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Is Wilson's School a good school?

(42 Posts)
PrincessNatali Sat 17-Mar-12 20:30:41

Dear Mum's-I am new to Mumsnet and would greatly value your comments on your experiences of Wilson's School in Sutton. My DS will be attending in September.

gazzalw Sun 18-Mar-12 08:10:42

Hi and welcome!

Don't have any first hand experience, but DS was really set on going there and missed out on a place (he has one at another super-selective) and was very disappointed. I have only ever heard very good things about Wilson's and remember it does feature as the 3rd best state secondary in the UK in The Sunday Times List - that has got to count for an awful lot! We were certainly very impressed when we attended an open-evening way back last summer!

Did you not get to look round? You could ask to look round again to get another more natural feel for the place!

A couple of boys from DCs school went to Wilson's last year and are thriving!

PrincessNatali Sun 18-Mar-12 15:37:39

Dear gazzalw,

Thank you for the warm welcome and your message. I am glad that your DS was able to get into another school of the same standard.

My DH did all the open evenings as we have three children and this lightened my load. I value his and my DS's judgement. I had heard of Wilson's reputation before but I guess I just needed reassurance that we had made the best decision for him and our family in choosing Wilson's over four Independent schools that all offered him a place. In the end it came down to whether or not the Independent schools were worth around £1,000 each month over Wilson's. We decided that our DS (God willing), could achieve the same grades if he went to Wilson's as he would from an Independent school firming up our decision to accept the place at Wilson's and decline the offers of the Independents.

All the very best of luck to your DS-he clearly is a bright boy!

gazzalw Sun 18-Mar-12 16:22:06

Hi again!

And the same must be true of your son (only maybe more so!).

Well at the end of the day £1000 a month is a big financial undertaking, particularly as you have other DCs to consider. It is probably a given that he will do just as well (if not more so) at Wilson's as at the indies anyway.

Hope you feel more comfortable about your collective decision. I am sure it is the right one for your son and for all of you as a family.

One of DS's classmates is going to Wilson's and he is a lovely boy and the two who went last year were good lads too although we didn't really know them well. So feel pretty sure that your DS will be in good company.

It is a pity in a way that the Sunday Times doesn't merge its state and independent secondary school lists to give one a better overall view!

PS Hope you stick around on Mumsnet - it's great fun!

classicsgirl Sun 18-Mar-12 18:50:46

Hello! thanks for asking the question and to Gazzlw for some answers. We haven't been offered a place yet for DS at Wilson's but we've been told he did very well and may get an offer. TBH we're pretty gobsmacked, as we hadn't expected him to do so well. We were really pleased that he's already been offered a place by SGS; he and we were very impressed by SGS at open day and their welcome has been great, so we're now unsure whather we should accept a Wilson's offer if we do get one.

I know Wilson's does score best on league tables, but I've heard some mixed views on pastoral care. My DS is also not at all sporty, which I gather may be an issue. Does anyone have any advice on this unexpected (possible) dilemma if we do get an offer at Wilson's? Would we be really daft to turn it down?

gazzalw Sun 18-Mar-12 19:43:45

The trouble it is such an individual thing, from family to family, isn't it? What works for some people doesn't for others. What was your vibe first time around (when you looked at the schools for open days) Classicsgirl? DS really liked Sutton and Wilson's. He favoured Wilson's above Sutton but we felt the reverse! But then the DSs are the ones who have to go to the school and not us!

As I said unfortunately we don't really have very direct past years' experience of the schools through close familial or friends' links, so maybe not the best to advise except for our own impressions!

But I have heard many parents on other forums say that actually WCGS is excellent on pastoral care - just to throw a spanner into the works!

But it is all relative and probably depends as much on the character of one's child and possibly the Year 7 Head (which might change year on year?) too. I guess just because Wilson's is a larger school it might lack the relative intimacy of Wallington and Sutton....

Am interested by your response about your letter from Wilson's, Classicgirl. Was that your DS's first choice? It was our DS's. I found the letter about going on their waiting list to be very 'flat' and we couldn't really read twixt the lines and see whether it was or wasn't likely that DS might be offered a place at a future date. Sutton's on the other hand was highly encouraging, friendly and generally a lot more helpful. That may or may not say volumes about the general attitude/ethos of the respective schools. Or it may reflect how well or not DS did in his 11+ exams!

Have you both considered flagging up a direct question on the 11+ Forum? I seem to think that there is a similar question thread at the moment - or one that you might be able to feed into!

classicsgirl Sun 18-Mar-12 20:23:15

Hi gazzalw,

Unfortunately we couldn't actually make Wilson's open day, so we're going on hearsay rather than experience. It was our second choice for that reason; we put SGS first as DS really liked it at Open Day and a good friend was doing the same - and since he had failed WCGS, which would have been our first choice, we genuinely didn't think he was up in the running for Wilson's anyway, although he had passed the test.

The letter we had from Wilson's after offer day was therefore a surprise, since it asked us to ring if we wanted to go on their reserve list. I rang because a schoolmate of DS is going to Wilson's and no-one is going to SGS, and it was when I spoke to them that I was told it was a possibility that he would be offered, as he had done well, and that that was the most encouraging of the three types of responses they were giving to people. Of course, may not happen at all, and they weren't helpful when I asked if we could look round if we did get an offer. On the other hand, SGS have been really helpful - and I'm sure they wouldn't give you false hope.

Thanks for your suggestion re the 11+ forum; unfortunately I can't post there as I must have set up a log-in and then managed to forget it, which seems to stymie the system.....you can tell I'm not technologically minded!

PrincessNatali Mon 19-Mar-12 18:30:28

Hi Gazzalw,

Thank you for your words of wisdom. With a supportive a clued up mother like you-I am sure that your son will do well.

Classicgirl, I think Gazzalw is right when she says it is an 'individual thing'. What works well for your DS may not for others and vice versa. I think that you should base your decision on where your son wants to go and so, if he is offered a place at Wilson's but prefers Sutton Grammar, then I think (as Gazzalw has said), that should sway your decision.

My DS did not pass the exam for SGS which he placed as his third choice. He chose Wilson's over Wallington County Grammar just because he had a good vibe when he went to Wilson's. I think that your DS had this for SGS. I know that SGS has a good reputation and so I am sure he will do well and all the more so if he attends a school he is keen to go to.

In the end, education begins and ends at home. It is also not just academic.

Gazzalw, I will stay around as I am enjoying this experience.

gazzalw Mon 19-Mar-12 18:42:23

Wise words PrincessNatali! [huge grin]

classicsgirl Mon 19-Mar-12 23:14:01

Thanks - yes; DS is the one who will go there after all, and I must stop angsting and start helping him enjoy getting ready for September. Good luck to your DSs too.

Zanoobia Thu 22-Mar-12 23:38:54

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

gazzalw Fri 23-Mar-12 06:21:22

Thanks Zanoobia but think all of we Mumsnetters who've posted on here have DSs who have already got places at all three of the schools mentioned!

But undoubtedly useful for others!

EyesWideClosed Tue 22-Oct-13 16:53:15

Latest thoughts on Wilson's? I think that there have been concerns about the high staff turn over. Any comments would be appreciated?

Dibbleofficer Tue 22-Oct-13 19:07:10

Is there a change after the high staff turnover. Any comparisons with St Olaves or Wallington Boys GS?

Classicsgirl Tue 22-Oct-13 22:57:54

We're really pleased we chose Wilson's in the end (funny to read my earlier posts here). DS only in Y8, but so far very good - extremely well organized school still, with piles of information sent out, and very good extra-curricular clubs and groups which cater for the average-but-keen as well as the really talented. I also really welcome the really good balance between the sciences/maths (which seem to be the focus of many boys' grammars) and arts/humanities, and the fact that they offer lots of support (e.g. lunchtime catch-up clubs) in subjects individual boys find difficult and also stretch them to achieve really high standards where they have strengths.The only staff my DS has noticed leaving were the ones he didn't find very inspiring and the new staff he has seem excellent. Hope this helps and good luck with your choices.

Dibbleofficer Wed 23-Oct-13 10:20:02

That is extremely helpful. Sounds an excellent school . Is sport a high priority , my DD is rugby mad but I think unfortunately it is a football school.

legallady Wed 23-Oct-13 10:41:45

Dibbleofficer if rugby is your son's thing then WCGS is the place to be! That school loves its rugby. I have actually thought that it may put too much emphasis on rugby (!) but I am informed that after the first half term, the boys who aren't as impressed with it can opt to do other things during p.e. (table tennis, badminton and the like.)

My DS had never played before but has somehow managed to scrape his way into the Bs (there is an U12 C team as well) and they have matches most Saturdays and currently train twice a week. They only play football as a very minor sport, however, which I know is a disappointment to some of the boys.

Dibbleofficer Thu 24-Oct-13 13:19:59

Ok , my fella has done really well . Passed Wilson's and Wallington Grammars and got a possible at St Olaves. The CAF is looming and he needs to make a decision on order of prefeference. We are tempted to go Wisons / St Os top 2 , not sure of order. Wallington 3 , SGS 4.

We live in Forest Hill and travel is a variable , Wilson's seems to be the most convenient journey from Honor Oak Park station. Other variables are also results ( all excellent) , pastoral and big one sport , because DD is sports mad and talented. He is a rugby nut. Does anyone have any thoughts especially SE23 residents with kids at Sutton Grammar schools. Many thanks

Ladymuck Thu 24-Oct-13 15:24:26

Would second the fact that rugby is big at WCGS but not at Wilsons. When I looked at it a couple of year s back the boys only did 6 weeks of rugby (in total) and then those interested might put a team together. Nothing like the serious fixture list at WCGS who play against Whitgift, Dulwich etc.

Ladymuck Thu 24-Oct-13 15:25:02

And DD= Dear Daughter, DS = Dear Son.

Dibbleofficer Thu 24-Oct-13 16:04:25

Thanks ladyluck

Lfs2126 Thu 24-Oct-13 16:53:05

hi dibbleofficer, Wilson's is a great school, very boyish and sporty from what I've seen. they have started to play rugby there recently too but i dont know how its progressing. its true wcgs do rugby at a higher level ATM but I would be inclined to play for a club outside school as apart from the A team there doesn't seem to be the same depth of talent you may see at tiffins or graveney for example. (no my son doesn't go there but some of his friends dosmile)

EyesWideClosed Thu 24-Oct-13 20:37:23

Another open question: if you were offered a bursary/scholarship from an indie (of say 50% or more) would you chose that over a grammar? And why?

Ladymuck Thu 24-Oct-13 21:50:19

All HMC schools are committed to a (non means tested) scholarship limit of 50%, but obviously bursaries can top that up to more.

Most of the grammars we have visited, including Wilsons and Judd are clearly exceptional schools.

I'm not sure that I could come up with a ranked order of reasons, and there certainly isn't one single reason, but here are some:-

1) in comparison with the grammars there is a wider ability range of children. Someone has to be in the bottom set. In a grammar school these tend to be boys who have always been in the top set in their primaries. In independent schools they are often children who have been selected because they have other talents (usually but not exclusively sporting ones grin), so even if they are bottom of the bottom set, their other talents are celebrated.

2) There are more teachers per pupil, and teachers are selected not just because of their ability to teach one subject, but what they are able to bring to the school community as a whole. They're allowed and encouraged to be passionate about anything. They tend to be interesting people. The boring ones tend to move on more quickly.

3) Facilities. Whatever your passion is, whether sport, music, art or drama, some independent schools have great facilities. I'd love to say it doesn't matter, but it can make a difference.

4) Access to staff. I can contact any member of staff and expect to get a response fairly quickly. I am treated as a partner in my son's education. I certainly don't feel that I get fobbed off. I feel that my view is heard.

5) Access to other parents. You are buying into a community with plenty of contacts, if you want to. There is an incredible range of wealth and situations. Most people want similar opportunities for their children. Obviously a grammar school will have this as well, but I think it is more of a basic expectation in an indie.

6) Not tied to national curriculum or other random Government interventions or targets. Can opt out of league tables, and by so doing allow children to take exams etc when it is best for the child, not the school.

7) Proper higher education and careers advice.

8) Usually smaller class sizes.

9) Exam results aren't everything. They're not even the main thing. Yes, you need grades to get to the next stage, but not grades for grades sake. You're a success if you go on stage or become an artist or musician, and not seen as someone who didn't study hard enough to be a doctor or solicitor.

10) Possibly unique to us, but I haven't come across any co-ed grammar schools locally (other than some letting in a few girls at 6th form). Co-ed and decent drama was important for one child which will pretty much keep us in the independent sector.

It's a list asking to be shot down, and no doubt I've missed things off. Ultimately it is a personal decision, if you can afford it. Many can and choose not to.

EyesWideClosed Thu 24-Oct-13 22:10:44

Gosh! Thanks for that prompt and detailed response Ladymuck. There is much food for thought there. You have clearly given it much consideration. Take it you will also be doing the indies in Jan?

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