State Secondary Schools - are they good?

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Mochi
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State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby Mochi » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:27 am

My son is currently too young for secondary schools, but we're thinking ahead as I'd hate for him to build up form friendships in Primary and then to move him away as he's starting Secondary school... Which will be our plan if we don't feel comfortable with the local state secondary schools.

We live in Earlsfield and have heard wonderful things about the primary schools here... We are in the catchment for some really great ones luckily!

However I only ever hear positive talk about independent secondary schools in the area..

Does anyone send their children to local secondary state schools? Do they enjoy it? (My main concern), do they feel safe etc?

I just need a bit of reassurance than my son will be fine and we won't have to move 😂 humour me please...
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windmill26
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby windmill26 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 9:56 am

My child went to an "oversubscribed" primary school in Earlsfield and I can tell you that it comes down to personal experience and not Ofstead reports or other parents opinions.
Our experience at primary was average at best.Your child grows and teachers are different every year so one year could be better/ worst than the next or previous one.
My child is now in secondary school and he is thriving.He settled in very well from the start.He doesn't have any friends from primary as they all went to different schools but he has made friends nonetheless as people move on anyway.
Follow your heart and judgement on this as you will hear a lot of opinions (often negative) from other parents.More often than not they won't even know what they are talking about but they repeat and spread misinformation gained at the school gate.

 
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Mochi
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby Mochi » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:22 am

Thanks for replying windmill! I'm really glad to hear your son is thriving in his Secondary school - makes me feel much better to know!

I only posted because, while I've heard many good things about the local state primaries, I never hear anything positive about the local state secondaries... so I just wanted to (hopefully) hear some positive experiences with those too!
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Wed Sep 04, 2019 10:13 am

Windmill, can I ask what schools (primary and secondary) you are talking about?

Mochi, as for primaries, I heard good things about Floreat and Earlsfield Primary, from families who send their kids there. These are families we know and trust so we find that kind of feedback more reliable than that of a stranger on the internet; of course to you I am a stranger on the internet so you should take this with truckloads of salt! We also know another family who is happy with the Swaffield Primary, but that's a bigger school and that can put off some families and kids.

As for state secondaries, the most coveted seems to be Graveney in Tooting; about 1/3 of the places are allocated by merit (performance on the Wandsworth test which all kids attending state primaries in Wandsworth take in their last year) and not by distance.

Other state secondaries are Ashcroft Technology academy on West Hill, Chestnut Grove in Balham, Southfields academy between Southfields and Earslfield.
I'll admit I don't know much about these; Southfields Academy has, for years, accepted all applicants - this alone is usually not a good sign. But they like to stress than, unlike other schools, they don't try to kick out or move elsewhere the worst-performing students to improve the school's test scores.
Ashcroft and Chestnut allocate some places based on specific tests (not distance): Ashcroft measures some kind of technological skills, and Chestnut music and modern languages. I have no idea how these tests work in practice.

The council publishes a list of how places were allocated in past years: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/schools-a ... tatistics/
You will notice that some schools allocate places by band: they divide kids by bands based on their results in the Wandsworth test. The theory is that this way classes are more diverse in terms of academic ability, and this reduces the risk of getting classes of mostly top-performing or mostly worst-performing kids. This also means that the maximum distance may be 600m for 1 band and 2 km for another.
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Star
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby Star » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:25 pm

Ernest Bevin and Burntwood schools also have a selective stream based on the Wandsworth Test
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Star
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby Star » Wed Sep 04, 2019 12:38 pm

Btw I know families in the selective stream at Burntwood and are very happy with it ( but I see you have a boy) . Ernest Bevin's Ofsted has gone way down from its Outstanding to Requires Improvement
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windmill26
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby windmill26 » Wed Sep 04, 2019 6:43 pm

SouthLondonDaddy, as I replied to Mochi I feel that it comes down to personal experience as kids are different and families are different. There are plenty of good Primary and Secondary Schools in the area so there is no need to move.
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onthecommon
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby onthecommon » Wed Sep 04, 2019 8:08 pm

Our local state secondary schools are great and provide an excellent option for all our children. Visit open days and look at their websites. They do not have marketing budgets so you will need to do this off your own back. The best source of information is current parents.
Mine attend the Bolingbroke and are all very happy, with loads of friends and plenty of great opportunities and the teaching is fantastic.
Here are their latest GCSE and A level results - outstanding for a non-selective school.

http://arkbolingbrokeacademy.org/news/b ... ross-board

http://arkbolingbrokeacademy.org/news/o ... sell-group

Sent from my iPhone
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SouthLondonDaddy
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby SouthLondonDaddy » Thu Sep 05, 2019 4:24 pm

Bolingbroke gives priority to children of founding parents, siblings, children from feeder schools and, only lastly, to children living closest to the school
http://arkbolingbrokeacademy.org/admissions-policy

If you look at what happened in the past: https://www.wandsworth.gov.uk/media/405 ... o_2018.pdf
only in 2015 were some places offered to kids not coming from feeder schools.
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sw1234
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby sw1234 » Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:20 pm

Clearly hard to argue with as it’s an academy but The admissions process at Bolingbroke does seem unfair. For many it’s their most local state secondary but they cannot get in unless they move their child into a feeder school in Y6!
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firsttimerSW11
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby firsttimerSW11 » Fri Sep 06, 2019 10:39 am

I don't think Bolingbroke's policy is unfair. Of the 5 feeder schools, 3 of them have spaces in all year groups which means if you were keen on Bolingbroke then you'd send your child to one of those 3 schools.

In response to the original question, my opinion (and it is just a personal view) is that I would only choose private for second level. You're paying for facilities, space, opportunities, networking etc as well as the education. If I had no choice and had to choose a state option, I'd chose Bolingbroke or Graveney (selective). Otherwise I'd move out to Kingston where you can try for all the grammars.

Many children move from primary to second level without knowing anyone and it usually doesn't take long to make friends. If nothing else, it teaches resilience.
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SouthfieldsAcademy
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby SouthfieldsAcademy » Tue Sep 17, 2019 3:53 pm

I'd second the PP who said there are plenty of good secondary schools in the area.  As others have advised, it's best to go and look around them so you can make a comparison and see if they're a good fit for your child.  It's a bit like buying a house, you just know when you've found the right one.

It's open event season now, so a good time to visit schools.  We, unlike any other secondary school in the borough, are happy to offer parents a personal tour outside of open events but if you do come along on an open event group tour, you will see ALL of the school, no children will be removed from classes and your access won't be restricted, so you will get a very good insight into the Academy on a normal working day with a senior leader.  We are very proud of what our students achieve so we want to show it off!

As for the PP who said, by going private, that you're paying for facilities, space, opportunities etc, here is some of the feedback from our open events:
 “I would rank it over a couple of private schools in terms of values – and value!” “We are looking at independent and state secondary and I have no problem at all keeping Southfields on the table.”
 ”Lots going on, VIP visits (Prime Minister visited recently), school trips, arts, music and an excellent maths department.” “Great facilities and a lovely spacious, bright, building with well-designed outdoor space.” “I couldn’t help thinking, If this was a private International school with the same facilities (amazing football pitches, a swimming pool and a nice quiet residential location backing onto a park), it would be £7000 per term.” “The pupils and staff seemed relaxed and happy and the staff were very warm and welcoming.”   “Excellent staff retention… Class sizes are kept small as part of their policy.”  “It’s a good personal fit for us in terms of location and ethos. Glad I went to visit.”  
Our results bear out the quality of teaching as we are ranked among the top schools in the borough for the progress students make whilst here, and we are totally non-selective, which makes that achievement all the more noteworthy.  We are a specialist hub for languages at Key Stage 4 and for maths at Sixth Form but all of our subjects perform well.

If you would like to come for a tour, your will be given a warm welcome.  The next open morning is on Friday 20th September from 8.45-10.30am with open evening on Thursday 3rd October from 5.30-7.30pm.  If they don't suit, please email sean.french@southfieldsacademy.com who will be happy to arrange a visit for you.  We hope to see you soon.
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The NSC
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby The NSC » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:03 pm

I dont understand how a non-selective state secondary school that makes allowance for all its closest/local state primaries is 'unfair'? Difficult to see another Wandsworth secondary that has a more reasonable or transparent admissions policy than the Bolingbroke Academy. And the social/cultural mix of the c700 kids would bear that out. A reflection of both Battersea and London at large hopefully? But I am slightly biased, apologies. I helped set the school up! The point is, our founding ethos was based on 'equality of opportunity' hence the non-selective idea. And as mentioned elsewhere, it's the 3rd best performing state secondary in Wandsworth. Our own boy started last week and loves it. Even the school dinners?! At the end of the day, the school has to fit the child, not vice versa. Visiting different schools is the best bet as mentioned elsewhere.
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sw1234
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby sw1234 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 3:04 pm

Firstly well done for helping set up the school. It’s truly fantastic how well you have all done and a fabulous opportunity for the kids that benefit.
I Still can’t understand why you went Down the feeder school route though and not just plain simple proximity? As it stands there will be (and it’s already started) abuse of the system . I have friends who live further from the school (significantly) who have kids at a feeder school who will get in over me. There are 2 kids at my sons primary who have left to enter a feeder school in year 6. Clearly we could all do this and jam up the northcote road with our cars to bypass the system and the kids who live closer and denying them a place. Seems odd to me but I’m sure you have a good rationale for the decision making so would love to know more. Thanks for writing on the forum though!
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monkey123
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Re: State Secondary Schools - are they good?

Postby monkey123 » Mon Sep 23, 2019 3:02 pm

Both of my daughter's best friends moved away before she finished her primary education at Swaffield Primary school, which is two form entry, the same as Alfarthing and Floreat. It was bigger as we, (I'm Vice-Chair of Governors), agreed to take an extra form for the period where there was a bit of a baby boom. That bubble of children are now entering the secondary school system and so we are back down to two form entry. She was slightly devastated for a while, but it wasn't until she went to St. Cecilia's that I realised that it actually gave her a resilience for all of the changes involved in moving to secondary school.

So.... St. Cecilia's..... She is extremely happy there. It's small, nurturing and specialises in music (she is a music scholar). She is thriving and is well on track to do very well at GCSEs. She has made friends really easily and the new head sits on a central board for stretching higher ability children. This is something I think needed to be improved upon at the school, and so no better person for the job, in my opinion.

My son didn't feel that it was the right school for him. So we looked at them all, twice. In the end we felt that because of his love of the STEM subjects and his passion for table tennis, that Ernest Bevin was the right school for him. He did well on the Wandsworth Test so is streamed for the STEM subjects. In addition to this, the school work with a charity called Greenhouse Sports (co-founded by Mathew Saeed - author of Bounce") and so he has a dedicated table tennis coach and receives one-to-one coaching. It's bonkers! they complete in loads of sports, nationally and are very good at all of them. They even beat Harrow at Judo! I was worried about there not being enough exposure to the arts, but I was wrong. So many of the boys follow the ABRSM and Trinity music syllabus and they have drama clubs and put on a production every year.

Yes, they received a requires improvement judgement by OFSTED recently, but under the new framework that OFSTED are using, schools must be secure in every single judgement criteria to receive a 'Good' and in all honesty, I think a lot of the schools across the country are in for a bit of a shock when OFSTED come calling again. In my opinion, there is no better time to be at Ernest Bevin because of the extra resources and support that the local authority are pumping into them to ensure that the areas that they were weaker on, start to improve quickly - we have been aware of a new marking system for the boys and several other initiatives that we put in place straight away.

Ultimately, my son loves it, often waking at 6 to get in and play table tennis, go swimming, or just to hand out with friends at breakfast club, before the school day starts at 8:50. He's happy and engaged and loves going - what more do you want for your children?

Someone showed me some research recently, which points to evidence that 85% of how a child turns out is down to parenting. And so I would say, to those parents who are a perhaps a little apprehensive about sending their child to a state school...... have faith in your child and in your parenting. All of those years spent moulding and shaping and instilling morals and values in them...... as they get older, you see those little lightbulb moments, when you see them making independent decisions about the friends that they make or choices they make, and you breath, because you suddenly realise that they were taking it all in. They were listening and watching all along!
 
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