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Moving from Comprehensive to Private for Sixth Form?

(8 Posts)
Avocadoughhh Sun 05-Aug-18 16:49:17

Hello everyone, I am a post-gcse student who has just finished their GCSE exams and is starting sixth form this September. I have seen some forums about private and state sixth forms on Mumsnet before, but I have never seen one specifically from a student's point of view, so I was wondering if you would be willing to give me advice on it. (I know that many mothers here may have had children who went to either type of school in the past.)

For the past year, i have been constantly contemplating on whether I should move to a comprehensive sixth form or a private one for my A Level studies, as I would like a fresh start from my old school that i did my gcses in. I applied to both of the schools and I got offers from both, however I declined the private school offer because I thought that I could do just as well without paying the money, at the comprehensive school. However, after attending the comprehensive school induction day and having met with some of the people at the private school a couple of weeks ago, I have been thinking about my decision, and whether it was the right thing to do. I am aware that if I do ask to go to the private school on results day, they may not take me in, but due to the nature of the school, i believe that they will still be willing to accept me, as long as the money is paid.

So, here is a pro and con list of the two schools:

Comprehensive School - Backwell School (anyone know?):
PRO - an environment I'm already used to (because it's comprehensive)
PRO - can do clubs that help charities, orchestras, etc
PRO - as it's a state school, perhaps unis will be more lenient toward them so improve my chances of getting into med school?
PRO - send a couple of people to Oxbridge every year - 1 person got into Oxford medical school last year (but there are around 300 students per year...)
CON - bigger class sizes (less chance of concentration, have to study more at home when I want to be doing other things like reading more around my subjects and doing hobbies, volunteering, work experience etc)
CON - total travel time of around 40 minutes each way depending on traffic
CON - when I went to the induction day, I realised that there was not much cultural diversity, and there were many 'chavs', which I don't know how comfortable I feel with because I came from quite a diverse school, and I am half Asian. In addition, I prefer being surrounded by people of different cultures.

Private School - Bristol Grammar School (anyone know?)
PRO - smaller class sizes, makes me more outspoken, discuss things further
PRO - many clubs, orchestras etc
PRO - more support for getting into the top unis and medicine
PRO - send more people to Oxbridge every year (CON - however, unis might be more willing to give places to state school pupils now because this year, 9 people got offers, whereas in the previous years, the number was around 15 people per year. The total number of people per year in the sixth form is around 170)
PRO - 20 minute walk each way, which would mean that, compared to the comprehensive school, I would be saving double the amount of time if I go to the private school.
CON - different environment to my old one. as I expect most ppl will have a lot of money, so perhaps its hard to fit in? But PRO - I get a wider perspective of the different people out there, and it makes me more confident as an individual. My brother went to the private school for sixth form, and I was amazed at how confident, articulate and passionate about his subjects he became. However, I am a completely different person to my brother as I feel that I already have a bit more of a natural work ethic, but besides that, I would say that I would like to be more of a leadership-type, confident person in the future.
CON - as I am predicted quite high grades in gcse and I personally feel that I have a good work ethic, perhaps I can do just as well in my A levels at the comprehensive school, even without having to pay 15,000 pounds a year?

I know it may be quite hard to compare the two, and I am aware that at the end of the day it is down to how hard the individual is willing to work, but does any one have any opinions on any of the pros/cons, or have any experience with their children shifting from state to private or vice versa, or is currently at either type of schools? If so, then any piece of advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you! x

TresDesolee Sun 05-Aug-18 16:51:59

No advice, but if my 15yo was as invested in his sixth form choices as you are I would be extremely proud of him.

I guess my gut feeling is - if this is really you posting, not your mum or Dad! - that with smarts and commitment like yours, you will do well wherever you go.

Avocadoughhh Sun 05-Aug-18 17:01:54

Haha, no I'm not my mum or my dad - they're just leaving me to decide, but they both came from completely different educational backgrounds to each other so there is a lot of bias in their opinions!

errorofjudgement Sun 05-Aug-18 18:21:33

My DD moved from comprehensive to private for sixth form, though it was for a particular course so it is a bit different.
Her experience has been that she loves her new school, and has made some wonderful friends.
New teachers and small classes mean that she is much more confident in sharing her opinion in class (she taking all humanities), and has been taught the knowledge to back it up.
The teachers are very highly skilled, including ex-Oxbridge, so the teaching standard is very high.
There’s much less/no messing about in class (though in fairness I think that happens less at A level anyway), but because at her school there is no minimum grade required for taking A level, the teachers have to really differentiate the work at times.
She had also acquired an extra confidence and improved social skills, but I think this is more to do with her particular school. DS came home after a month at uni with a distinct RP accent that hadn’t been there when he left!

From your post it sounds as though both options are very good, DD is my third so I know just how short the 2 years of sixth form are and how quickly that passes, so I would only recommend moving if there are compelling reasons to do so.

BubblesBuddy Sun 05-Aug-18 19:37:36

You do have to hit the ground running if you change school. There are many things you won’t be used to, but if you are confident it can work very well.

A 20 min walk to school sounds good. Don’t worry about other pupils parents. Some pupils will have bursaries. Some parents will be making financial sacrifices. Don’t forget boarding schools are £37,000 pa so often the very rich are in them.

Weigh up the results, destinations and where you would feel happy. Did Bristol
Grammar have a higher gcse tariff to get in? This is possibly the more academic choice.

afrikat Sun 05-Aug-18 19:55:14

I moved from a very rough comprehensive school to a private 6th form rather than going on to the local college which was the other option. I was on a bursary as were several others but I was definitely one of the poorest there. It didn't matter though, I loved the school and the classes and I am still best friends with several people I met there and ended up marrying a guy from the year below who I bumped into 10 years later (slightly off topic). I feel like the atmosphere and the general attitude of staff and students pushed me to work hard and since almost everyone there was heading to university I was surrounded by like minded people.
Good luck with whatever you choose

Xenia Sun 05-Aug-18 22:16:10

Take the private school option and good luck with your application. If you don't get in then you may well do fine at the other school.

BGS gets 60% A star/A at A level (2017) and Backwell gets 27% (and by comparison my daughter's fee paying school 80% A star/A).

Tropicalfish Sat 11-Aug-18 08:44:08

We thought about a move from grammar to private at sixth form but decided not to go for it for a number of reasons:
My dd was already in a high performing school.
The cost
As a previous poster said, you have to hit the ground running. There is a danger that the distraction of changing schools could result in falling behind and not catching up.
My dd has a strong interest in music and the school she was at had a lot of opportunities.
I felt the private school gave a slight edge in terms of applying to oxbridge however that is not so tangible.
I think say the difference between the top universities is not so great so it doesn't matter. My dd is at Oxford now but as a parent whilst the place is amazing, I would say the workload is so high and the terms are so short that there is just too much pressure. My dd is doing a science.
In terms of doing medicine and going to oxbridge you should consider that the foundation placements you get allocated will be done according to your ranking from your your exams. Thus, going to oxbridge may not make your life easy in this regard.

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