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Tiffin girls

(35 Posts)
Journeytolight Wed 12-Feb-14 20:15:16

I'm looking at this school for DD2.

Opinions on it please.

Is it an exam factory? Are girls happy there? Etc.

Anyone's opinion appreciated.

TheSmallPrint Thu 13-Feb-14 13:26:30

My friend's daughter is there, she seems to be doing very well and appears happy. I haven't asked her in any detail though as I have boys!

Pushka2 Thu 13-Feb-14 14:22:47

I have a DD at TGS and she loves it. She does lots of extra-curricular sport and is really happy there.

She is lower down the school so no really experience as to whether it is an exam factory however they don't have end of term exams in Year 7 but do from Year 8 ownwards. They are tested throughout the year and have 5 assessments in each subject but I don't think this is unusual. The assessments are done in a fairly low key manner and in normal lessontime.

She occasionally feels that she has a lot of homework and gets a bit stressed about having enough time to do it (with sports fixures to contend with) however the homework seems to be less than many of her friends at local comps.

Overall it doesn't seem like an exam factory and there is no pressure on DD however we didn't heavily tutor and did more technique practice. Consequently, DD is doing really well and is actually doing better than expected (I expected her to be middle or bottom of the class academically on transition from primary school on the assumption that everyone was a genius!). I know some of the girls who were heavily tutored have had mentoring in maths or english in order to keep up or are still being tutored. This creates pressure but that is not really a reflection on the school more a reflection on the families who have pushed their children to get in who, possibly without extensive tutoring, wouldn't have got in.

As I said DD is really happy there and that makes us happy.

Shootingatpigeons Thu 13-Feb-14 14:43:49

My DD was offered a place, again with minimal tutoring, just some practise to familiarise her with the format of the papers, but when we went around she found it cold and soulless compared with the independent schools she was offered a place at, and the Science labs and, if this makes sense, the positive vibe around studying Science, were not as good . The teacher who showed us round (we were overseas) made no bones that those who did not do well in the end of term tests often ended up leaving which further put her off. We couldn't but agree with her, so it was to work for me to fund fees..........

I am not surprised by what Pushka says about tutoring. Apart from the issues around being able to keep up once there, I cannot imagine ever being prepared to put a child through years of doing VR and NVR tests ad nauseum. It has zilch educational value. And it explains why the GCSE and A level results do not evidence a cohort as truly selective on ability as it should be given it is supposed to be the top 100 or so out of 2000. I hope the new tests are better at weeding out the tutored.

Reincarnatedpig Thu 13-Feb-14 15:13:20

My dd is in 6th form. In younger years up to year 11 the HW burden is relatively light. It definitely became an exam factory at GCSE and anything less than an A/A* preferably the latter is a fail. Several girls had breakdowns at the end of year 11. About 92 per cent of grades were A* at GCSE in DD's cohort. A lot of DD's year were tutored to get in but this just prior to the real explosion of applications.

All the girls are clever. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise - they do select the brightest in my opinion. Of course a lot of bright girls also do not get it. Some girls are tutored throughout there time there - not because they are thick but because their parents are terrified they won't get the grades. I have never heard of anyone being kicked out because they failed a test - that is simply not true. Turnover is very low.

There are some exceptional teachers also a few poor ones particularly in science. They do not spoon feed and the girls especially post GCSE are told they have to think for themselves.

The extra curricula activities are good and there are a lot of trips - at a price! Recently they advertised one for over £3k. The school has always struck me as more of a suburban private school (though shabby) than state.

Dd has found it quite cliquey and I am aware of nasty incidents and bullying which the school did not deal with very well. They have made an effort to improve pastoral care in the past year but it is not working. For example girls with offers from Oxbridge were congratulated - other universities not - which sends quite a stark message.

Dd bitterly regrets staying for Sixth, she hates it as do her friends but she thought it was the best option. Academically she has done exceptionally well but she feels bullied and controlled. The facilities at school especially for private study are quite poor and a lot of time wasted in ridiculous compulsory activities.

Given my time again I would definitely not send DD there. Unless a school is awful, clever girls will do well anywhere.

Journeytolight Thu 13-Feb-14 16:52:36

Thank you to everyone for replying! I wasn't expecting a quick response. Seems lower down school is better. What extra curricular activities are there as DD is quite sport. Thanks

ChocolateHelps Thu 13-Feb-14 17:05:09

Shamelessley marking spot. DD1 is in year 4 and we were given her CAT scores last week in parents evening which were better than expected. Not keen in years of private tutoring so will get Bonds books next year and sit for Tiffin and Nonsuch. Keen to hear of everyone's experiences of Tiffin

OnGoldenPond Thu 13-Feb-14 17:22:11

Are you local to Tiffin Girls ie close to New Malden ?

If so, try Coombe Girls

You won't regret it

Shootingatpigeons Thu 13-Feb-14 17:49:21

I should make it clear the member of staff was not saying pupils were forced to leave just that those at the bottom tended to9 do so, no idea what her agenda was in telling us that.

I should add that of DDs peers whilst some chose private over Tiffin, some also chose top sets in schools like Coombe Waldegrave and Greycourt (this was before it went into decline, then climbed out of it again)

Journeytolight Thu 13-Feb-14 19:25:16

I don't think girls should be extensively tutored to get in. DD1 did exams this year with just practice papers and was fine. Does anyone think the same or not?

tiggytape Thu 13-Feb-14 19:30:18

Most people probably agree that familiarisation alone should be as much preparation as any girl does.
However, with 10, 11 or 12 (usually very bright) girls chasing each place, every point counts. Plus the tests are so early now, at the very start of Year 6, that some primary schools won't have covered all the KS2 work that comes up. Against such odds, parents want every advantage they can gain.

Reincarnatedpig Fri 14-Feb-14 08:27:14

I have always said that I would prefer a test that was tutor proof but the school went the opposite way and opted for maths and English tests as well as the NVR/VR. Unfortunately I think to a large extent you are then at the mercy of how well your child has been taught.

In DD's year who I think sat the test in December 2006, most girls were tutored - some by the mythical Mrs Walsh. Dd was not although we learned the question types at home. In those days a mark of about 70-80 per cent in the actual tests was thought to be high enough. A few years later it was reputed to be in the high 90 per cents.

Personally I know of a girl who was tutored from the age of 8 and did not get in. A colleague of mine had her daughter tutored from age 5 to get into Henrietta Barnett. Ridiculous. No school is worth it .

As already mentioned it was common for girls in DD's year to spend their Saturdays with a tutor. This is normally kept secret from the school.
Once exasperated with a particular teacher I did ask their boss whether I was expected to go and hire a tutor like the rest of the class but just got a blank look - I think they accept the high grades are not down to great teaching at the school! However some parents are very motivated if not pushy.

Interestingly there seems much more of a range of ability at A level. Some girls who got all A*s at GCSE haven't done so well and have been overtaken by others who suddenly realised they had to work. I do think though that some girls are pushed down the math/science route by parents where their aptitude lies elsewhere.

Frankly I think the school might do well to reduce the catchment area and by doing so take a wider range of ability and lose the super selective status. It might slide down the league tables but I think it would be a happier place.

Pushka2 Fri 14-Feb-14 11:30:15

In terms of sports, loads are done - hockey, netball, cricket, football, gymnastics, rounders, basketball, volleyball. Fixtures are regularly arranged throughout the seasons.

On the GCSE to A level pont, I don't think this is unusual at all. Sometimes people just reach the maximum of their ability level (or interest) at GCSE and just cannot make the same leap at A level. I was at school with several girls who all scored far higher grades than me at O level but just couldn't acheive the same at A level. Many of these did poorly or did not even complete their A levels. The jump from GCSE to A level is huge, hence why in many key subjects ie maths, the GCSE is done early in year 10 so work can start on the A/S work.

I agree on the pushed down the science/maths route by parents. Many of DD's classmates have said what they are going to be ie doctors, from year 7 and one of the mum's told me in year 7 exactly what her DD's year 9 options were going to be!!!

My experience hasn't been one of unhappiness, as I said, DD loves it. The teaching is mixed but overall really good. Would I send DD there again if I had a choice? Definitely yes. Is it the best school around with the best teachers etc? Probably not, but like all schools there are good and bad bits. Bit TGS definitely has way way more good bits than bad bits in my view and its the best school for DD. It may not be the right school for your DD and it certainly isn't for DD2, she won't be going there. As with considering all schools, keep and open mind and be prepared to be surprised.

For example, I visited LEH expecting to be blown away by it and absolutely love it but came away feeling disappointed and let down. It is a beautiful school with fantastic facilities and amazing resutls but there was something about it I didn't warm to and I can't put my finger on it. You may well visit TGS and come away with the same feeling. Keep an open mind and consider what's right for your DD (and I don't just mean in terms of academic considerations - personality and character, to me, have a big part to play in your decision making).

Shootingatpigeons Fri 14-Feb-14 15:18:46

Exactly pushka. It is all about where your DC will thrive, rather than where gets the best results or whatever. All the local schools will get a bright pupil the same A/A*s, but they will not be happy at all of them, or perhaps have the same opportunities to pursue a particular talent. The problem with schools at the top of perceived league tables or with a particular reputation, like SPGS, LEH and Tiffin some parents think they are the be all and end all, and do whatever they perceive it takes, even levels of tutoring that border on child abuse, to get there. The same applies for ultimate choice of career.

There really are alternatives where your DC may do better as an individual.

Reincarnatedpig Fri 14-Feb-14 16:26:18

I think on the plus side my daughter has had the opportunity to go on amazing trips - Classics, India, sports etc which we couldn't have afforded as a family. Although not all can afford them. She also didn't find her niche until year 11 or so when she developed a passion for the subject she will pursue at university. I think she would have gone in a different direction had she gone to our local comp.

I think it is an unashamedly intellectual school that goes beyond the National Curriculum. No one is teased for being a geek. DD went to a talk at a university in year 12 and she was assumed to be an undergraduate because of her knowledge and the questions she asked. If you have the ability to go to Oxford or Med School you have a very good chance of getting there from Tiffin. Sometimes I think DD doesn't realise how lucky she is - she thinks all schools are like that.

Music and Art at the school is also of a very high standard. It is certainly not just science orientated.

Schmedz Fri 14-Feb-14 17:19:05

Very good school for the right girl but imagine it would be pretty demoralising for those who scrape in.
Have a doctor friend who also treats many TGS students for stress and other issues. Sadly, this may also be happening at other London day schools because of the extreme pressure on our teens to achieve ever better results.
Worth applying anyway...such a small percentage of applicants actually get offered a place, you've got nothing to lose and plenty of time to think about whether you prefer somewhere else.

Reincarnatedpig Fri 14-Feb-14 18:56:13

Schmedz does your friend think the pressure of the school, parents or peers is to blame? Has s/he approached the school to discuss? Just wondering because the cases I know about seem to be hushed up by the school. My younger child's school are quite open about having access to CAHMS staff on site though it is a much bigger school.

Journeytolight Fri 14-Feb-14 19:33:47

Seems like it is quite a pressurised environment. Would a sporty but academic girl thrive there or not? Does the school pressurise girls to get A*s?

Schmedz Fri 14-Feb-14 20:44:28

Reincarnatedpig, she hasn't really expressed an opinion on where she feels the pressure comes from, but she has commented on the disproportionate numbers of girls from TGS who present with the particular problems.

There are, of course, many who thrive there...it is a worry how many are tutored to get in and then have to continue to keep up!

Despite the excellent music and drama provision, I was left cold by the open day when neither were really mentioned by the head or students who spoke. Seemed clear to me those pursuits are not widely valued there. They are super outlets for stress, too!!

Journeytolight Sat 15-Feb-14 09:06:11

Are staff kind or just want the girls to get as many A*s as they can?

Reincarnatedpig Sat 15-Feb-14 10:08:00

The school says it wants girls to do well to the best of their ability - however most are capable of A* in most subjects. The pressure is a combination of peer pressure (considerable), parents for many and the school.

Most of the teachers are kind. There are a couple who are not and my DD claims that teachers from one department would gather regularly to gossip and bitch in the girls' hearing.

I think the school is in quite a difficult situation. GCSEs are not terribly difficult exams and everyone should get an A at the least. However doing 10 or 11 subjects which must be at least 20-30 exams over quite a short period puts the girls under tremendous pressure as they can't afford to stop working or mess up an exam. In other schools an A or A* is celebrated as an achievement, in Tiffin Girls it is expected.

Reincarnatedpig Sat 15-Feb-14 10:15:11

Schmedz I disagree about the music. Many girls are involved and numerous concerts are held every term. They are an incredibly high standard.

There is always a lot of fuss around the annual drama production and I recall visiting the school to watch when my daughter did drama on a few occasions - she dropped it at the end of year 9.

They also make a bit deal of the annual art exhibitions and temporary exhibitions are often on display in the foyer and feature in the newsletters.

I think that possibly the audience on open evening are more interested in the number of girls going to medical school!

Journeytolight Sat 15-Feb-14 11:26:26

Thank you Reincarnated for clearing some things up. Very grateful. Is sport valued there? DD2 is v. sporty unlike DD1

Reincarnatedpig Sat 15-Feb-14 11:32:11

My dd is not sporty. There is full coverage of sports events in the half termly newsletter so I think it is valued. An old girl won an Olympic medal I think in rowing or sailing, and they were very proud of that. I think there are girls who do sport at county level if not higher but I suspect they are involved in sport outside school as well, rather than Tiffin Girls providing specialist coaching.

Journeytolight Sat 15-Feb-14 13:43:03

Thanks. So it's a good school overall. Reincarnated, would you send your DD there again if you had the chance?

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