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Grammar or independent?

(43 Posts)
ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 16:53:07

My son is academically very strong, but also loves sport, and is generally quite a 'straightforward' child - no issues with school at any point, always makes friends etc but can be shy with grown ups. There is a good (but huge) boys' grammar school a walk away in our town, or we could stretch ourselves to send him to an independent 25 mins drive away. It's not known for it's academics (but is fine), but it would mean he would still get all the sport and music etc he has at his prep school. It's also co ed which I prefer, and is smaller. Given the choice, what would you do? I change my mind on a daily basis!!

FuckOffBoris Sun 22-Sep-19 19:11:21

The grammar. Don't commit yourselves to a 25 minute drive for the next 5-7 years, don't stretch yourselves, for a non especially academic school for an academic child just so he can have sports and music. There will be sports and music options at the grammar school - even if they are extra--curricular rather than all being compulsory (some will be). Or he can join clubs and orchestras outside school!

JoJoSM2 Sun 22-Sep-19 19:41:24

It’s a lot of money to pay for a school that isn’t that academic so potentially not a great fit anyway. I think I’d go with the grammar (provided it’s really good academically and not a second rate Kent one). The money saved could go on extra curricular activities outside school.

BertrandRussell Sun 22-Sep-19 19:43:10

“(provided it’s really good academically and not a second rate Kent one).”

What do you mean by a “second rate Kent one)?

Tinty Sun 22-Sep-19 19:46:49

All the money you save, not sending ds to an independent (and time), will pay for a lot of extra sports after school.

JoJoSM2 Sun 22-Sep-19 19:50:48

BertrandRussell, I mean one of the ones that have very average progress scores and attainment that isn’t particularly impressive.
So a bit average rather than wow academically.

Hoppinggreen Sun 22-Sep-19 19:51:20

We faced the same choice and went for Independent for the following reasons
Proximity to home
Facilities
Size
Sibling unlikely to get into Grammar

Matildatoldsuchdreadfullies Sun 22-Sep-19 19:51:27

At the risk of being negative, you can’t know yet that your child has passed the 11+. This may all be academic. (Mother of children who attend second rate Kent grammars grin).

JoJoSM2 Sun 22-Sep-19 19:51:40

Bertrand, sorry if I sounded rude, didn’t intend to offend.

fedup21 Sun 22-Sep-19 19:52:15

How big is the grammar?

I wouldn’t pay fees for an independent that wasn’t academically great.

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 19:58:55

Thanks so much for your replies.
Grammar is 1000 or so boys! 160 intake in Year 7. Results are good, current parents seem happy. We’re not in Kent - it’s Bishop Wordsworth’s in Salisbury.

fedup21 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:00:45

That really isn’t huge!

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:01:13

And yes, of course I can’t guarantee that my son will pass 11+ but it is highly likely he will. If not, decision made - he can stay at his prep until year 9 then go to the independent (if he gets in there - but it’s not particularly competitive).

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:01:57

Fedup21 that seems enormous to me!

Marv1nGay3 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:09:00

Is there public transport for him to get himself to the independent? He is not going to want to be dependent on his parents driving him to and from school every day as he gets older I imagine.

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:15:20

I cutlery drive him as I work full time - he’d have to get the school bus but that’s an extra expense obviously.

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:15:55

Couldn’t not cutlery!!

BarbariansMum Sun 22-Sep-19 20:22:15

If there really is a question mark over whether your ds can pass the 11+ I'd say go for the independent. If you are just being modest about his abilities and, barring a strange aberration the day, he should pass comfortably, then go for the grammar. This is the basis that you've already visited both and like their ethos.

clary Sun 22-Sep-19 20:27:42

2000 students is a huge school. 1000 is very averagely sized for secondary. How big is the private school? Would he get fed up - a friend sent her children private but they went to state for A levels part,y because they were fed up with being in a year group of 30.

I would go for local every time. Who wants their mum to drive them to secondary school?

JoJoSM2 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:33:38

I just looked up the grammar school in question. Looks excellent academically. I’d go with that and have the indie as a back up option in case he doesn’t get into the grammar (I’m in London and the grammars are more difficult to get in than the top top indies but I don’t know what it’s like around Salisbury).

And 160 boys per year group isn’t that big at all.

ellie2201 Sun 22-Sep-19 20:42:22

He wouldn’t be driven by us - we both work full time! He’d get the school bus which is fairly standard round here.

Thanks for your replies. I was leaning towards the grammar but really didn’t want single sex as I went to all girls, husband went to all boys and I don’t think it did either of us any favours, haha! Practically it makes far more sense for him to go to grammar and I know we’re lucky there’s such a good option near by. Thanks all.

clary Sun 22-Sep-19 20:43:21

Sorry op I misread that you currently drive him, not couldn't! Would still go local in your circa. think of all the spare cash you'd have to fund music lessons and sports clubs.

Helenluvsrob Sun 22-Sep-19 21:01:45

Grammar. If he dislikes it / doesn’t fit in / doesn’t get enough of the stuff he loves it’s easy to move up to year 9.
That’s assuming he passes what ever the exam is anyway. Are you applying for year 7 at the few paying option in case he doesn’t get in ?

In year grammar places to transfer the other way would be highly fought for

NewModelArmyMayhem18 Sun 22-Sep-19 21:12:48

We have family members who went to the Salisbury girls and boys grammars (recently) and did exceptionally well.

palahvah Sun 22-Sep-19 21:25:23

Year size not so relevant as the class size?

My brothers went to a grammar school 10 minutes' walk away. There was a girls' school not far away and they did co-ed extra-curricular. My grammar was 45 minutes away on the other side of the city and it was much harder to do co-ed stuff. I'd favour the grammar (if he gets in) because you say he is academic and because the proximity will make it easier to do extra-curricular sports and music.

Plus cash saved on fees gives cash to spend on specific learning opportunities outside school eg clubs.

Mumto2two Sun 22-Sep-19 21:44:38

We are going through a similar thought process with our daughter. Very bright..predicted to pass, but we are leaning towards the ‘not so academic’ independent that’s also 25 minutes away.
It always interests me why people place so much emphasis on the academics of a school that is based purely on the cohort they select. If you’ve got a wider ability cohort, then naturally the results will reflect that! Our eldest attended one of these ‘softer’ independent schools, and did extremely well. She also emerged happy & confident and well rounded in every respect, and loved the fact she has sailed through school with little pressure. It counts for far more in my opinion.

Pythonesque Sun 22-Sep-19 21:45:01

I had a child in a Salisbury prep. It was very clear that the good choices for boys who didn't leave for Bishops at year 7, were mainly boarding schools. If your son is academic, make sure you send him to an academic school, please! (my child was a boarder and we live in a non-grammar area so I was an outside observer on the grammar school decisions)

What does your prep school advise, have you discussed options with them? Depending on your situation you may find 13+ boarding schools a good option - bursaries can be generous. Children mature a lot between 10 and 12.

quissum Sun 22-Sep-19 21:46:44

We faced this choice and went independent - also partly because of co-ed vs SS - but there were some clear differences from your scenario. The independent was highly academic (at least as much as the grammar), the transport was easier, and we had a bursary offer. In your situation, I think I would go for the grammar.

BeautifulBlackBamboo Sun 22-Sep-19 23:19:36

Grammar. Absolutely. The class size remains 30, so the year group size is not so relevant.

Go for the academic option, your DS will love being in a cohort of like minded clever boys who aim high.

NewModelArmyMayhem18 Mon 23-Sep-19 06:12:14

A school of 1000 is not large - it's positively small for a state secondary! By big city standards anyway!

quissum Mon 23-Sep-19 07:05:46

I agree that school size isn't an issue - 1000 isn't big for a secondary, and all the grammars and the independent we looked at were well over 1000. Class size may be more of a consideration, as state schools are often now up near 34 while independents are generally much smaller. The grammars seem to do very well though; i think they tend to have fewer issues with behaviour than some state options, so the class size is less of an issue.

namechangedyetagain Mon 23-Sep-19 07:13:25

BWS is incredibly sporty and offers a lot music wise. The boys also get great results.
You would get everything (and more) you want from Bishop's. And from next year they are taking girls into 6th form smile

FanDabbyFloozy Mon 23-Sep-19 08:31:30

I would say pick the school for the academic level of your child. If very bright, then a grammar, top independent or a comp with a top stream. All these are fine.

When i moved one of mine to a selective school, the comment was "everyone works as fast as me!" and no need to pretend to find the work hard so as to fit in.

If there are other issues - SEN, social etc. - then look carefully at that as some independent schools really don't want the hassle. A few others are great.

ellie2201 Mon 23-Sep-19 20:24:57

Thanks everyone. Lots to think about! I feel fairly confident that my son would cope with either option - I think I’m over thinking it.

ittakes2 Tue 24-Sep-19 03:03:58

I had two children in grammar and pulled one out to put in an independent. 160 is not a large grammar - its a medium sized one. My daughter's school had 195 each year and was increasing it to 220.
Grammars are usually very good at music and sport, especially music.
I would go grammar because he is a) academic and b) close to the school. BUT, put him down for the independent too so he can sit the common entrance in January with them. If he passes 11 plus and you choose the grammar - ask to be kept on the independent's waitlist incase things don't work out so you have options.

rattusrattus20 Tue 24-Sep-19 19:49:59

the really important thing no-one's mentioned is what your background as parents is, where your friends' kids go, where their cousins go, etc.

on the facts you've presented the grammar sounds far better, but if the boy is from a background whereby private education is the norm then, culturally, it might be a better fit.

WombatChocolate Tue 24-Sep-19 20:21:37

I agree about going to the school which is the ‘right’ academic level. Yes children can do well in a more mixed environment but they can often fly when they have a large peer group of similar ability. It can be a different learning experience when you bear in mind that few subjects apart from maths are set in selective schools. Being in a class where 90% will get L8/9 is quite different to being in one where the range is L5/6-9 and just 20% get L9. The experience is quite different, plus you personally may be more likely to get all L9, rather than a mix of L7-9, which although obviously good, isn’t the profile of a really academic person.

Fortunately for you (assuming he passes the state 11+) the most academically appropriate sounds like both the local and free option. Most people would be thrilled to have your dilemma but instead pick the expensive independent option because it is academically their best option or the good state option is simply unavailable or too far.

Yes to trying the state option. I guess you could also pre-test for the independent for a 13+ place if you want to hedge your bets and don’t mind the hefty deposit, or you could do 13+ entry in yr8 if it’s available if you were disappointed with the state grammar. But prob best if you go for state to fully commit - remember independents can usually take an extra at all kinds of points if someone really good wants a place. It will still be an option later, but state won’t.

The music and sport will be good in the grammar. And if you want really top notch do it through the county music service and outside sports clubs. Will prob be a higher level than the independent school and although requiring effort to access the opportunity, far cheaper than fees.

Sounds like you have a dilemma many would die for. In a sense you can’t lose. State grammar can look a bit risky if you’ve a private school background, but it’s simply the unknown and you’ll find lots of similarities in the areas which really matter....it just won’t be as shiny. But when the state is more academic and you’ve got an academic child without other issues, the choice seems a no-brained to me.

Do let us know what you decide once the results are out and all the best.

Mumto2two Tue 24-Sep-19 21:08:48

Wombat.. not all grammar school pupils are achieving 8/9s, around here it is circa 50%, which is why the fact they don’t set and only set for maths in year 9, is quite surprising. Our daughter is at a prep which was selective for her year on joining, and she is top sets out of 4. No. 5 for English and top for maths. Her predicted sats are 120, and cats are maximum 141. Top set CATs have ranged from 118 to 141. Yet half the year will probably go to the local grammars, second set included, with a lot of scores which are largely much more ‘average’. I don’t really understand why it is always said that able children need to be surrounded by similarly able children. I’m nor disputing it, just really curious!

WombatChocolate Tue 24-Sep-19 21:31:19

I don’t think they necessarily do, but it is a very different experience when they are. Super selective is different to slightly selective.

Ultimately, if a school has interested and well behaved children and supported parents and good teachers, the children should be able to do well. I’m not sure all schools will get the same out of them, but they should do well. I guess parents who want schools to squeeze the last little grade out of their kids who are already bright would choose the super selective option. Of course kids will come out of both schools the op is considering and do fantastically well.

As well as the academics, perhaps one has better sport or music or pastoral care or is closer or cheaper or..,. These things all matter in reaching overall decisions and some weight some factors more highly.

The op faces a free, local very academic school. The downsides don’t seem very great.

nelson11 Wed 27-Nov-19 19:32:20

I know you posted your question in September, but thought I would ask my thoughts - my son and daughter both went to the Grammar schools in Salisbury after prep schools and I can honestly say it was such a good decision - there are lots of opportunites for music and sport so I would not worry about that and as for the academic side - the results speak for themselves ...

EstebanTheMagnificent Thu 28-Nov-19 19:49:15

1000 pupils on roll is at the smaller end of average.

Don’t send a very academic child to a not very academic indie.

NellyBarney Thu 28-Nov-19 22:09:48

Most parents would kill for a place at BWS!!!! It's smaller then Eton. You would really prefer a second or third rate indy at considerable expense to one of the best state schools in the country on your doorstep confused

ellie2201 Fri 29-Nov-19 06:49:01

NellyBarney, I wouldn’t describe the nearest independent schools as second rate, even though their academic results aren’t as good as a highly selective grammar school! I really like the thought of a co-Ed, smaller school and the ones I’m talking about are known for great pastoral care.
Thanks everyone - I appreciate your thoughts!

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