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Thank you everybody, you're right, there is nothing to lose really! I also want to try for Moorland and maybe Abbots Bromley. About the Hammond audition, do you have to prepare a song? And for Tring, do you have to do a solo at some point? Thanks :)

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Arucaria Ballerina you should definitely try all three schools on your list. They are very helpful and will do their upmost to help. Hammond still has another prelim date coming up and Moorland will see your daughter at a time convenient to you both I'm sure. A quick email to all three will answer all your questions. Lots of luck x

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At Hammond if you don't have a song they get you to sing Happy Birthday or similar - they like to see you get involved but clearly the dancing assessment is more important for a dancer.

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Just want to say my dd didn't sing at the Hammond audition and was still offered a place.

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DD auditioned for the Hammond last Monday and just had letter this morning offering a place (we need funding so still a long road ahead).

DD prepared a piece to sing only because she felt happier doing something she knew rather than the assessment class. She has never sang in public before so very much out of her comfort zone.

Good luck to everyone applying or waiting for results!

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So with the auditions process well on the way and heading to finals and the decision stage we have reached a crisis.  DD has always done well academically and following feedback from the final parents' evening of primary school last week we are concerned about the academic records of vocational schools.  A conversation at the weekend with someone who knew two children leave vocational  schools age 14 due to parents being unhappy about the academics has really put DH off agreeing that we should continue down this route.  I have struggled to find information that is up-to-date and/or impartial about how well DCs do academically at vocational school .  Can anyone give me an insight into how good the teaching/results are at the big four?

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So with the auditions process well on the way and heading to finals and the decision stage we have reached a crisis.  DD has always done well academically and following feedback from the final parents' evening of primary school last week we are concerned about the academic records of vocational schools.  A conversation at the weekend with someone who knew two children leave vocational  schools age 14 due to parents being unhappy about the academics has really put DH off agreeing that we should continue down this route.  I have struggled to find information that is up-to-date and/or impartial about how well DCs do academically at vocational school .  Can anyone give me an insight into how good the teaching/results are at the big four?

 

Here is a link to The Royal Ballet School academic result:

 

https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/school/102947

 

There is a search function for you to use for other schools you require information for. Please bear in mind that there are DC's at vocational schools of varying academic ability, as they are taken on for their dancing potential and not on academic merit. When my DD was as WL, the brighter students definitely fulfilled their academic potential, with some students not moving to upper schools and instead, moving on to further education at top academic schools. I also felt that for the less academic DC, due to the small class sizes, the school allowed them to possibly achieve more than they would have done at a 'normal' secondary school.

 

We turned down a place at one of the top grammar schools in the UK and felt that our DD still fulfilled her academic potential, but it was a hard choice, as you never know whether they will get assessed out of the school. We were one of the fortunate ones though.

 

I hope this helps and good luck. LTD

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To muddy the waters further, just bear in mind that  GCSEs are in the process of changing dramatically, in course content, style of exams and grading system. So (assuming the school/s you are interested in offer standard GCSEs) historical results may be of limited value when it comes to assessing likely future performance. Plus of course year groups are generally small at vocational schools so overall results are more likely to be affected by variation in the individual abilities of the children in each year group than would be the case in schools with a large cohort of students every year. So statistics are unlikely to give the whole picture. (Well I don't think they do for any school to be honest, but data from small schools is particularly difficult to interpret.)

Personally, I would lay more store by the narrative in any inspection reports than the figures and even more on personal observations and discussions with academic staff. I would  particulary ask about how they are planning to manage changes to the GCSE curriculum. From what I can gather, the changes are creating quite a challenge for schools. I would imagine that those challenges will be even greater at vocational schools where time obviously has to be shared between standard academic and vocational studies already. (I don't know if international GCSEs are affected or which schools follow which syllabi sorry so it may not be an issue everywhere, but its something I would certainly want to know about were I in your shoes.)

Edited by Pups_mum
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Sorry pups mum but I have to slightly disagree on the 'lay more store on the narrative of the inspection report rather than the figures etc'. These 'reports' still don't give you an actual insight into a school. Speaking to parents who are at/have been at a school give you a 'slightly' better insight!

All I can say is that where our dd is at now, she is far happier dance wise, academically and pastorally!! And is thriving because of it!!

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Which is why if you read the rest of the sentence I go onto say "and even more on personal observations....."

The narrative in reports is generally more valuable that the statistics, but that does not mean a huge amount given that performance statistics on such small sample numbers are almost entirely meaningless. Saying x>y does not imply that x is large, merely that it is larger than y.

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We know of a girl who was at Hammond from age 11 until 16 - did very well dancing-wise there and was head girl - then decided to leave vocational training to concentrate on A levels at a top college. She then sailed into a dentistry degree, with offers from all of the universities to which she applied. Her parents looked into the academics at Hammond very carefully and quizzed the academic staff before accepting the place as she was academically gifted and they wanted to be sure that she would be able to continue to achieve excellent results.

 

I would ask each school to confirm what the GCSE core subjects are and what, if any, compulsory subjects they have- e.g. I think someone has said that their D.C. didn't want to do GCSE Dance and would have chosen a different subject instead, but had no option as it was a compulsory subject. That should give you some idea of what kind of subjects are likely to be available at GCSE for your daughter. I would also ask about their provision for extremely able/less able students in each subject and class/group sizes.

 

I may be totally off the mark here but I was also thinking that there may have been more to the story of two children leaving vocational schools at 14 than just the academics there? That would be the last age at which students would be assessed out, so that GCSE courses in Y10 and Y11 are not disrupted. Is it possible that there may be another reason why they left at 14, rather than just academics? I would have thought that unhappiness about academics would have been obvious rather earlier than the end of Y9.

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I only have personal experience of one of the schools.  Academically it is not perfect, however the leading independent grammar school my child previously attended was also not perfect in that they failed to pick up on an SpLD which led to my MENSA IQ level child  performing at average to above average as there was a huge disparity between their verbal and non verbal ability and their written work.

 

I have heard second hand stories of children who have moved from another vocational school whose parents were not happy with the academics. My personal belief is that my child is achieving better academically than they would have at our local state school but not quite as highly had she continued to attend the independent grammar.  However they far happier.

 

My only regret is that the results will not be reported in the school's Progress 8 figure as my child did not do SATS and children who did not do SATS are not taken into account.  The raw attainment will be reported in Attainment 8 but I wish the school could take credit for the progress.

Edited by theother51
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The fact that your child is happy at their vocational school will be likely to have had a beneficial effect on their academics, theother51? I should imagine that for many children the vocational school environment, where they aren't the odd one out because of their love of dance, has a very positive effect whatever their academic ability (especially for boys who may have faced teasing or worse). Added to which vocational school classes will be smaller than in most state and many independent schools, allowing for more attention for each child.

Edited by Legseleven
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I agree With what Legseleven have said above.

If children want and are able to learn "more then average" then they will even if it's not a top grammar school.

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I agree with Legseleven. My child left a grammar school to go to vocational school and we feel he has achieved at least what he would have done if he stayed there and is 100% happier. Small class sizes have been typical and this continues at A level. This school's results are excellent at GCSE I think, especially considering that it is selective on talent and not academic ability. 

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Which is why if you read the rest of the sentence I go onto say "and even more on personal observations....."

The narrative in reports is generally more valuable that the statistics, but that does not mean a huge amount given that performance statistics on such small sample numbers are almost entirely meaningless. Saying x>y does not imply that x is large, merely that it is larger than y.

Pups_mum is absolutely right - do not be swayed by meaningless statistics. All the school websites, vocational or not, have details on academic courses offered, at GCSE and A level. From my hunting around, it seems vocational courses offer less choice and limited number of GCSEs offered, some only 7-9, whereas at a larger state school the options to do more, 12-14, are typical and with wider choice. I guess it really comes down to how much your dc wants a vocational training and dance career.

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Does anyone have any idea on what the likelihood of a funded year 9 place at The Hammond is like, also been told that year 9's don't get invited to funding audition, is this true? And if so does anyone know why that is?

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Only Y7 and Y8 go to funding. They review Y9 and 10 on video. My dd was applying for Y10 and we felt there was no chance but she got MDS so it does happen....

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My dd is academically able and started Y10 at Hammond this year. She moved from an outstanding state school. My gut feeling is that the academics are good/excellent on the whole and the small class sizes help. I get moans about particular teachers but I used to get that anyway!! I feel more uncertain than I would have done as I don't have previous knowledge of the school before commencing GCSE. Also the change of syllabus brings great uncertainty to all.

 

They don't do dance GCSE. The biggest downside is a restricted choice but it's a small school and to be expected. She's doing one less GCSE than she would have done...

 

Bottom line from academically orientated parents - no regrets. She is happy in all respects and the school offers an integration of academics and dancing we couldn't get at home.

 

Time will tell and August 2018 will be judgement day!!!

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My dd is academically able and started Y10 at Hammond this year. She moved from an outstanding state school. My gut feeling is that the academics are good/excellent on the whole and the small class sizes help. I get moans about particular teachers but I used to get that anyway!! I feel more uncertain than I would have done as I don't have previous knowledge of the school before commencing GCSE. Also the change of syllabus brings great uncertainty to all.

 

They don't do dance GCSE. The biggest downside is a restricted choice but it's a small school and to be expected. She's doing one less GCSE than she would have done...

 

Bottom line from academically orientated parents - no regrets. She is happy in all respects and the school offers an integration of academics and dancing we couldn't get at home.

 

Time will tell and August 2018 will be judgement day!!!

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I would add that maybe surprisingly you still get kids who mess around in dance and academically but less academically than at state school.

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I do remember being told at auditions last year that only the year 7 & 8's are recalled to funding audition but don't recall them giving a reason as to why that is? :)

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