Education choices for "bright" children(29 Posts)
Maybe not truly a G&T question, but hoping for some advice.
DH and I are both naturally quite academic and bookish. Did well academically at school, have 1st class degrees and post grad qualifications. However, we both had an awful time at school, we're bullied mercilessly as being clever wasn't "cool" and achieving academically garnered lots of negative attention. I don't think this was helped by attending a school with relatively low attainment. As a result we are both quite shy, and really were miserable throughout our school careers.
DD is still at nursery, but we are told is showing signs of being "naturally quite bright" - right now it doesn't really matter if that continues or not, she's loving nursery and is very happy. But it has got me wondering about schooling. There is no urgent rush I know, but our circumstances are such that we do need to start thinking about it (DH is in the military and we move every 18 months/two years and are considering whether to buy a house and have him come home just for weekends)
So, my question (finally) is this. If it does turn out that DD is "quite bright" what are the best options for schooling, to try and encourage her, but mostly to try and prevent her going through the torturous experience we both did? It would be a difficult stretch for us to afford independent schooling, but we have no strong family ties so could settle anywhere in the country. Alternatively I've considered homeschooling, and continuing to move around with DH. I could of course be over thinking the whole thing, and she might be as happy as Larry moving every couple of years and attending whichever schools have space, but I'd appreciate the views of others.
There are some great military-linked independent schools and many independents provide generous bursary or scholarships (if she is gifted) which are worth looking into if you're worried about moving around. However, a child will thrive most where they are most happy. The majority of schools are ok and you can do lots of activities outside school. Your DD may not have the same experiences as you and DH, but you can prepare her for some of those situations by building her confidence, resilience, strength of character so she can deal with difficult situations in any part of her life.
Our DD sounds like your DD OP. As a toddler she was speaking almost like an adult. We didn't have the challenge of moving about or being part of a military family but DD was soooooo ready for school at a young age she had clearly grown out of nursery and whilst I have a degree I couldn't pretend to know the best way to teach. We found an amazing school that had a 'pre-reception' class and it was just like she started school but a year early. we had no initial intention of her staying on at that school as it was independent but she was thriving, happy and ahead by a year (our fault!) so she stayed and loved it until she grew out of the school and we moved her on for Y3. DD starts at grammar in September. It just so happens that early school we sent DD to has a good number of military and Methodist families at senior age who board. The younger girls are just day school. This is in Greater London. In Kent you will find the likes of the state boarding grammar Cranbrook. I think there are other state boarding schools too but only after a certain age, military families usually get priority or if independent a discount.
I am not sure if this is going to be helpful but maybe you could encourage her to choose extra curricular activities that will help her make friends, choose a musical instrument that she can play in school orchestra, join choir, or practice a team sport, football, netball - obviously she is too small now but later on? I know that DS really enjoys being part of school orchestra as he meets children from other classes and schools, and when he goes to secondary school it will help him meet new friends.
Like Haggard suggested there are some good indies for military personnel and if they want to board there are even more generous bursaries.
Not sure if you'd consider this for secondary education.
There are state schools which encourage learning and where being clever is not a stigma. My DCs have gone through State schools where quite a few children from Primary passed entrance tests to high achieving Private schools. And from Secondary ones which send a reasonable cohort each year to Oxbridge and the Medical schools (probably at least 200 out of 300 go to University in the end).
I was teased at school for being 'the clever one' and I had some of the same concerns as you. My DC are all bright, DS1 exceptionally so, and they've had no problems at all. I guess it helps that they go to a village school with a nurturing ethos, whereas my primary school was in London.
So my advice is to choose the right school, and I hope your DD has as positive experience as my DC have.
Thanks all for your replies. My current issue is that we arw very fortunate to have the financial opportunity to buy a house right now (for now the house would be rented out) but would be there however, we have no idea where in the country we would want to settle. Im keen to chose somewhere where the schools provide good options for DD, but I have no idea where that might be,or what im looking for!
You might want to consider a grammar school area. In grammar schools the studious types tend to congregate in numbers large enough not to appear out of the ordinary.
In the mean time, if you are considering home education, you could get advice from the home education section. There is bound to be someone else in a similar circumstance on there who could help you make up your mind. I home educated through some of primary and really enjoyed it, but was not having to relocate every so often.
You might also want to look at State boarding schools, some of them have amazing results (eg. Gordons).
You need to look at the current rules for CEA, plus what your DH's career path is like and impact on mobility, and sort out whether you would ever consider boarding (and if so from what age).
If you buy and he bean steals, you might lose entitlement to CEA.
In thinking about buying now, consider where you want to live, proximity to your family and friends, and proximity to major garrisons. Then schools.
So, for example, somewhere like Harrogate might work if you think a lot of time at Catterick is a possibility (good state schools in the town, near various independents which have a number of CEA-funded boarders, Ripon Grammar state boarding do-able). But no good if you think Camberley is more likely to be calling...
DHs carrer is likely to stay mobile throughout, so although I'd probably stay southish, if we decide to settle we will be accepting that he will always work away in the week.
Family are abroad, and friends are military so scattered across the country, so really no ties here!
We wont consider boarding school unless we can afford it withoutthe CEA, as I dont trust the rules not to change and I also dont want DH to be trapped in the job "for the sake of the chilsren"
Sorry, posted too soon. I think we might think about buying a rental property abd moving at a later date. That makes me a little nervous though as we got stuck in a negative equity situation a couple of years ago and were stuck with a house we couldnt live in. Too many decisions to make!
If possible try to go to a selective independent day school. There are usually very bright people children at these, and it is not looked down on to work hard at school and the classes are peaceful. They also offer a lot of extra-curricular activities.
You would be surprised how many people are not as well off as might be supposed in schools like these. They often have bursaries for bright, poor children, and other children have parents who are doing all they can to send their child there. I know that when we sent our child to a school like this, there were plenty of people richer than we were sending their children to state schools; at the same time there were some other parents with children at the same school as ours who were poorer than we were.
Or, as you move around perhaps a boarding school after a certain age. They have scholarships but they are very competitive. Does the military not contribute to this anymore? It seems unfair to expect a child to keep moving schools.
There are some good state boarding schools too where the parents do not pay for tuition, just for the board. I know someone whose very bright children went to one and were happy. They both went to top universities.
Come to Trafford! In Altrincham and Timperley you'd be in catchment for two state Grammar schools, Altrincham and Sale (plus more if you are Catholic), primaries are great and the local 'comps' eg Wellington High are also great if your DC didn't pass the entrance exams. Prices are high for the Manchester area but cheap compared to the SE.
Stroud in Gloucestershire has good state grammars and is a nice place to live. There are some good primaries there too.
Kent has grammar schools I think. I wonder if this link is current?
One advantage of looking at state boarding schools is the children of serving military personnel are one of the highest categories for admission to boarding places. But most of them start at 11+, and you'll need good primaries in the next year or two.
Are you settled in a current posting for a couple of years, or are you likely to move before she starts? Note application dates and deadlines now.
The admissions round timetable can be a severe headache for mobile families, but that you can (unlike non-military families) apply for a school on the strength of a future address (need posting order or CO's letter to support that) and it's worth mentioning as exceptional social need too (might or might not work, but as she'll attract pupil premium (because the population of forces children as a whole have poorer outcomes that might otherwise have been expected) it's worth a try).
Find a good school with an excellent pastoral those. Whether independent or state is really irrelevant.
Other than that, I suggest tonnes and tonnes of sport and other activities (music lessons) from a young age. The academics will take care of themselves, excelling at sport tends to lead to popularity and is great for mental health and resilience.
Colchester is a garrison town so there are lots of military families around. It's also got highly selective grammar schools which would suit an academically clever child.
From experience schools are very slow at sending children's progress to the next school and children are often placed in bottom sets to start with -
So if she does end up moving request her levels to pass on to the new school
i personally would prefer homeschool or worldschool my kids, esp. if they are bright. i always want them to learn real lifeskill, see real things and talk to real people in the world, certainly NOT getting stuck in school and learn the world through books alone.
in term of choosing the right school, I would suggest IB PYP and MYP schools if you want your kids to be inquisitive, strong in writing & research skill and have a better world awareness. GCSE is exam oriented and its learning is passive (teachers feed/teach students with book knowledge, no critical thinking required). when your kids get to 14yo, you can then switch back to GCSE/iGCSE if you prefer.
This is just my opinion and parenting choice but it's from my own experiences. If your little girl is seeming very academic, make a point of encouraging the other stuff, because she'll do the school stuff great anyway. Focus on physical and social activities, build her confidence and she'll get on just fine whatever you choose.
How about Colchester or somewhere near by? It's a garrison town and there are grammars here. If she doesn't pass the 11 plus then there are good independent options too.
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