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Aylesbury High School (AHS), any thoughts......?

(30 Posts)
UnderneaththeArchers Sun 22-Jan-17 10:03:14

Anybody have experience of this school? We have been to visit on a few occasions and we all really like it. I have some niggling doubts however about how competitive and resilient it is necessary to be. Is it only for those who fit that description?

Zodlebud Sun 22-Jan-17 15:28:04

It is a grammar school and that, of course, will mean that there will be pressure to do well - and a lot of this pressure will come from the girls themselves.

That said, after visiting AHS, Dr Challoners and Beaconsfield High in the last round of open days (we were considering moving house), AHS was by far the least pressurised and most relaxed of the three. I actually thought the girls there were very down to earth and a lot more "real world" than at the other two schools. They also seem to have a healthy relationship with the boys school, particularly in the sixth form, which to us was quite important.

I could really see my daughter there but not at the other two schools. I am, perhaps rather naively, very anti tutoring though. Sure we'll do practice papers at home to familiarise her with the style, concentrate on speed and accuracy, but this is exam technique. If she can pass the exam without formal tutoring then I would feel very happy about sending her there - it's a great school. I would, however, worry about her being able to cope there if she scraped in.

Three of my friends send their daughters there - one very gregarious and outgoing, three very kind of "normal" and one wouldn't say boo to a goose. All are very happy and doing well.

GRW Sun 22-Jan-17 15:33:04

My DD was there from year 7 and finished in the sixth form last summer. In my experience there were very clever and competitive girls there but also some of lower ability. MY DD would have been in the lower ability range but she loved the school, had good teaching there and made great friends. A lot of clubs run at lunch times rather than after school due to distances the girls travel to get to the school. There are musical productions with Aylesbury Grammar school next door, and competitive house events in music, dance and drama. There is a high proportion of girls doing Duke of Edinburgh awards, my DD got a lot out of that and achieved her gold. My Dd's A level results were lower than her predicted grades, but she is at her first choice university doing a degree with a foundation year. I would recommend the school.

Artus Sun 22-Jan-17 15:42:19

Second all the positive comments above. My daughter and all her friendship group enjoyed their time at the school, were encouraged but not pressured, took part in extra curricular activities and all have gone on to have interesting and varied careers.

justdontevenfuckingstart Sun 22-Jan-17 15:45:21

Wow blast from the past. I went there and my mum was at Challoners. Had a good time there but was many moons ago. Sorry not constructive I know op.

UnderneaththeArchers Sun 22-Jan-17 16:04:38

Thank you. We too felt the girls were well rounded and did not appear to only be superwomen in training. A teacher commented that 'all the girls are competitive', I found this concerning as either they didn't understand their girls, or they really are and it's not the right place for dd.

HelenaJustina Sun 22-Jan-17 16:07:26

I went and so did all my sisters. I loved it but yes, it was competitive and single-sex all-girls can get fairly intense emotionally at times. That said, we all achieved extremely well academically and have all gone to RG universities for our chosen subjects.

bojorojo Sun 22-Jan-17 19:45:13

We live in catchment and I know loads of girls that went there. From the families I know, it is the parents who are ultra competitive for the girls! But not all! There are fewer at AHS that could afford top notch private so they are ultra keen for their girls to do well at the school. It's Progress 8 is above average so they are not all gifted on entry. Definitely not - but even the ones that scrape in on appeal with below 121 progress well if they put the effort in. There are some girls who like to compete - it is in their genes and the parents expect it, but generally I would say it has very well rounded girls.

Some girls I know who are are bit older now could have had better university advice and aimed too low and took niche courses. A very good friend's DD dropped out of university because she took the wrong course. Several I know have gone to Oxford and Cambridge and, surprisingly, had the least pushy parents.

We didn't tutor. Lots do. There are areas of Aylesbury that are not remotely well to do, so there is a mix of girls. Some will have medical consultants as parents others will have Mums that are cleaners and nannies! (My cleaner and my nanny had DDs go there). Few parents in Aylesbury are city whizz kids. They are at DrC and Beaconsfield - very different areas of Bucks.

MillicentMargaretAmanda Mon 23-Jan-17 20:07:10

I know several girls who are there or who have just left. As you'd expect from many schools it's mixed. Some seemed to feel the pressure: 'We get told a B is a failure', 'I'm in the bottom set for science and the teacher says we're thick'. Obviously take these with a pinch of salt. Others seem to be happier, but in general the girls I know at Henry Floyd seem more relaxed about life than those at AHS.

bojorojo Mon 23-Jan-17 21:47:49

SHF has a different vibe and tends to get shunned by the elite. Or those who think they are the elite. Also lots from MK. There is a pecking order in Aylesbury!

MillicentMargaretAmanda Mon 23-Jan-17 22:07:18

Oh I'm very aware of the pecking order ;-) I do wonder though whether the two recent leavers I know who felt like failures (whether from their own self esteem or through the school's influence) would have had a happier time at SHF. Elite does not suit everyone :-)

UnderneaththeArchers Mon 23-Jan-17 22:30:20

Bojo, that's all reassuring, and MMA, that's the sort of thing that concerns me. Unfortunately although we thought we would love SHF we were completely underwhelmed.

bojorojo Mon 23-Jan-17 22:49:21

SHF is an excellent school but is different from the High or the Grammar. You have to remember that these schools have an identical catchment area so you have to ask who chooses which school and why? The very upwardly mobile just don't choose the Floyd but may have to accept it on appeal. Where I live, hardly anyone chooses it as first choice. If you look at other areas within the catchment, it is a different story. The children I know who went to SHF loved it. They were the right fit and possibly would have been less happy elsewhere. They were more creative and less fitting into pigeon holes! I think these schools do offer choice to parents - they are different. Many parents with awful schools and no choice would grab a place at SHF in an instant!

UnderneaththeArchers Mon 23-Jan-17 22:56:52

Oh, absolutely, but we came out with the strong impression it wasn't for dd. Which was not what we thought when we went in.

DropZoneOne Mon 23-Jan-17 23:18:09

Wow, that was my high school! But I'm going back <mumbles> 30 years since I started. Certainly didn't feel competitive back then, although it may just have gone right over my head! I joined from a primary school that would probably be classed as underperforming by today's standards, only 2 out of the year 'passed' the 11+, most of my friends went to Quarrendon and I was devasted not to be going with them!

Most of the intake seemed to be from surrounding village schools, there was quite a mixture of people, income brackets and ability. One of my friends lived in a pretty standard semi in Wendover, another had a huge house in the country with stables and owned a horse.

I certainly wasn't competitive, I was pretty standard academically and rubbish at sports etc. But I did pretty well and was never made to feel that I wasn't good enough - I was the third year of GCSEs, so grading expectations were a bit of unknown. Most went onto do A-levels, a few did leave to go to college at that point instead. There was an expectation that you would go onto university, and limited support if you wanted to do something vocational instead (my Maths teacher was visibly shocked when I said I wanted to be a Holiday Rep not go to Uni to study Maths!).

I didn't even get to look round the school, my Mum made the decision that was where I was going. I was a very shy child and she believed the single-sex education would help me come out of my shell. She was right, and I made some really great friends, but girls can be incredibly bitchy and if you got on the wrong side of the alpha girl you were in trouble. Not sure whether this would be tempered in a mixed school, or whether that's just teenagers for you.

MillicentMargaretAmanda Tue 24-Jan-17 06:31:30

I think you've got your answer there then. You really didn't feel the love for SHF and only have some niggling doubts about AHS, then that's the one for you. If your DD is averagely competitive and averagely resilient she should be fine. The only thing I would really caution about is where she will fall academically in the cohort. If she's the sort who will scrape in with a lot of tutoring please think again... I went to grammar school and still live in GS area and saw both then and now how tough it can be for kids at the bottom of the pile. Often it's better to be the biggest fish in a slightly less academic pond and swap at 16 to GS sixth form than flounder at the bottom of the GS system for 5 years, unhappy.
But if you've think that's not an issue, go for AHS and I'm sure your DD will have 7 lovely years there :-)

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 20:26:40

There are several schools in Aylesbury now (in the old Quarrendon school area and one or two others) that still get next to no 11 plus passes! From what I have observed these children mostly go to SHF when they do pass. It is nearer and caters for children like them. Personally I think they are wrong to just look at SHF but it is difficult to shift perceptions about not fitting in elsewhere. The grammar started to do outreach a few years ago to raise aspirations. Not about choosing them, but about wanting to get to a grammar. It is a sad fact that few parents in the poorer areas can afford tutoring and their children are at a serious disadvantage when compared to more well off children. It makes me cross!

bojorojo Tue 24-Jan-17 20:31:38

The problem in Aylesbury is that all three secondary moderns there are RI or worse. They are not slightly less academic. The secondary moderns in Aylesbury Vale as an area are better if you live in catchment for a good one. For Waddesdon, this is vanishingly small!

MabelWotsits Tue 24-Jan-17 20:37:33

Jesus, that sent a shudder down my spine.

I hated that school. None of my friends enjoyed it and we all couldn't wait to leave the place. I'm sure some liked it but certainly none of my sisters look back on the place fondly either.

I'm sure it's ok now. Sorry for the negativity, OP.

flyingwithwings Tue 24-Jan-17 21:37:27

Current parent with two DDs in year 9 and 12 !

Best decision i made sending them there, both girls wanted to go to Sir Henry Floyd's because neither wanted single sex.

However, both are doing very well and have many friends from different backgrounds as posted up-thread . The school has girls whose parents are doctors and accountants as well as cleaners !

Aylesbury High School has helped both my girls achieve their potential . DD1 over achieved at GCSE with 7A* grades despite only 'scraping' in to the high school with a score of 123 .

DD2 is relieved that i chose the high school for her, rather than her choice of SHF.

CookieDoughKid Sat 28-Jan-17 23:18:16

Hello - I'm considering Aylesbury High and considering moving to Bucks. I've a local outstanding state comp though (Girl's) on my door step so it's a hard call. However, my comp lacks in a few areas and we don't feel it's the right fit for us so willing to move to Bucks and obviously stay in Bucks. My dd is top of the top table at our state primary. I'm after an academic school which also has a decent enrichment program - like choir/orchestra etc and decent range of sports. Could you kindly tell me what Aylesbury High is like in addition to their academic? What's their drama and arts like? Do their girls sit graded exams for music, for example? And knowing what you know now about the school - would you have moved specifically for it? [We would have a private school as a backup so the Uppers isn't such a concern for us but we can't really afford x2 sets of private school fees, so considering Grammar). Thanks so much!

GRW Sun 29-Jan-17 02:50:09

I didn't move to Bucks specifically for AHS, but live in catchment and was glad my DD had the opportunity to go there. The 11+ has changed since she took it, and I am not sure she would get in now. I know a few bright kids recently who were tutored and expected to pass but didn't. There aren't many private Secondary schools in Bucks. I have known some go to Pipers Corner or Berkhampsted School if they didn't get through the 11+.
The girls at AHS can have paid for music lessons during school time at Aylesbury Music Centre which is next door to the school. There are after school bands and orchestra there too with kids from other local schools.
AHS has a good reputation for team sports, and drama productions. My DD enjoyed trampolining when she was in the 6th form. Good luck with your plans to move to Bucks.

CookieDoughKid Sun 29-Jan-17 13:46:02

Thanks GRW. I didn't realise a music centre was next door. That is awesome! I think it's definitely worth a try for us, appreciate the feedback. Superhelpful.

BlackbirdSingsInTheDeadOfNight Sun 29-Jan-17 16:22:03

I'm another former AHS pupil! Quite a few years ago now though. I was very much middle of the middle academically and got on fine and was happy there, though had a few friends who found it quite tough keeping up academically and don't share my mainly positive memories. Music and drama were always of a very high standard, so it's good to hear that that continues. Regarding sport, I was absolutely hopeless at it but never felt like I stood out for my incompetence and lack of interest, whereas at some other schools there was far more pressure to be hale and hearty and brilliant at games (Malory Towers, for instance! grin) There were many many sporting opportunities for those who wanted it, though.

NotEnoughTime Sun 29-Jan-17 19:05:49

GRW

Do you mind me asking why you think your DD wouldn't get through under the "new" 11+ exam please?

CookieDoughKid

As I always say to people who are thinking about moving to Bucks because of schools. DON'T DO IT! Sorry for shouting but seriously if you have got a local and outstanding comp that your DD is guaranteed to get into you would be (IMHO) crazy! I know you said it "lacks in a few areas" but no school is perfect-private, grammar, state (I know grammar is state but you know what I mean) Don't underestimate the stress that surrounds the 11+. It's a nightmare. It's obviously up to you though so good luck with whatever you decide.

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