school selection(17 Posts)
If you had the choice between a place at a leading independent brighton college school with a scholarship and a top grammar school nonsuch , which would you choose and why? Fees affordable but not insignificant.
I will choose the grammar school, I think the choice would be based on family background. We are not rich, I would think in a leading independent school, there are lots of super rich people. But in a top grammar school, you would have lots of children with a professional family background. And the academic result would be similar. Of course , it will also depend on children's personality. Some children have strong mind, they don't mind they are different, but some children may be sensitive, may not fee comfortable to be with people that are different.
These are some distance apart, so I'd be tempted to say whichever is closest/more convenient unless you plan to relocate. Otherwise it depends on which is the best fit for your DD. A friend of mine removed her daughter from Nonsuch as it wasn't working for them, and moved to a very good independent. Her reasons for moving were that she felt that the focus at Nonsuch was too narrow, ie just academic, whereas she wanted an all round education and for non-academic pursuits to be valued. I have no personal knowledge of Nonsuch (or Brighton College) though, and what you are looking for may be different.
My friend is from an ethnic minority, and she also commented that this minority were in the majority in her daughter's year at Nonsuch - not a problem at all but she wondered if it contributed to the narrowness of the school Eg because of parental expectations. She was used to a much more balanced mix from primary school. This was four years ago so may not be the same today.
Personally, as a grammar school graduate, I'd be inclined to choose the grammar school. However, it does depend on the child and the schools in question; what is the "ethos" of the two schools and which one suits the child better? Which facilities do they have and which subjects do they teach that may appeal particularly to your child? Which school has more children like your child or who you can see your child getting on with productively?
I'd also take into account which one is closer, as if one is considerably easier to get to than the other that would be a strong deciding factor for me.
Good luck with your choice.
This choice isn't just between grammar and independent, but also between single-sex and co-ed, a day school which empties in the afternoon and a boarding school, and as noted above, the schools have considerably different ethnic intakes.
I am concerned about the levels of state school funding at present, and how grammars will cope with even thinner budgets going forward. The schools have to either to continue to expand their pupil numbers whilst replacing more senior and expensive staff with younger less experienced staff, or chase external sponsorship/funding, or aim to get more pupil premium students in. You'll have read up on the recent changes with Nonsuch and WHSG forming a MAT. I feel that the changes which will result from that are still at an early stage. I would definitely be keeping an eye on recruitment - it is becoming more common now for even grammar schools to look for general humanity teachers rather than specialist teachers.
But fees are not insignificant, even with a scholarship. There are lots of opportunities at BC, but only you will know whether your dd is someone who would thrive there or not. She's clearly bright, so as long as she is happy and motivated she'll probably get similar academic results at either. You'll have had a chance to meet senior schools at both - I'd guess you would have a gut instinct at which your dd would be happiest.
That said, the schools are some distance apart, so you'd be factoring in either a house move or boarding I assume (or a heck of a long commute on Southern Rail!)
In terms of the wealth of the pupils - most of the time they're all in school uniform doing similar activities. Everyone is aware that any pupil's individual wealth is not as a result of their own merit or activity. Some families will be there as a result of "new money", some "old" and most trying to prioritise the fees alongside everything else.
merlottime It's very interesting that your ethnic minority friend found that the minority was in the majority in her daughter's class. I've heard something similar about the Tiffin schools in Kingston.
I personally don't think there should be a majority or significant minority of any ethnic group in a school or a class, but in state schools that often happens while in private schools it won't.
DD's class has about a dozen nationalities - French, Argentinian, Australian, New-Zealander, Canadian, Russian, Irish, Latin-American, Thai and various children of mixed parentage as well as 100% English/British children and I think that is much better. They all get on wonderfully.
Also, as grammar schools go purely on results they tend to be more narrowly focused on academic results rather than celebrating sporting, acting and artistic talents in the same way. Not all state schools obviously but definitely some of them.
I have a friend with children at Brighton College and she just loves it. I would definitely send DD there if we lived in the area.
The academic results at Brighton are better than at Nonsuch, significantly so at 6th form though that may represent in part girls choosing to leave Nonsuch to study at co-ed 6th forms.
I've had a look at the Nonsuch exam results, there is an impressive array of subject choice both for GCSE and A level but I would check if that were likely to continue or if they were going to axe some subjects. Generally if the DD in question was quite introverted or less of a self-starter or did not have out of school interests or clubs then I would probably go for BC.
Five years ago we were in a similar position DS2 was offered a place for yr 9 at a well known super selective grammar with impressive results, he already had a place at Winchester. We also had an "outstanding high achieving" comp on our door step with a very ambitious head who favours the super bright with places. The lack of school fees was very attractive and I have no doubt that my DS could have achieved the same exam results at all three on paper Winchesters were better but I wasn't bothered about that. But after some deliberation we decided to go with Winchester for the following reasons; practical reasons, the grammar was too far away, I would have had to give up work to drive him to the school bus to get there and then he had a journey of over an hour, any after school activities he attended meant I would have to drive 40+ miles (one way) to get him, no public transport option. We couldn't move closer due to DH's job. They did not offer DS2's sport which he'd done since he was 7 and where we lived then the nearest suitable club was 50+ miles away.
Other reasons; the schools results put it in the top five grammar schools, I felt it was an exam factory, compulsory team sports, my DS isn't a team or team sports player, but most importantly for us Winchester College is unashamedly offering a broad intellectual environment with a daily non examined lesson (for every year group) with no rigid curriculum, covering a huge range of subjects from the trivial to the philosophical, through political, to the fun, literature, history, there is no restrictions in place to what the dons can offer as the boys progress through the school. It's also very liberal that was important to us. Being a boarding school it inevitable that it can offer a myriad of extra activities that a day school can't, from conventional sporting ones through to the obscure, 30+ concert a term to listen too, 6-8 plays performed by the boys to watch/act in, weekly sometimes biweekly lectures by outside speakers eminent in their fields, My DS could opt out of team sports after two terms and was free to completely pursue his own sport three times a week. Finally he was already full boarding, we knew what boarding was all about, the ethos of Winchester suited both him and us, we as parents felt comfortable there, I never felt that at the grammar, I always slight felt like a fish out of water.
He finished at Winchester just over two weeks ago I've never regretted his/our choice. This doesn't mean go with BC choose the one that you think that offers the education that you want your DC to receive, where you feel comfortable and is most practical.
We made that a very similar decision this March. We went with the grammar as the fees were a big stretch and the stress of job security was another factor too. We felt we could then afford to top up on after school clubs and experiences which we couldn't do if going private. If you are currently holding onto two places then bear in mind that if you end up choosing the private option someone has missed out on the induction day at what might become their new school as the place will only come up at the last minute. If you are holding a place at the independent then you will still have to pay the first term's fees.
I would agree with LockedOutOfMN that it depends a lot on the child. Boarding schools do imbue students with a degree of self-confidence and ability to walk into a room full of adults and impress them that even the very best grammars cannot match. If your child is already confident, articulate and very comfortable talking to adults then this might be less significant, but if they're
a normal child not, a school like Brighton College will give them an advantage in life which goes beyond the excellent exam results/ top university place that a good grammar would also help them achieve.
On top of that, though, and irrespective of your child's character, there's all the stuff that shouldn't matter in the 21st century but does to some people - alumni networks, impressive Old Brightonians ( I hadn't realised until visiting the Wikipedia page that John Chilcot is one of them!), and the fact that some people are simply snobs who will treat those who went to certain schools differently. I think those things sometimes get lost in discussions comparing exam results, but are an important reason why you might (and plenty of parents do) choose to opt for a boarding school over a very good alternative.
I assume, OP, your child has a view on this. Brighton College is boarding so you must make sure that is what your child really wants. I think a scholarship at Brighton College is prestigious so I would take it if I could afford it. Boarding schools are special places and I totally agree with Eaton. Your child should be part of decision making process though or they may not agree with the decision in the future if they are not fully signed up!
Brighton College does have day pupils too. You aren't comparing like for like though. Very different demographic and opportunities.
I go to Brighton College (I'm in Upper Sixth) and I can't imagine myself anywhere else. Results are very good, we are the best co-ed school in the country, but there is also plenty of extra curricular stuff to do and the school has designed the timetable around this. I do music almost every day of the week and this does not detract from my studies in any way, purely because we have dedicated times in the timetable when we do these sorts of things.
39 places at Oxbridge this year and this is expected to rise with my year group. Everyone else tends to go to Russell Group or Unis in America. Results are not achieved through hot housing but through working with students to find the learning methods that work for them. This personally worked really well for me, especially in maths.
About two thrids of pupils are day with the other third weekly or full boarding. This means the variety of people at the school is huge. In this respect we don't necessarily fit the public school model. Bursaries and scholarships are generous and we even have two Syrian refugees joining us next year so by no means is everyone swanning around in their Range Rovers and talking about their next skiing holiday or how much they get in pocket money.
Everyone is super down to earth and I cannot stress enough how absolutely flipping amazing my teachers are, you really won't find any other group of people who are more dedicated or hardworking than the teaching staff at BC.
Hope this helps, if you have any more questions about the school just ask.
if money is no object, my choice is certainly the independent school. The small class size, pastoral care, facilities, lunch menu, friends network (for future career), oxbridge success rate, etc etc are too good to ignore.
if you had to choose between buying a house or investing in private school, i would 100% choose buying a house and let my kids attend grammar school.
We were in this position and chose the Private option.
One of the reasons was proximity and another was class size.
I'm sure DD wouid have been happy and done well at the Grammar but there are some funding issues there whereas at her Private school the facilities and options are much better. Also DD's school is non selective and GCSE results are virtually as good as the 3 closest Grammars to us.
Having said that we made a choice based on our circumstances and these 2 schools, the choice wasn't simply Private vs Grammar.
If the Private school had been girls only or boarding though we wouldn't have sent her there.
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