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Nottingham High School vs local "Outstanding" state secondary

(33 Posts)
Tigertoes Sun 15-Oct-17 21:22:50

DD year 6 is bright and ambitious and we are looking at school choices. An absolute is that it must be co-ed as I want her and her 2 brothers to be at the same school.
Our local secondary is rated very highly, although I don't know what all the numbers mean TBH and we looked round and thought it was fine. There were some aspects I didn't like, large ish classes, mixed ability maths years 7 and 8, lessons before school if you want to do triple science, slightly tatty etc but generally was fine and we know lots of lovely families there who say it's an academically demanding school. Quite a few of our friends kids have got 10 A* and I think DD should be capable of doing similar. It would also be 5 minutes walk and, erm, free.
But then we went to look round the High School. It is clearly glossier and slicker and gets amazing results, but then so it should. DD loved it but they did give her muffins and let her do loads of cool taster stuff so I am not quite sure what she was assessing. I liked the facilities and the teachers and loved the sense that they would have a door opened to a set of opportunities and exposures that allow them to feel they can succeed at the very highest levels on a national or world stage as a matter of course (may not have expressed this very well). However, I was wary of how often the bursar and fees and results and oxbridge were mentioned and did't get a particularly warm vibe from the other parents, although the tour guiding high school kids were very charming. I also worry that having education served up in such easily digestible packages makes one less resilient and self starting in the long term. No idea if this is true though?
We can just about afford all 3 going there from income I think but it will leave very little to save for their university etc (joint 100k) and we will really feel the drop in disposable income, life would be fine but a lot less comfortable.
I appreciate we are in such a lucky position, and either choice would be fine, but I just don't know how to balance all the considerations. Is the financial and logistical outlay worth it for the experiences, facilities, small class sizes, etc or is it actively not worth it? Would it be better to give them some saved cash for uni and to start up in life? What makes the decision clear in the end? I really need a crystal ball!
They would probably go High school for sixth form anyway all being well so perhaps that a reasonable compromise?

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Tigertoes Sun 15-Oct-17 21:24:55

I would really appreciate thoughts from those who have been in a similar situation either here in Nottingham or elsewhere. How did you finally decide?!

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twinone Sun 15-Oct-17 21:27:46

I guess you could put her in for the 11+ and decide from there.

Plonkysaurus Sun 15-Oct-17 21:34:53

Do you mean the girls high school?

I went there for year seven, left as it didn't suit me, then went back for sixth form. It is incredibly rigorous and competitive. If your dd is exceptionally bright, as my sister was, she will thrive there. If she has to work hard she may find she is left behind somewhat. The learning environment is wonderful, and there's no sense that you're being taught to pass exams; you're being taught to learn. The facilities are spectacular too. Once you're used to the small class sizes it's difficult to get back into classes of 30, which is why I returned at 16 (I went to a different all girls school nearby for the interim). It's a real privilege to go to that school but it's difficult for lots of kids who just can't thrive in it. They do place a lot of importance on results - I was a pariah in upper sixth as one of only four who didn't plan to go to university!

Mind you, the head who was there when I was left awhile ago, and I don't know anything about the current one. I left in 2004 so lots could be different by now.

As for my peers from NGHS - almost all have done well. Doctors, lawyers, accountants, journalists. No idea how much is who they are and their home environments, and how much is their school environment.

user1471451159 Sun 15-Oct-17 22:00:52

DS went to NHS. Fabulous school with amazing opportunities. However for all sorts of reasons I think he would have pushed himself more academically at the local comp and possibly aimed slightly higher for University elsewhere too. But that's just one opinion. To answer another of your questions the other parents were lovely and to be honest I encountered more snobbery and cliquey-ness at our local primary school! I can't advise on the co-ed aspect though as DS left before it went truly co-ed. PM me if you have any more questions

Tigertoes Sun 15-Oct-17 22:20:01

Thanks. I mean the NHS, formerly boys now co-ed. We looked at NGHS too, great facilities and results, but interestingly DD didn't like it for some unexplained reason and DH and I were pretty fixed on co-ed so we have discounted it.
User, you raise an interesting point about how the co-ed aspect is being integrated. They said they wanted to be 50:50 asap. I do wonder how that might affect the approach to this year's intake? I wouldn't want DD to get in on the basis of being a girl- I don't really have a great idea of what level of acheivement in state primary would be regarded as being able enough for NHS?

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Strawberrybubblebath Sun 15-Oct-17 22:31:27

When was it rated Outstanding?
Some of the Ofsted ratings are many many years old and way out of date. For some reason they don't re inspect Outstanding schools very often so the Ofsted report may be completely inaccurate.
A local Outstanding Primary in our area has been through 3 head teachers since its rating. The current report has no real relevance to the school now as its so out of date!

NoMudNoLotus Sun 15-Oct-17 22:43:06

If it is West Bridgford Comp go with that one you wont be disappointed.

I know people that got into the High school and their children still went to West Bridgford comp.

Emmanuel, Rushcliffe and Becket I would not be so sure.

My DD goes to WBC , not regretted it for a second.

NoMudNoLotus Sun 15-Oct-17 22:44:39

PS West Bridgford comp do a lot of prep work for Oxbridge.

Tigertoes Sun 15-Oct-17 23:22:54

Not WBC. Fernwood, Ofsted in 2012.
Interesting that you say Beckett, I thought that was meant to be fab?

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pambeesley Sun 15-Oct-17 23:29:08

Had family who sent children to high school and both had a great education.

My only concern is it does seem tight to send 3 on a £100k income to be honest. Not that this is a low income but what are the termly fees? Also take into account how they will usually rise 2% and the trips they offer for kids tend to be more expensive.

Fernwood is a good school and that and George Spencer are certainly the best in the area but it is a bit tatty and I think probably has big Year groups now as I have friends who are moving to get their kids in there!

ginplease8383 Sun 15-Oct-17 23:32:02

DH went to NHS as did his bro and all DH's friends. Most amazing bunch of friends I have ever met- all successful, kind and caring people. His year churned out a lot of medics which I'm told isn't unusual. DH highly rates his school and raves about it now.

JumpingJoey Mon 16-Oct-17 09:41:16

We had this dilemma. Dd just got 998 and straight As from the local comp. Plus she has a sizeable nest egg as a house deposit and we've got enough savings that she'll come out of uni with no debt hopefully. She has friends locally and at least an hour to spend on study/looking at her phone (!) more than travelling each day. Also if she forgets something she can just pop home. If it all had gone wrong we could have sent her private but it is more difficult the other way round. Her friends are from all abilities and incomes and 'classes' which is important too.

JumpingJoey Mon 16-Oct-17 10:44:06

If you decide not to go private, beware of other parents sending their kids to private school who make you feel like you are not doing the best for your child. If you do go private beware of the local children who won't play with your child anymore! You can't win btw. You seem to be weighing up all the pros and cons like we did. One thing my Dd is possibly not as good at as if she had been in private school is to have that 'air' about her - either described as competitive or arrogant. I am constantly telling her she is as good/ better than her friends that went to private school - backed up by her grades. My schooling was private then a well known public school. My husband went comp. I taught in comps and the teaching was far better overall in state than private but you can't kick out 'rogue' kids in state schools as easy as private.
We've had this dilemma with two bright children and in the end, what it boils down to, is overall happiness. We haven't got the worry about fees, the kids haven't got the pressure of doing well to justify the money, we can make memories of going on holidays and they'll have the stability of their own house (if that's what they want).
My friend has forgone the holidays and works hard to send her child to private school where they are flourishing. She has a career where she has to work long hours so her child is at school/travelling from 7.15-5.30 at private rather than 8.40-3.30 like mine. I know the fact her child was not on its own for hours a day was a reason for her to send her private.
You can see from the long posts, we deliberated long and hard but for us, as a family, state was best.

Tigertoes Mon 16-Oct-17 14:38:20

I agree Joey. I am beginning to see you can't win in this game...uurgh. groan. I like the bottom line being happiness..thats pretty core!

Pambeesley, you have made me nervous now... We need to sit and do a decent budget. Fees are about 16000 gulp.

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user1471451159 Mon 16-Oct-17 14:58:16

And don't forget they go up every year! When DS started there in year 7 we were paying around £8000 a year if I remember correctly, by y13 it was nearer £12-13000. Plus price in extras for music, school trips abroad (of which there are some fabulous ones on offer!) so you really need to be able to manage it comfortably. Sorry to be all doom & gloom but that's the reality.

Tigertoes Thu 19-Oct-17 15:01:03

Just a final last bumpity bump for anyone that knows NHS, ideally girls there?

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VivaLeBeaver Thu 19-Oct-17 15:44:34

Three kids will mean at some point spending 48k a year on fees. Which on a 100k salary unless you dont have a mortgage or you have savings to spend seems very tight. Kids ime get more expensive as they get older, clothes, allowance, etc. i spent on average 1.5k a year on school trips at the local comp. This year will be 2k for one child. Obviously theyre optional but pressure to go is there.

grannytomine Thu 19-Oct-17 15:55:13

I had similar choice with mine, not Nottingham but very similar dilemma. We choose the local school and are pleased with the outcome but we would probably have been pleased if we had gone the other way. If they are bright and have a supportive home the slightly tatty school and big classes won't hold them back.

Bigger classes might help prepare them for uni where they might be in lectures with 200 others and sitting on the stairs.

It is horrible having to made the choice so good luck.

pambeesley Thu 19-Oct-17 16:14:54

Oh and I am totally biased as I worked there’s for a few months but if you are considering private school do look at Trent College as well.

It has a very different vibe to the High School which some will prefer and some won’t but I believe it offers a great all round education and great pastoral care. Days are longer but they tend to do a lot more extra curricular.

I don’t suppose you have any chance of getting into George Spencer?

Tigertoes Thu 19-Oct-17 16:35:51

Thanks. I don't think so Pambeesley and it would remove the walk to school, friends being there benefits of the local comp, although I do hear George Spencer is great. I wasn't sold on Trent as the travel would be much longer and I wasn't as impressed with the acacemic side, seemed no better than the state sector. I loved the grounds, sports, music etc though.

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NHSparent Thu 19-Oct-17 16:58:51

I have two DC at the school. One in the senior school and one in year 6. They have both been there since reception.

Unless you have very low living costs I think you would really struggle sending 3 there on a £100k income, particularly now that we have to pay a term in advance. We certainly couldn't do it on an income like that and we only have two. There is no sibling discount and bursaries are primarily for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. There are lots of very expensive trips but the curriculum trips are generally free or reasonably priced. Uniform is now from John Lewis but the sports kit is school shop only and is fairly expensive. School meals are about £4-5 per day.

That aside (I know that isn't what you asked) it is a good school as long as your child can keep up. Lots of children are really hothoused for the entrance exam (in January) and then find the pace difficult. If your child is academically focussed and top of their group they will be fine. If your child is middle of the group it isn't so great. I have one of each and have had two different experiences.

You mentioned not being happy about Fernwood not streaming for maths. NHS doesn't stream for maths in year 7 either, in fact they don't stream for anything in year 7. They stream for maths (but nothing else) in Year 8.

In terms of girls the numbers are increasing but not dramatically. In DS1's year there are about 3-4 in each class. In DS2's year (year 2) there are 4 in the whole year (up from 2 last year). Typically people try to get their children in in year 6 to assist with the chances of passing the entrance assessment. You don't have a guaranteed place unless you've been with the school from reception but it certainly helps to have transferred into the junior school, mainly because they know how to prepare for the assessment.

High school regime is tough. DS1 has at least 2 hours of homework every single night (and generally much more) plus every saturday is taken up with school sport. Summer half term is a write off because of the GSCE style exam week immediately following the break. DS1 had 13 exams in year 7. Much more intensive than GCSEs in terms of the timing. DN is in Year 8 and is doing 3-4 hours of homework every single night.

In my personal opinion there is a bit of an issue with low level discipline/disruption issues in class and this doesn't seem confined to particular year groups.

Girls are not gifted places to even out the numbers. Its all done purely on merit and performance in the exam.

Ask away if you have any specific questions. I have name changed since I'm completely identifiable by this post!

NHSparent Thu 19-Oct-17 17:25:54

Fees are currently £4800 per term btw. Payable termly in advance unless you sign up to an school fees insurance product thing. They go up every year without fail by a good few hundred quid. Then you need to put a few hundred quid on their dining account and then bus travel unless you can be there to collect them (parking is hell so its worth the bus fee).

I'd seriously question whether £45k out of taxed income is doable on a joint income of £100k. Practically everyone we know who has left has left for financial reasons (or because they are told the school is "not the right environment for them" i.e they can't keep up). Lots of people have grandparent assistance. Most pupils seems to have two working parents in professional jobs and if my immediate friendship group is anything to go by, joint income is closer to £200k than £100k.

Tigertoes Thu 19-Oct-17 19:32:58

That's incredibly helpful NHSparent. I am concerned to hear how fes girls are in each class..I am not sure that's what we are after really... do many kids come in at year 9?

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pambeesley Thu 19-Oct-17 19:41:27

Good post. My main concern would be the fees.

I have had nieces go to Nghs And nephews at NHS. Both did ok but neither exactly shone in their exams and neither have done as well as mg niece who went to a local comp.

But they do have an inner confidence (I wouldn’t call them arrogant) that comes from going there and a belief that they do well in life.

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