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Kendrick School (and maybe grammar entrance in general)

(11 Posts)
irregularegular Thu 16-Aug-12 10:13:24

My daughter has, rather belatedly, got interested in applying for Kendrick Grammar School in Reading. She was previously adamant that she would go to our local comprehensive school like most of her friends.

So, now I have to think about whether we'd really want her to go there. And, if so, if there's any point applying or if we've really left it too late.

Does anyone here have experience of Kendrick. Is it a super-competitive, high pressure academic hot-house? Or is it a supportive environment that develops confident, happy, open-minded girls? What are the benefits compared to a small village comprehensive with good exam results and an outstanding Ofsted (Langree, to be precise). And, at a more trivial level, what's the walk from the station like? Where do most girls come from and how do they socialize outside school? Isn't it a bit perverse to live in a nice, leafy village then head into Reading for school?

Secondly, given how competitive it is, and given all the preparation that other girls seem to have done, is it a hopeless enterprise anyway? The test is much earlier this year - Oct 1st already - and we've only just looked at some papers. At the moment I am torn between giving it a lot of attention (on the basis that if she's going to do it, there's no point unless she gives it her absolute best shot) and taking a more laissez-faire attitude.

She's probably the most advanced in her class at literacy, and one of the strongest in maths. One of the reasons she's got interested is other children telling her 'I bet you'll be going to the grammar school'. On the other hand, I wouldn't say she's outstanding and can lack confidence. She can do (and quite enjoys) the questions, but she's slow at the moment. I've not told her yet how quickly she will have to do them as I just wanted her to familiarize herself first before we tried a test properly. I'm not sure how quickly she'll get to grips with the idea of speed and time management - she's more the careful, perfectionist type.

Tortu Thu 16-Aug-12 15:26:47

It is a good while ago now, but I went to Kendrick, so can answer some of your questions (though my information will be very out of date).

1. The walk from the station is fine. It was about 20 minutes when I was at school (slow walking), but a focussed adult who wasn't dawdling could easily do it in 10. In my day a few girls caught the train, so I'm sure she would find somebody to go with.

2. In my day (sigh) most of the girls actually seemed to come from the Caversham area, though I remember one hideous A-Level class in which three of the girls had parents in the same department at the university...in the subject we were studying. I would suspect that quite a lot would come from the university area too.

3. From my own experience, again, I wasn't coached for the exam although a lot of the girls were. I would ALWAYS argue against it. Yes your daughter needs to know what to do and so should try a few papers, but there is no advantage in coaching a child so that they scrape in but are then miserable because they're always at the bottom. Thus your situation seems fine to me. There were some exceptionally bright girls when I was there. I don't want to out myself, but in any other environment my qualifications would be considered very good. I have three postgrad qualifications. My Kendrick friends are similar and feature barristers, doctors, academics etc. but all of us have admitted that when at Kendrick at some point we felt rubbish academically.

4. Girls are scattered all over Reading. It is a commitment from parents, as you'd have to drive to sleepovers in Twyford, Caversham, Earley, or even Bracknell. We all did a lot of extra-curricular activities, so right up until the sixth form, most of the times I met up with girls out of school it was for that reason. I was heavily involved with music, but also did rowing. I socialised with girls from school that way as well as more informally.

Why not give it a go and see what happens? Personally, as I am a teacher and am now very against grammar school education (partially based on my own experiences), I would favour your local comp. An OfSTED 'outstanding' does mean a lot and she would have the advantage of living close to her friends. However, you lose nothing if you try! If she gets in, then you can worry about it more.

p.s. probably worth saying that the girl I know who is the most successful, qualified and has the least hang-ups.......failed the entrance exam and went to Bulmershe. She also liked doing the questions slowly, as she was a perfectionist. This put her in an excellent position for her PhD and she now works for the UN.

irregularegular Thu 16-Aug-12 17:06:42

Thank you Tortu. Your penultimate paragraph almost exactly summed up where I am with it. Except I'm a uni lecturer, not a teacher. And even if I decide that there is nothing to lose by giving it a try, I have to decide how much work to put into it. I'm glad to hear you don't think we've already failed by not starting three years in advance - I imagine that the mums on the 11+ forum are NOT representative!

I'm not comfortable with the principle of grammar schools. But then I think how much happier I would have been at a grammar school rather than my comp. Not more successful, but more at home. Or maybe I wouldn't? And in any case, my daughter isn't me. Pffffft!

Milliways Mon 20-Aug-12 22:13:48

Why not buy some of the WHSMiths NFER practice papers and give them a go? You will need to be achieving a min 86% pass rate for a realistic chance (may be more now - my kids are older). I don't believe in coaching but the reasoning tests DO need to be familiar as you have to do them so quickly, so they should have a go at the practice papers. There is also a great "How to do Non-Verbal reasoning" book available that helped DS.

We did not do enough practice with DD who did not get in, but she also went to one of the local Comps and then Cambridge (just graduated). We did more practice with DS and he got into Reading.

Personally, let her relax as Langtree is an awesome "back-up". My friends fought to get their son in (out of catchment) and he loved it. A staff member I know there also raves about the school.

RustyBear Mon 20-Aug-12 22:34:18

<<waves to Milliways>>

Like Milliways DD, my DD didn't get in to Kendrick, despite all her teachers expecting her to. But the results she got at GCSE at the comp and at A level at a sixth form college were as good or better than those of her friends who did get in - in fact, probably better than most of the whole year, as she got 5 As at A level (before a* came in) and I'm not sure Kendrick do 5 as a matter of course.

I'm not really sure what my thoughts are on grammars in general, having one child who didn't get in and one who did - DS went to Reading School - the boys' equivalent to Kendrick. Neither of my two were tutored, though they both did practice papers. I think that if the Kendrick exam had been the same format as the Reading school one, DD would have done better and probably got in - DS did Maths, English and one reasoning paper, whereas the Kendrick exam was verbal and non-verbal reasoning.

However looking at it from the other end, with both DC coming out with 2:1s from good universities (Warwick and Exeter) I think it was just as well and both went to the schools that suited them - DD certainly wasn't at all upset at not going to the grammar school, whereas I think DS would have been unhappy if he hadn't got in.

Milliways Tue 21-Aug-12 16:57:54

<<waves back to Rusty!>>

(Can you believe the boy you passed a spare rugby top too is now applying for Uni too!)

RustyBear Tue 21-Aug-12 17:56:58

Makes me feel old! That thread about waiting for grammar school results was the first one I posted on on Mumsnet!

aliportico Wed 22-Aug-12 01:34:21

My dd1 is at Kendrick, will be going into y11 in a couple of weeks. She loves it there - I would definitely say supportive rather than highly-pressured. But then dd1 is remarkably thick-skinned and self-confident, lol.

Girls do live all over the place, so you and she have to consider whether that is an issue for you. I guess at Langtree plenty of kids will come in from rural areas, which might actually mean you end up driving her around for longer, as public transport isn't so good.

Walk from the station is fine - you can't get lost, just follow the red jumpers :-) If by any chance you can't see any, follow the green Abbey girls or the grey suits ;-)

If she lives in a leafy village, she might appreciate the chance to wander through town :-)

You're right that there's not much time, but honestly, the biggest improvements come in the first few papers - I've been on the eleven plus board for a long time (the Berkshire forum is quite sane, honest!) there are plenty of people on there who say that their child has been plateaued for ages! So, if she's up for it, work hard for 6 weeks. You get the results before you have to do the school application, so you still have time to carry on thinking about it, see how she does. You don't run any danger of 'wasting' an application slot. Personally, I don't see that there's much to lose.

I have mixed feelings about grammars. But Kendrick is our nearest secondary school, and I never doubted that it would be great for dd1 if she got in. Dd2 is not there - refused to try as she wanted to go to a school where if she did well she'd be top of the class, not one where that sort of thing was just expected! If your dd is at or near the top of the class now, will she be bothered if she's not next year? (Of course, she might still be top, someone has to be :-) )

phlebas Wed 22-Aug-12 20:13:41

my dd did the 11+ for Kendrick last year & didn't get in.

We did 6 weeks of preparation & I felt she was well prepared but nerves got the better of her & she absolutely bombed the first paper, once she'd calmed down she did very well in the second paper. Even with hindsight I wouldn't have spent any more time preparing - she was doing really well at home but you can't really prepare for the the high pressure, silent room full of very scared looking girls. FWIW I think it is a great school & dd would have been loved it there - & 'failure' doesn't seem to have had any negative impact on her smile (she is the most uncompetitive child in the world though!)

Mummzee Sun 23-Sep-12 17:24:46

It is reassuring to read these posts, as my daughter announced last Sunday that she would like to try for Kendrick. This was the day before a year 6 five day activity holiday! So...we have about 1 week to prepare! I too have mixed feelings about grammar schools, and if I'm honest, I'd prefer her to go to our local comprehensive which is 'outstanding'. At the end of the day I want what's best for her, so we'll give it a go. She does seem to have a natural aptitude for the NV. Did verbal today and only got about 50% correct but easy to identify the weak areas and now she knows what to do for next try tomorrow. I completely see how there will be a steep learning curve between first few papers. We'll aim for 1 paper per day for next week. At least this way, there's no time to get too stressed!

animaltales Mon 24-Sep-12 10:01:33

I have similar stories re my older DC as Milliways and RustyBear in a different area but still a super selective grammar school.

DS1 and 2 got in, older DD didn't, again just prob didn't practice enough. Practised a bit more with the boys but no professional tutoring. We just concentrated on the timing, learning to write quickly (sounds daft but makes a difference!), not spending hours on one question, that sort of thing. Put no huge pressure on them, just said give it a go and see what happens. In our area you realisitcally need to be getting 90% or over on practice tests to be in with a chance and they were getting 95% by the time they were nearer the test. BUT in the actual test, DS2 definately didn't score that highly as came out and said missed several questions out, didn't finish paper etc. Still got a place though!! DS1 though did come out thinking he had got it all correct. He didn't score nearly as well as DS2 at GCSE though so make of that what you will ....(Lazy, is the correct answer smile).

It's hard to say how they would have done had they not gone to a grammar school (DD went to a diff grammar school).

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