Anyone backpedalled on pushy parenting and changed course?

(257 Posts)
AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 17:55:19

Am having real second thoughts about applying for highly selective /academic senior schools for DS even though he is quite academic ....... I feel already there is too much teaching is to the test and confess I have contributed to that pressure at home too in an effort to improve his shot at getting into these schools ....but there seems to be little creativity in it all ....I am wondering if it is having the opposite effect of fostering a genuine joy of learning, and the prospect of having him spend several more years of being hothoused at senior school and then having to follow that through at home to keep up in a highly competitive place where everyone needs to get A * or they feel a failure could backfire... the constant testing even at 9/10 years old is making him lose perspective of what he really used to love about a subject and he is starting to question the point of it all. Am curious if others having got into these highly selective schools (aka intensely competitive exam factories/hot houses), regretted it and then pulled their DCs out for similar reasons. Plus you read stories of child geniuses whose parents hothoused them even giving up their own jobs to home school (so effectively 1:1 tutoring) who then grow up to say they feel they lost their childhood and would never put their own children through it (Ruth Lawrence for one). Is it really worth it in the end?

lljkk Tue 25-Jun-13 18:00:43

I think Amy Chua wrote a massive pisstake of herself to say it wasn't worth it, but that's just my take.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 18:02:08

look at the predicting Oxbridge in Year 7 thread below ....that is what I mean ....the intense competitiveness/ paranoia is infectious ....

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 18:05:06

i have done that to my DS though...oh you came third or second...ok that's good but why don't you try harder and come top next time...like i said it's infectious ....

isitsnowingyet Tue 25-Jun-13 18:08:04

I wanted my boys to be at the best school in the area. So far, it has been a good experience for them both. It is competitive and being a selective grammar, the competition for them is stiff, but why is that a bad thing? I don't think they will be getting 10 A* at GCSE and wouldn't push them for that, but I do think they will get better results than if they had coasted through at the local comp ( and they would coast all the way, given half a chance!)

teacherwith2kids Tue 25-Jun-13 18:14:21

Anna, I changed my view when DS, at 6, became a school-refusing selective mute with pronounced ASD traits exacerbated by extreme anxiety.

Up until that point, my concerns about him had been about 'fulfilling his [very high] academic potential'. That episode convinced me that perhaps other things were equally, if not more, importnat.

I should point out that the problems were NOT cuase be over-pushing him, BUT their profound effect on my value system has led to me puching him less IYSWIM?

Flicktheswitch Tue 25-Jun-13 18:20:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Flicktheswitch Tue 25-Jun-13 18:25:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lljkk Tue 25-Jun-13 18:33:02

I honestly don't understand how pushy parents don't burn out very very fast. I haven't the energy for something like that.
I don't feel guilty about it because I see self-motivation as an innate trait, has to come from within.

Bonsoir Tue 25-Jun-13 18:35:24

Children all require different things - it is up to you as a parent to set expectations and then to adapt both your objectives and the execution in accordance with the reaction of your DC to them.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 19:01:18

I like your approach flicktheswitch...I probably need to be more like that ...problem is when you are in that kind of environment ...it's so easy to buy into ...well it's a lovely sunny day but my DS needs to do 3 hours of algebra on Saturday instead of climbing trees or going out on his bike so he can stay 18 months /2 years ahead and stay at the top.....

lljkk = they do burn out fast I am sure ...I saw one of those chid genius programmes and the Asian parents at least were honest about it - unlike some who pretend their children are born knowing quadratic equations ....they acknowledged had given up their social lives to advance their children at academically ...five hours a day of maths every Saturday and Sunday ...no let up in holidays...sure their kids have to have the aptitude and willingness but it required that kind of 1:1 study to get them A* star GCSE at a ridiculously early age...how much of that achievement is intense 1:1 coaching and the hours put in vs true giftedness I don't know, but it goes on and the children get noted for their genius and setting records.

Bonsoir - I agree- need to keep a watchful eye on the reaction in case it backfires.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 19:26:53

Perhaps coloured by my own experience, I was loved learning at junior school, was one of only two that got into a very conformist selective hot house grammar which made me thoroughly miserable and lose my self esteem, turning me into a rebel and turning me off, messed up on A levels by getting mediocre grades and I only got the learning bug again when I went to (a non RG) uni and enjoyed the freedom of "slow learning" with little exam pressure except at the very end where I scraped a 2:1 (only with an English degree ...spending 3 years reading Shakespeare, novels, poetry and writing essays on subjects like DH Lawrence's depiction of the female orgasm and I got a grant for that ! ).

wordfactory Tue 25-Jun-13 19:33:33

I changed my mind...a bit.

At 11 I wanted my DD to either attend a highly selective independent school or a grammar.

She had other ideas. She wanted to attend a non selective independent school which had a heavy focus on the performing arts.

I got her to sit for all three. And she got offers form all three, then against my better judgment I let her make the final decision.

It was a fabulous decision. DD is incredibly happy. Best decision I (n)ever made grin.

That said, I still expect her to perform academically. And she does. I also sent DS to an absurdly selective school. So I wouldn't say all my tiger teeth have disappeared grin.

HabbaDabbaDoo Tue 25-Jun-13 20:05:36

My DCs get about 90 minutes of homework most days. They get at least one test a week. With some of the core subjects they finish the GCSE syllabus at age 14. They then do a year of revision and mocks before taking the exam at 15. Is this what people mean by "hot housing"?

If it is then I don't understand what the fuss is about since my DCs and their friends don't seem to be pulling their hair out with stress.

Taz1212 Tue 25-Jun-13 20:07:38

DS will be attending a selective school next year. Our attitude is similar to flicktheswitch. I will admit to being pushy, however, but in a rah, rah, academics are exciting kind of way- I even have DS convinced that learning Latin is going to be so much fun! (disclaimer- I loved Latin and DS is even more enthusiatic about school than I am).

Right now DS wants to be a vet and to study at either Edinburgh, Glasgow or Cambridge. I know he's only 11 and will probably change his mind 142653571 times before he leaves school, but I view his new school as providing the opportunity to go do whatever he wants so long as he buckles down. If he went to our catchment state school the opportunity to study veterinary medicine would be closed to him. The local school doesn't even offer the advanced highers required (there's obviously lots of other reasons for our decision, but that gives one example).

At the end of the day, I don't care what DS ends up doing, but I want to make sure he's had every opportunity that we can provide for him and that does mean being a bit over the top enthusiastic about academics while he's young and easily motivated/influenced. So far it's working. He bounced out of the entrance exams declaring how much fun they were and he can't wait for the new school year to start (though we'll see how long that lasts come Aug!).

wordfactory Tue 25-Jun-13 20:20:57

Habba I think it depends on the child.

There is no doubt that not all children would or are thriving in highly selctive schools. Some have been shoehorned in by their parents and hate every second!!!

I'll admit that I was almost that parent...I know quite a few who now are that parent, but can't back peddle...

Different strokes for different folks.

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 20:24:34

habbadabbadoo

No it is not. what I call hot housing..the schools i have in mind are those where you are told you will get culled by end of 5th form if you don't get 6 As or others where I hear pupils work til 1 or 2 am in a regular basis ...and working 90 minutes may be fine if you finish at 4....but I am talking about the amount of effort it takes to stay towards the top of the top set or come 1, 2 or 3rd in most subjects ...or in a place like Westminster College to make it to that 50% who go to Oxbridge every year

AnnaBBB Tue 25-Jun-13 20:28:42

Taz1212

I have also managed to convince my DS that Latin and Maths are fun...so far he is buying it .......and it's producing the results but it doesn't work for every subject ...others need more "cajoling"....or as wordfactory puts it "shoehorning"

pointythings Tue 25-Jun-13 21:00:40

I'm a middle way parent. I want my DDs to do well and work hard, but I don't want to push them beyond their potential. To my mind that means not pushing them so far that they are always working flat out, I don't think that's healthy.

Coasting isn't allowed though, school has made it very plain that they have high expectations of DD1 (in Yr7) - her class are working towards A and A* in all the core subjects.

britishsummer Wed 26-Jun-13 22:49:58

OP, it is a real dilemma for parents, out instinct is to gift our DCs as much as possible with a carefree childhood, it would be really sad if all they remembered was a daily grind from one target to another. We also worry that by not encouraging / pushing them at the right time they might miss out by ending up in schools / careers which don't inspire them. IMO the time spent doing school work for getting the exam results (rather than fostering interest) may sometimes be important but should n't be at the detriment of having sufficient time and space to discover for themselves what makes them tick and enjoy life.

bico Wed 26-Jun-13 23:11:30

Habba if they have finished the GCSE syllabus at 14 and take the exam when they are 15 then of course that is hot housing! They are finishing the syllabus before other schools even start it and taking the exam a year early. Does that mean they then spend 3 years studying for A levels?

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 23:27:21

Bico, you could argue that they are not hothousing IF they arrive at the school at such a level that a normal rate of progression through the syllabus would, given their starting points, naturally mean that they arrived at GCSE level at an earlier age than some children at less selective schools.

Hothouseing implies forcing children to make faster progression than they are capable of. If children - as I think habba has said - arrive in Y7 already at Level 6 (nationally expected for Year 9) then taking the GCSEs only a year later is in act slower than expected progress as your 'average' child is expected to do GCSEs 2 years after reaching Level 6.

teacherwith2kids Wed 26-Jun-13 23:31:27

'GCSEs only a year EARLIER than normal' apologies.

I mean, back in the day I did Maths O-level 3 years after starting my secondary education - because I arrived ahead so skipped a year, and took the exam a year early. Hothousing? No, just taking the exam when ready rather than artificially 'waiting until the conventional time'.

Hothousing would be taking children at the nationally expected level of Level 4 and then putting them through GCSEs at 14 or 15 - that would be genuine acceleration.

Picturesinthefirelight Wed 26-Jun-13 23:49:09

Yes

Dd goes to an independent school that feeds an academically selective senior school

She had a place for September and we accepted.

At the last minute we changed our minds and she's now going to dance school as we feel shell fit in better there & it's what she wants to do.

bico Thu 27-Jun-13 08:12:27

I'd be surprised if the entire year were a year ahead. Of course you will always get a couple of more able children who will sit exams out if their year group.

When I was at school the LEA did an experiment if moving the 11+ to be the 12+. Mine was the first year and we ended up doing an extra year at primary as a result. We did next to know work in that year and I could have easily been moved up a year early (I was top of the year throughout primary) but it wasn't something that was ever done.

tungthai Thu 27-Jun-13 09:39:08

I thought I would be a pushy parent. When my eldest was a baby I assumed that he would go to the best state schools in the area and would be coached for the 11+. Then your child grows into a toddler and their personality starts to shine through and you see that it can be counter productive.

We have a very relaxed approach to schooling and just want our children to enjoy the primary years without the pressure of worrying about SAT levels.

At senior school we will step up the pressure a little but ultimately I believe the drive has to come from the child.

I know some parents who have very naturally bright children but they still sent them off to Kumon Maths and have private tutors for the 11+. I don't understand why - their children are academically gifted surely intensive tutoring will just stifle their creativity.

wordfactory Thu 27-Jun-13 12:50:53

bico the whole year would generally be ahead of the national average in a selective school.

poppydoppy Thu 27-Jun-13 13:17:39

A child has between the ages of 5 and 15 to be a child. Let them enjoy it !! why anyone would spend two years tutoring to a test is beyond my comprehension.

bico Thu 27-Jun-13 13:26:16

wordfactory really? So they would do all their GCSEs a year ahead of state schools? I know selective schools that might do the odd one or two GCSEs early, just like state schools. I've just never come across all GCSEs being done a year ahead. What do they do after they have done their GCSEs? I can't believe they spend 3 years on the A level syllabus.

We are doing the rounds of senior schools next term so I shall add this to my list of questions. smile

wordfactory Thu 27-Jun-13 15:07:34

bico there are some selective schools that do it that way, yes. The whole cohort, take all their GCSEs in year 10.

Then there are some schools where the whole cohort take some GCSEs early. Very often maths.

Then there are some schools where decisions are taken on an individual ad hoc basis, pupil by pupil, subject by subject.

wordfactory Thu 27-Jun-13 15:08:41

I think the schools where the entire cohort take early do A levels early. Perhpas an extra one or two?

These would be super selectives chools though, with a very able cohort.

sittinginthesun Thu 27-Jun-13 16:48:17

We're still at primary school (eldest is year 4), but I have always believed that the best students are those who drive themselves. So the most important thing to encourage is a love of learning.

If the work becomes a chore, then they will simply not engage, or will quit as soon as they are old enough to make their own choice.

AnnaBBB Thu 27-Jun-13 16:50:16

WF....I think even the most superselectives are not in favour of taking a lot of GCSE's early except in specific subjects like maths ...wonder which ones you are thinking of...can you name them?

Also, some of the posts here are confusing GCSEs with academic prowess...to me, doing them early by a year or two is not relevant... ...so much of GCSE is rote learning to the test rather than a holistic education with real understanding or depth ...otherwise you wouldn't have seven year olds able to do maths GCSEs which some have after intense coaching at the likes of Ryde College...it might be remarkable (in that not many 7 year olds would tolerate such intense coaching or put in the time required) but doesn't mean they are maths geniuses...if they were then they would all go on to win a Nobel prize but at some stage ....unless you are really gifted at maths you will plateau to the same level as a maths student doing it at a normal pace...and the fact that you did it at seven doesn't mean you will reach Oxbridge level at 14 and even if you do, it doesn't mean you will become an Einstein (which is why all these Mensa promotions of a 3 year old having a larger IQ than Einstein make me laugh) .

The kind of pushy parenting I am referring to, is the kind that is practised to give your already able kids that competitive edge and then maintain it ...it involves spending considerable time on education outside school so that they have little time for much "free time" for pure child play because everything is focussed on improving themselves ...many parents do that in many of the superselectives, let's face it and so it becomes a bit of an arms race. If you really want to be top in maths then you have to compete with the Asian/Chinese kids that are doing hours at home every weekend because culturally (generalising but you get the point) that is valued more than say drama or kicking a football about.

wordfactory Thu 27-Jun-13 16:57:20

Colyton for one.

And I don't think they sit early for kudos, but quite simply because they DC are ready and it would be boring to do another year of the GCSEsyllabus.

britishsummer Thu 27-Jun-13 17:13:58

Full boarding schools deprive parents from time with their DC but have the advantage that they free up the DC from the extra work of pushy parenting at least during term time

AnnaBBB Thu 27-Jun-13 17:42:19

yeah but don't you imagine that some still do it over the long holidays (2 months over summer, 4 weeks over Xmas, 3 weeks over Easter) ....I know one who freely said she covered the whole next year's syllabus twice for 2/3 subjects for her DS over the summer ...they didn't stop even on holiday ...then it was sending him on intensive maths and latin courses. I am not saying it's evil...I am just saying it raises the bar for everyone else if they want to stay at the top...just like that thread that is discussing predicting Oxbridge in year 7 after some CAT tests....you can see some parents going well "why hasn't the teacher said that about my child in Year 7"...pushiness can be infectious ...you just have to look at the amount of private tutoring that is going on from a young as 7 for some to pass entrance tests.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 17:59:31

I doubt you have to be a pushy parent to get reasonably bright DCs to do GCSEs early. Back in my teens I did French O-level and English Language O-level a year early with zero specific preparation (I was schooled in a different system, abroad) and got As in both. I remember them being pathetically easy.

britishsummer Thu 27-Jun-13 18:05:40

I have certainly heard anecdotes of some Asian children who do summer schools to cover extra material. However during the term time the children must be choosing themselves how much effort they put into their homework and whether they take any notice of the teachers' feedback day to day.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 18:07:13

DC can have tutors after school during term-time - I know some DC who have tutors 3x a week.

(IME it doesn't make them top of the class, however).

britishsummer Thu 27-Jun-13 18:10:58

Sorry Bonsoir, my post was about DC at full boarding school in response to Anna.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 18:19:34

Oh OK.

Bonsoir Thu 27-Jun-13 18:21:08

I know for a fact that children at boarding school have tutors during the holidays - here in Paris the tutor agency that provides English tutors for my DC during term-time does a smashing trade in tutoring for DC back from English boarding schools for the holidays. Not even Asian!

Chandon Thu 27-Jun-13 18:40:13

It is about finding the right balance.

So many (all?) on MN have naturally bright and motivated kids. Or maybe that is jst how it feels to bitter old me wink

My oldest is average and ....lazy. Sending him to a private school in year 4 has meant he got pushed more, at home and at school. He is now MORE engaged and he has learned that if he works hard enough he can actually do very well. This seems to have motivated him. Being in a more competitive environment ( loads of pushy parents) have made him sit up and pay attention.

So far so good.

Now for secondary I am facing the choice of the good but large state school ( with tutoring as he would net get the SEN help he gets at school now), the selective independent (he could get in as he is catching up so fast) or the friendly nurturing non selective independent.

It is a tough choice. I think he would prefer the small nurturing non selective one, but I think he mght do better ( and be pushed more) at the selective.

He is 10, so need to start making up my mind.

I am surprised anyway, how being more pushy and being in an environment where more is expected of him, he just rose to the challenge ( they lifted the bar....and he just jumped higher). Kinda dangerous NOT to push enough as well.

I sometimes think that it is my own laziness that stops me being a pushy parent. Easier to sit in the sun, read a paper and watch them play than to sit down and make them do (more) work! I am trying to be honest here...

What do you think, OP?

AnnaBBB Thu 27-Jun-13 19:04:45

Chandon

that is exactly the dilemma I am facing ....it's takes a lot of energy being a pushy parent ...and part of it is how long can you keep that up ...I know in some of the schools we are thinking of, he is going to need to be pushed ...not tutoring as such but organising, prioritizing academics over free time at the weekend ...it's the balance that's hard ...it's all very well saying it's all down to raw ability and IQ ...but some kids have that already and still put in the extra hours or go on extra courses or have 1:1 tutoring ...hard to decide at ten isn't it but once you go that superselective / competitive route I wonder if that's what's entailed ? You do wonder if they will turn round at 24 and say where was my childhood- all I remember was having my nose to the grindstone ?

wordfactory Thu 27-Jun-13 19:09:54

To be fair though, once they're in a highly selective school, you can let them do a good deal of the pushing.

The standards expected will be high, and your DC will fall in line (usually)...

I don't feel much cause to supplement what my DS does at school at all. He's pushed there, and I don't need to worry too much, other than keeping my eye on things.

DD's school is much less pushy academically, so I feel the need to be much more hands on IYSWIM.

Chandon Thu 27-Jun-13 20:04:27

Wordfactory, out of curiosity, what schools are your DC in ? ( grammar, comp, indie?)

Pythonesque Fri 28-Jun-13 00:04:53

Chandon I know exactly what you mean. My eldest is 10, and has always been bright but not internally motivated. Even when she was little, she needed to see others doing something first, then, bingo, she found she could do it. I really recognise what you say about raising the bar and they jump higher!

We've been lucky in that the one thing that did motivate her was wanting to sing in a choir so this year she started boarding at a co-ed prep with plenty of expectations for her to come up to. Her previous (independent, girls) school had a reasonable academic reputation but only raised the bar high enough to get them into the senior school and at least a quarter of the year group were just treading water. Now being at a prep postpones the senior school dilemma a couple more years ...

britishsummer Fri 28-Jun-13 01:38:46

Self motivation can definitely appear much later in some people, even post school / further education for some very successful (and happy) people including Nobel Prize winners. However might it not be postponed further in some cases by a child relying on their parents or school to step in and push them when needed? It could be a bit unnerving testing that theory in certain competitive environments such as London. Some children are naturally competitive as well as bright and usually do very well in school environments since they are happy to put that extra effort in to be the best. Others just don't see the point until their interest gets sparked but as a parent you just don't know when or how that is going to happen. You do know however when your DCs are stressed and not enjoying life though, so there is always the option to change.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 08:39:03

Chandon both my DC are in independent schools, but they are very different beasts.

DD's school is not very selective at all. There are certain SENs they can't accommodate, bit girls of all abilities attend.

DS' school is absurdly selective.

TanglednotTamed Fri 28-Jun-13 08:57:39

My DC are very young, but DH and I have already talked about this. We both went to Oxbridge and have a LOT of high-achieving but really very stressed and unhappy friends - no achievement is enough, and they feel something undefinable but crucial is missing from their lives.

DH and I are both working in fields directly related to our degree subjects (which were a passion for each of us), but which are not high-paid (although perfectly good enough), nor high-flying/glamorous. We are both extremely happy, and feel a sense of fulfilment in what we do, which is wonderful (I changed career in my 30s, after being much more high-powered, but rather unhappy).

With that in mind, we believe very strongly that it is important for our children to really enjoy their school years, to have a well-rounded approach to learning, and to pursue learning because of an inherent love of it. The primary school we have chosen fits that bill. It's small, friendly, with a strong focus on pastoral care, good manners, and a wide range of activities. The two who are there currently absolutely love it, and go off every day looking forward to their activities. The school also gets very good results, as it happens.

We've begun looking round at secondary schools. At the moment, there's one in particular we're favouring. It doesn't get the best results in the area (although every year some children go to Oxbridge/med school etc. However, again, it has a strong focus on pastoral care, extra-curricular activities, music, drama, sport etc.

I see absolutely no point in taking GCSEs/A-levels early. Far better to spend extra time on a wider range of activities. One of those might turn out to be a driving passion that is really important for future happiness.

It's early days for our DC, but we think they are bright. We also believe that we have the capability to notice if they are falling behind their academic potential, and put in measures to help them. We want a school where they will flourish, be really busy, interested, and productive, and enjoy themselves hugely. I think good results grow naturally out of that sort of environment, and more importantly, so does lifelong satisfaction.

(though perhaps I'll be back in ten years time, with completely different views, it is still early days)

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 09:01:33

bico At my DD's GS the entire cohort takes GCSEs in Y10. DD1 was 14 for almost all her exams. None of those kids was hothouses at school. Some may have been at home, all I know for sure is that DD1 and her friends weren't. L6 didn't exist for primary school SATs when they were 10 (or 11) but if it had, most perhaps all of them would have been L6. To DD1 the pace has been pretty slow at the GS except for French at which she is a bit Shtako truth be told.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 09:05:44

Tangled your post seems rather one sided, I'm afraid.

DH and I are both high achieving and are very happy indeed. Please don't assume all high achievers are miserable. And please don't press this bias upon your DC grin...

Also, with regards to the GCSE, the whole point of siting early is to allow space for other things. Endlessly going over stuff you've already covered is mind numbingly boring and quite disheartening when it takes up your entire school day.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 09:08:43

That said, the slower academic pace at DD's school has allowed her to take part in somehting rather exceptional outside school...

But still, I wouldn't recommend that slow pace for the uber bright. DS woul dhave died of boredom.

It's worked well for a girl like DD who is bright enough, and wanted to pursue somehting else too...

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 09:10:08

As for DS school. Well I suppose it might be considered a hot house. But he doesn't find it so. About right, I'd say.

Certainly he bumbles along, relaxed to the point of being comatosed most days!!!

happygardening Fri 28-Jun-13 09:43:48

We are ridiculously slack unpushy parents (my MIL was the pushy mother from hell) we have never pushed our children. DS1 has just sat his GCSE's and we're beginning to wonder if we should have been a bit more pushy??

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 10:07:42

Pushy parents..... can you describe your childhood, do you look back with fond memories ? How does your upbringing compare to your childs ?

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 10:09:20

poppy I had a very pushy Mum.

We lived on a sink estate and she was determined that I was going to get a good education and leave!

Sometimes I balked. I wanted to do what my mates were doing. But by God am I glad now!!!!!!!!

happygardening Fri 28-Jun-13 11:10:18

My MIL made my super bright DH's life pretty crap nagging pushing all the time from a very early age; its was never good enough and he'd never worked hard enough. He did OK in his A levels for the time were talking about but not ok enough to go to top uni and read English (his passion) he refused to retake his A levels as he couldn't stand it my longer. For ten yrs after he escaped left home they were estranged and the relationship between them is to this day only OK.
So we never pushed our children we do have an excellent relationship with our children, much to the envy of many of their friends Im told we're considered the coolest parents around by DS1 friends. Its frequently commented on by friends and strangers and we rarely argue about school work or anything in fact and we laugh together a lot. But the jury is out on how this mega slack parenting will turn out for DS1; a reluctant scholar. DS2 is highly motivated and I suspect will fare better.

TanglednotTamed Fri 28-Jun-13 11:17:48

wordfactory - I don't think that all high-achieving people are unhappy by any means. Just like I don't think all medium/low achievers are wonderfully happy! My post came across wrong if that's how it sounded.

I know many happy high-achievers, some in my own family. But, without exception, those people are happy because they are pursuing a career that they find intrinsically interesting. So they get satisfaction out of the job itself, as well as considerable financial rewards from it.

The high-achievers I know who are unhappy are the ones who don't enjoy the job itself. That can be extremely draining, to the point of actual depression. They feel trapped by the high pay, but IMO they are more trapped by the fact that they simply don't know what they really want to be doing - they haven't had the chance/taken the time to find their consuming interests in life, and they don't feel they have the power or the 'right' to follow them.

So, our plan for our kids is to help them find and pursue what interests them. I see no reason why they shouldn't get excellent grades in the process - but I won't be making the grades themselves the focus. It will be their interest and application that I focus on. I would never criticise a child for coming second in a test. But I would praise them loads for the work they put in, and have discussions with them about what they've been learning.

I'm not prejudiced against success! I don't mind if my kids are investment bankers, as long as they are happy ones. <tolerant> grin

TanglednotTamed Fri 28-Jun-13 11:23:33

wordfactory - just read your post about your upbringing. I think in that situation, i would have been pushy like your mum too. I would fight to prevent my children dropping out, or being failed by a bad system. I don't think that being non-pushy is the same as being laissez-faire.

It sounds like your mum ensured that you had future opportunities, and if she hadn't, you might not have had many. But that's different to being ultra-competitive and making exam results the be all and end all of life. Life isn't about beating the person next to you, it's about doing what you do well. There are a whole range of capabilities that children need to develop to have good futures. Since you are successful AND happy, it sounds like your mum did a great job of nurturing those. smile

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 11:38:13

People who don't know me, and who only are aware of me as DD1 or DD2's mum, often think I 'must' be very very pushy. People who didn't know my mum, and who were only aware of her as my mum rather than my sister's mum, thought the same of her.

My mum was certainly not pushy in any sensible understanding of the term, and I am positively lazy. Although I do sometimes go ballistic with DS if I think he is taking the piss. I was a super high achiever - like Word, council estate working class background (we didn't even have a house, we lived in a small flat) to Oxbridge - and DD1 and DD2 are extremely good at school despite their SEN issues (which I also had/have). People often assume that kids who do well at school and who also do music stuff to a high level must have people pushing them to be like this, because 'normal children' aren't like that. Well, I've never denied that my kids (all of them) and I are weird. grin But I'm not pushing them to do stuff they don't want to do or be people they don't want to be. I don't know their school timetable, I have no idea how their homework is going, I don't get involved. I usually don't even know till after the fact when they have a test.

What I do try to be is encouraging and enabling. If they come to me with a problem I try to fix it. They know I will do everything I can to do that, within the realms of, you know, practicality. If they want to do something (an extra music class or in DD2's case extra theatre things) then I usually say 'sure'. I tell them they are fab and they can do what they want, if they try hard enough, but the key thing is to be happy. It'll probably all go tits up, mind you.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 11:41:18

I think though there is a danger that some people aren't recognising - some people are naturally competitive. It's the way they are. This isn't necessarily a Bad Thing. And those people shouldn't be made to feel bad by lazier people who want to demonise those who aren't like them. The problem is competitiveness by proxy - that is vile. But if a kid cares about that for themselves, then that's their right.

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 12:23:24

I used to push my DD when she was younger she ended up in the year above, totally miserable socially. Academically she was still not challenged because she learns so fast. The best thing I ever did was to let her find her own way, stop tutoring and let her devote the time to hobbies. She is 15 and has two businesses, both bring in more than enough to afford her a very nice life. If I had continued on the path we were on she would not have had time to devote to her chosen hobbies.
There is so much more to education than heads in books.

TanglednotTamed Fri 28-Jun-13 12:38:15

The problem is competitiveness by proxy - that is vile. But if a kid cares about that for themselves, then that's their right.

That's a good point, Russian. Though i disagree with your wording of non-competitive people as lazy - I don't think it's a simple opposition between 'competitive' or 'lazy'. But I do agree that you should support your particular child's particular abilities and personality, even if (especially if) they are quite different from your own.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 12:45:15

Taking GCSEs "on time" doesn't have to mean not taking DC way beyond the syllabus in years 10 and 11. The same is true of any scheduled public examination.

TanglednotTamed Fri 28-Jun-13 12:49:25

Yes, good point Bonsoir. We've just had our 'parents evening' with information for parents of children going into the next year. One parent got very upset because she looked at the list of 'things your child should/will be able to do by the end of the year' and her DD could already do most of them. I think she imagined the child would be sitting doing nothing all year, waiting for the rest to catch up. My DC can also do all those things, but I know the school will be widening and deepening his knowledge, not just ticking off the targets.

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 12:55:39

Unis prefer children not to have taken GCSEs early.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 12:56:30

Tangled - I don't think non competitive people are lazy. I think some of the people who are very invested in attacking others for 'being too competitive' may be a bit lazy. And know it. Thus feel bad, thus attack others. My DD1 is the least competitive person in the world. She is also the least likely to be ever described by anyone as lazy.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 12:58:03

bonsoir I think that can happen, but first it requires a critical mass of students at the same level and second it requires a hell of a lot of resources and will on the part of the school.

In most schools, both are lacking, so students proceed through the GCSE syllabus in years 10 and 11 at the prescribed pace. Even in the top sets, it's very hard to have meaningful differentiation if the ability levels are mixed.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 12:58:17

poppy - not true at all.

That's one of the myths people put about. But it isn't true. There might be the odd admissions person or HOD in specific subjects who doesn't like it for reasons of their own, but universities as a whole? Completely utterly neutral.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 12:59:42

poppy universities, especially the most selective universities, take applicatnts who have sat their GCSEs early as standard.

The schools in question send almost all their students to university, and selective ones at that!

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:06:25

i think though that unis do prefer that you sit the whole lot in one single year though , apart from subjects like maths, where you can do IGSCE maths a year early and then progress to further maths

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:07:13

Russians I agree with you about assumptions by non-competitive people about their opposite numbers.

I think part of the problem is that competitive/ambitious/driven folks are in the minority, so we stand out. Outliers, us lot.

And whilst I'm happy for the majority to roll their eyes at usin disbelief, I do think it often tips into neagtive assumptions. Even the words competitive and ambitious and driven are perjorative.

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 13:08:35

Some schools are now entering pupils early for GCSE, AS-level and
A-level. You should be aware that some universities or their individual
subject departments may want to see that you have taken a number of
advanced level qualifications all at the same time; for example, they may
want to see three A-levels taken in Year 13. This can be because they
want to know that you can comfortably manage a workload of this size
in your advanced level studies. Admissions policies may therefore differ
in relation to A-levels taken early, and whether these are included in
offers made or not.
For example, some courses that typically make a conditional offer of AAB
may take account of an A-level A grade achieved at the end of Year 12
and, as a result, make a conditional offer of AB for A-levels taken in year
13. Other courses may still make a conditional offer of AAB on subjects
taken at the end of Year 13 and will not include the A-level already taken
in their conditional offer. If you think that this may affect you, it is important
to check the admissions policy for the courses and universities that you
are interested in applying to.

Taken from RG website

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:08:55

Anna providing the universities know that they were sat to avoid boredom, and not to facilitate resits or ludicrous numbers of GCSEs, they really really don't care!

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:10:54

poppy that is directed at those schools that are trying to play the system.

It's not directed at the highly selective schools who send their students by the armfuls...

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:11:37

word The ridiculous thing is though, that when people see high achievement and a modicum of financial or professional or artistic success, say, there is an automatic assumption that the person who has this must be competitive, driven, ambitious, working hard etc. Quite often we are coasting (as you yourself almost certainly know - I recognise the patterns ;) ) and doing practically the minimum we can to do a decent job. That's certainly me. I could be ambitious, even at my age. I could work hard. But really, I just can't be arsed most of the time unless there is something particularly interesting or unless I'm going to look like a complete idiot and fall on the very arse I usually can't be bothered to acknowledge, in a public setting (then I make an effort oh very yes. But it's only a few times a year).

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:13:55

Anna, Poppy I can assure you that I know whereof I speak both from the perspective of a parent at one of the all GCSEs in Y10 superselective schools, and from the perspective of someone with a close family member involved in RG admissions.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:14:41

http://www.acme-uk.org/media/7392/early%20and%20multiple%20entry%20to%20gcse%20final.pdf

There is a different perspective to sitting GCSES a year or two early en masse which may be more for the school's benefit and resits for league tables

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:15:12

Russians there is that yes grin.

In fact, I was thinking that just yesterday. I'm really not challenging myself at the moment. What I do comes easily. And quickly. Partly because I was born to do it and partly because I've honed my skills.

I really need a new project...but they do keep offering luchre, so it's hard to resist!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:18:03

Anna Are you not reading Word's posts (and mine)?

Sitting GCSEs a year early is not for the school's benefit (well, OK, it happens to always be at the very top of the league tables but it was before the change to Y10 sitting) nor is it for resists! grin It's to stop the kids dying of boredom.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:18:44

Ah, but word there you are looking for a new challenge!

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:23:55

Russians yes I am.

I spiced this year up, by adding the lecturing job into the mix. But this term's such a weird one, with exams and all that! I haven't been needed to do a fat lot.

And the latest book's finished...

Since Easter I've been fairly free. Should have started a new project, and yet here I am on MN grin...

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:25:08

http://www.study.cam.ac.uk/undergraduate/teachers/academic.html

ok here is what Cambridge have to say on the subject of sitting early...I don't have a particular opinion but unless you are very confident your child is going to get A* across the board I wouldn't want them to sit them early ..I note that a lot of selective independent schools are against it also (perhaps not for maths)

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:28:03

Which selective independent schools do you have in mind anna ?

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 13:30:49

Some schools obviously sit children early for GCSEs but I doubt it will give you an advantage over a child that did them all in year 13.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:32:03

poppy the advanatage is not being bored!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:32:18

Anna DD1's school has one of the highest percentages of kids going to Oxbridge from state schools. Top 5 I think on the most recent government data.

Since you seem determined to shout down people who actually know what they are talking about I would suggest that you do, in fact, have a particular opinion.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:32:19

well ...perhaps those with DCs at Winchester, St Pauls, Westminster, Eton, etc can comment though, as I said there may be exceptions like maths or MFL but again some of those also don't bother with GCSES at all and go for IGCSES or Pre Us

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:33:23

what percentage go to Oxbridge from that school without naming it ? I am curious...

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:34:48

Poppy Could you clarify - did you really mean that kids who sit all their GCSEs in Y10 don't have advantages over those who sit them in Y13? Or did you mean Y11?

Clearly, some kids who sit all their GCSEs in Y10 have humungous advantages over kids who sit them in Y11. Others have smaller advantages, possibly dwindling down to none at the margins. But if you consider the brightest of the kids forced to wait till Y11, and compare them to the kids allowed to progress at their own pace, then the kids who haven't been held back are clearly getting an advantage over and above the one conferred by nature.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:40:04

Anna my son attends one of the schools you mention.

They don't sit early as a cohort, as they do in Russians DC's school. It's all a bit flexible. Each boy has his own schedule.

DA just sat 2 IGCSEs. He is in year 9.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 13:42:48

DC are at a top indie which does not do iGCSEs early, they do them all in Year 13 - but they do not teach to the test, the DC do lots of reading around the subject and extension work so they do not 'get bored', they are all being stretched to the extent of their ability. The only exception to the early GCSE is if the child is a native speaker of a MFL - in that case they might take that a year early, but will then use the extra year to progress in it to AS.

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 13:43:12

Sorry I meant year 11.

DD is very bright as are her peers. The school she attends wont let the students sit GCSEs early but they do teach ahead. DD is currently doing A level work (in a few subjects) in year 10 as they have covered all the GCSE course.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 13:43:51

Sorry I mean Year 11, not 13 grin

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:48:02

DS sat an MFL (not a native speaker) and Latin early.

He did this because a. he was ready and b. he wanted to take up a new MFL and Ancient Greek, both virtually from scratch. There simply wouldn't have been room in his timetable to do this, if he had sat early.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 13:52:25

"The only exception to the early GCSE is if the child is a native speaker of a MFL - in that case they might take that a year early, but will then use the extra year to progress in it to AS."

Some universities discount any MFL GCSEs or A-levels taken by native speakers and, frankly, there is little point in native speakers taking public examinations designed for second language learners.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:52:27

word DS's comp makes most of the kids do French GCSE in Y9. I'm not wild about this at all, but it's a fait accompli. They then do at least one (possibly two or even 3) more MFL GCSEs in Y11. The top sets may also do maths early, I'm far more relaxed about that (DS will likely do that, and I'm cool with it, if that's what he and his teachers think is OK. They have a much better track record with the selective early maths than with the practically across the board very early French).

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 13:53:01

well I note there would be exceptions like Maths or French and my DS could probably sit Maths next year in year 7 and get an A (outside of school) but I don't see the point really ...but doing onw or two IGSCES a year early so you can move on AS level may be good...but what I am questioning is that somehow it you are bright and in a superselective the whole cohort should be sitting them all a year or two early or they will be bored stiff ...I also don't consider sitting GCSES at A* early a mark of an excellence in education in the holistic sense ...yes, excellence in teaching to the test perhaps but that is a wholly different thing.

if that was the case then why don't all the top superselective independent schools do that ..I mean schools that are getting 25% + into Oxbridge each year if it is such an advantage ...I may be mistaken but I have not been told they do that as a matter of practice unlike the state school that is being referred to by Russian above

Russian - Expressing an opinion is not "shouting down"......I am entitled to disagree with the approach and say simply that I wouldn't choose a school that forced the whole cohort to do that - acceleration is not the same as enrichment in my view ....but that's my choice

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 13:56:59

In the case where a child sits, say, French GCSE in Y9, how does that child continue to make progress in French in Y10 and Y11?

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 13:59:00

Anna my exception to your posts isn't in relation to your opinion, to which, as you point out, you are entitled, but to your insistence in the face of experience that universities (and in particular Oxbridge) 'don't like it'. They are neutral.

This is however an excellent example of the phenomenon word and I were talking about above - people look at other individuals, or groups of people, or schools, who do things differently - and instead of saying, oh, that's different than how I/we/my school does it, that's interesting, now, who's on centre court they immediately start saying that's wrong or universities won't like it or my child could do better than that in Y7 but they choose not to. Or similar. Text book competitive/pushy.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 13:59:10

anna I think the diffeence is resources.

The top independent schools can take each pupil on a case by case basis. They can work out exactly what would benefit each pupil. Early for this, not for that, extension work for x,y,z.

They have the teachers and the space in the timetable to make it work.

State super selectives, can't do that. So they make a decision that the majority will benefit from the full cohort sitting in year 10. And you have to hand it to schools like Colyton, they are offereing a fabulous education and their system seems to work very well indeed!

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 14:00:52

I wonder what happens to all these bright children once they're at Uni. Are they bored there if theyre not tested all the time?

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:01:59

poppy no grin!!!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:02:00

Bonsoir I only know about DS's school, which is an 11-16 comp. Some of the kids give up French, some of them do AS, then give up, some do AS and A level. Same with maths (with the addition that some do additional maths GCSE instead of going on to AS or A). The school has links with the FE college and the local RG University, so for individual kids they can if they wish slightly tailor their experiences. However. AIUI most of the kids give French up after GCSE.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:04:39

poppy what happens to all the incredibly bright kids at your DD's school who are already doing A level stuff in Y10? In particular, what will they do if the syllabus changes? grin

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:05:56

So there are DC giving up MFL learning aged 14 - even though they are presumably bright DC to have done a GCSE two years early?

See, I don't think that that is in any shape or form a good use of educational resources - three years of French at secondary school, and then nothing.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 14:08:07

i agree with Tony Little, Eton's head, who would prefer to scrap exams altogether until children are 18 concentrating on enrichment and extra curricular until then ...I guess I just resent how much focus there is on test after test after test ...when education at 11- 18 should be about so much more than that.

And I don't think sitting them all early gets you any particular advantage Oxbridge or otherwise - it wasn't my opinion - I pasted from Cambridge website, although one or two sat early might make sense if you want to do more at 16 or do further maths at AS level then

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:09:02

Bonsoir No, as I said above they have to do at least one out of German and Spanish, for GCSE in Y11, they can do both, and if they want they can do an additional one on top of that (don't know what it is though, DS not old enough yet for it to be relevant and since he's a triple science maths person it's unlikely to be relevant).

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:09:51

Bonsoir it's a language specialist school, it's been rated very highly for its language teaching. It's just not a FRENCH specialist school. grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:15:31

Anna By doing 12 GCSEs in Y10, the kids are freed up to do 4 or 5 A levels, plus critical thinking, general studies and the EPQ during their 3 year sixth form. The school believes that this is a Good Thing. Feedback from universities is that they agree. Destinations from the school are broadly speaking, outstanding (actually personally, I feel they place WAY too much emphasis on medicine in particular and science in general but that's just me). As I said, for Oxbridge, the school is one of the very top state schools in the most recently released government data so clearly they aren't disadvantaging the pupils. Me, I went to cambridge from a comp, I did my O levels in the 5th form and my A levels in 6 upper and I didn't do general studies or anything fancy like S levels because as far as my school was concerned they didn't exist. And it didn't hold me bad. Clearly, there are as many ways to skin onions as there are onions. But comparing DD1's school experience to mine, in terms of boredom thresholds, hers is MILES better. In some other ways mine was probably better.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:17:29

But what on earth is the point of doing three years of French and then following that with two years of German (or Spanish)? Languages are not retained when they are learned quickly and then not used - it is a far better use of language resources to do two for fewer hours per week over a longer period than to do two consecutively, in the way you describe.

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 14:17:44

Russians.

The only difference is that DD has not been doing GCSEs from the age of 13 to 16. She has been enjoying herself and focusing on hobbies rather than revising for the last 3 years.

Her school uses A level as a guide they don't follow the curriculum to the T its more applying their knowledge into longer mathematical problems in maths (for example)

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:19:39

DS most certainly would not be allowedto sit early and then just give up the subject.

The idea is to get the iritant of the exam out of the way, to enhance the timetable.

That said, at my neice and nephew's comp, they sit early and then resit and resit and resit to boost passes. Utterly cynical and horrible.

And if they happen to pass in year 10, they can give up! On pretty much any subject!!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:21:10

Bonsoir - they have also been doing German since Y7 and Spanish since Y8. You might just as easily say 'what is the point in doing 3 years of French' and I would completely agree. French is a useless language. German and Spanish are both slightly more useful, Chinese dialects would be the most useful if they were taught properly here but apparently (my Chinese colleagues tell me) they really aren't. Kids learn French because kids have been learning French since heaven knows when. You are right - there is not point to it or use in it.

However - please note that I did not design the system nor am I defending it. I am merely reporting what they do since someone asked.

If I had my way nobody would learn French. Everyone would learn German and Spanish and we would sort out proper Chinese dialect teaching in this country.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:22:30

Poppy I can assure you that neither my DD1 nor any of her friends has been 'revising for the last 3 years'. grin

That's kind of the point.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:24:54

I couldn't hand on heart say DS had been revising for three months! grin...

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:25:17

I think everybody with a modicum of intelligence should learn French, German, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. And it's perfectly possible!

poppydoppy Fri 28-Jun-13 14:28:10

If a child is taking GCSEs in year 9, 10 and 11 how can they do that without some sort of revision?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:28:21

wordfactory - at your DS's school, what syllabus do they use thereafter if DC pass their GCSE in Y9?

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:33:04

Bonsoir the idea is that DS will start two brand new subjects, in year 10 (he's just dipping his toes in now).

And for the MFL and Latin which he has sat now, he will begin the AS syllabus (though because he won't sit any AS levels early, much of the syllabus will be class led, as there's no hurry. So it's already been decided by the group that they will study some film in the MFL for example)...

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 14:33:08

Ok - I looked up the stats - Colyton is 10% Oxbridge and yes that's up there for state school stats ...but another selective state, Reading Grammar is 16%...(and as far as I know it does not adopt the whole cohort sits all at year 10 approach to avoid them being bored because they are so bright) ...I don't know either school at all really and it's horses for courses I guess ...but 10% Oxbridge is what I would expect a superselective state to get and it's a far lower percentage than the top indies who also don't have that approach. My objection is that somehow, the implication is that sitting them all in year 10 is the right thing to do for a bright child and gives them an advantage ...for me again that is focussing on acceleration and not depth in education...but perhaps you are right...they get them out of the way and then do that later, It also depends on how all rounded your child is, many bright sparks excel at some subjects but are just above average at others ...making them sit some a year early because the whole cohort is forced to is not to their benefit

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:35:12

anna why worry?

YOu can choose a school that doesn't sit early!!!

Why insist that Colyton has it wrong?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:36:20

wordfactory - and how many hours a week of classroom time + homework will he get for that MFL in which he has already taken his GCSE? Does he carry on for two years and then decide whether he is going to pursue it in Y12/13?

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:36:32

poppy which child is taking GCSEs in Ys 9, 10 and 11?

At DD1's school, they take ALL their GCSEs in Y10. Terminal exams, the lot of them.

At DS's school which is a very different pack of cards, they all (practically) do French in Y9 (terminally), then most of the kids do all the rest in Y11. These will be terminal exams also. They do not have a resit culture. A small number of kids may do maths in Y10. A small number of people may do AS or AS and A level French in Ys 10 and 11 but it's not huge numbers.

There are I think some non academic kids who do BTEC sort of things and I don't know how that works. This would be the same in any comp though surely?

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:42:23

Bonsoir I don't know exactly to be honest.

Less time and homework than for the subjects in which he still has GCSEs to sit, I think, but enough to make it more than keeping his hand in.

He doesn't have to take either on to AS level proper if he doesn't want to. The school accept that he's only 13 with few plans yet grin...

The situation has arisen because he arrived this year very well prepped in the MFL and Latin, curtesy of his prep school who had really accelerated them...and this coupled with a desire to take some new subjects expedited matters.

He's not alone though. There are a little gang in the same boat.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:44:09

Anna most recent government stats here https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-publishes-destination-data-for-the-first-time

Don't quite match your figures, for the two schools you mention, not sure why...but I would assume those are the right figures. According to those stats of the two schools you mentioned Reading's most recent percentage was 14%, Colyton's was 13%, two top schools were CRGS at 16% and QE Barnet at 15%. So yes, according to the government stats Reading is clearly a MUCH MUCH better school than every single other school than CRGS and QE Barnet. However unless you live in or near Reading, it's probably quite difficult to send your kids there, logistically.

I really don't understand this competitiveness but for the avoidance of doubt I'm sure every single parent in the country except for those who have kids at CRGS and QE Barnet will agree that Reading is clearly the BEST school and must therefore have the best kids and Reading parents definitely Win. Is that OK? grin

word You know why. Competitive parent syndrome. grin

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 14:44:19

OK, thanks smile

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:44:35
AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 14:48:28

WF- I am not saying it is right or wrong, and as I said I don't know the school at all......what I am trying to counterbalance is the implication that uberbright children (as you call them) must be so bored if they don't sit all their GCSES's at year 10 as an entire cohort ...the pace is not slow if they sit them later if the teaching is enriching beyond a GCSE syllabus

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 14:52:56

Wordfactory make a very valid point about getting the irritant of the exam out of the way so that they can get on with learning. Certainly at our school the exams are precisely that - necessary evils to be despatched, with most of the effort going into stretching the DC with interesting stuff that inspires them.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 14:53:16

Anna You can only speak from your experience. In my experience, which is all I can speak from, even with the teachers enriching way beyond the GCSE syllabus, and with huge amounts of extra curricular stuff, for the whole cohort at DD1's SS, doing GCSEs in Y10 is not a stretch. This is primarily because the KS3 curriculum is way overstretched, covering it in under two years is really not a problem for those kids...

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:53:54

Anna I didn't say that!

As I've said, DS school do a flexible smorgasboard. I'm sure there are some boys who don't sit any early.

But it costs highly in time, money and resources to do this.

Enriching every child to correct level in every GCSE subject is very tricky for schools without oodles of time, money and resources!!!

apatchylass Fri 28-Jun-13 14:57:00

I'm torn on this. DS got into highly selective schools without much effort (some, certainly, but in no way hothoused, merely expected to do a couple of hours a week instead of nothing.)

They have 1.5 hrs homework a night at new school. He had none before. I saw a couple of teens strolling down the street yesterday, eating icecreams and laughing and had a quick pang that I am forcing him towards a much less carefree life. But actually - I don't believe I am.

To my mind, we vastly underestimate what teens are capable of, what they need to be challenged to do in order to feel worthy in our culture. I told DS he'll have to work very hard Monday to Friday in term time and play hard at weekends and in the holidays. So far he's fine with that. he loves learning. It's not always a chore to work hard. It can be fun. No harm in instilling that possibility at a young age!

Hot housing like Ruth lawrence's dad did is something else. It's the cruel manipulation of another person's life in order to make yourself feel worthy. How could she possibly thrive long term if she had no friends, no social skills, no interests beyond maths.

It's not one or the other. The best way is a balance, different for everyone, but I think most DC thrive on high expectations. DS2 is very laid back and not as overtly academic as DS1 but on the few occasions I've tiger-mummed him, he has really blossomed and his confidence has exploded. For me the key is to make sure that however hard they work, there are always fun activities each week both as a family and among friends. It's no hardship to do 2 hours homework a night if you also have sleepovers, go to the cinema, play rugby, hang out the park with mates and go for an ice-cream. That's a good, full life.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 14:57:08

I am not pitching Reading vs Colyton, as I said I know neither school well.....someone asked me before for examples of superselectives that don't do all GCSES early ......my own DS is in the independent sector because i wanted to avoid the whole SATS testing and will likely stay there ..so I have no axe to grind on preferring one state school vs another ...as for being competitive, you have not read my thread closely enough....my DS is academic and bright however while considerably ahead in some areas particularly maths and middling in one or two others. My whole approach has been to decry the constant testing approach adopted in the education sector as a whole ...and for that reason I would likely avoid a grammar for my own DS and particularly one that has whole cohort doing GCSEs at year 10

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 14:58:19

MrsSalvo they are an irritant, those bloody exams. And even if the teachers are challenging the class, until the class take them, the teacher shave to keep one half eye on them...

Impossible not to.

Also, without sitting early, how can you buy time for new subjects?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:01:48

"Also, without sitting early, how can you buy time for new subjects?"

One (very famous) school in Paris negotiated a special timetable which reduced teaching time by 25% across the board in collège - French standard 1 hour classes were reduced to 45 minutes. The deal was that no extra homework would be set. Thereby "buying time" for extra subjects.

It has worked extremely well! Results have continued to be extraordinarily good at that school. So maybe reducing teaching time is the way to buy time and maintain a lot of subjects in parallel? I had 14 subjects in Y12 and 11 in Y13 and it was fine.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:04:42

That's interesting Bonsoir and would indeed be another way of doing things.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:04:47

To be honest though in independent sector Common Entrance is pretty close to GCSE especially if you sit the tougher scholarship exams (and some harder I think) ...but then once you've passed the requisite exams, and got into your senior school of choice no one really looks back at them ...

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:08:37

Of course, posh schools are clearly the best of all and obviously no state school could ever possibly hope to be as good, and nor could state school pupils ever hope to be as clever. Because obviously all posh school pupils are GCSE standard at the age of 12 or however old it is that they do common entrance. Obviously. Stands to reason.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:08:39

Indeed, in my DD's (primary) school, teaching time for the French NC is reduced by 25% in order to accommodate English, and the standard of French and Maths seems great (versus French expectations...) to me. And then 1/3 of the lunch hour is taken up with Spanish, from Y5, for those pupils who to learn Spanish. I think that doing lots of subjects in parallel is a good thing, over many years. Better than doing accelerated learning in consecutive years, IMO - the learning sticks better when it was done over a long period.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:08:41

Anna many of ths studenst coming from good preps, especially those who sat scholarships, have covered much of the GCSE syllabus in MFL, Latin, Maths etc

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:10:14

Russians not at all.

It's just that the CE and scholarship covers a lot of the stuff!

So the kids arrive in year 9 pretty well prepped.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:10:39

Bonsoir that sounds like an excellent idea. Certainly one of the reasons why they find it easy to cover KS3 in 2 years instead of 3 at DD1's school is that there is no titting about in lessons.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:11:20

Competitive prep schools certainly take the DC a long way into the GCSE syllabus.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:12:22

word clearly the parents with kids at the posh schools have won not only the education system but also the internet and basically the world. I am merely agreeing with that fact! grin

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:13:04

Bonsoir in many ways I agree with you. And it is also one of the reasons I prefered DD to move schools at 11. She automatically started lots of new things!

Because DS didn't move until 13, he found that he was very accelerated in a few subjects, but hadn't even tried Ancient Greek for example!

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:14:51

Imagine not even trying Ancient Greek before you're 13. sad grin

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:15:33

grin grin grin

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:16:08

sigh Russians ...you have a chip on your shoulder ...whatever I post you are going to read it your way ...I have nothing against state...some of the state schools will be far better than the mediocre private schools...but state schools like WF says have less resources than the top indies to focus on the individual ...and as superselective as the likes Tiffins, Reading and Colyton are ...their Oxbridge % are not close to the top indies...there must be a reason for that, and it is not simply because Oxbridge prefers posh ....

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:19:00

All the DC I know who have got into Oxbridge in recent years have something spectacular about them which has resulted from amazing and unusual opportunity combined with great intelligence and application. It is not wild hypothesis to imagine that fewer DC in state schools get amazing and unusual life opportunities than those in private schools or from international backgrounds.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:21:33

yes I imagine that is part of it

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:21:33

To be honest, lots of applicants with amazing CVs get rejected, and quite a few applicants who don't really do anyhting other than their thing get offered places...

It depends who is interviewing to be honest.

Also, there was an interesting article on this week's Sunday Times about the growing number of state schooled students turning down places at Oxbridge for Ivy League...

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:22:06

Anna I'm not the one with the chip on my shoulder, love! grin I'm not the one desperately trying to prove that because some other school does things differently to one of the schools my many DC attend, it must be wrong.

You need to look at your original OP though. You haven't changed course or back-pedalled! Full speed ahead on competitive parenting for you, to the point of trawling round the internet to try and prove that schools you now nothing about and which are certainly geographically distant from you aren't as good as your kid's school. You win not only the education system, the internet and LIFE but also, you win at being a textbook competitive mother. grin

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:23:22

Word do you think we are spectacular? grin Or do you think they changed the rules after we (unaccountably) got in? sad

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:24:33

Oh I would never have got in these days...

My O level grades were unspectacular...

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:24:36

The 'growing numbers' consisted of nine students. Not quite a phenomenon yet...

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:25:06

i give up....you haven't bothered to actually read my posts Russians...

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 15:26:25

No slip but interesting none the less.

A trend that began in the private sector and has, to some extent become a concern at the most selective universities...

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:27:03

i hesitate to mention it ...since Russians will say I am name dropping though she has done so herself ...but when i was at Oxford there was some remarkably unspectacular students there ....though that was many moons ago and things many have changed

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:31:47

Russians..by the way by kid is not even at a senior school yet so how can I compare with yours! ....my original post was all about a dilemma whether to aim for one of those superselectives (in the indie sector) or whether to go for one where the school and no doubt the parents will be less pushy

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:31:55

Bonsoir, are the students you know from France? because of the students I know at Oxbridge, some are spectacular but not all. And not all have had amazing opportunities. I think Tutors are encouraged not to put too much emphasis on opportunities offered.

My very limited acquaintance with French schooled students suggests that something makes it a bit harder for them to get in somehow. I've always wondered if it is that the French Bac is very broad and it is so hard to get high marks and also perhaps they tend not to present as sufficiently specialised.

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:32:25

That was then, this is now. Competition has increased in all élite higher education institutions. My DP, who went to ESSEC (No 2 French business school) was recently shock to read that the average bac grade of students at HEC is 17.1%, and at ESSEC 16.5%. He didn't even get 11%...

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 15:33:01

Not %, out of 20! So 17.1/20, 16.5/20, 11/20...

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:34:24

word Ah, mine were fabulous, darling. grin Even though I went to a comp. And had no spectacular life opportunities. sad

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:34:38

my experience at Oxford was that all they cared about was your prowess in the chosen subject ....you could be quite narrowly educated otherwise (in the broadest sense of the word educated) and indeed some were

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:36:08

Word, is it really a concern? Are the numbers that large yet? Do they not feel they still have able candidates coming out of their ears? Is it in certain subject areas? I am curious to hear.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 15:36:17

The nine were just nine form one particular scheme, that was by n o means the total! At the DC school, the top students have offers from both Oxbridge and also the Ivy League, and this year it was equal numbers that opted for US universities and Oxbridge. The trend is increasingly for the top students to reject the Oxbridge offer and go for Ivy League.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:37:30

Which again proves my point grin Anna, you win. You are the bestest of the best. The best of all possible parents in the best of all possible worlds and whatever school your DS goes to will of course be the best. grin

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:40:11

MrsSalvo, I think the nine do not include those from independent schools where the numbers have been a bit larger for a while. I wasn't aware the even in those schools, the numbers opting for the US is starting to equal those opting for Oxbridge. That will cause concern I am sure, if it continues.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:40:27

We only had one kid o to Ivy league last year. I don't know about this years offers (well, I know about the offers of two kids I actually know personally (well, I know their parents)). I can't see many people from our school being able to afford to go to Ivy League though - the thing about student finance, as I understand it, is you only get the opportunity to go to on the face of it cheaper universities in the US or even Europe if you can afford the finance at commercial rates, or to self finance. Not just fees, living expenses too. DD would love to be able to consider the conservatorium in Amsterdam. But I just can't see it as an option, given that we have other kids and given the state of the economy.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:43:38

actually Harvard is needs blind entrance ....and may be cheaper than Oxbridge as a result with bursaries et al which go up to a generous level of income allowance

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:44:38

Is the Conservatorium more expensive than normal universities in NL Russians as they are less than 2000 euros per year. I know a number of students attending Dutch universities and a couple at a Conservatorium, but not in Amsterdam.

I think it's worth trying to get your DCs into the best school you can, then you can try to rein back the pushiness afterwards grin

Like others I pretty much leave DD(14) to organise herself. She's very conscientious and hard-working, but still enjoying learning, alongside others with a similar attitude to hers.

But I wouldn't self select not to apply to a good school just because it might be "too difficult" for my DCs to keep up - I have more faith in them than that !

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:46:59

But you still have to fund some of it yourself. Unless you are from a minimum wage sort of background. And funding at commercial rates is very different from funding at the student finance rates.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 15:48:02

Slipshod - you don't qualify for student finance etc. So, everything has to be paid from either own funds or at commercial rates. So, if you have several thousands pounds to hand then it's MUCH cheaper than going to a UK university. But if not? Then not.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 15:50:04

yes Russians ...hopefully the school I choose for my DS will be the best ...the best for him that is, which may not be the best for yours or someone else's , which is what this is all about however you choose to (mis)interpret it

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 15:52:43

Russian, if you are serious, research a bit more. If a student gets a part time job- not too hard for a good musician - the government currently pays a fairly sizeable allowance, even to foreigners. I can ask more closely if you want.
You'd need to know you can fund living fees and the yearly university fees, but it would still be less than the borrowing in the UK I am pretty sure.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Fri 28-Jun-13 16:13:15

Presumably if rich kids go to Ivy League, leaving Oxbridge to poor kids, everyone will be happy?

Bonsoir Fri 28-Jun-13 16:16:26

Rich kids from all over the planet are looking at university options abroad. Oxbridge won't be left to the poor British kids - it will fill up with rich foreign kids.

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 16:17:48

Slip- imvho Oxbridge don't need to worry. They have far more fabulous applicants than places. And all the time the widening access progs are helping encourge applicants from hitherto untapped seams. But tutors are a bunch of bloody worriers! They are always on the look out for the one that go away. Like agents!

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 16:22:32

And to be fair, there are lots of great applicants schooled at top private schools. Particularly in subjects where the state system tends not to excel. The thought that those students are giving Oxbridge the skip does concern some tutors! Particularly if their departments are not very mixed.

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 16:25:43

all this mystique abut Oxbridge ...I think it's a lottery and more so now ...hopefully changed from when I got in as a post grad

My interviewer was a stripy jumpered was out and out marxist ...and the interview was a fireside chat ...I am sure I got in principally because I was able to talk to some of the marxist tomes he favoured rather than anything spectacular on my part

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 16:29:30

Not a lottery- there is method in choosing applicants - but a degree of chance, yes.

Taz1212 Fri 28-Jun-13 16:29:55

My children are Harvard legacies and I'd honestly MUCH rather they went to Oxbridge grin

I'm not pushing them to go anywhere, however. I am pushing them to do the best they possibly can and hopefully they will end up with a desire to aim high.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 16:30:56

slipshod I did do quite a bit of research (and got people in my firm to lookinto it for me) and the result was conclusive. However situations can change and I'm monitoring it, since DD1 is only 15 there is plenty of time!

Slipshodsibyl Fri 28-Jun-13 16:33:20

Ok. Well I am aware your ability to do sums is better than mine....

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 16:36:18

well I recall at the time there were some undergrads at Oxbridge who were really wanted ..so much so they were offered 2 Ds at A levels to get in ...others had to get all As...and the interviews were somewhat subjective

wordfactory Fri 28-Jun-13 16:56:41

Anna I thibk both places have refined their processes a lot!

Oxford, does its due dilligence at the written stage. It likes a very good hand of GCSEs and apporpriate PS.

Cambridge interviews far more. But it uses the A* offer to distill the applicants.

That said, of course chance is involved to some degree. At interview, there can always be a clash of personality etc and A* offers are bound to have an element of chance in them!

AnnaBBB Fri 28-Jun-13 17:01:25

like i said...I was there many moons ago...i would hope there is more method now

I also think back then if certain public schools heads picked up the phone to a don they knew well and stuck out their neck to push a candidate forward that may have made a difference ...now that just doesn't work ...not should it

Yellowtip Fri 28-Jun-13 17:39:21

I haven't read the whole thread OP so apologies if this is mere repetition. Although I'm the antithesis of a pushy micromanaging parent, I think the pressure at top schools can be exaggerated. I have a number of kids at a top superselective and it's in no way uncreative in terms of teaching and learning - quite the opposite. On your main point, I've certainly never detected pressure, either imposed or self-imposed: what has to be done just gets done, along with masses of outside things too.

RussiansOnTheSpree Fri 28-Jun-13 17:57:20

Yellow The Y10s have been given homework on day one of induction! grin And DD1 is delighted. Gobbling it up. So even despite Homework!Horror I'd still say it's not hot housing.

Yellowtip Fri 28-Jun-13 18:33:49

But in context Russians, they do have between now and Sept to do a couple of tasks for each of the four subjects, and it appears to be possible for sillier boys to start it and finish it at a very late stage smile

Yellowtip Fri 28-Jun-13 18:36:51

No, it's definitely not 'hothousing'. If kids can keep up without stress, it's not hothousing. I'd say it was hothousing if they felt so under pressure that they felt they couldn't lead a perfectly normal out of school life. I'm not sure what my definition really is but I'd know it if I saw it or sensed it and I never have done so far.

pickledsiblings Fri 28-Jun-13 18:49:30

Somewhere upthread there was some chat about prepping for CE. It reminded me of one of the very big differences between (some) independent schools and state schools - the transfer age. Does anyone know of any research on transfer age i.e 13 vs 11 and outcomes?

Copthallresident Sat 29-Jun-13 11:16:09

Anna I am at the other end of the process with two DDs who went to a vert selective indie. What I have learnt from the experience is that you really have to go with your instinct in terms of what is right for your child, and not assume the further up the league tables the better.

DD1 was ambitious from the off, she wanted to apply to the most academic schools, we are in West London so she was wanting to apply to some of the most selective "hothouses" in the country. We lived overseas so naively did minimal preparation and she got in everywhere. She had thought she wanted to go to SPGS but she came out of he interview saying that she hated it, thought it was cold, unfriendly and arrogant but she walked out of the school she went to, which had something of a reputation as a souless hothouse, quite certain she wanted to go there. She thrived and they nurtured her love of Science, and gave her opportunities to develop breadth as well as depth, she is an avid reader, enjoyed drama etc. GCSE was a bit of a nadir in terms of academic challenge but that is the nature of the national exam system, they have to get them.

She didn't get into Cambridge because although the interview process is much improved, she for instance had two interviews, each with two interviewers, there are just too many bright applicants chasing places there these days, she was pooled but not offered a place. It is something of a lottery but it's a lottery only the very bright and very motivated even get a stab at. It isn't a problem, where she is now is equally challenging and prestigious for Science, has close relationships with the research organisations, and she has a funded internship this summer at a research institute attached to one of the teaching hospitals and fees waived for her Masters. She absolutely loves Science and her enthusiam has never wained. I feel sure it has all worked out for the best for her .

DD2 who we already knew was dyslexic ( and was recently diagnosed as also dyspraxic, DD1 is also dyslexic but has found her own ways around it and has never had extra time or other support) was guided by one principle in her choice of school, to go where her sister went. I felt that another school further down the tables felt right for her but she worked hard and got in and when I questioned why they had offered her a place (I did that with DD1 too as I wanted to make sure they hadn't just had a good day and might struggle) they clearly had spotted and valued her strengths, creativity, emotional intelligence. So she went there, and again they nurtured her talents, inspirational teaching in English and an impressive CV of roles in school plays (she also presumed her drama outside school, including a west end role ) BUT she really felt the pressure academically, felt that all that mattered was A*s and has developed terrible problems with exam anxiety, including panic attacks. She also felt the school favoured the overconfidant girls who seek attention and it was too easy to feel unnoticed. It was a dysfunctional year with some very difficult girls, they practically had a satellite unit at The Priory by 14, so her experience may reflect the way they handled a very atypical year and their worries about their results. She has now moved for sixth form, to that school further down the tables I thought felt right for her. She much prefers the teaching which she says is encouraging rather than pressuring, and the atmosphere and ethos. So yes we have changed course but I don't think we have backpedalled, just realised we had taken a wrong turning. I don't expect that she will do worse academically just because she is at a less selective school, they may teach differently but they still teach well.

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 13:46:26

I think, as per Copt's experience, choosing the right school is more about the individual child than rights and wrongs about perceived pressure at any given school...

We're only up to Y4 still, so all this lies ahead, but I'm very much in favour of thinking about the whole child (not just academic ability, but temperament, preferences, passions etc) when deciding secondary schools.

I know my eldest dd would hate 'hothousing' and react badly to it - she needs encouragement rather than competition and pressure, regardless of ability. My youngest, OTOH, enjoys competition and may well turn out to need something different.

Personally, I would avoid hothousing like the plague (but then, I turned down a place at Oxford in order to go to London - so may be biased wink). But highly selective/academic doesn't necessarily=hothousing, though it can certainly be fertile ground for it - to me, hothousing is about forcing, and children can be forced in non-selective environments or purely encouraged in academic ones. It just depends.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 29-Jun-13 14:03:16

I do wonder if any school 'hot houses' its pupils. I suspect that hot housing comes from parents. And that some schools may attract or be cursed by a greater proportion of parents like that, not necessarily because of the school but perhaps because of the location. The teachers may be very opposed to hot housing and may indeed try to mitigate the affects of parental pressure as much as possible...

HabbaDabbaDoo Sat 29-Jun-13 14:16:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Copthallresident Sat 29-Jun-13 15:08:23

Russians DD2s year were given endless lectures on the importance of getting A*s. I do think it was the schools panicked response to finding themselves with a cohort that had some very disruptive attention seeking madams who just don't want to work, and probably did need a kick up the backside. Even the Head felt moved to schedule a special session from her to ram the message home. The trouble is that in attempting to kick some backsides they ended up winding up the genuinely conscientious and motivated. I would say that was definitely pressuring out of a misdirected focus on results. However it wasn't the norm, even for that school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 29-Jun-13 15:43:13

But surely telling people it's important to get A*s, while not necessarily constructive or sensible, isn't yer actual 'hot housing'. To me, hot housing means making kids work all the time, pushing them to do far too many subjects, giving them stupid amounts of homework, testing them every day, punishing them if they don't do well, making them feel thick if they aren't getting 100%. I don't think pointing out that the better your results the better your life chances is 'hot housing'.

lljkk Sat 29-Jun-13 15:43:19

There's an elite girl's school we looked at for Dd. The snapshot tidbits I have of it all indicate a lot of pressure & hothousing. Put me off hugely since DD already pushes herself very hard.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 29-Jun-13 15:51:11

Is it an elite school, or a school for elite girls? grin

Lots of people cast aspersions about girl only schools. Clearly like all schools some kids who go to these schools are already, or become, troubled - but that can happen in the laxest secondary modern, you know, or even hippy dippy schools. My actual (second hand) experience though, through knowing parents with girls at the famous (and famously criticised) ones, and through having known some of their alumni when I was at cambridge, is completely different from the scuttlebutt. I therefore still maintain that there probably isn't something about the schools themselves (or at least, the teachers), but more about particular girls or certain parents, and the reason that some famous girl only schools attract so much criticism is more due to the fact that they are highly successful GIRL schools than anything they are actually getting structurally wrong. Certainly local 'received wisdom' about the schools both DD1 AND DS go to, from parents who don't have kids at either school and never have had, is that both schools push really hard, give skrot loads of homework, are really stressful etc etc. Couldn't be further from the truth (especially in terms of volume of homework which is frankly pathetically weedy, from both schools).

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 16:00:09

Russians, I suspect there are examples of both.

Certainly, hothousey parents can put pressure on a school - but schools that have hothousey SLTs can manage it all on their own wink

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 16:00:43

Sorry - was referring to your previous post about 'is it parents or schools that are hothousing'

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 16:03:54

Copt, would you mind if I pm'd you about your preferred school for your second dd? Am racking brains for dd1, and just have a hunch...! Possibly too far away for us, or too hard to get into, but.

Don't worry if you'd rather not smile

Copthallresident Sat 29-Jun-13 16:33:06

Eli I'll pm you

Russians The school is one of the foremost girls' schools and I did make it clear that for DD1 it was perfect because they had motivated pupils who had a basic level of respect for each other. What they do well is to provide an environment in which cohorts of bright motivated girls are given lots of opportunities and because they have done that for a long time and have an established a good reputation they can be very selective and so get good results. I agree that the teaching in the normal way of things isn't pressuring or hothousing, indeed sometimes it is downright mediocre, but because of their cohorts, who in the main would get As and A*s wherever they went, they continue to be in the top 10 in the country.

The issue of pressuring arose when they found themselves with a cohort with some very difficult girls, not their fault, could happen anywhere (though possibly more likely with an affluent London intake) and the response was one which many girls found pressuring. A lot of these old traditional girls' school, including my own back in the 70s, have a liberal ethos because they do not generally get difficult pupils, so their armoury when they do is limited. In fact the motivated conscientious girls' felt squeezed in the middle between hectoring teachers and disruptive girls and their ever more spectacular attention seeking antics, literally sex, drugs and rock n roll. They lost a third of the year to other sixth forms, mostly the pupils they least wanted to loose.

Copthallresident Sat 29-Jun-13 16:38:02

She does miss the gossip though wink

RussiansOnTheSpree Sat 29-Jun-13 16:50:12

There's probably a pressure in a class of its own from knowing that you are at 'one of the foremost girls' schools' and it is costing someone a fortune.

Posh education in general must be very high pressure for the consumer group. Even for the filthy filthy rich, its still a fortune being spent on that that could be being spent on something else.

But that's the thing - some people will always over think, over worry, over react - it sounds like that's what happened to your DD2 Copthall. Not necessarily the school's fault as such, just an unhappy combination. And not really hot housing, of any sort, more poor situational response.

hardboiled Sat 29-Jun-13 18:15:28

Interesting post OP...it's a very tough dilemma for us parents...haven't had time to read it all but I just wanted to add that school is also part of "childhood" and it will be one of the things our DCs will remember, at least I do. My good memories from school also include exam time, the excitement, the studying, the day we got our results... What I mean is that it's not a "childhood versus school" thing as if they were mutually exclusive.

For example, the year DS spent preparing the 11plus and then sitting the exams was full of excitement and events and when it was all over he kept asking me...why is time suddenly going so slowly? He is going to a selective school he has chosen because he said it was a place where "things are happening all the time".

As long as it's not taken to the extreme, going to school and sitting exams is part of being a child. It gives their lives structure and purpose. School has lots of "down time" with friends too...chatting, eating, fooling around, etc!

Yellowtip Sat 29-Jun-13 19:09:54

I find I'm asked over and over again by parents who would like their child to attend the school my DC attend whether or not it's 'a hothouse'.

I hear over and over again from parents whose DC failed to get in that they're quite pleased, 'because of the pressure'. Some of them have told me that it's fine going elsewhere because their child 'has a life' (that was this afternoon by a disappointed Y6 mum).

I hear regularly from parents with DC actually at the school that once there, they're amazed how ill matched the reputation is to the reality.

IME at least, it's all about parents.

rabbitstew Sat 29-Jun-13 19:27:07

It is not all about the parents, it's all about the children if you have any common sense. I don't think a highly intelligent, yet self-critical perfectionist needs or benefits from a highly competitive, pressured environment, which is what they may well perceive one of the supposed "hothouse" schools to be. They create their own impetus to work hard and adding to their own nagging internal voices, which are already telling them they aren't working hard enough and could do better, by sending them to a school which really puts the pressure on is not going to do them any good. They might well do better in a school where there are fewer examples of their personality type to hype them up and fewer people in authority putting additional external pressure on them.

On the other hand, some very bright people love competition and being kept busy and benefit from having a bit of pressure put on them to show what they can do if they try. They might well not even perceive it as pressure, but as friendly encouragement. They might cruise along doing the bare minimum if they are in an environment where they do not have other competitive types to spar with and they might actually, god forbid, quite enjoy learning things and taking exams to prove their brilliance. I am sure such people do exist - these "hothouse" schools wouldn't exist if they didn't genuinely appeal to most of their pupils as well as the parents.

rabbitstew Sat 29-Jun-13 19:38:57

And then there are the highly intelligent people who just aren't interested in the type of work they are being asked to do in a highly academic school, because their interests do actually lie elsewhere. They might well resent the amount of effort they are required to put into subjects that do not really interest them sufficiently to justify the effort expected.

Copthallresident Sat 29-Jun-13 19:48:06

Russians But that was my point entirely, one size does not fit all when it comes to a school. In this area of London parents get ridiculously obsessed with minute differences in academic results and getting their DCs into the most selective schools. I think that may be at the heart of OPs post. The amount of parental energy, vicarious ambition and competitiveness that goes into getting DCs into the most academic schools is frightening.

However all the indies around here are capable of getting a bright child A*s and places at Oxbridge. However not all of them will provide your DC with the atmosphere and ethos that will build their confidence and enable them to thrive, and that is as true of the most selective schools as it is the less selective. The top school in the league tables isn't necessarily the top school for your child, one child's challenge is another child's pressure something DD2 and I have learnt the hard way. I can assure you that DD2s feelings of being pressured are not from the parents, as long as she tries her hardest I am so laid back about exam results whether at 11 or 16, 17 and 18 as to be horizontal, I really don't think B is for bad if it is the result of hard work (and that attitude is probably the only way to stay sane, and keep them sane, given the randomness of marking these days. The ultimate irony in all this is that the school was badly affected by the GCSE Eng Lit marking debacle that affected many indies with many pupils who were confidently predicted A*s getting Bs, never mind the ones who hadn't worked.)

Obviously we couldn't have foreseen the precise situation but I really did feel at 11 that even though she was clearly bright enough (and as you know with a dyslexic child you do actually know where your DCs ability sits versus the wider population) and more than deserved to have been selected for the school academically and in terms of her talents (and when we gave in our notice we were offered financial incentives to stay). However the other school just felt more right for her. It's intangible, I even dreamed on the eve of making the final decision that the other school was surrounded by elysian fields with angelic pupils so much did I subconsciously feel that it was the one to choose, but sibling rivalry and more rational factors such as academic results and facilities swayed the wrong decision.

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 19:52:47

It should all be about the children - if it isn't, therein lies the potential for problems.

I know a family with dds at a very highly regarded, highly selective London day school - the eldest is exactly as child a) described by Rabbit: very intelligent, motivated, creative. Just got a scholarship. But she already pressurizes herself, is sensitive to expectations at home and at school, and is quite stressed by her environment.

her sister, naturally far more competitive and less inclined to give herself a hard time, seems a lot happier there.

Elibean Sat 29-Jun-13 19:53:57

Ah - cross posted with Copt. Exactly so.

I do like the Elysian fields dream, I hope I get one of those when we choose dd1's school grin

And thanks for your pm!

wordfactory Sun 30-Jun-13 09:03:26

I think it is definitely horses for courses.

Some DC are a perfect fit for a highly academic school, others are not. And it often aint about their ability.

DS is very laid back. When he interviewed at his school, he was asked 'Oxbridge or Ivy?' Some would find that a horribly pressurised question. DS saw ut as a joke grin!

Yellowtip Sun 30-Jun-13 10:43:33

rabbit I possess considerable common sense and frequently have to apply it. Far too frequently pressure in these allegedly schools comes from the parents, although of course there are some kids where the pressure is entirely self-imposed. More often though, I think one can look to the parents.

Yellowtip Sun 30-Jun-13 10:46:54

in these allegedly 'hothouse' schools etc.

hardboiled Sun 30-Jun-13 10:49:31

"Oxbridge or Ivy"? Was that a question at 11plus? I hope not! shock

Yellowtip Sun 30-Jun-13 11:03:14

I see that Copthall also has direct experience of that type of parent, in relation to these sorts of school smile

Picturesinthefirelight Sun 30-Jun-13 11:18:25

I admit that feeling a pang that dd turned down a placeat a school with excellent a level results to ibex where the maximum number they can take us two alongside their vocational course.

Dd is academic - at her induction day the teachers picked up in that. But she wants to go to a vocational school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Sun 30-Jun-13 11:32:30

There are a lot of them about. IME schools try to squelch them. Both for the sake of their kids and because if they don't succeed, it's the school that's blamed. Usually unfairly.

Rabbit It shouldn't be all about the parents but it very very often is. That's the problem.

It's a shame nit isn't in this thread or we could talk about Meg's parents.

rabbitstew Sun 30-Jun-13 18:06:59

I entirely agree it shouldn't be all about the parents, hence my comment about common sense. However, I disagree it is usually all about the parents when things go wrong. It is always partly about the parents, because the parents chose or allowed the child to choose the school, but having gone to an all girls' grammar school myself, I saw a lot of girls who put a lot of pressure on themselves, regardless of their parents - they were definitely reacting to the other girls around them, overreacting to teacher comments and to their own anxieties, not their parents' expectations. I witnessed first hand the different reactions that different girls had to the same teacher comments, comments which often were designed to put a rocket up the backsides of the lazy ones, but which were like water off a duck's back to them and instead stuck like knives in the minds of the neurotic hard workers.

Yes, the absolute most toxic situation is the pushy parent with the bright but sensitive child in an academically high achieving school, but there are endless permutations and combinations of contributory factors when it comes to a child being unhappy at the wrong school for them. You may not see it if you are not unhappy with a school, that doesn't mean it doesn't exist and is all the fault of the parents' expectations for which the school itself is blameless. In all honesty, it is actually the wrong combination of parents, child, peer group and school together when things don't work out!

poppydoppy Sun 30-Jun-13 18:40:50

OK, assuming most academic children finish their education with top grades, what sets them apart? If you were an employer what would you look for in a candidate?

rabbitstew Sun 30-Jun-13 19:14:42

I think it depends on the industry/field of work. Common sense, good organisational skills, a positive outlook and an ability to stay calm in a crisis are all quite useful traits in a lot of workplaces, as is the ability not to alienate your colleagues. Sheer brilliance might be enough in other areas of work.

bico Mon 01-Jul-13 09:03:27

I've been told by school today that I have to push ds more. I currently don't push him at all. He's a contradiction of appearing very self confident but actually completely lacks confidence and struggles to do his work. His form teacher really hasn't got the measure of him at all. The school have agreed he would benefit from being assessed by an EP but too late to do it this academic year.

Copthallresident Mon 01-Jul-13 11:48:25

bico There is a world of difference between pushing a child beyond what they can cope with emotionally and to the detriment of their wider lives, development and self esteem, and supporting and encouraging a child who faces difficulties keeping up with school work, or indeed imposing reasonable boundaries on one who is just plain lazy. I certainly have to spend a lot of time helping my DD cope with her Specific Learning Difficulties, but it is about supporting her in the areas she finds difficult, mainly in making sure she stays organised, and encouraging her in the things she enjoys, to help her stay motivated since she has to work a lot harder to achieve than her peers. Above all I have always made sure they knew I loved them come what may, and a failed exam wouldn't ever get in the way of that. I haven't had to crack the whip because either of my DDs wasn't keeping up but I don't think that is pressuring either, they have boundaries on all aspects of their behaviour, no reason why meeting deadlines shouldn't be one. Pressuring as a parent is making your DD think your love is conditional upon their academic success, having such high ambitions for them that it leaves them with only a small chance of success and a huge potential for failure.

A Psych Ed report is useful in lots of ways but you probably know where your son struggles, and where his interests and strengths lie so come up with some ways to support and encourage him, and agree some boundaries for next year in terms of getting homework in etc., that wouldn't be pushing him at all.

IndridCold Mon 01-Jul-13 12:34:17

This has been an interesting thread, and reminds of the 70s, 80s when there was a book called 'Teach Your Baby to Read'. My parents had a bookshop in a nice middle-class suburb of London, and we must have sold hundreds of copies. Sadly, we never met a baby who could read though grin.

To return to the original OP, it is perfectly possible to have a more laid back approach AND try for some of the selective schools. It really depends how much you think you would mind it if you weren't ultimately successful.

It is my impression that Eton and Winchester might be better schools for this approach rather than some of the super selective London schools.

BTW Eton is not what I would call hothousey school, but it still has its share of highly competitive boys and pushy parents.

AnnaBBB Mon 01-Jul-13 12:43:34

IndridCold, of course there are babies who read and babies who exceed genius IQ of Einstein...have a look at the G&T threads ...I think it's full of them..I hope they all realize their potential as adults as it will benefit mankind greatly and not just make their parents super proud.

AnnaBBB Mon 01-Jul-13 12:46:33

of course these babies are late developers in some circles as other babies were read The Times while still in the womb

IndridCold Mon 01-Jul-13 13:23:00

smile It really was one of the loonier education crazes! I think there was even mention of it in one episode of Ab Fab.

britishsummer Mon 01-Jul-13 14:24:04

bico, the subtext from your DS's school sounds as though they are expecting you to supplement what they are doing in school, fine if you are just reinforcing their groundwork, not so good if you end up by having to take charge because the standard prep school approach does n't benefit your DS's learning approach. As your DS is very young, it is a good thing to be clear sighted about a school's shortcomings at this stage rather than finding out too late in year 6-8.

Copthallresident Mon 01-Jul-13 15:23:34

bico I didn't appreciate your son was very young. We had to do intensive extra work with DD2 to enable her to learn to read, write and spell at a level that was average for her age in Year 2, and that was in conjunction with the schools SEN teacher. It wasn't pushy at all, the usual methods of teaching reading, spelling and writing, relying heavily on look / see were never going to work for her. We needed to teach her the phonics, rule by rule and how to form letters step by step. She actually really enjoyed it because finally it all made sense and she was making progress. Before that she wasn't so much lacking confidence as totally bemused by school, clearly couldn't work out how they could expect her to do things that were clearly impossible! Even now her ED Psych highlighted that her reading skills apparently rely heavily on context. She wasn't formally diagnosed until 3 years later but as the SEN said the methods for pupils who are not learning in the usual way are the same. You will be able to get similar learning materials through the British Dyslexia Association or similar. I also know of parents who have had children as old as 10 who have taken their DCs out of school to be similarly taken back and taught the basics.

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 00:25:47

Not really sure what school is expecting. Ds's teacher described ds at the start of the year as 'very very bright'. Now she has said if he works really hard and tries his absolute best he may be able to be 'average at a push'. No explanation for such a huge change over the course of this year.

I strongly suspect that ds's teacher really can't figure out the mass of contradictions that makes up ds. He is different from a lot of other children we know so I think that makes it hard to understand what makes him tick. It has been made very apparent to me that unfortunately his teacher this year doesn't have the time or the patience to work him out despite small class sizes.

It's a shame as I would have expected her to contact me if she was thinking a referral to an EP would help. Instead it was left to me to ask for the meeting and for me to make the suggestion, which she leapt on. Unfortunately I asked for the meeting because ds's end of year exam results varied between being excellent to truly dreadful in subjects he was previously considered to excel in. She justified this by saying that subjects were harder this year. I don't understand why if she thought ds was struggling that she chose not to contact me about it. Apparently he's definitely not dyslexic but she's sure he has ADHD. Seems odd that she'd want to struggle through the year with a child that presumably is very hard to teach (if he does have ADHD).

AnnaBBB Tue 02-Jul-13 00:41:58

bico

Of course it is possible for a child to be very very bright and have ADHD but I wondered how a teacher would make an assessment of ADHD before getting a specialist involved

Sounds like it is worth getting an ed psych involved but does the school not have an SEN who could observe your DS in lessons without him knowing and report back to you in the meantime?

Also wonder if the teacher explained to you what strategies are being used by your DS teachers in class to help your DS if focus is the issue?

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 01:02:29

No time to do anything this term unfortunately. No idea what she actually does to help ds focus, other than telling him. It was an eye opener today to discover that after a year of teaching ds his teacher really hasn't got to know him at all. She considers him to be attention seeking and asking for help when he doesn't need it. He lacks confidence in his ability so unless he has reassurance I think he will seek attention.

She showed me some of the work she gets him to do and then showed me work of dcs she said were less able than him. The work he is given is very very easy (filling in blanks in a written paragraph rather than writing the paragraph from scratch). She doesn't seem to get that ds will do what he is asked to do and not more but if he is encouraged to do more he will. His handwriting has deteriorated over this academic year from being beautifully cursive to barely legible and disjointed.

What I don't know is whether his teacher's now very low expectations are the best that ds can achieve. Whatever the answer I wish we had had this conversation at Easter rather than at the very end of the school year (school breaks up on Friday). Part of me feels sad that an EP assessment could have been done earlier and we would have things to work on over the summer; but part of me thinks it may be better to wait in the hope that his new teacher may be more interested in working ds out.

Copthallresident Tue 02-Jul-13 07:07:59

I have yet to hear of a child being ADHD whose parents didn't seek a diagnosis because they already suspected it? If it does make sense to you then I don't think the fact it is the holidays need be a barrier to getting a diagnosis but from the experience of friends it is as much a medical diagnosis as one concerned with learning, there are wider psychological implications and it is important to see the right psychologist. Their GPs have been involved. I assume there is an equivalent to the independent Dyslexia charities that exist for parents who need help and advice.

You don't sound convinced though since you believe your son is seeking reassurance rather than having difficulty with paying attention. Learning Difficulties are not just the classic problems with reading writing and spelling that are associated with Dyslexia, they are a range of problems on a spectrum that also covers working memory, processing skills, motor control, numeracy. each child will have a different profile. Every year at my DD's very selective indie ends up with about 10% being diagnosed with a specific learning difficulty, which is about right as it exists in 10 % of the population at every level of ability, most of those get diagnosed post 11 because difficulties with working memory and processing skills often don't get spotted at primary level or don't manifest themselves until DCs are coping with more difficult work. You mention some exam results being excellent and some terrible and that would be entirely consistent since your learning difficulties will often but not always ambush you in exam conditions, it is so easy for your brain to fail to process a question correctly or for you to make silly errors that you don't spot. Bright children who have a learning difficulty can be disruptive and / or attention seeking because they get bored if work isn't challenging, they find it difficult, or the teaching doesn't work for their learning style.

Your teacher does seem to be raising a serious issue out of the blue, it sounds like defence rather than proactively supporting your son. The advantage of an Ed Psych assessment is that you get a measure of ability as well as difficulties and how to manage them, which you could then use to make sure his teacher does understand him next year, even that isn't an exact science since the latest Ed Psych we have seen has spotted DD has also got problems associated with Dyspraxia which now we have looked at the symptoms explains a lot, she's 17 and this is the fourth assessment she has had..... Ed Psychs also work in the holidays, again organisations like the Dyslexia Association can help.

Copthallresident Tue 02-Jul-13 07:16:25
bico Tue 02-Jul-13 08:24:09

The idea of waiting until Sept is to ensure the EP sees ds in a classroom setting. The child I have at home does not exhibit any of the signs of ADHD so I'm not sure whether it is something that would just manifest itself in a classroom setting. It also doesn't manifest in any group activities he does outside school.

It does seem that his teacher has been giving him very easy work. He told me today that he has complained about that and asked to do the normal writing work than filling in worksheets but hasn't been allowed to. I'd find that extremely odd if true. She does seem to be helping him race to the bottom of the class. He said he is on the lowest ability table and thoroughly fed up and bored with the work he gets to do. Again, he hasn't mentioned this before so not sure how true it is. Having said that ds has always been the type of child that will not talk about school. Of course I've seen his homework and always thought how easy it was but assumed that was the standard of the work set, rather than ds getting easier work.

I will write to the school and say that I am disappointed that ds's teacher appears to have been under the impression that ds has ADHD but not bothered to contact me to do anything about getting a diagnosis. I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't insisted on a meeting to discuss ds's exam results?

Interestingly when ds was in year 1 his teacher didn't think he concentrated as well as he might. He had the usual sight and hearing tests which were fine. He was also referred to the community paediatrician and queried Aspergers because he had an exceptionally developed imagination (at that age he had a whole host of invisible friends!). The result was he was assessed as being very imaginative and definitely not Aspergers (again he didn't have any of the traits you'd associate with an Aspergers diagnosis). ADHD was never mentioned and ds is very much the same child now he was in year 1. I could have a chat with his GP but if he isn't exhibiting any signs of ADHD outside school I'm not sure we'd get very far. Hence waiting for an EP assessment that will give a detailed profile of ds which will be a useful aid to assist his learning. Amongst my friends with same aged children he is considered to be 'very bright' but who knows? He has exceptional language skills and a high reading age but clearly hasn't applied himself at school this year and I don't think his teacher is completely to blame for that.

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 08:32:16

Sorry Copthall I should have thanked you for the link. I'm more convinced that ds doesn't have ADHD. Yes he doesn't concentrate in class as well as he might but I do wonder if he is just bored and not very good at dealing with that. He has never struggled with any work he has been set and not struggled to complete homework. His teacher does say he doesn't always finish work in class but if he is being given work sheets I wonder if he just can't be bothered. I'm happy with the referral to the EP as I am keen to have a broad assessment of ds's cognitive ability. His recent CAT scores were above average in all but spatial ability which came out as high ability.

IndridCold Tue 02-Jul-13 09:40:09

Don't write, arrange immediately to go in and see someone (head of year/head).

For your own sanity I don't think you should leave this until September. It sounds like it needs the opinion of a (more experienced) third party, who knows you and your DS, to have a look first. Perhaps one of the more senior staff could sit in for part of a lesson and see what they think?

FWIW if a bright child, who has no problems at home, has spent the year messing about in class to the point that his work has deteriorated and he has wasted a whole year, then I'm afraid that I would hold the teacher almost entirely to blame for that.

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 10:39:50

I had a meeting yesterday with the form teacher, the other form teacher in the year (who teaches ds some subjects) and the head of middle school.

Both the teachers sat there saying how they thought ds had ADHD. I have sent a rather blunt email to the head of year today saying that I don't want anymore time wasted. I also said that if the teacher suspected ds had ADHD then why had she waited until the end of the year to tell me? If he genuinely has then he must be an utter pain in the arse to teach. More likely she didn't want the added work that an EP would have entailed.

I would be very very surprised if ds has ADHD. He apparently doesn't finish work in class and isn't particularly organised but those are the only symptoms that fit that diagnosis. More likely he doesn't finish work in class because he doesn't see the point in filling in worksheets. He refuses to do any extension work set as the teacher (apparently) always says he doesn't have to do it, so he doesn't.

Throughout his schooling he has been top third of the class but always described as capable of much more. Now he is very much near the bottom of the class. I have asked whether the school SENCO can do an assessment before the end of term and prior to the referral to the EP. Unfortunately we only have one day of proper school left before the end of term so that isn't going to happen.

On a positive note ds has enjoyed the teaching this year and said how easy the work has been!

AnnaBBB Tue 02-Jul-13 11:36:12

Gosh what an easy label to stick on him...ADHD....and then to wait til the end of the year to leave you with that comment without any formal assessment or observation by a SENCO having been done in the classroom. I also go back to the point that i thought only a expert should be giving you a diagnosis like that

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 12:00:14

They 'suspect' he has ADHD rather than offering a formal diagnosis. I'm wondering whether it is worth contacting our GP (who is also a paediatric registrar). He knows ds very well indeed and has never suggested anything like that.

I suppose what concerns me most is when would they have told me their suspicions if I hadn't arranged a meeting with them to discuss ds's exam results?

Amongst the parents of his peers he is the child that everyone thinks will grow up and do something extraordinary such as being a famous inventor or achieving world recognition. He is different but I can't see really anything that fits an ADHD profile, but then I'm not an expert or a teacher.

Copthallresident Tue 02-Jul-13 12:13:17

It is very strange, so far as I know, ADHD isn't something you leave at the school gate, or start with in one school year, it is something you are born with and which is a set of behaviours at home and school, and on playdates etc. This link supports that www.adhdtraining.co.uk/about.php It is a bit like one teacher telling me DD1 must have been "cured" of dyslexia (and that was a teacher I had the utmost respect for) I'm afraid there is a lot of ignorance of learning difficulties in the teaching profession, ask any parent with a child with SpLDs, they receive minimal training on it, and the variation is such that even a lot of teachers with SEN qualifications don't always understand the needs of a particular child.

It might be helpful to post something in SEN or to start a thread in Education that is headed something along the lines of Is my child bored or is teacher's July diagnosis of ADHD correct? That will hopefully attract some posters with experience of ADHD, including some teachers or ex teachers who can give you the benefit of their experience. Personally I would be ratcheting it up to the Headteacher as such a serious diagnosis should have been highlighted not just months, but years ago. And I would be persuing whatever avenues I could to get a diagnosis. It sounds very much as if the teachers are all being defensive which suggests a closing of ranks.

You mention small class sizes, and exams, so I assume it is a prep school? I'm afraid that prep schools do not have to work within any sort of policy framework on SEN and so expertise is patchy, sometimes non existent, unless they are a specialist school.

RussiansOnTheSpree Tue 02-Jul-13 12:48:06

My experience of SEN support in schools is almost 100% appalling. Sadly.

britishsummer Tue 02-Jul-13 13:14:17

bico, am I correct in thinking your son is a chorister. I bet you the choirmaster would have a valid opinion as to whether your son has ADHD. I suspect he is rushing through his work and not being told that he needs to put the extra effort in to improve it. Possibly the teachers find it harder to teach children who ask questions!

bico Tue 02-Jul-13 16:38:50

He is a child who does naturally question things which I assume may be tedious for his teacher. He is a chorister and loves it. I do wonder if his teacher maybe has let school work slip because she's conscious of how busy he is. I've probably seen her to speak to about three times this academic year including this week's meeting and two parents' evenings and she's always quick to talk about how she doesn't get form time with him and how busy his schedule is. He's the sort of child that thrives on hard work so her kindness has done him no favours.

happygardening Wed 03-Jul-13 09:01:38

bico I agree with Russian a new experience but would add I'm sure much to her delight that SEN support in many preps is absolutely bloody awful even worse that in the state sector.
I have two dyslexic DS's one quite severe we have had EP assessments done on both one has had three done over the years by different EP's none have ever been done in the classroom although reports were sent from the school by the so called heads of learning support. If I was you I would get it done during the summer holidays the school will probably know of an EP that they send children too.
I've listened for many years to teachers telling me that they don't understand DS1 and also endless complaints about he fails to write etc etc. His IQ puts him in the top 5%, he's exceedingly articulate and has a high reading age and excellent comprehension but has spent much of his school career in the bottom 5% of the year being endlessly given the most basic of work which like you DS he doesn't bother to even complete. I genuinely don't know the answer to this but will tell you you need to have endless time and energy to persuade the many jobs worth you will meet through his school career to get off their over paid over holidayed backsides and actually make an effort start vociferously expressing you concerns and never assume that the staff are doing what they have agreed to do. My DS at you DS's age was also the child that all predicted would be an inventor or a mad scientist etc sadly its never happened. I'm know bitter and cynical about many in the teaching profession in both sectors.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 10:26:33

happy Such a misnomer. What a spiteful comment. Of course I'm not delighted that SEn provision is dire in the private sector. What a ridiculous thing to say. I'm not surprised though - about the crapness of provision. People always out stuff they don't understand on the 'too difficult' pile.

bico Wed 03-Jul-13 10:51:10

At the moment I'm pretty confident that the school will do what's necessary to support ds. They've acknowledged that his form teacher was wrong in not raising these issues some time ago. I've had no contact with her since early January.

The head of middle school will be teaching ds next year so he will see for himself if there is anything. The plan is for the school Senco to observe ds in lessons and report to the EP and for the EP also to observe lessons. The school will notify the EP this week so they can do whatever they can over the summer holidays. However since ds doesn't exhibit any ADHD like issues at home she will need to see him in the classroom to understand what are his form teacher's concerns.

My main concern and original reason for asking whether ds should see an EP is because of his underperformance this year highlighted by his very poor maths and English exam results. They put him near the bottom of the class amongst some children who need a lot of support. His CAT scores bear no relation to that.

happygardening Wed 03-Jul-13 13:49:59

bico was he just having a off day or has his progress in English and math been poor all this term/year?
If it was an off day I wouldn't worry I once watched one of the worlds greatest riders if not the worlds greatest rider make a mistake in a top competition that even a novice rider would be embarrassed to make it happens. Children can progress in fits and starts if I'm correct he only started at the current prep last yr its all new to him and being a chorister must mean that he has so much more to learn than other children.
Russian I think you need to lighten up a bit my comment was meant as a joke.

bico Wed 03-Jul-13 14:40:48

I don't know. I've only seen his homework which has always been ridiculously easy. I assumed that was the standard level for year 4 but I now know, at least for English, he has been given easier work. I've seen his maths books and they are full of ticks but again I don't know how the work he has been getting compares to the rest of his class. I reckon he is average at English and his exam result puts him practically bottom of the class. He was very strong in Maths last year but again his result puts him near bottom.

Ds thrives on being busy. He loves his new school and the life he has there. We were at his sports day yesterday and I discovered that he knows everyone and they know him. Mums from different school years were saying how much their dcs like ds. He's settled very well indeed so we just need to sort out his academic progress and see why that has been poor this year, albeit not across the board.

happygardening Wed 03-Jul-13 15:03:10

Was he very academic at his previous school?

I didn't mean he doesnt love it by the way but he has so much to do in a day if he's a choirister maybe he just need to learn to juggle the whole lot and prioritise different things at different times in the school year and even week he is only young he may take time to do this.

IndridCold Wed 03-Jul-13 15:04:54

bico That's so strange! I was going to ask you if he was a busy, sociable boy. This sounds EXACTLY what we went through with our DS at this age, also a busy and friendly boy. Bright, but if he found the work a bit dull would want to chat with his friends and could easily distract the whole class with jokes. Several of his class teachers did not deal with this well.

He was finally sorted out by his wonderful year 4 teacher! She had a chat with him to explain how he was expected to behave; she then gave him a choice of two or three different strategies to help him stay focussed, and we've never looked back.

It must be frustrating to have been hit with this right at the end of the school year. I'm no expert but from what you say the ADHD thing seems to be a bit of a flyer. You boy sounds great, and being busy and enjoying trying out new things will get him a long way in life. It sounds as if he just needs a bit of guidance on how to improve his concentration in class.

bico Wed 03-Jul-13 19:24:49

He was top third in previous school and this one has a similar cohort. Not stunningly academic but not bottom of class material.

I think the mention of any issues so late in the year is frankly a bit silly. However I'm happy that it has led to an EP assessment as I'm curious to see whether it confirms what I think I know about ds and what makes him tick.

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