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Anyone trying to decide between Peter Symonds and Barton Peveril??

(34 Posts)
Tansie Fri 11-Jul-14 15:39:01

Got the former's Open evening tonight. We saw BP about a month ago.

The snob in me 'wants' PS for DS; the realist errs towards BP as it's a lot closer to home and it appears at first sight that they want identical GCSE marks to do what seem to be the same Board 'A' levels.

Until this year, I think, PS insisted on General Studies A level as well which was an off-putter as BP successfully do an 'Extended Project' in the A2 year which has assisted DC into chosen universities; but now I understand PS do 'extension' instead of GS.

I am (beyond snobbery, grin - at least I admit it!) not hugely swayed by any 'You have to go to PS because 'it's the best''- because, as in all education, I ask 'best for whom?'. Discovering that blah blah %age of DC got blah blah result is all well and good, but you'd need to know where the DC were at, academically, when they started (i.e. PS intake is bound to be academically more able than BPs!); but the biggie for me is whether rumours I hear that PS is only really interested in its 'guaranteed Russell Group' DC are true?

I went to a GS many moons ago with a 6th form like that- really no interest on the 'solid performers' in the middle, and I don't want for DS to repeat that mistake.

Some state that having PS on your CV 'impresses', but I also wonder whether, just maybe, it could have the more recently reported and feared 'Private School background' effect where the 'impressee', as it were, thinks 'Well, I'd bloody well expect an A grade from there', but might regard a good grade from an 'unknown' Sixth Form more favourably? Just a thought! A mate has deliberately moved her DC from 'the leading' private' in -ahem- 'Oxbridge' to send them to the local, excellent (PS-esque) state Sixth Form in order to attempt to 'hide' the years of private when it comes to uni entry.

For the record, DS wants to do Maths, Physics, Chem and Geography and should get the grade necessary to enrol (i.e. should get a B in the sciences, but not an A*). Whilst ultimately it'll be his decision, I am pleased to see that although most of his Y11 cohort will be heading for PS, he's looking with interest at BP, but, at 15, relies in us to help him with the 'decision matrix'! Wish I'd been given better advice at 15 to do my A levels at the local Tech, not at the GS, because 'that's what everyone did'...!

TalkinPeace Fri 11-Jul-14 16:02:50

See you this evening then!

DD is going to PS in September.
I posted on a couple of threads about it when she was making her choice.
Snob value will not make a child happy.
From where we live our options were Brock, Tauntons, PS, BP
Tauntons is still not academically strong enough.
Brock ditto for sciences
BP : DD had been to loads of events there over the years and loathes the place
PS felt like home the second we walked in the gates.
Some of her best friends are going to BP as they prefer it, others to Brock, others to Tauntons for the music.
IMHO BP is still stronger for English and languages
but you HAVE to pick the one that "feels" right.

And BP get good numbers to top Unis as well - they just shout less loudly than the mob in Winohester grin

Tansie Fri 11-Jul-14 16:31:23

Yes, I know people get 'a thing' about BP- someone said they wouldn't consider it because it was next to Eastleigh College! Nasty Tech contaminating a 6th form! Which I did think a bit of an odd thing to say! But there you go, everyone has their own biases, I suppose grin.

TBH honest, I am beginning to think that PS will have to blow both us and DS away in order for the inconvenience of his getting there and back to outweigh the perceived 'benefits' but I will approach with an open mind. It's DS who has to spend 2 years there!

For the record, DS is neither sporty nor musical- I think these things can help form an 'in' into PS more than maybe at BP?

SugarPlumTree Fri 11-Jul-14 17:52:51

Please excuse me lurking here. I'm hanging around in case more snippets about Brock appear. We are over the border but some of the local children go there. The bus stops at the end of my drive and DD is interested in one of the courses they run.

lainiekazan Fri 11-Jul-14 18:12:08

ds is going to PS. Most of his friends are going, too. He goes to (well, has just left now) T.

A number of kids, however, after initially thumbing their nose at BP really liked it on the open day. They were much friendlier and the pastoral care seemed better. The building is very clean, bright and modern. PS looks a bit scruffy in comparison.

TeenAndTween Fri 11-Jul-14 21:09:11

I revisited PS last night, mainly to pick up the up to date prospectus. Much better impression than last October when it was dark and crowded.

I like the fact that compulsory General Studies has been dropped, I wasn't keen on it at all.

In the curriculum change presentation they showed a pie chart of average incoming GCSE grade profiles. 36% average around a B for their GCSEs, and 15% a C so it's not only for the A/A* students.

I would currently be happy for DD to choose either BP or PS. I think at the moment the preference is still for BP - a bit smaller and nicer feel, I think. It may be down to what syllabus they do for her preferred A levels, as 2 of them are on the changed in 2015 list so it's all a bit unclear still. tbh The 2013 results don't look significantly different between the two to me.

I may be wrong, but I get the impression BP has got a lot stronger in the past 10 years?

There's also the issue of friends. I've seen where all the PS busses come from. It would be just our luck for DD to make friends with people at the other end of the catchment!

TalkinPeace Fri 11-Jul-14 21:53:06

Brock is much broader than the colleges around Soton, because its the only option for many addresses
Kids from round here have gon there for specific reasons - particularly that they offer the IB
they also do more 'rural' stuff for kids who cannot physically get to sparsholt.
I've driven past and he kids look happy.
Kids I know who are there love it.

re the buses - if you get the pass, then they can make their own way to the other end of the catchment at the weekend!

as neither of mine are 2015 entry I did not worry too much about the changes, but am glad that gen stud is gone ...
and its a nice cynical move by the college to UP the average grade because there were lots of poor results in Gen Stud!

MissMillament Sat 12-Jul-14 16:52:45

Does Brock still offer the IB? We were told last year when we were looking for DD that they were dropping it because of low numbers enrolling. She chose to do A-level at Bay House in the end which was probably the right decision, although she liked the feel of BP better.

TalkinPeace Sat 12-Jul-14 18:13:52

Oh aye, they have dropped it. Friends who did it enjoyed it, but it was only suited to certain degrees (eg Law) so a tad niche for the New Forest.

doglover Sat 12-Jul-14 19:27:52

I've just spotted this thread and am reading avidly! Our dd is in Y10 at St Anne's in So'ton. We visited Richard Taunton college last year and really liked the friendly atmosphere and approachable staff. We'll visit Brock in Sept, too, but dd isn't too keen on meeting up with some of her primary school contemporaries. Nearly everyone around here attends Brock (southern New Forest) because PS and BP are pretty impossible to travel to.
My dd recently had a very positive experience at St Anne's sixth form taster day and is now seriously considering this as an option. She loves the school but we're slightly anxious about it's small size.
If anyone has any thoughts, I'd be very grateful.

doglover Sat 12-Jul-14 19:33:39

Sorry for thread hijack ................

TalkinPeace Sat 12-Jul-14 19:34:21

If she's academically bright she'll do better at StA than Tauntons.
Friends DD went from there to Oxbridge
my DD is friends with various girls there who seem to enjoy it.
and if she's already used to the travelling time, why not stay.

doglover Sat 12-Jul-14 19:51:42

Thanks, TP. Yes, she is academic - predicted mostly A grades. Her strengths are in English, History , RE and music so would be looking to take these subjects. We need to investigate the results in these areas - we know St Anne's is particularly strong in the sciences.

Thanks for your input.

Lemonsole Sun 13-Jul-14 17:23:58

Coming late here, but I can clarify that EP is an option at PS, and one that a lot of students take. 3-400 per year has enabled the college to build expertise in the qualification.

General Studies used to be as compulsory at BP as it was at PS - it tended to be in a lot of places, as it attracted the same funding as any other A Level, and colleges could cross-subsidise, as GS was cheaper to deliver. However, those days have gone, and so has compulsory GS.

Parents do talk a lot of guff: PS is as interested in the B/C students as it is the A students, and parents have higher Russell Group expectations than the staff do, I think.

Ultimately, your DC should go to the college that they most like the feel of, and where they like most the department of their chosen subjects.

TalkinPeace Sun 13-Jul-14 17:30:01

but OP is in the Forest
so is on the bus boundary
if StA works go for it
all else is stress

SugarPlumTree Sun 13-Jul-14 18:50:38

Thank you for the info, very helpful.

TeenAndTween Sun 13-Jul-14 18:50:48

Lemonsole Although I don't disagree with the facts you have stated, I would like to say a couple of things.

PS has only just dropped the GS being mandatory. It is listed as mandatory in the 2014 prospectus, but not the 2015 one. So PS has been later than BP in dropping it. I have no idea when BP dropped it as we only started looking this year.

The 'word on the street' is that to go to PS you need to be more academic. From the presentation I saw on Thursday, this is clearly not the case (see the stats I posted earlier). But I think maybe in the recent past PS has not done as much as it could do to counter the general view. tbh I think the stats I saw at the presentation could have usefully gone into the prospectus itself.

Anyway, I'm just very grateful to live in an area that gives my DD such a wide choice of good options for after secondary.

Tansie Sun 13-Jul-14 19:51:11

Well, we went to the Open evening at PS; and DS is currently favouring BP. He knows he's not an A- A* student and will need some help and encouragement and felt the BP Open Evening was more reassuring that his needs would be better met. He was a bit put off by the endless Oxbridge/Russell Group thread that ran through the evening, I think! He also asked me why everything was pie-charted except the assertion that 'PS gets better results from all its ability intake than you would expect'; and spotted that the results of PS compared with every other Sixth Form in Hants might be expected to be better at A level as a percentage if they only really offer A levels along with strict entry requirements, as opposed to BP which has a far wider range of intake and offers a wider range of non-A level subjects. I guess, having been at Th for so long he has become wise to the careful presentation of statistics when used to big up an educational institute grin!

Also, I think we all found BP to be newer, cleaner and better presented. PS felt really rather like the GS I went to in 1973!

Added to this was lunch I did with a bunch of Winchester mums who I know well, the following day- I asked where the 'less able' DC went in Winch- and they said 'They have to struggle their way through PS as best as they can!'... but I readily concede that if BP wasn't 3 miles away and easy to get to, whereas PS is 8 miles away on a bit of a convoluted bus route, we'd be like the Winch parents, going 'No contest'. Many of my friends can see PS from their homes so would hardly be going into the minutiae of micro-comparisons with, say, BP! I get that.

Admittedly, all the DC I know who have gone to PS have either been really sporty, or '13 GCSE clever' (practically all girls, too!)- I don't know any middle-of-the-roaders to compare with DS.

So- we've said we'll revisit both in autumn when it's becoming clearer how his GCSEs are going. DS has agreed to keep as open a mind as possible and will talk to the guys at school in the meantime.

Thanks to everyone for their input.

TalkinPeace Sun 13-Jul-14 21:46:53

the thing to hold in your head is how effing lucky we are round here to have several top class academic 6th form colleges as well as a range of vocational colleges, all with buses, none with fees or faffy entrance criteria.

Chat to friends in London and FEEL the luck of where we live!

PS is better for sciences
BP is better for arts / languages
Tauntons is finding a niche in music
Sparsholt is best for rural
City College is world beating for maritime
none of the others will let your child down

go where makes your DS happy
as then he will get the best results for him

doglover Sun 13-Jul-14 22:28:17

Sound advice, TP. It's great to hear other parents' views.

BeatriceBean Sun 13-Jul-14 22:33:55

I used to teach at both! I liked both for different reasons. My knowledge will be out of date now, but certainly for my subject BP was better. Smaller classes, less exam-factory like, more experienced teachers. However there was probably a broader mix of students at BP - the A grade students got As at either.

I really did like both, but got the impression PS likes to flaunt its reputation a bit and pastoral care was better at BP. Both had lovely teachers, I'd certainly recommend visiting the departments of the subjects you'd want to do at open evening at both, meeting some of the teachers in the department, get a feel for the place. It will vary across departments.

I don't think you'd go too far wrong with either, and would certainly consider distance/travelling.

BeatriceBean Sun 13-Jul-14 22:35:01

And yes, where I am now the "good" choices are 6th forms that are part of schools. The college is more vocational. Hampshire is v.lucky to have exceptional colleges with dedicated A level teachers.

EBearhug Sun 13-Jul-14 22:40:42

My cousin's going for BP, but that's partly because of her subject mix, so her decision isn't necessarily right for everyone else.

(So that's helpful. :-) )

mumsolo Mon 14-Jul-14 09:35:24


My child is in year 10 at the moment and I have recently gone to PS with him, having already visited BP which is closer. I was born in London and spent all but the last 5 years there. I still have many friends there and I find it very interesting living here and the 'localism' that prevails. There is a pre-conceived idea that if you live in Winchester that equates to wealth and great education. Eastleigh is for those 'lesser mortals'. This myth is perpetuated by those in Winchester and those outside who haven't looked at the fine details. My son is above average, looking to do maths, physics and computing at college, has already decided he prefers BP. Yes he is academic but he also has a clear idea of a career and it may not involve going to University or a RG University. I wasn't sure if he preferred BP because there was some comfort in that most of his friends were going, he can cycle there himself or that his understanding that there is a 'drugs problem' in PS. Working in Winchester and having had contact with PS students, I thought for his subjects that PS would be better. Everything I had read and from students I had spoken to, still made me lean towards PS. However, having gone there, I am not convinced for my child that it is right. The facilities did not overwhelm me and with the number of students set to increase from 3k to 4k, I am also not convinced. The other important thing to note are the changes to the curriculum with some subjects going from modular to linear and also at different times. For example from 2015, maths will become linear (exams all at the end of AS year) whilst Physics remaining modular for 2 years. The curriculum on offer at PS is quite limited and clearly just academic. I was also unconvinced by the computing course - if you compare the college brochure descriptions, you may feel like me that the BP write up is more inviting. The parents on the evening seemed to possess that single minded look of determination that also struck me as snobbery (that is just a view, not fact). No, I came away thinking that my child was more likely to do well where he felt more comfortable. BP felt more modern, a lighter airier feel, more welcoming to students. Certainly their computing suite was great and the other subjects both academic or otherwise that children can enjoy. We need artists, drama teachers, musicians, computer scientists as well as doctors, lawyers or bankers. The fact is that from GCSE to A L'evel there is a massive shift in how students manage learning and they will have to put the effort in regardless. I will visit both again and do taster days but, and I know it is difficult for mums like us to accept, our children are becoming more independent and have to start making those independent choices!!

lainiekazan Mon 14-Jul-14 11:46:04

The fact of the matter is that from T there is rather a divide of those who are academic are going to PS, those less so to BP. At his taster day at PS, ds was impressed with the standard of his peers and enjoyed the lively discussion in the history class.

BP are doing a great PR job and their presentation at the school was far superior, according to ds. It is also attractive to dc from round here who have a bike (ds can't ride one - epic parental fail blush ).

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