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Hampshire 6th Form colleges (esp PS, BP & Brock)

(28 Posts)
TeenAndTween Fri 11-Oct-13 12:07:59

We are starting to look at 6th form colleges for year 10 DD1. She is more of a B grade student than an A grade, but tries hard.

What do you look for apart from the subjects/results?
How do you know if the spin on pastoral care is spin or reality?

Does anyone have any views on Peter Symmonds, Barton Peveril or Brock?

Especially, but not limited to:
PS: Is it very high pressured? How do they stop students getting 'lost' within the vast numbers?
Brock: What is special that would make it worth travelling to?
BP: Do they push students enough? What is pastoral care like?

Are PS results due to good teaching, or high quality Winchester students?


JWIM Fri 11-Oct-13 12:26:43

DD has just started at PS. Doesn't seem overwhelming although student numbers are higher than our alternative (also very good but different) Alton College. Is quite a bit more structured compared to Alton - very few (?one) BTECs otherwise A levels, compulsory General Studies and compulsory extra curricular activity for example. Would say definitely more overall academic than Alton - which is the only other college we looked at in detail.

SMT have been very clear that they do get good results because they take in GCSE successful students. Attendance and attitude and AS results taken into account to be able to stay for A2s.

PS has good parent portal with attendance, progress and targets information. So far we have been impressed with communication, settling in, extra opportunities and expectations of students.

Don't know about BP currently but it was OK for me back in the day 79-81!

Erebus Fri 11-Oct-13 14:24:18

We will be facing this soon (Y10 DS). The vast majority from his school go on to PS but I think it's horses for courses. Friends whose DCs are in Y12 or 13 tell me that PS stuck to its guns re entry requirements whereas BP were more flexible; that they found the open evening at BP far more welcoming and 'child centric' than the one at PS they also attended. One said she felt their attitude was 'We don't need to fight for your DC, there are hundreds applying'.

I believe that PS is an excellent college for the right DC, but you have to find your way through the decision making process as to whether your DC is 'right'. I do think that some of PS's excellence is due to its exceptional intake, having a couple of the highest achieving comps in the county no more than 6 or 7 miles away helps!

The DC (and their parents) who do go to BP seem very happy with the level of pastoral care, I should add.

eatyourveg Fri 11-Oct-13 15:47:45

You may like to watch this thread, its asking about the same places

TeenAndTween Fri 11-Oct-13 15:52:13

Thanks eatyourveg . On that thread you said PS no contest. Can you expand more on that? (here or the other thread).

MrsWOLF1 Fri 11-Oct-13 16:14:09

My dn is at Brock she loves it although it can b quite bitchy her words!! They do run buses however they go in the am & back pm my dn doesn.t need / want to be there all day so my dsis pays £:900 per yr so she can travel by train Brock used to be a really trendy college but I think that has diminished now FWIW my son did his a levels at his school 6th form & I think that for a levels a better setting

AvonCallingBarksdale Fri 11-Oct-13 18:05:26

I went to Symonds and loved it, having been to school in Winchester. Back then it was certainly considered more academic and, probably, pressured, than Barton Peveril.

eatyourveg Fri 11-Oct-13 19:34:42

I'm in the same boat as you Avon born and bred in Winchester, PS was more highly regarded than anywhere else. I think in my day though it was the hangover of having relatively recently changed from being the city's boys' grammar with a history going back centuries and being in the county town helped

Looking at the website PS do a few non A level courses including some level 2 qualifications. BP do a few more vocational subjects. Its swings and roundabouts depending what you are after. Still think the PS name carries more kudos on a CV (not that that should make any difference but I fear it does, just like some universities)

JWIM Fri 11-Oct-13 19:38:50

Just to add DD chose based on the syllabus for 2 of her A levels compared to that offered at Alton College. All other aspects (facilities, travel, tutor set up etc), for her, being broadly equal.

cory Sat 12-Oct-13 11:59:07

Dd has just started BP; she loves it and certainly seems to be spending a lot of her spare time reading up on school subjects and planning essays, but it's in a good way: I can see how excited she is and how she is really learning to think.

She chose BP over PS for their drama department and because they have a lot of contacts in the industry.

Academically, their results are not that much lower that PS though PS does have a very academic reputation. What dd felt was that PS were very sold on their academic subjects and might be inclined to take less care over subjects they see as the softer option. She is doing a mix of traditionally academic and vocational and felt BP were the ones who were best at the combined approach.

Brock has a good reputation for science and a friend's ds who is there is very pleased with it. It seems they take a lot of care over preparing students for e.g. medical school and make sure they get a good CV together, not just the A's in the relevant subjects.

Friends of dd who have gone to PS do worry about getting thrown out if they don't achieve highly enough from the start; at BP the feeling is they would be more likely to try to help them think about other options.

Don't know anything about pastoral care at the other institutions. As far as we can judge the pastoral care at BP seems outstanding and this was important to us as dd has a chronic health condition.

Like Erebus' friends we found that BP were more welcoming and more willing to think out of the box about the needs of one specific student. (in fact more like a university- ime they are usually far more student centric these days)

TeenAndTween Sat 12-Oct-13 14:40:28

Thank you all so far, this has been really useful so far.
Any more views really appreciated.
Off to see PS at open evening next week, so this is really helpful in knowing what to ask.

lainiekazan Sat 12-Oct-13 15:10:42

Ds in Yr 11 and we're off to (another) Peter Symonds open evening this week as he is undecided about his A Levels.

He has had two talks from Peter Symonds and Barton at his school. He said that the Peter Symonds talk was not very impressive with, in his words, "some random student" saying it was "great". The Barton presentation was streets ahead and the Principal himself turned up.

However, as others have mentioned, PS don't have to try too hard, and Barton were trying to woo kids from ds's school who nearly all prefer to go to PS.

ISingSoprano Sat 12-Oct-13 16:09:31

PS is huge but students are in tutor groups of about 20 and stay with the same tutor for the two years. They have tutorials twice a week. Each tutor group is attached to a faculty with a faculty administrator and two senior tutors. Ds has just left PS and this tutor/faculty set up seems to work very well in terms of pastoral support and preventing students from being 'lost'. On the few occasions I needed to contact the college the faculty administrator responded quickly and appropriately putting me in touch with the relevant staff members.

I don't know BP at all - we are in catchment for PS or Alton College. Both came to do presentations at school recently and the new Principal at PS came himself.

For me the one thing PS does very well is act as the bridge between school and university. They give the students a chance to grow up academically and prepares them well for taking control of their own study with lots of support if they choose to use it.

Talkinpeace Sat 12-Oct-13 17:47:50

DD has her heart set on PS - we went to the July open evening and will be there next week too.

BP is great for some but she does not like the 'vibe' of being next to Eastleigh College. the DD of a friend went from there to Oxford and loved both.

Brock : I was unimpressed that they put all the sciences fitted onto one page of their prospectus. Then again the DD of a friend did the IB at Brock and thrived there.

Tauntons : I drive down Hill lane regularly. It is picking up but is certainly much less academic than BP or PS

Chatting to another friend, she went to PS and loathed it but did well.
Children of friends who went from HCS/KES to PS - some thrive on the freedom, others go off the rails.

TBH we are so incredibly lucky to have fantastic choices round here, pick the one that 'feels' right. And the bus journeys are not too horrible!

ISingSoprano Sat 12-Oct-13 18:14:32

TBH we are so incredibly lucky to have fantastic choices round here, pick the one that 'feels' right. And the bus journeys are not too horrible

I completely agree with this. We get to choose between Peter Symonds and Alton College - how lucky are we! grin

When ds was deciding where to go the choice finally came down to looking at specific syllabus (syllabi, syllabuses ???!)

JWIM Sat 12-Oct-13 20:30:13

Another who would echo how fortunate we are to have the choice.

TeenAndTween Sat 12-Oct-13 21:26:44

All the answers here and on the other thread are being really helpful.

Really pleased that (so far at least) no one has come up with a good reason why BP shouldn't be considered a sensible choice. We liked it at the open evening. If it's good I don't mind particularly about reputation, (or being next to Eastleigh college).

Brock seems to be fine, but no one is shouting anything special which would make it worth a long commute (but still going to open evening).

PS clearly good, concerned it maybe a bit ruthless for my DD, we'll need to check what their rules are for grades at AS (or earlier if struggling to step up). I'm also a bit concerned about mandatory General Studies too.

Strikes me the choice is like between the various Winchester or Romsey Secondaries. All good, some have a better reputation, but in the end the feel is the key differentiator?

Waitingaround Sun 13-Oct-13 11:33:13

Mine just started at PS and loving it. He made his decision based upon the feel of the colleges on the taster days. Most of his school friends however chose Barton and are also happy. According to my son,Symmonds Is more 'grown up' ,the lessons quicker paced and you get more home work. All of which he preferred (except the homework obviously).
I'd say the results are comparable though.

cory Sun 13-Oct-13 16:57:58

Barton do also seem to be good at getting students into Oxbridge and RG universities, so it's not like you've ruled out the academic path by going there.

Bproud Sun 13-Oct-13 20:31:00

My DC both went to PS, a few years ago, both graduated now (1 oxford0 the other achieved a first. I think the comment upthread about bridging the gap between school and university is very pertinent, they both grew in confidence and were very well supported at PS with very differing academic abilities.

LittleRobots Sun 13-Oct-13 20:40:15

I've taught at both PS and BP (a while ago now) and really liked both colleges. There are similar teachers at both, and I think it would depend on exactly which subjects you were doing and as to who was teaching you as to which was "better".

In my day PS was perhaps not so good at pastoral care, and rested on its laurels a little as it had a good intake so didn't try as hard. BP went the extra mile with encouraging students. Both got good results, both got students into Oxbridge. Class sizes were a lot smaller at BP in my subject in the years I taught there. I think BP was a little better with drama, and PS with some of the sports.

My knowledge is now out of date - but I wouldn't rule either college out. There are obvious rivalries due to area loyalty, but I'd look around the departments of the subjects you are interested in at open evening and check you can do your subject combinations and like the teachers and facilities.

Either way, I'm sure if your child works hard they will be in a good college. My area has 6th forms wtihin schools and I do prefer the 6th form college system with specialist teachers and a more university like atmosphere.

fridayfreedom Sun 13-Oct-13 20:50:52

DD is at Barton and loves it. We are very pleased with her progress so far.
Everyone I have spoken to there has been lovely, very welcoming and helpful.
The principal is also lovely and the students really like him. He also spoke to DS at a recent event at DS school , he was promoting the college himself and often does assemblies at DS school.
Apart from the limited bus service to our village I have no complaints.

katese11 Sun 13-Oct-13 20:58:29

Just chanced upon this thread in active topics but I went to symonds! Best 2 years of my life, met dh and some of my best friends there, social life was great and I emerged with good grades. But dh (not so academic) failed his

katese11 Sun 13-Oct-13 21:00:56

Sorry. .. posted early. Teachers did help dh a lot but he's just not good at exams

TeenAndTween Fri 18-Oct-13 10:09:36

Having now been to both BP and PS open evenings I'm even more torn between them.

PS seem more openly ambitious for their students but this may or may not be a good thing for our DD.
BP was a lot more bustling than PS but that probably doesn't reflect what it would be like day to day.
DD liked the learning support area at PS but we didn't actually have time to look into that at BP so nothing to compare it with.
DD thought generally PS was more 'office like' and BP more like her current school.
Very impressed with admissions person at PS who seemed to have the average incoming GCSE grades for each A level on his fingertips. We didn't think to ask that last week at BP ....

I'm very glad we have a whole year and 2 more rounds of open days before applications. Also that if necessary DD could put off decision until after the taster days. Now need to decide whether to bother seeing Brock given how far away it is, and then sit back for 6 months to see how DD gets on with her GCSE coureses.

Anymore views from anyone still appreciated.

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