Secondary schools

(29 Posts)
Timmytam Sat 28-Nov-15 18:27:31

Hi All, I hope you can help us. We need local advice on the best secondary schools in the Cambridge area. When I say best I really mean from an academic point of view. I can look at the league tables but am interested in locals opinions too. Have an academically gifted child in year 8 and am moving to the area.

northofcambridge Sun 29-Nov-15 08:49:22

Do you mean private or state?
And at the risk of seeming repetitive; schools tend to be full in Cambridge so you will need to find out which ones have places also. That said I said this fairly recently to a friend, if I was choosing where to live based on school performance I would probably go with Comberton Catchment

Timmytam Sun 29-Nov-15 09:12:35

I did mean state schools. I wasn't aware of the schools being full, thank you for the heads up 😀

northofcambridge Sun 29-Nov-15 15:44:26

Also are you buying or renting? a decent rental can be quite tricky to find and made restrict your location as well

Timmytam Sun 29-Nov-15 19:44:28

We will be buying but I'm sure that's also difficult in some areas! What is the local opinion of Linton Village college? I quite like the idea of living out of the city. Thanks so much 😀

Cantusemyusualnickname Mon 30-Nov-15 10:54:04

Linton VC will be getting a new head teacher soon (not sure if January or April). She is currently the Deputy Head, but is relatively young. I don't know what the school is like now. When DS2 attended I was not impressed by its academic standards for the lower half of the top sets, but he left in 2007 so I wouldn't rely on my old viewpoint. I would check out the GCSE results in EBACC subjects and compare with other local schools and what proportion of the pupils go on the Hills Road SFC rather than Long Road.
(My criticism eight years ago was that it was fine for the top of the top sets who could manage to get top grades without difficulty. Those in the lower half of the top sets were left to fester as they would get 5 A-Cs and so school stats would be OK.)

Tingalingle Mon 30-Nov-15 18:11:48

It's January.

The new Linton head is the ex-deputy from Sawston VC (another excellent school, rather different ethos) so it'll be interesting to see how than pans out.

If you have a very bright child with no 'issues' other than, y'know, being bright, I would just live where you like best and pop them in the local school; they'll be fine. If you do have any SEN or social issues to consider on top of being bright, try for Comberton, which deals very, very well with the bright-and-needy.

Timmytam Mon 30-Nov-15 20:43:32

Thanks for your comments, much appreciated. What is the ethos of Sawston and Linton since Tingalingle says they are different. Does Comberton have a different ethos?

Tingalingle Mon 30-Nov-15 22:48:12

Comberton VC has been consistently, reliably fab for years, if a bit empire-building. Their pastoral care is second to none, partly because of their expertise with children with extra needs (they have the region's Asperger's centre, for instance).

They have (or had) a very sensible sports policy for the non-sporty, and a practical if dismal uniform including an outdoor fleece that you are/were allowed to wear indoors (yay!).

It's very organised, so children don't tend to get lost in the system. It's also huge, some of the old bits are/were a bit tatty and the new 6th form block overheats in summer.

Sawston VC divides opinion! We know parents who have moved house to avoid its catchment and others who drive past more local schools to get to it. More hippyish than Linton, better drama (sorry guys, you know it's true...) and fantastic music. DS adored it. For him it's been warm, welcoming and personal - certainly doesn't try to cram oddball children into a mould. The (new-ish) head is making ominous noises about smartening up, though, and blazers have been mooted... On the other hand, he comes to every concert and every show and for all I know, every sports match, and writes personally to children to thank them for taking part.

Linton: more straight down the line, or was. Tends to big up its results in a sort of point-scoring fashion. Umm...

Tingalingle Tue 01-Dec-15 10:21:30

The thing is, though, that schools change over the years, and a single child's experience of any school depends rather a lot on the child him/herself and the year group they end up in. One of ours moved schools because of this, hence our unplanned glimpse of several local secondaries.

The staff tend to move around between schools, too! Linton's head is starting at Saffron Walden County High; Sawston's English teacher is now at the Friends; and I once went to parents' evening at Son 2's school, and confused the hell out of the art teacher who had met me at Son 1's school the term before.

What sort of gifted are you talking about here? Maybe you could have a look at the school websites for things like debating competitions, maths Olympiads and other extension-type activities.

Duxy5 Wed 02-Dec-15 12:58:08

I have a year 8 and a year 10 at Sawston Village College. They are both academically very able and are very well catered for at SVC. As well as music and drama mentioned by pp, science and maths are also very good.
Ting I agree that it divides opinion. Our next door neighbours moved both their kids out, because it 'wasn't good enough'. On the other hand I know kids who travel in from central Cambridge because of the opportunities (interestingly there are a lot of teacher parents in the out of catchment group)
I think the head has been there for about 5 years. They have recently had a uniform overhaul and did not go for blazers in the end (still sweatshirts). New sports kit though.
Do you know who the new Linton head is? There are about 4 deputy principals at SVC (curious now....)

OP I would recommend that you make sure you are in catchment for any school you are interested in, and definitely for Hills Road College (with only a few exceptions, Cambridge schools are 11-16). Year 8 is technically 'full' at SVC, but kids do tend to move out during the year (lots of children of academics who move to get a professorship or whatever).

Duxy5 Wed 02-Dec-15 13:00:00

OP I also meant to say that there are a lot of bright kids in Cambridge and so the schools are generally very good.

Cantusemyusualnickname Wed 02-Dec-15 13:01:37

New head at LVC will be Helena Marsh who is currently deputy head there. According to the village newsletter she has only been at LVC for a year but was previously in a senior management role at Sawston VC. She takes over on 1st January 2016.

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:27:57

Yes, amongst the parents we know, there are a lot of academics at SVC and a lot of medics at SVC, which seems all wrong given where the schools are relative to Addenbrooke's, but there you go!

Actually Mr Culpin has been head at SVC longer than I realised - it's just that he wasn't the head when I looked round with DS1 back in the dark ages some time.

Sorry if I alarmed you about the deputy at SVC, Duxy (strongly suspect we know each other!) when I missed a stage of Rowena Marsh's career out there. I honestly don't spend all my time tracking teacher movements, it's just that DS2 tends to read the Sawston newsletters and snort 'Traitor!' if anyone moves to LVC. But then he loathed Linton for reasons possibly beyond their control.

Glad to hear your opinion of SVC's science and maths, by the way. DS treated these as baffling minority interests, and DD does a very good rabbit in headlights impression about them, to the puzzlement of her scientist parents.

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:28:42

*For Rowena read Helena... getting my staff mixed up there

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:34:55

I do feel we should go and find some enthusiastic Linton parents and get them to come to the thread for balance. There are plenty of people who love it. Ofsted, for one.

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:36:15

* and for 'medics at SVC', read LVC... I need coffee.

Duxy5 Wed 02-Dec-15 13:42:17

Ting had to think about that for a moment, but yes, I think we might..... I suspect that if someone was asking about Primary schools we would be commenting on the same one smile
First time I've ever met someone from RL here....
Hope you are all well!

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:45:07

Yep, that's what I thought too (DD is between your two in age - just)

Timmytam Wed 02-Dec-15 14:04:52

Hi all, thanks for the comments all very helpful. I'm sensing an underlying negative opinion of LVC! So what honestly is the general perception of LVC? Your honest opinions are very valuable to us since we are not from the area 😀

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 14:37:05

Honestly, plenty of people round here think LVC is a great school, and look a bit baffled that we aren't using it.

DS had problems with a couple of irritating little toads children in his year. The response (by staff who have mostly left by now) wasn't perfect, and rather than wait to see how it panned out, we chose to give him a fresh start at the school that was actually the better fit for him anyway.

We were partly swayed by already having one at Comberton (long and boring reasons) so were open to the idea of looking elsewhere.

Duxy5 Wed 02-Dec-15 14:44:57

Timmy there are lots of folk in S. Cambridge who rate LVC. The main reason my DC go to Sawston is because we are in catchment and a bus is provided. Our primary school was a feeder school for LVC and - for example - everyone in DD's year group (except her) went to LVC. If we had been in catchment, mine would very likely have gone there. Personally I think that SVC is slightly better, but it really depends on favourite subjects, individual DC etc. and doesn't mean that LVC is at all bad (Ting's DS might have a different viewpoint though!). It is well regarded and has lots of high flyers.
LVC has an amazing saxophone teacher (also teaches clarinet and flute) and brass teacher. Also Linton and surrounding areas are nice places to live - Linton in particular more reasonably priced than other parts of S. Cambridge

Duxy5 Wed 02-Dec-15 14:46:08

X post, same gist smile

Tingalingle Wed 02-Dec-15 15:06:18

Art is better at LVC - if they have the same teachers still, that is! They've had some truly wonderful displays. And yes, the saxophone teacher is great, though given that the Hills Road wind band had 26 saxophones at the last concert, I'm not sure that we want to encourage any more sax players.

Cantusemyusualnickname Wed 02-Dec-15 15:24:47

Timmytam I presume that you will choose where you live on the basis of the school which you choose? Because of the rural nature of the area, it is difficult to bus children to other schools (as pretty well all buses go into Cambridge) so unless you are prepared to drive some way twice each day in relatively busy traffic, the local school is often the only feasible possibility.
If you are prepared to live slightly further out, Saffron Walden County High is a very good school but you need to live in catchment.
If you are prepared to pay, at least up to the end of Y11, there are, of course, excellent independent schools in Cambridge.

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