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The Disraeli School or Hamilton Primary High Wycombe

(21 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Fri 27-Jul-12 23:02:38

Does anybody know anything of these two?

Unfortunately found out that the school we "thought" was catchment area for the house we've just bought & were happy with, is actually not - despite being by far the closest proximity to our home! This certainly makes life complicated as both DH & I work fulltime and I can't drive.

But what really worries me is the OFSTED for both The Disraeli & Hamilton are a bit dodgy. I know Hamilton used to have a good reputation, but keep getting told it's gone downhill. Concerned with both these schools that too much priority is placed on English as 2nd language, underachievers & learning difficulties rather than more able children. Would massively appreciate any feedback, particularly if you have opinions about which is the better school.

greenhill Mon 30-Jul-12 09:00:10

Hello BMW,
My DD has just completed the Reception year at Hamilton Academy. Graham Aldous, the Headteacher, is determined to drive standards upwards and most of the problems from the Ofsted Report were in relation to absenteeism: some parents in the Wycombe area tend to take their children out of school for months at a time as they visit family members overseas. This has caused disruption to not only their schooling, but the averages for the exams over the affected year groups.
My DD has had a wonderful year at Hamilton, made many friends and has been given plenty of homework (4 books to read a week) with lots of focused attention and steadily increased difficulty; plenty of fun and encouragement and lots of learning opportunities through play. It seems to be more academically inclined than several other schools in the vicinity (though I've not heard anything about Disraeli) with friends of mine surprised at how advanced Hamilton's timetable has been in relation to their chosen schools; which seem to be not encouraging reading and maths in the same way (less books taken home, less work sheets, less reading in groups with a TA etc.)
On a scale of 0 - 9 with the average being 6 nationally, my DD's class scored 7 or 8 and above on most topics from the Early Years Foundation in the yearly report.
In Year 1 after the first term, education becomes more formal, with the usual set times for phonics and maths being added to: making the children sit for longer and concentrate on more topics. They will still think that they are just having fun though.
The best thing that you can do is visit a few schools to get a feel for them. What works for you and your child has to be your priority.
Good Luck.

BoyMeetsWorld Mon 30-Jul-12 17:20:12

Thanks green hill - and flexybex who pm'd me. Hamilton was my top choice but Disraeli is apparently our catchment school, despite living considerably closer to Hamilton sad hence why I'm trying to find out about both. Im not sure if we'd need to appeal to get Hamilton and what chance we'd even have. We literally live on the border of the catchment. So far I haven't been able to find anyone with children at the Disraeli to give feedback...

flexybex Mon 30-Jul-12 17:49:51

BTW the county allocates schools round here. Have they allocated you one?

BoyMeetsWorld Mon 30-Jul-12 18:47:55

Sorry flexybex am I being dim? All we've done is use the online catchment area / postcode checker to see which was our catchment school....the map on the bucks cc site basically shows we could be either Hamilton OR Disraeli because we live on the border of both. But the postcode checker only returned Disraeli. Which threw us a bit as we purposely bought our house expecting Hamilton to be the catchment school because it's definitely the closest (walking distance) from us, even discounting the hills. Turns out we may have been stupid to just assume this sad

flexybex Mon 30-Jul-12 20:07:23

I'm not absolutely sure how it works (On the other side of the fence, so to speak!) but I think it might be worth giving the LEA a ring as I know admissions procedures changed fairly recently and that my school is 'allocated' to new arrivals.

I may be horribly wrong (so sorry if I am) but it's probably worth checking out and talking to someone!

misstrunchball Mon 30-Jul-12 20:54:51

Don't take any notice of BCC catchment schools as they don't mean a jot.... My catchment secondary school is apparently not my 'nearest' school so no free home to school catchment for me... sad They don't tell you your nearest school on the website postcode checker so I would phone them.

BoyMeetsWorld Tue 31-Jul-12 06:56:49

misstrubchbull so do you have to travel further for a school, when there is one close by which you're not allowed because 'not catchment'?? That's what I'm afraid will happen to us. Think I'll call them later today...thanks everyone.

BoyMeetsWorld Tue 31-Jul-12 11:55:12

sad just phoned & BCC use the postcode checker to allocate catchment so we are def Disraeli, despite living closer to Hamilton. She did say we could try applying for Hamilton & the proximity might work in our favour but I doubt it somehow - they seem oversubscribed. Wish somebody had some positive things to say about Disraeli!!! If I put Hamilton 1st choice, Disraeli 2nd will they just ignore my 1st choice & go straight for the catchment school? Are we best to put no 2nd choice?

greenhill Tue 31-Jul-12 19:02:14

But if you don't put a 2nd choice down, you could be given any school randomly, if Hamilton is oversubscribed, then have to go down the appeal process to get one near to your house.
Have you got nerves of steel?
It doesn't seem very fair to not be in catchment, when you are nearer to Hamilton.

BoyMeetsWorld Tue 31-Jul-12 20:39:18

Aargh dilemmas. We're so stupid really for just assuming that our closest school would be catchment area when we bought our house. I don't drive & Disraeli's a 30 min uphill walk for me, plus potentially not as good a school. Hamilton's a 5 min easy walk sad

greenhill Wed 01-Aug-12 07:48:35

There is a no. 31 bus to Downley which passes Disraeli. It is worth checking out bus routes.
Are you applying for admission next year?

chillipickle Fri 03-Aug-12 22:36:56

I had a chat with the Hamilton school administrator a while back, as we were looking for a house and trying to unpick how the whole admissions process worked. Basically in this area, the primary catchments don't generally overlap, so if you put your specific address in their postcode checker, it will return one school which is your catchment school.

The school will allocate first to children in catchment, and then siblings out of catchment, and after that any spare places can be allocated to people out of catchment with no sibling at the school.

From what I can tell, the norm is for schools to allocate those remaining places based on distance. So living very near the school but just out of catchment would put you nearer the top of the list. However, at that time (and bear in mind it was a couple of years ago and things may have changed), Hamilton were using a different system, whereby they didn't take distance into account, but just did a random allocation of the available places to the out-of-catchment applicants.

I think you really need to find out what system they are operating now, and what they expect to be doing in the year you apply, because it would potentially make a big difference if you are really close to the school.

It might also be worth finding out how they have allocated their places in past couple of years (this info is all available on the Bucks CC website), and how many spaces have been offered to out-of-catchment children. Obviously there's no guarantee that the same will happen in future, but it might give you a feel for how heavily subscribed they are from within catchment.

I'm afraid I can't offer any info about Disraeli. But if you don't think it's for you, then it may be worth looking a bit further afield. I have friends in central Wycombe who haven't been happy with their catchment schools but have found places in the surrounding villages such as Prestwood, Hazlemere and Holmer Green. Though I do understand the difficulty if you don't drive. (We have one car which DH drives to work, so I have a complex arrangement of taxis, buses and trains for my half of the commute/school/nursery run.)

I also have a few friends whose children go to the C of E school in High Wycombe, and they are all very positive about it. I don't believe it has a catchment area as such. Church attendance counts in the admissions criteria, but I think they also take people from different faiths, and non-churchgoers. It might not be your thing at all, of course!

At this point I would really advise doing your homework on how the admissions process works. (And specifically in Bucks, as different LEAs have different ways of working.) In particular, what will happen if you don't get your first choice school, and what the procedure will be if you go into further rounds of allocations and waiting lists. It may help to avoid some of the stress if you know what to expect.

Good luck!

Bangers72 Fri 09-Aug-13 10:28:24

I can help with some first hand experience of having a child at Disraeli! My daughter has just finished year 2 there and is doing extremely well. It is a really friendly school which caters very effectively for children of every ability.

When you look at the schools results in SATS, it does not seem to do as well as some other schools, but the school does cater for a broad spectrum of kids including some with special needs... What they do at Disraeli is put the kids in sets for reading, writing and numeracy (even matching abilities across different year groups for reading!), so it is easy for your child to always be working at their own level. My daughter is in the top set for everything and just got some very impressive scores in her SATS (exceeding national expectations for her age in 3 out of the 5 areas they report on!!). So, if you have a bright child and are concerned that they would not be catered for well in a school with slightly less impressive academic results - don't be! The school's moto is "where learning is a journey not a race", so if your child is needs extra help, this is a great school for them too, as they really do make sure that nobody ever gets left behind and give the less able students loads of additional support that most schools simply cannot offer, but at the same time, the brightest children thrive.

However the best thing about Disraeli is that it is a really caring and nurturing environment where each child knows that they matter. The head teacher is an amazing, inspirational person: she is very caring and knows each child in the school personally, but at the same time she maintains excellent discipline and has somehow created a culture where bad behaviour is simply not tolerated by the children themselves!!

I would suggest that you go and visit the school and see it for yourself, as it is hard to describe exactly what it is like without going in and seeing it in action! If you have any questions about what I have written or want to know more, then please post here and I will reply. I am really proud of my daughter's school so I would be happy to tell you more!

busymum67 Fri 09-Aug-13 13:15:46

Although now older all my children attended The Disraeli School and I cannot imagine a better school to enable your child to become a lifelong learner! This school has an exciting curriculum, amazing resources, outstanding teaching and a caring environment where children really can flourish.

I believe SATs results for the school include those children in the
Social Communications Department, so results are therefore not really comparable to schools without a department. No stone is left unturned at the school to ensure the best education for all children. An online learning environment, appropriate homework, ability grouping, superb lessons with real life experiences and fantastic teachers meant that all my children reached their full potential and exceeded national expectations.

Parents are actively involved with their child's learning with a Parent Council, weekly newsletters, meetings to find out what your child will be learning as well as opportunities to go into lessons.

During their time at the school my children went on residential trips to Paris and camping and our whole family joined in with special days such as Carnival and Dance day. We all joined in the fun and then went into the classes to see what our children had learnt. They really were days to remember for a long time.

I really would recommend that you visit the school, it has its own t.v. and radio stations, Ipads for the children to use in class, an astro-turf and outdoor stage with wonderful displays of the children's work throughout the school.

Whilst my children were there I also attended many Adult Learning courses at the school. These were all free and courses I went on included 'How to Support My Child's Learning', Numeracy and Sewing.

I know that Disraeli has a long waiting list and many of my friends have fought to get their children into the school. If you are in catchment I would count yourself very lucky, as I know people who have moved to get their children into the school!

gecpanjad Sun 11-Aug-13 21:34:27

A couple of years ago I was in a similar position, and was not at all sure about sending my son to Disraeli school. We'd bought our house with little thought of school catchment, and the Ofsted report and SATs results at Disraeli weren't that impressive - especially when compared to other local schools like Downley. However, having heard parents at a local toddlers group speak very highly of the school, I went to have a look and was immediately impressed with how the school looked, how it felt, how polite the pupil's were, how positive and open the staff were, and with our conversation with the Headteacher. Our son has now just finished Year 1, and we couldn't be more pleased with the school. He has had such positive experiences, and made such great progress with some fantastic and dedicated teachers. In particular I was aware that he was an August birthday and, for boys, this can be an issue, particularly in Key Stage 1. However, he's now on the G&T register, and the setting system at the school has really helped him to set himself high expectations and feel proud of his achievements. Disraeli has such a positive culture, and you really feel part of it as a parent. There's a no nonsense work hard play hard approach from all the staff, led with great honesty and passion by the headteacher. I don't know much about Hamilton, but I would agree with the other parent's that Disraeli has a huge amount to offer. My youngest starts school next year, and we have put off moving to make sure he get's into the school - oh the irony! Of course, it's different for everyone and you have to make the right decision for you, but I would recommend that you at least go and have a look for yourself and don't write Disraeli off, as the Ofsted reports and SATs results definately don't tell the whole story and do this exceptional school a disservice.

difficultpickle Sun 11-Aug-13 22:16:31

I met the head of Hamilton school when he was at his previous school. I thought he was inspirational and had a very hard time making school choices. If I hadn't had to worry about wraparound care ds would have gone to his school. I know everyone was very sad to see him leave, which he did because he wanted a new challenge. Iirc Hamilton got good Ofsted report comments about how well the management team were doing to improve the school.

Abba2000 Wed 21-Aug-13 08:10:24

I'm a parent at Disraeli and could not recommend it more highly. I've had links with the school for many years and when it came to choosing a school for my daughter I did look round others (so I felt I was making an informed decision) but was and stil am convinced that Disraeli was the right choice.
My daughter is bright for her age and has a wide variety of interests which as far as both her and I are concerned are really well catered for. I couldn't ask for a happier child each day and know she is being both pushed to achieve her best and supported in areas she has difficulty with. She experiences a broad and exciting curriculum where her learning is really brought to life. The teachers and senior leaders are always available to discuss anything and really make you feel like your opinion or concerns are important to them.
The only way to truly know is to go and see for yourself and see what is right for your child but I definitely chose right for my daughter and she couldn't be happier.

Curly41 Sat 24-Aug-13 18:21:40

I've just read the reviews about Disraeli they sound great. We have just been offered a place there would anyone be willing to discuss the school further?

Bangers72 Fri 30-Aug-13 18:02:56

Hi Curly41,
I am happy to tell you about my experiences to date with Disraeli. My daughter is just about to start year 3, so I can certainly comment on reception and Key Stage 1 in some detail! Please post any questions you have and I will answer them. Or if you want greater details, I would just call the school and book some time with the head, Mrs Virk, I am sure that she would be happy to spend some time going through any issues you want to discuss. She has always made time for me to talk through any questions I have had over the last 3 years. The school's number is 01494 445177.

safagirl74 Thu 03-Oct-13 18:34:44

Hi there, I stumbled across this thread today and felt I HAD to add my two cents worth. My child is a late "arrivee" at Disraeli School, she only started half-way though Year 5. Previously both my children had been attending an "outstanding" nearby school. My son who is now in Year 8, was very happy there, but received a very mediocre education. I feel he was not pushed enough to his full potential. When my confident daughter arrived at said school in Year 3, I noticed very quickly that her self-confidence in herself and school work take a massive nose-dive. The pastoral care was no where to be seen and after many hearth-breaking and frustrating incidents we took the plunge and pulled her from the school. It was the best decision I have ever made, she is flourishing beyond belief at Disraeli, she entered the school in January and already her levels have jumped many sub-levels. The school offers so much to a child, superb teaching, exciting curriculum, wonderful school trips and residentials, very caring staff and a vey inspirational headteacher. No stone is left unturned to make sure your child has an all-round educational experience at the school. The pastoral care is amazing and any issue your child may have, extra effort is made to make sure it is dealt with as soon as possible. They have forward think TV & Radio stations that the children use. From the minute you walk in the front door of the school, you will realise that you are in a very special place.In my daughters on words "When I think of my old school I see black, grey and brown, now my life is yellow, red, blue, pink and purple." That says it all, I just wish we had done this alot earlier for both my children.

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