Shrewsbury High School(25 Posts)
I am not a huge fan of school league tables but when searching for a suitable school for ones precious daughter they do seem to help in the decision making process.
Whilst studying the tables recently I was surprised by the very significant fall in Shrewsbury High Schools GCSE and A level results. Whilst I wasn't intending to single out the High School it was difficult to ignore the statistics when set amongst its peers, the figures just jump out at you.
In 2014 Shrewsbury High School was nationally ranked a credible 63rd in the independent schools A level tables. This year it has shockingly fallen to 171st with the A* and A grades dropping from 61% to 46%.
By way of comparison Concord College has fallen from 9th to 13th with A* and A grades dropping from 80% to 79% which are impressive figures.
Having studied the GCSE results for the same period the High School has fallen from 144th to 178th with A* grades falling from 29% to 25%. During the same period Moreton Hall has risen from 152nd to 97th with A* grades rising from 29% to 40%.
So this is obviously not an issue with a single year group which I understand can happen from time to time. Contrastingly if you look at the High School website it all appears rosy, which I suppose is to be expected as they are in competition with other Shropshire schools.
So can anyone shed some light as to why things appear to be going awry at the High School. I am told it used to be the best school in the area and I would welcome some feedback before making such an important decision.
I have also looked at Shrewsbury School which is in another league in so many ways, including the dreaded fees!!! They seem to be going from strength to strength with best ever results. I just wish I could afford it! Do they ever offer any reductions?
Adcote is excellent but is it just too small? Moreton is a distance away but looking more attractive, and Concord, amazing results but would we get in?
Any advice please?
Maybe it has become more inclusive and is offering an education that is about more than number of A* results?
Thank you meloncoley2, I absolutely understand the concept of inclusivity and believe Moreton Hall and Ellesmere, amongst others, have been following it for years with increasingly positive results. What has happened at Shrewsbury High to cause it to go backwards so rapidly? The fact is that the best universities are insisting on the best possible results even to be considered for a place. We all want the best opportunities for our children in this increasingly competitive world and so long as that remains the case I'm afraid it is all about the results. A 'rounded education' alone will unfortunately not cut the mustard!
Shrewsbury School is on the up I think and yes the fees are steep even the day fees but it is six days a week and the pupils stay longer each day. Look on their website they do offer reductions that can be quite generous I believe. I think a while ago the two schools were close but there seems to have been a parting of the ways of late. I know people with children at both and they all seem happy enough. By the way Concord College is highly academic and an international school so it will be considerably different.
Thank you Overseasmum, very useful advice and I will explore the feasibility of Shrewsbury School. I would love DD to go there. I suppose the temptation of the High School was its fees but they have risen considerably of late. The academic side of the school is obviously suffering and it seems solely focussed on sports awards! What if your children aren't sporty? I did also meet the head and I wasn't impressed, he seemed insincere and unable to give a straight answer to things I felt were important. As with everything in life you get what you pay for! I don't want to regret my choice and if it means we struggle a little more then so be it! I will still visit Concord and see how it feels
Shrewsbury High School was once the best performing school in the area with an enviable reputation. Having had close links to this and other local schools for many years I am well placed to comment but find the current situation very distressing. Anyone connected to the school can see what is happening but no one seems able or willing to intervene.
Firstly Shropshire is a small county in terms of population and each school has to compete for the very same students. Money is increasingly an issue for most parents and other schools are simply offering something better.
Single sex education is no longer as popular as it once was and is shrinking back year on year, and the fact remains that many mums aren't happy with a male head in an all girl environment. This after all rather contradicts the schools (and Gdst's) ethos of promoting women in the workplace and sets a very poor example.
The local state sector is excellent (and free!) and parents are increasingly aware that this route can be advantageous when seeking places at top universities which have quotas to fill for state candidates. Thus the grammar schools at Newport and Telford gobble up many of the best pupils.
Standards at the High School have diminished, this has been commented upon locally in terms of pupil behaviour in and out of school and is now manifesting itself in exam results. Having already lost many of the most academically able girls to its rivals the High School is trying to reinvent itself, not an easy job and this is becoming messy. The falling standards have caused many members of staff to ask searching questions, the uncompromising management style mean staff who challenge its methods are dealt with ruthlessly. I know of at least 3 senior staff who have left in the last year, all good 'women in the workplace' who could stand it no longer and many ask how the management gets away with it. Governorship is weak and ineffectual, trust is gone, staff are set against one another and this may explain to you why they make their excuses when confronted. Not the healthiest environment for educating children, and if you're looking for a straight answer? Forget it. I know of parents who have waited months. If this is the future of education then I despair.
Standards at rival schools are on the up as you have also noticed. Don't forget about Wrekin College which is mixed sex and very good. You have highlighted Moreton and Concord, both excellent but very different places. Please go and see Adcote and meet the staff, I'm sure you will be impressed. Shrewsbury School has formidable facilities including flexi boarding for day students. It now takes girls from age 13 and attracts the brightest students, see the registrar as I'm told the discounts can be considerable and they are keen to recruit more girls from the local area.
Lastly, you mentioned 'rosy websites'. The High School is part of the Gdst group of schools and as such has access to their vast marketing network. Their website should therefore be good as a fair proportion of the fees are spent on it, but do remember that the website is just fancy wrapping. It's what's inside that matters.
So follow your instincts and aim high with your DD but remember that happiness is the key, if she is happy at school she will thrive. League tables are a good barometer of how well any school is performing so don't feel guilty about using them. Go and visit and meet the heads at all the other schools and talk to pupils, let you DD visit for a day or two and see how she feels about them!
And jolly good luck!
Thank you AndreaJ for your very informative and frank reply. I knew things were amiss as soon as I walked through the door and this was confirmed once I'd met the head. You are so right about following your instincts!
One thing I heard over the weekend was that the school was being allowed to fail to enable it to qualify for academy status, this would certainly explain the push towards sports. Apparently the gdst has done this previously at two of their schools on Merseyside.
Have some visits lined up for this week so moving forwards.
I am not sure of the age of your daughter but if the pre-prep or prep both my sons have attended the high from nursery , the eldest left this year . The school is excellent , the teachers are amazing ! Hope she is happy with which school you pick . My eldest is not sporty at all but still mostly enjoy matches and games . Hope this helpful .
I am completely confused by the previous messages about SHS results. I was under the impression that is No 1 in the county for GCSE results, so I thought it was still deemed to be an excellent school ( it certainly was when I was young). I am totally torn now as I have been stressing over which school to send my daughter to for some time and need to make a decision in the next couple of weeks. When I've asked respected teachers what they think of single sex schools I've been told that girls flourish up to the age of 16 in all girl groups, however part of me wonders if this is a healthy option. Does anyone have any experience of Wrekin college? I've heard the results aren't as good and it is more expensive, but might it be a better choice? I would really appreciate anyone's thoughts on the matter - I've been having sleepless nights for weeks and just can't seem to make a decision!! Thanks in anticipation for any reply.
It all depends what you want in the education charlie; the local state schools and college are excellent and shs lose pupils to sixth form due to lack or choice of subjects and the applications process for universities now
Wrekin is well thought of but if you're Shrewsbury side of county a hassle to get to, and local schools there not as good so there are more locals in attendance
Shrewsbury school is a different league, but if you're local and child exceptional you may be able to gain assistance which may bring it more in line with Wrekin fees
Concord was always more international, not sure if still case
Thanks Newballs for your advice. Actually we are closer to Wrekin than Shrewsbury but I've looked at the Shrewsbury school and it is out of our league financially, even with a discount as we have more than one daughter.
Basically, we had whittled it down to either Wrekin or SHS. I had always wanted my daughters to go to SHS but having been around Wrekin and met the staff really like that too. However although SHS is cheaper, I obviously don't want to ignore the comments made above. A few more sleepless nights I think!
If its any help we are also considering SHS for our daughter for secondary school. I went to an all girls school myself and still believe they are the best option for girls. Over the last 20 years boys schools have increasingly gone Co-ed to increase their catchment and to improve their results. So SHS is also competing with Shrewsbury School now. The latter costs double(?) SHS so I think you really have to get something special for your money. When I was 16 I wanted to go to my brother's school which had gone co-ed. My brother's housemaster took my parents to one side and said basically the girls were only their for the 'boys' entertainment'. As you can imagine that was the end of that idea... Girls sport certainly played 2nd fiddle to the boys and if you are paying all that money I rather not be playing second fiddle to anyone ;-). When the time comes we will also consider Concord College and possible Moreton Hall as the results of the latter seem to be on the up. Hope this helps.
Dear CharieFarlie4, this is indeed very confusing because of the measure used by the Shropshire Star. In a nutshell the High school really should not feature at all in the Shropshire Star tables as it is an independent school and should be measured against its independent peers such as Shrewsbury, Concord, Ellesmere etc. These schools also study EBacc and IB curriculums which cloud things even further. If you refer to the independent schools league tables the High School does not fare as well and has fallen considerably of late. This is because independent schools normally use A* to B as a measure while for most state schools the measure is A* to C.
Understandably the High School would wish to be featured in the Shropshire Star league tables as it does make them look good in a 'big fish small pond' scenario. Put them in the big pond and it's not so rosy!
If you are the Telford side of Shrewsbury I'm sure you will have looked at Newport Girls High School which scored 100% in GCSE results but because of council boundaries feature in another league table, as does Thomas Telford and Adams. These are all excellent selective state grammar schools which are free! Wrekin is a very good school and very inclusive. Old Hall prep on the same site has an excellent headmaster and other than recent uncertainties over the position of the senior head I have only heard good things. I fully understand your dilemma of whether to opt for co-ed or all girls as the research and conclusions differ on a weekly basis. So much depends on the individual child but one factor that is vitally important is emotional well being. It is unfortunate that in many all girl environments we are hearing of a significant growth in eating disorders and other more serious problems which is very worrying. Co-ed is not without its problems but things have moved on in the last 20 years and this is surely a more natural environment in which to educate our children. I agree that many of the old boys' school's academic results have benefitted from the influx of girls, but why not? The sporting, music and many other opportunities at schools such as Shrewsbury are now to the benefit of many girls.
I do hope you are eventually able to choose a school where your daughters will thrive and be happy, I remember too well the sleepless nights!
I have just joined mumsnet in order to contribute to this thread as I felt so strongly about wanting to provide a balance.
I moved my daughter SHS due to her unhappiness and frustration in her state school. She is a completely different girl since moving and said to me the other day, "I didn't realise I was so unhappy until I knew what it was possibleto be so happy at school". To be that has makes it all worth while. I need to add that I had to make her go and look at the school, she was adamant that she didn't want to go to a single sex school. She ended up with scholarship and bursary offers from all 4 schools she looked at, but plumped for SHS. Personally I felt their view of offering her the chance to reach her potential in all areas of life rather than the pressure of being an A* machine for league tables (in order to maintain the scholarships etc) was much more healthy.
I am sure my daughter could acheive excellent results where ever she was at school, but she is now very happy, not always top of the class and daring to join clubs do take part in school life. I couldn't be happier with SHS, and more importantly nor could she.
As a side comment I have friends or are unhappy with the other 2 all girls schools locally and are either "riding out" the last year or have moved them (to SHS!)
It seems to me that there are some happy people on this thread in terms of the choices they have made which is good to see. I know many people like single sex schools but they are not our first choice. I did hear that many current Year 11 pupils at SHS were offered large bursaries to stay on for sixth form rather than go elsewhere but this could just be hearsay and scaremongering a little like the apparent downtrodden bored girls at Shrewsbury School who spend their time entertaining boys. Could we get a bursary for that I wonder. But seriously I am glad your children are happy. We are yet to make our choice and we haven't ruled any out yet.
Bashstreetmum, having endured 11years of an all girls boarding school myself, the last thing I felt comfortable about was all girls for my daughter, or the independent sector! However, she had done until 14 in the state sector, co-ed, and I encouraged her to look at a day school to compare and contrast. In the end the decision was left to her as it was all about her getting confidence and herself back. I think she has shocked herself! I must admit I found the whole process rather scary and it brought up some uncomfortable feelings from my past and my own prejudices.....nightmares of packing trunks etc! But, I had to put that to one side, she is not me and not going off to board at 8 years old clearly identified as a "foudationer" (read "free place for clergy orphan" coming from a different side of the tracks to most other peers). It is great to see her happy, I just have to desensitise myself now!
I guess we may look to our own school experiences when trying to figure out what's best for our children and we have to keep in mind that they are not us. I will also go with what my DCs want and hope for the best. They are going after coed at the moment so we shall see.
Thanks Andrea and everyone for continuing the discussion. I did consider the grammars and my daughter did sit the exam but didn't get high enough mark - surprising as she has won academic awards at the other schools (may possibly had something to do with hating Wolverhampton girls high when she looked round it), and i do think that she would get good results whichever school she goes to as she is a real grafter, however it's the confidence and self belief that you get from the independent school which I'm most interested in - saying that I want my girls to be grounded and not self important, but I think that probably comes from home life.
Sorry to come in right at the end of this discussion. I have had a fair amount of experience with SHS and my daughter is in the senior school. I feel a little disloyal saying this but I'm afraid we feel that we have made a mistake sending her here. The school, despite their claims to be top of the rankings are not doing as well with their GCSE's and A'Levels as most of the other independent schools in their area. The results have taken a dive since the new headmaster came in. The headmaster apparently has a huge marketing budget and spends a great deal of time putting across the right image of the school - I expect you've seen this for yourself on the website. Unfortunately we feel that he simply isn't delivering anything like the product he markets so well.
There also continues to be quite a bit of unsettled behaviour there amongst the girls - quite a number are due to leave my daughter's year this September because of this. We are now also considering whether to to remove our daughter but we are at a loss as to where to!
I think you're wise to consider this next step carefully, we were sold on their marketing spiel and wish we had looked at other schools more carefully!
I have heard that SHS might be looking for academy status - is this why they are dumbing things down?
I have children at the top and bottom of the school.The education is rigorous and they are definitely pushed.Mine are in the top sets and are pretty academic .There are a lot of girls who aren't academic at the school.Its really not a terribly selective school.The results will go up and down depending on the annual cohort.Its a little strange blaming the Headmaster for unsettled girls not wanting to work.
There are lots of posters here suspiciously knowledgeable about schools in Shropshire and education who also appear to have a Vendetta against the Headmaster.I've rarely seen any other threads criticising any schools Headmaster so frequently.It's a little strange .
Those comments made by getoffthattablenow have made me really upset.who are you I wonder???? Defending the indefensible and suggesting bad things.how suspicious!!!eHow nice for you if your girls are academics and doing so well.you obviously don't give a fig for the girls who are not so fortunate but how could you blame falling standards on the girls its just nasty and unforgivable.people choose this school because it promised good things with all the girls but now it seems just puts effort on the ones that make the school look good.Good for you if you're happy I hope your girls do well but have thought for the ones failing their gcses.hey guess what everyone pays the same fees but some are getting value and some aren't.where else do you blame the customer when things go wrong?Open your eyes,talk to other parents,girls are leavingAnd where's that inspection report that should have been out months ago,are not you worried?whats the point of an inspection if it's hidden.I think it reflects badly and instead making boasts of how good things are from an old report,getting rid of the good staff and some others are just leaving,look at all the vacancies?this is NOT the teachers fault,When the school is getting bad the person at the top should take the blame,Or do you think I,m being unfair,perhaps YOUthink its the girls fault?YOU need to THINK before you say offending things about other girls like that.sorry for the tone but I am upset by you
Hello Helena, thanks for your openness and honesty regarding SHS. I have come to the conclusion now that I won't be sending my girls there. Instead they will go to Wrekin as it has a lovely warm, homely feeling about it and all the pupils seem to be very happy there (Helena - please do go and have a look round, I think you'd be impressed). Thank you everyone for your comments, they have really helped me come to a decision.
Saloplass you have only ever posted on SHS threads which makes you very suspicious.As is the case for most on this thread.If you search my user name I've posted on a multitude of threads so please don't insinuate I am an interloper.
Charliefarlie I liked Wrekin when I looked around too.The headmaster and staff appeared very down to earth and the school a happy one.They have a taster day coming up in March,which is a useful way of seeing whether your child likes the school.
The inspection report is now available for public view on the ISC website. There appear to be no suspicious reasons for the delay. Nearly all areas are rated excellent. The only areas requiring improvement are the teaching of the more able children, ensuring all marking follows the school's guidelines and the curriculum to ensure a smooth transition from the prep to senior school.
I was a bit taken aback by the aggressive response to getoffthattabletnow's post. I share her views that results will fluctuate depending on the cohort and I only posted on here to provide a balance to comments that appeared driven by a want to criticise the head. Interestingly both governance and leadership are rated as excellent, and the group that Saloplass feared the school focus their attention on are the one group the inspectors did not think were getting enough.
Thankfully the report is now available for all to read and make their own judgements. Making a choice about your child's education is huge; there is now independent information available.
Thanks to everyone who posted on this thread, it's been an education (forgive the pun!) and after so much time spent looking at all the fantastic schools we feel privileged to have such a choice on our doorstep. It's mentioned that Shropshire schools compete for the same students and this really becomes evident once you settle down to negotiating fees. We have listened to all of the very helpful advice, thanks again, and spoken to as many parents and students as possible. Shrewsbury School was amazing but we were just unable to make the sums work. We heard only good things about Wrekin College which I'm pleased to say was our choice. It really does tick all the boxes.
But back to my original question about GCSE and A level results. It's becoming more obvious why the High School is suffering and I'm shocked at what's going on. The actual results contradict what the school was and still is claiming on its website which is very troubling. Recently describing itself as 'Nationally the best performing school at GCSE'. Please???? I just checked again to be sure and they are still 178th in the independent school charts and way below some Shropshire state schools. I really dislike this sort of spin and wonder how they get away with making such outrageous claims. I was recently told that the removal of more experienced teachers may be to plug a financial black hole and that some subjects are being dropped so there's a lot going on! For me their marketing is questionable and that's what really put us (and others) off. Aggressive and short termist it reflects badly on the school and unsurprisingly some girls are fleeing to local rivals. The recent inspection should be taken with a pinch of salt, a delay always means trouble. I'll view this years results with added interest.
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