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If you could get into Woodroffe, would you not bother with private?

(44 Posts)
houseofboys Fri 17-Jun-11 22:07:46

Woodroffe in Lyme Regis, that is, which is meant to be good school and lovely setting etc etc. When I say get in, most kids in our village seem to get in on appeal, so its not absolutely certain I suppose. The reason I ask is because DS is very bright (according to school) but not the right sort of personality for Colyton grammar (not competitive or terribly motivated at things he doesn't like, ie maths) and for these reasons we wonder if he'll just drift through secondary, even a good one, and wonder if he's be better in a smaller class size and a setting when there was more pressure to succeed. I've sent for a few private prospectuses - some hopelessly out of our league, but could possibly manage Exeter School or Wellington (where his cousins are, but hear it is quite sporty and DS not sporty). When I say 'manage' it would be a big struggle so obviously need to feel is absolutely worth it for him. Would appreciate anyone's experience of any of these schools.

beechbabe Fri 17-Jun-11 22:21:09

Which year is he in house? Which primary would be useful too (but quite get that you might not want to say).

Wellington doesn't sound right....

houseofboys Fri 17-Jun-11 22:28:47

Year 4 - village primary near Axminster... thanks!

beechbabe Fri 17-Jun-11 22:48:30

My youngest DD is Y4 too. Is your DS your eldest? I'm guessing he is. Do you completely trust the judgement of his school? I'm asking because some schools or even some teachers at some schools are far too quick to say a child isn't the right personality for Colyton when in fact they haven't a clue. I applied to Woodroffe for a couple of my DSs but would have been hesitant about the shyer one going for sure. You say your DS isn't sporty, is he also quite quiet or shy?

houseofboys Fri 17-Jun-11 23:01:53

Yes he is the eldest, and yes he is quiet and shy!. I guess the fact he isn't sporty is one of the things we worry about at Woodroffe, as our friends whose children go there are v sporty and rave about how sporty it is. Is that your experience too? Do you think teachers undersell Colyton then? I thought they didn't want to build up hopes for children who might not get in. At DS's school a handful sit and only one or two tend to get in.

beechbabe Fri 17-Jun-11 23:31:24

Yes, they do. If he's bright and in the Axe Valley or near then it's the obvious school. A child doesn't need to be competitive to get into Colyton, just bright. And his peers there may be more tolerant or welcoming of or more compatible for someone shyish and not very sporty than at any other school nearby. There's a lot of prejudice about Colyton and a lot of ill-founded myths. I'd look at the website and go to an Open day - one should be coming up. What a waste to flog into Exeter if Colyton's within easy reach. Your DS sounds like one of mine - give it a go!

houseofboys Fri 17-Jun-11 23:39:45

Thanks. I passed years ago myself but didn't go for various reasons, but seems to have transformed into a super school since then. Hard to gauge quite how bright they have to be - and i don't want him to be pushed, or forced to leave if he doesn't measure up in some areas or all those other horror stories you hear!

beechbabe Sat 18-Jun-11 10:36:20

house you're properly local then! They need to be pretty bright, heading comfortably for L5. I found it difficult to gauge where my eldest two were on the brightness front and underestimated them in my mind at every stage. It's only now in retrospect that I have a clearer idea of where mine are on the scale. Your DS would be encouraged, not pushed and he'd have to be very, very, very out of his depth to be asked to leave. Where do you get this stuff from?! I'm aware I'm not answering your post but what you've said about your DS suggests you might well be going down the wrong route. Is the not bothered thing with maths to do with your DS or the teaching do you think?

houseofboys Sat 18-Jun-11 11:14:54

Yes might be - maths isn't my thing particularly so I find it hard to judge. You've encouraged me to think about Colyton again at least - so many rumours out there! I had from our school they needed to be high level 5 so that put me off. I'd still like to think about others as back up, though as you say don't relish the idea of trekking him to Exeter every day. I also wonder how much better it is.
Yes I'm proper local - though went away for a few years to uni and for work! Sure if Colyton was now as it was when I sat 11+, ie a 'local' grammar with catchment area, we wouldn't have any worries about him getting in. I do feel sad its morphed into this school that takes people from all over. Head came and talked to our school and said kids come from 50 mile radius, with some ex private, and some whose parents live in London in week. So I know it has changed a lot. Glad to hear you have good experience of it.

beechbabe Sat 18-Jun-11 11:55:14

The percentage of private schoolers reflects the national picture house, seems fair (less than 10%). Some mums or dads do weekly commute but very few. The idea that loads of people are downshifting from London is rubbish. Because the school is the only grammar in a rural area and a very good one it's not surprising that some kids come from 25 miles away, but again, that's the extreme. Most are from the Axe and Sid Valleys with a good few from Newton Popp and West Hill in one direction and Chard in the other. Bridport and Exeter are extreme. I bet the Head said other stuff too, like don't be put off by myths!

We put down Woodroffe and Sidmouth on the form as our second and third preference but two of mine sat the Exeter exam too (we were better off then!). Taking the exam and its outcome doesn't have to be a big deal either, as long as you don't make it one which it sounds as though you wouldn't. An Open Day will give you a better idea, just listen to the teachers and students and not the other prospective parents who I've often found quite scary and often not like the real thing!

thetasigmamum Sat 18-Jun-11 22:49:17

There's two busloads come from Exeter every day! smile It's a brilliant school. And it's worth giving it a go - if you live in the catchment area for woodroffe then if your DS doesn't get in to colyton then he will still be able to go to Woodroffe.

beechbabe Sun 19-Jun-11 01:30:35

thetasigmamum to be accurate two busloads originate in Exeter and pick students up along the way. There aren't actually that many kids coming daily from Exeter itself. OP isn't persuaded despite having a very bright DS; I was trying to give an accurate idea of the school since she's properly local and has been put off by the misreps which are touted about.

Please don't now say a kid has to be off the scale at maths to get in!

thetasigmamum Sun 19-Jun-11 13:37:17

beechbabe My DD comes in on the bus from Exeter. There are plenty of kids with her, and on the other bus. She isn't rattling around on her own. According to her, ther are more than 50 kids on the two buses after the Clyst St Mary stop. And'one or two ' people get on at the only other stop.

Of course the OP shouldn't be put off from applying for the school for her DS but there may be Exeter parents reading this thread too, either now or in the future, and they shouldn't be put off by misinformation. smile

You don't have to be off the scale for maths to get in. But in my experience, all the kids I know who got in last year and this year were level 5 in year 5. But being strong at maths isn't enough if you aren't also strong at literacy and VR. It's more important to be good enough at each thing rather than being off the scale in one.

thetasigmamum Sun 19-Jun-11 13:38:24

I meant the only other stop after cyst St Mary. Obviously there are 3 more stops within Exeter.

beechbabe Sun 19-Jun-11 15:10:35

theta I know the demographics of the school pretty well and would never give misinformation. The problem overwhelmingly is that too much other misinformation abounds and puts strong local applicants off (too posh, too pushy, full of over-tutored downshifters etc.).

No Exeter parents will be put off by someone saying (correctly) that kids from Exeter to the west and Bridport to the east are the exception not the rule. Or rather, that the vast majority of kids come from a more central area around the school. Even your numbers divided by seven show that's correct. So hardly 'misinformation'!

If Exeter parents are likely to be put off at all then it's by the hour their kids will have to spend on the bus at the start and end of each day (though plenty don't mind it and some even like it I know) and the requirement for a 40 mile round trip to collect after matches, concerts etc. That's if they can afford the fares, which are steep and a major concern for some. Geographically OP sounds much better placed!

As for admissions, I wouldn't have a clue which of my kids' friends scored L5 in Y5; do mums really compare and do kids themselves even know? Scary...! I don't think mine were all L5 in Y5 but they're doing ok (perhaps I should reserve judgment on that until after results day in Aug!).

What I do know is that the 11+ has evolved in the past few years and the current rule is that a child has to pass the English paper and then has to be in the top 120 when the Verbal Reasoning and Maths are combined, also that the old Borderzone has gone.

The OP is really asking about Woodroffe anyhow. There were some Woodroffe MNers around, I saw one current one on the thread which got deleted. She might be able to help OP more on how a bright, quiet DS would fare at Woodroffe. I know quite a few with kids there and would have been a bit worried about my eldest and youngest DS, much less about the more football crazy boistrous DS.

thetasigmamum Sun 19-Jun-11 15:49:47

beechbabe You seem to set a lot of store by geography. smile

beechbabe Sun 19-Jun-11 16:20:36

theta less well off kids from the outposts of empire like Exeter are already deterred by the cost of fares, especially in the current climate. I expect you pay a lot to get your DD to school. Plenty of parents with bright kids in Exeter just can't do it. When there's a post which repeats some of the myths which deter parents in general, why not out them for what they are?

That's a social concern, not a geographical one.

thetasigmamum Sun 19-Jun-11 22:19:43

beechbabe It was your implied message that colyton should be a local school for local people I was objecting to. I'd love to live in Lyme Regis or be able to consider private school for my DCs but sadly I can't afford it. I have no problem with debunking myths about Colyton being super stressy or difficult or overly competitive for bright kids. I have a big problem with implying that access should be restricted for those with parents able to afford to live in the environs of Lyme Regis.

MetalSian Sun 19-Jun-11 22:26:02

I'm from Axminster =].
I think that if he isn't competitive then Woodroffe is a great school to go to.
I went to Axe Valley and did well, even though it isn't classed as so good, after deciding not wanting to go to Colyton.
If he is in the right frame of mind then it won't matter.

Don't know much about Exeter private schools.
Have you thought about letting your DS make the decision?
If he is happy where he is then he is more likely to want to learn =].

houseofboys Sun 19-Jun-11 22:50:44

At risk of escalating argument, I think its unfair to use Lyme as an example of catchment - if Colyton went back to catchment area system it would include areas v different to Lyme, such as Axminster and Seaton. Lyme is not representative at all. And I do think children in local area - Axe valley - have lost out by Colyton coming over all super school. At my DS's school some very bright kids have failed to get in, even after passing test, because they were still on waiting list. According to the teacher this year, these kids were level 6 in maths and a good five in everything else. When I sat it, or even 10 years ago, from what I hear from friend's kids, it wasn't anywhere near as competitive - more a school for top 10 or 20 per cent. What happened to the ethos that grammar schools were there to help the brightest children who might not otherwise have access to great facilities, more academic subjects etc? I'm not complaining about kids from Exeter in this, more about those who come in from further afield, send children down with nannies, or send them to prep specifically to get them into Colyton afterwards. Now this maybe a minority, but it still makes me cross.
Also, when head came to our school, he said local children (ie Axe valley) had withdrawn from places because of cost of bus fares. Why, with all its facilities, top places in league tables etc, isn't the school doing more to support its brightest and poorest children?
Rant over. For now. Thanks for all the advice, though!

beechbabe Mon 20-Jun-11 00:49:22

theta there was no such implied message at all, you're imputing it without cause.

I can't see that living in Exeter and paying £1000 pa for fares puts you in a worse financial bracket than everyone living in Lyme!

beechbabe Mon 20-Jun-11 01:09:03

house I'm with you 100%, have been at the school a long while now and still have some way to go and know that the school cares hugely about the brightest/ poorest children as do many teachers/ parents which is why I'm trying to debunk some of the myths!

There's no way it doesn't accomodate the top 10%. It gets great results but the intake is not super selective. Definitely not compared to the other top schools. The resuts are great because of what the school does for the students once they're there.

Bus fares are a huge problem, they restrict access probably more than anything else but there just aren't the funds to provide transport for free.

L6/ L5 and not in doesn't sound right except now more than before it's got everything to do with performance on the day. L6 and not in! Very strange.

Jux Tue 21-Jun-11 09:49:57

My dd is at Woodroffe, started last September.

It's a lovely school. They have high academic standards, are great artistically, and have excellent facilities.

DD is very bright, but not competitive, hates sport. Even she has found some sports she enjoys. They have a lot of extra-curricular activities of all sorts ranging from Textiles Club to any sport.

The only complaint I have about the clubs is that there is a chamber choir which dd desperately wanted to join, but the teacher told her she'd have to wait until they'd finished rehearsing the current stuff which wouldn't be until "sometime next term"; I could understand if they'd been rehearsing for a long time, but if they weren't going to finish until sometime next term then they are either rubbish or had only just started (so dd would have caught up very quickly) - sometime next term was actually quite a few months away.

These days all schools are sporty, so rub that off your 'con' list, you won't find it any different anywhere else, though you might find a greater emphasis on rugger at Wellington grin. DD so far this year has done gymnastics, cricket, hockey, long distance runs, football, badminton, tennis and some others which I can't remember.

At Woodroffe, they have coupled sport/pe with food tech (or whatever it it's called). This is to emphasise that what you eat is as important as exercise, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle. There is a garden where they grow veg and stuff, and one 'module' of the sports curriculum is actually cooking. DD made some really good stuff, which she has cooked for us quite a lot of times since.

The teaching is excellent. Her english and science teachers are fantastic (I single these out because those are the subjects dd enjoys most). Maths teaching is excellent too, and though dd is in the top group she hates maths! Likewise ICT. However, she doesn't find her lessons as painful as she did in primary.

Art facilities are superb.

I have found homework a bit sporadic. Sometimes she has quite a lot - say 3 subjects - and sometimes none. This is a time management issue though, as the school encourages children to do their homework on the day it is set, rather than the night before it's due in, and dd does what? You guessed grin. This does mean that sometimes she's up until quite late doing a piece which was actually designed to be done over the course of several days, rather than hurriedly in one night. Her own fault; you can lead a horse to water.....

I have found the staff to be kind, pleasant and patient. DD actually loves almost all of them, and finds them very funny (and therefore lessons are fun), but she is also quite set on the idea that she doesn't like maths, for instance, so likes her maths teacher less than, say, her english teacher. When I question her a little more closely, it becomes clear that she likes both of them, and it's the subject she's objecting to.

Discipline is good. The children are encouraged to be proud of their school, their uniform, their place in the community. It is pretty clear that the aim is not only for kids to do well academically, but to fulfil their own potential. They are very good at assessing a child's strengths and weaknesses and acting accordingly.

Pastoral care is good.

There is only one thing I am not awfully sure about, and that is for Y7 (not sure about higher up the school) they have amalgamated History and Geography, calling it People and Places. I can see the logic (I think), but for dd who is a rabid history fanatic, it is a little frustrating. However, they wouldn't be doing Ancient History - which is what she really wants - anyway.

On the whole, I think if you feel that Colyton would be too pressured for your son, then Woodroffe would be perfect for him.

Do ask me more questions if you want to. I'm not sure I know any more than that though.

Have you visited any of these schools?

Jux Tue 21-Jun-11 09:58:29

Oh, and I second everything beechbabe said about Colyton. Don't listen to the myths.

oakman Tue 21-Jun-11 10:51:40

Here we go again a Non Colyton parent giving the impression that school life at Colyton is pressurized - it is not - kids are happy and learn at a comfortable pace.

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