I'm being a snob...

(24 Posts)
MissRoadie Thu 16-May-13 10:52:00

Searching for schools in my local area, Hackney, and was surprised (not in a good way) at how many of the primary schools are just 'satisfactory' in Ofsted reports and that the schools all have a very high number of children on free school meals and who speak English as a second language.
I feel terrible for thinking this type of environment may hold my child back (who knows... she might be that class nightmare!) but does anyone else have these fears?
Or can anyone tell me of a better than satisfactory school in Hackney?

SonorousBip Thu 16-May-13 11:08:34

The EAL (English as an Additional Language) point does make me laugh a bit. As someone pointed out on a recent thread, in independent schools, high levels of native speakers of other languages is viewed as a fabulous indicator of diversity. Certainly in my ds's class, I would say about half the class were bi-lingual (ie spoke another language at home with their parents) and it certainly hasn't held any of them back. (In fact, quelle horreur, some of them perform better than mono-lingual ds) Children do pick up English very very quickly.

meditrina Thu 16-May-13 11:12:46

These children are your neighbours and your community.

Do you have the same fears about your area as a whole?

burberryqueen Thu 16-May-13 11:13:38

in the end it really doesn't matter, all primary school children will do fine and even in 'outstanding' schools they don't really learn very much apart from social division. At least in your local schools they will learn to rub along with different people and that cannot be a bad thing, can it?

kilmuir Thu 16-May-13 11:17:52

I would not over worry about Ofsted. You need to have a look around some schools. may get a better vibe than you think.
Being on free school meals does not mean that you are dumb!

givemeaclue Thu 16-May-13 11:22:41

Jubilee primary still outstanding? It used to be.

Chocovore Thu 16-May-13 11:23:47

Free school meals also means more funding for that school which equals better staff, facilities etc.

seeker Thu 16-May-13 11:24:39

My Oxbridge educated brother has children who are classed as EAL because they started life at school in Spain and Spanish is their mother tongue.Hope this helps.

Did you know that children who speak 2 languages tend to do better at school? Eg Polish at home (with parents who don't speak great English) and English at school tends to mean better results in the end. I am in Lambeth (previously Harrow) and my DCs are at a pretty standard primary - I think it is rated good.

Go round and see what you think. I place a lot of importance on gut feeling. The school where I was told we couldn't go into a class because of child protection issues / the law (can't remember the exact words) was written off by me as being overly pc (and wrong in my view). Equally the one where the head was too busy to show us round (deputy head or another teacher would have been fine, but we got an ancient governer). They were both "outstanding" by the way.

givemeaclue Thu 16-May-13 11:27:06

Just checked for you yes, jubilee school in hackney was judged to still be outstanding at last ofsted in 2011.

It does have high number bilingual children and free school meals as will all schools in hackney. It is a fantastic school.

DangoDays Thu 16-May-13 11:32:09

I think these are concerns lots of parents share but you should explore the basis of these concerns. I work in an inner London secondary that is rated outstanding but I think a lot of what makes an outstanding school is around data; often which schools manipulate to cast themselves in the best light. I think results are over emphasised and are not as important as fostering independence, relationships, resilience, knowing what makes you happy and then pursuing it. I don't think these are essentially the values fostered at my school, so the outstanding label applied means very little to me. I guess you need to identify what really matters to you and your family and make choices around those priorities. I would go visit the schools and make your own mind up. Ask your neighbours with children and those who go to the schools. People who speak more than one language do not hold others back in a classroom or anywhere nor do children on free school meals.

redskyatnight Thu 16-May-13 12:31:30

Bear in mind that lots of EAL children are bilingual.
And that even if they start school speaking no English, they will be totally fluent by Y2 (if not sooner).

ancientandmodern Thu 16-May-13 12:36:28

Er, my 3 all went to Hackney primaries, one now has an Oxbridge degree, another is graduating from a top of the list RG university this June with a guaranteed place on highly competitive professional services training scheme and the 3rd plans also to take up an RG university place in Sept.

so, no, the make up of hackney schools does not 'hold children back'. Why not visit a few and see what you think about what's going on in the classroom, as opposed to in your head???

mimbleandlittlemy Thu 16-May-13 13:00:03

Like Ancient, my nieces went to one of those Hackney primaries you are citing - each one of them were the only native English speaking white kids in their classes. Both are now at Russell Group unis.

Put the misconceptions to one side and visit Ofsted isn't the be all and end all

ClaireDeTamble Thu 16-May-13 13:07:30

My DD's infant and attached juniors (midlands not london) has one of the highest numbers of EAL in the area - all it means in practice is that the majority of EAL kids are second or third gen english born but that they are bi-lingual at home - especially second gen, whose grandparents live with them as well.

Also, don't just go with the overall result - check out the scores for the individual sections and most importantly comments around capacity to improve.

Again, DD's school is satisfactory overall but scores outstanding in the areas that really matter and has huge capacity to improve. In practice it is one of the best schools in the area.

Wishiwasanheiress Thu 16-May-13 13:07:40

Have you only just noticed you live in hackney?

It's not the wealthiest of areas, but no where near worst. The schools reflect the community. I feel you are being a touch harsh before doing much research. Visit them. I think that will broaden your sight a little bit. You need a consistent school and all alter very quickly there's no guarantee an excellent one will stay there!

WouldBeHarrietVane Thu 16-May-13 13:11:52

Pretty sure Stokie still has an outstanding school.

EldritchCleavage Thu 16-May-13 13:12:11

Well, you have to take the rough with the smooth (ha ha) when choosing an area to live in. But please don't make the mistake of thinking that children with English as a second language will necessarily lower standards. They may well have well-educated parents, have a lot of encouragement and aspiration, whatever. Few stay at a loss with English for long anyway.

You are right to be disappointed local schools are only 'satisfactory', but then having a lot of engaged, committed parents can do a lot to change that for any school (the one DS will be going to in September, for example).

catinhat Thu 16-May-13 14:07:00

Having EAL doesn't mean you can't speak English; it generally means that you speak two languages fluently.

We live in the west country and our dds school (surprisingly) has lots of EAL children; within a year they speak English with a west country accent!

Don't worry.

FlightyAphrodite Thu 16-May-13 14:27:00

My son's best friend came over from Lithuania three years ago speaking no English at all. He's now in year three and consistently top of the class, or near to, in all subjects. He's also a funny, friendly, polite little boy who is a pleasure to be around.

Our school has a large percentage of children on FSM (mine included when I was a single parent) and with EAL. It is a fantastic school where I am happy and proud to send my child.

lljkk Thu 16-May-13 14:51:11

I started school in an environment like that, I went into bilingual ed even though the 2nd language wasn't spoken fully in my home, was brilliant. Hugely better than the highly rated school in Naice area that I went to afterwards.

I think >> 50% of English schools are "satisfactory", DC included until very recently. Why would that be a problem?

PastSellByDate Fri 17-May-13 06:31:45

Hi Miss Roadie:

My DDs are at a 'good' school (as rated by OFSTED) with a large number of EAL students and about 10% FSM (not particularly large and genuinely lovely kids). The question isn't what additional language - but what is their general attitude toward learning/ being at school.

At our school, genuinely, I can confirm that nearly all the parents of EAL students (Korean, Indian, Sri Lankan, Pakistani, Ugandan, Kenyan, Syrian, Iranian, Lithuanian, Polish, Chinese, etc....) value education and they're the kind of parents that really push their children to do homework, a bit extra (many go to their national language schools at weekends and I know several do extra maths/ English because parents are not happy with standard of work at our school) and many families prioritise work on English Skills. Often when the parents themselves don't have great English, their children do - because they are relied upon so heavily to read letters, speak in shops, etc....

What I will say is any time anything goes wrong with SATs or OFSTED, our school Management Team/ HT or the Governors have a tendency to announce that it is because of all the EAL students and/ or high mobility. The latter is simply untrue - certainly in the two year groups my DD's have been through maybe 7-8 pupils have left over the course of 4-5 years, but the new pupils have all stayed. For the last 4 years the council has publically reported a 0% mobility rate in Y5/ Y6 for the school.

The pupils leaving were often here because there parents were studying at the local University. One Korean firm decided to close operations here, so several families returned to Korea - their children were all fantastic students. They're often replaced by pupils from very similar backgrounds - although often different countries and/or local parents who failed to get into the school and wanted to (often for reasons of convenient after school care - the other local school doesn't offer much or many after school clubs - which is a factor and certainly after school care was the deciding issue for us in choosing this school).

I suspect when you really look at the data - which as a parent I'm not allowed to for data protection reasons - you'd find the problem lies elsewhere. Unfortunately with a single form school - presenting that kind of data publically would more or less indicate who didn't do well, so I can understand why they don't.

Genuinely, Miss Roadie - EAL isn't a huge issue - how the children are is. Are they eager to learn, is the school a bright and cheery place, do the children seem happy and engaged with learning, do parents sending children to the school speak well of it, etc.... These really are the questions to ask. If you aren't certain your DC will be a high achiever - look at the data for KS2 and see how the school does with low and average ability pupils (that's now published - so if you see only 13% of low ability pupils manage to make the government target of NC Level 4 in English/ Maths - that should be the worry, not their EAL status). You should also look at how many pupils achieve NC Level 5. This isn't snobbery - this is about understanding whether the school is capable of producing pupils/ supporting them to this standard.

Frankly the world, and given you're in London, is becoming a very blended, multicultural place - it is an advantage to your child to already have grown up in that kind of environment and be comfortable in it.

cory Fri 17-May-13 07:32:59

What a good job you're not in a position to send your children to Eton or Winchester: you'd find a lot of EAL children there.

My (state educated) children are classed as EAL simply because there isn't a tick box on the forms for "equally proficient in both languages". In actual fact, they have grown up speaking two languages. That will be true of a lot of children who have foreign parents but have been socialised into the local community since an early age.

tethersend Fri 17-May-13 09:56:26

Where in Hackney are you?

I mean this is the nicest possible way, you need to get over yourself and go and look around some schools. There are some great schools in Hackney- lauriston, Sebright, Orchard, London fields.

Hackney is very oversubscribed, so you will get a place at one of your nearest schools- can you say what they are?

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