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St Olave's - an exam factory?

(23 Posts)
tiafish Sun 13-Oct-13 18:27:12


My eldest DS has just done v well in his 11+ and has 'likely' status for St Olave's (meaning he'll be offered a place I think). We did tutor him a bit but he is naturally very bright.

We actually live very close to Langley Park Boys', and I think would be well within their catchment area. My dilemma is whether to send him to SO or Langleys. St Olaves wold be a 50 min journey each way for him, versus a 15 minute walk to Langleys. DS is very social, quite sporty, but also very academic - more of an all rounder than his rather geeky younger brother.

I don't think that either child would struggle in SO, but I am concerned about reports I'm hearing of the new HT turning it into an exam factory. I do want DS to be stretched and to reach his academic potential, go on to Russell group uni (if he wishes) - but I am concerned about too much pressure, living close to his schoolmates, travel time, keeping in touch with a wider range of interests than purely academic, etc etc.

My husband feels quite strongly that he's been given a chance to attend one of the top schools in the country, and is very much in favour of him going. I do see his point, but I have these niggling doubts. I love the new Langley facilities too!

I would so welcome opinions from parents who have children at either school, to help me make up my mind. Our son is fairly happy with either option at the moment - I'm going to take him on the bus journey to SO one morning soon so he can experience it for himself.

Any help much appreciated!

wineoclocktimeyet Sun 13-Oct-13 21:07:13

In case you haven't seen it Tiafish, there is a thread about St Os further down (or further up if someone has added something!)

tiafish Mon 14-Oct-13 11:18:38

Thanks wineoclocktimeyet - I had seen that Trinity vs St Olave's one (and it alarmed me) but I was hoping there may be some parents of Langley Park boys who could put their views in too? Cheers though :-)

Dibbleofficer Mon 14-Oct-13 14:58:09

Heard some strange tales re St Os . head seems to be very unpopular. There are several threads on 11 plus forum. Hover ignore Parent2013 one of the most alarming and boastful posters on social media I have ever read!

pannetone Mon 14-Oct-13 17:52:54

Well I've said 'my piece' on the Trinity v. St. Olaves thread. It just seemed a good time to draw attention to that thread as parents face secondary school decision time.

I just wanted to add a couple of points. DS2 was only diagnosed with SEN after a few years at St. Olaves - we couldn't have forseen that he would need SEN provision when we took up his place at the School. So maybe be aware that you want to chose a school that has effective policies and pastoral care to manage circumstances you can't currently imagine IYSWIM! DS2 is undoubtedly very able academically (he was 8th in the test ranking for his year) but he needed effective support to enable him to reach his potential - but the School's support was so poor it was judged to be discriminatory for failing to make 'reasonable adjustments'.

My eldest son left St.O at the time the new Head came, having done 7 years there, and I certainly attribute the change in the 'ethos' of the School to his arrival. DS2 had just gone into the sixth form and he and his peers certainly noticed how the atmosphere changed with an absolute emphasis on results and many lectures from the Head about 'how we don't get B grades at st Olaves.' And this has inevitably filtered down to all the teaching staff who are under pressure to produce top results. There is so little regard for what an individual achieves, only top grades 'count' whatever your circumstances.

We didn't send academically able DS3 there - he goes to our local OFSTED outstanding (FWIW, St O is Ofsted outstanding too!) and although it is early days as DS3 is only in Y7 the change in atmosphere and ethos is such a relief!

MaverickAuthor Mon 14-Oct-13 21:25:23

Dibbleofficer has made some very good points.

Parent2013 has made some very belittling comments about other schools but seems to remove them as soon as anyone sensibly questions them - I would take any comments from that poster with a pinch of salt.
I have removed comments myself but that was because I gave away too much and don't want to be identified.
I personally think SO is an exam factory but other parents don't - there will always be differing views.
One constant I've seen in various posts is about the HT - he is very unapproachable and aloof - some say arrogant which I can only agree with.
It's a difficult choice - we made the wrong choice choosing SO's but based on what we knew at the time would still have made the same choice.
If you have any doubts choose locally - it makes life a whole lot easier and DS can still get good results at whatever school he goes to - for Uni A levels are the litmus test not O's so there is plenty of time.

Dibbleofficer Tue 15-Oct-13 09:43:19

Very useful insight maverick . There is more to a rounded education than just the whip hand. Eh Parent2013

ErmintrudeEgg Fri 18-Oct-13 00:10:17

I'd like to add a differing opinion as a parent of a son who currently attends St Olaves.
Boys attend the school because they are academic. They are expected to put in the work and therefore get the results.
My son has been extremely happy in his years at St Olaves. He has enjoyed the many extra curricular activities, thrived in the academic classroom and has many friends who, too, currently enjoy their schooling time there.
He was never tutored to get into the school and I do feel for some of the boys who were as they have had a continual struggle to keep up to pace. Personally, I feel that if you need to give your child continued tutoring to get into a school like STOGS then maybe it isn't the right school for your child. Just my humble opinion - no offence meant!

With regard to the headmaster, yes, many find him unapproachable and the boys certainly feel that he rattles on and on (and on and on!) in assemblies about the schools results and how he expects excellent results from all but, having spoken with many of my son's friends, they normally 'switch off' in assemblies anyway.
I cannot say that I find him the most affable of men (I did prefer the previous headmaster), however he certainly is willing to meet up with parents if there are any concerns, as are the Heads of Years, school chaplain, assistant headmaster and school counsellor.
The school seems to get some negative online press but it seems not enough parents go online to give the positive side!
I do hope that any prospective boys and parents are not put off completely by what they read online - go visit the school and see for yourself what happy, mature, responsible, polite and well rounded young men it produces.
With regard to Langley Boys - I have many friends with sons attending this school and they love it there too! Choosing the right school for your child should be, almost, a gut instinct. If your child reallly wants to attend an academic school and is prepared to put in the work from an early age, then it's a no brainer. We are also lucky that STOGS is fairly local, only a short bus ride from home, but my son has friends that travel from all over the South East and London. They meet up in the holidays, social functions and after school sport and activities without any qualms over the distances.

As for STOGS being an exam factory, I disagree. The school takes the top percent of academically bright boys so how are they not going to get the best results! wink

Dibbleofficer Fri 18-Oct-13 07:59:43

Thanks, there is an open day today , anyone going?

MrsWobble Fri 18-Oct-13 08:38:47

Local gossip is that the excellent A level results owe something to the policy of not allowing any year 12 pupil who gets less than 3 Bs at AS level to continue into year 13. Given the pupil cohort I doubt this affects many of them but for those it does it seems cruel to me. Assuming it's true if course.

Gilnahirk Fri 18-Oct-13 08:45:24

I believe it is actually 3 Cs at AS level you need to get to stay on for Year 13. But this means you can get 2As and still be asked to leave if you didn't get at least a C in a third subject. Those to whom this happens usually end up having to repeat Year 12 elsewhere. How can this be in the student's interest?

Ladymuck Fri 18-Oct-13 08:54:02

Its not an uncommon policy at many selective schools. A levels is a big jump for many, and some may get A* at GCSE without breaking a sweat, but then find the same isn't true for AS.

Dibbleofficer Fri 18-Oct-13 08:59:12

I am going to ask the Q on this policy today, I believe the tour starts at 10.30

eatyourveg Sun 20-Oct-13 17:15:54

interesting article in the ST today about parents shunning hot housing schools in favour of a more holistic education. See here

Dibbleofficer Tue 22-Oct-13 09:04:32

Hi ermintrudegg have you got any experience of the entry numbers. My DD got a possible, do you have a feel if this is very unlikely or not to get an offer


Dibbleofficer Fri 25-Oct-13 09:22:46

Hi all , does anyone presently at St olaves / Newstead , do the school trip by train from the Honor Oak , Crofton Park area , is it reliable and how long? Many thanks CAF stressor

Thymeout Fri 25-Oct-13 22:20:37

Orpington is about 30 mins from Crofton Park. Don't know how frequent trains are during morning rush-hour, but they're only every half hour mid afternoon. Fairly reliable in my (limited) experience. There will be other StO/NW pupils on that line.

I was doing that sort of journey by train at 11, with a bus and a 15 min walk. Used to do some homework or read on the train. But it was a long day and I had no local friends.

I think if your son does get into St O's, I'd consider it worth it, if you're otherwise happy with the school.

ErmintrudeEgg Sat 26-Oct-13 17:26:45

Dibbleofficer - Not a clue how many are on the 'possible' list but I have heard it's a small group and taken from how many, on average each year, they think will get in should any 'likely' places are turned down. Is it top of your sons/your list?

They are lots from both schools traveling on that train route too. Many of the boys travel by train to St O's from London, the trains are almost always on time, and have firm 'train friends' throughout the years at Olaves as well as friends from Newstead.
The boys and girls mix well and have joint 'discos' in the early years. My son has many friends at Newstead and they often meet up in the holidays/weekends.

creole Sat 26-Oct-13 17:33:43

I just want to echo what ErmintrudeEgg! If only all parents at StOs are coming on to give their experience of the school...

My son is at StOs and it is NOT an exam factory, that is not our experience anyway. A friend of mine who was very worried about her child taking up his place at StO was quite surprised that its actually a very laid back school. Not a lot of homework and lots of extra curricular activities.
My son is very happy there and feel its the best school for him. The staff are very approachable and willing to help.

Visit the school and make up your own mind....

parent2013 Fri 16-May-14 22:17:38

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parent2013 Fri 16-May-14 22:33:45

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Mintyy Fri 16-May-14 22:35:38

Reported as spam.

teaandthorazine Fri 16-May-14 22:36:49

Awwww, did you forget to add your advertising link parent2013?

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