To change schools at end of yr8 or not?

(10 Posts)

I've name changed for this because the level of info I'm posting.

We live in an area which has previously had middle snd high school system with a transfer at the end of yr9.

All schools in the area have now changed to all through.

My dtds were the last year group from our village to go to the middle school on the other side of the river. They are currently in yr8. Because of the change in age range we have to make a decision whether to move them to start a new school in yr9.

If they stay at the current school:
They will be the third cohort to go through to 16.
GCSE results unknown.
GCSE options reasonable but lack of flexibility on option combinations.
We don't think there will be transport provision for yr10 &11 because this was never our yr10 catchment school. The school is not on a public transport route so unsure how to get them there in the mornings. We think yr9 transport will remain free because still in catchment and more than 3 miles.
They were issued with ipads in yr7. If they stay until end of yr9 we can buy them from school for peanuts. If they only stay til end of yr8 they have to be returned to school.

If we move them:
New school much bigger and more flexible ks4 options
New school offers A level
New school is on a public bus route but we would have to pay from yr9.
Teaching staff and facilities are all geared up for GCSE.
GCSE results average to good.
No experience of teaching yr9 curriculum.

If I move them I feel it should be for yr9 so they can settle before GCSE study starts. But if I do that they lose their iPad which makes me the most evil mummy in the world.
I also (more importantly) lose a years free transport.
If I move them in yr10 I will have to replace tge uniform at end of this year (grown out of) for 1 year. It is a new uniform so limited second hand available.
There is no planned transition at end of yr9 so no inductions, we have to hope there will be a space. The majority of the cohort will be settled.
We could leave them where they are. The school has a very nice calm atmosphere. I'm very happy with it so far but I feel I can't make an objective decision about GCSE provision.

Social groups will be split in any case as half the cohort are going to be in the new school catchment.
My DTDs -well one wants to move one wants to stay.

I feel trapped into moving by transport issues, as I have no real pkan to get them to current school if they stop the school bus (which we think likely as the village will be out of catchment so no demand for it).
I feel trapped into staying by iPad bribery.
The children apparently are all in tears as the social groups get torn apart.

I am planning to see new school during day. I am also awaiting transport clarification.

But in the meantime WWYD???

minidipper Thu 19-Sep-13 13:19:43

Please don't let anyone persuade you to make a school choice on the basis of a cheap i-pod!

I wasn't planning to.

I can replace the iPad. But replacing the school bus is much more challenging and replacing their education virtually impossible.

We (as parents) were all so happy when we knew our dcs would be able to go all through at this school but now it comes closer the realities and practicalities are making things much more difficult.

mummytime Thu 19-Sep-13 14:57:24

I would value experience of teaching GCSE (and A'level) over experience of teaching year 9.

Lots of us have to pay school transport costs, are their discount cards etc.

If people are going to both schools then there will be splits in friendship groups which every way.

I'd look for teaching style, behaviour, opportunities; as my top criteria.

BlackMogul Thu 19-Sep-13 18:11:18

My reaction would be to go to the one with A levels so they can go all the way through and not change again. Too bad about the iPad and travel costs but other concerns should outweigh these issues. The larger school sounds a better option and you may well need more GCSE choices and continuity of teaching to A level. Larger schools can have more going on and have something for everyone,eg better sport, music, etc. Make the change but have a good look round and ask challenging questions.

Now heres the catch.

I looked around the bigger school, albeit about 5yrs ago and spent the whole day in the classrooms. I wasn't keen. I do need a more recent daytime visit though and will arrange this.

I'm a trainee teacher so I kind of think I have some perspective on what I am looking for.

I'm not sure I am convinced by the atmosphere, ethos, energy and underlying structures or principles at the bigger school.

My 'feeling' is that the small school they are at is the better environment. But my 'feeling' is that in the short term the bigger school is going to provide the better GCSE education.

Dtd2 in particular is very sciency and will undoubtedly do triple science. This is more specialist subject and I am conscious that stepping up from ks3 to ks4 requires a step up in teaching resources and facilities (I.e. lab equipment). My concern would be that this just isn't yet available at the smaller school and will take a few years to establish properly. I will be quizzing the small school on this.

For this reason I think dtd2 will do better moving. Most of her friends are moving. But really really isn't good with change.

Dtd1 is slightly less academic. And I think she will get on fine at either school. A lot of her friends are staying at this school.

So I feel as though I am in catch 22. As it stands my thoughts for my 2 children are different. In theory they could go to separate schools, but could be a nightmare.

The other big selling point the small school is offering actually is small class sizes. Most of this years year 10 classes are 20 pupils or less as change in age ranges and catchment areas ripple through. Could this outweigh less experience at GCSE????

it would be useful to hear some teachers perspectives. The only teachers perspectives we have heard so far are those that teach at the 2 schools and are therefore potentially biassed as they want bums on seats..

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 09:54:03

Okay as well as visiting the larger school (and if you are a trainee teacher can you ask for a days observation?); you need to vist the smaller school and quiz them on what they are doing to prepare for GCSE. Do teachers have recent experience of teaching to GCSE? Are they going to recruit? Do they have funding to upgrade facilities?

We went to all the public consulation meetings before the age range change.

All the answers we have had are that all new recruits to the smaller school have to have had recent experience of teaching GCSE as they have been planning this for a while. So I am less worried about teaching. More facilities and I guess this is only applicable in the more practical subjects.

As for resources we were told that funding was available to purchase teahing resources.

It is a network of 4 schools that have changed age range. 3 are taking on GCSE. 1 is taking on ks3. We were told that the schools would collaborate and redistribute resources. But imo gcse resources would have to be split between the 3 schools and tbh the atmosphere between the schools ATM is feeling competitive rather than collaborative....

mummytime Fri 20-Sep-13 11:23:39

I have taught both KS3 and GCSE and to be honest we didn't use very different resources for GCSE than KS3.
It does change at A'level.

If you look at Home Educators they often teach to GCSE with just Kitchen science level materials. But then you have more idea what the laboratories are like.

But maybe yor DDs would like to be separated?

New schools are always a "risk" but they can be well worth it.

I have taught on placement in a middle school and in an all through school - although I haven't done much GCSE teaching and what I observed was foundation level.

I would say that in the middle school there was equipment they did not have available. At the all through school - by teaching GCSE they did have kit that could be used throughout if that makes sense.

But I think you last sentence paraphrases what I am thinking...better the devil you know or take the plunge???

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