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Reigate Grammar vs Dunottar

(27 Posts)
midnightmunchies Wed 09-Mar-11 12:37:10

Wondering which would be best for academically very bright DD, liked the family feel of Dunottar - being a smaller school, but would the Grammar push her more academically? not particularly worried about single sex/mixed.

LIZS Wed 09-Mar-11 15:08:27

Judging by destination of it s leavers I'd say Dunnotar is far the less generally academic of the two although they do have a few high achievers, academicallya dn min areas sucha s music. Have you visited ? T me Dunottar feels very much in its own world and RGS more rounded.

ReigateMum Thu 10-Mar-11 16:15:45

Definitely RGS if academics are your aspiration, and co-ed is fine.

I know friends with kids at both. Dunottar is a much more 'all-rounder' sort of place - the results are good, but RGS is in the Top 100!

How old is your DD now? Is she at a school local to these (i.e. one of the 'feeders'?)

ThisisaSignofthetimes Thu 10-Mar-11 21:53:51

Difficult one, RGS is I believe more academically selective so should be getting higher up the league tables, Dunottar works with a wider mixture of abilities. I'm not sure you can get value add scores for private schools, which is a shame as it might give you a better idea of relative performance.

midnightmunchies Thu 10-Mar-11 23:16:52

Thanks for your replies.
DD is 9 and is currently at Dunottar. We have on the whole been very happy with the Junior school and she is very happy there. I just keep having the odd nagging doubt about whether she will fulfill her potential, academically, if she stays at Dunottar. It's things like there is no opportunity for her to take any GCSE's (e.g. maths) a year early at Dunottar.
On the other hand, although she is a confident child, I wonder how she would fair moving to a much larger, mixed school.
I haven't yet looked round the Grammar, and this may help to make up my mind!
Sorry for my ramblings and thanks for your help and advice.

fizza54 Fri 08-Feb-13 08:24:04

Dunottar has a wider range of ability than RGS, but they're not less academic by any means: last year, they had 96% pass rate at GCSE, 54% with A*/A grades. At A’ Level, they had 100% pass rate and 61% of the students had A*-B.

They also have girls who go to Oxford and Cambridge – one of the current Upper Sixth has recently been offered a place at Oxford University. They produce girls who become lawyers, doctors, scientists, news presenters and international performers. Because there are no attention-seeking boys in classes, there is more focus in the lessons.

Bloom10 Fri 08-Feb-13 17:59:04

I support Fizza's comment. Dunottar does take in a wider range of abilities but they do extremely well with all abilities and get the most out of the girls as the exam results prove. There is far more focus in the lessons and as far as I am aware the overall behaviour of the girls in lessons is excellent. There is a very strong work ethic there and I know this from my own daughters experience. It is also a very caring community where because of its size the girls are all treated as individuals. I know where my preference lies.

prosopon Sat 09-Feb-13 00:52:25

I don't know either school personally but looking at the financial times league tables (better than the government ones) at RGS 60 percentage of all A levels are at grade A and above and these are mainly good academic subjects, the school doesn't waste it's students time on general studies. 50 out of 128 students achieved 3 A grades or above, a good level. There is a good range of subjects available. Dunottar had 21% at A or above and only 15 candidates taking A levels.

So if your criteria is academic you might want to opt for the grammar.

There may be some movement into the grammar after GCSE.

Early GSCES are not a good idea, performance is generally lower as students lack maturity.

prosopon Sat 09-Feb-13 09:49:12

sorry I realised that I might have given the impression you should just base your decision on their published results and that isn't wise. However they can suggest some issues for you. At Dunottar you might want to ask about the range of subjects available and whether your child could be taught to A level by teachers with a qualification in the subject. At Reigate you might want to consider the number of students getting U or E grades. Were these pupils properly advised on options? Ask both about pupils joining/leaving in the 6th form. It's healthy to have pupils joining, if large numbers leave you might want to find out why.

Assuming you want your child to go to university they will need to become used to larger organisations and less personal care. You could consider Dunottar to GSCE and then Reigate.

fizza54 Sun 10-Feb-13 10:04:51

As Prosopon says, she doesn’t know the schools personally. I do, however, because my daughter goes to Dunottar and passed her GCSEs with As and A*s. As she’s at the sixth form, I’d like to clarify a few points based on facts rather than speculation.

Firstly, the sixth form intake at Dunottar is small because it’s a small school. This is a benefit rather than a disadvantage as every student has the opportunity to be closely monitored and given extra support given if needed. I know parents at RGS who have complained about the lack of pastoral care and academic support for those who are struggling; this is ot the case at Dunottar. Secondly, Dunottar does not have a problem with people dropping out after their GCSEs. Most of last year’s Year 11 stayed into the sixth form and the minority who left did so for mainly financial reasons – understandable in this double-dip recession. I also know of students who have left to do their A’ levels elsewhere, bitterly regretted it and then returned to Dunottar.

As a parent, I would never send my daughter to a school whose staff are not qualified to teach at A’ level. The teachers at Dunottar are excellent – in fact, with one of the English classes, all the students had A* at A2 last year - evidence of both academic students and excellent teaching. Not only this, but ALL STUDENTS AT DUNOTTAR WENT TO THEIR FIRST CHOICE UNIVERSITY last year. This did not happen at RGS and you might want to ask why.

I also think it’s very sad that Prosopon thinks that General Studies is a waste of time. At Dunottar but there are enrichment subjects, which develop and extend useful life skills and knowledge/experience, such as setting up a business, charity work, etc. Not only does this help to develop the whole girl, but it looks extremely good on university application forms. Probably one of the reasons for all Dunottar girls last year going to their first choice university.

I’m aware that this is rather a long posting so one final point. Ask yourself when looking at schools how much time is wasted in the classroom by boys dominating the learning or boys distracting the girls – especially when the girl is 16-18 and taking a keen interest in the opposite sex. As far as I’m concerned, these are the 2 most important years in my daughter’s life because she needs to get the grades to get to university. My daughter and her friends have social lives outside schools where they meet boys and some of her friends have brothers. But I know that when she’s at Dunottar, those distractions are not there and she’s 100% focussed on her studies. I’m definitely getting my money’s worth!

prosopon Mon 11-Feb-13 08:54:16

fizza54 Dunottar clearly has lower academic results than RGS. All students going to their first choice of university is not necessarily a good sign as they could simply be setting their sights too low. As there is a lower proportion of A grades at Dunottar than RGS they would need to set their sights lower.

Extra-curricular activities are good, making students sit a pointlesss General Studies exam is not. I have no idea if Dunottar does that as they don't give detailed academic results on their website.

None of this says anything about the value, if any, that the schools add to their pupils. Dunottar is a small school - that has both advantages and disadvantages. RGS has a few students getting very low grades, their parents might have been well advised to remove them. Dunottar has some girls doing very well, that may indicate it is adding more value, however that is something that is very difficult to assess. Few parents look objectively at their child's school or will admit it has caused them problems. A small school will mean a limited range of subjects in the sixth form and teachers who are not specialists in that subject. They should manage specialist maths and english teachers, not necessarily in other subjects.

Single sex education is a mixed benefit. Girls certainly do better in single sex schools and Dunottar ought to make much more of that on it's website. It is very noticeable in science subjects. However sooner or later girls need to learn to study in a mixed environment, there are no single sex universities.

Your school has a serious image problem and it is not attracting the strongest students. That can become a self-perpetuating problem. It needs to get parents to see it's strengths and to make more of how its students progress.

midnightmunchies you need to look behind headline figures of grades. If your daughter has an interest in science she might well do better in a single sex school. You also need to look at the bottom end of the RGS figures - why are some pupils failing to achieve and what is that doing to their confidence? Professionals in education do not generally approve of early GSCEs, doing them too early can create problems for students later on. If a school offers that choice make sure you know how they maintain motivation for those who wish to continue to A level.

fizza54 Mon 11-Feb-13 15:20:19

Dear Prosopon: My first response regards your comment that Dunottar has lower academic results:
Yes it does, but only just. Look at the points per exam at GCSE and you will see that over the last 3 years, Dunottar was above RGS once and less than half a grade behind them in the other two years.
RGS has higher figures in other counts because their students sit far more GCSEs (probably spreading themselves too thinly) so points per candidate are higher. Dunottar goes for quality not quantity. All universities want a minimum of 8/9 GCSEs and then they look at the grades. For some universities, 9 GCSEs at A*/A is better than 9 GCSEs at A*/A and then 4 GCSEs at grade B.
Bear in mind that Dunottar doesn’t cream off students like RGS and so has a wider range of ability. Dunottar ranks 3rd in Reigate & Banstead for both GCSE and A’ level results – the top two in both categories being much more highly selective schools. Dunottar therefore has commendable exam results.

‘All students going to their first choice of university is not necessarily a good sign as they could simply be setting their sights too low’.
This is an interesting example of flawed argument called ‘ad hominem’ where instead of acknowledging the validity of the argument, the opponent attacks the person – in this case, Dunottar. Rather a prejudiced opinion, don’t you think?

‘Extra-curricular activities are good, making students sit a pointlesss General Studies exam is not’
This is true. Few Universities count it and that is why it is not offered at Dunottar. My daughter is, however, doing the Extended Project Qualification as an extra. This is valued and respected by universities.

‘None of this says anything about the value, if any, that the schools add to their pupils.’
League tables for independent schools cannot show this because the government do not accept their KS2 or KS3 returns. Any good school should be able to show interested parents teacher assessments showing progress from Y7-11 (for example using MidYIS scores), which they are not allowed to publish under the terms of their contract.

‘Dunottar is a small school - that has both advantages and disadvantages. RGS has a few students getting very low grades, their parents might have been well advised to remove them.’
This is rubbish! I think that RGS might take offence at the implication that their fully qualified teachers cannot cope with a range of abilities.
As a point of information, in a small school like Dunottar, one advantage is more leadership opportunities for the students and this looks good on university application forms.

‘A small school will mean a limited range of subjects in the sixth form and teachers who are not specialists in that subject.’
Rubbish! My daughter at Dunottar was offered 21 A’ level subjects to choose from - hardly a limited selection!
In addition, I would never send my daughter to Dunottar if the teachers at A’ Level were unqualified. Ask to look at staff qualifications of both schools and bear in mind that fully qualified part-timers can be brought in to ensure expertise across the board.

‘However sooner or later girls need to learn to study in a mixed environment, there are no single sex universities.’
Oh, really? If you do your research, you will learn that there are single sex halls and colleges at universities. The key is the formative years (11-16 particularly) where almost all research (ref: GSA My daughter website) suggests that girls do best in single sex environments. This is particularly true in predominantly male dominated areas such as the sciences, maths, technology and engineering. A recent report by the Institute of Physics, for example, showed that of UK female Physics graduates, 90% had attended an all girls’ school!
As a point of information, my daughter has no problems mixing with boys outside school. The whole point of single sex education is to help students fulfil their potential so they can get to university in the first place. They can mix with the opposite sex as much as they like when they’re there!

‘midnightmunchies … GSCEs, doing them too early can create problems for students later on. If a school offers that choice make sure you know how they maintain motivation for those who wish to continue to A level.’
Dunottar rarely offers early GCSEs except in individual circumstances. Instead, bright girls are stretched and challenged e.g. in Maths they may sit Stats GCSE as well. This is also true at A-level where Russell Group universities actively do not like early finish A-levels and want to see an ability to manage the workload in the A2 year.

‘Your school has a serious image problem and it is not attracting the strongest students.’
Wrong. There are bright students at Dunottar. The image problem is created by people like you and your opinions which are based on inadequate research, assumptions and prejudice. People come onto this website so that they can receive sound advice and I don’t think that you’re qualified to give it. You have already admitted that you do not know the two schools and I think that it’s time for you to bow out of this discussion.

fish456 Wed 13-Feb-13 18:55:19

Well said Fizza, people with no experience of these schools should learn to keep quiet. I would choose Dunottar over rgs anyday.

Ladymuck Wed 13-Feb-13 19:17:19

The OP asked this question 2 years ago, so I suspect that she may have made up her mind by this stage, especially as she already had the insight of being a Dunottar.

midnightmunchies Thu 14-Feb-13 22:53:01

Interesting this thread has been picked up again!
I did sadly decide to keep my daughter at Dunottar. She is now in the senior school and I am seriously regretting my decision and have now registered to move her to RGS asap.
Since being in the Senior school she has been continuously bullied and despite speaking to form teacher, head of pastoral care and head, very little has been done and the culprits continue to make my daughters life hell. The school pride themselves on their pastoral care - thats a joke - what pastoral care?
I am also disappointed with the academic side of things - she is bored in several classes and they are failing to stretch her as I had mistakenly hoped. There are spaces for her year at RGS and i have been reliably been informed that she should be able to pass their exam. Sadly she will have to endure the next term and a half at Dunottar.
As to the recent developments - I think the Dunottar Trustees have handled things appallingly. There has been alot of rumour and negative publicity and yet Dunottar has not put out any publicity to try and counter act this. The current chairman of Trustees came across very poorly at the parents meeting and the consultation period was a joke. I suspect RGS are just biding their time until they can take over the Dunottar grounds/estate in which to expand RGS.

prosopon Thu 14-Feb-13 23:59:25

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

hobbsieg Sat 16-Feb-13 09:52:33

Midnightmunchies i was so sorry to read about your daughters situation and i must say that i was upset as well not just for your daughter but for the school because like you i chose it for its family feel but i think the pastoral care is excellent. I’m sure they wouldn’t knowingly let you or your daughter suffer in silence and they probably thought they dealt with the situation when you went in. Have you thought about going back? Your daughter shouldn’t have to endure anything and neither should you and i do think that talking to the school is the best thing to do because i’ve heard things about the pastoral side at RGS and it might not be that the grass is greener on the other side and then where will you be? I know that there are lots of nice girls at Dunottar, have you encouraged your daughter to join lots of clubs so that she can make new friends? But she really needs to deal with her situation at the moment rather than suffering in silence and i think perhaps you might want to consider going in and talking to the school again and also encouraging her to talk to her form teacher again because i’m sure that the school would also be very concerned that she’s unhappy because it’s not the kind of school that turns a blind eye so please think about talking to the school again!

midnightmunchies Sat 16-Feb-13 17:11:24

Thanks for your comments Hobbsieg, sadly the school are well aware of what is going on, dd has spoken to her form teacher regularly, and I know the head of pastoral care is also aware. They are all very 'naice' about it but are totally ineffectual in their attempts to do anything. DD has had approx £50 pounds of equipment stolen this year, the staff know and yet have done nothing. Without wanting to out myself it is difficult to say exactly what has been happening. DD goes to just about every club possible and gets involved in everything at school. I just think with boys around at RGS it might be less bitchy. As I said in my previous post I am also concerned about the academic side of things. I hope that a fresh start will help. (assuming she gets in).

Bloom10 Sun 17-Feb-13 09:40:39

Very serious accusations against the school being made and I think you need to be careful as my understanding was that this is not really what this forum is for. I have personally not had this experience at all and as far as I am aware the pastoral care is very good. I also would questions your comment about the academic side of things as my daughters have done and are doing very well academically. I hope that the grass will be greener on the other side but wouldn't be sure myself. Girls will be girls with or without boys and there is the added pressure of having boys there and all that that brings with it.

hobbsieg Sun 17-Feb-13 09:50:23

I totally agree with Bloom 10. The school's not like that at all and my daughter's thriving. I'm sorry that you're not happy midnightmunchies but I don't think that this forum is meant for accusations like this.

LIZS Sun 17-Feb-13 10:54:01

hmm Interesting that none of the ardent defendants of D has a long posting history on MN and seemingly only on this topic! Don't think there is any real need to jump on OP.

It is perfectly possible to have a range of experiences , positive and negative, within the same school environment. Lots of schools and pupils have ups and downs, and partly it depends on the other children and families within the year group, partly staff etc. However I think there comes a time when if you have lost faith in an establishment, you need to move on. Always a risk but nevertheless sometimes necessary.

Ladymuck Sun 17-Feb-13 11:37:14

I'm sorry to hear that the situation has been resolved midnight. In small schools especially there can be yeargroups where things don't gel. If the move up to the seniors hasn't changed things, then having a look at other options is definitely worth trying. Paying for a school doesn't guarantee that that is the best place for your child, but the ability to pay should widen your choice of schools so that you can find one that suits your dd.

Bloom10 Sun 17-Feb-13 13:26:43

Just to confirm that short or long-posting regardless anybody has a right to post where they choose. If I wish to post positive comments then that is my right and I feel very strongly that some of the negative comments that have been posted about D are highly unfair and I am am sure if the same was said of your child's establishment you would want to give an alternative more positive view. I agree that everybody does have different experiences of the same place dependent upon all sorts of factors as stated above but I feel that Midnightmunchies comments are highly inappropiate for a discussion like this. At the end of the day you do have to do what is best for your child but it is very hurtful when comments are made about a place you actually support.

midnightmunchies Sun 17-Feb-13 14:57:32

Bloom10 and Hobbsieg i'm sorry you don't like what I have to say, however even DDs form teacher would admit what I have said is a fact and not just wild accusation. I was merely explaining why I felt the need to try to move DD from Dunottar. I don't believe I have broken any Mumsnet rules. DD has had some good times at Dunottar and clearly it is a place that works for some girls. Sadly for the last few years my DDs experience of Dunottar has become increasingly unhappy. I don't take changing DDs school lightly and there has been alot of thought, heartache and sleepless nights over it. sadly if and until the move is made I won't know if it is really the right thing to do.What I do know is that I cannot bear to see DD coming home from school in tears too many more times. I won't post again as this is clearly a very emotive subject for all of us what ever our opinion is. Thank you to LIZS for you more understanding comments.

Wholenewwoman Sun 17-Feb-13 18:39:27

midnightmunchies - I am really sorry to hear that you have had this experience for your daughter it must be a nightmare, and I am sure that you have had many sleepless nights about what is the right thing to do. I really hope that you and your daughter come to the right decision.

LIZS - I find you very cynical about Dunottar in general across many different threads. You often post less than positive vibes about the school but by your own admission have no experience of the school directly. The mums that are on here do, and are perfectly entitled to their opinions based on their expereinces. And by the way -I have been posting on mumsnet since 2004 so have seen you on many threads (I have namechanged a number of times for various reasons).

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