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Swgs or King' Secondary?

(14 Posts)
ArabianSea Tue 23-Feb-16 10:32:47

My husband is starting a new job in Southampton and we have to relocate there by the summer. Have researched the secondary schools in Hampshire and have narrowed it down to Kings' in Winchester. But we could also move to Salisbury if The South Wilts Grammar School (SWGS) is a good option. Our DD is very bright and quite academically inclined. We don't want to put her in a private school or prep school (she's in Year 4), we can't afford it financially or in lifestyle. Would love to know what are the pros and cons of these 2 schools. and also how Salisbury and Winchester compare in living there. Thank you!

TeenAndTween Tue 23-Feb-16 10:45:13

Have you researched on paper only (ie results and Ofsted) or have you been to see the schools?

Winchester is v. expensive but a lovely place. Good choice of schools.

Winchester has a v.v. good 6th form college too (Peter Symonds) that people go to from all around.

Kings streams (or certainly used to) in a very obvious manner.

I personally don't think it is necessary in this area of Hampshire to go to the trouble of 11+ and SWGS as there are a number of very good comps whose top set pupils get excellent results (and lower set pupils too). But I accept that different people have different views on such things.

Just to check - you did look into Thornden in Chandler's Ford didn't you?

ArabianSea Tue 23-Feb-16 11:09:12

TeenAndTween: Thank you for getting back. I have looked into Thornden, but the problem is none of the primary schools have places at the moment, so my DDs won't be able to go to a school in Chandler's Ford.

I have researched on paper only: SWGS and Kings. Been to Kings locality, driven around but planning to visit the school next week.

TeenAndTween Tue 23-Feb-16 11:24:02

I have friends with kids at the 3 Winchester comps. All are happy. One moved child from Kings to elsewhere. They all have a different 'feel' and different strengths/weaknesses. My understanding is that Kings is v. good for a particular type of child, but perhaps not so for others.

The impression I also have is that to some extent results at Kings reflect a level of self selection. People with less academic kids are slightly more likely to choose one of the other schools, so de facto their results tend to be slightly lower. Which is why you do need to drill into headline figures.

We are in Romsey. Lovely small market town, commuting distance to Southampton. Cheaper than Winchester. Two excellent secondaries. 4 primaries where there will be some spaces (one definitely, 1 probably as has recently expanded, one possible, one almost definitely won't).

Salisbury could be quite a trek to Southampton, depending where exactly you are getting to. (M27 gets busy, and I think A36 might too).

Sorry, I'm not really answering your original question. Hopefully someone with direct knowledge will turn up later.

MildlyIrritated Tue 23-Feb-16 17:42:48

Locations: both cathedral cities are lovely. Salisbury more a 'county town' Winchester more of a 'London Village'.
No personal experience of SWGS, but have friends whose girls go there and they enjoy it.

Personal experience of Kings' a DS1 just left to go to Sixth form and DS2 in Yr7.
Kings' streams and sets from the Oct of Yr7. Pupils do CAT tests, subject tests and are assessed on their class work during the first term. The pupils are then placed (in DS 1's years) Bands 1,2 and 3 & now in DS2's years called Extended, Accelerated and Main. In each band there are Sets. There is generally more movement between sets than bands.

Kings' has a brilliant Head teacher who focuses on the children being happy, good citizens and then good learners. They set stretching targets for all pupils.

As T&T mentioned Kings' possibly is 'self selecting' as if you are a Winch parent and you think that your Dc will end up in Main, you would opt for Westgate (which, by the way, gets very good results - although less rigorous in setting and therefore labelling - I gather) or Henry B, or HCS (private).

Gien the amount of development in and around Winchester - it is unlikely that you would get a place at Kings' if you're not in catchment- but you might possibly get one if you attend one of the feeder primaries.

There is another poster on here called TalkinPeace who knows lots about Hampshire secondaries, hopefully she will be along soon.

ArabianSea Tue 23-Feb-16 18:09:09

Thank you, Mildly Irritated. That's very useful to know. I'm assuming you live within the King's catchment area. We had a look around Winchester last weekend. Could you please tell me which are the nice areas to consider living in, and which are not so nice. I'm not looking at Sleeper's Hill type areas at all! But it would be nice to have an overview of areas in Winchester to consider from someone who knows.

MildlyIrritated Tue 23-Feb-16 18:44:26

Most of Winchester is lovely. It depends what you want really. I'm being a bit nit-picky with the downsides here. You have to consider what is important vs what you could compromise on.

Central Winchester, Hyde, Fulflood, St Cross - although not quite London prices, are heavily influenced by being within walking distance to the station.
Olly B and Badger Farm are fine, brisk walking distance to Kings.
The Romsey Rd is a nightmare during rush hour and school start/pick up times (so many sets of traffic lights) and the traffic can back up beyond the Pitt roundabout down to the M3 or towards Hursley.

Stockbridge Road and the roads off it are good too. However at pick up/drop off in and around Westgate can be a bit of a chore.

The roads adjacent to Peter Symonds (Cranworth, on the station side and Berweke on the other) get jammed with 4000 students heading to/from college and being picked up for their driving lessons!

St Giles Hill is good, but you can hear the motorway and the inbounds to Southampton airport go overhead.

Just be aware of the following:-
Some of the roads around River Park St Bede's school flooded last winter.
Because of the proposed development of Barton Farm, adjacent to the Andover Rd - there is a degree of uncertainty as to how much traffic this will generate and which roads will be turned into rat runs.
Some (much, sadly) of Stanmore has been sold to landlords to be rented out to students, so what would have been solid 3 or 4 bed family homes are now HMOs.

There are some lovely villages near to Winchester just check the school catchment map, it is a bit counter intuitive being almost a 'figure of 8'!

ArabianSea Tue 23-Feb-16 21:08:21

Thank you! What do you think of Stanmore School? Oliver's Battery school? The properties near the station are too expensive.

MildlyIrritated Tue 23-Feb-16 23:03:27

No direct experience of either, sorry. You may get some relevant and recent info if you post on the primary thread.
Someone may be able to let you know how easy it is to find in year places, in Winchester, at the moment.
Now that the Westgate school is from YrR to Yr11, with the junior part only having been open for a couple of years - there may have been more movement around the city primaries freeing up places elsewhere.

Lemonsole Wed 24-Feb-16 17:45:59

Stanmore continues to grow in popularity, and reflects accurately the socially diverse community that it serves. Olly B's has had a challenging few years, but does now seem to be on the up. It has an amazingly green and open site.

Lemonsole Wed 24-Feb-16 17:48:21

Western used to be oversubscribed, but now has spaces in KS 1, as it is very close to the new Westgate primary, and they share a catchment area.

moodymonday Tue 07-Jun-16 22:32:06

Not too sure if you are still interested in SWGS and Salisbury but here are some details.
Having lived here most of my life i might a bit biased but Salisbury is a lovely friendly city that is small enough that its really easy to learn your way around and hard to get lost in but big enough that there are always new things to do and new people to meet. of course we have the cathedral which is also used as the venue for the annual speech day(or prize giving as other schools call it) and also some concerts performed by the school choirs.
South wilts itself is actually very friendly. The jump into year 7 is admittedly very sudden(but this is the case for anyone regardless as you are now the small fish in the sea rather than the big fish in the pond) and it helps if there are people you know there. But making friends aren't a problem as soon-to-be yr 7s that have been accepted are offered a taster day and a day before hand to make new friends. From what I've heard from friends its counterpart bws(for the boys) is much more pressurizing on the kids. SWGS seems more friendly with a strong pastoral system as well.
The 11+ is mostly approached by parents with 11+ tutoring which depending on the level of your daughter could be taken in her stride. I used sarah beswick who definitely did a good job has a great way with the kids!
Many students attending don't actually live within salisbury. Most living beyond walking distance car pool, take the train(many live in Andover or even Whitchurch), or take the bus, a few cycle to school and there are bike shelters within the school. Its very common for friendships to develop on the mode of transports such as the morning before on the train and older students that take the same mode are always happy to help younger students.
Having lived in the same house all this time i haven't really got a clear idea of housing in the area unfortunately but i hope the above information is helpful.

TaIkinPeace Tue 07-Jun-16 23:06:01

Have you also considered any of the schools to the East of Southampton - Swanmore, Wyvern and the like.
Less well known but still get good results with their kids
and feed into the Symonds / Barton 6th form sets

AlwaysTeaTime Wed 08-Jun-16 20:14:43

For a very bright child I would recommend SWGS over Kings'. It is selective, so you need to be sure she will pass the 11+ before you move, but the results are pretty much the best in the area and the pastoral support is really good for a grammar. The SWGS girls seem to dominate Salisbury, with most of them travelling by bus from the villages or walking from town (Harnham is a very popular area to live) and there are strong links with BWS: they share lessons in the 6th form, which is when there is a huge intake from the other local schools. Enrichment for the academic child is second to none, with language and science competitions and trips for the G&T as well as the rest of the year. The problem is that there is little timetabled sport on offer, but most make this up through the numerous after school clubs. SWGS is more of a pressurised environment than Kings' due to its academic cohort and grammar status, but most of the girls are very happy.
With regards to Salisbury, it is a lovely city (although very small)- much less 'Rah' than Winchester, and also much less expensive as it is less popular with london commuters. Decent enough shopping to keep teenagers happy but the real plus is the great train links. My DC love that they can get to Bath, London, Southampton and the beach without changing. Larger catchment areas for primaries than Winchester so would be easier to get into for a Y5 start. The surrounding villages are lovely too with good schools- worth a look. I recommend SWGS if you think your DD would suit the grammar ethos over the comp, but both are great schools- hard to go wrong!

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