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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.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 12:57:02

That is a concern - and one that is worth taking up with the school to see what reasons they give. You may - or may not - be reassured.

CumbrianMum2 Fri 22-Mar-13 07:00:50

In one of the subjects she wants to do (a language), not one single child at the comp got an A* this year, which worries me. And what about the argument that boys learn best in mixed-sex classes, but girls learn best with other girls, especially where science and maths are concerned? Is that no longer thought to be true, or maybe it's just less of an issue at 6th form.
I wouldn't say she is street-wise - difficult to be so when you live in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere and go to an all-girls school "in the middle of a field" (as she and her friends put it!). But she is calmly confident and pretty laid back about life. She's probably as street-wise as you might expect of any child in her circumstances; quite happy to get on the bus with her friends and go into the nearest town to socialize.

Talkinpeace Thu 21-Mar-13 19:28:46

true, but selective and non selective are different worlds ...
lucky we have no state selectives round here :-)

countrykitten Thu 21-Mar-13 19:24:12

Yes but both of these schools are in the same sector.

Talkinpeace Thu 21-Mar-13 16:36:52

round here, lots of kids leave the private schools to go to the State 6th form colleges ... it depends more on the individual school that the 'sector' at A level

countrykitten Thu 21-Mar-13 15:29:58

I am a teacher and know both of these schools although I now teach in an independent.

They are both excellent and I know teachers at both. It depends very much on your DD I think as they are both very good - being co-ed in the Sixth Form might be really good for her so QES might have the edge but if she is a little less street wise then maybe LGGS might suit her more.

I do know that forcing her in to LGGS if she has her heart set on QES might be a real issue further down the road.

LittleFrieda Thu 21-Mar-13 14:49:31

My son swapped from a highly academic boys' Indy to a good but not exceptional comp for sixth form. He scored top grades in his January AS modules (he's doing 4 academic subjects) and he LOVES it there. It has been a brilliant move for him.

We looked at the A level results for the subjects he's doing and ignored all the BTECs and A levels in subjects he is not interested in stuff. There was the odd outlier on the exam results (Es Ds and Cs) but there were pupils scoring high grades too (As & A*s) Which is what you would expect at a comprehensive school.

It's such a lovely school. I am really impressed. And mixed schooling is so much more civilised.

CumbrianMum2 Wed 20-Mar-13 21:12:42

Thanks for that... Not sure what the information really tells me, though (sorry if I'm being dense!)

Knowsabitabouteducation Wed 20-Mar-13 18:00:31

We have grammar schools in the neighbouring LEA. They are selective at 11+, but accept all-comers in the sixth form (sixth form year groups are significantly larger than Y11). The standard for getting a place is a B in the subject at GCSE.

The sixth form colleges in my LEA have the same entrance criteria, as do sixth forms in 11-18 schools.

The grammar school sixth forms near me have a 'comprehensive' intake, and do not do VR/NVR as an entrance test.

CumbrianMum2 Wed 20-Mar-13 07:18:07

My daughter thought the Maths teacher (not a he, but a she... I expect there are several) at LGGS was fab when she went to discuss her options. My DD does like the feel of QES much more, but I truly believe she should be happier at LGGS both academically and socially (what on earth is there to do in KL after school....?). I don't think she would have suited it at age 11, but now I think it would be perfect for her. I am not happy having looked at the OFSTED figures for QES.... For example, at the end of KS2, approx 98% of the LGGS cohort are "high attainers" versus approx 46% of the QES cohort, which is fair enough, or even pretty good, given that QES is non-selective. However, if you look at the number of students gaining AAB at A level, in facilitating subjects, at LGGS it's 26%, but at QES only 5%. Now, I would have thought the difference in attainment would have levelled out a bit in the 6th form, given that more than 50% of the LGGS cohort are admitted on the basis of 5 Bs at A level. However, if anything, it seems to be exacerbated.

anotherbrewplease Tue 19-Mar-13 13:32:28

cumbrianmum2 it was me who knows the maths teacher at LGGS - and he is indeed very good. It sounds like your DD likes the feel of QES more and I'm sure that would be fine as well. I have a much younger DD, and am thinking about QES for her, as I'm not sure she would enjoy the academic pressure at LGGS which starts in year 7.

CumbrianMum2 Tue 19-Mar-13 07:23:05

Thank you CheesyPeasForTea for pointing me to look more closely at the OFSTED website - their performance tables are very comprehensive and probably make it easier to compare the different schools.

MsAverage Sun 17-Mar-13 08:05:32

LizAtk, do not worry much about added value, at A-level there is almost none of such. All the difference which may have happened, happens in secondary schools up to GCSEs. A-level results are derivatives from GCSE performance, there is not much time in six form for any dramatic school impact.

CumbrianMum2 Sun 17-Mar-13 06:46:16

Did see the 2008 Ofsted, which was excellent, but would have liked to see something a bit more current. Not thinking of any other schools at this stage - choosing between these two is painful enough!

CheesyPeasForTea Sat 16-Mar-13 22:17:21

CumbrianMum2 Sorry to butt in but did you read the reduced tariff school inspection report for QES from November 2008? There is a link to it on the school website. Academy converter reports are available on the Ofsted website but they are not easy to find. You have to click on the All Providers tab instead of Operating Providers, then click on the school name, then click on the Related Providers tab, then click on the school name again confused. BTW my DD is at RST...did you consider the sixth form there?

bangwhizz Sat 16-Mar-13 18:22:42

orIt wasn't me that said I know a maths techer there!.
But as it happens I do have a relative who did one of their PGCE placements there about 9 or 10 years ago and was very very impressed by the whole ethos of the school.

CumbrianMum2 Sat 16-Mar-13 14:23:19

Bangwhizz, when you say that you know one of the Maths teachers at that school, are you referring to LGGS or QES? QES had 30 kids taking A level maths last summer, of whom less than half got A*, A or B; they had only 6 doing Further Maths, of whom 2 got an A and one a B. I don't know if that's good or bad, but I guess if there are kids getting As, there's no reason that my DD shouldn't be one of them, and she certainly thinks she would be. I can't check the OFSTED for QES, BooksandaCuppa, as QES is now an academy (or someother highfangled title) and hasn't been Ofsteded for several years. I get the impression that DD thinks the grammar would be the sensible choice, but she's a bit gloomy at the prospect - another all-girls school focusing entirely on grades; whereas QES had a much more buzzy atmosphere, and although it may appear to be stuck in the countryside, compared to where she's been, it's in a metropolis! She'd always planned to leave her current school after GCSEs, btw, but would have had to now anyway, as it's been taken over and will soon no longer exist in its current state. There are no other schools in the area we would really consider for her; at least none that have anything over QES or LGGS.

Erebus Sat 16-Mar-13 09:46:27

I also don't know how my GS is these days (apart from the fact it appears to have gone 'super-selective'!) but I would also agree with the reality that some of my scatty, brilliant, mad-as-a-box-of-frogs teachers would have been eaten alive in a SM! Many couldn't cope with the most difficult year, being Y8, even. BUT they had the 'good fortune' to be faced with rows of selected, clever DDs who all, at 13 , knew they could be selected back out, and who knew what they were there for.

Ironically, when at 15, I asked if I could leave the GS to go to Tech for A levels, a strong argument I was given against that was 'The teachers at the Tech spend one double session teaching their subject to A level students then spend the next trying to bash its rudiments into the heads of plumbing apprentices; this is obviously a bad thing so you should stay at the GS!'

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?

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.

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

Why is she leaving her current school?

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

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

...fair to presume...

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 07:53:07

Hmm, I have some sympathy with the argument that - peer pressure aside - a bright pupil will do well anywhere...to 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.

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