Ripon Grammar vs Bootham(10 Posts)
My first post, so forgive me if I get anything wrong!
We live in North Yorkshire, and are currently looking at secondary schools for our daughter, Y7 entry. We have narrowed it down, for various reasons in favour of each school, to Ripon Grammar and Bootham. Having looked into and visited both, I'm kind of aware that they are pretty different schools in many respects, but still feel that my insight into each of them is really limited.
I wonder if anyone has any experience or knowledge of either school, and would be really grateful to hear what people have to say!
My two sons were day students at Bootham from age 11 to 18, and like you, we looked into all of the independent (and many state) schools locally before making our decision. All I can say is they had a wonderful time, made a lot of friends, achieved excellent grades and have become caring, thoughtful members of society.
Bootham is indeed an oddity. It seems relaxed when you look around, no uniform to speak of, disorganised, lots of noise. But when you are a parent and see the school every day, you realise that there's something going on underneath. They don't need a uniform to bring them together or to enforce a discipline. If you sit and watch how they interact, they seem to have a mutual respect amongst themselves, and between themselves and the teachers. Everyone is polite. Everyone is happy. They actually seem to care for each other. From this respect comes results, because everyone is encouraged, no one is made to feel out of place. Everyone has a talent. So the students seem to achieve amazing things, whatever it is they're good at, hence I guess the high league table results. But results oddly seem almost secondary to the fact that these are children who are learning life skills as well.
I have since met the new head, Jonathan Taylor, and he is even more approachable than the previous head. The Quaker ethos is not shoved in your face - all it seems to do is instill a mutual respect and acceptance amongst everyone, so that can't be a bad idea for society as a whole! There is a daily 9am meeting, but everyone just sits in silence for 15 minutes and contemplates what's important to them. Nothing religious.
You indeed have a big decision to make. But, as someone who has been through the process, personally, I think the school is wonderful and the staff are amazing. I have always wished I could have gone there myself! As a product of an old fashioned, strict, grammar school, I never enjoyed my time at school, and I have always felt I could have learnt more if I had only felt motivated and happier. Hence the choice of Bootham.
As a final aside, I always remember that if I ever visited Bootham at lunchtime, I would be welcome to sit amongst them and have my lunch there too, and I would notice that the staff and students eat together, side by side, OUT OF CHOICE. That tells you everything.
Thanks for your thoughtful and really helpful reply, laceoles. The Bootham that you describe reflects precisely the impression that I have already formed of the school. I, like you, wish that I could go there! And our daughter loved it too.
Our big dilemma is that Ripon is so much more convenient for us in terms of geography - I'm quite phased by the prospect of trying to juggle sitting in the York ring road traffic every day and actually getting back out to work on time! And there is the matter of the school fees, of course.
But I feel that we know far less about Ripon Grammar. From what I see, it's an excellent school, but I have niggling worries over how much of an academic hothouse it is.....perhaps this is just because we are comparing it to the feeling we had after visiting Bootham open day. I don't doubt that dd could cope, but don't want to subject her to a unidimensional, competitive atmosphere.
We don't need to decide until 2016, so the pressure is not yet on, but I'm grateful for any thoughts and advice on here.
We're also wondering about St Peter's, having had a look there. But the issue of getting in and out of York remains.
All advice most welcome.
I have had 3 children at RGS.One now at uni, 2 still there and one to start next year.
I have found it to be very caring school with excellent links with parents.The 2 eldest (boys) were both mediocre -ish when they started and in lower school, but really started to fly as they progressed up the school.
Some people say a lot about homework, but I have never seen my DC spending much time doing it.It is very rare that any of them has spent as much as an hour a day doing it at home but i think they are
lazy the sort of kids who do it as quick as possible not as well as possible and possibly get it out of the way on the bus, or a lunchtime! there are no extra revision classes of anything like that so I don't see it as a 'hothouse' at all .
I think the teaching style is largely 'chalk and talk' and they whizz through the syllabus pretty quick which might not suit all kids
No kids at any, but friends with dc at all three. Ripon grammar parents and kids seem to love it, though I have taught the odd child that moved from there at sixth form that did!'t. Results and sports options good, a little light on so extra curricular activities, but hang onto the thought that it is free. Bootham would be my personal last choice of the three, of the people I have known with kids there, 3 out of 4 have removed them due to bullying and Boothams's failure to deal with that. The fourth family have also had a bullying problem but since they bought a house round the corner especially for their dc to go there they are trying to battle on at the moment. Team Sports are rather weak. St. Peter's is a lovely school with a great feel when you walk onto the place, know quite a few dc there and they all love it.
Transport in and out of York is a major issue though, particularly as Pete's doesn't run a bus service. I know quite a few who commute in on the train, but it depends on your local service, one mum was bemoaning the fact that if her dc did after schools clubs the next available train for them wasn't until 6:30 so she was spending a fortune on them in Starbucks!
I hope you don't mind I've PM'd you, but will say have heard brilliant things about both RGS and Bootham.
Another thing to consider is York traffic is a nightmare in the morning!
Hello all, thanks v much for all the helpful feedback. I'm slightly surprised at the bullying thing, perhaps I had naively decided that Bootham would be the least likely of all of them to have such issues, but I guess nowhere is immune to such problems.
Really useful to hear your various perspectives, so thanks for sharing. Decisions, decisions!
sanf5, did you make a decision in the end?
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