I'm slightly worried that we are not pushy enough parents

(49 Posts)
Mintyy Wed 10-Jul-13 20:32:24

Dd is in Yr 7 at a bog standard London comp, which is exactly what I wanted for her and am quite happy.

There is a but, though, which is that she is a top level student in every subject and I am worried that she will not reach her full academic potential at this school because they, quite understandably, are very keen to get as high a number as possible passing 5 gcses inc Eng and Maths at A-C, and I suspect that they are happy to allow their best pupils to get, say, 11 gcses at all sorts of grades.

I have no doubt that dd would be an A/A* student at private or grammar school, but I don't want her to go to that kind of a school!

What do people do to make sure that very clever children are being stretched (not pushed) at state secondary?

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 11:23:20

Yep, my lot appear to have various slightly obscure ways of identifying kids for special sessions/classes/subjects.

Preciousbane Thu 11-Jul-13 11:35:27

DS goes to a bog standard comp, it's the feeder school for the junior school he went to, its in a deprived area. The roughness of the school would give some people a fit of the vapours.

We had his end of year school evening and he is currently on course for A/A* grades as are quite a few of the friends he has made. Well at present, anything can change. Thinking of colleagues DS who failed almost all his GCSE's, he attends the best secondary school in the county and lives in a delightful village in a rather beautiful house.

I think parental influence, activities, interest and how much a parent can tutor their dc is the key to back up formal education.

glaurung Thu 11-Jul-13 11:36:03

I suspect it depends on her own drive to a very large degree. The dc that achieve highly at our local (not especially good, but improving) school are quite noticeably very driven individuals.

So if she's top because that's where she wants to be and is prepared to work to be there it will probably be OK and her grades will be not far short of what they might have been. If she's more laid back and coasting a bit but is still top, then there's a bigger risk of underachieving imo - although a few dc do manage to coast through GCSEs and do very well.

pointythings Thu 11-Jul-13 12:34:39

Seconding what talkinpeace has said - DD1's comprehensive works in exactly this way and is very firm in making sure the students know that they are expected to do well. Good state schools will just handle this kind of thing.

How the DCs feel about the pressure as they develop into full blown teenagers is another question, but that is our problem as parents, not the school's.

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:10:35

I mean bog standard in an affectionate way MI smile. I have had several people this week telling me it was their First Choice for their Year 6 girls, which is great. One has chosen it above an offer from TCS iykwim.

Nit, yes I do have a good friend with a dd who has just finished her gcses there. Sadly, she is choosing not to go to the sixth form. Both she and her mum seem to think there is something lacking in the sixth form, but tbh I don't want to grill my friend about it because we usually talk about things other than school when we go out. I find I get immensely bored of school talk, and I worry that that in itself is an indicator of my woeful non-pushyness as a parent!

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:15:35

"I think parental influence, activities, interest and how much a parent can tutor their dc is the key to back up formal education."

Yes, I suspect this too but am floundering a bit as to what to actually do. I don't want her to take her eye off the ball but I don't want to put her under a lot of pressure either.

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:17:49

Thanks for great responses btw!

hernow Thu 11-Jul-13 13:28:42

I get concerned every now and again that I really should be a pushy parent or at least a bit but I doubt very much that it would have any affect on our DC. Plus I feel there is already enough to push and argue about. Life is too short to add to the stress school/peer group can already add to life is my excuse.

Interested why do Duke of Edinburgh through open award centre rather than school nextphase why?

hernow Thu 11-Jul-13 13:29:42

Apologies nextphase just read too quickly earlier.

Elibean Thu 11-Jul-13 14:25:37

Oooh Minty, thank you for starting this thread.

dd1 only in Y4, but may well be heading in similar direction and I want to support without being pushy...and don't want a pushy school for her. She is bright, top sets at primary, but doesn't respond well to pushing/pressure.

Very interesting answers, and I do totally relate to muddling through and that 'feeling'!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 14:28:40

Mintyy, don't be too worried about your friend's choice of sixth: some of dds friends are staying and some are not, I think they and their parents and I just all see different pluses and minuses to it!

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 17:08:28

Could not agree more about the dullness of school talk! As far as pressure goes, some kids respond really well and thrive and others don't. Encourage your dd to aim high and try lots of new things and be constructively busy (A Good Thing for most teens IMO and IME). And then see. You'll know if she is happy or not. I would not assume pressure is a bad thing though especially if she is very bright and schoolwork comes easily. It is just finding the balance.

schooldidi Thu 11-Jul-13 18:18:52

I hate school talk too, and I'm a teacher blush.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 19:30:19

op check out your school's website. Many schools have their GCSE results tables there.

It should tell you how many pupils sat X gcse and how many attained an A*, A, B etc etc, or it might tell you the figure as a percentage.

You can find out what the national average was for pupils getting an A* etc.

This is a good indicator of whether your school is actively challenging their most able students and whether the education provided is appropriate for them.

This is also a good indicator of a school's particular strengths and weaknesses.

It's true that some schools do use their energy and resources to ensure that as many students as possible pass. You might think this is a fair use of energy and resources actually, as it will actively benefit the largest number of kids. But if that's the case in your school, you may have to step up to the plate for your own DD!

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 19:55:43

I can find a summary of gcse, AS and A2 (assume that's A Levels?) on the website, don't know how it compares to other schools though.

I just feel slightly twitchy when I consider how deeply involved some parents seem to be in their children's education. You know, the sort of deeply involved where they can reel off the results of similar schools or participate in endless long long long threads on here about the minutiae of exam results and all that.

I don't want to become an obsessive but I don't want to let my dd down by being too hands off and just accepting that she will do well because she is capable.

lljkk Thu 11-Jul-13 19:59:59

What do people do to make sure that very clever children are being stretched (not pushed) at state secondary?

Trust that ambition & motivation come mostly from within and that my role is to support not live thru the vicariously.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:01:24

You don't have to be remotely obsessed. Just informed. It is a work of moments to see if your school is doing well by its most able students.

If the answer is it's doing very well, then all you need do is keep your eye on the ball.

If the answer is no, then you need to decide onm a course of action. If any.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:03:21

lljk ensuring that your DC have access to an education appropriate to their needs and aspirations is not vicariously living through them!

It is our responsibility surely?

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:25:22

wordfactory - I don't know how to interpret the results.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:28:12

Ok. Look at the table.

Start with an easy one. English Language. How many students took it? How many got an A*?

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 20:32:20

Mintyy, just look at the various govt sites and you can compare your school with local schools, with schools with similar intake etc etc. Wordfactory is right. Finding out the basic facts is very quick. If they don't reassure you, you may need to do a little more digging.

There are people strangely obsessed with extraordinary level of pointless detail about schools. And there are people, who through bad luck, ill health, the postcode lottery or whatever, have real problems with the education on offer to their dc. These two groups collide on MN. Joining in with that will not help your dd one jot.

glaurung Thu 11-Jul-13 21:01:22

Not the best place to start wordfactory. % A* for English language for last year will probably only reveal if the school has an early entry policy for English language or not. But aside from that glaring anomoly last summer the method probably works reasonably.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 11-Jul-13 21:08:25

Even the boggest of standard schools are fully aware of what students need to achieve in order to get A* - it is very formulaic - just do the homework, do what her teachers tell her to, and she will manage it.

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:18

Mmmm, some schools do better than others, ith similar intakes http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/.

You can compare the performance of high, middle and low attainers in different schools, average grades and lots more. Do bear in mind that it is all broad brush strokes - three categories is not much but I just checked a couple of (similar) schools near me and in one the "high attainers" got an average of A-, and in another C+. That would make me ask questions about why - there might be a good reason but that is a big difference.

And if the school publishes a grade breakdown, then look at numbers of A/A* in the main academic subjects. And think about how that relates to say the top three sets (depending how the school organises teaching).

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