UCL ACademy(5 Posts)
We are looking at secondary schools and were pleasantly surprised by the UCL Academy when we looked round. The kids were - as far as we could see - very dynamic, proactive, helpful and motivated.
I have two concerns however:
1) They did not get an Outstanding in their OFSTED report because they apparently fail to cater to the brightest
2) I spoke with the deputy head who was adamant that they sit no more than 9 GCSEs and 3 A'levels. I asked if this is the case even when they can handle the committment, and he was very resistant.I explained that I took 13 GCSEs and 4 A'levels and that that was back when the standard was higher, when GCSEs had only just come in. He assured me that the new tests are harder, with English and Maths being worth double the old scoring system, which goes counter to everything I hear in the press about exams getting easier.
Our eldest is very academic and self-motivated, and is sitting a number of selective school exams, but we are not wedded to them. We are however wary of sending him to a school which wouldn't allow him to stretch himself. My gut says that they may suffer from Tall Poppy syndrome, and that the environment works for bringing up the average, but not for allowing the most capable to excel further. I don't want a less ambitious school philosophy to hamper a future university choice.
Do you have any thoughts on this? I'd be very grateful if you have experience of UCL Academy or opinions on the current GCSE and A'levels one is expected to sit.
I don't know anything about the academy, but it's worth looking at when the ofsted was. If it was a few years ago and this was one of just a handful of complaints on the report, then it's highly likely they'll have started taking action to tackle it.
Regarding the number of GCSEs - I absolutely wouldn't worry. No child needs more than 9 - they won't be disadvantaged having less. It's generally better to have 9A*s than for example 5A*s and 8As. I know this isn't really relevant in year 6 but most subjects at Oxford look at your percentage of A*s, and some score based on your top 8 GCSEs (ignoring any excess). If it's stretching you're concerned about regarding the number of GCSEs then I do think the new courses will prove enough of a challenge. Sciences and languages are definitely stepping up (hence why triple science will become less common) and in order to get the absolute top grade you've got to be that little bit better - aiming for 8s/9s will be more of a stretch.
I'd definitely try and talk to parents you know whose children go there, particularly if the Ofsted was over a year ago. If it felt like the right school for your DS and he is indeed self motivated then there's only so wrong it can all go - it sounds like he'll work hard and do incredibly well at most places, so it's about where he'll be happiest doing so.
Oh - and maths GCSE is definitely harder too! DS said they brought down some aspects from A level.
Don't know about other subjects but GCSE English and Maths are a lot more challenging on this new spec, much harder than when I did them (long time ago). Closed book and huge scope on the lit texts in English, some A Level standard work in Maths.
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