Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

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JCA
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby JCA » Wed Sep 30, 2015 11:46 pm

Dear All

I was alerted to this thread and felt compelled to write a comment (my first ever on nappyvalley.)

Whist I am all for debate and the sharing of information it is disappointing to read a number of negative comments about the Bolingbroke Academy; a school that has long been wanted by a significant number of local people.

Prior to it’s launch (only four years ago) there were limited options open to those who either couldn’t afford a private school and/or those who specifically wanted a state school education. We now have a fantastic, local secondary school, right in the heart of our community. It provides places for pupils from four feeder schools and has resulted in a rich and diverse school community.

There is a transparent policy regarding behaviour and discipline and it is clearly laid out to both pupils and parents. As the parent of a son in Year 9, I for one would rather have a school that is strict rather than not. If you are late for a meeting or work there is a consequence. If you are late for school you get a detention. It seems to me these are valuable life lessons.

My experience as a Parent has been that the children are generally very happy at the school and have cemented old as well as created new friendships. They have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in terms of attitude,commitment and achievement; for the most part they appear to thrive.

No secondary school (or any school for that matter) is perfect and opinion will always be divided. If you stand outside any secondary school I am sure you will hear some rather choice language and see some less than perfect behaviour at times. After all these are young adolescents finding their way and their voice.

Given that the Academy is still in it’s infancy I feel we, as a local community, should be supportive of it and do all we can to ensure it’s success.

Having recently taken on the Chair role of the Parent Council (with a great team of parents) all I can say is that the Academy is extremely committed to ensuring strong links are forged between Academy staff, Parents, Carers and the Community.

As mentioned there are Open Days coming up which provide an excellent chance to go and visit the Academy. Equally there are a number of parents at all the feeder schools with children who are thriving at the school. Go to the open events and talk to these parents and their children and then make up your own mind.

Equally, my email is listed on the Academy website so feel free to get in touch.
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jane/paints
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby jane/paints » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:51 am

I am a parent of a year 7 Bolingbroke child.
I am a single working mum on low income and therefore didn"t have the choice of state or private education.
First of all I think it is very strange that there seems to be a notion that Bolingbroke Academy will suffer if not supported by the wealthier families.
Does this imply that some people believe that children from poorer backgrounds are less intelligent and unlikely to get the results, because this in my opinion is a very dangerous line of thought.
A child is an individual and given the right environment for learning and encouragement to build their confidence they will flourish regardless of parental wealth. A loving and caring family is also important but once again this is not determined by wealth.
For me , as important as results are and I want my child to achieve to their full potential, it is equally important that they are happy.
It is very early for me to give a detailed feedback of my experiences of Bolingbroke Academy , like all children going into secondary school, it takes time to settle in and that goes for parents too.
I love that I had the option of a good local state school. From what I can tell it's heart is in the right place and they are determined to succeed. They are evolving from year to year and welcome any challenges from parents and carers. Let's not forget they are only 4 years old. Emanuel school, for example has been going since 1594 so of course there are teething problems.
Yes, they are strict, but they are also supportive and reward and encourage when needed. The day is quite long but for most children it is just a few minutes walk to school. Having local friends and a sense of belonging to your local community is also a positive thing.
My daughter seems happy despite the odd detention and she is slowly developing a sense of belonging . It is compulsory to do 3 clubs . She is doing drumming , fashion design and yoga. She comes out of school happy and although she would never admit that school was fun, I know that she is fine.
I don"t believe that money should buy you an education but that all children regardless of their background should have the same opportunities and choices. I really want Bolingbroke to succeed for my child and would encourage that it is supported.
Since only the open days for private schools were mentioned in an e mail I received today from nappyvalleynet, here is a link to next week's Bolingbroke open days.
http://arkbolingbrokeacademy.org/admissions/open-days
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Annabel (admin)
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby Annabel (admin) » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:38 am

Thank you Jane/Paints for the post and for using NVN.

Before I reply can I say upfront that we are huge huge fans of the school and would look to support it in any way we can. That also stands for any of the schools in our local neighbourhood, state or independent, primary or secondary.

That aside :-) can I pick up on a couple of points you mentioned specifically...
Since only the open days for private schools were mentioned in an e mail I received today from nappyvalleynet, here is a link to next week's Bolingbroke open days.
On a general basis we've mentioned as many state and independent school open days as we can.

There is a link here to our previous email

http://www.nappyvalleynet.com/dates-for ... open-days/

and in this we mentioned Lambeth and Wandsworth State Primary/Secondary open days.

The NappyValleyNet.com schools guide is (I think) pretty unique compared to other print/online guides in that we try to mention state and indy schools with equal weight and although I'm not saying we got it exactly right we are the only publication I've seen where they sit fully side by side in terms of editorial.

Gillian (the guides editor) and myself spent a lot of time over the summer poring over listings to try and get that very balance.

Bolingbroke, specifically, is an interesting example for NVN.

To reiterate, we were (and are) huge supporters of the school and feel it is an important resource for local parents.

In addition I'd like to think we were a great help at the birth of the school, I remember sending out a lot of emails about consultations and planning etc although that does seem a long time ago!

However when we were planning the guide we tried very very very hard to work with Bolingbroke and ARK and we had no luck whatsoever.

The parent company ARK were, to be blunt, a total nightmare to deal with (tens and tens of calls and emails going unanswered, emails to their CEO going unanswered and that's even after I travelled into Central London to meet with "their people".)

To be clear some of those conversations were about advertising but there were a lot of schools we dealt with who didn't take advertising and who still featured in our open day listings/editorial because they sent stuff through or replied to emails from us requesting info. I lost count of the number of times I tried to make contact with Bolingbroke directly (ARK aside) and no one *ever* came back. Ever.

I've had a similar conversation "offline" with a member of the PTA at Bolingbroke in the last 24 hours, we'd love to carry more information but your link is the very first piece of information that anyone has given me about open days!

Please please please do keep that information coming and when it does we'll keep pushing it!

Thanks for using NVN!

A
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jane/paints
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby jane/paints » Thu Oct 01, 2015 11:12 am

Thank you for your reply Annabel. I'm sorry to you've had so much trouble getting information from Bolingbroke. I hope that improves.
Like you say , it's important we support all the schools in the area and are able to communicate our opinions and thoughts easily.
I will post any views i find important re Bolingbroke, hopefully positive ones, in the future.
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Goldhawk
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts? - main thread

Postby Goldhawk » Thu Oct 01, 2015 4:28 pm

I have a question re admissions

So last year 623 applications for 120 places
No children from non-feeder schools got a place

So can I assume that unless you are at one of the 5 feeder schools you have no hope of getting offered a place?
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schoolgatesmum
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby schoolgatesmum » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:03 pm

Every year some children have been admitted on distance rather than from feeder schools. Not sure of the exact figures but I think in the region of 10-15 so it is possible to get a place even if you're not at a feeder school.
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schoolgatesmum
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby schoolgatesmum » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:10 pm

@Annabel - Bolingbroke Academy has a great website with loads of information including open day information. Maybe that would be a good source for your next schools publication?
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Goldhawk
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby Goldhawk » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:12 pm

Do you mean from the waiting list?
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schoolgatesmum
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby schoolgatesmum » Thu Oct 01, 2015 5:22 pm

Yes - but the waiting list moves very quickly (secondary school lists move much faster than primary school). I'm not sure at what point people were offered places on distance but certainly on the first day of term there were children who weren't from feeder schools.
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Goldhawk
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby Goldhawk » Thu Oct 01, 2015 6:34 pm

I was going on the info provided in the Wandsworth schools brochure which seems likely to put anyone not at a feeder school off applying

Were there no people from the feeder schools on the waiting list then?
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lindylindylindy
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby lindylindylindy » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:34 pm

Goldhawk - not sure if there were any from BV or the other schools not being successful but haven't heard of anyone from HW not getting in despite a few having siblings so being automatically alocated a place. A significant percentage of Honeywell pupils went private/Burntwood/Graveney so I assume so for the other schools too.

Definitely worth going to parent evenings and applying for it if you're interested, as schoolgatesmum said there were quite a few from non feeder schools this year.
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lindylindylindy
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby lindylindylindy » Thu Oct 01, 2015 7:54 pm

Have read this thread and raises some interesting points, I'm not offended by anyone's opinion and think that Seb was right when he said the jury is out, it certainly is!

Like Jane-Paints I also have a daughter who just joined Year 7 from HW. Recently I enjoyed the Year 7 parent evening, parents had the chance to ask different teachers and the deputy head questions relating to the school and we were explained the difference between the old GCSE and new GCSE exams and points systems. It was very informative and I was very pleased to hear that from Year 10 the pupils are prepared thoroughly for the main subjects that will get them to Uni (quality of main GCSE's instead of quantity of them). 'Depth before Breadth' means an absolute focus on English Lit, English, Triple or double Science (depending on attainment), Maths, One or two social science subjects and a modern language as well as other subjects available. The changes were explained really well with charts showing the expected attainment from SAT results.

There are things that are not perfect and yes some of the students can be quite rude and rowdy! However there are all types of personalities to be seen and many studious and gentle characters around too.

I thought that my daughter coming from such a relaxed school would find it difficult to adjust to. This hasn't been the case and she seems to enjoy the strict environment and it makes her feel more like a grown up. Just as it is strict it also recognizes effort, she loves it when she gets a 'be bold' stamp in her planner for recognition of something she has achieved which is heartwarming for me to hear about at the end of the day!

So far, my communication with the teachers has been very positive and they are accessible. I am very happy with the school so far.
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Northcote LJR
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby Northcote LJR » Thu Oct 01, 2015 9:37 pm

I am a Bolingbroke parent with sons in Year 10 and Year 8. Both are happy and making very good progress. I continue to be impressed with the scope and variety of activities and trips available to them - Berlin, WW1 battlefields, Ski trip to Switzerland, Lille, Oxford University, Cambridge University, Kings College Maths programme, Duke of Edinburgh and countless theatre trips to name but a few just for my eldest! They both have many lovely friends, some known since primary school, others made at Bolingbroke. All their friends are local, their commuting time to school - 5 minutes walk.
The school is clear in its aims, ambitions and ethos - the children understand the high expectations and most are quickly able to adjust and thrive.
The school is still growing and developing with each new year group but from my perspective four years in, I believe it is going from strength to strength.
My advice to anyone considering the Bolingbroke is to attend the Open Day and speak to staff, children and parents.
We are very lucky to have this fantastic school on our doorstep.
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atbattersea
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby atbattersea » Thu Oct 01, 2015 10:53 pm

I don't know anything about this school, other than the son of one of my neighbour's goes there. As to whether it is up to scratch, no one will know that until the first round of GCSE results are out.

One thing I dislike about the whole concept of free schools is that you essentially have a state-funded school that is able to set its own intake criteria - this is just wrong from the start. What you have essentially ended-up with is a school for kids with wealthy parents (because otherwise they cannot get into the feeder schools, bar a few) that has been set-up because those parents didn't like what was offered by the existing state secondary schools.

The little oasis that is Honeywell and Bellville is perpetuated in Bolingbroke.
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SW11PARENT
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Re: Bolingbroke Academy, thoughts?

Postby SW11PARENT » Tue Oct 06, 2015 8:09 pm

I would just like to respond to the comment by atbattersea that Bolingbroke Academy is the preserve of the wealthy. By their own admission they state they do not know the school because if they did they would know that this is far from the truth. Bolingbroke is a true comprehensive school affording excellent opportunities to all children.
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