wouldn't be too confident that even bright dc will get in. if I was seriously thinking of entering dc I would buy their exam papers to get an idea what is expected then I'd find a tutor who knows how their exams work to prep dc . I would also make sure I had a good backup plan in case they didn't get in

sarahfreck Tue 26-Jul-11 12:09:54

If your dd1 has just finished year 5, you have very little time to do exam preparation before the 11+. A tutor would probably be a good idea ( if you can afford it and find one, not booked up).

"On the question of tuition- lots of the maths on the Essex 11+ is not in the national curriculum so even a 5a would not necessarily be enough unless your DDs have had extension work into level 6 by the end of year 5 (the test is in November of year 6.) Apparently the tests have got harder and harder over the past ten years to account for the fact that many DCs are tutored."

I'm not sure that I totally agree with this. Whilst it is true that not all the 11+ maths is on the National Curriculum, I'm not sure how much level 6 work is covered. A son of a friend of mine has just got into KEGS. I helped him a bit last summer with practice maths papers and I would not have said they covered level 6 work. However I would agree that a child would need to be a very solid level 5 and cover some additional bits of curriculum (though not particularly level 6 stuff).

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Wed 27-Jul-11 16:52:16

mumzy - not so with Tiffin at least. These schools come top of results for state schools but still do not figure in top 10 for schools overall.

They do beat independent schools but do not figure in the top 10.

I always have a sneaky look at results every year as someone always says this but they are never there right at the top.

You are right re low chances of getting in, though. Pass marks are so high that it just becomes a lottery in the end based on exam technique and not even the most gifted child can be sure of gaining a place.

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