Akeley Wood Senior School – any thoughts??(19 Posts)
11+ hasn’t worked out as planned. We are appealing but we know that the chances are slim so having to look at all alternatives. Akeley Wood is on our list of independent schools but are there others? Stowe not really suitable. Be great to hear from any parents that are / have been in a similar situation. Would love to know if you are happy with your choice and if your children are happy too. Really want to find somewhere that stretches but also encourages after-school activities (not just sport!!) too. Thanks!
Why is Stowe not suitable? Much more status than Akeley Wood, although it starts at 13. It is not all about sport! Have you looked round? There is very little choice in that area of Bucks. Are you looking for a boy or girl?
Oxford has St Edwards (13), Oxford High or Headington for gilrks. Not sure about late admissions though. Also look at Winchester House Prep School at Brackley for 2 years or Swanbourne Prep near Winslow. You could then apply for suitable senior schools for entry at 13. This would give you a much wider choice and open up better schools than Akeley Wood which is mostly 11 plus children who did not quite make it.
Thanks for the recommendations bojorojo, will look into them. I'm looking for my son, me and dh would preferably like him to go to a co-ed thats inclusive and welcoming. Good pastoral care is very important to us.
Myself and dh are looking into Akeley Wood because of the recent good inspection report and because it seems to fit the bill above, but we are as of yet to visit it.
Split over 3 beautiful sites, I would say Akeley Wood is a great school overall and definitely worth considering. Having looked at many other independent schools within the area (all co-ed mind you), we felt this establishment fitted our requirements and the needs of our children very well.
We moved our two DS's into the Junior School from a village school 3 years ago and have never looked back. They are well cared for and I know they are safe. Continuously assessed but with no pressure. They love it and all the children seem to be polite, happy and courteous. Our two have gained lots of confidence and independence as well as building many good friendships whilst being at Akeley. All the teachers know each child by name, which proves that children are not just a number. Their needs are met and all the children are put into suitable sets for their abilities, still ensuring they are challenged and stretched. Clubs are great and really varied. Anything from Jewellery making, IT, debating, Forest School, Choir, through to Badminton, Lacrosse, Archery, Rugby, Football, Rounders, Basketball and so on. There is a lot of choice.
I felt that other local independent schools were more about what job parents had and what car they drove, or where they went on holiday. Akeley isn’t like that and I certainly don’t have time for any of that. I also don’t want my children to grow up with that mind-set and in a materialistic world. For us, it’s more about values and respecting everyone for who they are, whilst getting a great, all rounded education and being happy.
I cannot comment on the middle and senior schools too much as my two are not there but I can say that they too seem to be similar and care about the individual first - before anything. GCSE results seem pretty consistent with over 30% of exams taken being graded A* to A, ( I don’t know how this compares to other similar schools as I haven’t looked).
If you want to go down the Prep School and Common Entrance route then yes I would say to look at Winchester House or Beachborough, which generally then feed you on to Bloxham or Stowe. My eldest did take the 11+ exam and is off to the local Grammar School in September - and he is sad to be leaving but looking forward to his new adventure. I wouldn’t say that Akeley is a school for children that didn’t quite make the 11+ though. It is a personal choice and only a fraction of the children from the school enter it. Many choose to stay because they know that Akeley is right for their child and a Grammar School isn't. My view however is ‘Why wouldn’t you enter your child if you lived in a Grammar school area and you knew your child would be able to cope with the 11+ system?’ We feel our DS will which is why we put him through. If however, for whatever reason it did not work out, then we would have no hesitation in sending him back to Akeley. Our other DS will take it as well in a few years but only if we think it is right for him at the time and if we feel he will be able to cope with the pressure.
I am really happy with the senior school. My DOcs are absolutely thriving and genuinely love school. The pastoral care is outstanding. The head teacher is very on the ball and the teachers know the kids really well.
We looked at loads of schools in the area before deciding on Akeley. Not true that it's all kids who didn't pass the 11+ either. Several of my DCs friends did and chose Akeley over the grammars. Maybe on scholarships, I know some are.
Go have a look around. They have open days but we went on normal day and did a private tour.
If you're still thinking of Akeley Wood there are a few things to consider, especially at Senior School level.
I have 2 children at the senior school and am considering moving them. While they are trying to spin good A-Level results the table actually is showing at 19% decrease in A*-B pass rates since 2014.
AS results, especially in maths was absolutely atrocious with unbelievable levels of students receiving U or E grades (e.g. failures). Not surprisingly they didn't even mention results for these exams. Many students are looking at retakes and even leaving the school to do L6 again elsewhere. With a son about to start GCSEs I'm eagerly awaiting how the school has performed at this level.
So my advice is before you choose Akeley ask them for comprehensive exam results tables.
A further thing to consider is the level of staff turnover in recent years, the number of p/t teachers and levels of actual support given to students at all levels. We've also experienced some blatant favouritism in certain 'creative' departments.
Winchester House has a far more diversified destination list than Stowe and Bloxham!
Schools spin GCSE and A level results. Always look at the subjects. 30% A*-A is, I suspect way below RLS, so clearly most children at Akeley Wood are not grammar school ability children. Tjose statistics compare with Waddesdon School (a secondary modern) where, in 2015, 28% of all GCSEs were A* or A, so Akeley Wood is at about the same level. It would also enjoy a similar level of parental support but without the inevitable behaviour problems that all secondary moderns will have from time to time. I have lived in the area for many years and few people choose Akeley Wood over RLS, unless they have a very delicate child. Stowe is a much bigger "name" school and far more prestigious, but is clearly a school for robust children! However, if you say you went to Stowe, it means something!
I have a friend who moved their DD from a private school in Bedford to Akeley Wood pre-GCSE's because they thought she would do better there. Last time I spoke to her, she was very unimpressed with Akeley as the DD had appalling mock GCSE results and they do not feel she has done very well in her final exams. She has no intention of even contemplating that she stays on for 6th form even if the unthinkable great results happen this week.
Shocking GCSE and A level results this year. I would strongly recommend you do not touch Stowe with a barge pole!
Mirror do you have experience of Stowe? DS and DD both bright and v sporty and HM at prep school suggested Stowe but personally worried not academic enough... Your post sounds worrying. Thx
I would look at Rugby then. Stowe is a bit marmite and as I said above, does not necessarily get the brightest from Winchester House or anywhere becayse it has lower entry requirements. It has never been a top academic school.
Not so sure that Stowe's results are shocking ! Nearly 50% of GCSEs were A or A* and nearly 33% of A levels were A or A*. Given that Stowe is not an academic school when compared to the top
selective schools, I would not describe those results as shocking! They sit quite well with quite a few lesser grammar schools that are probably more selective. I would consider if it is the type of school you like when you look round. One person's shocking results may not be shocking to you and cohorts vary. Far more than at Winchester or Westminster.
Thanks bojo. Just because not everyone gets As a lot do I guess. Am thinking there are still bright people there but there is just more of a range as not very selective. Also thinking about St Edwards??? DS predicted 70%+ at CE so in theory we have been told he could get into anywhere but we def want co-ed and sporty. Thx
Stowe is lower than that. The last I heard it was 55% but you would need to check that. Stowe has never been a place for lots of bright children but they do have great alumni so the bright ones do very well. I think your decision is about whether you want your DS to work with lots of similarly bright children.
We looked at both St Edwards and Stowe for my DD for 6th form and she felt Stowe was too remote. She didn't go to St Edwards either but that was due to a subject problem, not anything wrong with the school. We have a friend with boys at St Edwards and they are very happy.
You will definitely find Rugby is more academic and again we know pupils there who have really enjoyed it. My DD knows lots of Harrow boys and I can confirm that school is truly outstanding. Sport is obviously high on the agenda at all these schools so I think tou need to consider if you want co-ed or boys. Harrow also has plenty of academic boys and is smaller than Eton. I think boys need to be reasonably confident and robust to do well at Harrow but they love their sport! Rugby I think suits any child. I don't know what Radley is like at the moment.
I think your Head at Prep is aiming a bit low and I would widen the search.
Thx. Head did suggest Wellington and Radley too but we have ruled those out for being too far (W) and all-boys (R). Def want coed as dd is only 1 year younger and logistics really. Might have to go and visit rugby then just to compare. Did like St Eds though. Just frustrating there isn't a more academic coed school closer to us. But am sure they will do well wherever they go. Thx again.
I know this is an old thread but thought if anyone was looking up Akeley Wood Senior School they would still find this.
As an update to my post of a while back this school has dramatically gone down hill. Like all Cognito Schools it is now totally focused on finances and getting in (mostly foreign) students. The idyllic location in the Bucks countryside must be appealing to anyone from another country and they really use this.
Staff turnover is high (including Head Teachers) with my child regularly having temporary staff for crucial exam years. My child has also experienced blatant bullying and the school has taken only minor steps (i.e. talking it through and also a single contact with bullies parents). When it continued they were not willing to take further sanctions and even suggested my child see a counsellor!!! (But they didn't suggest the troublemakers see counsellors.)
To get my other child through A-Levels we spent £80+ per week on private tutors for 2 of his 3 subjects. He got the grades he needed but only because of this. For my other child we've tried to change schools for several years but any that are halfway decent in our area have waiting lists and as few students are leaving we can't move up the list.
If you're thinking about Akeley Wood Senior School, think again. Falling grades, high turnover, financially motivated and hiding behind policies they are not willing to enforce.
I think the fees are fairly low and you get what you pay for. Cognita was set up on the model of pile em high, sell em cheap and the results are what you describe. As it is not a proper boarding school I feel sorry for the international students being dumped in a remote corner of Bucks without the proper support a well known boarding school would offer. Where my DDs went to school, day fees are £2000 a term more than Akeley Wood. I still cannot see why anyone bright would go to AW over RLS and Stowe has the name! I bet it’s the international Pupils who go to the top universities!
Akeley Wood is going through some changes at the moment, so I would think twice and think about what your aims are for your child.
We have 3 children that have gone through all parts of the school at some point. We came from the prep school system (Swanbourne House) and Akeley Wood is much more relaxed than that. At first I found it hard as what I thought at the lack of manners or discipline from the children. I found the parents were very relaxed and approachable. Most worked and did not really care what car you drove or where you went on your holidays the total opposite to Swanbourne in that respect where I never really fit in! Drove an old banger, worked at a paid job and went to Cornwall on holiday! (This also comes across from the children and the reason why I moved our eldest from Swanbourne originally. I did not want my children to be all about material things) We all loved Swanbourne apart from that, fab school!
My youngest 2 were moved from Swanbourne to Akeley Wood for the Dyslexia provision which had been totally amazing until a change of staff and of school direction and school policy I think.
Our middle child used the Tutorial programme, a class of 9 children who were all dyslexic or needed some educational help. My child flourished in this environment for 2 whole years we could not have asked for a better education for him. Then they canceled it and it moved to extra support in a normal taught form ( that was useless) and then we pulled him, I can and do teach him better myself.
In that last year, we had issues with pastoral care. Red haired, pale skinned child made to sit outside in the full sun, no shade on sports day. With no encouragement to reapply sun cream. Came home burnt to a crisp, needed 2 days off school as it was so painful. He was not the only one, his classmate got sunstroke and was off school being sick. I complained. Did no use. The pastoral team came across as not caring at all. That's neglect in my book.
My son also overheard his form tutor referring to him as an idiot. (senior school).
My eldest went to Akeley for 2 years as she wanted to come home from Boarding School elsewhere and it seemed like the sensible thing to place her with the other children. She was not a fan. She refused to stay for 6th Form, she complained that teachers were not in control of the classroom, that lessons had to be stopped or took ages as kids were messing about.
My husband refer's to Akeley as the normal school we have to pay for as there is nothing outstanding about it at all. For us, it was all about the Dyslexia provision when that went there was no reason to stay.
I always say you get the best you can afford, my eldest is at state school doing her A-levels and she says the discipline and control in lessons is far better than Akeley and we do not have to pay for it.
For senior school, I would say look elsewhere at least until they sorted out their current issues with teachers leaving and new heads (3rd one!).
The Junior school was/is a delight, the head is lovely, the teachers appear to know all the children there is plenty of music and sports and after-school activities for the development of a happy well-rounded child.
I always think it’s a shame when parents look at other parents’ cars and holidays and decide they don’t fit in. If you pay, you do! I’m one who paid and has a good lifestyle but I’m quite normal! We all want the best we can get for our children. As Stowe have reduced their day rates, I guess they are pitching for disaffected Akeley Wood parents! Don’t forget the largest cohort of bright children are at RLS. Always were. Nothing has changed.
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