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Ilford County High School is being destroyed from within

(32 Posts)
user1494882005 Mon 15-May-17 22:14:52

My son is studying at Ilford County High School in Redbridge. It is an excellent boys grammar school with amazing results. This year roughly

28 students have been offered places to study medicine
40 students have been offered places to study engineering
10 students have been offered places to study computer science
30 students have been offered places to study economics

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Alas, good things are not meant to last and I'm afraid this may be true of Ilford County as well.

The current head teacher actually wants to restrict the number of students who can study maths and science at A-level. She actually wants to increase the intake of students who want to study music and other such soft subjects.

Which is all well and good. However, it still begs the question: how many students currently study music at A level at this school?

Well, the answer is zero. Yep, a big fat zero.

Yet, the school is investing money to build up facilities for music while the maths department has to do without work sheets due to lack of funds.

Any suggestions as to what could be done to rectify this situation are welcome.

In fact, I would love it if this thread became popular resulting in close attention being brought to bear at the goings on in this school.

And I say this out of genuine concern for a fine institution serving the area. My son finishes his year 13 on Friday.

blackcatlover Mon 15-May-17 23:05:33

Knowing girls who study music at Oxford and Cambridge respectively, how on earth is it a 'soft' subject. You are being ridiculous.

AlexanderHamilton Mon 15-May-17 23:09:59

You are being ridiculous. Music is not a soft subject. Why should the arts not be offered? All the leading private schools offer arts subjects & it's these schools a grammar will be competing with alongside other state schools for the best students.

You sound slightly unhinged.

YoniFucker Mon 15-May-17 23:11:49

Any suggestions as to what could be done to rectify this situation are welcome.
Train as a teacher. Work your way up to head.

Become a governor.

Or, I dunno, accept that the current head gets bloody good results so maybe knows what they're doing?

annandale Mon 15-May-17 23:12:28

I would run a mile from any school that had ZERO children studying music at A-level. Sounds like hell on earth.

AlexanderHamilton Mon 15-May-17 23:13:48

Same here Annan. Ds goes to a private school. They have a thriving music department. One of our local schools stopped offering gcse music for a while. It put us right off.

user1494882005 Mon 15-May-17 23:15:09


How many of those kids forced to study music will make it to Oxbridge?

The question is not why the arts should not be offered. The question is of coercion. Why should students be forced to study music if they do not want to?

As I have said, so far not one student has done an A-level in music at that school. So spending large sums on a music centre while the maths department does not have enough to spend on writing paper is just stupid.

ilovesooty Mon 15-May-17 23:15:40

What are the other "soft subjects" the Head wishes to accommodate? hmm

poisonedbypen Mon 15-May-17 23:17:53

I don't imagine anyone will be forced to study music!

EmpressoftheMundane Mon 15-May-17 23:18:11

This sounds like a turn for the better. The new head is trying to make Iford a more rounded, more cultured, more accomplished place. Not just an exam factory for parents wanting their DC's "tickets stamped."

I hope Woodford County Girls takes note and follows suit.

user1494882005 Mon 15-May-17 23:18:28


The current head has only been in the job for under two years. The results of the school are not due to her alone.

There are some excellent and highly dedicated teachers in that school. And slowly but steadily they are leaving.

Give it a few years and it won't get the same results

user1494882005 Mon 15-May-17 23:21:51


Maybe not. But then why should there be restrictions on the number of students studying sciences?

I doubt you know what you are talking about. A lot of kids in Ilford County do have tutors for music. In their free time. Outside school.

And oh, they have one of the finest cricket teams in the borough as well as being kick ass at football. Add in a few artists, a few martial arts experts too.

And yes, I know these kids.

EmpressoftheMundane Mon 15-May-17 23:27:29

I've lived in the catchment for two decades. I am well aware of the ups and downs and the opinion of families in the area. I know boys who have gone there and boys who have been sent to private selective schools instead because their parents have the money and feel that Ilford Boys would be a step down because it is too narrow in outlook.

You feel it is at a peak at the moment, other families see it as a slump.
Opinions vary. I just happen to agree with the head and not you.

annandale Mon 15-May-17 23:50:12

Presumably the head wants to attract top notch music teachers with good facilities. Why should a music teacher want to come to a school with such a poor musical culture, unless the head can point to genuine investment.

I decided against a school for my ds because the entire Art A-level cohort at a mixed school was female. No boys choosing music at a high level is a significant failing. This country earns a lot of money via music and the arts: maths, music, science and languages all feed into and enhance each other. Good for the head.

Abitofaproblem Tue 16-May-17 08:36:51

It sounds like a great move in my opinion. To compete with the privates for the best children, the grammars must have more selling points to bring free. Boys should be encouraged to be broader in their interest and outlook. I can't imagine not one single student in the whole sixth form not interested in music A level. MFL is probably another area worth looking at.

PatriciaHolm Tue 16-May-17 09:19:40

No head teacher is going to force changes that reduce the number of students wanting the school; funding depends on headcount. She must feel that there is demand for the other subjects that is currently not being met.

Zodlebud Tue 16-May-17 13:31:15

This post makes me so sad. I am so supportive of the grammar school system (I know many aren't) but I think you are proof of everything that's wrong about it.

You are assuming that those children interested in music are able to afford it outside school. Do you have any idea how much private music lessons are? If grammar schools can assist with social mobility then they have to be as inclusive as possible. This includes the arts, sport, music, exposure to the wider world as well as academia. You also assume that those interested in STEM subjects have no interest in music. There is probably no take up currently as the provision is so poor.

Music teaches you a huge number of skills and it is, basically, maths. It complements STEM subjects brilliantly but perhaps the parents who dismiss it off hand as being "soft" are closing another outlet to their children before they even have a chance to explore it.

What do I know? Science and maths a-levels, science degree from Cambridge and up until I had kids, worked in a male dominated STEM job. Oh, and I am Grade 8 on one instrument, Grade 6 on another and sing for fun. Go figure.

Zodlebud Tue 16-May-17 13:33:33

To clarify, I didn't take music a-level due to a timetable clash but I did play in the orchestra and sang in the choir. Music, is not just limited to qualifications.

LEGOisMyMiddleName Tue 16-May-17 13:36:21

It sounds to me as if the new head is trying to make it less narrow and an exam factory?

Smartiepants79 Tue 16-May-17 13:40:15

Umm how are the being 'forced' to study music? All children should experience a wide range of subjects, including arts, until they are at least 16. If a school wasnt offering these things to my child they wouldn't be going. I agree with pp up the thread. Excellent schooling is about more than just maths, science and english and getting sensible a-levels that mean you can make loads of money.

ProphetOfDoom Tue 16-May-17 13:49:15

I think your post has backfired. It sounds like a great move by the Head & presumably they have the backing of the governors.

And you're missing a trick. There is a massive shift in every school towards STEM - my own produces excellent results in this area - so to be competitive the student needs to be fully rounded.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 16-May-17 13:51:54

Although you mention the wonderful subjects that people are going on to study at university you don't say how many people are going onto Oxbridge, LSE, Warwick etc

Maybe the school is missing out on some top notch candidates who chose to go elsewhere because they wish to study music etc at school too and they go to other equally successful schools that offer a broader range of subjects for them.

Allthebestnamesareused Tue 16-May-17 13:56:02

I just looked at last year's destinations which only has 4 Oxbridge destinations which is quite low compared to a similar school local to me which had 43 Oxbridge destinations (also similar size year 13) but offers "music and other soft subjects"!

Needmoresleep Tue 16-May-17 14:39:49

Interesting choice of subjects, OP. Medicine, engineering, computer science and economics. Perhaps the Head is trying to encourage the idea that good schools should be in the business of broader education, not just vocational training.

Really bright kids should have the chance to study something like music alongside sciences. And have peers whose talents lie in different directions.

AlexanderHamilton Tue 16-May-17 15:56:58

And who uses maths worksheets anyway in this day & age? Most textbooks/workbooks etc are online. Ds either prints his off to fill in, uses an online textbook doing the questions in his excercise book or fills some in & submits them online Many of the best teachers choose to create their own bespoke ones rather than slavishly follow one scheme.

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