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KindleK

Academic Standards

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Hi, does anyone know what the academic standard is like at Tring Park? My ds would like to go full time but he is currently at a very good grammar school and I am very concerned that his studies will suffer as a result. Looking at the Ofsted report there appears to be a few issues with pushing more capable students to reach their full potential. Does anyone have experience of this ??

Edited by KindleK

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Welcome from me too. I'm sure you'll hear from some Tring parents, past and present, soon, but my impression had always been that academics are pretty good there. But let's see....

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I have two dc at tring now.  Both have done very well compared with how they would have anywhere else. However, I have resorted to tutors at home to help out when the pressure has been on. They have singing/piano lessons which take them out of class so I feel that it helps make sure there are no gaps. 

 

The only tricky thing as far as I can tell is fitting in the amount of studying around vocational shows etc and being exhausted by the time May/June comes around. 

 

 

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It is a bit of a balancing act, and the kids there do well at both GCSE and A level. Their results are pretty good considering the limited amount of timetabling for academic work.  We  looked into it in some depth, and would have been more than happy for dd to have taken up her offered place for 6th form; however she went elsewhere in the end.

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Thanks everyone for your advice, it is such a hard decision. My dc is already at a very good grammar school so it would be a lot to give up and I do worry that fitting in the curriculum in half the time is going to limit his academic options. A lot to think about!

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My DD faced a similar decision when moving to a specialist vocational music school.  

 

At the end of the day she went for the start of year 10 based on a few suppositions:

 

Her excellent academic background would stand her in good stead through GCSEs

Making the wrong decision at A level was likely to be far more costly than at GCSEs

Her overriding desire to make a career in music had to take priority

Weekend and holiday commitments to high level/nation ensembles meant her time was compromised anyway.

 

In reality

the lack of continuity caused a few wobbles at GCSE,

smarter choices made for A level than if she had started at the same school at Y12

better musical opportunities by 1000 miles - although one dodgy audition set up which was purely the teachers fault

extra commitments took as much time as at grammar school - in some ways worse as she missed so many academic lessons during Y12/13.

 

end result: 4 out of 5 offers at conservatoire including the most prestigious, and 3 scholarship offers on one of the most competitive instruments for places.  Academically  definitely not as good results as if she had stayed at grammar.  But I really doubt she would have the training to have survived the audition run.  I had not realised quite how hard and draining the whole process would be.  I understand now how the mums of DD feel!

 

For us the decision was whether it was worth going for bust - there was never really going to be a safety net - and only you can decide that.

 

good luck 

Meadowblythe

 

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Thank you Meadowblythe for sharing and big congratulations to your DD it sounds like she has an amazing future ahead of her. It is very interesting to hear your experiences and does make me feel slightly braver about the whole thing! I think you are right we just have to decide whether it’s worth just going for it. Many thanks. X

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KindleK,

 

The harsh reality is that she is probably *just* good enough to get jobbing work as an orchestral 3rd or bumper.  

 

Similarly her brother is good enough to get consistent work as a ballet dancer - he is about to commence his 3rd year of full time employment, this time heading of to China, but he is not exceptional, will never dance for the Royal Ballet or equivalent.

 

In some ways, because they are good but not the very best, I feel they needed their vocational training more than the truly brilliant  to be able to access the advanced training they needed to get work.

 

I hope they have fulfilled and interesting lives.  Certainly to have completed a degree, lived abroad for 2 years and be about to head off across the world before you reach 21 is not to be underestimated, and would, I hope, stand in DS' favour to offset a less than perfect set of academic results in future times.

 

I hope this helps.  My personal experience is you have to pick a path, assess if it is working at key points, but don't  constantly compare with the alternative routes.  There is no right answer, no perfect situation (lucky you if you find one!), just a bunch of parents trying to do their best.

 

 

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Meadowblythe, thank you for sharing your stories of 2 talented, committed & successful offspring - you must be very proud. You offer very sound advice & I am sure your son & daughter are equally proud of you! :)

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We are very happy with the academic standard at Tring.  Time is obviously an issue but they seem to maintain a good standard nonetheless. Dd was at a very good academic school beforehand but never seemed to be particularly passionate about any  of her academic subjects. Since moving to Tring she has far more motivation and enthusiasm. Feel this is stemming from the teachers who believe in the pupils ability to do well regardless of the time limitations.

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I think you need to look at the whole picture. Our experience is at a different vocational school but applies to all I guess. What makes your ds tick and what makes him happy? When dd (academically able) went to vocational school in Y10 we expected academics to take a hit but dancing was what made her tick and the focus of her life. She's certainly saved on a lot of travelling time and it helps being somewhere where the academic teachers understand the vocational situation. She is probably more fulfilled than she would have been. Due to doing 1 less GCSE and smaller classes the academic hit may not be that bad...... ( I'll know in August!!)

 

Good luck! I guess what I'm saying is that your ds life is more than academic exam results....

Edited by sarahw
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Grammar schools  select at entry for a high level of academic ability; vocational schools obviously don't. So by definition vocational schools have a wider range of academic abilities to cater for and less time in which to do it. Expectations by the schools are rather different as well. When my dd auditioned for upper school she was told she needed 5 GCSEs at A to C to join the course. Being a smarty-pants (and before I could stop her) she replied that as she was taking 11 subjects she could not imagine doing that badly. I think the school were a bit put out tbh and yes she has class mates for whom getting to 5 GCSEs represented an amazing personal achievement (they dance better than she does as well :)). So I think you pays your money and you takes your choice. If academic education is of supreme importance then sticking with non-vocational until age 16 is an option to consider. On the other hand, if your dc is desperate to go until full time training, thwarting them is unlikely to motivate them in the classroom. I still wonder at my own judgement in allowing my dd to bin out of education without taking A levels (and so do my friends) but I do not think she would have been at all happy had I compelled her to go into 6th form. I guess what I am trying to say is that motivation and personal happiness is at least as important as the quality of the teaching.

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It's not easy to explain to non dancing families is it @Mnemo ? (Not doing A levels ). They think I'm  mad (and they're probably right!!)

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Don’t forget that some of the schools/colleges offer the opportunity to do A levels alongside dance. It’s working well for my Dd who has just completed 1st year, and I like the fact that her academic/dance day is filled from start to finish. 

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5 hours ago, sarahw said:

It's not easy to explain to non dancing families is it @Mnemo ? (Not doing A levels ). They think I'm  mad (and they're probably right!!)

You're telling me!! Especially when all my friends appear to have dazzling Oxbridge material offspring. I  look at the hours that these young people put into studying and revising for their A levels (chasing the A*) and there is no way that anyone could do that and pursue any kind of non vocational  activity to a high level given that there are only 24 hours in a day. Curiously though a very honest friend said to me recently that she loved hearing about dd's dance training, because 'everyone else is going to university and its really very boring and predictable'. Whereas 'your daughter does all sorts of peculiar things but she is obviously very independent and very happy'. Its the things that you don't do that you regret later and I could not face a lifetime of recrimination (I could have been a dancer if you hadn't stopped me blah blah). Also, there are usually other routes to getting A levels later on, should the worst come to the worst. We have an excellent local FE college that offers a wide range of A levels to students free of charge to age 24 years. That's one of the things that helps me sleep at night.

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On 06/07/2018 at 22:42, KindleK said:

Hi, does anyone know what the academic standard is like at Tring Park? My ds would like to go full time but he is currently at a very good grammar school and I am very concerned that his studies will suffer as a result. Looking at the Ofsted report there appears to be a few issues with pushing more capable students to reach their full potential. Does anyone have experience of this ??

Has your son had any kind of offer from Tring KK?

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7 hours ago, Mnemo said:

Grammar schools  select at entry for a high level of academic ability; vocational schools obviously don't. So by definition vocational schools have a wider range of academic abilities to cater for and less time in which to do it. Expectations by the schools are rather different as well. When my dd auditioned for upper school she was told she needed 5 GCSEs at A to C to join the course. Being a smarty-pants (and before I could stop her) she replied that as she was taking 11 subjects she could not imagine doing that badly. I think the school were a bit put out tbh and yes she has class mates for whom getting to 5 GCSEs represented an amazing personal achievement (they dance better than she does as well :)). So I think you pays your money and you takes your choice. If academic education is of supreme importance then sticking with non-vocational until age 16 is an option to consider. On the other hand, if your dc is desperate to go until full time training, thwarting them is unlikely to motivate them in the classroom. I still wonder at my own judgement in allowing my dd to bin out of education without taking A levels (and so do my friends) but I do not think she would have been at all happy had I compelled her to go into 6th form. I guess what I am trying to say is that motivation and personal happiness is at least as important as the quality of the teaching.

Academic grades can be ‘stock piled’ for later,  you can’t ‘stock pile’ your dancing abilities the same way. There is a female graduate from RBS who performed professionally after graduation for over 8yrs. Currently a 2nd yr medical student in the States. In her early 30’s. Who says someone can’t have two successful careers? 

Ps. This young lady didn’t do any Alevels after her GCSE’s. 

Edited by balletbean

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1 hour ago, balletbean said:

Academic grades can be ‘stock piled’ for later,  you can’t ‘stock pile’ your dancing abilities the same way.

 

I'm a university professor, but I really recommend this way of thinking. The body doesn't wait.

 

It's perfectly possible to re-enter education at a later date, and really it might be better - I always like my undergrads to have taken a gap year between A Levels/BTEC and starting university. Then they know why they are at university, rather than just doing it because their family etc sees it as the next step. 

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