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Solihull schools

(33 Posts)
depp1020 Mon 04-Jul-16 18:57:26

Hello, looking for some advice. My husband and I are considering sending our daughter to Solihull School (7-18) in Year 3 but are not sure where to send her for KS1 (and nursery). We are renting in Solihull with a view to buying so still have options as to where to send her initially. I've looked at several, but not all, primary and infant schools near the town as this is where we would prefer to live but can't seem to find a school that I like. Does anyone have any recommendations? Also, for anybody who has sent their DC to a primary school knowing that they will take them out at the end of KS1 - what impact, if any, did this have on DC and how did they cope with the move?

Many thanks for any responses.

Dancingdreamer Mon 04-Jul-16 23:32:26

Eversfield is the main prep school that feeds into Solihull School. If you are looking for state school then generally St Alphege has a large cohort that go into Solihull both at 7 and at later dates. Most schools in Solihull have separate infant and juniors so moving at end of KS1 is not so difficult.

However if I had a DD I would seriously look at St Martin's. Fabulous school with exceptional pastoral care. PM if you would like more info.

depp1020 Tue 05-Jul-16 08:16:48

Thanks Dancingdreamer, will PM you when the little monkey is having a nap.

CodewordRochambeau Sat 09-Jul-16 00:44:18

In addition to Eversfield, the other pre-prep option is Ruckleigh but I don't know much about it.

What are you looking for in a state school? St Alphege infants is a lovely, outstanding school but it has an overt faith ethos which is not for everyone, and you would ideally need your DC to be baptised and meet the church attendance requirements to be sure of a place.

I've heard good things about St Martin's too, and your DD could attend from 3.

depp1020 Sat 09-Jul-16 08:09:15

Thanks Codeword. I have visited the schools you mention.

I seriously would not send DD to Ruckleigh if someone paid me. It was the antithesis of the type of school I am looking for. The experience left me feeling quite depressed and I only learned afterwards that the school hothouses its pupils - a term I hadn't even come across before.

My experience of visiting St Martin's has been very positive - lovely ethos, nurturing, friendly staff and lovely facilities. I think my issue is that the girls seemed to be in a bit of a bubble. Also, I am not really keen on SSS and worry about the type of behaviour girls can sometimes display. I think boys tend to be more straight forward and sort things out without the need for manipulative behaviour, and therefore create a balance.

I'm afraid my experience of St Alphege was not hugely positive but I appreciate this was only during an open morning. I generally get a vibe about a school and it didn't really do much for me, although I have heard it's popular.

The state schools that I really like are Berkswell and George Fentham but we haven't found a house we like in the catchment areas (there hasn't been a huge amount of choice recently TBF). Also, we would much prefer to live near Solihull town and settle down without having to move again.

If you have any positive, or negative, comments about St Martin's then I would be grateful for your input as I think this may end up being the school we choose. But I am going to revisit Oak Cottage as well. Also, do you have any experience of Solihull School? There were some allegations of misconduct and unsavoury behaviour from another poster which has concerned me.

Many thanks.

CodewordRochambeau Sat 09-Jul-16 08:55:18

I'm afraid I don't have any more specific insight into St Martins beyond a general sense that echoes Dancing's comments. I get the impression that it perhaps isn't quite as academic at the very top end as Solihull, or the Birmingham options (King Edward etc).

The only insight I have for Solihull (and I'm afraid it's pretty tenuous) is via some friends who have a DS at Eversfield, where he is very happy. The father of the family himself went to Solihull but had a pretty miserable time there. We're talking the Nineties here but they visited and said they didn't feel it had changed enough. They therefore took the decision not to transfer their DS to Solihull in juniors and are planning to send him to Warwick once he's old enough to get the train - a fairly popular option but sadly no good for you if you have a DD.

On a related note as you have a DD, worth remembering that Solihull has almost twice as many boys as girls. No idea how this affects the culture.

depp1020 Sat 09-Jul-16 10:43:24

Thanks for your insights Codeword. Yes I think that as Solihull School has only in recent times become co-ed, boys still outnumber girls but not sure about exact numbers - a question definitely worth asking during their next open morning. As we don't know anyone who sends their children to Solihull and are fairly new to the area, we don't have much in the way of real insights into the school.

The only bit of information we have gained is during a property viewing with the vendors. They sent their 'confident' daughter to Solihull and their 'shy' daughter to St Martin's. They were going to move their younger daughter from St Martin's once she finished her GCSEs, due to the 'bitchiness' she was experiencing, and also put her into Solihull as they were much more impressed with it (and the lack of 'bitchiness' I suspect). Having experienced Solihull, they seemed confident that the younger daughter would thrive there as well. Again, just one family's experience.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond. Hoping to get some more insights into Solihull. May start a separate thread.

CodewordRochambeau Sat 09-Jul-16 10:59:33

The 2011 ISI report has the numbers at 629 boys, 365 girls. No idea how that is distributed throughout the school and that was of course five years ago.

depp1020 Sat 09-Jul-16 11:51:58

Thanks Codeword. I will be going to the next open day in September armed, no doubt, with lots more questions. Enjoy your weekend.

Dancingdreamer Sat 09-Jul-16 18:50:00

Just to set the record straight on acadmics. Solihull heavily selects just like the King Edwards Schools. Solihull also tells kids to leave if they are not reaching its academic standards? I know that this means loads of the kids are heavily tutored at Solihull or they get kicked out.

St Martin's don't heavily select and they don't throw kids out. This means acadmically it is mixed but bright girls are well supported. St Martin's is in the top 1% of schools for academic added value. On average they add at least a grade at GCSE compared to what girls are expected to achieve when they enter the school. Lots come out with A*s and As who would never have achieved this in other schools.

Yes there can be bitchiness but sadly that is typical of girls and I know of that happening at Solihull too amongst the girls. I certainly hear about more bullying amongst girls at Solihull than at St Martin's.

I do agree however that St Martin's is a bubble sometimes and a very confident girl may find the place a bit restrictive. As they get older, it certainly doesn't have the same party culture that Solihull has.

depp1020 Sat 09-Jul-16 22:05:06

Thank you Dancingdreamer. It is very impressive that St Martin's is in the top 1% for value added. Is there a website that provides similar information for all schools as it would be interesting to compare results?

Solihull must put a lot of pressure on their pupils if they know there is a real chance they will be asked to leave if they do not meet academic standards. Is this at the usual transition points - Year 6 and Year 11 - or at any point during their time at Solihull? If pupils are being tutored outside of school then surely their parents are paying twice. Also, as Solihull academically selects their pupils then surely the pupils have proven their ability and shouldn't be finding it difficult to reach the expected standards - unless the teaching at the school is not of a good standard.

Dancingdreamer, can you elaborate on the party culture at Solihull? Not sure what you mean.

Many thanks.

senua Sat 09-Jul-16 22:42:36

send him to Warwick once he's old enough to get the train - a fairly popular option but sadly no good for you if you have a DD.

I beg to differ. A girl can't go to Warwick but she can go to the sister school, Kings High.
I don't know much about Solihull schools but DS used to play sport and therefore we came across several midlands schools. The pupils from some schools, mentioning no names, just came across with a nasty vibe.
St Martins seems quite small.

Please research the HS2 route before buying.

Dancingdreamer Sat 09-Jul-16 22:56:05

The main pressure at Solihull comes in J3 (year 5) when kids are told if they are to get an automatic pass into seniors. I know of at least 2 DCs who were told that they may not get an automatic pass. The school then advised the parents to get tutors to help the children.

Then like many schools you need to get certain grades at GCSE to progress to 6th form. Interestingly, these grades were higher than some schools well above Solihull in the league tables were asking for! Most worryingly, they have also started to refuse transfer from upper to lower VIth unless the kids get good enough grades at the end of lower VIth. This has left some kids scrabbling to find a place where they can finish their ALevels or having to restart courses again.

As for party culture. One of the good things about the school is that the kids have a great social life together. There are lots of parties starting quite early in seniors. Be prepared though that this does mean early consumption of alcohol and all the attractions of the opposite sex.

depp1020 Sun 10-Jul-16 08:40:11

Senua, the HS2 will not be an issue around Solihull town. Kings High has more girls per year group so in that respect St Martin's is smaller. But it's not an issue as I am not intending on sending DD to a SSS for seniors.

Dancingdreamer, it is very concerning if pupils are asked to leave after the first year of A levels. Is this usual for schools nowadays? Again, surely pupils would have demonstrated through their GCSEs that they have the ability and capacity to do well in their chosen subjects. Is the teaching not up to standard? What kind of grades are the pupils (not) achieving for them to be asked to leave?

Partying in the early seniors - that does seem a bit young.

Dancingdreamer Sun 10-Jul-16 13:23:02

I don't believe other schools routinely ask DCs to leave during 6th form -even KEHS (one of the top academic schools in the country say they stand by their girls even if they don't do well). But would be interested to know if other schools do ask kids to leave during 6th form.

St Martin's is very small - only about 600 in whole school. It's one of the reasons the pastoral care is so good - all the teachers know the kids well. It does mean they don't have the wide range of co-curricular stuff that a larger school can offer but the girls still have plenty of options (iyswim).

Not heard much good stuff about Kings lately. Hopes were pinned on new head but I hear he is struggling to settle in.

If you want co-ed in seniors in this area there are only really 2 options - Solihull and Bromsgrove. Both have a similar party scene and consequent behaviour. I think it goes with the territory of teenagers mixing together.

Howmuchisthatdoggyinthewindow Sun 10-Jul-16 16:40:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

senua Sun 10-Jul-16 18:10:37

Senua, the HS2 will not be an issue around Solihull town.

I know that, but you said "the state schools that I really like are Berkswell and George Fentham but we haven't found a house we like in the catchment areas".

it is very concerning if pupils are asked to leave after the first year of A levels. Is this usual for schools nowadays?

It used to happen at the KE Grammars. They liked to ditch them before they messed up the school's A Level league table position.
In the days when you could easily measure these things (by AS Level results) most schools had a threshold; iirc ours was something like CCD.

depp1020 Sun 10-Jul-16 19:40:32

You are right senua, the HS2 will affect parts of Hampton in Arden and Berkswell.

Howmuch - the way you describe Solihull School is exactly what I was looking for in a school. Thank you for providing your insights. Which school/s did your DC attend prior to joining Solihull, if you don't mind me asking?

I met with my aunt today whose son has almost completed his first year of A levels (in Berkshire). Apparently it is common for pupils to reach an expected grade in their subjects before applying to go into the second year.

Howmuchisthatdoggyinthewindow Sun 10-Jul-16 21:32:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Dancingdreamer Mon 11-Jul-16 07:59:15

How much - I am pleased that you are happy with Solihull. That is the experience we were sold and wanted for our DC. However, Solihull certainly hasn't got the best out of my DC. I can only assume your DC is in one of the favouristes as those kids definitely have a very different experience at the school.

Not sure which year group your DC in but the tutoring definitely ramps up towards J3. Nearly all my DC's class had some form of tutoring (although no one admits this. The partying at seniors is precocious by my standards with kids drinking at quite an early age. Maybe that is ok for you. I accept that it goes with the territory for teenagers but would prefer it didn't happen.

I also get a bit irritated by people saying that St Martin's is for less academic children. There are certainly lots of DDs who are academic and do choose the school. However, the school is inclusive and not afraid to take kids who are less academic - because it knows it can do well with the girls. Solihull despite selecting generally ranks in the middle or lower in the Top 200 independent schools. If you want academic schools, there are loads better in the area - KEHS and all the grammar schools.

depp1020 Mon 11-Jul-16 10:15:08

I know that for us as a family we are looking for a balance. We would like to send our daughter to a local school whilst remaining close to Solihull town. I was finding that the state primaries I liked were not feeding into the state secondary I preferred and that just finding a house in itself was becoming a difficult task. That is why we have started considering independent schools and not getting concerned with catchment areas when looking at houses. Of course the academic side is important to us but not to the exclusion of everything else. I am looking for DD to experience an all round education with the opportunity to excel in any area/s, not just academically. As I am not keen on SSS, Solihull School seems like the obvious choice. I think grammar schools tend to have a heavy focus on academics and there aren't any in the immediate area so probably won't be a consideration. (Although I appreciate things can change and if my daughter has a strong preference for a school when she is older then we would of course take this into consideration - ultimately I think children have to be happy wherever they are. I would never say never to any school - except Ruckleigh!)

I appreciate that people can have different experiences at the same school. That was certainly the case for me - the way I remember my time at sixth form is completely different from my friends' experiences. And I'm sure my friends would agree that we were treated differently (by one particular teacher) than the pupils who had started the school at 11. There shouldn't be any favouritism and children are quick to pick these things up.

CodewordRochambeau Tue 26-Jul-16 21:11:56

Further to this thread, Ruckleigh seem to be cementing their reputation as an exam hothouse; they have taken out full-page advertisements in the local papers to print names and schools for all of the offers received. Closer inspection shows that the same kids appear over and over, however - some four times...

depp1020 Wed 27-Jul-16 03:15:20

Yes I also saw that both the local free papers carried the same full page advertisement. I suppose they need to keep the numbers coming in.

bleedingnora Thu 28-Jul-16 22:49:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Wingco23 Tue 06-Sep-16 01:52:21

Hi. Stumbled across your post. A question I faced a couple of years back. I now have a DCat Ruckleigh and Solihull. It's just a little sad that some of the advice appears based on little direct knowledge. Fully agree with how much is that foggy. Each school mentioned has its strengths, they are all different. I think you may be asking yourself the wrong questions (easy to say with hinesight) If your still seeking advice more than happy to pass on our lessons learnt😊 Just let me knows a I don't normally post on bb's

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