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Bucks Girls Grammar(30 Posts)
Have posted elsewhere in Education, but hopefully more traffic on the Secondary threads! Trying to weigh up our GS options, and would like to know if there was one girls GS in Bucks that would be coveted, what in your opinion would it be?
Specifically Beaconsfield, Wycombe and Challoners. Have seen all three, and Challoners seemed more traditional and organised, but perhaps less of an energetic vibe? Also Wycombe seems to have concerns over management and staff turnover, not sure if that is still true. Daughter is not drama or dance orientated, and lacks a little confidence sometimes...so pastoral care and strong academics, particularly for maths/science, would be important. Any feedback much appreciated!
To be frank, many people would bite your hand off to get into any of them. Are you weighing up moving? If so, do you need an in year entry? Do they have spaces? I’m assuming you are not in catchment for all three! Or are you looking for 2020 year 7?
I don’t see drama and dance as being that big a deal regarding choosing a grammar school but I can tell you Drama is wonderful for building confidence and I would never dismiss it as having no value for any child! Dance can be fun and can really help the less sporty stay fit. I wouldn’t dismiss that either.
So are you looking for 2020 and if so, what school are you likely to actually get into?
Others might have views about staff stability. I know girls who have been to all these schools and you will realise two are more leafy Lane than the other one. That often sways parents! Where are your DDs friends likely to go?
Do you think these schools don’t have strong academics? Obviously they do, but they are not Wycombe Abbey strong. The league tables tell you they are strong but they are not super selective. Are you actually living in Bucks?
I wouldn't touch Beaconsfield High. I have inside info!
I don't know about the others nowadays (I am wycombe high alumni though...but a long time ago!).
Are you in catchment for any/living in Bucks?
I know of girls that have been at all 3 as used to live in Bucks-agree re "leafy" comment above...
What’s wrong with Beccy High? I know people who think it’s wonderful!
Thanks everyone, yes we are in Bucks, currently in catchment for Challoners & Beaconsfield, but Wycombe isn’t far either. Looking for year 7 next year, our daughter has qualified for entry. Have heard good & bad about all three. Wycombe High for A level not so positive, and although BH seems popular, haven’t been too keen when we have visited. Three times in two years, and there was a definite arty laid back vibe every time, which was a little too laid back for our liking!
I can see they are all academic results wise, although I agree Bucks is not super-selective, and we do have some reservations in terms of suitability for a less confident child in terms of school size, individual focus etc..but that’s perhaps another thread!
Forgot to add..Daughter’s has lots of friends, both at her own school and other Bucks schools, so there will be girls she knows going to all three. Do you think Challoners has the academic edge for a girl who is very bright, or are they all comparable in that sense? And are any of them better regarded in terms of support and pastoral care? Thanks!
I know there are extremely bright girls at all three! I really cannot see why academics would worry any prospective parent at any of them. No grammar in Bucks is small. I cannot really comment on pastoral care I’m afraid. I don’t think you can expect individual attention unless you go private - in my experience.
If two are catchment, my advice would be to choose both of these.
Check the last admitted distance for all schools last year to check your realistic chance of getting a place. Even if you are in catchment then there’s no guarantee of a place. DCHS, for example, only went to 1.963 miles last year. Obviously put them in preference order but be realistic.
I rate the girls grammars 1) Aylesbury High, 2) Beccy High, 3) Wycombe High and lastly DCHS. Challoners is the best on paper but the girls seemed most uptight and stressed out. They also recently stopped GCSE dance due to funding and there’s talk some subjects may need to be “shared” with the boy’s school to keep them running. It just felt VERY academic.
Thanks Zodle & Bubbles, the 'too academic' comments seem to come up quite a lot with challoners, however I know a couple of girls who are currently there, and they seem happy. Quiet but studious type, so perhaps it just suits them in that way. While our daughter is very able, she has a few sensory issues, so is easily distracted, and does not cope well in large busy, noisy environments, which is why we are concerned about the day to day vibe of these schools. Beaconsfield did seem buzzier, but I can't help feeling a quieter (more focused?) slightly smaller school, might be the better fit. Not that Challoners is exactly small, and we're not too keen on a pressure cooker environment either..which I do hear a lot about with this school. It's such a tough choice..
Zodlebud, that allocation distance surprises me..I know the boys school has had quite a small distance in recent years, but didn't think the girls had an issue. From what I could see, they were taking more and more girls out of county in recent years..
Which incidentally..looking at BH, they seem to have an increasingly huge proportion of girls out of catchment each year, which begs the question as to why they are not getting enough girls within catchment? Do you know why this is? Seems to have shifted quite a bit in recent years, falling out of flavor with a lot of the prep crowd too.
Would really like to know more about the inside info confusedrn ! Thank you all
IMO pastoral care at wycombe is the worst out of the three, so I would exclude it based on that.
Last year was a bulge year which caused some issues, particularly for schools on the county borders like Chesham Grammar where traditionally a lot of children from Herts went (before people mention 11+ tourism, for a lot of these out of county children, the grammar is their closest school). That combined with redrawing the catchment areas for these schools so that places like Chalfont St Peter had two catchment grammars instead of one, caused a massive reshuffle of admissions distances last year.
Distances for each school can be found here:
I also know of several very happy girls at DCHS. For the right girl it works well. The problem is the emphasis is so much on the academics that if you are towards the bottom of the class then the atmosphere is such that some girls just feel overwhelmed. Whilst the school makes efforts to manage this, there is a bit of a “keep up” mentality. The help on offer for girls who are struggling at AHS seemed far more “on it” and comprehensive in its outreach. The education at AHS also felt much more rounded.
It’s a bit like buying houses though. What works for my daughter may well be totally different to what’s right for yours.
Thanks Zodlebud, that is really helpful. Having had another long chat with dd about what her thoughts are, she feels although she knows a quieter less buzzy environment is probably better for her in terms of concentration and focus, she very much wants her school to be fun, and not just focused on academics. Surprisngly, she also said she'd love the opportunity to try dance in secondary, so that's steering us back towards Beaconsfield, which we really had almost discounted!
I also notice that Challoner's has art & textile design, wheres BH seems to offer Art and D&T...the D&T is definitely something our daughter would want to continue. Thanks for these comments, it's all proving very helpful.
I personally think that probably Beaconsfield, it has a lovely atmosphere and can help to bring your daughter out of her shell. Beaconsfield is also in your catchment area, so it is quite near.
Others may disagree, but hopes this helps!
My DD is at WHS - her preference over BH. We are very happy with the school. The two schools seem quite different - we felt WHS was more academic, BH very focused on drama & dance. That said, my DD is musical & arty and is thriving.
The link to DCHS admissions talks about rule 3. Rule 3 is now staff DC. However I think it means all in catchment were offered? This is now Rule 4 for 2020.
I really don’t think you will find any of these schools quiet. They are just too big! My DDs boarded at a 430 place school and even that wasn’t quiet and had lots of buzz!
We found AHS very crowded on its site and sports facilities were definitely inferior to the boys school opposite. Others we know loved it.
However, all these schools are great. My advice is to apply for the schools you are in catchment for. Schools are also dynamic changing entities. They don’t stay the same. Staff are recruited and the ability of schools to deliver changes, especially with financial constraints, but sometimes there are tangible improvements. Schools have Improvement plans and they should develop any areas of weakness.
Thank you for this feedback, it’s much appreciated.
Talking to a girl this weekend, who has just left BHS last year, she mentioned a few problems with cliques, which of course is probably expected in an all girls school. She also mentioned that the need for tutoring was extremely common, which is really quite surprising. She said she had tutors for some subjects, as had most her friends...even the brighter girls needed tutoring to keep on top of their subjects..particularly in year 11. Does anyone know how true this is?
Quite honestly that’s just mad! Don’t forget Bucks parents tutor DC for the 11 plus. There is no guarantee these DDs are top performers and have probably been over tutored to get to the school. They are tutored whilst there because they never feel good enough and their parents can afford it. They probably do not NEED tutors, but they want tutors because they feel they are not quite as good as they think they should be and the parents have the spare money as they are not paying fees.
Oh yes! There are cliques at boys schools too! Bucks Grammars are not super selectives full of Oxbridge bound DC. I think you do need to understand the psyche of the parents a bit more - and then why the girls want to do well. You are also falling into the trap of thinking all these girls are super bright. They are not. For what it’s worth few girls I know from my area of Bucks had tutors! If you cannot manage the curriculum you are probably in the wrong school. What are parents thinking of by doing this?
The tutoring you mentioned is kind of what I meant at Becky High. There's been a LOT of staff turnover in recent years and the make up of staff is therefore less experienced teachers. They haven't been visited by ofsted in a long time because well performing schools tend to get left alone - but they are getting good results because families who go there tend to be wealthy enough to afford tutoring.
All of this said - the same could be happening at other schools. I just happen to be very close to two ex members of BH staff (and one ex pupil)
Tutoring is common at most of these schools as a result of children being over tutored to get in in the first place. These children really struggle with the pace of learning once they get there. It then becomes a “thing” as parents learn that other children are being tutored and worry they need to do the same for their child.
Chesham Grammar, in particular, has a problem with low level classroom disruption as kids that are struggling start to mess around.
As someone who is very anti-tutoring, this really is maddening. I agree there are a lot of girls who are over tutored to get there, I know a lot of them who will be joining next year! Other than a couple of familiarisation packs at home, we’ve had no tutoring whatsoever. Our daughter is extremely bright and gifted at maths, but we want her to be inspired, not herded onto some grade truck. Our eldest wasn’t all round Uber bright, but found her niche subjects and excelled from there. As parents we never felt the need to tutor her up from wherever she was, but encouraged her to find her passion and a sense of independence towards her learning. It paid off well in the end, and she is thriving at a very good RG, whereas some of her grammar friends seem to have struggled with the transition, perhaps this explains why!
It’s such a tough decision to make, just when we think we might take the grammar over independent route, something else crops up to make us wary. Although I imagine there will be parents who tutor in the private sector too. Thanks so much for your comments.
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