What are schools REALLY like in Cheltenham?(16 Posts)
I'm hoping those of you who live in Cheltenham can give me an insight into what schools are like there. Not the official line on them, but what the locals feel and say about them!
We are thinking of moving to the area next year (my husband, our three boys and I). Our eldest will be starting in secondary school and we will need a primary for the other two. Going round the estate agents, Balcarras came up time and again - but the catchment is small, and we'd really like to live more centrally than Charlton Kings. Bournside sounds like it's good but it sounded like it was second best to Balcarras. Pitville has apparently had a troubled past but is on the up (and might be joining forces with Balcarras in some way?) We also know about Pate's and Sir Thomas' Rich's but are there other good grammar schools we should think about?
I'm also aware that each school isn't right for everyone, so any thoughts about schools' strengths/types of pupils who do well there would be much appreciated.
Thank you so much for any advice you can offer!
Balcarras is the best performing comp in the area. Not many negatives except the expensive middle class catchment area. Not the best for SEN, great for academic kids.
Bournside is fine, not as good as Balcarras and recently seems to have got less popular maybe due to changes in SLT. Very very big. Good for SEN.
Pittville is also fine, smaller than the others but rapidly expanding. History of challenging children but this has improved over the last few years. Catchment is very mixed. No sixth form.
All Saints Academy, fairly new purpose built building, tough catchment! Bit of a poor reputation for behaviour.
Cleeve, similar to Bournside. Poor leadership a few years ago but newish head making improvements.
Pate's is super selective. Takes generally the top performing children in Gloucestershire, 11+ for 2018 intake is this weekend. Very good results usually, lots of private primary school children.
Thomas Rich, boys' grammar in Gloucester. A bit shabby but homely. Same day for 11+, this Saturday. Considered better than Crypt, also in Gloucester which is going co-ed to keep up numbers.
Hope that's helpful. It's my personal view. I have worked in two of the schools and have had children in another two.
Is your eldest a boy or girl? Girls' grammars in Gloucester, High school for girls, similar to Tommy's, Ribston, similar to Crypt in rankings. I don't know much else about them as I have boys.
Thanks Ellen, that's really useful. We only have boys as well! Not sure whether to put our eldest through the 11+, especially as he hasn't been privately educated... Gosh it's a hard one! Thank you.
There is also Chosen Hill in Churchdown - between Cheltenham and Gloucester - and well served by bus to both. Similar standard to Bournside, but seems smaller.
Balcarras does well as it is one of the best funded schools in the area. (as well as being in MC suburbia with a small catchment.)
Agree with all the comments above. Hoping DD gets into Balcarras,
Glenfall is a good primary school. (DD is in Y6 now)
Don’t let the lack of private education put you off the 11+ - I know plenty of bright kids who passed. Admittedly some who didn’t though.
As to comps, Pittville has been in partnership with Balcarras for some time. It was actually oversubscribed for entry this year, and everyone I know with kids there is happy with the school.
Balcarras is only well funded due to parent contributions and PTA, the academy money is a distant memory and like a lot of high performing schools it doesn’t do that well out of LA funding! It is a good school though, and the catchment isn’t as one dimensional as you’d think.
My DD when to Bishops Cleeve Academy and was very happy there, teachers and Head very approachable and things won't be overlooked. She then went onto Cleeve for secondary and has just left. The new Head clearly aims to improve the school and understand what the kids want themselves. DD has just left Year 11 and during that time the teachers went out of their way to offer extra help and support to anyone who wanted it. The teachers were easy to contact by email and often replied the following break time. I wouldn't have sent her anywhere else.
My niece went to Pittville and came out having passed 13 exams, A*s, As and Btecs so it can be done even there. However, it still has a bad reputation and local kids want to avoid it like a barge pole. It may have changed, but we looked at it for secondary and weren't impressed, no welcome, drama room closed which DD wanted to see, kids telling us teaches were awful, little work on display and those teachers we did speak to were very focused on SEN and classes for children who struggled, but couldn't tell us what they offered the more able child.
It depends what lifestyle you have, but I'd prefer to live in Cleeve over Charlton Kings (where Balcarras school is, and I used to live). It has so much more to offer.
Any primary school advice? We're hoping to move to the Cheltenham area next summer. Our eldest starts school next September - unfortunately we can't move any sooner in order to be in area in time for primary school applications this winter so hoping we can still get him into a good school 😬 We like Prestbury and Leckhampton but don't know either well as are moving from Birmingham. Thanks!
I'd say all schools at primary level in those areas are good. You may want to avoid Oakwood as it has a high level of children with additional needs but it does provide amazing support for such pupils and the head is very very committed.
As someone who severely suffered through Bournside, I would only recommend you don't look there. My children certainly won't be.
Definitely try the 11+ as I've heard nothing but excellent reviews from friends who attended.
Bourneside is not a good school. I have personal experience. I have heard Balcarras is good.
Is independent education an option? We really were unhappy at ours attending comprehensive schools here as they are all a very mixed bag. The grammars are OK.
Agree about Bourneside. The discipline I was told is terrible and levels of learning poor. If state really is the only option try 11+.
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