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Secondary Schools in Bexley - Anyone got any experience??

(31 Posts)
Funnybunnyboiler Fri 11-Feb-11 03:59:16

Hello there. I'm moving from Pembrokeshire to Bexley in Kent later this year with my 11 year old son. I've arranged a place for him in a local Junior School for the last 6 weeks or so of this term, but he's moving up to Secondary school in September and I've got to decide which one. I've been told by the Council that as kids in Wales don't take the 11+ exam, he will now have missed the opportunity to get into grammar school. I've also been told that as applications have already been processed, it's unlikely I'll be able to get him into an oversubscribed school in the area. I was hoping to come down in a couple of weeks to visit some schools but I really don't know where to start. Does anyone on here know anything about schools secondary in the Bexley area, and which ones I should aim for or avoid! Many thanks x

OP’s posts: |
Tigerstripes Fri 11-Feb-11 13:34:30

My boyfriend taught at welling school for one term and hated it. The behaviour there was awful and he has since learned it is known as a 'tough' school.
I did supply teaching at Erith school and was greeted by 'you know this is quite a challenging school, don't you?'. It is rated outstanding but the behaviour certainly doesn't match. Friendly teachers though.
Sorry can only tell you ones to avoid!

Madsometimes Fri 11-Feb-11 14:03:56

St Columba's is a well thought of catholic school. Another school that is on the up is the Harris Academy.

TalkinPeace2 Fri 11-Feb-11 17:31:55

DH went worked at one of the schools there and there were cannabis plants growing in the border outside the front door.
Head of Science had not recognised them!

MarinaResurgens Fri 11-Feb-11 18:01:48

Try this one

Trinity C of E School I have heard very good reports of it and were we not at the absolute wrong end of the borough for it would have given in serious consideration.

A left-field suggestion is the LB Greenwich replacement for Crown Woods School, which is due to re-open as a collegiate academy with four different small schools sharing new resources like a gym and a restaurant. One of the schools will be "like a grammar", one a comprehensive, one a tech and one a 6th form centre.

It is JUST across the Western border of LB Bexley and as it has been undersubscribed (and in special measures for a time) in the past, you might strike lucky and get him into a school which has lovely new buildings and an improving future.

Crown Woods
I would agree

Funnybunnyboiler Sun 13-Feb-11 14:35:54

Thank you so much for your replies. I had a system crash and couldn't get back online till today to respond ( Those are all really useful suggestions. Just as useful to know where to avoid as well!

I thought I'd def take a look at St. Columba's. I know the reputation there used to be good but I also heard that it may have slipped a bit. difficult to know which is the most recent reputation. I know St Catherines has a an excellent reputation.

Both the Trinity School and the Academy replacing Crown Woods School look like contenders, although both are over 5 miles from the DA5 postcode where I'll be living, so i need to check out the transport first. Same goes for the Harris Academy I think. Was the Harris Academy formerly Black Fen?

I have now been told that it may be possible to arrange a late 11+, so I'm going to have a look at BETHS Grammar. Does anyone know anything about Dartford Grammar or Wilmington Grammar which are also close by?

I've also spoken to the junior school which I'm hoping to get him into for the last term of this year. They mentioned Leigh Technology Academy in Dartford, and the Haberdashers Aske Crayford Academy which only opened to secondary kids in 2010. both look interesting but sometimes the word on the ground can tell a different story from the glossy website. I'd be really grateful for any guidance here. I'm a bit overwhelmed!

OP’s posts: |
MarinaResurgens Sun 13-Feb-11 20:28:07

Funnybunny, I have PMed you with some useful information. The Harris Academy used to be Welling School. Blackfen is girls only (known as the Academy for Refined Young Ladies locally wink, but it gets very good results and value added).
DGS and BETHS are great, Wilmington is very good (less oversubscribed than those two) Habs is bound to be popular because of the huge success of their Federation Schools in Lewisham, Leigh CTC is one of the most oversubscribed state schools in England!
Definitely contact Kent LEA and LB Bexley about arranging a late test, and check which schools are Foundation (Hurstmere, DGS, BETHS I think, Bexley GS) because they will have additional admission criteria and a senior member of staff who can talk to you frankly about your chances.

Tigerstripes Sun 13-Feb-11 21:15:18

Marinaresurgeons-wanted to correct you as welling school is still definitely welling and not a Harris. Not sure there is a Harris that far over.

MarinaResurgens Mon 14-Feb-11 00:01:41

Ok, thanks Tigerstripes. I wonder what it used to be then!

Funnybunnyboiler Tue 15-Feb-11 23:56:53

Thank you MR. I've PM'd you back. Really appreciate the advice.

Apparently if I was applying within the normal time frame I could access the services of a Choices Advisor, but this isn't the case this late in the year ( I was wondering if its possible to access them privately, but I think I may just get talking to the schools in the hopes of getting some answers. It's very hard to come from so far out of the area and still make an informed choice and with such limits on my time. i was planning to move in time for the start of the new school year, but have bought that forward now in the hopes of maximising the opportunities available to us. It must be the single most important decision you have to make for your kids

Pheww... I'm glad i don't have to make decision like this every week!

OP’s posts: |
solo Wed 16-Feb-11 00:11:09

Funnybunny, beths is an excellent school overall.
Bexley grammar; I've heard first hand some hair raising things that have happened to some children there.
Trinity has a very primary school feel to it.
St columba's had a dreadful reputation for a number of years, but it has turned around over the last 6 years and has had big money ploughed into it.
Chislehurst and Sidcup (grammar) is fantastic but be warned that you'd need a second mortgage to kit your Dc out with their uniform.
Cleeve Park seemed like a good school when we viewed it (Ds is now in year 8, so several years ago), I liked it over Trinity.

solo Wed 16-Feb-11 00:17:37

Oh and I meant to say that I wouldn't touch Erith with a bargepole; some of the children there are...erm...not pleasant.
Leigh Tech is said to be excellent, but my nephew who has Asberger's, had a terrible time there.

MarinaResurgens Wed 16-Feb-11 15:59:16

Now that's interesting Solo, because we've heard the opposite about Chis & Sid vs Bexley GS. First one, pretty mediocre in recent years, second one, brilliant with OFSTED Outstanding. I think it demonstrates how different all the local schools are and how important it is to try and get one that will suit your child. Anyone who thinks all grammars are the same really does need to visit LB Bexley!
Good luck with your choice-making and decisions FBB smile

solo Wed 16-Feb-11 17:55:22

I know a lady whose Ds became suicidal (and is suffering still, even though he's now left) during his time at Bexley grammar, but her (much) older Dd had gone there with great results and no problems. Have to say that I didn't like Bexley grammar much when we viewed it, though Ds did (before I knew about the above person). I didn't like the tarty girls with the towel ring earrings and the thick makeup, short skirts and so on (you get the idea). The boy that showed us around was quite pleasant, but had his shirt hanging outside his trousers! I'm quite sure that they were all told to dress properly and curb the lippy etc for the viewing parents sake, but obviously that didn't have any effect on them. It also has a huge school population.
OFSTED reports aside, I think the feel of any school is an important thing to consider and whether your own child would fit in and feel comfortable and happy there.
Chis & Sid felt fabulous and the children not only looked happy, but looked comfortable and proud wearing their uniform.
I personally wanted to put it down as 1st choice, but ended up with Beths as 1st, C&S as 2nd; was very glad we hadn't got C&S because I could never have afforded the uniform requirements; the blazer alone was £75 and they had to have separate rugby and football boots, cross country shoes and on and on...Beths only requires one pair of boots for rugby and football, provides the use of lab coats, so you don't have to buy one and I think all these things need taking into consideration.
According to the school, beths is the best boys grammar in the country...could be trumpet blowing, but I'm happy with the way they teach right now.

It is though, a tough and stressful job choosing and applying for any key stage school iyswim, so I do wish the OP the best

MarinaResurgens Wed 16-Feb-11 18:00:21

Oh that's awful solo sad poor kid
One of ds' best friends is at BETHS and very happy - and ds travels on the train with two other BETHS boys

solo Wed 16-Feb-11 18:14:51

My Ds is not entirely happy there, but he knows that the schooling itself is very good and he'd tell anyone that too. Sadly, he gets called poor boy and picked on because of that and it can get to him which is very sad.

MaureenMLove Wed 16-Feb-11 18:37:59

LOL @ some of these comments on the schools! I'm not going to say too much publicly, as I work at one, DD goes to one and so do a number of my neices and nephews! grin

Happy to give you some info on Private Chat though!

BTW, Harris Academy is formerly Westwood College.

MarinaResurgens Wed 16-Feb-11 19:38:26

That name-calling is a bit much solo. Have you spoken to his form tutor about that?

Hatesponge Wed 16-Feb-11 19:53:42

You will get a huge range of opinions on schools. I know 2 ex Chis and Sid pupils, one was constantly bullied, the other was very happy during their time there. I've not been impressed by the behaviour of pupils on the way to/from school, especially given how good the school is meant to be.

Hurstmere is a specialist sports college, but not great academically. In fact none of the non-grammars are, and frankly if your DS doesn't get into a grammar, the reality is the rest of the schools are no more than fairly mediocre. St Columbas is probably the best of the non grammars, though it had an appalling reputation a couple of years back. Avoid Erith at all costs. Cleeve Park (my DSs school) is ok, but only capable of teaching to the average - a bright child will get very bored with the lack of homework, and work not being set for their level, mine does.

Outside the borough, Leigh is good, though I know its a big school and can be quite daunting, (especially as I think it's still on split sites).

MaureenMLove Thu 17-Feb-11 18:11:41

Just wondering, what are your reasons for hating Erith so much?

Neither me or DD or my relations have anything to do with it tbh, we are too far away to consider it, but I'd always heard good things about it.

vj32 Thu 17-Feb-11 18:57:28

I have young relatives at Chis&Sid who are very happy there - one in sixth form one in second year. Know lots of young adults who went there too and were all happy there, although it is quite traditional grammar I think, hence the importance on uniform, playing rugby etc. They were all sporty and loved it.

MarinaResurgens Thu 17-Feb-11 22:00:22

I have also only heard good things about Erith Maureen, I was surprised to read that too
Tbh I think it's preposterous to charge £75 for a single piece of school uniform, especially in the state sector.
The rest of the local grammars allow chain-store blazers and sell a sew-on badge for a few pounds. Doesn't seem to have adversely affected their value-added/league-table/word-of-mouth.

MaureenMLove Thu 17-Feb-11 22:11:09

I agree. The girls tech school is just as bad. Once they get their places confirmed on 2nd March, they have to make an appointment at John Lewis, for fittings for all their uniform. Then, they have to sent it away for names to be embroidered on, in the schools special gold thread! shock

If you had 3 girls going through the same school, it is inevitable that girl number 3, will look like the poor relation, because she's wearing hand me downs! How is that making everyone uniform? Bloody crap imho!

Anyway, that's another thread for another day!

None of the schools in Bexley are that bad. If you have a good kid, with plenty of support at home, he will do well in any of them.

Hatesponge Thu 17-Feb-11 22:18:37

Erith is the worst school in the borough academically, my DCs cousin also goes there and I haven't heard much positive from her or her family about it.

I would actually advise the OP to avoid my son's school as well, but it seems slightly hypocritical that I would send my son to a school that I would tell others to avoid! However, we had hobsons choice at the time.

On the uniform point, lots of the non-selective schools don't do sewn on badges either, you have to buy from school outfitters - DSs blazer was £40 iirc, much less than Chis and Sid, but much more than a generic one from M&S would be. Could be worse - at Beaverwood (girls sch just outside Bexley borough) uniform is kilts (£40-50) which can only be bought from John Lewis in Oxford Street!....

MarinaResurgens Thu 17-Feb-11 22:21:43

Blimey hatesponge! Ds is at Dartford GS and they made a pleasingly big deal about how it should be manageable to get all your son's uniform for under £100. It was too, just.
We actually live just in LB Greenwich and I must admit I agree with Maureen and say that Bexley offers a much better range of options for most children

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