secondary schools

Time to get your skates on and visit the UK's highest performing state sixth forms - it's not too late to think of a switch

image credit: Unsplash

image credit: Unsplash

The nights are drawing in but it's time to head out..

November is a big month for Sixth Form Open evenings, so we present you with our helpful round-up of the big hitting state schools, those who achieve most highly at A Level and IB and when to see them. There's no time to waste!

We're very open to the opportunity that switching schools at sixth form presents. Of course it's not right for every child and many want to complete their education alongside their long-standing friends, but for others, it could be the chance to up their game, finding that a school that was not an option at 11+ is now a real opportunity. Exciting stuff. 

Over the next few weeks we'll be thinking ahead about sixth form switching. If your child has only just started senior school, then when do you need to start thinking about it ideally (you'll see some schools open evenings for 2017 were earlier in the year), what are the options, why do it and what are the experiences of those who do? 

Don't forget we're here to help. Contact us below, or join us @schoolhuntersuk for insider tips, bright ideas and deadline reminders to help you help your child to a happy education. 

STATE SCHOOL SIXTH FORM OPEN EVENINGS

King Edward VI Grammar School, Chelmsford, Chelmsford, Essex Wednesday 30 November, 5pm

Colyton Grammar School, Colyton, Devon November 2016, date tbc, 7-9pm

Dane Court Grammar School, Broadstairs, Kent Thursday 1 December 2016

Reading School, Reading, Berkshire Thursday 1 December 2016,6.30-8pm

Heckmondwike Grammar School, Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire Tuesday 10 January 2017, 6.50pm

The Blue Coat School, Liverpool Thursday 21 January 2017

Pate's Grammar School, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire Tuesday 24 January 2017, 5pm

Wirral Grammar School for Boys, Wirral, Merseyside Wednesday 25 January 2017 at 6.30pm

Sir Thomas Rich's School, Gloucester Tuesday 31 January 2017

Wirral Grammar School for Girls, Wirral, Merseyside Sixth form choices evening January 2017, contact school for information.

High School for Girls, Gloucester January 2017

The Blue Coat CofE School, Oldham, Greater Manchester Open evening has passed, applications by Friday 27 January 2017.

King Edward VI Handsworth School, Birmingham Contact the school for more info and prior to January application deadline.

Lancaster Girls' Grammar School, Lancaster Open evening has passed, contact school to view prior to February application deadline.

St Michael's Catholic Grammar School, London Application forms should be received by 28 February 2017.

Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, Altrincham, Cheshire Open day already passed, contact the school for further information.

Chelmsford County High School for Girls, Chelmsford, Essex Open day already passed, contact the school for further information.

Tonbridge Grammar School, Tonbridge, Kent Open evening already passed, contact the school for further information.

The Becket School, West Bridgford, Nottinghamshire Open evening has passed, contact the school for further information.

Loreto Grammar School, Altrincham, Cheshire Open evening has passed, contact the school for further information.

King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Boys, Birmingham Open evening has passed, contact the school for further information.

Wolverhampton Girls' High School, Wolverhampton, West Midlands Open evening passed. Contact school to visit or see website for application form.

Queen Elizabeth's School, Barnet, Barnet, Hertfordshire Tours are all booked, contact the school for more information.

The King's (The Cathedral) School, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire Open evening has passed. Contact school for more information.

Colchester Royal Grammar School, Colchester, Essex Opening evening has passed, contact the school for more information.

Colchester County High School for Girls, Colchester, Essex Open evening has already passed, contact school for more information.

Southend High School for Girls, Southend-on-Sea, Essex Open evening has already passed, contact school for more information.

Coming in to land: boarding schools within an hour of Heathrow

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

We scope out UK boarding schools accessible from overseas  (image credit: Unsplash)

Whether you are looking for a UK boarding school for your children, whilst the family remains overseas or simply need to be within easy striking distance of Heathrow, this list might be just the ticket - a handy round up of just a few of our suggestions within the magic 60 minutes, traffic prevailing, with details of when to visit this Autumn and beyond. 

Don't forget to check details with individual schools - some need booking, all will arrange a tour to suit you if you are coming from overseas.

Those residing overseas will have a variety of additional hoops to jump through all of which require careful planning in advance. Some schools offer limited 'overseas' places and testing is likely to be rigorous. 

To find out more or find a speedy solution, do get in touch: jessica@schoolhunters.co.uk

Co-ed Prep Schools

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
next dates in the Spring

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday, 8th October 2016 (day or boarding)
Saturday, 25th February 2017 (TBC)
Saturday, 13th May 2017 (day or boarding)

Eagle House School, Sandhurst (in the grounds of Wellington College):
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am

Lambrook School, Ascot:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Beachborough School, Brackley:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.30am

St Andrew’s School, Pangbourne:
Friday 7th October 2016, 9.15am

The Oratory Preparatory School, Reading (boarding from year 6):
Saturday 8th October 2016

Winchester House School, Brackley:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Hurst Lodge School, Ascot (from year 5):
Open day passed, contact school for tour

Brockhurst and Marlston House Schools – see single sex preps

St George’s School, Windsor:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Co-ed Prep to 18

LVS Ascot, Berkshire (boarding from 7):
Wednesday 12th October 2016
Wednesday 8th February 2017
Tuesday 9th May 2017

Co-ed Senior Schools

Pangbourne College, Reading:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am (sixth form)
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9.30am (junior house, years 7 & 8)

St Edward's School, Oxford:
Saturday 13th May 2016 (13+ entry)

Leighton Park School, Reading:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

d'Overbroeck's, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Reddam House, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Luckley House School, Wokingham:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am

Padworth College, Berkshire:
Tuesday 18th October 2016, 1pm

Wellington College, Sandhurst:
Autumn dates fully booked, contact school to book for the spring.
Saturday 14th January 2017, 10.30am
Saturday 25th February 2017, 10.30am

Bradfield College, Berkshire:
Contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Prep Schools

Summer Fields School, Oxford:
Saturday 8th October 2016

Christ Church Cathedral School, Oxford:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Brockhurst School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Elstree School, Reading:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 13th May 2017, 10am

Papplewick School, Ascot:
Saturday 5th November 2016, 9am

Caldicot Preparatory School, Buckinghamshire:
Not yet announced

Cothill House, Abingdon:
Spring open day

Ludgrove School, Wokingham:
Register your interest to be invited to an open event.

Sunningdale School, Berkshire:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit

Boys’ Senior Schools

Abingdon School:
Saturday 1st October 2016, 9.30am

Shiplake College, Henley-on-Thames (girls in VIth form):
Saturday 8th October 2016 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 18th March 2017, 9.30am

Eton College, Windsor:
No open days, contact the school to arrange a visit.

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

Radley College, Abingdon:
No open days, but get in touch to arrange a visit.

Charterhouse, Godalming: (with co-ed sixth form)
Open mornings for sixth form girls, otherwise afternoon visits instead. Email: visits@charterhouse.org.uk for more details

Harrow School, London:
next opening morning: Saturday 21st January 2017, 9.30am

Girls’ Prep Schools

Godstowe School, High Wycombe:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10am

Marlston House School, Newbury (boarding from 9 years):
Saturday 15th October, 10.30am

Girls’ Schools 8 to 18

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

Girls’ Senior Schools

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

St George’s Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 8th October 2016, 10.30am

Heathfield School, Ascot:
Saturday 15th October 2016, 10am
Saturday 4th March 2017, 10am
Saturday 20th May 2017, 10am

Wycombe Abbey School, Buckinghamshire:
Saturday 15th October
Saturday 4th March
Saturday 10th June

Queen Anne’s, Caversham:
Friday 18 November 2016 at 9.30am
Friday 10 March 2017 at 9.30am
Saturday 6 May 2017 at 9.30am

St Mary’s School Ascot, Berkshire:
Saturday 19th November 2016
Saturday 18th March 2017
Saturday 13th May 2017

Downe House, Thatcham, Berkshire:
Contact the registrar for invitation to open morning. Michaelmas dates are full – register now for the new year.
Saturday 21 January 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 18 March 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 22 April 2017, 9.30am
Saturday 17 June 2017, 9.30am

Wychwood School, Oxford:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

Schools to seek out in the shires this September (Buckinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire)

(image credit: Unsplash)

(image credit: Unsplash)

On your marks...for open day season

It's time to set the alarm, get out the maps, plug in the Sat Nav, dust off your most penetrating questions (trying not to be too distracted by angelic children, home-made cookies, string quartets etc) and plot your route from school to school across the shires - it’s open season in the independent sector. 

To lend a hand, we've pulled together September's dates for schools that could be on your list. You may need to drop everything! Watch out for Saturday 24th of September THE most popular date of the year. We're going to be making suggestions to Heads that perhaps a few Sundays wouldn't go amiss in future. Keep checking back on the blog as we’ll be listing October’s dates in the next few days.

Do let us know what you find: how inspired are the speeches, convincing the pitches, or exotic the biology lab creatures and share any photos @schoolhuntersuk. No, we don't think there are explosions in the science labs every day either. 

BOYS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Moulsford Prep School, Wallingford:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am and 1pm
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

GIRLS’ INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

Headington School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am
Wednesday 16th November 2016, 10am

Carrdus School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

Heatherton House School, Amersham:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am
Saturday 1st October 2016, 10am
Further dates in the new year.

Crown House School, High Wycombe:
No open days – contact the school to arrange a visit.

CO-ED INFANT AND PREP SCHOOLS

St Teresa's School, Prince’s Risborough:
Thursday 22nd September 2016, 9am
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Rupert House School, Henley upon Thames:
Friday 23rd September 2016, 10am

Dragon School, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016 (boarding)
Further dates available for day places and boarding open days.

St Edward's Preparatory School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Stratford Preparatory School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 10am

Warwick Junior School:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Saturday 14th January, 2017, 10am

Sibford School, Banbury:
Wednesday 28th September 2016, 2pm

Chandlings, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 9am

St John's Priory School, Banbury:
Friday 30th September 2016, 10am

St Mary’s, Henley:
Contact to arrange a tour

BOYS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

Warwick School:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

The Oratory School, Reading:
The autumn open day has passed, but there will be another in the spring. A show round can be booked with the Head’s PA.

GIRLS’ SENIOR SCHOOLS

King’s High, Warwick:
Saturday 24th September, 2016, 9.30am

Headington School, Oxford:
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

The Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Gloucestershire:
Autumn open days are fully booked, book now for December and the new year.

Rye St Antony, Oxford:
Autumn open day has passed but the school welcomes visitors on any day.

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Akeley Wood Senior School, Milton Keynes:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am
Further dates throughout the school year.

St Edward's School, Cheltenham:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Cokethorpe School, West Oxfordshire:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9.30am

Stowe School, Buckinghamshire:
Autumn open day fully booked, book now for the new year.

SIXTH FORMS

Most sixth form open evenings are later in the autumn, but there are a few in September.

Rugby School, Warwickshire:
Saturday 17th September 2016

St Edward’s, Oxford:
Saturday 24th September 2016, 9am

Magdalen College School, Oxford:
Open afternoon: Thursday 29th September 2016

Headington School, Oxford (girls only):
Thursday 29th September 2016, 10am

Time to get your skates on for October school open days - here's how with our handy highlights lists

image credit: Unsplash

image credit: Unsplash

Last week, we posted our highlights list for single sex senior schools, London and the South-East. By no means exhaustive, but with time running out to book spaces at all of these highly popular open days, we hope you may find it a useful round-up to get started. Expect glorious sunshine (hopefully), winningly enthusiastic pupil tour guides, lots of checking out the competition (parents not pupils) and sometimes even a spot of lunch. What will your favourite facilities be: the climbing wall, the pottery wheels, the 3D laser printer, the on-site art gallery, the 'temple to maths' or the learning pods? 

Now it's the turn of the co-eds. Do let us know about the delights (or otherwise) @schoolhuntersuk. 

CO-ED SENIOR SCHOOLS

Latymer Upper School, London: Saturday 8th October 2016

Alleyn’s School, London: Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 2pm

The Perse Upper School, Cambridge: Autumn date has now passed

Brighton College: Autumn date has passed, book now for the new year. Saturday 28th January 2017, 9.30am

Wellington College, Berkshire: All Autumn dates full, book now for January 2017

Bancroft School, Essex: Saturday 19th November 2016, 10am

Highgate School, London: Saturday 8th October 2016, 9am

Reigate Grammar School, Surrey: Friday 14th October 2016, 9.15am Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 9.15am Thursday 17th November 2016, 9.15am

Kingston Grammar School, Surrey: Autumn date has now passed.

Epsom College, Surrey: Saturday 8th October 2016, 9.45am

Caterham School, Surrey: Open day has now passed. Contact the school about visitor mornings: Wednesday 19th October, 2016 Wednesday 9th November, 2016

City of London Freemen’s School, Surrey: Friday 11th November 2016, 9.15am

Why Matilda didn’t go to grammar school - 8 barriers to entry under the current grammar school test system

Barriers to entry to 11+ schools (image credit: Unsplash)

Barriers to entry to 11+ schools (image credit: Unsplash)

When I grow up...

As self-motivated and brilliant as Matilda Wormwood was (our favourite Roald Dahl heroine) there would be one thing holding her back from a grammar school application today... her parents!

We believe in good schools and most importantly the right school for the right child. Whether you’re a believer or not in the grammar school system and whether you are pleased or aghast at their contentious proposed expansion - and do see Tom Sherrington's highly informative post on the ins and outs of the arguments - we suggest that if they are to exist then perhaps they should be accessible to all pupils within the catchment area. 

What are the road-blocks to even sitting the test?

1. Planning ahead

Under the current system all children applying to grammar school must apply in Year 5.  Parents are informed about this via a booklet supplied by the county, but there are all sorts of reasons they might not read it – it joins the myriad crumpled letters that never make it home via the book bag and most parents are full-time jugglers of jobs, elderly relatives and young children. It's just one more thing to do. Nothing in the booklets we’ve seen actually recommends applying, or "having a go"..

2. Believing in your child – recognising your Matilda

To think you should register for the 11+, you have to think there’s a point.  While many of us delight in our children's unique talents (imagined or otherwise!) it is sometimes the case that parents under-estimate their child's ability.

3. Confidence

And then there are some parents who do believe in their children, but are a little shy about it.  It takes a degree of confidence to take the registration form into school and ask the headteacher to sign the application form confirming that your child is the person you say he is, exposing your hopes to scrutiny. 

4. a £5 photo

In my local supermarket it costs £5 for four little passport photos – one of which is needed for the registration form.  For many, £5 spent on photos would make a significant dent in the family food budget.  

5. Teachers

While some schools encourage every pupil to register for the test, others are wary.  And of course many teachers simply don’t believe in selective education. How can they be expected to encourage families to register for the test if either they don’t believe in it or fear they will be held to account if results are disappointing. SATS may be quite enough pressure. 

6. Late babies

We have witnessed first-hand the difficulty for summer babies in relation to the 11+ test.  The test itself is weighted to account for the age of children being tested, but parents’ perception is based on their child’s performance in relation to their peers, not the population, and that can have a huge bearing on how they view their readiness for the 11+. 

Summer-born children are only nine years old when registration takes place and for many parents the extra pressure of the grammar school can seem too much for such a young child.  It doesn’t mean young children won’t win places at grammar school, but it does distort their parents’ view of their suitability.

7. Saturday test days

Lots of children have parents who work on a Saturday who are simply unable to take them to a test on a Saturday morning.  For many it’s one barrier too far, too intimidating, too much effort.  The only reason for Saturday testing is to make the grammar schools available to out-of-county pupils… and out-of-county pupils are inevitably the children of the motivated, interested more ambitious parents, so the bright working class pupils politicians are keen to empower are pushed out of the way even before they register! 

8. Getting there

Again, not a barrier to entry to the determined, but as Local Authority budgets are cut and savings sought they are cutting back on school transport and many no longer provide free transport to the grammar school unless it also happens to be your local school.  Pupils on free school meals can apply for the transport, but it’s no longer automatic and is yet another stumbling block to parents choosing secondary schools.

 

We applaud all the efforts of Local Authorities to prevent cheating, to make the test tutor-proof, to and to make it fair for younger pupils, but there's a way to go before it's truly open to all.