Harrogate Grammar / St Aidans

(18 Posts)
HarrogateToBe Sun 16-Mar-14 22:19:03

We are very likely to be moving to Harrogate next year due to DH's work. Our DD will be going into Year 7, and we are wondering about schools.

At the moment, she is at a very small girls' private school (where she has been since Reception). We would love to continue with private school, but are not sure we can afford it (in fact, we're sure we can't). We've looked at HLC, and loved it - but we don't qualify for assistance any more than we can afford to pay for it. Year 7 seems to be a relatively good time to move (our others are at ages where it would be much harder).

We have heard endless good things about St Aidans and HGS - but can anyone add to what we've already been told?

I am anxious that DD would be going from a tiny private school (total number of children: about 100) to a big state school, but maybe the schools could help her? I'm also a bit anxious about her being with boys at that age, not least due to some threads on here that seem to suggest that schoolgirls in mixed schools find themselves the target of low-grade sexism from their male classmates.

I know this will go down badly on MN, but I am also anxious generally about what a state school would be like. DH and I both went to private schools from 5-18, and our other DC have also been through/are going through the (single-sex) private system.

We would qualify for St A on church attendance and activity, though appreciate that it, like HGS, is hugely over-subscribed.

Any insights would be very welcome!

GraduallyGoingInsane Mon 17-Mar-14 08:58:49

I have friends with children at both. Harrogate Grammar is significantly smaller than St Aidan's as far as I can tell, particularly at sixth form, which may be good if your DD is used to smaller classes. However, both schools will have lots of children from small rural primaries so will be very used to children who are a bit overwhelmed with how big the school is. HGS runs a house system and buddies children up with older pupils.

St Aidan's is very musical, they have thriving bands and choirs at all levels and do well in competitions nationwide. HGS is more sporty than St Aidan's (from what I've heard). Both are very good academically.

St Aidan's is very difficult to get into unless you are a churchgoer. Your DD would need to be equally as involved as you. They have very strict entrance criteria. Similarly, Harrogate Grammar has strict entrance criteria, on location. The catchment area around the school is very tight indeed and house prices in that area are high.

I don't know about sexism in these particular schools, I've never heard anything along those lines. My DDs are at mixed schools though (not St Aidan's or HGS) and have never experienced this on a malicious basis, although on occasion the boys have been rather more vocal and 'taken over' lessons, particularly in science. We personally felt that a mixed school is a better preparation for real life and teaches our girls that boys are humans too, with the same upsets, tempers, kind heartedness and sense of humour as girls.

I personally went to St John Fisher (St Aidan's catholic counterpart) and thoroughly enjoyed it. This was many years ago though!

HarrogateToBe Mon 17-Mar-14 09:25:04

Thanks very much indeed for this. That does sound less scary than I thought it might.

DD is quite sporty. I've not had any reservations about my DC being in single-sex schools as I have both genders so they are used to one another (and DD is sick of boys, thanks to older brothers!!)

She is a regular at church, though I couldn't honestly say that she's a devout believer.

Strangely, the house price thing wouldn't be that big an issue - we could pretty much swap our house for something similar near HGS. And compared to another seven years of school fees, it would feel like a bit of a bargain. grin

mrsrhodgilbert Tue 18-Mar-14 10:02:25

I have no experience of St Aidan's as we would never have fulfilled the religious criteria, but have plenty of experience of HGS with two dd. It's an excellent school with staff who are very keen to push for high grades.

My two were not particularly sporty but I understand there is a huge interest in that area with plenty of teams and competitions. I know St Aidan's have the reputation for being very musical but HGS have some fantastic music teachers, very committed and enthusiastic. Dd2 spends half her life in the music dept and they do great things.

DH went to a local boys only private school and hated it. He was very keen that our two would go to HGS and we have not been disappointed. It is large but not rambling and I think finding her way around would come quickly. There really are lots of small village feeder schools. It is very civilised for such a large school, have a look at the Ofsted reports. It's true about the small catchment area, unless you fancy village life which works for many too.

We have never, ever encountered sexism and girls are certainly not discouraged. It is very possible to be in a friendship group which is hardworking and clever and not be bullied or bothered in any way.

Any other questions?

Martorana Tue 18-Mar-14 10:05:43

Do check admissions criteria though- is is a grammar school with an admissions exam? What happens if your dd fails?

meditrina Tue 18-Mar-14 10:10:35

HGS is no longer a selective school. The "Grammar" part of its name is simply continued use from before Harrogate adopted a comprehensive system.

Martorana Tue 18-Mar-14 10:27:14

Ah, OK. That's good. I didn't want the OP to get a nasty shock. As you were.

Shootingatpigeons Tue 18-Mar-14 12:52:12

You do realise you have to be resident at the new address when you apply for a secondary state school place and Councils vary on whether they require eg utility bills to show that you are actually living at the property or exchanged contracts to prove you will be resident etc. For a guaranteed place in 2015 you would need to be living within the distance criteria (and /or meet the faith criteria in terms of foundation places at St Aidens which is also I think is based on an allocation between Harrogate and Ripon deanery) by the cut off date for ontime admissions which will be this Autumn. If you move after that you will have to go on a waiting list and rely on someone with a place dropping out. The nearer you are to the schools the higher on the waiting list you will be (I am not sure how it works for Foundation Places) but obviously there are no guarantees. Also obviously if you move in time for the online admissions deadline you will also need a Year 6 place. I would advise talking to the admissions team in the LA as soon as possible to find out the exact process for 2015 entry.

It is not a friendly process if you are moving (voice of experience)

HarrogateToBe Tue 18-Mar-14 15:24:06

Oh crikey. Shootingatpigeons, you have definitely given me food for thought. I had no idea about application deadlines for state schools - and we would have to give DD's current school a term's notice if she were going elsewhere at the start of Year 6 - which means we would have to have made a decision, um, this week. I somehow can't see that being very realistic, esp as we are not within commuting distance of HG at the moment, so would also need to have moved house by September too.

Gulp.

All that said: thank you, Mrshodgilbert, for the insights. I suppose I have a slight fear that my DD (who is clever, but has a tendency to look for excitement and is happy to coast) might not attach herself to a friendship group that is pleasant and hardworking, and might seek out the reverse (despite my best efforts). I know that can happen anywhere, though...

pixiepotter Thu 20-Mar-14 16:40:12

Have you considered moving to Ripon where the house prices are a bit cheaper and you would be in catchment for Ripon Grammar and still in easy commuting distance of Harrogate?

cathpip Thu 20-Mar-14 16:52:54

I was going to also suggest what pixie has said, Ripon and the surronding villages are a lot cheaper than Harrogate (used to live in Harrogate and moved to Ripon). A number of children still commute to Harrogate for schooling. Ripon grammar, st Aidens and Harrogate grammer are all very good schools.

Hobnobissupersweet Thu 20-Mar-14 23:25:18

HGS is a fab school, and quite a few ripon grammar students transfer to HGS for sixth from ( and I know of none in the opposite direction!) which I think speaks volumes about how well the kids like life at HGS.

Hobnobissupersweet Thu 20-Mar-14 23:27:29

Re house prices, check which villages remain in the catchment for HGS, they changed it relatively recently and I am not not up to set o. It, but some are much cheaper than others re house prices. Arthur's avenue is v. Expensive!

pixiepotter Fri 21-Mar-14 07:38:12

HGS is a fab school, and quite a few ripon grammar students transfer to HGS for sixth from ( and I know of none in the opposite direction!) which I think speaks volumes about how well the kids like life at HGS.

Actually I think it speaks more about the respective 6th form entry requirements!!!

HarrogateToBe Fri 21-Mar-14 13:12:13

Thanks for the extra suggestions. One reason I'm happy to move to Harrogate is that I love the place - so, sadly, Ripon can't tempt me even though it has the grammar school. DH and I are definitely not village people (we had wondered if we could buy a cheaper house in a village and send DD to HLC, but we really are townies - plus older DC need easy access to everywhere, and don't want to be reliant on us for lifts).

I fear we are a bit sunk by the unexpected problem of state school application deadlines, though!

Does anyone have any opinions about HCL?!

pixiepotter Fri 21-Mar-14 19:23:13

Actually I have just remembered something.We moved into the area in January and were not penalised for this.I am sure the N Yorks rule is that you have to have move (and apply obviously) before allocations day in March

HarrogateToBe Fri 21-Mar-14 22:09:16

That's interesting, especially in the light of what Shootingatpigeons said. I will have to investigate this deadline business further. The allocations day is something else I'd never heard of!

HarrogateToBe Fri 21-Mar-14 22:10:03

And I meant HLC, not HCL. I think my brain has exploded.

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