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Ashcroft or Chelsea Academy?

(17 Posts)
marytuda Thu 12-Apr-18 11:47:27

So here we are! At that unique moment in the state secondary application process when you reach the top of a waiting list and face a simple choice between two schools. Anyone here with any experience of either?
DS has aptitude places at both – Technology and Music respectively (he’s multi-talented!) Both schools are “Outstanding.” Chelsea also has a science speciality. Ashcroft (Technology Academy, full title!) could offer him a music bursary, probably, some time after he accepted a place.
Both schools are fairly new – 10 years ish?? – but Ashcroft especially already has solid reputation. Ashcroft looks to me like a bit of an academic powerhouse, in the mould of the (in-)famous Mossbourne Academy perhaps? The state of art tech equipment there was impressive - no evidence of budget restraints I could see (bankrolled by Lord A personally?grin). Clearly, a brilliantly successful state school . . .
Chelsea’s statistics are slightly less stellar (though also v good) and it is a bit smaller. It’s also CofE, which we are not, but its apparently significant local Muslim intake, well catered for – in a CofE school! - impressed me from a moral/political perspective (we’re not Muslim either).
DS is tending towards Chelsea I think because it seems friendlier (better pastoral care maybe?) and resembles his current small primary in terms of ethnic/social mix. He is mixed-race and can effortlessly reproduce my fairly-posh or London street as circumstance requires; but he wonders (I think) if Ashcroft is dominated by tough street-based boys? He did once murmur that it seemed to have more “gang”-type kids . . .??hmm
I’m not bothered by this (though of course his opinion matters). I think both are great schools, am confident that any disruptive or bullying behaviour is well managed; and that barring some unforeseen disaster DS will do v well at either. Ours is a great dilemma to have!
The journey to either school would be much the same. As far as we know, no-one else from his primary school year will be at either school, but it’s not been an issue for him so far.
We don’t have long to decide . . . any comments welcome.

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nylon14 Thu 12-Apr-18 19:06:33

I am unfamiliar with Ashcroft but have heard from a former teacher in training at the school and a student, that has since transferred, that Chelsea is still figuring out behaviour and discipline issues. The classes can be a bit loud.

KingscoteStaff Thu 12-Apr-18 19:53:13

Dig down into last year’s Progress 8 scores on how each school succeeds with your DS’s type of student.

I know that CA shows great progress from children who were below average in KS2 SATs, but I’m not sure about their results with children who were higher achievers at 11. They are a truly impressive school for those students who struggle academically - their motto is ‘No Child Left Behind’ and that belief runs through all that they do - no elite sports teams or auditioned music groups, for example.

marytuda Fri 13-Apr-18 02:08:10

Which website do you use for Progress 8 scores on different "types" of student Kinsgcote? I've been looking at the government comparison one:
www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/compare-schools?for=secondary
You can separate out Progress 8 scores for "deprived" students against all students for each school but not differentiate beyond that.
I've always considered Progress 8 basically a measure of how effectively a secondary school gets previously (mainly) underperforming primary school children to "exceed expectations" . . . It must be hard for an already "top" Y6 student to exceed expectations later on - at best, surely, they can only meet them! (Why it makes no sense for selective schools to measure their Progress 8 I've assumed.)
I have an able DS, basically band A/"in greater depth" wherever tested so far . . . . but I still like the idea of a school in which "No child is left behind" for him.
Although I would hope it includes an emphasis on the value of non-academic education . . . Though DS is pretty academic, he does have other interests - practical, creative - and I'd like him to have plenty of space for them.

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sanam2010 Fri 13-Apr-18 10:38:24

Marytuda, on that same page, if you scroll down, there is a section called "prior attainment" where progress and attainment scores are broken down between low, middle and high prior attainers. It also gives you the numbers of kids in each category, which gives you a good overview of the ability profile.

marytuda Fri 13-Apr-18 11:58:46

sanam thank you that is brilliant! Mumsnet is brilliant! (Even Education boards . .)
Well, progress results for higher ability primary pupils are reassuring for both schools, not much to choose between them. Only stark difference I can see is that Ashcroft gets a far higher percentage through Ebacc - in fact it seems to enter virtually every pupil for it.
What do people think about that- does it really give university applications the edge, at RG, for example?

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BrendansDanceShoes Fri 13-Apr-18 12:48:03

No experience of either school, but did much research on my local state secondary schools that also adopted an ethos of 'no child left behind'. I found from parent feedback, open morning q&a with head and consideration of the intake that what this actually means is the following. School is very good at taking average kids and those just below average and making sure they get their 5 A* -C, or the current equivalent with the change to GCSEs being graded by number. This is what reflects well on school results , and their ability to add value. If your child enters the school as a higher ability student, they are put in the largest classes where setting is undertaken and are not stretched, because the school can add 'less value. There was also, in the schools I researched, a feeling that higher ability kids were sat with and pressured to help the less able kids in class. This was one of the main reasons we did not choose a 'no child left behind' style school for our DS. But for kids that need an extra boost, they appear to produce exactly what the families need.

marytuda Fri 13-Apr-18 17:20:08

Wait a minute - you mean there are schools out there which pride themselves on Leaving Children Behind?? grin Oh . . . . I get it - you must mean grammar schools . . . Seriously, isn't it in the DNA of a comprehensive school that no child is left behind, whether they make a banner-headline out of it or not?
I guess what it comes down to here is whether you believe the presence of lower ability children in the same institution - and, heaven help them, maybe even the same class - will damage your higher ability child's prospects. It is in the nature of streamed comprehensives I believe - certainly the norm in every one I visited last year (including one not-really-comprehensive much sort after by mumsnetter education types) that the top streams were the largest, with groups of 10 or less reserved for those who struggled the most.
I don't know - would be good to hear from some teaching staff here - but I can't believe this is done only with the most "challenged"s interests in mind. The point about that large top set is that all those kids will be able, motivated, well-behaved and quite possibly inspiring each other??
Also I don't believe that comprehensives like these two do not push their ablest students - no inner London comp could get away with this, madly competing as they are for parental attention with the hundreds of others within reach . . on Open Day they never stop talking about their "top" achievements (Oxbridge, RG whatever - it got frankly tedious . . ) The statistics I've just inspected (thanks again sanam) do actually bear this out.
Anyway - my job now is not to decide whether I'm going private/selective whatever for my relatively high-achiever, but between these two schools; both, on paper, high-achieving across the ability spectrum ("No Child Gets Left Behind") comps. I think it is going to be down to the "feel" of each one on the day - maybe I'll have time to nip over on Monday and watch the kids coming/going on 1st day of term! (Form has to be delivered to my local council on Tues . . )
I'd still love to hear from anyone with experience of them . .

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BrendansDanceShoes Fri 13-Apr-18 18:10:41

These were comprehensive schools.... I'm not saying they leave pupils behind, I'm saying their focus is on pulling the middle kids up. Because this is what reflects well in league tables.So they don't push the good kids higher. I'd love to be proved wrong by teachers in these schools too.

AveEldon Thu 19-Apr-18 07:24:08

Local chit chat suggests Ashcroft is strict and quite regimented

Big list of pros and cons of each
Any curriculum differences? Language choices?

SquirmOfEels Thu 19-Apr-18 07:37:12

What's the journey like to each?

marytuda Thu 19-Apr-18 16:44:51

Yep - have heard that about Ashcroft, it’s what I meant above, ref. Mossbourne.
They also put virtually 100% through Ebacc . . . Everything on paper about it is super-impressive, facilities, trips, results. Techie/STEM emphasis would also suit DS but I wonder how relevant this is at GSCE level when breadth of interests/subjects is still important (IMO)?
Eg if a student takes all the (ebacc) basics plus 3 sciences plus music plus maybe extra language or art - How much extra time does he have??
Both schools offer 2 languages/triple science/computer science. Ashcroft probably better for Design Tech . . DS has aptitude place for that but I don’t think that entitles him to anything extra though one presumes would help him into “top sets”? (Streamed from Day 1 . . .)
CA’s music place on other hand brings a lot with it including commitment to music GSCE. . .
On academic side this is what our decision comes down to; music vs tech.
But other things to consider classified under General Feel. It is true as above poster has mentioned that CA makes much of its “inclusiveness” (“No Child Left Behind”) so it’s a question too of whether this is Good or Bad thing. I tend to former, this recent article puts it better than I can:

www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/16/pupils-special-educational-needs-children-mainstream-schools?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

DS’s own background means a non-diverse school both socially and ethnically would be a deal-breaker for us and while both these schools pass that test, I think CA has the edge.
It is also, my feeling is, the more ‘interesting’ (unusual?) school . . Its fascinating riverside location, its particular ambition (not just succeed succeed academically) its combination of music with science speciality. . I even like its religiousity - and I never thought I’d ever say that! But it kind of suggests there are things more important in life than being top-scorer all the time. . And it really wouldn’t hurt DS to do some RE esp given he won’t be getting any anywhere else . . As Eng Lit student it would have helped me to have a better grasp of Bible stories back in the day!
To be clear, DS is “academic”. But he is not especially competitive and has range of non competitive interests I’d like him to keep . .
Plus I do think (see link above) that an inclusive education is socially/morally good for everyone, and Don’t accept that it necessarily prejudices the most able. Able kids are able kids - they don’t need “pushing”; they just need space and encouragement to do what they do naturally . . that’s my view anyway.
So you can see where I am tending. However there are 2 other voters in this small family. And if DS and DP gang up against me I will accept defeat with good grace. Everything to play for still . . watch this space!

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marytuda Thu 19-Apr-18 16:50:17

Am totally dominating own thread here! But it helps me just to spell (spill?) it all out. . . Journey, yep good point, similar for both from where we are, but I think CA would end up slightly quicker. Also an easier bike ride later on.

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AveEldon Thu 19-Apr-18 20:17:05

Based on your post I would also lean towards Chelsea

Imho "tech" doesn't really have any meaning at secondary school. Lots of overlap with science, computing and art. Music is quite different

On most of these threads people suggest you should go with your gut feel!

NinaJanex4 Tue 01-Oct-19 13:43:59

Hello, Wondering what decision you made and are you now happy with your decision? We are also considering these two schools for 2020 yr 7 entry. Thanks.

marytuda Wed 02-Oct-19 18:26:50

Hi yep we went with CA and have never regretted it. Great little school, well organised, friendly, effective in every way. One happy kid here, thriving . . . Open Day tomorrow I believe, don't miss it!

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marytuda Wed 02-Oct-19 18:34:11

And follow #chelseaacademy on twitter for constant activity updates. . The different departments also have their own twitter feeds. Any other questions, feel free!

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