Would you send your child to a grammar school ?

(327 Posts)
HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 19:27:52

This is going to be quite long and rambling but I wanted to find out how much of my own experiences are clouding my judgement.

Okay, where we live there are not any great schools unless you are in the correct feeder schools, which we aren't as we moved to the area after Reception.

I know people say that all the time, but it's true - I'm not a snob I promise! grin

There are a few grammar schools within a commutable distance, and after researching all the local schools, look like the best choice.

I say choice as they are not necessarily an option for us. DD is bright, on the top table (apparently), but as I said already we live in a really deprived area. Half the children don't even wear the uniform let alone turn up for school. If she were at a better performing school she might be more average, I don't know.

So anyway I was going to do a practice verbal and non-verbal reasoning test with her just to see if she had any natural aptitude or not, and then consider whether we should try for a grammar or not.

BUT... She doesn't want to go to a school like that, she wants to go to one with normal people.

Oh the irony! Her words are exactly I said to my very working class parents and my head teacher after turning down a place at a grammar school. My dad was angry but my mum let me make my own mind up.

Subsequently I went on to a 'normal' school and academically I achieved as well as I would have at the grammar, but but but I can't help thinking that if I'd have mixed with girls from the other school, I may have not ended up pregnant at 18 living in a council flat confused!

I know my DD is very easily led, even more so than me (she gets it from her dad's side)grin and I think when she goes to secondary school she'll be more interested in boys and makeup than getting As.

So what should I do?

I said it'd be long!

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:39:31

Yes that's what I'm worried about.

At home she's proud of her achievements and tries hard with her homework. But she doesn't want to be seen to be like a geek.

I thought geek chic was cool, she even made me buy her geek glasses.

I may have to take her to these schools and show her how her idea of 'ugly clever geeks' is completely wrong.

wickedwitchNE Wed 18-Sep-13 20:41:26

I have to say I was exactly like your DD. I absolutely refused to consider going to a grammar, preferring the local (awful) comp where all my friends were going. In the end my parents gave me no choice in the matter, and despite the tantrums and arguments, it was the best thing they ever could have done for me. I was too easily led by other people and at primary school held myself back on purpose to fit in. Grammar school was amazing for me in the end, and there was such a wide range of kids - definitely not all geeks!

Don't feel guilty pushing her to it if you honestly feel it will benefit her. Has she visited the school or been around it at home time (to see tht not all the pupils are ugly!)? Can't think of any other practical ideas to convince her, other than bribery!

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 20:43:31

Ah well according to my DD, 'geek chic' is for wannabe geeks and so isn't cool - what's cool is being able to actually do stuff not just dress the part. Substance not appearance.

Slipshodsibyl Wed 18-Sep-13 20:46:54

Peer group is the biggest influence on children through secondary school. This isn't really a grammar versus comprehensive issue - more to do with the people she meets. Sadly, once a school gets an unsatisfactory rating parents move their children. I'm an ex secondary teacher and have taught at schools throughout the socio economic spectrum.

Bright children will most certainly not do well everywhere and she is far too young to decide this wisely. She needs you to make a sensible choice on her behalf. In the meantime, if you are in London, start spending weekends at venues that raise her aspirations. There are so many cost free opportunities.

Maybe it would also help if you got some nice sixth formers to baby sit her or something - preferably one who is not ugly ;)
If she knows some normal girls at the school she might change her mind.

HeGrewWhiskersOnHisChin Wed 18-Sep-13 20:52:18

I just told her that most of the girls from TOWIE went to grammar school (it's probably not true but I'm sure one of them attended a private school)!

She said it can't be true because they look stupid ( not clever and therefore ugly then).

I said the only reason why they've made a success and all have businesses despite their non-ugliness is because of the brilliant education they received.

I may have given her something to think about (even if its not true). grin

Slipshodsibyl Wed 18-Sep-13 21:17:48

Turn the telly off.... At least when programmes like Towie are on.

wineoclocktimeyet Wed 18-Sep-13 21:29:31

I assume all your local schools are holding their Open Days/Evenings soon, so maybe visit as many as you can so your daughter can see for herself.

DS1 has just started at grammar school and wasn't sure so we went to all schools at the start of Year 5 - reasoning being, if he was going to put the work in for the 11+, he had to be sure he wanted to go.

ErrolTheDragon Wed 18-Sep-13 22:29:51

yes - the open day at DDs school is definitely aimed at yr5s (a few year 4s turn up too) but its later in the year. 6 is too late - they have their 11+ this weekend.

I would let DD go to a grammar school if she was bright enough, because I went to one and it was the best option for me (bright and quiet), although like you I wouldn't coach her to get into one if she wasn't naturally that way inclined. However at eleven I wouldn't be letting her make this decision by herself - at eleven I wanted to stay home all day reading and playing! - eleven is not old enough to make decisions, or enough have the majority voice in making decisions, that could very well have an impact on the rest of her life. I say life because you state: At the moment it's pretending she's not bright and saying she doesn't understand things, because she plays with a girl who is like that

This would really worry me and make me more determined to get her to grammar school if it was possible as this attitude could be really damaging if she has friends like that in any other secondary school.

Kenlee Thu 19-Sep-13 03:03:03

Ask yourself a few honest questions..

1) Is your child clever enough to get in and not struggle when she gets in

2) Does she make friends easily.

If the answer is yes to both definitely... if only yes to question 1 ....yes again...

If no to question 1....try to find an alternative school that is nice.

FormaLurka Thu 19-Sep-13 07:14:50

Kenlee - What has being able to make friends easily got to do with whether a child should go to a grammar school?

You have a strange perspective on grammar schools.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 07:51:50

Grammar schools tend to have more pupils who haven't come with a large cohort from their primary school so lots of them are up for making new friends - my DD was quite shy and knew no-one in her class but had no problem at all settling in.

Existing friendships are one of the least important criteria when choosing a secondary school IMO. Whatever school the OP's daughter goes to, she'll probably be in different sets to her existing friends and will therefore have to make new ones.

racmun Thu 19-Sep-13 07:59:28

Tbh I think at 11 she shouldn't be making a choice about which school she goes to.

You can tell her anything you like - there weren't any places at the other school. Once she's settled there she'll make friends and get in with it.
If you think the grammar route is the right one and she gets in then in my house that is where she would be going.

My DH's parents let him turn down a full bursary at private school when he was 11 because he wanted to stay with his friends and DH now says he cannot believe his parents listened to him.

pixiepotter Thu 19-Sep-13 08:10:22

Do not let your DD choose her secondary school.A 10/11 yo has neither the maturity or experience to make that decision

Yonihadtoask Thu 19-Sep-13 08:13:35

Ds (15) attends grammar school and is doing very well.

He was slightly wary of the idea at first, stating that it was full of 'boffins and rich kids'.

He soon changed hid mind at the open evening and was keen to get in.

From visits to school for various events I just think they are normal kids, from regulate backgrounds who get good grades. Nothing more really.

I am very pleased though, that he was keen to go. Despite it being a bus ride away, rather than a ten minute stroll to the local comp. I would have probably forced his hand a fair bit if he showed reluctance to attend.

ErrolTheDragon Thu 19-Sep-13 08:15:02

>Tbh I think at 11 she shouldn't be making a choice about which school she goes to.

It depends on the kid and it depends what alternatives are available - my DD was quite rational about weighing up the pros and cons of the various schools. If you can get the choice down to a couple of acceptable alternatives, then a child is more likely to be motivated to work well if their preference is taken into account. But in a case like racmun's DH the parents made a big mistake.

senua Thu 19-Sep-13 08:27:28

Ah well according to my DD, 'geek chic' is for wannabe geeks and so isn't cool - what's cool is being able to actually do stuff not just dress the part. Substance not appearance.

Very impressed by your DD, Errol. grin

invicta Thu 19-Sep-13 08:46:34

My sons go to grammar school, and they are 'Normal'!

The best advice I can give is to go and visit them. Tis may inspire her, especially when she realises the pupils are not rich pretentious geeks, which is often the perception.

Also, have you seen the elevenplusexams.co.uk website which gives great advice on the 11+, and there's a fab forum there.

MacNCheese Thu 19-Sep-13 08:55:44

She is 9, you are the parent.
Ultimately it is your decision as to what is best for her, not hers. Take her opinion on board obviously, but you have a life time of experience, and seemingly very relevant experience. She just doesn't want to be away from her friends.
So in answer to your question, would your force her? If I thought she could cope academically, yes I would.

nextyearitsbigschool Thu 19-Sep-13 09:14:51

I agree with MacNCheese, she is 9 years old and far too young to be making her own decisions about where she goes to school. She sounds like she is already getting the wrong attitude and you need to address that ASAP. In your shoes I would be doing little but prepping her to get through the grammar exam and making that decision for her. I think it is fine to give them the choice when there are a couple of reasonable options, where there aren't I would say that the decision has to come entirely from you.

Ehhn Thu 19-Sep-13 09:18:14

Do what is right for your daughter with GS. You know her personality better than she does herself at 9, and more so - she doesn't know yet what it is like to be a teen but you do.

It is certainly easier to quit a grammar because she is unhappy than try and get her in one because she is failing elsewhere! Make that deal with her if she gets in - one year, major treat at the end (spa/ears pierced/overnight trip/whatever is affordable and most desired), and can quit if she is unhappy.

VerySmallSqueak Thu 19-Sep-13 09:20:40

I have to go against the grain here.

I do believe that if your child really isn't going to be happy in the environment, they will not perform.

I know that's not a popular opinion on this thread but it is my opinion and one I found to be true in my case.

By all means try to change her perceptions if you think they are wrong,but I wouldn't force her to go if she stubbornly refuses to change her mind.

If she isn't open to it,you can't do it for her.

Childhood is too short for unhappiness imo,and if she really is going to be unhappy with this decision,let her choose her own path.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 19-Sep-13 09:22:08

I know my DD is very easily led, even more so than me (she gets it from her dad's side)grin and I think when she goes to secondary school she'll be more interested in boys and makeup than getting As

Ok, this sounds really fatalistic - it's her disposition, it's genetic, the school will be like that... I think your family generally needs a slightly more proactive and less deterministic outlook on life, whichever school you choose!

ALso, you think the local schools are full of orange thickos, and she thinks the grammars are full of ugly geeks - I think you both need to think in slightly more open-minded ways and stop polarising like this!

HmmAnOxfordComma Thu 19-Sep-13 09:33:43

TOSN is right: you both seem to have quite extreme and close-minded views.

You need to look around all the options properly. Find out what extra-curricular activities are available; how the schools set; what subjects are valued; which of the 'bad' schools in your opinion are actually better than they seem to be.

I also think secondary school decision is one to be made mostly by the parents. How does a 9/10 year old know what's good for them? But: if you're determined for her to go to a grammar and she isn't, she could just fail the test deliberately. You would need to have her on board.

You say you're not sure if she's bright generally or just bright in her school. What are her levels?

And how on earth has a 9 year old heard of TOWIE?!!!

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