Does anyone know much about Shiplake school? I've heard that it has a reputation of 'rich but thick.' My DS is bright and so far seems that he will be fine with the 11+. There are grammar schools near us and he should get in there. However, there was just something about Shiplake that we (DS included) loved. The location, facilities, class sizes and opportunities seem fantastic. DS is very sporty and is mad about cricket which is very big there. On a negative, their GCSE & A-level results are overall far lower than the grammar schools. Would I be doing my DS a disservice if he went there and wasn't academically pushed to reach his potential even though it's the sporting facilities which he is most interested in? Or should he go to a grammar if he gets a place and be among a few hundred other very academic boys where they are pushed much harder due to the competitive environment. He is likely to go from being one of the brightest to probably middle ground and feel like he's constantly under pressure to do well.
Personally, I'd either take the grammar option or find an independent with academics more in line with DS capabilities. You have many choices if looking at independents, it's not a choice between a 'hot house' or Shiplake surely. Another consideration also is, unless ds is planning on becoming a footballer, I will not choose football pitches over academics.
If he gets into Reading boys you should definitely take the place. It is a fantastic school. Shiplake.......less so. Check out the exam results. There is a reason for their reputation! It does, however, have a 'happy' feel to the place and there is no doubt that they are very successful on the sports fields.
In my experience, the teaching is decent (though not brilliant....it still has its fair share of teachers who would not survive in a comprehensive. And that includes the head) and they work the students hard. The SEN support is great and lots of subjects stream.
Still, the grounds are gorgeous and the food is good!
Thank you for this. We are actually in the Wycombe area and are in catchment for the RGS but DS isn't so sure about it. It would certainly make life easier in terms of logistics plus I have another DS who isn't too far behind. I don't know if DS2 would be suited to grammar though. I've started looking at Reading Blue Coats. Does anyone have experience of that one?
I have a couple of friends with boys at Blue coats and they sing its praises at every opportunity. One is on a scholarship as he's a really bright boy. We looked at it for ds2 (we can't afford it personally but have a trust provided by my grandparents that can only be spent on education, which would cover fees), as we live not far from blue coats, however ds2 passed the 11+ and got into reading boys.
I really liked the feel of bluecoats and the staff were friendly and answered lots of questions.
I'd suggest he tries John Hampden if you're in Wycombe. Loads of DS's friends went there inc his best friend who had some problems and received fantastic support.
(DS went to Borlase and loathed it as did a lot of people from what I can gather)
If you would consider weekly boarding Reading is still a possibility. Very good for sporty boys as well of course the academics.
I meant Reading boys' grammar (state boarding).
I know several families with boys at Shiplake. They are VERY un-snobby people, and they are extremely happy with the school. One in particular feels that her son has tried so many things that he never would have thought of doing elsewhere (drama, art A level, etc) and has become a very confident and happy person because of all the opportunities and support he got at Shiplake. He is very very good at maths and science, but dyslexic, so not particularly good with languages and essay writing; he is certainly not "rich but thick", by any stretch of the imagination.
I have been struck by how much fun the boys have, and also by how in year 7 and 8 the goal of the school truly is to make learning exciting and enticing for the kids. Many school are already focused only on exam results, which I think is sad.
Bluecoats would be a lovely alternative to grammar. To be honest, if these are your three choices you're in a pretty lucky position. It is slightly more academic than Shiplake, but also works very well with SEN kids. The only staff I know there have left.....but they speak highly.
Thanks everyone. I don't remember schooling being such a difficult choice for my parents when I was younger. It's a bit of a minefield now.. So much to weigh up and hopefully we'll make the best decision.
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