The grammar school

My son’s grammar school divides opinion. There are those who would sell their own grannies or tutor their poor kids to within an inch of their lives to get a place there. And there are those who dismiss it as ‘an exam hothouse’. (Those people may or may not be people whose kids couldn’t get a place. I couldn’t possibly comment on that.)

The truth is, they don’t accept grannies as payment and it’s not possible to tutor an above-average kid to get a place. The only thing the school accepts is clever kids. Really clever kids. I’ve had a few people I would consider friends barely disguise the fact that they are having a go at me for sending my son there. Obviously I’ve pushed him.

Well I haven’t. (And what right do they have to have a go – would they have a go at someone for sending their kid to a comprehensive in a rough area? Or to a private school?) They don’t know him like I know him and like his teachers know him. And they don’t know the school either.

Because it’s not an exam hothouse.

What it is is a really flipping amazing school. I only wish my eldest had the opportunities my younger son has.

Yes, there is a fair amount of work and the work is hard and academic. Yes, they have homework every night, but it’s not excessive. And the work is fun.

But the school is so much more than its incredible academic record. Extra- curricular activities like music, sport and drama are huge. The school is about creating rounded, confident individuals. The headteacher says they create ‘leaders’ and you can see why. Take a bunch of extremely clever kids and give them lots of opportunities to shine in other areas. Treat them with respect and as adults and watch them grow.

The school has no rules. They expect the kids to know how to behave. And they do. They respect each other, their teachers and their surroundings. Older pupils enjoy supporting younger pupils. There is no shame in talking to someone younger than themselves.

My son has been there less than half a term and he has grown in confidence.

He has also made friends and is having fun.

The kids are not ‘geeks’ or ‘swots’. They’re not particularly posh or rich. They’re just normal kids who happen to be clever. The reality is, the ‘swots’ and ‘geeks’ often go to the other grammar schools in the area – the schools an above-average kid can get into if they work really hard.

PicMonkey grammarschoolCollage

Kids at the grammar school are thrown in at the deep end in year 7, because that’s the way to thrive. A week after starting at the school, they started rehearsing for their first school concert. Two weeks later, they performed it to a packed audience. There were 900 kids in that concert – around 75% of the pupils in the school. Boys and girls. Year 7s and year 13s. All confident. None of them embarrassed, because their school embraces music, it doesn’t see it as something that sets you apart as a geek.

Three quarters of the boys in year 7 play rugby after school. The school has an A, B and C team in every year group. Sport is just as important as music and drama. And just as important as academic subjects.

My son is learning things he’s never learned before and he’s learning at a quite remarkable rate. With nobody holding them back in class, there’s no stopping these kids. He’s learned as much German in a month at grammar school as he learned French in four years of primary school. I love to hear him speak German as it is something I’ve never learned myself.

He’s enjoying science, history and geography. He’s doing well in art.

Communication with parents is excellent – we get an email from both the head and the head of year 7 every week. And they care about the kids – one week the head of year 7’s email said ‘remind your children to eat’. That was the week where my son ate nothing but two crackers and a piece of cheese at 2.30pm because he was so busy he forgot to eat!

But just a few weeks in, I can’t tell you how much he loves the grammar school. And so do I. It’s everything I hoped it would be and a whole lot more. It’s the perfect environment for him and I’m so grateful he had the opportunity to go there.

Son, Grammar school

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Lovely to hear how well he’s doing there, sounds like a great, well-rounded environment for him, and as you say, you know your son and you know where he’ll thrive. I went to a grammar school and my girl tells me she wants to go there, too (at 6, I think it’s more about because mummy went there than any academic leanings!). I’d be happy for her, too, as I know it’s a great school. Sorry to hear you’ve had some comments about it, guess you always will.

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    • Thanks very much! It’s remarkable how opinionated people can be about these things, but we all know what’s best for our own children! It’s great that your daughter is showing an interest already. I can’t believe we’re already thinking about it for my daughter – it seems so early, but she’s 9 and in year 5!

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  2. It sounds like he is thriving so much and what a perfect school to grow his abilities and talents. They definitely sound like they really invest in all their pupils and what a great way to treat the kids as adults. I’ve seen this work so well at our work place too, treat them like nature adults and they’ll behave like mature adults.

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    • Thanks very much. It’s such a brilliant place and how amazing how well everyone behaves and how they treat each other with respect.

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  3. I went to Grammar School & am proud of it. My son is a clever lad and we have no Grammar schools where we live & a fair trek to the closest so he went to the church school. He’s yr 11 now & I still regret not applying. Well done to your boy & to you for giving him every opportunity to thrive. x

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    • Thanks very much, that’s really reassuring to hear! There are families who let their kids travel 50 miles to get to our school, but I’m not sure I would put my kids through that. Next I need to decide how far I would be prepared for my daughter to travel for a grammar school education!

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  4. That’s brilliant Sarah, I’m thrilled for him (and you) – sounds like it really will be the making of him, exactly what you thought. Well done for trusting your instinct and going for it. We have yet to hear….

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    • Thanks very much. I’m sure it will be the making of him 🙂 Fingers crossed you get the right result for your boy.

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  5. It sounds like the perfect school for him! I wish we had schools like this in Romania too!

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    • Thanks, it’s really fantastic. We’re very lucky!

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  6. Schools are an emotive subject and I know people have passionate views but that doesn’t give anyone the right to judge others.

    I’m glad to hear he’s happy and enjoying his new school.

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    • Thanks very much. People certainly do have strong views, but, wherever possible, everyone has to do what is right for their own child.

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  7. If and when we have the money, we’ll move our boys to private education. Why? Because I want the older one to have more opportunities with sports and to be pushed more in his academic learning. And the younger to be in a class the third of the size he’s in now. That way, when he starts to drift in concentration it will be noticed quicker. We’ve been told so far, several times, that he is incredibly bright, but drifts away in his own thoughts, and they don’t catch it quick enough. Different strokes for different folks in our house. So it heartens me to hear that your boy is thriving at school. Thriving in an environment that challenges and nurtures and ecourages him. It gives me hope that we’ll still be able to have a positive effect upon their education when we do eventually move to private schooling, when we can afford to!

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    • That’s understandable and sounds good if you can do it. Everyone has to do what’s right for their own family. The grammar school has a lot of similarities to private school. Private school is something we’ve never considered for our kids, but if my daughter gets given the ‘wrong’ secondary school, who knows what we would do?

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  8. It’s an amazing school and you are right to be very proud of him.

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    • Thanks very much! I knew it would be a good school, but it’s even better than I’d hoped.

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  9. Really glad to hear your son is happy in his grammar school, we don’t have them roudn here but I’m pretty sure my son woudl have been at one too if there were. Luckily our local school has an old gRammar head and is fantastc. Mich x

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  10. It sounds like he is going great and what a wonderful sounding school. No wonder you are proud. xx

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  11. I am so glad that he has settled in so well. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, as you said, you know your son and you knew what would be best for him. You were right and he will have a fantastic time there.

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