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Tonbridge Grammar School for Girls - travelling for out of county girls(15 Posts)
My DD unexpectedly aced her Kent grammar test. "Unexpectedly" not because she isn't very bright, but because we didn't do the hours and hours of work etc. over the last six months which I thought would be required. TOGs looks great and very impressed with the facilities etc and IB would suit her. But is it really worth it travelling an hour there and back every day? The comprehensive we should be in catchment for is also outstanding but their progress 8 score for high attainers isn't great. No idea what to put first on the form due in 11 days. I would be so grateful for any feedback from parents with girls at TOGS who travel from quite a distance. Does she still manage to do clubs at school e.g. over lunch? (there seem to be lots put on at lunch time which is great) How does she cope with the journey and doing clubs more locally after school/homework? Is the school as amazing as it looks? What about friendships if girls are not local? Is there a type of girl who would be happy at TOGs?
Congratulations to your daughter, that's a wonderful achievement. An hour away is quite a distance to go every day and two hours travel every day (ten hours each week) is a lot of sitting on a bus. For teenagers friends become more important and if she has a friend who lives half an hour in the other direction from school then it's unlikely that she'd see that friend out of school. I am biased, I went to a grammar school with a wide catchment area myself and as a teen I resented the reliance on rural buses / my long suffering parents if I wanted to see friends. We have a grammar school about an hour from us and one of DD1s friends attends but it's not something I considered for either DD. Both of mine go to a large and very good comp - DD2 especially is academically very able and is thriving in the top sets- and both have friends in walking distance. I prefer the more mixed cohort of a comp too, grammar schools can be a bit of a bubble. However, as most won't agree with me just posting for an alternative viewpoint I'm sure you'll make the best decision for your child as you know her best.
DD is at a grammar about a mile and a half away but many of her friends make the long trek. They are happy, no one has more than an hour though. When trains fail it can cause major delays for a lot of the girls but the school is understanding - I don’t know about Tonbridge though. The ones coming a longer way also have train buddies and they often do homework on the train so it isn’t so bad in that regard as despite getting back later they have minimal homework at the end. For DD a longer day just wouldn’t have worked but for her friends it seems to be fine. Some come and stay at ours when there is a mega early start for a school trip - glad I don’t have to worry about that! They all meet up and get about by train and bus to meet up without too much bother.
Do bear in mind there is a lot of movement at sixth form so if you decide to stay local for now but still want to do IB for sixth form that door is still open.
Does your DD have a preference?
Thank you for your responses! The outstanding comp is 20 minutes walk away and there is no direct bus there (1 change) so she might as well just walk. Togs would be bus 15 minutes, 20 minutes on train, then 15 walk. There is a second grammar she should get into on scores which is 15 minutes bus plus 20 minute walk. But she prefers TOGs I think (she doesn’t really know and is basing her choices on school uniform, lunch halls and the personalities of the girls who showed her around at open day). She will have a few friends/girls she knows going to all 3 schools so overall I can persuade her to go with any of the 3. She is only worried about not knowing anyone. I appreciate we are incredibly lucky to have a choice of 3 outstanding schools. I wonder whether I might as well toss a coin in the air! My worry with TOGS is train issues/snow days etc as it miles away in the car in an emergency.
TOGS is very results driven and high pressure. Suits some but definitely doesn’t suit others....
Savoretti- is the pressure in the GCSE year/during IB or all the way through? My feeling is that with long travel, clubs might have to be cut out mostly in the last 3 years. But remembering my own teenage years I definitely went off sport and music practice then anyway! I was really worried about mental health and grammars but when we looked around the 2 grammar schools mental health support seemed to be good (at least in theory). Maybe things have changed in the last couple of years for the better? My DD is very self driven and loves reading but she also wants to be popular/in with the crowd so if top stream isn’t very cool in the comp this could become a problem. But who knows what a now 10 year old will be like in 3/4 years time! Who knows if she will still be reading for hours every day or be more into listening to music/doing her hair/shopping in new look (or today’s equivalent).
Both my daughters attend TOGs. They are both bright girls but by no means hard working. While they do the minimum required they still have a lot of time on their hand for socialising and pursuing other interests. TOGS is fast paced and full of girls who love learning and some of them are incredibly gifted and ambitious but plenty to offer for more well rounded kids like mine.
The bus ride is 1 hour and unfortunately is the worst aspect of the school for us. However both of my kids still prefer to go TOGs than other options.
Hope this helps
I went to Tonbridge Grammar back in the 1990s. I left the school for the sixth form and moved to a nearby girl’s independent school – and honestly, when I saw my A-level results, I regretted leaving. Grammar schools are aspirational places. I found learning much easier there as you absorbed information just by listening to the intelligent students ask questions. Location-wise, I would say about half my class were from the Sevenoaks area or beyond. One of my class commuted from Eynsford each day. Some people also commute from the Robertsbridge area. My commute used to take about 50 minutes on 2 buses.
The buildings have really improved since I left. The school entrance used to be located at the bottom of Deakin Leas. They sold off this land (now a housing estate), and used the profit to build the new main building. It is now quite a walk to the top of Deakin Leas to the entrance.
If you take a look at the alumnae relations manager’s page on Linkedin (Pippa Blackstone) you can see the good careers that TOGs students embark on. I highly recommend it.
I don't agree that TGS is results driven and high pressure. My dd has been there for 4 years now and she never seems very pressured or to do that much work and she is doing well. So I wouldn't worry about that. I would however check that the journey is def only 1 hour and that in rush hour it doesn't become much more than that. An hour is probably just about ok but any more and I would think too much esp if she wants to do matches/ sports clubs after school.
Thank you all so much for your responses! It really helps. LoveBlackpool - are the netball/hockey etc. matches mainly in Tonbridge itself & do the girls go back to the school afterwards or do they tend to be all over the local area & girls go home directly afterwards? I wouldn't be able to do late pick-ups in a car due to younger children & work.
mainly in tonbridge-sometimes t wells or sevenoaks but there is a bus back to school if away. Never far away though!
Remember that DCs need less ferryIng when at secondary unless you are very rural. It may seem alien to you now, but they do get themselves about very handily and independently if on good transport networks.
My daughter is at TOGs in y7. She is loving it. Her journey is about 45 minutes. It's fine. She has made nice friends. All their clubs are lunchtime so they can all catch their buses home. The netball matches etc are after school but so many of them want to do it, they have to take turns to be in the trans, so it's not an issue too often!
I'm really impressed and would say go for it!
If the journey is a 15 min bus and a 20 min train that is easily doable imo - over half the school walk up Pembury road from the station and it is nearer 10 than15
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