Who's choice - yours or your DC's?

(26 Posts)
ThreeTomatoes Thu 15-Nov-12 09:33:05

We'll be applying next year, but we've looked around a few schools, I have a shortlist already and pretty much know which order I'd probably prefer to list them in. However, dd has a different idea of which school she would put down as first choice. Obviously this may change next year, but I was wondering, what do you do in this situation, esp if it's the difference between an excellent school that you feel really good about vs an ok school that dd likes?

TheKindnessOfStrangers Thu 15-Nov-12 09:40:02

I went to the secondary school my parents picked for me instead of the one I wanted to go to (and to which all my friends went). I hated it. It is your daughter who has to attend the school day in day out so I think it has to be her decision. If she is bright and motivated she will do well anywhere (home background is the biggest determining factor in how well you do at school, studies have shown it and I have seen it for myself through working in schools as a teaching assistant).

cavell Thu 15-Nov-12 09:43:11

You're the adult, so ultimately it has to be your decision. But what is it that your dd prefers about her choice?

lljkk Thu 15-Nov-12 09:46:37

DD chose, might have been different if I had had an overwhelming preference. I know I have influence over her & we thoroughly talked thru every aspect of each choice.

I bet you'll find she'll change her thinking quite a bit nearer the date.

DD has chosen the school that is rated locally as absolute best, but I still see lots of drawbacks in it (read here).

cavell Thu 15-Nov-12 09:50:48

You might find looking at the performance tables quite useful as you can see how pupils of varying ability tend to fare.

www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/index.html

Back in the old days I had the choice of 2 schools and it felt that I was being given the choice and visited both. I ended up picking the one that was far away with long travel times and almost no one from my village going there over the popular and very large local high school.
I suspect that I 'picked' the one my parents secretly hoped for though so there wasn't a huge clash.
But also back then there were not the expectations that there are now about getting good grades, and how that follows you in either finding a job, college or university.
I think you should have some adult like conversations with your DC, about why they like somewhere, how competitive the world is these days, how important it is to get an education, and the balance between academic and vocational education that suits a childs talents. That way it doesn't feel like its an all or nothing situation and that you have actually listened to your DC.
But ultimately I agree with Cavell - the final decision probably has to be made by an adult. At 10 some kids are grown up and able to process rationally but there are plenty that aren't capable of that level of thought and consideration

mummytime Thu 15-Nov-12 10:08:19

I would think very carefully about it.
With my DD we really just had to choose which order to put schools A, B and C on the application form. In year 5 and to start with in year 6, she had a slight preference for school B over school A. I preferred school A, although school B is still a very good school. We talked about both a lot. She told me what she liked about both, and what worried her. I told her my views and why.
In the end on a tour of school B, she decided she'd rather put school A first. On that tour I had noticed the library hours were not as good at B as A (by quite a long way, they are less good than C's). My DD had seen a slightly disruptive class, and I think realising that this could happen at both B and A, helped her choose A.
A friend's daughter had a similar dilema, but choose A because it got "better results" even though her friends were mainly going to B.

It really depends on the differences between the schools. If it is very small, then I would try to influence but probably go with their choice. If it was bigger I would probably over rule, having shown them my reasoning and listened to their views and concerns.

Actually in the end for DD, she wouldn't have got into B anyway that year, so would have ended up at A anyway.

eatyourveg Thu 15-Nov-12 10:23:43

It would depend on why I preferred school A above school B. If my dc wanted school B and I didn't see a lot of difference I would let dc choose, if I had strong views against school B I would be the parent and take charge.

At 10/11 a child can be swayed by all sorts of things. Are the reasons your dc prefers school B valid?

Pantah630 Thu 15-Nov-12 10:45:57

My DS2 now yr8, decided he wanted to go to the Grammar school in the next borough. We went to the open days there and at the local, outstanding, catchment school, that his DB attended. He stuck to his guns, spent a month doing past papers, saw a tutor three times to make sure he knew what to expect in the written test and took the exam. There was no intensive studying to pass and it paid off as he isn't struggling with the work. In fact he loves it there and is thriving, both academically and socially.

I know deep down he would have done ok at the other school but he would have had to put up with the bullying that started in year 6 following him and would ultimately have not been a happy child. The same bullying followed him to Scouts, which he ended up leaving, much to our disappointment as he'd gone all the way through Beavers and Cubs with the same group and loved it until then.

I had no choice where I went to school, there was one Upper school and you went there or your parents paid for private education. My DH was privately educated and hated it, he thought the local school should be good enough but ultimately we let DS choose. while I secretly kept my fingers crossed for the Grammar as they study Latin

Talk with your daughter, if she's generally sensible you'll be able to give her choices and no she'll pick what's right for her. If she's not yet mature enough to do that, only you'll know the answer to this, then you need to make the best decision yourself. Best of luck. I'm very pleased we're out of that situation now and have a whole 4 years before the next big educational decisions.

Madmog Thu 15-Nov-12 10:55:43

When the subject comes up, ask her why she likes the other school and then explain why you think your choice would be good. Obviously make it clear nothing is set in stone, you have time to talk to parents with children at both schools and look around the schools next autumn. Many schools will also give you the opportunity to go while lessons are in progress, which will be another opportunity to find out more after open evening. You may get more of a feel when you look around.

Have to say we looked at two schools and this helped considerably. One school we were approached as we walked through the door and made welcome, there was staff in the cafeteria where drinks were served, on the door on leaving in case you still have any further questions, they were well prepared, proud of the children's work on all levels, all staff seemed to be available to answer questions, gets a Grades 1/2 in Ofsted inspections and we were very impressed, felt excited for our daughter and it felt right. Luckily this was is very close and many of my daughter's friends went there, so that was an easy decision. The other school was totally the opposite on all the above, not welcomed, no one guided us around the school or was available other than teachers in classrooms who were focussed on children who struggle (which our daughter doesn't), some areas were closed including the drama room - and it's a drama based school, work wasn't displayed, all demonstrations we saw went wrong (I know this can happen with children, but clearly they hadn't been prepared), so we had no confidence and I felt it was the wrong school socially for our daughter as she wouldn't fit in (we are only working class, but she would have been the posh one) and I had alarm bells ringing.

I let my DS choose out of the top two schools that I wanted him to go to. I think at the age of 10 he is too immature to totally make the decision of what secondary school to go to as he would pick purely from a social POV as to where his friends are going. In fact the one school he did want to go to was a no no from the start and he only wanted to go there because his best friend will go there.

The two schools we looked round were both really nice and both have good results and reputation etc.....however, had I had personally found one so much better than the other then the choice would have been mine but as I had no real feelings between the two I gave him the final say.

gelo Thu 15-Nov-12 11:32:54

The important thing is that your dc have some input to the decision making and feel their views are being considered. I would veer towards it being their choice with you having some power of veto, but other balances can work too.

lljkk Thu 15-Nov-12 11:45:55

thanks for link, Cavell, tells a rather different story than the raw GCSE headline figures (click on "Pupil Progress" tab if anyone gets stuck like I did).

Thistledew Thu 15-Nov-12 11:54:54

I had a choice between school A and school B when I went to secondary school. My parents preferred school B but I desperately wanted to go to school A as that was where my friends were going. I did go to school A, but now really regret it. It didn't stretch me academically, and I soon discovered I had little in common with the friends I had so desperately wanted to stay with.

If I were making the decision now, I would have sent myself to school B.

I would say listen to the reasons for your DD's preference, discuss them with her, but acknowledge that as an adult you have a greater understanding of the benefits and drawbacks of different schools and will probably make a more balanced choice than your DD.

ThreeTomatoes Thu 15-Nov-12 13:10:39

Thank you so much for all your responses. It's very interesting. I supposedly chose my secondary school, and it coincided with my parents' choice, but I suspect they may have sent me there anyway. TBH though, i don't think it would have made a difference to me either way, I was so excited about going to secondary school, as is dd, that either way I'd have been happy. I've been wondering if over-ruling her actually wouldn't be that big a deal (esp as she does like my preferences too), I suppose she could hate school in the end whether or not it was her choice or mine. She's not going to hate school just because it was my choice, I'd imagine?

dd's reasons for preferring the school are vague - I think she was mainly charmed by the two yr 7 girls who showed us around, they were very friendly to dd, and this extended to the school generally. I personally didn't take to the Head very much, but I didn't hear the whole speech and am open to finding my first impression was unfounded when we visit again next year. It's a school that has improved greatly over the past few years by the sound of it, and the Head is clearly proud of the work he's done to facilitate that. It's also a school that nobody seems to have heard of, and I really would like some other opinions about it really before making a decision. Also, there didn't seem to be much of a music department there when we visited. dd is musical, and the standing of extra-curricular creative arts at a school is very important IMO (esp in the current climate). Another thing, there is quite a desolate long walk from the bus stop with a couple of roads to cross too, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable. Lovely area though, it felt quite countrified.

My preferences are all round excellent schools with good reputations and which we both liked on our visits, but which may be difficult to get into - one has a music aptitude test, the other we are just out of catchment. I would just feel that putting them lower down the list would be a great shame, missing out on an opportunity if she had actually got in. Both have great creative arts departments, and lots of great extra-curricular opportunities, and are both (coincidentally) girls' schools which I think I would prefer for dd . dd says this too although the school she prefers is actually mixed.

I know we have another year to go, and will be visiting again next autumn, so her view may well change, as of course may mine! Her view has already changed since we first started talking about secondary schools- our local school I'm not keen on at all, and dd initially wanted to go there knowing that a lot of kids from her school generally do, but the school she's preferring now (one of the 5 we've visited) nobody seems to have heard of! So I am at least glad that she's not buckling under peer-pressure and that sort of thing. (She's never been that sort of child actually, long may it last.) She is also very easy to talk to in an 'adult-like' way so I have no problems talking through it all with her properly.

Oh sod it i have my own thread already on here with schools' names on so i'll just actually name them - we're in Bromley - dd is still on about Edendale, my top two would be Prendergast & Langley Park.

mummytime Thu 15-Nov-12 13:40:07

For the walk from the bus stop, I would check it out at about school drop off or collection time. It might be much better then.

ThreeTomatoes Thu 15-Nov-12 19:34:03

Good point, mummytime, she'd be accompanied by friends etc of course. I also tend to forget she'll be growing up too! blush

I looked at your link cavell, interesting. What does "pupil progress" mean anyway, as in how are those figures worked out?

By the way the school dd likes is Edenham, not Edendale!!

gfrnn Thu 15-Nov-12 23:47:30

When I was in my last year of primary school, I sat and passed the 11 plus and told my parents I wanted to go to a grammar school in the neighbouring LEA. My reasons were a combination of social, academic and extracurricular: my closest friend was going there, they had good exam results, a strong science department and a good athletics club.
My parents had other ideas and sent me to the nearest school, which was supposedly comprehensive but almost all the kids in the top quartile academically went elsewhere. Only one of the other bright kids from my primary went there, and we were put into separate classes. When my parents queried why, they were told we had been separated so as to provide a role model in each class for the other kids. I have since heard the term "used as fertilizer" for this approach. Things did not improve: I spent the years that followed bored to the verge of mental illness, deprived of the company of peers of similar ability, and utterly, utterly miserable.
Why did my parents decide as they did? Partly because although they'd had private/grammar educations themselves, they were only too willing to sacrifice their own children on the altar of their woolly, liberal principles. But also, crucially, because they felt that the opinion of an 11 year old about their own future was something they had a right to completely disregard.
The responsibility for the final decision ultimately rests with the parent/guardian. However, if your DC has an opinion on where they see their future, you have an obligation to listen to them very, very carefully. They, not you, will have to live with the decision for years to come. Clearly the maturity and motivations of the child will vary enormously, but regarding the thread heading "whose choice?" the point I would like to get across is that there are cases where the child knows better but is ignored due to hubris or a dismissive attitude on the part of the adult.

picturesinthefirelight Thu 15-Nov-12 23:52:15

The two schools on our list are do very different and would really determine which direction dd goes in that ultimately it had to be her decision.

We helped of course and the fact dh teaches in one if them and the other is attached to her junior school helped

Ultimately she has made the right decision for her I think but we have said that nothing is set in stone and if she felt she wanted to move in Year 9 or for 6th form we will support that.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 16-Nov-12 07:25:57

gfrnn very good post. The thing is, I do get the feeling dd sometimes makes a snap decision about her opinion on something without any real foundation for it, if that makes sense.

I will make sure to sit down and discuss properly all the schools in our shortlist so she knows exactly the pros & cons of each, what each has to offer etc, so she makes a mature informed decision rather than just letting a whim taking over. I don't remember my parents doing that with me, which is probably why i can't imagine that i'd have been able to make that sort of decision back then.

B1ueberryMuff1n Fri 16-Nov-12 07:36:06

A friend said to me a while ago that she allowed her daughter to pick the nearer school because she'd know her daughter's friends then. Her older child had been lying saying to her 'im at sophie's' when she was either at Josh's or in town in cafes all afternoon.

Saying that, I plan to make the decision but I'll factor in things that she cares about but it will be my decision. She may not get in to my top choice.

Erebus Fri 16-Nov-12 10:35:01

I saw it as my choice (and we had a real choice in that we were about to buy thus would buy in catchment of the desired school!). I wanted a secondary to work for both of my DSs, 1 who is quite academic and able; 2 who isn't so much.

It 'helped' that DS knew that none of us really wanted him to go to the catchmented school which his YR-5 school/s fed. I also concede my view was coloured by knowledge of that school from years ago when it was rough and a bit rubbish! So we moved the DS to a new primary when we moved to my 'chosen' catchment, into Y6 and 4. This still allowed the possibility of choosing another school (M) as they would have gotten in, BUT though this other school has improved immensely over the past few years, there's a feeling the improvements are entirely 'new Head-lead' and maybe not sustainable. I have friends DCs there and the simple fact is that, though DS1 would have been in the top sets there, therefore maybe a bit less likely to suffer from the disruption caused by badly socialised DC, DS2 would be down there amongst them; so we chose school T for them (where we are now catchmented) as not only is it academically good, it does well, apparently, by all its pupils and the less able are in classes of the less able, not the less willing. I wouldn't expect a Y5 or 6 to 'get' that point.

DS1 understood all of this and, tbh, I think was pleased that the decision was taken out of his hands. IMHO, such an important decision can't really be made by a 10 year old on the basis of a half-day's visit to a school where it's usually all gloss and bling. They can't spend hours researching the school, talking to parents (and DC) already at the school, trawling MN, visiting the school's at every opportunity in order to be as fully informed as possible.

gfrnn Fri 16-Nov-12 21:00:58

Another example which might be of interest: my sister in law, who is very bright and easily could have got a good degree and had a decent career, also passed the 11 plus. She was allowed by an overly permissive, borderline hippy mother to choose her school, and chose to go to a secondary modern with her friends rather than one of the local grammars. She left school at 16 with a few GCSE's (no maths), started training as hairdresser, dropped out, and spent several years what might loosely be described as 'up to no good'. She still has no qualification beyond GCSE, lacks the confidence to get them, and has no interest in anything academic, which is a shame and a waste for such a bright girl. Is her mother culpable? Is she ever.
So, whose choice? It has to be a joint decision by the child and parent/guardian. If, after discussion, there is no agreement, the adult ultimately has the casting vote, but they are obliged to act in the best long term interest of the child. If the child is saying something more mature and less transient than "I want to go with my friends" then the adult really should listen.

ThreeTomatoes Fri 16-Nov-12 21:36:42

Thanks for your stories. It's feeling a bit clearer now.
As I said, there doesn't seem to be a danger atm of dd simply choosing the school her friends are likely to go to, but of course that is very, very likely to change next year when everyone else actually starts looking at schools. Who knows, maybe they'll all go to different schools anyway...

LittenTree Fri 16-Nov-12 21:48:19

gfrnn Interesting.

I know of a girl (a good friend's younger sis) who 'inadvertently' just passed her 11+ despite her best efforts to fail but was allowed to choose to go to SM wiv her mates. All well and good. Did badly, spent her middle to late teenage years kicking sand from beach to beach etc. Her mum, as a senior nurse, retired with her DH to the 'furthest way abroad you can go' (geddit?). My friend, a qualified HCP (who'd also failed her 11+ but was top-of-the-year throughout SM) and her DH followed soon afterwards and are still there. The sis, after a couple of years of dossing suddenly decided she, too, would head 'that way' but, guess what? The authorities there said' What can you offer us?' Nada. So she had to get some 'O' levels, then 'A's then nursing (her final choice) to become 'valuable'. Got there 5 years later.

The parents still recognise they should have insisted the sis went to GS. No certainty she would have done better, academically, but a bloody good chance!

FWIW I still believe my parents failed my DB, 2 years older than me, who failed his (bloody) 11+. Back then, you had no 'choices'. As an 11+ 'failure', the only other option was coed or single sex (an even worse school). I feel they should have sent him private (they could have afforded it) instead of the dreadful SM he was at. It would have made so much difference to his life options. I was OK, I passed in Y5 and went to a GS at 10.

Where you end up in life is, imho, predicated a lot on your secondary school.

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