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Tell me about 11-16 comprehensives

(37 Posts)
HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 14:17:06

In our county we have a mixture of 11-16 comprehensives, and 11-18s. There are a smattering of FE colleges for A-Levels but no "Sixth Form Colleges" as such. In the 11-16 schools students leave for various destinations including the Sixth forms at the 11-18 schools.

The county school strategy is for any new school to be 11-16 - it seems to be the model they prefer.

I come from a part of the country where all secondaries are 11-18 so I am not really sure about the pros and cons of 11-16 schools.

The two comprehensives where we have a realistic chance of a place are both 11-16s, so I really need to get my head around this by the time DS1 applies for secondary in 2-3 years.

Thank you smile

HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 18:50:19

Just a bounce, and to add> coming from a purely 11-18 system I always assumed I'd be at school until 18. My concern about 11-16 is that it might hamper aspiration, especially if a child sees his peers leaving at 16 into the workplace rather than stay on for a levels.

marquesas Tue 11-Dec-12 18:58:20

I'd be interested in hearing people's views on this as well as there is an outside chance that I might be moving to a county that has 11-16 schools.

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 19:10:30

I grew up in an area with 11-16 schools although now changing. It worked well. Everybody did O'levels at their comp and then with went private (small number) to the sixth form college, technical college or got a job/apprenticeship. The benefit for me was greater number if options at 16. I could either go and do A'Levels at the sixth form college or more vocational at tech. Big plus no more school uniform, different teachers and much greater options for A'Levels. For instance I did German and we only had one teacher at the comp but at sixth form had a few plus more German assistance and could do things like piano lessons as a minor subject. Another big plus was more freedom to go just for your lessons so I could work part-time alongside. So the biggest plus is the more choice you get. My colleague's daughter is picking A'Levels now but is thwarted by timetable clashes at her school as it is smaller so cannot choose all the options she wants. Also we had a specialist group going for Oxbridge so that could go and learn Latin or Greek. I was too lazy for that but my friend did and got to Cambridge from a very working class family because the sixth form college had more resources and experience. Now I believe you need 5 gcse's including maths and English to get there. (Not Cambridge obviously)

losingtrust Tue 11-Dec-12 19:22:25

The library at the sixth form college was almost as big as my uni one so that was another big plus from an academic point of view.

HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 20:36:32

That's brilliant - so pretty positive then? When I think of Sixth Form colleges all I can think of is 'Skins' blush

I do certainly think it's an opportunity to feel more grown up and have a nice transition to university/work. I remember feeling quite stifled and ready to move on by 17/18.

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:46:36

Hampshire has 11-16 plus sixth form.
Look up the websites and ofsteds for some of the schools and colleges ....

Bohunt was the one that nice lady from the Daily Fail rejected (their gain)

Peter Symonds is the ruler in the 6th form stakes

but any of them are representative - as we have no grammar schools in Hampshire

dottygamekeeper Tue 11-Dec-12 20:52:20

My DCs are both at an 11-16 comp, currently in Yr 11 and Yr 10. The norm round here is 11-18 comps, but their school just happened to be our catchment school and is OFSTED outstanding and well respected locally, although relatively small. They have both been very happy there and exceeded our expectations in terms of results. It does mean, however, that we have to look for other options for 6th form and we are in the middle of that process now, with lots of options including several 11-18 comps, a 6th form college, a couple of more vocational colleges, plus private options to consider. It has been very interesting visiting the various options, we still have a couple to see before making a decision in January.

In my opinion, having to make a change now is good preparation for then going on to Uni etc - they will have to increase their independence by travelling further to school/college, meet new peers and staff, but with the benefit of still having support at home, so a sort of halfway house between school and uni. They will also have a wider range of A level choices etc. than might have been the case if they were at an 11-18 school.

I would not say it hampers aspiration - the majority of their peers are looking at going on to A levels/further studies, a few are looking for apprenticeships.

I chose to leave my (private) single sex school after O levels (back in the day!) to go to a mixed state comp with a much bigger 6th form, which was a very positive experience for me, for the reasons stated above.

PrincessOfChina Tue 11-Dec-12 21:01:46

I went to an 11-16 comp. It was reasonably terrible and catered largely for the lowest common denominator. Leaving at 16 was a great opportunity for me.

I would say that the vast majority of those continuing education post-16 moved on to FE college in some shape, with the more insecure heading to one of the schools that did have sixth form. My mum was fuming that I went on to college rather than a school but it was the best thing that happened to me. I chose from a full range of A Level courses (the schools were much more limited and time tabling was an issue) and I performed well.

I did also spend a lot of time in the pub slightly drunk

bruffin Tue 11-Dec-12 21:02:47

In our area all the schools have a 6th format, but there is quite a bit of movement between schools for 6th form for academic subjects. The fe college tends to be for vocational subjects only.
Area I work has very few 6th forms so most go onto the college where they offer academic subjects as well.

HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 21:04:49

This is all very reassuring, thank you. I think it's just unfamiliarity with the system generally, and the 11-16 concept in particular (I'm Scottish and there there are no separate 6th forms at all). Both of my sisters in law left their independent day girls schools to go to co-ed boarding schools and found it quite fun, but I don't think I know anyone who's done it in the state system.

Talkinpeace - you lost me at the Daily Mail reference and after a quick google I'm none the wiser. But yes, v impressive results round your way - much better than mine (although they are improving).

HilaryM Tue 11-Dec-12 21:07:28

Thanks Princess - I did wonder about why someone might choose to join the sixth form of an 11-18 school - where I am their results tend to be slightly better than the sixth form college, so I suppose that might affect things. Or demographic differences too.

PrincessOfChina Tue 11-Dec-12 21:16:30

Hilary It was mainly the lads who joined the 11-18 sixth forms. I think it was a classic case of some of them being more immature and needing the security of a school set up.

My college timetable meant I was only in college for 3 mornings and 3 afternoons so I was free for four mornings/afternoons a week. It did take a while to get some discipline about what to do with those sessions but it definitely prepared me well for more self study at uni.

Leeds2 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:17:40

My friend's son went to an 11 - 16 comp. Her gripe, and the reason that she didn't send her younger children there, was that she felt that all the school wanted was for the children to pass GCSEs at Grade C. She felt that the school had no interest in pushing a student to get a B, or an A, because the child would be going to sixth form elsewhere, and from the school's point of view, it didn't matter. I have no personal experience though!

PrincessOfChina Tue 11-Dec-12 21:43:28

Leeds That's interesting, as I feel the same about my school. My friendship group were largely ignored (except on the occasions the school needed us to set a good example to others) as we were all pretty much guaranteed to get GCSE's at C and above. They didn't push us to strive for A's and as a result they were pretty rare.

My college on the other hand, was hugely keen to push for good A Level Grades and I felt much more nurtured there.

sashh Wed 12-Dec-12 07:36:36

One of my friends is now regretting sending her son to VI form rather than college. His school closed so no VI Form there, he went to one at another school. Did really badly in AS levels, is resitting alongside A Levels and probably won't get great results.

Won't your son have to be in education until 18 anyway?

One thing to think about is the funding the school. I'm not exactly sure how it works at the moment, and if it has changed but a VI form student used to be worth 3 times as much funding as 11-16. But the school could spend the money where it wanted so funding for 16-18 can be spent in any part of a school. Worth asking the head.

I'm trained to teach in FE, and that means teaching from age 14. Some schools now send their kids (in the first year it happens it is always the ones the school want out) for a day or a half day at an FE college to do vocationa qualifications.

It works well because many (possibly most) FE teachers have industry experience and teaching is a second career.

There is a long way to go between now and 16, and when ds1 is 16 it everything will have changed again.

Also his choice oof career may make one more appropriate than another eg VI forms don't usually have the equipment for you to train as a chef, hairdressor or mechanic.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 08:02:02

I'm sure anyone in year 10 and below will have to stay in education until 18 or do a proper apprenticeship. There will be no leaving school at 16.

I'm sure if DC are at an 11-16 school they have plenty of time to get their heads around the fact that they will have to move on after GCSEs. It is nothing like the massive step moving at 11 was. Some will be unsure of what they want to do but moving does make them really think about things instead of putting it off until they fill in their UCAS forms. It's a chance to get away from pupils and teachers you don't get on with and maybe ditch the school uniform and be a bit more grown up.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 08:14:40

Only one of my 6 DC chose to go to college instead of a school post 16. He had really had enough of the school environment and some of the teachers (I'm sure they felt the same about him!). He knew what he wanted to do and it didn't for him include all the compulsary add on bits school would have insisted upon. He wanted to do his 4 A levels and his sport outside of school. It really suits him and I have been very impressed with the teaching.

Bonsoir Wed 12-Dec-12 08:19:02

In France, state schools are comprehensive 11-15 schools (four years) followed by selective 15-18 schools (three years). Private schools are nearly always 11-18 schools, albeit with a cull at 15.

The big issue with state 11-15 schools is that the teachers are less good than at 15-18 schools or 11-18 schools.

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 10:40:23

We have just moved from Cheshire, where most of the schools were 11-18 with inclusive 6th forms ( obviously) and most kids went through the system on one site or went on to the local FE College for other subjects/vocational courses etc - it was a system I thought I prefered, although my child's HS wasnt that great, the 6th form had a very good reputation, and I thought it was aspirational for the younger ones to have a 6th form attached. But if the child has had a bad time at HS for whatever reason, there is no opportunity for them to 'escape' and try something else.

We have now moved to a county with 11-16, and they are big schools with good reputations, with good 6th form colleges with excellent reputations, so there is another move for your child to contend with. For my child, the move has been brilliant, she has really grown up alot at 6th form college, they are treated like adults, and it feels like a real move away from 'school' - different site, different ethos.

I am still weighing up the two systems really - for us a family move meant we had to move at this time, and I can see what a difference this change in system meant for my daughter, she was ready to get away from a familiar school environment and have a new challenge.

In general however, I do question large state comps really - my son has just entered year 7, and although has fitted in well, I think that a middle school type system would have been preferable for him, and that the schools should come up with systems to keep year 7,8,9, operating separately from the much older ones - this is just my opinion based on our experience, - children have different needs and respond to different systems.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 12:13:25

Certain areas have tried years 7,8,9 in a separate school. Leicestershire was one.
Not good IMO because the year 9s become the 'King Pins' and really year 9 boys do need older pupils around especially on school buses and at break and lunch.

Also they would be starting a new school to start GCSE courses. This will be unsettling for some.

A large comp split up into houses and with sets for most subject is what most rural areas have.

Myliferocks Wed 12-Dec-12 12:19:11

My children do first, middle then upper secondary schools.
Middle school is yrs 5-8 and upper secondary is yrs 9-11/13
The secondary schools in a town near us all do 11-16. There is a very good college for post 16 courses.

NamingOfParts Wed 12-Dec-12 12:53:59

My DCs all attend or attended a 11-16 Comp. The choice after that is:

- local consortium college (post 16 education spread across a number of sites)
- 6th form college in a town 45 minutes away
- 6th form at an out of catchment school

DD having done well at GCSE went for the 6th form at out of catchment school. This is a high achieving school and a popular 6th form option for many of the independent schools as it has excellent facilities and a wide range of subjects.

The down side of the school being 11-16 is that they have no interest in post 16 education. This does mean a lot of teaching to the test with no wider study. DD found the transition to AS quite hard in a number of subjects (harder than 'continuing' students) despite have scored straight As/A*s at GCSE. An example of this is that she got A* in French but had to have remedial help with French grammar at the start of AS.

guineapiglet Wed 12-Dec-12 14:11:35

nagy that is interesting about the experiment in Leics- I guess I didnt really mean to keep the younger ones at separate schools from the older ones, I wish someone could come up with a system where they are not in contact with the older ones during the day, but I do take your point about year 9s - maybe year 9/10/11 separate, although whatever systems you come up with their will always be an intimidatory older year. Whilst my son seems settled, there are constant allusions to what the older ones have been up to - the new year 7s for example HAVE to wear a clip on tie, which the older ones come past and flick off at will - this is quite scary for the young ones, it is only a tiny example, but there are issues of PE bags being kicked around, PE kit being taken out and thrown around etc, I think we underestimate just how much of a huge transition from primary to HS is and coping with older kids is part of it- the size of the schools means this can be difficult for teachers to police at all times.

nagynolonger Wed 12-Dec-12 16:56:37

Yes I do agree with what you say about the younger ones in a very big school.
The clip on tie thing does seem a bit silly. Most year 7 cope with proper ties.
Leicestershire county are switching to 11-16 or 11-18 I think. Not sure what happens in the city. It's was a long experiment.....from the 1960's when they were one of the first counties to ditch the 11+.

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