Choosing the right school for bright child

(10 Posts)
Meita Wed 20-Nov-13 14:20:15

It's my first time posting in this section, so hello!
I have lurked and read quite a lot, and have noticed that quite a few people, unsurprisingly, have problems regarding school and their very able children.
Our DS will start reception next autumn, so we are choosing a school now, and I am hoping for some advice from people who have had bright kids in school already. Have got to say that DP and I both grew up abroad, so we struggle a bit to correctly interpret things we read about schools.
DS is August born so will only just be 4.

DS is clearly bright, and ticks lots of the boxes on the 'potential plus' information sheet, though I wouldn't call him a genius, nor necessarily 'gifted', as he is just too 'normal'. He is very good at sitting and concentrating, when something catches his interest. Now at 3.3 he is teaching himself to read (has known the alphabet since age 2 but was until now not interested in reading. He is bilingual and the other language has a mostly phonetic alphabet which he learned initially and is now working out how this applies in English, i.e. pretty much what phonics is). He can add to 10, using props such as fingers, and loves doing it. So clearly not super-bright like some kids I have read about here, but still, if he continues learning as he has been, I expect him to be way ahead of average by the time he starts school.
Emotionally, he is in some ways a typical 3yo who can be very shy but also very boisterous, particularly on his 'home territory'. He gets along well with one other child, but when there are two or more same-age children around, he goes off and does his own thing. He tries to get others interested in what he is doing but these attempts often fail.

What I would like is for a school to recognise his abilities insofar as that his school experience doesn't quash his enthusiasm for learning. I would also like him to be stretched and challenged at school, as I definitely do not want to have to fill out-of-school time with extending stuff, out-of-school should be for play and mucking around in the dirt and falling off his bicycle. Mostly, I really would like him to be happy at school, as he will be spending a lot of time there!

I realise that he might turn out to be completely average, or 'just' bright and perfectly happy in any school, but I don't know that yet. So, going on what is only an assumption, that he will be quite a bit above average at least initially, we are thinking about which school might suit him.

Now we have three very different schools we are considering (we have good chances of getting into each of them), each with its specific advantages and disadvantages, and I can't make my mind up which criteria matter most!

School 1 is a very small school. It has 20 intake, YR-Y4, a total of 100 kids. It is very intimate and personal, and offers high flexibility, as the kids are in age-mixed classes anyway. However, there are not too many resources, e.g. the G&T kids go to a Maths club which is at a different school, quite a distance away. There probably would be no other kids from our town at the school, so I worry a bit about the social side.

School 2 is a smallish faith school. 30 intake, YR-Y6, i.e. 210 kids. It has outstanding academic achievements, with 60-80% of kids achieving L5 or more, depending on subject, which I take to mean that being brainy is seen as a good thing. It seems that kids are very happy there too. Though I do worry about how well the school might deal with unusual kids, and the headteacher is new (less than 12 months) so there are some worries there too.

School 3 is the local community school, 60 intake, YR-Y6, i.e. 420 kids. It achieves way above national and county averages, but not as well as school 2. It sees itself as a 'pushy' school. It is well resourced (e.g. two dedicated SENCOs) and due to size would be able to offer more. However its size also worries me: I feel it would be very easy for an individual child with individual needs to be overlooked, and I just can't get a positive gut feeling about it.

I would appreciate any thoughts, or experiences of bright kids in different types of schools!

passedgo Wed 20-Nov-13 14:24:17

School 3. 1 won't be good socially and 2 would be a problem because intelligent children don't fall for religion and will make their teachers lives difficult.

And remember that no child is born brighter than another. They are born different. Saying your child is bright is just another way of saying that another is not bright.

moogalicious Wed 20-Nov-13 14:29:00

2 would be a problem because intelligent children don't fall for religion

Really? My dc have had no problems in a small, faith school.

OP, have you looked at the schools yet?

moogalicious Wed 20-Nov-13 14:33:35

Sorry, just re-read. It seems like you have. I think the key phrase is 'the kids are very happy there' for school 2.

passedgo Wed 20-Nov-13 14:38:56

The only really smart children I know just won't buy religion at all. It annoys them and they annoy their teachers. Belief in miracles doesn't go together with an inquiring mind, especially at primary school where they learn about evolution and the fundamentals of science.

If you don't have a positive gut feeling about school 3 (having presumably seen it and met the head teacher) then I think it's probably not the right place for your child.

School 1 sounds nice, but local friends are a real asset for small children, so I'd tend to go for school 2, specially since you felt the children were happy there.

Many English 'faith schools' are no more religious than the non-state ones, since Christianity is treated as a default for assemblies etc in them too. The real question is whether you got the feeling that the school did a lot of faith-related activities and to what extent you'd be happy with that. Intelligent children are quite capable of understanding "At school they do x, at home we do y, people are all different and you can be polite while making your own choices" and most schools will not have any problem with that attitude.

passedgo Wed 20-Nov-13 15:06:16

Sorry I have nothing against religious education, just a bit wound up by the use of the word 'bright' in the OP's thread title. It grates.

saragossa2010 Wed 20-Nov-13 15:10:30

Perhaps go by which school at 11 the children go to. Pick the primary which gets the most children in the school you want him at ultimately. So ask about destinations of leavers at 11+.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 20-Nov-13 21:45:06

Hmmm my really smart 9 year old just choose her senior school one of her factors for choosing it is that it is Church of England and she will attend Chapel once per week. She knows all about creationism and Darwinism so gets that science says that creationism can't exist.
I would choose the school that you get the best feel from at this stage.

Meita Wed 27-Nov-13 10:57:56

Sorry everyone for coming back to this so late. Life kind of intervened.

Thanks for your comments. I still feel very torn. The religious thing does bother me a bit (IMO religious education should not be mixed up with general schooling). I am not too worried about 'having to believe in miracles' and think the 'some people believe…' conversations would be manageable. I am more concerned about fitting in socially.

I guess there are just so many aspects that it is hard to decide, for any child. But what I think I meant to ask here, specifically, is only regarding a child who might possibly turn out to be amongst the most able (academically) in his year. (Of course the other things matter too, but that's not what I'm asking about here)
Boiling it down, it's small school with age-mixed classes (I see this as a positive, could be wrong?) vs. small-ish school with excellent achievement track record, vs. large-ish school with more opportunities, more kids means larger pool of potential friends, etc.
Any more thoughts on this?

Passedgo, I am truly sorry to have offended. Have been thinking about it, and although 'bright' is widely used in this context, I do see how it is problematic. The opposite being, literally and figuratively, 'dull' - and I wouldn't describe any child as dull. I don't SEE any child as dull. So I agree with your point. I wouldn't describe my DS as gifted, or talented - I don't think he has a gift or a special talent. All I can say is that my usage of the term stems from not knowing what else to say and needing a shorthand to describe him, and I am frequently told by others that he is 'bright' (I know that doesn't make it ok). But I will be more careful of the terms I use in future, so thanks for pointing this out.

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