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Inverurie or Ellon Academy? Other Secondary Schools in Aberdeenshire?

(19 Posts)
TreacleTots Sat 23-Sep-17 13:19:24

Hi, I'm desperately looking for some first hand advice on secondary schools in Aberdeenshire please!! In particular we are considering Inverurie Academy as we have found a house in that area but I'm so worried about schools. Possible other consideration would be Ellon Academy but we would welcome advice on any school within commuting distance to Aberdeen. I'm keen to know about teaching standards, discipline, bullying, exam results etc etc. I have a hard working but extremely shy DD who I think would be in S2 and a DS that does ok but doesn't really like school, would be S4. We will be coming from the English system so a big change for them and I'd hate to inadvertently send them somewhere that would make the change even harder. Any advice would be greatly appreciated thanks.

prettybird Sat 23-Sep-17 13:24:45

Can't help on the area (as I'm in Glasgow) but I'm sure others will be along to advise.

Just to confirm which years your dd and ds would be in: when are their birthdays? We have different cut-off dates in Scotland, although there is a degree of flexibility that isn't available in England.

Namechangedtowarn Sat 23-Sep-17 13:40:33

I would personally try to avoid Inverurie if possible. The new headmaster doesn't have the best reputation (both privately and professionally) and I would be wary. I have several friends who live in Insch and they have all chosen to send their DC to The Gordon Schools in Huntly rather than go to Inverurie. (Insch is dual-zoned)

Banchory is far and away the best school in the shire, but house prices in Banchory reflect that.

Friends whose DC are at the Gordon Schools seem happy enough with it but I don't know any real details.

Kemnay doesn't have the best reputation, but on the south side of the city, Mackie Academy in Stonehaven is always well spoken of by people. I don't know what their standards are like but people seem happy with the school.

The education system in Scotland is pants however - it's falling apart and expectations are frankly really low. We're in Aberdeen City and it's pretty dire.

Namechangedtowarn Sat 23-Sep-17 13:42:51

I don't know anything about Ellon academy - it's a lovely wee town and the surrounding villages are lovely too - I think it always seems more welcoming than Inverurie which can be a bit parochial and insular for want of better words. Having said that, places like Insch and Oyne are lovely wee villages which I have always found to be really welcoming.

prettybird Sat 23-Sep-17 14:01:06

My ds is in S6 and I've been very happy with his education at a state school in Glasgow. 5 good Highers already in the bag and currently doing 2 AHs and one crash Higher.

School has high expectations, reflected in good results - but also has a holistic attitude towards its pupils (sporting, artistic and musical achievements are also celebrated, as is volunteering). Good pastoral care and apparently motivated staff smile School does get extra resources though because of the high proportion of SIMD1 and 2 (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation for those that don't know) within its catchment - which is highly mixed, demographically. That and the 55 languages spoken by pupils! shock

TreacleTots Sat 23-Sep-17 16:01:05

Thank you so much for replying Prettybird and Namechangedtowarn, that's really helpful! One house we liked was dual zoned for Gordon's Schools Huntly and Meldrum and the other for Inverurie. I really like Huntly but feel it's too far from Aberdeen and I was reluctant to be sending kids opposite direction (I'll also have one in college). I like Inverurie as a town but worried about a lot of 'town' kids may be more streetwise than our kids. Currently they're Year 9 & 11 in England but not sure how that translates in Scotland. We actually used to live in Aberdeenshire and DD was born there but only had pretty dire experience of the primaries there so Academy is a whole new worry! All 3 missed a year of schooling coming here so think they'd go back to right years there and get another year! Can't wait til all DCs out of education to be honest it's been a real headache of parenting so far!! I've heard Alford Academy is good and lots of nice family sized houses out that way but I worry about driving to Aberdeen in bad weather??

Holz657 Sat 23-Sep-17 16:03:06

I have family in Alford and yes it's a bit far and can be a bit of a pain in bad weather but the houses are lovely!! Also heard the schools good too. Hope you manage to find somewhere your kids settle into well x

TreacleTots Sat 23-Sep-17 16:07:24

@prettybird Seriosuly 55 languages??? I'm all for diversity in learning but surely that can't help the schools in their teaching?! Sounds like your DS has done really well though. Are Advanced Highers optional? Forgive my ignorance of the system, I've struggled to find any proper info on when and how they get their qualifications in Scotland. We have approx 8 GCSEs just before age 16 here and then by 18 they have 3 A Levels and can go to university. I thought you just had Standard Grades and then Highers?

TreacleTots Sat 23-Sep-17 16:10:16

@Holz657 that's interesting to hear. I have a young driver would want to take himself to Aberdeen and college etc, would the road be too dangerous for him? I remember liking Alford when driving through but haven't visited with a view to live there just heard the Academy is good. Can't remember how long it takes to drive to Aberdeen?

prettybird Sat 23-Sep-17 16:15:31

Year 11 is indeed S4 and Y9 is S2 - but as I mentioned, our cut-off dates are different.

So, for example, my ds recently turned 17 but is at the young end of his year (S6, equivalent of Y13) (technically, he whould be in the middle of the year, as the cut-off is the beginning of March, but because of the option to defer, in practice he is on average at the young end: he has one friend who turned 17 in January and another friend who won't turn 17 until February 2018 - both legitimately in S6 confused.

Someone with ds' birthday in England would be one of the oldest in Y12.

prettybird Sat 23-Sep-17 16:42:18

School copes very well with all the the languages, as far as I can make out. Most of the kids who have English as an Additional Language are bi (or even tri)- lingual.

Standard Grades no longer exist - they have been replaced by National 5s. Different areas have implemented Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) differently. Ds' school allowed pupils at least those that were capable to do 8 Nat 5s because the started the exam curriculum at the end of S2. Others (iir, including the whole of Aberdeenshire) only allows 5 or 6, becuase they only start at the end of S3. In theory, those areas can allow the pupils to crash a wider range Highers later, as they would have got to Nat 4 level in more subjects.

Highers are sat in S5. For academically capable kids, aiming at Uni, the norm is 5 in S5 and then (again for the academically able), 2 or 3 Advanced Highers in S6 - or some more Highers. Some schools/pupils will spread their Highers over S5 and S6 - and even their Nat 5s (eg to make sure they get a Nat 5 in English or Maths if they struggle with the subject).

Holz657 Sat 23-Sep-17 16:42:58

I wouldn't class it as dangerous. Obviously it depends on the driver, you pass through a few places then hit Aberdeen. smile it's a lovely place, it's where I ultimately would like to live x

Holz657 Sat 23-Sep-17 16:44:11

Sorry also it takes about 45 mins to drive from Aberdeen to Alford depending on traffic etc smile

prettybird Sat 23-Sep-17 17:26:19

Technically, ds could have gone to a Scottish Uni this year with his Higher results (and one or two of his friends did choose to go).

I went to St Andrews after S5 - but I was at the "old" end of the year (birthday in April) and even though the Uni checked that I was mature enough, I still struggled a bit in 1st I was very naive blush

readsalotgirl63 Sun 24-Sep-17 19:10:33

Hi - we are south of Aberdeen. Mackie has a good reputation and Stonehaven is a nice town to live in - good transport links to Aberdeen. Portlethen doesn't have as good a reputation as Mackie but know of several youngsters from there who have just started at Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee studying medicine, law, engineering.

TreacleTots Mon 25-Sep-17 13:46:04

Thanks readalotgirl63, we hadn't considered Stonehaven as we used to live north of the city so don't know that area well. It's helpful to hear how the schools are as we can maybe widen our search!

FloraAnnie Tue 26-Sep-17 10:54:43

Kemnay doesn't have a great reputation, but I was very happy with it for my two (under previous headmaster). I have one creative child (who sounds a bit like your DS) and one maths-focussed child (who sounds a bit like your DD )and both did well and went on to Uni. I don't think either would have done any better at any other school.

I don't know how much it's changed since the head teacher changed, though.

readsalotgirl63 Tue 26-Sep-17 19:28:00

No problem Treacle - the weather is often a bit better south of the city which may be a consideration in winter. The train into Aberdeen is pretty reliable ( fingers crossed) if you don't fancy driving or taking the bus.
I know some people who travel from Laurencekirk - train station there.

readsalotgirl63 Tue 26-Sep-17 19:28:31

That would be Mearns Academy

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