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swindon secondary schools.

(55 Posts)
crkm Tue 31-Jan-12 18:44:04

may be moving to swindon - dont know the place at all sad
what are the secondary schools like?

LadyLech Wed 30-Jan-13 22:01:57

"Swindon IS pants! It's soul-less - just one modern housing estate after another. Crap theatre and no culture to speak of."

I always think people who say there is no culture in Swindon have very little awareness of the town, and all the events that are on offer. No, it doesn't have the big theatre - but that's not the only way to have culture. Swindon does however have...

Annual literature festival, philosophical society, 4 drama clubs, Light operatic society, folk singing and folk dancing clubs, artists clubs, amnesty international, over 40 different bookclubs, gardening clubs, flower arranging, allotment organisations, several choral societies, bands, two film societies, Astronomy club, Anglo-French organisation, Interfaith dialogue group, Camcorder, Croquet, diving, fencing, lace making, various car clubs (caravanning, morris minors, old cars etc), photography clubs, rambling, Russian, Polish, Italian societies, Bee keeping, Figurative art, public speaking (several of these), brass bands, a plethora of dance clubs for adults.

But I guess as there's no big theatre, Swindon must be soulless and cultureless eh?

I've lived in a few places, and I would actually suggest the opposite is true. The mechanics institute in Swindon gave the town a culture of having these grass roots groups so far from having no culture at all - there's all sorts you can find there... you just need to consider the term 'culture' really means - "Culture is the characteristics of a particular group of people, defined by everything from language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts" ... it's all there in Swindon, just not the big shiny theatre!

TallulahMcFey Wed 30-Jan-13 14:49:05

I'm not such a fan of Swindon as I once was. I think it was it at its best late 80' s. At that time we had our current facilities (ice rink, cinemas, bowling, theatre, swimming pools) but less people. Since then it seems that we have only got more houses and more pubs. I am happy in Swindon cos as you say, it' s about the people, but I did prefer it before. Steppemum- I've got an 18 year old who has been through Commonweal and now at uni, a 10 year old who will hopefully start there in September and a 2 year old! Eldest got 7 A stars, 1 A and 3 B's and really enjoyed school so we were more than happy. In fact we moved into old town for the school, previously living in the lawns and Churchfields catchment.

steppemum Wed 30-Jan-13 10:48:09

thanks mnistooadictive - writing off a whole city because bits of it are bad really winds me up.

I never shop in the centre. We have a good life, and there is plenty to choose from, and there is the whole of the cotswolds o your doorstep if you get tired of the city

living in a place is so much to do with the people, I have found many nice people here. My life tends to revolve around friends not restaurants.

mnistooaddictive Wed 30-Jan-13 09:44:51

The town centre is soulless but there is so much more to Swindon! Each community has their own branch library rather than just one on the town centre like other places I have lived. Lots of community groups around. Steam museum, science museum. Outlet shopping. Great parks, great countryside etc.

HarrietHobbit Wed 30-Jan-13 05:18:49

Steppemum" I've lived all over the place and totally agree with all *PhyllisDoris says. Oh, and for the record I have not criticised the inhabitants of the town in any way, and have no reason to do so.

Going into Swindon town centre is the most depressing of experiences. Considering all the big companies in the town eg Intel, Nationwide. there are absolutely no excuses for how bad the place is. I read that the average salary in Swindon is higher than anywhere else in the country. Goodness knows what the council spends its presumably large income on! Well, I suppose one thing would be the pointless alteration of the roads near the theatre.

Parking is a total rip off, the station is a disgrace, despite what seems like years of alterations outside, and apart from a tiny bit of Old Town there isnt even a decent place to go for a meal. The Oasis and other leisure facilities are laughably bad. As for the hospital - virtually brand new and virtually no parking despite being built on a huge site. Again, rip off charges and at the moment cars are queuing to get in back to the dual carriageway.

PhyllisDoris Wed 30-Jan-13 00:02:04

Steppemum - Swindon IS pants! It's soul-less - just one modern housing estate after another. Crap theatre and no culture to speak of. Shopping not good either - no decent shops at all.

steppemum Tue 29-Jan-13 21:18:44

Are yours at commonwheal then Tallulah?

Ladylech I will pm you

TallulahMcFey Tue 29-Jan-13 21:03:33

Commonweal are over subscribed and v unlikely to get in out of catchment, unless on performing arts place. We looked at Ridgeway too (and they have lots of space due to east wichelstowes lack of growth) but preferred Commonweal. Was biased though for many reasons so probably didn't give it a fair try to be honest. Looked at Wootton Bassett (purely from 6th form point if view). Was very impressed and my daughter only chose not to go there due to A level choices. Also heard good things about Bradon too though but never been.

LadyLech Tue 29-Jan-13 21:00:13

Through work, I come into contact with students through a lot of schools in the local area. I also have a child who is getting to that age - so a lot of parents I know (year 5 parents) are busy thinking about / talking about this issue now! I don't want to publicly come on here and say everything, but feel free to PM me and I'm happy to share my views...

steppemum Tue 29-Jan-13 20:44:59


I like Bradon, met the head and he was really good, but don't like the lack of sixth form

We went to see Ridgeway on their open day and just didn't like it, but we really need to go again.

Hadn't thought of Wootton, might go and visit there.

Will also look at commonwheal

steppemum Tue 29-Jan-13 20:40:15

Harriet - swindon isn't pants

That is pretty outrageous to write off a whole city and all its inhabitants.

Swindon is the butt of many comedians jokes. But most of them have never been here and have no idea what it is like.

When we moved here we got so much stick for moving to swindon. Not everything is as I would like. I sometimes find it hard. There are pros and cons. But then that is true of any place.
But here we have an excellent primary school, one of the best in the country, we have loads of parks, great playgrounds, I can cycle for miles without having to cycle on a road and we have a big 4 bed house with a huge garden for the price of a 2 bed flat in Hertfordshire (we sold that to buy this)
I have met lots of lovely people who have welcomed me here.

There are many really nice small towns and villages around from which you can comute into swindon for work. That is great and if that works for you great. But not everyone wants to commute, and not everyone can afford to live out of the city.

HarrietHobbit Tue 29-Jan-13 19:53:35

I agree Swindon is pants!

I have had 3 DC's at St Johns, Marlborough. Two have now left and one still there. I think it is as good as you would ever get for a state school.

The International Baccalaureate is available in 6th Form as well as A levels.

The building is outstanding - brand new and a beautiful place to learn.

There isn't an area of weakness as far as I know, and it has just become an Academy.

TallulahMcFey Tue 29-Jan-13 19:34:33

Yeah but a lot of schools do that, it isn't weird. My eldest daughter went to Commonweal and sat her GCSE in year 10 (only 9 did so we're selective), got an A star and then did AS in year 11 (getting an A). All the GCSE fast trackers got A or A star and if not, they would have re- sat and nor done AS. It is unusual not to do any maths in year 11 though. Her maths teacher told me that the national curriculum said this wasn't allowed even if she had GCSE but I guess this was incorrect.

mnistooaddictive Tue 29-Jan-13 18:21:19

Isambard - Maths GCSE in year 10 and no maths lessons in y11. Unless you get an A* in year 10 ( very small number), you are almost certainly bound to do better in year 11.

TallulahMcFey Tue 29-Jan-13 16:33:05

steppemum- what ones are you considering? If you don't want to say, that's fine, just wondered as you said he was academic. My daughter is year 6 so went through the same thing last year but have obviously applied now.

TallulahMcFey Tue 29-Jan-13 16:18:36

Isambard seem to start sitting their GCSE' s from a very young age. Some children seem to be sitting a lot in year 9 and sciences and English seem to be taken 1 per year in some cases. Not sure I entirely agree with that and am also interested to see what the weird practices are. Out of interest, it is very hard to get in Isambard and recently they were only giving out places within a mile radius from school so if moving for the school you would have to be sure you would get in as next catchment school is nova Hreod.

PhyllisDoris Tue 29-Jan-13 15:45:22

No idea - watching with interest.

thesnootyfox Tue 29-Jan-13 15:00:33

What is the thing about weird practices at Isambard? I have heard a few people mention that.

steppemum Tue 29-Jan-13 14:53:08

tables are really interesting

If you select by English Bacc, then the results are dramatically different

Bradon Forest
St Josephs

with Isambard and churchfields coming way down. Also interesting to look at their value added score, which gives churchfields above average and the others all below, some quite noticably so (Bradon and Commonwheal)

Which just goes to show, that it is all about what your chidl needs.
My ds is very academic and so I need to find a school that will get the best out of him. With a less academic child a different school with different emphasis may be more appropriate.

Really hard call to make. Ds is y5. We started looking last year at open days. Haven't made a decision yet.

TallulahMcFey Tue 29-Jan-13 14:48:37

Churchfields have boosted their GCSE results by recently being allowed to include non GCSE subjects that are supposed to be equivalent to GCSEs but are not seen as so in the workplace or to colleges e.g. BTECs rather than actually improved. My friend's daughter got a qualification in ICT that was supposed to be equivalent to 3 GCSE' s based purely on coursework. I take your point about the demographics though and it is true the results could be less than average but still be a good school. I still wouldn't choose to send my child there though. Isambard haven't published results yet but did well (have a friend in exam office). Can't remember exactly but somewhere in the region of 60 something and narrowly beat Commonweal. Ridgeway were 76. These aren't secret and the schools themselves will be saying. Commonweal didn't do as well this year as others and often top or 2nd though obviously the out of Swindon schools aren't taken into account as Wiltshire and not Swindon. I don't know much about Isambard but know everyone started out raving about it 5 years ago and recently people have started taking their children out in favour of another school (often Bradon Forest). However, if I lived in catchment I would very certainly favour this school over Nova Hreod and would probably be happy with my children attending but just a bit worried about those who didn't like it.

PhyllisDoris Tue 29-Jan-13 14:44:45

You don't want to go living in Swindon! It's pants.

Lots of nice places around though, with excelent schools.

I have two DDs in Royal Wootton Bassett Academy - and are extemely pleased with the school. It was judged outstanding by Ofsted a couple of years ago, with the highest mark achieved by any school in England. It has sucked in lots of pupils from Swindon, and numbers in the lower years, year 10 and Sixth Form have increased since the Ofsted

Results are well above average, though there is room for improvement, but discipline is good, staff dedicated and lovely, and there are lots of extra-curricular activities.

It also has a Sixth Form, which (all things being equal) would give it the edge over Braden Forest and other nearby schools which are 11-16 only.

Other good places to live with good schools are Marlborough (St John's School), Malmesbury (Malmesbury School), Wroughton (Ridgeway School). Wroughton is in Swindon LA though, which I think is not as good as Wiltshire LA.

mnistooaddictive Tue 29-Jan-13 14:40:11

I looked at wichelstowe primary- nothing special! Results are a reflection of the intake.

steppemum Tue 29-Jan-13 14:38:34

I am always pleasantly surprised about swindon primaries too. My dcs primary is in top 200 in country, and many of the primary school problems I see on here I just can't imagine happening in our school.

go swindon!

mnistooaddictive Tue 29-Jan-13 14:38:15

I am a maths tutor in the Swindon area and from students views I would say the following. Wootton Bassett, St. John's Marlborough good. Ridgeway doesn't deserve it's good reputation- lots of uninspiring teaching. Farmers is good. Isaambard avoid- they have done wierd practices!

thesnootyfox Tue 29-Jan-13 14:36:58

I think if I was considering moving to Swindon I would seriously look at Wichelstowe. New primary has very good results, in catchment for Ridgeway Secondary, Waitrose being built in Wichelstowe and not far from Old Town.

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