Aylesbury Grammar / Sir Henry Floyd(12 Posts)
Anyone have experience of these schools since they converted to academy status & can share their experiences?
We have now moved from the area so have lost touch but I did look round both about three years ago to try to decide for my DD (and later my two DSs). One major difference, of course, is that Aylesbury Grammar is all boys whereas your son (I'm guessing) would get a co-ed experience at Henry Floyd. For me, at the time, I preferred the latter as neither of my boys are particularly alpha-male/sporty and AG felt much more 'public school' in that respect. I also got the impression that AG saw itself as much more academic and some of the parents I was being shown round with had started their children with extra 11 plus lessons when their sons were in Year 2!!!! I just didn't like the vibe. Sorry, probably not much use as I am very out of date. Have you visited?
No not yet - my son is only in YR lol but we are in the process of moving house & trying to select which catchment area we want to move into. I know I'm happy with the upper school option for the Princes Risborough area but didn't know anything about the two grammar options if he passes the 11+
Aha. Which are your other possible schools? I have to say, I wasn't terribly grabbed by Henry Floyd either and am glad that I didn't have to choose between them in the end. (We're now in an area without grammar schools which brings its own challenges!) I think some of the other Bucks grammar schools are nice but it all depends what you are looking for. I have looked round lots of schools over the years (!) and you do get a very clear feel about a place when you are there. You shouldn't feel odd about asking to look around even if your son is in reception! Honestly, the school would be flattered!
If your son is very academic and/or sporty then AG might be just the place for him. Although I do have reservations about all boys schools. Incidentally, the choice for my DD would have been easy: the High School in Aylesbury, just over the way from AG, was absolutely lovely and I would have loved her to have gone there. I think girls do well without boys but am really not sure about the other way around. (Both my parents were secondary school teachers as is my sister.)
Hope you get some more informed comment soon.
I have a friend with a son at the grammar. She's happy with it, however like all schools it suits a certain type of boy. Last sept we went round loads of the schools for dss, this sept for ds and tbh we were impressed with all of them, and for different reasons for each! The only one with an iffy rep atm is the Mandeville school, which is in or just skating above special measures.
Where are you thinking of moving to <nosy!>
DS1 is sporty, and academic to a point (ahead of his year group but no einstein!). Very hard to be sure yet as he's only 5!
What were people's reservations about Henry Floyd?
You have to ask yourself a very big question here - what if he doesn't get into one of the grammars? Then what? The options in many parts of grammar counties are not great. People always assume that their child will pass the 11+ but statistically most children don't - you need to thoroughly consider the alternatives.
Burmahere - yes, we've already thought of that. We're trying to choose an area where we're happy with all catchments - upper school (non grammar), grammar AND primary for his younger brother...not easy!!
We actually like Princes Rosborough High if he didn't get into grammar although I know some people would disagree!
Risborough looked really good, dss had it as his 3rd choice. The senco at ds's school talks highly of its pastoral care, and we'll be looking very closely at it. Plus it has an asd-arp!
Tbh, they're both so young, and whether high achievers or not a grammar might not be where is best, you'll see his strengths develop as he gets older. And round here we have a choice of excellent secondaries, not just grammars. Make sure he's in a primary he's happy with.
As others have said, Aylesbury Grammar suits a certain kind of boy. There is also the issue that they get next to no funding from the government, so everything is stretched and parents and alumni will be expected to make up the shortfall.
It's a very large school, so if you have come from a small primary or prep school then you run the risk of getting 'lost. There isn't the resource to give much pastoral care or assistance. Bullying is very common, and isn't dealt with satisfactorily in my opinion. For example, my son was bullied continually and reported it on numerous occasions, but it was never logged or acted upon. When he left and I cited the bullying, they seemed really surprised, and said they had no record of anything like that occurring, and could I please give them some evidence. I should add - bullying was from teachers as much as pupils. It will take a concerted effort to stop it, and I don't think the school has the resources or inclination at the moment - their attitude seems to be that it's what boys do.
It's a school for those of average to medium high intelligence, but not for the very bright. Many entrants failed the 11+ but got in on appeal, I have been told. In my son's year, all the brightest children ended up leaving at the end of year 8 and going to other schools. This is partly because they don't have the resources, but also they have the attitude that 'everyone at AGS is bright, so they should all be treated equally'. This attitude doesn't help bring out the best in children, and can lead to frustration if you want to do well in a subject, but can't. There was talk about setting up a GIFT stream, but I think there was resistance from some teachers. Examples of this include fielding rugby teams made from random players rather than having a first XI; any player could get picked, but then they always lose because other schools pick their 'best' players for the first team. Or, putting a very gifted mathematician into the bottom stream for maths because 'all boys at AGS are good at maths'. Or, for those who have already done their grade 5 music theory, giving them no tuition at all but just putting them in a corner with a grade 5 theory past paper.
Don't be fooled by the long list of clubs on the website, as most of them don't actually run, and many are unsupervised so it's just a room of boys messing about.
I'd say that AGS is a good state school but not exceptional. To a certain extent they are living off the historical reputation of grammar schools, but being so under-funded hampers their ability to do a good job. There is high staff turnover, and they can't attract the best teachers. There are no other decent schools in the area though, so you don't have much choice unless you are in a position to pay to go privately.
They are not under funded any more than any other school in Bucks is underfunded. They spin this to get money from parents. Their per pupil funding is the same as anyone else in Bucks at a secondary school. The problem is that Bucks gets no funding from the Government for any services and has to stand on its own income from Council tax etc. This means it cannot pass on Govt funds for education because it hasn’t got any! In addition pupils at AGS do not qualify for Pupil Premium. This funding has mostly gone to the secondary moderns for obvious reasons and the Grammars are squealing about it.
As for the two schools, I know both and have known many pupils at both. The upwardly mobile and the chattering classes chose AGS. Where my children went to primary, one child in DDs year chose SHF (out of 28 who passed). Also SHF takes in about 90 a year from Milton Keynes because not enough children in Aylesbury Vale get 121. Most appeal cases go to SHF, not AGS by the way. Also, SHF is smaller and does have children from more varied backgrounds, some of whom would see AGS as too posh for them.
AGS can teach the very bright very well. I know several parents of Oxbridge students who went there including maths at Cambridge. The children are not average ability at either of the schools. If you look at the Govt stats, they are all high ability. Some are tutored too much and therefore are not suitable for the Grammars. AGS teaches at a fast pace and there are high expectations. Some boys would be better off at the Floyd but parents are ambitious and AGS is the more prestigious. Always has been!
Regarding Princes Risborough school, it has had its problems. The secondary school that never has problems is Waddesdon. It has a tiny catchment. Check this out if you are interested in it but it ticks every box: Grammars in Aylesbury and the best secondary in Bucks. All the Aylesbury secondary schools have had difficulties and even John Colet at Wendover occasionally but any non Aylesbury secondary is better than an Aylesbury one. Parents like John Colet or The Misbourne at Gt Missenden over PR.
You can never assume a grammar school place. Lots of children in Bucks are working at good levels but the 11 plus asks for more than that. It rewards quick thinking, a good vocabulary, a high level of reasoning and good mathematical ability as well as general knowledge to some extent. It is taken early in Y6 so time to prepare is not long and the schools do not do it for you.
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