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Please help - Henrietta Barnet School 6 Form(12 Posts)
I can really do with some good advice from the mumsnetters ...
My DD is in her GCSE year at a top 10 London independent. She is predicted top GSCE grades and dreams of going to go to Oxford on a stem or medicine course.
Does it make sense for her to go to HBS to improve her prospects? Will she find the transition to a state grammar very difficult? Will the teaching be worse or classes crowded? Would music and art be at a lower level?
Another complication is that she is a music scholar and in love with the music department. Her current school sends around 20% to Oxbridge but of course independent numbers are pressure everywhere.
if she would be moving based on the belief that she is more likely to get a place at uni from a grammar school than an independent, then no I wouldn't move as this isn't true at all. She needs to focus on her grades (obviously!) but also extra curriculars, she can do things like summer internships for medicine here (although it may be better to do this in the summer of year 11)
Moving to a state school will not "improve her prospects" - having taken her GCSEs at an independent school she will be categorised as privately educated for stats purposes no matter where she takes her A Levels.
She will still get a fair chance at entry to the courses she wants - its only that some places will be making efforts not to be biased against State School pupils - this isn't disadvantaging privately educated children, it's just stopping them from having the unfair legup they had previously. She will be no worse off applying from an independent 6th form than she would be applying from a state school 6th form.
The standards will not be any lower, and by 6th form students are expected to be self-motivated and choosing to go the extra mile themselves because they want to succeed.
The teachers may be more overworked and miserable given that all state schools are underfunded, but they will be just as capable and typically teaching their A-level class will be the highlight of their week.
Given the sharpness of elbows required to get a Y7 place at HB, I very much doubt that it is that much different from a top independent in many respects - indeed I expect many of those who have been there from Y7 will be rather brighter than a typical student at a top independent - I don't think many independents have the same scale of ratio of applications to places as HB does (typically 3000 applications for 100 places)
I am sure Oxford is smart enough not discriminate between grammars and independents . This said, with the impossible pressure to deliver access without dropping standards, I presumed that, everything else being equal, Oxford would always prefer a state-educated student over private one. If not nothing else but better headline statistics.
If your dd is wedded to the music dept then don't move her just to "improve" her Oxbridge chances - how will you all feel if she hates the school and then doesn't get into Oxbridge? I know people who've done this - the larger class sizes were a shock and the grades their dc were predicted dropped, maybe because of the energy wasted on adapting to the new set up.
Thank you, one other difference is that at HBS the stem group is very large 50-60 people vs 15-20 at the current school. Would it not be an advantage to be within a larger group?
If it was me I absolutely would not move her. As others have mentioned, what if she moves school and doesn’t get into Oxford? Or worse still, she finds it harder to settle in and her grades drop? She sounds very bright and well rounded with her musical ability so I’m sure many medical schools or top universities will want her.
I cannot really understand the obsession with Oxbridge (Speaking as someone who went there). Yes, there are some wonderful things about the universities, but twenty years into you career (particularly in a field like medicine) it will not make the slightest bit of difference.
My DD is in lower 6th at HBS having moved from a well-regarded independent.
She is very happy at HBS and has not regretted the move for a minute.
However, her/our motivation was not to improve Oxbridge prospects...she is not even that keen on Oxbridge tbh! Mostly she fancied a change as she had been at her previous school for many years. and as parents we welcomed the break from school fees.
The teaching at HBS is excellent, in some cases better than her old school. However, she has fewer hours timetabled than her friends in 6th form at her old school, and much less pressure coming from school ie there is a strong expectation that the girls should be self-motivated.
Music is good but not as good as her old school. She has joined a musical ensemble outside of school as a result.
STEM is very dominant with lots of future medics and strong medical school application support, I am told (DD is on the humanities side).
We were concerned that socially it could be tricky to integrate in 6th form but apparently everyone was incredibly friendly and she now has a lovely group of friends.
Good luck with your decision!
I think you're misunderstanding how contextual admissions work as others have said.
a) they look at where GSCEs are taken.
b) they measure how well a child performs relative to the school - i.e. if it's a high performing school, then they don't make allowances.
I'm in favour of university contextual admissions when used correctly but giving a leg-up to children attending highly selective grammars with vanishingly few children on FSM is not the way. It's about trying to get those from under-represented areas and schools into elite institutions.
I suspect you may be right in that if Cambridge had two absolutely identical candidates from the same sort of area with exactly the same GSCEs, work experience, refs, BMAT etc then they might be marginally more likely to offer to the girl from HBS than NLC. However, we're talking about both human applicants and human admissions tutors so it will never ever be equal. They might just like the way one of them shakes hands or they might be in a better mood when doing the interview.
Thank you very much for your comments. I also note a strong bias at HBS towards math/chemistry/biology with 50-60 girls taking these. This is a much bigger number that at our current school. Do you think it is an advantage to join this big group or not?
HB hardly counts for a contextual offer.
But it doesn’t seem to stop middle class parents trying to get one over the system.
SW16, it is clear from the posts above this is not about contextual offers but your comment about class is unwelcome at the least. You do not know me and there is absolutely nothing wrong with my daughter considering what is best for her.
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