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Williamwood or Mearns Castle HS? Please advise!

(25 Posts)
Bluepoppy1 Mon 07-Apr-14 07:46:58

Hello mums. I am new to this blog and would like to ask for an assistance. We are moving from Australia to Glasgow and I am totally unfamiliar with the applying system. My daughter is born Jan 2002 and I have been told she should be S2. Could you please advise on a reputable government school which provides great level of education and prepares for Oxbridge.
I have read a lot of comments and stopped my attention on Williamwood and Mearns Castle. Could you please give you opinion on them. How is St Ninian's HS different?

Thank you in advance.

Weegiemum Mon 07-Apr-14 08:09:21

I'm in Glasgow, and a secondary teacher!

Glasgow really consists of several "councils". We live within Glasgow City Council and my dc go to a school within that area. Williamwood and Mearns Castle are both in East Renfrewshire council area. You will need to check the websites of the council area involved to find out about specific application details, but you have already missed the deadline for the next academic year - we knew what school our ds would be moving up to before Christmas!

They are two of the most oversubscribed schools in the whole city, as they both have great reputations - which partly comes from them being in very affluent areas and house prices are higher there. St Ninians is a Catholic denominational school, but still a state run school.

To be honest it's very likely all 3 of these schools will already be full with a waiting list.

There's not the same emphasis in Scotland on preparing for Oxbridge, really. Private schools would be more pushing in that direction. That's not to say that smart kids aren't challenged to meet their highest potential, but the majority of pupils in Scotland tend to go to scottish universities - great ones in Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews.

Your daughter's birthday means you will have a choice about which year she goes into. My ds was born in Feb 2002 and is currently in Primary 7, going to secondary in August this year. It's become much more common to defer entry if your child was born December-January-February. Would that be an option, she would then be starting in S1 at the same time as everyone else, not coming in to an already established year group?

If I can help with any more questions I will!

Weegiemum Mon 07-Apr-14 08:17:21

Glasgow City Council

East Renfrewshire Council

Weegiemum Mon 07-Apr-14 08:24:54

Some specific info about applying to Glasgow schools from overseas is

And school entry info for East Ren is

A cursory reading of it seems to say you have to be resident before you apply.

You might want to check out info on catchment areas as it's quite unusual in Scotland not to go to your catchment school.

Bluepoppy1 Mon 07-Apr-14 08:35:37

Thank you Weegiemum for all the above info. I have contacted the council and they advised me to fill a form and they will inform me by the end of this month. At the moment my daughter is year 7 and I was really surprised when I have been told that she should be S2, which means she will miss a whole year. Would you advise me to write to the School Principals or the decision is taken by the council.

Weegiemum Mon 07-Apr-14 08:41:15

The decision is always taken by the council, head teachers don't have a say.

Sounds like your daughter should definitely be going into S1 if she's at that stage. It's also good to defer as secondary education in Scotland is 6 years, so if she went into S2 she'd leave school at 17 - I'm glad 2 of my children won't have to (my youngest will). I think that extra year of being at home prepares them for life a bit better, but that's just my opinion!

Bluepoppy1 Mon 07-Apr-14 08:51:15

She has always been one year ahead of her age till we came to Australia. I totally agree with you about the "extra year at home".
Thank you for the advise.

prettybird Mon 07-Apr-14 15:22:26

When I went to NZ when I was 13, I jumped "ahead" 6 months which was ok as I was at the "old" end of my year (April birthday). Had to work hard to catch up.

When we came back to Scotland 2 years later I went back into my original class and still had to catch up confused

Like weegiemum I'd recommend S1 rather than S2.

You mentioned what was the difference with St Ninians. The other 2 schools you mention are "non-denominational" schools whereas St Ninians is a catholic school. It has a good reputation though - but you'd struggle to get into any of those three unless you live in catchment - and even if you're in catchment, in-year admissions might be difficult as the schools will be at capacity.

Don't overlook schools like Hyndland or Shawlands Academy. They still get excellent exam results, belied by their "league tables" as they have very mixed demographics (from millionaires' children to asylum seekers). Ds is at Shawlands Academy and is being pushed hard academically. Pupils from there go to "top" universities like St Andrews, Oxford and Cambridge (and Glasgow of course wink) and get accepted to the "tough" subjects like Medicine and Vet school.

Bluepoppy1 Tue 08-Apr-14 02:32:37

Thank you prettybird and Weegiemum!

Oh, it is so hard to take decisions! I managed to take the best one when we moved here-my daughter is studying in the one of the best state schools and is doing great. And I just want her to continue in the same way. Thank you for the advise.

Am I too late to apply for an Academy- I know there are exams to pass.

Can you please advise what they study in Maths in s1 and in s2.

Prettybird, I shall check Hyndland and Shawlands Acadamy. Thank you!

prettybird Tue 08-Apr-14 09:00:55

No idea about the private schools - I'm sure they'll be happy to take in more fees any time wink

Shawlands Academy would probably be able to take at any time - the best thing would be to call or email the head teacher. I'd ask "on principle" for you at the next Parent Council meeting - but because of the Spring Break and then Easter, it won't be until the middle of May.

Not sure WHAT they do in Maths: ds is in the top set and when I just asked him what he was doing, said, "Mathematics" hmm well, he is 13 On pushing, I was told they've been doing some trigonometry. Two of the boys in the class are doing extension work. Because he's always good at doing his homework, I never really see what he's doing.

AmelieRose Tue 08-Apr-14 09:08:15

Hi OP. There are no academies in Scotland the way there are in England. If a school has 'academy' in the title - like Shawlands Academy mentioned above - it's just part of the school's name if you see what I mean.

There are other good schools in East Renfrewshire as well as Williamwood and Mearns Castle (Woodfarm for example, is a very good school). Jordanhill is also an excellent school in the west end but you would be paying £££ for a house and it's very fdifficult to get into.

One piece of info that might be useful is that we have a new set of qualifications in place this year in Scotland and the first group of pupils are about to sit them for the first time. However, East Ren deferred for a year to give more time to prepare for the new qualifications (the implementation of which has been a bit of a shambles in Glasgow TBH). Might not make much difference but just so you know...

prettybird Tue 08-Apr-14 09:08:32

Just to make it clear: Shawlands and Hyndland, as state schools, don't have any exams for entry. It'll just depend on whether "in year" they have space. There are usually kids coming and going though - that's actually one of the reasons its league table stats are understated, as the percentage is based on the S1 entry and a few kids "disappear" (Roma, asylum seekers or move back to India or Pakistan) by S4.

Bluepoppy1 Tue 08-Apr-14 15:50:13

Thank you girls!
As we are moving to Glasgow at the end of August which here is still term 1, sem 2 would it be a problem my daughter to start S1 without a certificate of a completed year7?

prettybird Tue 08-Apr-14 16:15:58

As they'd only just have started S1, I don't think they would need any certificate. Even in those schools that "set", most only do so once they've assessed the pupils themselves and don't rely on the reports from the primary schools.

I know at Shawlands, they set Maths quite early, certainly by the September Weekend - but then it's relatively easy to assess via tests. English took a little longer - until after the October Week. Those are the only two classes that they set - the rest are all mixed ability, I think until S3 (which is when they've started to choose specific subjects to take forward to Nat 4/5s). Not all schools set though and some schools may stream rather than set.

Re the Curriculum for Excellence, Glasgow seems to have left it up to the schools how they choose to implement it. I'm happy with how Shawlands is doing it. They're being allowed to choose on a subject by subject basis whether they do "old" or "new" Highers next year - and some subjects are choosing new because they say in some subjects it is so strongly correlated to what they've been studying at Nat 5 (and prefer the new qualifications), whereas others have preferred to stay on the old Highers for one extra year.

Ds' S2 English class is currently doing Nat 4 pieces of work (he's just done a "Personal Writing" essay which was one of the few that he's let me read and it was very impressive - but wouldn't let me touch or comment on as to him, it was the equivalent of an exam).

I've heard mixed views from friends in East Renfrewshire on its strategy of only doing the old qualifications for another year. Some parents are concerned that they're just delaying the inevitable and not putting in the preparatory work (or expecting other schools to do it for them).

As an aside, I don't think we took any report to NZ when we went (beginning of S2 for me but this was c.40 years ago shockblush) - but when we came back, I got the BEST REPORT EVER from my NZ school according to my headteacher who had to sign it off and my dad forgot to pack it into our "staying with us" luggage angryhmm. Fortunately, we went back to my old school, so the teachers had a sense of what I was capable of and took on trust that I should be in the top sets grin

Bluepoppy1 Wed 09-Apr-14 05:33:44

Good on you prettybird!
I have kept all the reports from year 6 and even got references from her teacher. I just hope to take them and not forget them as your dad ;).

Can anyone give me link to any Maths or English topics for year 7 in the Scottish schools, just to get an idea how is she traveling in her education.
Thank you in advance.

AmelieRose Wed 09-Apr-14 08:53:28

Hi BluePoppy1. As a result of the new curriculum (CfE) there is no set list of topics for English (actually TBH there never really has been in Scotland). You can expect your daughter to follow a curriculum appropriate for her age and stage, involving different types of writing (imaginative, personal reflective, discursive), close reading skills and the study of literature and media texts.

In some schools, all pupils follow a similar curriculum in English, whereas in others they complete the same type of work (e.g. all study a novel, a play etc) but this varies from class to class.

Hope that helps!

prettybird Wed 09-Apr-14 09:10:30

Aaah hmmhmm - you've asked a difficult question which is at the crux of why some parents are unhappy about the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence, as there isn't (to us) clarity about what they're supposed to be doing.

I found these resources which might be useful for you.

BTW - there are lots of lovely houses (in a range of sizes from enormous villas to flats) in the catchment to Shawlands Academy areas like Newlands, Pollokshields, Shawlands, Strathbungo. We're not actually in catchment (we're in a part of Pollokshields that should go to Bellahouston) but it's only a 5 minute further walk and also Shawlands is an SRU funded School of Rugby (for boys and girls , no previous experience required although in ds' case, he's been playing since he was in P1 but you do give over 2 out of 3 PE classes and one each from English and Maths to rugby in S1 and S2).

I'm quite evangelical about the Southside (and what good value it is compared to the West End) - even though I am a Northsider by upbringing (Bearsden/Milngavie)

BTW - if Y7 is the same nomenclature as England, then it is the equivalent of S1. We go to secondary after 7 years at primary but Primary 1 is the equivalent of Reception.

Bluepoppy1 Wed 09-Apr-14 09:10:58

Thank you AmelieRose.
Is there any link where kids do any Maths excesices or tests?

AmelieRose Wed 09-Apr-14 09:19:50

There are no standardised tests for any subjects any more. In some authorities, there are authority-wide assessments in certain subjects. I think there are some assessments for Maths that are used Glasgow-wide, but they are not mandatory, and not on any websites.

Maths is much more structured than English but courses do still vary from school to school. It's the school holidays here at the minute so can't find out more details from colleagues in Maths, sorry!

prettybird Wed 09-Apr-14 09:21:27

Last year in English, ds was studying "A Misummer's Night Dream" and this year he's done "Kidnapped" and "Of Mice and Men". However, he has a scary English teacher and I say that as someone whose best subject at school was English and who won the English prize who is pushing them really hard as she thinks it's such a capable class.

At ds' primary school, they started reading Lari Don's books (First Aid for Fairies and Other Mythical Beasts and three sequels) with a view to doing two at primary and two at secondary as a form of transition. Ds really enjoyed them, even though they had a girl as the chief protagonist and I had to buy the last two books so that he could finish the series (as he wasn't going to the catchment secondary). Maybe they're books your dd would enjoy?

Fastblood Wed 09-Apr-14 10:31:41

East Renfrewshire schools have a website called CurricuLinks. It doesn't look very special but all of mine used it frequently throughout P5, P6 and P7.

Bluepoppy1 Thu 10-Apr-14 04:56:58

Thank you Fastblood for the link. I shall check it.
Thank you Amelie Rose for the effords. I really appreciate it.
Prettybird, Thank you for the guideline. I shall look for these books. My daughter is obsessed with E.DBaker's book, so I believe she will enjoy the Fairies.
Thank you all girls for you assistance. You are really helpful.

prettybird Wed 14-May-14 18:00:23

Bluepoppy - I have messaged you (just in case you miss the red dot - I often do blush

shob24 Mon 15-May-17 15:26:49

Hi - which school you chose for your child finally? I am asking as I'm in the same situation right now. We have moved from India and looking for secondary schools for my 12 year old son.

Any inputs/experience that you can share would be greatly helpful.

prettybird Mon 15-May-17 18:38:33

This is a Zombie thread so you are unlikely to get a reply from the original poster.

You might be better starting a new thread in the Scotsnet topic to get more people's perspectives (and get into the arguments about which schools are "good" wink)

FWIW I think Shawlands Academy is a brilliant school. It's also very international (55 languages are spoken by pupils in the school shock) and to date has been able to accept all placing requests. Given the number of pupils from other countries, there usefully space for incomers in later years, as there will be some pupils going "home" and releasing places.

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