11 Plus Exams Forum

QE Boys
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Author:  ale21279 [ Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:52 pm ]
Post subject:  QE Boys

I know this can be an emotive topic covered in several posts already and this post is not intended to be so, only looking for some idea of what life is really like at QE Boys.

We spent an enjoyable afternoon at their summer fete today, a very welcoming and friendly atmosphere. My DC enjoyed it. The school has changed so much since I was a teenager and knew boys who went there. We will also attend the open afternoon in July.

The headmaster was chatting to parents but I didn't have a chance to speak to him. There was a great variety of cuisines, sports, stalls and dance displays.

Managed to speak to plenty of current students who had some interesting comments eg

"Year 7 is a big shock after primary school"
"From Year 9 upwards it ramps up a lot"
"Coming from a mixed primary school to a same sex secondary school is fine"
"The friends I made in Y7 I have stayed with through the years"
"It is quite regimented but we still have some fun"
"We still play football, but only at breaktimes/lunchtime"

I would also like to know, how much roughly per annum are these "voluntary contributions" and are they really voluntary?


Author:  Tinkers [ Sat Jun 16, 2018 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

Given what often happens with QE threads, please refrain from posting unless you are a parent of a DS at QE.

Author:  ale21279 [ Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

Thank you Tinkers, that's who I would like to hear from.

Author:  Tinkers [ Sat Jun 16, 2018 7:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

ale21279 wrote:
Thank you Tinkers, that's who I would like to hear from.

That’s also who I’d like you to hear from. Only without the normal QE ‘discussions’ to distract from that.

Author:  HappyCow [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

The comments you got from the boys are realistic.
There is a lot of pressure on the boys, takes a while to get used to (parents and boys alike!), some will manage it a lot better than others.

The voluntary contributions are 'voluntary' - it sometimes feels as though it may not be!
There are lots of ways to contribute to the school, as you would with any other Secondary School your child may attend.

Author:  nyr [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 10:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

I have a very happy boy in Y10 and on balance our experience of QE has been as positive, if not more so in some respects, as other schools and, as you've witnessed yourself, it's overall a happy community.

As with most secondary schools in Barnet, QE does believe that good behaviour is an important element of an effective learning environment and this means that, while establishing the foundations in the new intake, staff are quite strict in the first few weeks (maybe longer in some cases). The experience of my son and his friends has been that after this settling in phase the school does take a gentler approach. DS doesn't feel that the place is overly regimented (but as a parent, I can see that it is more so than my DD's single-sex school) and his view is that, after the initial phase, as long as a boy's behaviour is reasonable then so is the school's approach.

Year 7 is a big shock after primary school

Starting Y7 was a mixed experience for DS. In his primary he was well known and respected by teachers and his peers and very comfortably took the lead in almost all activities but he did feel that there was some frustrating immaturity (maybe onset of early teenage behaviour) among some of his primary friends. On joining QE he was taken aback by: the sea of new faces; the rules; the number of subjects, each with it's own exercise book, textbooks and homework (in his state primary homework was at most once a week for numeracy and literacy); carrying musical instruments, lab coat, swimming, rugby, and gym kit and so on (though they do have lockers); travelling via bus and underground twice a day as opposed to the previous short stroll to the primary; the fact that there were so many able boys and he was nothing special (we had told him to expect this). My guess is that most of this would be true for any transition from primary to secondary and my DD experienced most of this when she joined her super-selective. On a more positive side, DS did find most of the boys to be more like-minded (sensible, mature) than many in his primary.

From Year 9 upwards it ramps up a lot

DS has actually found that the workload was most in Y7 (maybe the shock element) and has gradually eased off, particularly so at the end of KS3 when he dropped 4 academic subjects - they study English Lang, Lit, Maths, sciences, RS, possibly PE, and then 4 optional subjects at GCSE - and I think that some boys experience a high workload at QE because it's always been so for them (maybe it was a long haul to secure the place or they spend hours and hours studying because they love it or they need to be at the top or they feel their knowledge is incomplete unless they know everything).

Coming from a mixed primary school to a same sex secondary school is fine

It's been perfectly fine and, despite some initial shyness in Y7 and Y8, he is now quite relaxed around girls his own age. He enjoyed hosting a female language exchange student and debating and robotics events with HBS girls.

The friends I made in Y7 I have stayed with through the years

Yes, DS has good friends from Y7, though he's made new ones along the way.

It is quite regimented but we still have some fun

I've addressed this earlier.

We still play football, but only at breaktimes/lunchtime

Er... dunno

I would also like to know, how much roughly per annum are these "voluntary contributions" and are they really voluntary?

When DS joined, the suggested voluntary contribution was £65-£100 per month and this can be gift aided, so both the school and parents can potentially recoup the tax. The payments are voluntary, though the school does contact parents who don't pay and asks them why. I know this is a thorny issue but it could help the school to identify pupils who may be eligible for additional state funding. Unfortunately, schools like QE are poorly funded by the government and the generosity of parents and old boys does allow QE to offer an exceptionally rich and rounded education - browse the website to see what the boys get up to outside the classroom - and I know that my DD's state grammar is trying hard to establish a similar, desperately needed funding channel.

Author:  thisisnuts [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 11:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

Hmmm, we QE parents seem to have become rather a skittish bunch!

Let me be the first to dip a toe in the water and see if the sharks have been effectively caged by Tinkers' request.

(Dammit, I typed this all up, hit preview, and saw nyr was first into the water. Much of what I say is probably now be a repeat, but at least you've got 2 opinions).

OP, I'm glad you enjoyed the fete. The international food tent is always very popular.

Responding to some of the points you raise:

- the transition to senior school is a big step, regardless of which school it is. Children go from being the biggest kids in school to the smallest, surrounded by rowdy teenagers. They get more homework and are held responsible for completing it. As far as I can tell, my DS's experience has been no different to that if his junior school friends who went to other senior schools.

- I suppose the biggest difference in QE is that due to the selective nature of the intake, the academic pace is quite fast. Another consequence of being superselective is that children used to being top of the class in junior school find that they probably aren't top any more! But if a boy is acually struggling, most subjects have lunchtime drop-in workshops where boys can go and get a teacher's help.

- the school has been described as (accused of!) having an old fashioned approach to discipline. But according to DS, although there are a few boys who seem to collect bad notes by the bucketful, for most it's only if they forget homework/kit or for getting a bit too exuberant in the playground (throwing food, kicking other kids bags etc). DS has not reported seeing any violence or bullying. The head is quite clear that he would deal with these very severely.

- the form a boy is put into in year 7 will be his form (and House) for the next 5 years at least (I'm not sure what happens in the 6th form). So it's not surprising that the friends made in year 7 are the ones they stick with. For the 1st 2 years, the year group is split in half (3 forms each) they only have lessons with their half of the year. From year 9, sets are drawn across the whole year group, so I assume new friends will be made. We'll find out next year how much of a step up there will be in difficulty/volume of work.

- regarding the "donations", people who don't sign up do get invited for a chat with the headmaster. Most parents do pay something - appreciating that we are benefiting from the generosity of past generations of parents. I'm sure there will be a handful of parents every year who refuse to donate on principle. But in all the acres of negative comments about QE on this forum, I've yet to see an accusation that parents' decision on donations has led to a DC has been discriminated against in any way by the school.

Overall, DS is doing fine at the end of year 8, and certainly doesn't wish he'd gone to any of the other schools that his friends from juniors ended up going to.

He's in quite a large pack of friends, who have thankfully started organising their own social lives.

Author:  ale21279 [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

Thank you so much thisisnuts, nyr and HappyCow for taking the time to reply and for these insightful and helpful comments.
Let's see if DS passes the exam! :?
Many thanks.

Author:  allegory [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

We pay £65 a month. We pay a lot for all the PTA events at my younger son's primary school so I just see this as a more convenient form of donation.

There is a bit of pressure, after all so many people have donated in the past so your son can enjoy the benefits of the school today, so if you can afford it, you probably should.

If you really can't afford to donate, no one is going to force you. There is lots of help needed to run that school fair, volunteer to help in the school shop so you could make your contribution in other non-monetary ways.

Author:  allegory [ Tue Jun 19, 2018 9:34 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: QE Boys

I also agree that Y7 is much more work than Y8 or Y9 from my son's experience. All the other comments are fair enough. They don't play football in their sports lessons, they play rugby instead.

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