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Comp or grammar for A level

(43 Posts)
LizAtk Fri 15-Mar-13 17:48:27

My DD will be leaving her small, all-girls independent school this summer after GCSEs. She's predicted all As and A*s and wants to do four academic A levels. She would like to go to our local excellent co-ed comp (which is generally considered excellent but doesn't actually feature in the top 500 state secondary schools league table....). She's got a place there, but also has been offered one at the local (all-girls) grammar school, which is near the top of the league table for selective secondary schools. How on earth can you compare the results of two such schools....? It's not fair to look just at the A levels gained, as the majority of the grammar school kids will have gone through a very rigorous selection process at age 11, even though they are more relaxed about entrance requirements for the 6th form. DD likes the atmosphere of the comp, and the fact that it is co-ed. However, if she really felt that the teaching at the grammar was better, she'd go there. I just don't know how you can make an objective assessment of each school's achievements, given that there's no "value added" information available at A level.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 19:20:32

Will she have her head turned by boys? Is she socially skilled or a bit -um- geeky?

It is a tricky one. I did Y7 to Y13 at a girls GS. Y7-11 was great; 12-13 we were very aware of feeling being held back in the environment. There was a big world out there and here we were, in school uniform, champing at the bit! But this was quite a long time ago. And girls like me weren't heading for Oxbridge whereas quite a few girls were.

A genuinely clever academic DD should be fine academically anywhere. If 'the school's achievements' means purely in terms of points scored at A level, go GS; if she and you want a broader educational experience (but with the likelihood of good results, anyway; BUT with the 'risks' of co-ed and, dare I say, less -ahem- spoon feeding that can sometimes characterise private school), go comp. my caveat can be that a comp, after an all-girls school, esp a private, could appear to be Freedom Central, iykwim. I should've gone to a comp or the local Tech for A level, but obvs your DD isn't me! A lucky escape on your part grin

Trazzletoes Fri 15-Mar-13 19:26:49

I would always say grammar given the choice. But that's because I went to one.

I'm feeling very nosey about which schools you're talking about though!

fridayfreedom Fri 15-Mar-13 19:34:37

I would say comp and I went to a Grammar. Academically great but didn't prepare us for the real world and mixing with all sorts of people Uni was a big shock!

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 19:53:52

Friday and I are coming from the same place....

LizAtk Fri 15-Mar-13 19:53:54

I'm talking about QES versus LGGS, both of which are wonderful schools. Helpful answers, ladies, but I'm no nearer an answer! LGGS ranks 10 out of the top 100 selective secondary schools; QES isn't in the top 100 non-selective secondary schools... is that significant? We're talking maths and science A levels here....

senua Fri 15-Mar-13 20:35:53

At this stage , you shouldn't look at the bigger picture. Your DD will be studying only four subjects. Drill down and find out how the sixthforms do for those particular subjects. Look at grades and look at leavers' destinations. Don't get side-tracked by irrelevant subjects and other stuff.
Also, the step up to sixth form is difficult for everyone but especially so for in-comers. How do the school treat those who struggle: help them or boot them out at Y12? I know you say that DD is on for A/A* grades but I have known similar pupils who have floundered and been 'asked to leave'.

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 20:45:21

senua! NOT look at the bigger picture? This is her DDs bigger picture! ONLY 4 A levels?? And you say 'look at the leavers destination' - you can't get much more 'bigger picture' than that! Whether the OPs DD is likely to gel with what may be different educational environments is what's important!

Domjolly Fri 15-Mar-13 20:55:16

Forget mixing thats not gonna help her if the comp has lack of amanition for the children which most do

I would say to anyone keep your children as far awAy from a comp as possible faling a grammer school then go for a outstanding chruch school failing that go for a outsnding comp plus tutor failing that pray

Erebus Fri 15-Mar-13 21:15:25

Dom... Wot? You haven't really made any sense, there, sorry.

senua Fri 15-Mar-13 21:17:59

I meant itabout the bigger picture. Any prospectus or website will warble on about sports facilities or the orchestra or the chess club or charitable causes or ...
Don't get sidetracked by that. Concentrate on the subjects that are important to you. They might get 100 pupils a year to Oxbidge to read History but that means nothing to a Scientist/Mathematician. Every school has good and bad departments - make sure that the school you choose is good in your subjects.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 15-Mar-13 21:20:27

I agree with Erabus! That post makes no sense, Dom!

I do think it comes down to which environment your DD will settle into quickest and so which will enable her to reach her potential grades.

Perhaps also, a coed at this stage will help her prepare for Uni?

I dunno, it seems that this is, in the end, a gut decision that your dd and you need to reach.

ShipwreckedAndComatose Fri 15-Mar-13 21:22:19

Senura is correct also about departments etc.

Do you have any local parent opinion to go on?

seeker Fri 15-Mar-13 21:27:12

I would go for the comprehensive- particularly if she's come from a private school. Don't worry about not being in the top 100 -there a lot of comprehensive schools in the country!

However, before your dd decides, she need to think about what she likes to do apart from work- sport? drama? music? - and look at what the schools can offer. 6th form is hard work, but it should be fun too- dd has had a fantastic time so far- two plays, and a choir tour as well as work.

CumbrianMum2 Fri 15-Mar-13 22:40:46

Hmm.. She does drama, D of E, the usual stuff. She's pretty focused on wanting to get good grades, but feels confident that she is equally likely to get them in either of these school. And she's probably right. I think boys will rear their ugly heads, but I think that will happen wherever, whether in school or at the end of the day. I have heard - anecdotally - that the comp is not so hot on its Maths teaching, and given that she wants to take two Maths A levels, that concerns me. But she knows all this stuff, and she's a clever, sensible girl, so I will probably leave the decision to her!

bangwhizz Fri 15-Mar-13 22:59:56

Grammar school.No brainer!

mummytime Sat 16-Mar-13 07:38:45

How well do the two schools teach Maths and Science? How mant groups do they have for each subject? What is the pastoral care like?

What do they do to prepare students for University/alternatives?

My DCs Comp has multiple groups for each Maths and Science, including lots of girls. They also do lots of specialist lectures on HE, as well as organised visits, and information on other opportunities.

I would also listen to your DD.

teacherandguideleader Sat 16-Mar-13 07:51:54

Went to Grammar, teach in a Comp.

I would say the Comp every time, if it is good. My Grammar might have served me well academically, but it taught me nothing about life and I left with a very warped perception of the world. I detest selective schools.

Also, I thought my teachers at the Grammar were fab, until I started teaching in a Comp and saw 'real' teaching rather than just being read to out of a textbook (we were motivated and bright enough to cope with this but let's face it, it isn't teaching!). I also think that there is more support for students who struggle in a comp. Very often, high achievers struggle with A levels as they have coasted through GCSEs but can't coast through A levels.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 16-Mar-13 07:53:07

Hmm, I have some sympathy with the argument that - peer pressure aside - a bright pupil will do well a certain extent and that extent probably finishes at Gcse. At A level you actually need decent teachers as well. And as a pp said, in your subjects (doesn't matter how good the other subjects' teachers are).

I guess it could be difficult to find this out without inside knowledge. You have heard some of one school's reputation - could you dig a little further? Do you know anyone who knows anyone who works there? Ofsted will make reference to teaching and learning at ks5. And results - if it's a school who mostly only keep their own students then you can sort of work out whether their teaching is very good at A level if their results shoot up from the Gcse ones (two of our local comps have exponentially better results at A level once the 'weaker' students have left and it's known to be down to their excellent teaching.)

Finally, while I can't speak for 'your' particular options, it's really not true (as sometimes alluded to here) that teaching at grammar schools need equate to being spoon fed and producing students incapable of independent study. At the grammar school I work in, where we take 40% of our sixth form from other grammars, comps and sec mods, the consensus among the staff is that it's the ones from the sec mods or weaker comps who have relied on spoon feeding thus far (who can blame schools desperate for every C grade in the league tables?) and expect it to continue who struggle with the step up to A level.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 16-Mar-13 07:57:47

The poster just before me makes the point I was referring to - from obviously more than a couple of decades ago. It doesn't seem far to presume that all grammar school teachers teach like those of a generation ago.

Anyway, it's not about a type by type comparison but a comparison of the specific schools available to you.

Class sizes can be crucial, as mentioned above, especially in sciences. Also worth finding out.

BooksandaCuppa Sat 16-Mar-13 08:00:14

...fair to presume...

anotherbrewplease Sat 16-Mar-13 08:02:58

What bangwhizz said. I know one of the Maths teachers at that school and can personally attest that the teaching of Maths and Further Maths 'A' levels there is second to none. As for the arguments that she won't get as good 'life experience' there, that is simply not true. One school is in the middle of a busy town/city and the other is stuck in the middle of the countryside...Having said all that QES is a great school as well

TwoBoiledEggs Sat 16-Mar-13 08:09:30

Why is she leaving her current school?

teacherandguideleader Sat 16-Mar-13 08:11:58

I only left school 10 years ago - many of my old teachers still teach at the school. I cannot possibly comment on whether their methods have improved as I haven't been back. It is also a massive generalisation to assume every Grammar school is like it - I have only ever been in two. However, I still believe that poor teachers can hide behind motivated, bright students.

eatyourveg Sat 16-Mar-13 08:11:58

Most of the grammars around here go for co-ed 6th forms. Is the girls' grammar the only grammar around?

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