Going onto a secondary/senior school without knowing any other children. Experiences?

(44 Posts)
harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 09:33:15

This is a hypothetical question at this moment in time. If anyone has sent their dc to a senior school without any of their peer group can I ask how you found it? How did your DC settle?

My dd is only at the end of Y3. At the moment she's very bright and doing really well. The primary is a bog standard state - not outstanding, not awful. Always in the middle of says and league tables. The nearest secondary school is literally around the corner from the school and the children are naturally pushed in that direction. The problem, I don't think the school is much good. It has a new shiny building and has just become an academy, teachers are lovely....but the results are bad. I know it may improve. It may not. It's always under subscribed.

Dd has already started making 'plans' to go to that secondary school although I've told her we don't know yet.

This morning I was talking to some mums I know with dcs in y5 who are going to look around the (bad) school today. I asked them if they would look at anywhere else and was shocked to hear they all said no, that they couldn't be bothered. I find this is the attitude of most parents at the primary. That the most important thing is that they're with their friends and not bother with results. It depresses me a bit as I feel abnormal that I want to look elsewhere.

We're in S.Bristol. We have no selective grammar schools. My only (better) option would be going into N.Somerset (as I'm virtually on the border) but this is by no means a given. I'm in a bit of a stress about it actually....and she's only 8!grin

So after a huge long ramble (this is like therapy!) can I ask anyone's experiences of not choosing a school along with their dcs peers. How was it and was it the better decision? It is most important that the dc have good friends and therefore do well no matter where they go?

heronsfly Mon 24-Jun-13 09:44:23

My dds 1 and 2 went up to senior school with a couple of girls they were at primary with, I can honestly say that it caused nothing but trouble year 7 girls are bitches anyway,including mine, but they tend to make other friends and branch off and theres always one that clings on.
dd2 went knowing not a soul. I was worried and did mention it to the school,but she had no trouble at all, talking to other parents in the same situation I think girls do fine going off 'alone'.

Primrose123 Mon 24-Jun-13 09:52:02

My DD was bullied badly in primary school. We looked at three secondary schools, and asked her what her choice would be. She chose the one that was furthest away, because it was the smallest and no one from her school was going there. It was our choice as well as it had an excellent reputation, results and pastoral care.

She was a bit nervous of starting without her friends, but settled in immediately. She is quite shy and quiet, but made friends and has been happy there. She now loves school, and we are very happy with our decision.

Dancergirl Mon 24-Jun-13 09:52:03

My dd went to secondary last year without any of her friends at primary. It wasn't a problem at all. She went to a secondary school where a lot of the girls came up from the junior school so they knew each other. She settled in very well and quickly and now is friends with both girls from the juniors and the new girls like her.

TBH, their friendships change so much at this stage, even if your dd went to a school with all her friends, she would still make new friends and maybe not even see the old ones as much.

Even if primary friendships are good, I think it's healthy to have a fresh start at secondary. Dd has managed to keep in touch with her old primary friends and sees some of them from time to time. It's nice to have some out-of-school friends.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 09:52:07

Interesting heronsfly thanks. My dd is good friends with boys and girls (at the moment!). I do have a younger ds though that I would ideally like to follow her to wherever she goes.

Primrose123 Mon 24-Jun-13 09:53:36

I agree with Dancergirl. It's great to have friends in school and out of school.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 09:55:23

Thanks dancergirl and primrose. That's sounds positive.

I haven't discounted the local school, I'm just finding the 'cant be arsed' attitude of many parents a bit off putting. I want a really good environment where it's the 'cool' thing to learn. Dd thrives on learning. I get the feeling from the local school, that high aspirations are a bit 'weird'

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 09:56:10

Dd has many non-school friends at the moment so hopefully that will continue.

I did it. We had two high schools - everyone else from my primary school went to school A, I went to school B. It was fine.

I later went to school A for their 6th form and was very glad I hadn't gone there for the rest grin

Dancergirl Mon 24-Jun-13 09:58:34

Well don't listen to the other mums, do what YOU think is right. There's no way I would just send my child off to the local school without considering other options. I'm not in your area but look at elevenplusexams.co.uk - they'll be a section for your area, you can get a lot of info about schools.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:01:23

Woo thanks Dancergirl. I'll have a look. I think I'm worrying really early, but I feel like I'm wondering in the dark. I think I'll just have to keep quiet around other mumsgrin

RedJeans Mon 24-Jun-13 10:03:39

Loads of people came to my secondary school without anyone else from primary, and I myself came with only 3 others who I wasn't really friends with. Everyone was completely settled by the first week or so and made friends really easily. I think parents tend to worry about lack of friends more than the children and at that age friendships change a lot anyway.

exexpat Mon 24-Jun-13 10:06:05

DS's year 6 primary class scattered all over the place. He and one other boy - who was quite a good friend of his - ended up at the same school, but in different classes, and really as soon as they started secondary they started drifting apart and making new friends. I think they are still facebook friends now but never really talk to each other. He has drifted apart from most of his other primary school friends too, which I think is completely normal.

I really don't think it should be an issue to go to a different school from the rest of your primary class. If anything, I think it's probably good to be able to make a fresh start and slightly reinvent yourself...

As far as the Bristol school situation goes, you will also have the option of entering the lottery-style entry system for the Cathedral school and Colston's Girls (though that wouldn't have the option of your DS following on). Entry is basically random (you have to take a test, but they accept a fixed proportion from each ability band, so it's not as if doing well will get you a place) except for a few places on musical aptitude at the Cathedral School, and linguistic aptitude at Colston's. I'm presuming you're not religious, or you would also be looking at St Mary Redcliffe or maybe St Bede's.

If you're looking at North Somerset, Backwell is very popular, but you may be too far outside catchment; St Katherine's (Pill) seems to have an improving reputation, and does accept a lot of children from Bristol.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:13:52

thanks exexpat. Yes, Cathedral School is the holy grail for us aspiring state ed parentsgrin. I think the whole of Bristol must apply. My chances would be very very slim but worth a go.
I'm slightly nearer Backwell than St Katherine's, but I still don't think I'd have much of a chance of getting it. My nearer option would be Chew Valley that is rated outstanding and gets good results. However local mums really slag it off (listening to local mums againgrin) for some reason, although this may be because they all blindly go to the local school.
Dh and I are devoted atheists so chance of St Mary Redcliffe.

I don't think I have too many options. Depressing.

Thanks for wise words though everyone.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:14:55

*no chance of St Mary Redcliffe.

Theas18 Mon 24-Jun-13 10:15:39

Hereabouts the primary kids go in many different directions are there are selective and non selective schools. It's normal to go to a school on your own or with 1 person (DD2 didn't actually like this person very much LOL).

There is plenty done at all secondaries to settle kids in. If yopu are sending a child out of area/to an unusual school I'd suggest you make sure they attend all the settling in activities ( some may be in the holidays).

Good luck!

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:15:40

I just wish there was at least one grammar school to even try forhmm

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:18:31

Nice to hear thanks Theas18

senua Mon 24-Jun-13 10:29:24

DD went to the Secondary school without having been in any of the feeder Juniors. She made friends easily but then she is like that.

The school is a bit like the one you described. Most children live on the estate round the school; in the good old days most pupils (i.e. the people who are now parents) went to the mass-employer down the road (now closed down) so there was no imperative to think outside the box. In Year 7, the children thought that we lived on the moon because we were from so far away (oooh, all of a mile and a half!). There was a very clever child who went there because her parents didn't even know that the local superselective existedshock but they managed to work this out after a whilegrin and she got good enough GCSE from the bog-standard to go there for sixth form.

Most families with gumption managed OK in the end. Many reports have shown that the deciding factor is the family, not the school.

Haven't read whole thread but looks like you're getting some good, local advice.

On the general question I think I'd try to find someone who was going up to same secondary to get to know at least a little before DC moved up - but at a push this could hopefully be done in the summer hols.

Both my DC's have gone up/ will go to secondary with a few friends from primary, but many others going to a different (more local) school.

I think you're quite right to think ahead in a pro-active way about which would be the best secondary for your DD. The friendship aspect can be worked on alongside this. But I'm really glad mine are at a good school with others who (mainly) want to do their best.

And I'm impressed with how well DD (14) has kept in touch with good friends who've moved to different schools, and even different cities. As well as developing a lovely friendship group at her new school.

I hope DS will develop some similarly good friendships when he moves up to secondary in September.
Luckily he's moving up with a couple of good friends which should get him off to a good start.

Good luck with it all harry smile

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:37:45

Senua, our local schools sound very similar. We live a bit away from our primary and people claim we live 'miles' away. Most children live 2 streets away from the school, their parents went there and they live next door to their mum and their sister. I find that really alien to me.

harryhausen Mon 24-Jun-13 10:41:04

Thanks Juggling. I have a similar mindset to you I think. It's good to know your dd is doing well.

I know it's mainly about the family behind you and their support but I'd like the school environment (and their peers) to just be up for learning and aspiring.
Also nice to know I'm not completely mad for thinking about this at the end of y3. Most people have told me I'm crazy. I really must stop listening to other people so muchgrin

I think you just want them to be with other children who have some respect for their teachers and find learning a generally interesting and positive experience, apart from any more fancy considerations, don't you !

Having been a teacher myself I know how shocking and disruptive some children's behaviour can be. Think it's really true that a few can spoil things for all the rest.

Anyway, I hope you can find a really good school for your DD, where she will be very happy, and make some good friends too x

Sunnymeg Mon 24-Jun-13 14:16:19

My Y6 DS is the only one going to his secondary school in September. The secondary school has arranged after school activities for the 'singles' who are joining. So far he has been swimming, done a treasure hunt and is due to go for a sports afternoon this week. He is already talking about the other children he has met. I presume these will be put in the same form as him when he starts.

I would imagine many schools do a similar sort of thing.

Ooh, what a nice thoughtful school sunny smile

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