Sutton Grammars - back to the 1950s?(15 Posts)
We're having a bit of a wobble regarding our CAF form and would love to hear from people with experience of Wilson's, Sutton Grammar (SGS) and Wallington County Grammar (WCGS). We are in a happy situation in that my son has reached the threshold for being able to nominate all on the CAF. We visited and were on the whole impressed, though they did feel quite old-fashioned. Having talked to a couple of parents, I'm a bit disconcerted by tales of detentions, penalties for being late despite Southern trains meltdowns, very strict uniform codes etc. I'm wondering if they are just too strict and old-fashioned for my bright, quirky, freedom-loving son, used to a slightly boho, no-uniform primary school. He likes the look of them though, partly because he's a bit appalled by the scale of our local comprehensives. Alternatives are reasonable, though not stellar local comprehensives and, possibly, some very good and liberal private schools. What do you think? Are these schools happy places or (particularly in Wilson's) over-controlled hothouses full of stressed kids and over-competitive parents? He'd have a bit of a commute too, though it's doable. I'd love to hear some current views.
I don't know the schools involved but have experience north of the river! Where we live, the stricter secondary schools have the best results and are best suited to bright, keen kids. This can include comps - there is one near me that has great results for the intake. Without the discipline, things can get very hard to control with 30 in the class (might be easier in private schools with smaller numbers).
I see it as necessary to avoid discipline problems so have made my peace!
On the tired grounds, I am with you on this . The comps and free schools have amazing facilities and grounds, and are better than any grammar near us.
detentions, penalties for being late despite Southern trains meltdowns, very strict uniform codes etc
That would be the same in a lot of comps wouldn't it nowadays? It's like that in dd's comp. I wouldn't avoid grammars for that reason unless you are sure you know of an alternative where it isn't like that.
The discipline issues you mention are pretty common in all secondary schools.
Most comprehensives, as well as most grammars, for example will punish lateness even if it is caused by rail disruption (they will say leave earlier or find alternatives).
Equally things like forgetting P.E kit (more than once) or not completing homework will usually attract detentions.
And many secondary schools of all types are very strict on uniform - dictating colour of socks allowed, length of tie, colour of school coat, having school-specific jumpers or whatever.
So by all means weigh up the journey and the other considerations but I wouldn't rule out any school on the basis of it being strict because many (if not most) secondary schools are strict about the things you mention.
OP, firstly well done to your DS.
Our DC1 is at one of the above schools (although sixth form age now). We've never found it to be a particularly strict school. They have high standards and expect the boys to adhere to them, but I'm sure DC2's comprehensive is stricter in every way.
The schools are physically old fashioned but produce polished, confident and very capable young men.
BUT I would say that they expect their bright cohorts to be self-motivated learners - not all are. So if you have one who rests on their laurels they might be better off in the top set of a comprehensive with much better facilities, where they are pushed to achieve their full potential.
Good luck with decision making.
I second the PPs. DS1 is in a local comp and there are the same expectations in terms of uniform, punctuality, homework, there are detentions for breaching these. I don't think you'll find many boho (state) secondary schools.
With DCs in both selective and comprehensive schools (in different boroughs), I can see huge numbers of differences twixt the two. The comprehensive school experience (one might calll it a regime!!) seems much pushier and harsher in terms of detentions etc...than the grammar school by quite a wide margin. Much more homework from the off too.
Really helpful, thanks all! Anyone have any thoughts on how the atmosphere and happiness of kids compare between Wilson's etc. and private schools like Dulwich College or Trinity, also conceivably options for us if we think any real advantage?
Not very likely that too many posters will have direct experience of both, I wouldn't have thought.
However, I would suspect that Dulwich College and Trinity/Whitgift have much much better facilities in every way - you get what you pay for!
There are degrees of strictness, though. A local catholic secondary has kids in for an hour after school detention for the same infringements that my kids get a 5 min lunchtime detention - talking, for eg.
And where our comp does have strict uniform rules, it doesn't decree to the mm how long a haircut must be -as the catholic school does, and some of the other 'zero tolerance' new schools.
I don't know where the Sutton Grammars sit in this scale.
In my experience, the independent and selective state schools have less rigid and strict discipline policies. I think it's because general behaviour is probably better and chaos doesn't ensure without such a strict policy. Therefore it simply isn't needed to the same extent. Boys schools sometimes start with very strict policies because they think it's easier to be harsh to start with to establish organisation and order, than to try and rein it back in later.
Many Comps these days have zero tolerance policies. It's an attempt to crack down on low level time wasting and the effects of poor organisation. Especially at the start of Yr 7 the kids and parents often find these harsh when little Jonny gets a detention for forgotten PE kit in week 2. However, as far as I can see these policies do help focus the mind and I think we would all like our kids to be organised and well behaved and in an environment where those things are the norm.
Re the Grammars being old fashioned - I really wouldn't let your worries about this become too big. They will be using the latest teaching techniques and technologies and working with able boys who can thrive by being together. You'll be hard pushed to find a boho and easy going secondary and if you did, you might not like it anyway. What might work in a small primary probably isn't suited to a large secondary - your freedom loving boy will just need to learn some of the lessons of growing up which all the kids need to learn. He will be fine and especially fine if you support the school and its rules rather than viewing them and speaking about them as unnecessary or old fashioned to him. I'm sure you wouldn't do that anyway.
Well done to him for being in a position to get a place.
I think if you have brought up your son to be boho, quirky and going to a non uniform primary, any secondary school will be a bit of a challenge for him and far more than for other children.
I think you will have to look at your family ethos and decide if you and he can really fit in. If he, and you, are willing to be positive, then you have plenty to gain. If you all think the uniform and rules are old-fashioned, and rail against them, it’s a recipe for disaster. Private schools ditto in my experience unless you find a boho one. Not sure if they even exist anymore?
A 1950 s Grammar School Education would be fab !
lets think about it strong discipline , great work ethic , respect for authority, older people and above all a respect for themselves and their co alumnus !
Why or why do posters who have benefited from an education similar to these principles stated above want to demean such schools .
Constantly on here you hear poster after poster condemning schools for having high standards of uniform or putting their child in to detention.
I guess this is because such standards are classed as old-fashioned .
OK all, thanks very much for the useful advice and sorry to those whom I have annoyed! We aren't really that off-beat and my son is essentially quite well-behaved, but I'm just really hoping to send him somewhere that has a happy atmosphere, and have heard of quite wide variations in the atmosphere of the various grammar schools around London. If anyone has any further thoughts about the ones in Sutton, it would be lovely to hear.
Hi isa2, having had one Ds just leave Wilsons and another who has just started at Trinity, I think it all depends on your son. Older DS dis not find Wilsons fun, particularly as someone more interested in the humanities than sciences, but he did well academically despite less than 100% effort and had some excellent teaching. Our younger DS is much more of a joiner in-ner, and is loving Trinity (to the point of saying he didn’t want it to be half term!) because he loves all the extracurricular and more personal attention. But he’s a very different child to DS1. Both came from a non uniform primary, by the way, and had no problem with rules and uniform. They’re pretty ubiquitous these days! You know your son better than anyone on mumsnet, so I suggest you visit the privates as well if that’s an option financially, and apply for the grammars in he meantime as they do give an excellent education with loads of extracurricular opportunities- it’s just not every child responds the same to the same offerings.
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