A VERY socially mixed primary school......a disadvantage??

(25 Posts)
Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Tue 25-Jun-13 20:30:39

There is a large amount of parents who you could say lack aspiration.....a handful of professionals, GP's etc but my sons class are largely the more tricky children from tougher backgrounds.

He is doing well but I do worry. There is an opportunity to move him to a local very lovely village school but he is happy.

What advantages, or disadvantages are there of being in a very mixed school compared to a very middle class village school?

Clayhead Tue 25-Jun-13 20:33:01

I am not sure of all the advantages and disadvantages but my dcs have been to two very mixed primary schools and thrived in both; I too went to a similar school.

defineme Tue 25-Jun-13 20:35:08

At primary school, if he's doing well and happy , then I say stick with it. Do they feed the same secondary school? Ime secondary school is where a culture of aspiration counts and you can get that in schools in different areas with different cohorts-you just need to check it out.-

Beveridge Tue 25-Jun-13 20:38:43

It'll teach him real life and how to get on with people from all walks of life. I I went to a 'low aspiration' secondary, went to a RG Uni and am now in teaching myself.

Biggest predictors of academic achievement are always parental income and educational attainment level of the mother. Parental support is absolutely key wherever you go to school.

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Tue 25-Jun-13 20:40:09

Last year only 2 children went to the same secondary school! I guess as its quite rural lots of children come from a very wide geography

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Tue 25-Jun-13 20:42:46

I'm a teacher.......my midwife once said to me, along with doctors children, that we make the worst parents!! :0

steppemum Netherlands Tue 25-Jun-13 20:46:12

we have done both, moved from village to mixed primary. Some thoughts:

Our village school was very small, and the main reason we moved was lack of friendship groups for ds. dd was ok, lovely group of 4 friends, but since we have moved, so have 2 others so the last friend is now isolated. I was governor, and was aware of many of the struggles the school had, due to its size. There were many advantages, but in the end I don't think they outweighed the struggles, especially the friendship issues.
I would not now send my kids to a school that had fewer than 15 in each year group (village primaries tend to have mixed classes)

Before we chose the mixed primary, we looked long and hard at its results and at how they challenged the top while supporting the bottom. They have a good record for this, so i was happy to send them, knowing that they have a good mix, socially, racially and academically. I think this is a good thing for my children and makes them better more rounded people.

BUT - ds has been in a class with a 'challenging child' I am not criticising the child or the school, who have worked hard to improve the situation for that child and ds class, but they really have had a long haul of disrupted education due to this child. He has now gone to a special school, and things have calmed down. But he is not the only one who is disruptive, and I know that ds class is probably the hardest in the school. They have chewed up and spat out 3 of their teachers in their 6 years at school. (been off with stress or left mid year)
dds class is great, no major issues, wide spread of children, etc
dd2 is in reception, delightful class, very mixed, delightful teacher.

If I had know ds class were like this, I would not have picked this school

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Tue 25-Jun-13 20:57:14

Where would you have picked steppemum? The village school that has a place is 30 per class......but it is 20mins away, whereas we live in the same town as his current school. I do worry my ds is in the tough class but perhaps not with aggressive pupils....although with more demands on them in ks2 the harder work children may act out? The village school doesn't get as good results, not far off but the families and children are very different.

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 25-Jun-13 20:58:11

My children go to a very similar school. In our case, I'd say the advantages include a school culture that is heavily focused on the needs of individual children. They are very willing to think outside the box, because they need to, in order to overcome some of the disadvantages experienced by many of the children. That culture works to the advantage of all the children - for example, there is huge flexibility about teaching in very small groups, one to one, having ability groups that cross year groups etc, in order to make sure everyone makes good progress.

Overall, the school as a whole is very well resourced, and staffed by teachers who are highly committed and up for a challenge. If they weren't they would work somewhere else, frankly.

Also (a bit tongue in cheek, but not entirely) there are advantages to being "the child from the supportive background" in a school where that is more unusual. The depressingly small number of parents that get actively involved in school life are definitely welcomed with open arms and we have a very open and friendly relationship with staff. I wouldn't like to say that my kids get any favourable treatment - I don't think they do - but there is no risk of them disappearing below the radar, as they might do in a school where parental interest was a given.

I think that children need a "critical mass" of about 6 other children who they see as appropriate peers, whether to model good behaviour or work at similar academic levels as. I would be concerned if a school was not mixed enough to provide this.

Eachpeachpearwherestheplum Tue 25-Jun-13 21:11:09

Oh gosh.....struggling to think if 6,

AChickenCalledKorma Tue 25-Jun-13 21:37:28

breatheslowly does make a good point. I have been very happy with our school (see above), but both my daughters have always had a group of at least 2 or 3 friends who have been academically-minded and from families who are very supportive. There has never been any issue with lack of motivation. I guess our experience might have been different if they'd been the only ones in their class who want to learn.

AlienAttack Tue 25-Jun-13 22:07:00

steppemum don't mean to derail thread but your DS's class does sound difficult. One of the things I like about my DD's school (which is 2 form entry so significantly larger than the schools under discussion here, I think) is that they mix the classes up every 2 or 3 years. So if a group of "challenging children" has emerged in one class, it can be split up and children given opportunity to form new friends (whilst still seeing existing friends at play times/clubs etc). I would find the idea of my DD being with the same 29 children for 7years very concerning.

runningonwillpower Tue 25-Jun-13 22:20:26

OK Eachpeach, you've kind of nailed your colours to the mast.
Lovely village school versus ruffty tuffty?

Well, by your own account, ruffty tuffy is not only more convenient but it gets better results.
So , what's your real problem? You don't want your children to make friends with people you wouldn't ask round for dinner?

Shouldn't the village school be getting better results, given their intake? If you are going to consider results, then how do the results of the children who most represent your DS compare? For example if your DS is amongst the most able, do both schools get some KS2 level 5s in all areas (obviously trying to adjust for demographics of intake)? Or if your son struggles in an area, does one of the schools have a lot of children who miss level 4 in that area?

steppemum Netherlands Wed 26-Jun-13 06:44:26

I really agree with chicken's post.
Our school has to work hard to get the best out of its very mixed bunch, and the teachers are very on the ball.

Not sure I agree that you need 6, but you do need others. I think all of mine have a 'top set' table they can work with.
Interesting side effect of that though. We are looking at an all boys secondary for ds, he doesn't want to go, and the main reason is that he says 'if you want to get work done, you sit with the girls, what would it be like with 30 boys in a class!!'

I really highly value being near the school at primary age, we walk, and we are part of the community and I would be very reluctant to give that up (secondary they will have to travel, local school is sink comp, which unfortunately does reflect the intake)

TheRealFellatio Wed 26-Jun-13 06:58:12

I agree with *breatheslowly about 'critical mass.' If the balance is not there that you feel your child needs to feel secure and to achieve, and you feel uncomfortable about the whole thing then I would move them. The peer group is incredibly important and hugely influential on the outcomes of a child.

That's not to say that some of those kids won't be equally delightful children with very supportive, aspirational parents, as those at any at a naice middle class school, and some will inevitably go on to do better than some middle class children. But the reality is that there will be more challenges, and possibly more behavioural dysfunction and other issues that impact on the other pupils with a 'disadvantaged' demographic like this, so why make your child the guinea pig just to appease your own social conscience?

But as I said, it's all about critical mass - not about just avoiding all poor children as a blanket policy.

Elibean Wed 26-Jun-13 09:58:15

My dc's primary has changed a lot between dd1 and dd2 starting. dd1's class has been very mixed, dd2's less so - the cohort has definitely changed.

dd1 has bloomed. I have had occasional worries, but overall she has learned all sorts of life skills, and is far more resilient and confident now than she was. I do think her peer group has contributed to that.

And she knows how to focus and concentrate in spite of a few of 'annoying boys being silly' - her words.

I've had moments of worry/panic over her peer group, but equally many times of watching her build trust and strong friendships with lovely kids. I think we'd have had that anywhere, tbh, talking to friends.

Owllady Wed 26-Jun-13 10:10:58

I quite like the fact my son is in a mixed class and school. I really don't think it has any standing on them reaching their academic potential. All the children at his school are pushed to meet their full potential, they have strong values and know what is right and wrong, they are encouraged within their abilities - so say good at x/y/z encouraged at that, good senco and special needs support and excellent leadership from the head. It annoys me actually that because it's on a council estate it is not the school to be seen at. Both dh and I come from working class background (he from council housing) and we both have degrees, him two, both work as professionals etc.

I would choose it any day over my very naice middle class village school tbh. Though I think if you live ina village it can have advantages for them to go to the same school as other children in the village (but also this can be a negative as it's more closer knit)

I think when looking at the next school stage as well, if they have coped well in a mixed environment it stands them in good stead for the next stage of their school life

niminypiminy Wed 26-Jun-13 11:16:52

I don't know where people get the idea that children of naice supportive middle class parents are better behaved than children of deprived parents. Based on what I see at cricket coaching, where the majority of children come from fee-paying schools, I would say the reverse -- I see a lot of pushy, entitled and frankly rude and unsporting behaviour there. I've also seen that at inter-school sporting events where the teams from the naice middle class schools cheat, whereas the teams from our ruffty-tuffty school get publically praised for their good sportsmanship.

My children go to a very mixed primary and have had great experiences there. I think it is absolutely true, as Chicken says that there is a dividend from being the child of a parent who supports and helps the school -- especially where there are not so many such parents. As for 'making your child a guinea pig to ease your own social conscience' -- my children have done really well at their school, they are happy, they have lots of friends (mostly, I must admit, their close friends are other middle class children in the school), and they are able to get on with a really wide range of people. I too would choose it any day over a naice village school -- with mixed year groups, few resources and teachers coasting because they only have naice kids in their classes.

Owllady Wed 26-Jun-13 11:25:42

All children are 'nice' or have the potential to be 'nice' ! I really dislike that some of the middle classes think their children are better and more deserving than other peoples children.

People generally live in poverty through circumstance not choice. It doesn't mean they don't value education and don't aspire to more and a life beyond what they have. I am no better than these people or their children, and neither are any of you on this thread.

Elibean Wed 26-Jun-13 11:26:15

Yes, I would second that about behaviour, niminy.

I imagine (with small classes and strict discipline) the boys at our local top end prep are quieter in class, but they are definitely not always better behaved in local restaurants and playgrounds.

ubik Wed 26-Jun-13 11:30:03

My mother, a primary teacher for...25 years+ always says: "water finds its level," she means that children naturally gravitate toward other children who share the same interests.

I went to some pretty rough schools, i think you develop an independent nature, you take responsibility for your education, and you are made aware of how tough it is for some of your peers.

I'd also say that my dds attend a fairly mc school and that is no guarantee of good behaviour, 'aspiration,' etc I can think of quite a few 'free spirited' children who are quite disruptive and challenging and they are from fairly settled and higher-income backgrounds. One was 'asked to leave' the local private school!

Cravingdairy Wed 26-Jun-13 11:36:41

If your son is doing well and very happy then I would leave him where he is.

Startail Wed 26-Jun-13 11:36:45

A two form entry school with the ability to split groups, set, put DCs with the most appropriate teacher or TA is often far more able to cope with challenging DCs than a tiny village school.

Small schools with 'nice' pupils can let disruption and bullying persist far too long before doing anything.

Also I totally agree with 15 a year group min. The DDs primary had very variable numbers 22-8 a year. The smallest years are very unstable to the point one year became single gender as people felt forced to move after their friends left for good reasons.

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