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Selective grammar or private school?(40 Posts)
My DD has just been offered a place at a selective grammar 45 minutes away and a selective independent school 15 minutes away. The independent school has small class sizes but their results are nowhere near as impressive as the selective grammar. Also, I heard the kids can be quite snobby at the independent school so it is not ideal in that respect either, as well as the £12K per year cost!
However, I think her life would be simpler at the independent school and a whole lot less tiring. I'm worried if she will have the energy to do her homework after a long day at school and being away from home from 7:30am to 5pm. While the state grammar school will stretch her, is there any point in over-stressing an 11-year old? Some kids do well anywhere, don't they?
I would choose grammar school if the other option is an average independent school, given that the child is academic.
I don't think a 45 minute journey to school is too bad if the school is a good fit. Would it be on the bus? If so, there may be certain bits of homework she can do on the bus home to make use of a "dead" part of the day (learning foreign language grammar and vocab or science terminology for example, any rote learning, basically anything that doesn't involve needing to write). It's pretty normal for kids at private or grammar schools to travel from some distance every day. If she's been offered a place then I would assume that she will be up to the pace of the grammar school. For the sake of the better results and the enormous financial saving I would be inclined to send her there unless you have a good reason for thinking that she wouldn't be happy there.
am intrigued as to how you have offers already - didn't think they came out until the Spring?
There's so much more to schools than exam results IMO. Which school seemed like the better fit for your dd academically/pastorally/socially? A Grammar school is not an inherently stress place to be (and nor is an Independent inherently snobby) - you really need to look round both schools at open days and on normal working days to get a feel for them and which schools suits your dd best.
All I can add is my DDs (year 10 and 11) are at school about an hour away and leave home at 7am and get back at approx 5pm and they are permanently knackered. Then of course there are after school clubs for sport and music that they enjoy but are also expected to attend if doing music or PE GCSE, which means getting home after 6pm. Then doing homework. The crowding and noise are not really conducive to getting work done on the bus. However, they love the school and it is an excellent school (pastorally too which is important) so I couldn’t honestly say we wouldn’t choose the same again given the choice. It’s a consideration but not the biggest in other words.
PS I have to go collect them when they do after school clubs as there’s no bus after a certain time, something else to check, we live rurally though so maybe easier if you live nearer to civilisation
It doesn't necessarily mean much if a school says that it is academically selective, if they need pupil numbers then the level needed to get into the school is likely to fall. If there is a good grammar school nearby then this is likely to cream off at least some of the better pupils. It would be worth having a look at the government league tables to see what their progress scores look like - just because the grammar school does better, it doesn't mean that individual children don't perform better for their ability in the independent school (or the other way around).
Thank you for your replies, just to confirm - we haven't been offered a place at grammar school yet, but the letter says "we strongly encourage you to include us on your Local Authority preference form". Think that means she is likely to be offered a place, is that correct?
The grammar school is in the urban area, with majority Asian children, while we are quite rural, so that will be a change, but think she'll be ok as she's quite sociable. She’s used to big classes – they are 33 in her year 6 class but largely similar background to us. My other concern is the all-girls aspect of the school, is there going to be lots of arguing when you stick 30 high achieving teenage girls together without the boys to diffuse the tension?
Doesn't it depend on who else applies for the limited places? Even if you "pass" academically noone can guarantee a place at this stage unless it is purely ranked on score and hers was exceptional.
Laughing here at the idea that boys will "diffuse the tension". I mean, I know it'll be tough on your dd to be educated in an environment with low levels of misogyny and sexual harassment but I'm sure she'd cope.
Whatever you decide remember you are not just selecting a school for an 11 year old but also a 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 year old.
Whoops accidentally pressed post....
But the main downside is less sport and drama - if that bothers you. Also possibly less support if there are any problems simply because they have less ££s to spend and bigger classes.
Oh didn’t post the first half....
I have experience of both types of school and think grammars are amazing for bright children.
Not sure what "people like us" means but it sounds racist when paired with "mostly Asians" - parents at the grammars, regardless of creed or colour, have one massive thing it common; they genuinely care about their DC's education.
I think you need to check the admission criteria for the grammar school. We don't live in a grammar school area but in the nearest town there are two super selective grammars - one for girls, one for boys. Anyone can take the entrance exam and if they pass they get the general 'your child is considered suitable for this school and we strongly recommend that you put the school on your application form blah blah blah' BUT catchment area kids get priority. Any places left after that go to kids in the order of their exam scores (which means that some are apparently travelling 30+ miles everyday). I know of a couple of kids who passed the exams last year but didn't get places in March. So check the admission criteria.
Thanks for the advice, it’s been very stressful navigating the high school applications and making a right decision. My DD is 10 and won't be 11 till the next summer, so it seems awfully early for her to decide where she'll be going for the next 7 years. It's like trying to see into the future and imagining her in each environment and seeing how she would fit in. Another thing to bear in mind is that she is very artistic and creative, not sure if that side is catered for at grammar schools. On the other hand, as she's bright it would be good for her to be pushed in areas other than art, but will she be happy is anyone's guess.
Think the sensible thing would be to put the grammar school on the LA preference form and forget about it till March when the actual offers come out. Rightly or wrongl,y we said it will be her decision at that point, as she'll have to travel if she decides to go to the grammar school, and there will be less money for holidays if she was to go to the private school.
Which school does your daughter want to go to? Where are her friends going ?
Will you drive her? Has she caught a bus on her own before?
If cost is an issue then its a no brainer - the grammar school wins.
If cost is not an issue its a completely different question. Just because a school has the luxury of being able to cream off the kids that scored the best in the entrance exam does not necessarily make it a better school. Those children will either be naturally bright OR have very motivated parents who are hugely invested in their kids education (i.e. willing to tutor and spend a great deal of time preparing them for tests). Obviously the exam results are going to be better at such a school but it doesn't necessarily mean that the school is better.
So bearing this in mind you need to look at what the "average" independent school is offering in addition to passing exams. Think about what your child enjoys in terms of extracurricular activities and how well they are catered for in comparison to the grammar.
Also think about what sort of environment will suit your child. Some bright kids are lazy and tend to "coast" if it takes very little effort to be at the top of the pack. Some don't like the pressure of being "the cleverest" and find it a burden. If your child is like this then they probably won't reach their potential in a school of more mixed abilities if they are going to be the cleverest one there. Other children are very self motivated and don't need the pressure of competition - they would prefer to be in all the top sets at a less selective school and thrive from the confidence it gives them.
Is there a highly selective independent school nearby? Perhaps this would give the best of all worlds?
P.S. Well done to your DD though - it's a nice problem to have the choice!
Please don't let her decide as she may feel it's her responsibility for the family having no holidays etc if you pick the independent school. See them both again, go with your gut feeling. The journey is very important as it is a tiring day at secondary school. Look at what extra value the independent will add. Does it have some high achieving children and how are they supported? Ask lots of questions. Also remember that you can change schools at sixth form usually.
Dd had a Grammar offer and the offer of a 25% scholarship to a co -ed non selective Private school
We opted for the Private School for the following reasons
Overall size of school
More rounded curriculum
She preferred it
We aren’t super rich or posh or anything and Dd fits in at school just fine
Fees at £12,000 a year are very low in the independent sector. I’m not sure everyone would be posh. Some will be able to afford these fees on relatively standard incomes.
I agree with bubbles we are in Yorkshire and the fees are relatively low so DD’s School doesn’t attract the super rich. Mostly business people/Doctors/Accountants/teachers or similar
Also another reason we chose Private over Grammar was that DS is unlikely to get a Grammar place and we want them at the same school
Really appreciate your replies, thank you all. It's so great to have this community with different experiences and ideas. It stopped me going around and around in circles, especially as my DH says that he's sick of talking about schools!
We have an open evening at grammar on Wednesday and will book another private school visit next week, see them both with fresh eyes. If you have any other advice on questions to ask, please let me know.
The bottom line is what school suits your DD. If paying is not an issue and the independent is a better fit then go for it. My DS goes to an all boys school and takes around 50mins to get to school. He is fine and copes, he does a lot of extra curricular which is mainly sport , rugby, football, golf but does chess too and he also has double bass lessons. He stays after school once a week for rugby training and playsor trains every Saturday. He loves it and the facilities are amazing however we pay 20k so I can’t comment on your choice or compare and me paying more doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. I should add that my DD goes to a mixed independent and I wish we had sent her to an all girls school. The boys were an unhelpful dynamic she could have done without when she first started. Settled down now that she is in year 10
Is the indie place a 'mid year' one for now? Or is it an offer for year 7 next September? When do you have to confirm / reject this place? If it's a normal year 7 entry offer (just very early?) and you only have to confirm acceptance after the star national offer day, then there is nothing to stop you submitting your CAF naming the grammar school and any other state schools you would be happy with and your DD stands a good chance of being offered. Then just make the final decision on March 1st when you get your state offer.
One complicating factor, though, would be: if she didn't get an offer from the grammar school on March 1st, but was reasonably high on the waiting list (e.g. position 10 and in every year for several years back, that girl has got in at some point before September), would you choose state school offered and grammar hope, or accept indie place?
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