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What's happening at Haberdasher's Askes Hatcham. Why have results dropped so much ?

(28 Posts)
Finallyspring Sun 06-Mar-11 11:48:54

We have a place at Askes. It used to be very highly thought of but results took huge drop last year and have heard that there are behaviour and staff morale issues. I have heard this has happened as a result of merger with local primary. Does anyone know anything about this ?

clux73 Sun 06-Mar-11 11:51:07

I'd be interested to hear if anyone knows about this too.

LondonMother Sun 06-Mar-11 14:28:06

I read a thread on the East Dulwich forum about this last year. The cohort that took GCSEs last summer were the first admitted under the current admissions policy. Previously they didn't have sibling priority or take any account of distance, now they do. The old admissions policy was very difficult to make any sense of and there was a lot of suspicion that the school had been cherrypicking the most able and motivated pupils, although it is nominally a comprehensive.

The people discussing on the EDF this said that the problem last year was with Maths and that staff had struggled to cope with a very different intake from what they'd been used to. I have no idea whether things have improved since.

Worth mentioning though, that the huge drop you mention is from 90+% getting 5+ A*-C GCSEs including Maths and English to 70%+ getting that - and the latter is still extremely good for an inner London comprehensive. Some might say that this indicates that at last Aske's genuinely does have a comprehensive intake.

Finallyspring Sun 06-Mar-11 15:09:15

Thanks for the response. I know the school still does very well. The results themselves are perhaps not the issue but the fact that percentagewise it is an unusual drop and I had heard that this and other changes had lead to a drop in morale, which can often be a difficult thing to turn around. I have heard many different things from many different parents as we live live locally. I guess what I would really like to know is the experience of insiders like teachers or pupils.

LondonMother Sun 06-Mar-11 15:14:38

They didn't offer my son a place in that very intake - for his band we would have needed to live about 140 metres from the gate - so I can't comment as an insider, but way back then I had some reservations as I had come across a few parents who felt the pastoral care/attitude to parents left a lot to be desired. On the other hand, I've also met parents who praised the school to the skies - but it's a long time since I talked to a current parent, so hope one or more do reply on this thread!

Finallyspring Sun 06-Mar-11 15:18:38

I have heard it said many times that the pastoral care at Askes is not up to much. Maybe this is something they will have to address now they have an intake in more need of it. I guess I won't get much sympathy but we were weighing up whether to take the place at Askes or at a local private school which we like and which we can afford. Have decided to go for Askes but now wondering if a big mistake. I guess I'm looking for reassurance as it's too late !

confidence Sun 06-Mar-11 22:09:15

"I have heard this has happened as a result of merger with local primary. Does anyone know anything about this ?"

Temple Grove primary, which used to be Monson?

I only have very incomplete knowledge of this but what I gathered was that some years ago, the LEA closed Monson primary school which was failing badly, and basically "gave" it to Aske's federation to sort out. It then became part of a through 4-16 academy with Askes Hatcham college. One effect of this was that the admissions criteria for Askes secondary changed, with all children at Temple Grove (a community primary taking all local children equally by distance) automatically getting a place at Askes. Presuming that the intake for Temple Grove is much the same as it was for Monson, this might have substantially raised their proportion of difficult and/or struggling kids.

I only know this because I applied for a job at Temple Grove when it was being set up. They didn't even contact me and, when I tried to follow it up, I couldn't work out what was going on or who to even speak to. So I just forgot about it. The exact situation re admissions might therefore be very different from what I've described.

Last I heard was that Temple Grove was severely damaged in a fire.

zara77 Mon 07-Mar-11 02:04:34

I attended the School about 10/15 yrs ago and managed to do fairly(Legal Sector). The atmosphere in the School was geared towards being successful and raising ambitions. For this i will forever be grateful.The School did have a diverse intake amongst my cohort and all my friends are professionals.
However most my friends with children, do send them to private schools. I actually have a nephew and nieces-whom all attend private. I can clearly see the vast differences in opportunity and confidences of the children. The pastoral care is amazing and the help for University really is unparalleled. Oxbridge is more of a real possibility rather than, just the few chosen by School to allow application.
Honestly a choice between a good private and my old school-private wins every time.

mrsmossy Mon 07-Mar-11 13:41:31

Hmmm, we are in a similar situation to you, Finally Spring. We have had an offer at Askes and a chance to go to high- achieving Grammar elsewhere.

When I say we, I mean my dd, but you know what, it feels like we're all on this journey!

We've been hearing mixed reports from kids' parents currently at HAHC. However, everyone there loves it. They say the music is simply amazing and the department heads are visionary and forward- thinking. Many kids want to get into the sixth form too.
There are issues with behaviour now and the 2010 results must be linked to the primary school cohort that started in 2005.
Last night I noticed three AST teacher positions ( English, Maths and Science)for the college advertised on TES.|351841&event=72
I rang the college and they said it's just a mix of teachers moving on and new staff in. With the CEO, Elizabeth Sidwell moving on to become School's commissioner in April, there are big changes ahead at the school but Askes has has a long tradition of turning things around. I'd rather see them sharing their education across the community than keeping things selective. It has no doubt been challenging for them all on the inside but I am sure they are working on new ways to tackle disruptive kids.
If you watch Jamie's so-called Dream School, you'll see it's a range of kids who have apparently failed and even the best in their trade find these kids hard to teach/reach.
Our other choice is a Kent Grammar but it feels lifeless compared with Askes. And I think with home support this school will be good for our child. I'm sure my child will perform well wherever she goes because we are an engaged, educated family and she likes to be around lots of different people.

The Askes situation is one to watch, though.
Maybe I'll report back in 12 months time...

Finallyspring Mon 07-Mar-11 17:21:31

Oh thanks for your input mrsmossy ! We have already turned down a place at local independent school in favour of Askes and now feeling very nervous ! Have lived in the area all my life, went to a local comprehensive and now teach at one so I know exactly the background to all this and the challenges faced by the teachers.I did know the situation with Temple Grove when I posted but did not want to write anything judgemental about it as I was looking for a selection of responses. I guess I'll just try to stay on the ball and watch the situation carefully, you and me both ! Anyone out there with insider comments about what it's really like to teach there ?

mrsmossy Mon 07-Mar-11 21:45:36

My child can't wait to start and is aware of some of our concerns. Last night she said we should just get excited like she is and ignore the other schools and scare stories( she's 10!) She says it's about her and what she makes of the school. I think we should all take something from that.
So far, I've met five of the upcoming year 7 students and they are all fab, confident, bright kids.
Here's to Aug 31st!

Finallyspring Tue 08-Mar-11 07:44:32

My child is thrilled to have got the place at Askes and has already tidied her desk and shelves in anticipation. I am very happy she will be able to walk there and her friends will be nearby. We have an older child who is at a secondary school much further away and it makes a big difference to her social life, and ours ! Having to ferry your child far and wide at the weekend is not great. Not only that, but it means that you don't really get to know their friend's parents. So on balance, it's fine.However, as a teacher and ex pupil at a South East London comprehensive I am under no illusion that it it is easy to do well if you want to , or if you have 'good teachers' No amount of good intentions help if you are in a class with children who have difficulties with studying. If your child has been at a good primary you, and they will not be prepared for this. Enough of the doom ! would still like to hear from those with insider perspective on Askes.

mushroom3 Mon 14-Mar-11 10:54:14

My son is in Year 7 at Aske's. After much debate over Aske's, Kingsdale and a far away Grammar, we put Aske's first on our form. We now know we made the right decision. My quiet, quite academic son (but useless at music!)is thriving there. He was the only boy to get in from his primary school, but found there were many other children in the same situation. From what he says, on the whole his cohort are well behaved and get on well together. He has many friends and walks home with a couple of other boys from his year. The initial setting (English, Maths, Science and D & T) was done on the results of SATs and tests at the end of the first week, more assessments at Christmas meant some more moving around of children. They had a 4 day adventure holiday to get to know each other at the beginning of this year and have been on a trip for English and this week for Science. There have also been a number of social events at the school,eg International Day on Friday evening. After the oppressive and chaotic open day, we expected there to be poor communication from the school, but the opposite has been true, both on an academic and on a social level, eg two school reports and an open evening already! They are worked hard, but not overly so, and if they don't do homework or are late, they get a warning first (sanction), and if there is a repeat event in a short time, then a detention.

There are many lunch clubs and after school clubs, and it great that if my son does a sport after school, he is still home by 5pm. Many of his friends from primary school spend two hours commuting each day, while he spends 40 minutes (20 mins each way).

I have no reservations to recommend this school to prospective parents, it is proving better than expected.

Finallyspring Tue 15-Mar-11 15:40:30

Thank you very much for this reassuring info. mushroom3. It's exactly what I want to hear as now fully committed to Aske's !

LadyWellian Wed 16-Mar-11 00:12:42

Finallyspring Aske's was our first choice as it is mixed (and I just loved the feel of it) but we were just too far away.

However, we're very, very happy to have got our 2nd choice.

I don't think you can blame the Temple Grove amalgamation for the drop, as AFAIK it only happened a couple of years ago (we lost a lovely teacher from DD's primary to there) so there won't be any Monson children above Y9 or so.

I was interested looking at this year's league tables that Aske's had a) dropped a long way on the A-Cs and b) didn't do so well on the EBac. I'm not sure on the cause of the former but the latter might be due to less emphasis on languages. It was a rotten trick by the coalition to test schools on a parachuted-in set of criteria like that, though.

In all I would still have loved it if DD had been offerd a place, but the one we have now looks just as good based on laset year's results (better on the EBac) and DD has pronounced herself pleased as they have a mixed VI form and 'by the time I am in the VI form I will be ready for a boyfriend'.

Kepp thinking that way grin!

sincitylover Wed 16-Mar-11 11:08:19

Just out of interest was the faraway grammar in a place beginning with D?

Maybe I do feel a tiny bit green for people who can afford private but manage to get into a good state school.

Now that's a true choice compared to what most people have - but if I had the money Id prob do the same not particularly because I agree with private education (I was privately educated on a 100%) scholarship but because of the dire state of affairs regarding state schools in this area.

I loved Askes but we lived too far away but interestingly my ds2 (who is transferring to secondary in 2012) says he doesn't like it. I think it's because he doesn't like that area.

I have also heard that Aske's pastoral care is not up to scratch.

mushroom3 Wed 16-Mar-11 11:58:12

The new English Bacc looks at proportion of children who have passed GCSE in English,maths, two sciences, a foreign language and history/geography. The problem is that not all children will have chosen this combination of subjects in their options anyway. This means that in the group of local state secondaries, only Aske's, Bacons and Prendergast score above 30%. Other schools that are considered good, such as Kingsdale and Charter score not even close to that! It's crazy to have brought in a benchmark when this combination wasn't down as compulsory at option time for the 2010 year 11 cohort. This is particularly true for history/geography (other options there, Religious studies, sociology, classical civilisation etc). I think at Aske's all do at least one foreign language and double or triple science.
I know that after Monson merger with Aske's some staff left, I wonder if that may have had an inpact on last years GCSE results. I know that the current year 11 parents brought up last years results with staff at a parents meeting. I think there were some problems initially after the merger, and a couple of expulsions from year 7 last year. There are 5 sets, so children work at their own pace to their ability and it means that brighter ones are stretched. They also have a gifted and talented group who meet up once a week. The intake is now truly comprehensive, and therefore there are some children whose talents are not academic ones, and they may not get 5 GCSEs.

LondonMother Wed 16-Mar-11 12:22:22

Technically, Aske's has been a comprehensive since the mid-70s when the 11+ was abolished in Inner London, but it's interesting that its current admissions policy has made so much difference to the intake. The old policy was so opaque that it was difficult to see why else they would use it unless they were expressly out to get the highest number of very able children they could get away with. No sibling preference, no account taken of proximity - all applications scored, with points allocated according to the score on the 'aptitude test' for technology ability and the position within the ability banding (so the better you did the more points you got - what's that if not selecting for ability?), for the year 5 school report and for the paragraph they wrote about themselves. The present position is much fairer but it must have been a huge shock to the staff to have to deal with a more normal range of ability.

confidence Fri 18-Mar-11 21:04:09


"I loved Askes but we lived too far away but interestingly my ds2 (who is transferring to secondary in 2012) says he doesn't like it. I think it's because he doesn't like that area."

LOL, can't blame him for that. I have to respect anyone who's so dedicated to quality schooling for their kids that they'd actually move to New Cross to get it.

LadyWellian Fri 18-Mar-11 23:31:18

confidence It's Telegraph Hill, dahling.

(At least the Pepys site is, and I think that's where they measure from.)

jumagoo Sat 26-Mar-11 21:45:28

All very interesting reading on this subject.
My daughter has been offered a music place and we are over the moon.
She attends Brindishe Lee school, an 'outstanding' school' and I guess with highly rated schools, there is an expectation for all to be perfect. We applied for Prendergast too, where she had an audition and when she was asked if she had any questions, she asked if they did many performances...they replied that they didn't do many, so my cynical mind thinks that they cherry pick.
She missed passing the 11+ by a few points and I can safely say that I am glad that she will not be going to grammar although I wanted to keep all options open. For me, she's into music so I am hoping that she'll be attending a school where they will 'get' her if you know what I mean!?

Finallyspring Sun 27-Mar-11 16:58:15

Thanks for input. It's interesting that there have been no repsonses from parents of boys. I had heard that the behaviour issues are mainly with boys in the lower school. Can anyone confirm that ?

mushroom3 Mon 28-Mar-11 10:03:33

My son is a year 7 boy, from what he says there are a couple of boys in year 8 who misbehave, but he thinks there aren't issues with his year. There is little interaction between the years as there are 200 children within a year (8 forms, 2x5 sets, so lesson groups are smaller than form groups). He is extremely happy there even though he was the only boy from his school. Amongst 200 children, there is scope for everyone to find a group of social peers!

mushroom3 Mon 28-Mar-11 10:09:16

I didn't explain, 8 mixed forms of 25 children and 5 boy and 5 girl sets of 20 for each subject as lessons are single sexed.

Finallyspring Mon 28-Mar-11 18:24:15

Thanks for the information. All reassuring !

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