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Sheffield High School vs Tapton / Silverdale

(12 Posts)
SusanSand Fri 03-Jul-15 11:23:54

Hello all,

DH and I have recently separated, and I am thinking of moving back to Sheffield (my home town) with DD, who is nearly 11 (so young in her year). She is currently just finishing Yr 6 at a girls' prep school. DS is boarding at Winchester.

Our divorce is going to have a catastrophic effect on our finances and will leave us both relatively badly off. However, DD's schooling is my number one priority; I will compromise on a house and so on because I believe proximity to extended family will compensate for the change in lifestyle.

However, I have a bit of a school dilemma as a result.

Thoughts so far are:

EITHER: Buy a v cheap house where school catchment doesn't matter, and send her to SHS (my old school...).

Advantage: it is all girls, which she's used to, and which I like. Plus it's independent, and DS is staying at Winchester so it wouldn't feel as if I were prioritising his education over hers.

Disadvantage: it's expensive. And is it really that much better than the state options?

OR: Buy a v cheap house in the relevant catchment area and send her to Tapton or Silverdale (if - big IF! - they have places at any point).

Advantage: it's free.

Disadvantage: I'm terrified of comprehensives, having never set foot in one. DD would undoubtedly be distracted by boys (she is already showing tendencies, despite having a smelly older brother). How do you know who they are friends with in such a huge place?!

My family tell me that Tapton is now excellent (it wasn't when I was at school, but these things do change) - though none of us has any experience of state education at all.

DD is bright and sporty and very, very good at art. She likes reading and doing handstands. She is inclined to coast if left to her own devices, and believes that she is less able than she is (the result of having mega-high-achieving brother). She gets distracted by anything she finds funny; she apparently works hard at school but I haven't seen much evidence of this at home other than in art. She also plays two instruments (her choice - not mine!)

I would be really, really grateful for any insights from anyone with children at any of these schools!

SusanSand Sun 05-Jul-15 13:59:58

Still hoping...!

bumbletoes Mon 06-Jul-15 19:33:00

Tapton is very good - the Times said it was the top comprehensive last year - not sure why though. Though I didn't read the report, I know several teachers and pupils there. The teachers are amazing but they are overworked and I am not sure how sustainable that is. All the students I know there are really happy and my dc most likely will go. It is big though, as is Silverdale. I know there are redundancies at Silverdale at the moment so it may be worth checking their Art provision if they are focusing their finances on the Ebacc subjects.

SHS gets excellent results and many of the girls there are lovely. It is very much an educational hothouse though and lots of the girls I know are very stressed by the high standards expected. They are not always happy girls as a result.

Unless you are happy with a fairly small house, catchment for Tapton means houses are expensive. (Not sure what your budget is though!) Houses in Silverdale catchment are out of reach for most people I know. If you check the council website for catchments and look at rightmove, you will get a clearer picture.

All three schools are good. It depends what you think really. Having a look round them would be useful.

MuttonCadet Mon 06-Jul-15 19:43:20

I think the girls high is the best of the three schools you mention. It also turns out very well rounded individuals.

SusanSand Tue 07-Jul-15 11:51:57

Ooh, excited by the replies!

Thank you, both. I spent 13 yrs at SHS, as did my sisters - but it was a long time ago, and I suspect it would be unrecognisable now. My natural inclination is to have DD carry on the family tradition, but that may not be financially viable. It wasn't really hothouse-y when I was there (unlike Ashdell) but, again, that may have changed.

Bumbletoes, the info about Silverdale redundancies is v helpful, and definitely worth investigating. I think DD is bound to do something artistic, so I wouldn't like to find she went somewhere only to find she couldn't do that much arty stuff.

House budget is the Great Unknown at the mo. If DH and I go for a 50-50 mortgage-free split, we would be looking at an absolute max of about £300k each. I know this doesn't buy that much in S11 or S10 - though as DS will be at boarding school, we don't need a huge house, and we would be moving from a far more expensive part of the country so would feel that a 3-bed terrace in a nice area was a bit of a luxury!

Millymollymama Tue 07-Jul-15 12:45:45

What about King Ecgberts? This is a constantly good school and is in a fairly good area. I don't think any of the comps in Sheffield compare with SHS. Chalk and Cheese. I know the Shefield city schools a bit and I think there is a problem, like many Northern cities, where there are just not enough good leadership teams and teachers to go round. Ofsted have talked about this. Therefore the schools go up and down like yoyos because high performance cannot be sustained and supply teachers are the norm. Will your DD be happy with a comp when your DS is having the best of everything? Seems very unfair to me and the comps in Sheffield are poles apart from Winchester! Why do you both need to be mortgage free and deny your DD an equivalent education to her brother? I don't think I would do this.

SusanSand Tue 07-Jul-15 14:36:45

Millymollymama - don't worry: this had occurred to me too! Should have added that DS has a rather generous scholarship/bursary, which has enabled him to go to his school. I wouldn't dream of prioritising one child's education over the other's. Thus far, we have spent a fortune on DD's fees and very little on DS's...
My cousins went to King E's, as did lots of my friends. I have not ruled it out...

SusanSand Tue 07-Jul-15 15:36:12

Also... Need to be mortgage-free as neither of us could get a mortgage now...

michaelrB Thu 09-Jul-15 20:41:41

SHS is a fantastic school producing gusty, capable women. Well worth the money I'd say. Have a look at the inspection report for a small glimpse of the quality.

bumbletoes Sat 11-Jul-15 12:04:50

Hello again. I would say it is worth trying SHS especially as your ds is privately educated. It is a good school and you already have a strong personal connection with it which will help you.

Inspection reports can be taken with a pinch of salt and the above message about 'gusty' (I assume 'gutsy') and 'capable' women being 'produced' (as if from a factory?) is, of course, a sweeping generalisation. It rather depends on the character of the child concerned! So long as you can support your dd and help her through any issues with high expectations and the pressures the girls can put themselves under, however, she will no doubt thrive. Academically the school is excellent; just check out pastoral care. I do know lots of girls who have been really happy there, as well as many who weren't, even though they too acknowledge how good their education was, so I suppose it is a case of not pleasing all of them all of the time - as with most schools! (Some people just don't like school, full stop, anyway).

There are definitely lots of great opportunities there and it sounds as though that is where you would be happiest. This will make your dd happier too I think. SHS I believe has bursaries etc available if this is worth a try. I know lots of girls travel there from areas without the S10 price tag so that won't be a problem.

As with any school there are wonderful friends to be found and good teachers too. It just seems as though SHS may be the better fit for you from what you have said.

There are several other very good schools though that are, as you say, free, and also provide a wide variety of educational experiences. It's a tough one. I hope you are able to visit and see what you think of them; that is probably the most useful thing to do. Good luck.

SusanSand Wed 22-Jul-15 12:54:27

Hello again,

I hadn't looked at this for ages as I'd rather given up hope of having any further replies. I was wrong!!

Thanks very much, michaelrB and Bumbletoes, for your comments. I am very drawn to SHS, if only just because I went there for my entire school career. They had no such thing as pastoral care when I was there - but I don't think any school did then. And I do very much have it in mind that DD could feel that DS has been favouritised (particularly a problem, to my mind, with an older brother) - even though he has his place due to having gained a scholarship.

I've also spoken to several teachers via Sheffield friends, and most of them have said that Tapton is excellent, but that the pressure on teachers to keep it that way is immense. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and it's not necessarily representative of all teachers at the school, but it's something to think about.

I will look at SHS and try to work out if it would be a good fit for DD. She has already moved schools twice due to relocation, and she has always slotted in with no problems, but I'd like to do my best to get it right for her - especially in the circs.

EthelM Wed 20-Sep-17 22:01:18

Hi Susan,

What did you end up doing in the end? And are you still happy with your decision?

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