Twins in different secondary schools?

(33 Posts)
listenwithmother Wed 23-Oct-13 01:07:09

We have twin dds who are due to start secondary school next year. They haven't been in the same class at Primary since Reception and have separate, though sometimes slightly overlapping, groups of friends. They have a good relationship at home and have never been very dependent on the other twin. Our dilemma is that they are both keen on different secondary schools. DD2 is into sport in a big way and wants to go to our catchment secondary school which is a maths and science specialist school, with good results (for our area) and fairly good sports facilities. It's the one most of the other children from their primary will go to - not within walking or cycling distance, but there's a school bus to take them directly there. It's an over subscribed school, but she would probably get a place there as it's our catchment school. DD1 is quite into sports, but very into art, languages (not that she's had much opportunity to learn much yet!) and creative writing. She much prefers a different school, which is single-sex, a language specialist school and has results almost as good as our catchment school. It's not over-subscribed at the moment, and she would probably get a place there, based on last year's intake, but it would mean a 45-min journey to get there by bus and train.

We've visited both schools several times, and would be happy with either option, but the girls are both very clear about which schools they prefer. Would it be a nightmare to have two children of the same age in different schools? I'm slightly worried about different inset days, parents' evening clashing etc, but more worried about DD1 having to make quite a long journey every day. Would we be crazy to overlook our catchment, high-performing school for DD1 but choose it for DD2? Any words of advice would be very welcome.

festered Mon 04-Nov-13 01:41:11

Also worth thinking about is that a 45 min journey may seem a big deal to you and a lot of people, for some people it wouldn't bother them at all-I know you'll have had a chat with your DD about that, if she's not bothered about it then I think It's workable.Do stress to her that it may not be a case of it being easy to change schools if it begins to bother her, especially if her twin has it easy.
Obviously It's easier to have them both at the same school, but acting in the best interests of both is the best option, just ensure they're both happy with their choices having thought about the travel, being apart etc.

Swanhilda Wed 30-Oct-13 22:43:48

Conversely.
The other thing is that 11 year olds, being only 11, don't really understand quite how big secondaries are, and they assume they will be in shadow of the twin, whereas in reality in any secondary, you might not even bump into your twin except occasionally. Dd definitely didn't want to bump into ds2 (her twin) but perhaps if they had gone to same mixed secondary (they are currently in single sex schools) they wouldn't have seen much of each other anyway. So that is a factor, don't be over sensitive on your children's behalf, because how they IMAGINE Secondary is not necessarily how secondary will actually be. Often children will fasten on the special traits of one school or another when in reality most schools offer the same resources, although in superficially different forms. I remember Ds1 (my eldest) saying he wanted to go to Z secondary because there were "trips to Barcelona". Now every school offers trips - it was just that school had made a point of mentioning foreign travel on the Open Day, whereas another school had sold its bunsen burners to the visitors wink Ds1 genuinely thought he would only get the chance to use bunsen burners in a fifth school. SO DON'T LISTEN TOO HARD TO YOUR CHILDREN. You have a better overview than them.

Swanhilda Wed 30-Oct-13 22:35:55

My b/g twins go to different schools and I find it quite tiring as no advantages to sharing uniform, teachers, admin matters, social functions. However, they do both enjoy their schools so that is something.

I don't think dd (who attends more distant school) had bargained on quite how exhausting the travel would be though. I am almost considering moving her to another less sought after girls's school which is nearer. Her schoo is meant to be a specialist language college and all this means is that they offer Chinese as well as Spanish and French but not choice in the matter (groups picked in advance) and if you do well in your first year 7 language you can do another in year 8. Dd of course drew Chinese straw so if she is bad at that, no choice to go on to another language at all hmm

I would just send them to different schools for now, and you have the advantage of sibling entry card if one or other is unhappy. I think of it as a a wonderful way to truly compare the delights and perils of secondary from a parental standpoint. Ie: I can now see that the homework from x school really is too much as y manages to get same Gsce results on less homework wink Also interesting to have different topics and projects being taught, although obviously same NC.

But hard work for me! But that is twins for you. I wonder whether we do it on purpose, beat ourselves up on needing to nurture the individual when we have twins, whereas siblings tend to not be offered the luxury of choice.

BackforGood Tue 29-Oct-13 15:23:24

I don't think a 45min journey is a lot, at secondary school.
Last year I had dc at 3 different schools and it was never a problem for me.
I don't have twins myself, but have cousins who would have much preferred not to have gone to the same school, and know of one set of twins and one of triplets who have recently gone to sep. schools and all are flourishing. I think it's important to let them be the individuals they are, and not insist one goes to a school that wouldn't be the first choice for them if they were the only one you were choosing for.

Retroformica Mon 28-Oct-13 05:36:47

If be concerned about the 45 min trip each way and the school being single sex with lesser results.

Send them both to the catchment school for ease. Potentially could be a nightmare co-ordonating two separate schools.

At the end of the day you as parent have to make the final choice and it needs to fit in with your family life.

Lastly could you agree to send the DD to a creative club of some sort to make her feel better about the local option?

bigTillyMint Fri 25-Oct-13 08:44:25

listenwithmother, it is very unlikely that your DD would do more than 2 languages at GCSE, infact many schools limit them to one. Also check whether you can choose languages studied/you are assigned to them which happens in many schools. What are the languages? She may find that French and Spanish are her favourites/best choice anyway.

mummytime Fri 25-Oct-13 06:05:17

My DC when they walked had about an hours walk to their senior school. 45 minutes is a pretty normal commute to me. (My eldest now has 1 to 1 1/2 hour commute to his new school, which he choose to move to because it truly does specialise in his area, but he is older.)
A lot of children in my town travel quite long distances to the private schools each day, and lots of those at Senior school travel by Train.

I would talk to both girls, and make the one who wants to do the commute aware of all the disadvantages. I would also listen to exactly what they are making their choices on.

SoonToBeSix Fri 25-Oct-13 03:44:43

My dd travels for 45-60 mins to get to school tbh I thought that was normal , she has never complained. She has been getting herself up at 6.30 everyday since she was 11.

listenwithmother Fri 25-Oct-13 00:03:36

Thank you everyone - a lot of food for thought. Yes, we did make the mistake of looking at the single-sex school, that's true! Before we moved house a couple of years ago, we visited secondary schools in several different areas, and that was one of them. Of course, we ended up not buying a house in the catchment confused

We're still torn between thinking that a 45-min commute (assuming train and bus are both on time) is no problem really, and thinking that it's crazy when the mixed school would be 15 minutes away, and that an extra commute adds up to a lot of 'lost' hours every week. Also beginning to think that the specialism thing might be less important than we thought originally - we don't have dc at secondary already, so it's difficult to know how important it is. Maybe there are ways of following your interests outside of school if you're passionate about them, but on the other hand the mixed school only offers French and Spanish, while the single-sex school offers 5 languages. confused

There are 1000 students at the mixed school, so perhaps enough scope to be your own person and not be compared to your twin all the time. Enchancia - you make a good point about the 'fairness' of it and we've already seen this in Primary school where one of them always seems to have a 'better' teacher than the other every year and you always compare homework, amount of progress etc. Aaarrgh, still lying awake every night thinking this one through, wanting the best school for both dds and the deadline for applications is less than a week away! Will update when the deed is done.

Alexandrite Thu 24-Oct-13 13:09:40

I went to an open day at a school with a business specialism 2 days ago. When we visited previously they made a big thing of the specialism, but this time he said that secondary schools having specialisms is now going to be phased out. He said that phase of education has come to an end. Maybe the government has decided to stop funding specialisms?

sashh Thu 24-Oct-13 11:27:13

If you had one child which school would you chose? Why should either of your children be penalised because they are a twin.

I went to seperate schools from my brother due to house moves and for secondary single sex schools. My brother's school was a short walk, mine was the other side of town.

OK I hated school and would have much preferred a different one, but there was no question of going to my brother's school so leave that aside. The only thing I didn't like about separate schools was that because I got home an hour later sometimes decisions had been made such as what we were eating for tea, where we would be going if we were going out. The decisions were made by my mum (dad usually at work) and my brother before I got home.

I swear my brother would deliberately ask my mum to make something for tea I didn't like.

LittleSiouxieSue Thu 24-Oct-13 10:57:14

Around here a language specialism is a difference with high quality teaching and choice of languages. If you love languages this is a real bonus as some schools are not encouraging languages at all. I would let them follow their interests. Many of us have children in different schools and manage and 45 minutes in a rural area would be considered ok.

PickleFish Wed 23-Oct-13 19:15:45

my sisters and I were close in age and I chose to go to a school further away - took me about an hour, and I was also heavily involved in loads of after school activities. Glad I did it, as I felt much more my own person. We don't have shared memories of school, and I'm not that close to them, but that's for all sorts of reasons (and probably why I was happier being elsewhere). There weren't comparisons because we were different enough people that the comparisons wouldn't have been fair anyway. I chose my school because of its music program. I didn't really have friends that I saw outside of school, apart from at rehearsals and things, so that was less of an issue. I don't know if it might have been different had anyone lived closer.

Enchancia Wed 23-Oct-13 17:42:58

I have younger DTDs - gosh, can see it is a tough one. On the one hand I would love for my girls to be at different schools and really have a chance to develop a much stronger individual identity and completely distinct groups of friends. The logistics of parents evenings etc wouldn't worry me so much as most things can be worked out - the travel will take its toll (I did similar journey when I was at school and it was quite a lot on a daily basis). For me though it would all be the 'fairness' of it and the concern that one of them would in time feel they had made the wrong decision / had inadvertently chosen a less good school than her sister. I know you're saying they have different strengths and so maybe different schools would suit them better, but as PP said it will be difficult not to compare amounts of homework / standard of teaching / approach to exams, and maybe one will become resentful that you didn't 'stop' them making a decision that ultimately turned out to be the wrong one for them. I know this would be the case for any siblings going to different schools, but it's then not a direct 'real time' comparison iykwim.

Buggedoff Wed 23-Oct-13 17:29:44

IME, the specialism a secondary school has is not usually significant. All state schools follow the national curriculum (unless a free school, and even then most do). So your dd2 will get to do languages and the arts at your local school. I can see how a child who is not mathsy may be concerned about going to a school with a maths specialism, but she will not be studying maths during every other lesson. She will have every opportunity to be creative, but hopefully will be less shattered whilst doing it.

Remember a 45 minute journey usually does not mean leaving home 45 minutes before school. You need to factor in time for delayed and cancelled trains and buses.

CecilyP Wed 23-Oct-13 15:20:40

I don't think separate schools are so much a problem as it is pretty common for B/G twins to go to different schools, but I think the journey might be, especially with co-ordination of both train and bus. It really would have to be so much better for her in every way to be worth the journey. Does being a language specialist school really mean much in practical terms; is there a far better art department than in the more local school? Also, given the distance, would she be able to take part in after school activities, particularly those that cater for her artistic interests.

StressedandFrazzled Wed 23-Oct-13 14:36:24

I don't have twins, but maybe it's good for them to be in different schools? So they don't run into any competitiveness and can emerge as individuals.

Sunnymeg Wed 23-Oct-13 14:18:33

Not quite the same thing, but I have a friend with two children in the same school year (11 and a half months between them). They have always attended different schools and are currently at separate six forms. My friend has always been super organized, but she has found it hard going over the years, especially with having to organise child care for different holidays, Inset days etc. What kept her going was the thought she was doing her best for her two sons, It can be done, but it won't be easy!

Frikadellen Wed 23-Oct-13 11:58:06

K have 4 children over 3 schools. Its fine just got to be a little organised about when each school does whst.
Ds has a 50 minutes journey to school copes. Dd 1&2 30 minutes. Dd3 will minimum have 30 mins if mot more wheb she goes to secondary.

Pick the school that is the right one for that individual child.

bigTillyMint Wed 23-Oct-13 11:55:28

FWIW, my DC are at the same school and I agree about shared experiences and supporting each other in times of need (teen girl angst/forgotten equipment, etc!)

TeenAndTween Wed 23-Oct-13 09:52:17

If they go to different schools you will really notice the differences between them, eg quality of homework set etc. If you are an involved parent that could really annoy you.

Just because a school is a languages specialist, it doesn't necessarily mean the language teaching will be better, it may just mean more choice of which second language to learn.

Can you all do the journey to DD1's choice via train/bus over half term? See what it is really like? I know some people are saying that length is standard, but it seems unnecessary to me and will impinge on homework time, social life etc. What about after school clubs, and coming home later in the winter, would you be OK with that? What is the journey like by car for you to get to events - equally long?

(The mistake you made was going to look at a school so far away!)

mummytime Wed 23-Oct-13 09:50:09

My DC all went to the same primary (but it changed a lot over their time there).

Next year if we get our first choice for the youngest, I will have 3 at 3 different schools. It is pretty much their choice, and no one is bothered or jealous of anyone else.

The one good thing, is if it goes wrong for one of your twins, you may well go to the top of the waiting list if you want to transfer them to the other ones school.

As for parents evenings, it can be worse in some ways if they are at the same school, my eldest two famously would arrange back to back appointments at opposite ends of their very long school.

TooBusyByHalf Wed 23-Oct-13 09:20:12

There is something quite nice about adult siblings having shared memories of school - I enjoy this about my reln with bro even though we weren't there at the same time. Have 2 primaries now for my 3 DCs and hate it. Really hoping they will all be happy with the same secondary. Dd2 and DS keen at the mo - so trying to get dd1 into good co-ed school - fortunately her top choice anyway.

Watching this in interest as (much younger!) DTDs...

FWIW when I started at big school in P6, so 10, it was in our nearest city and involved an hour plus car/bus/walk combo and it was fine. Plus this was pre-mobiles...The important thing was I loved school. It was a bit of a bummer for socialising outside school hours, but that meant I tended to have lots of sleepovers, which is no bad thing.

bigTillyMint Wed 23-Oct-13 09:11:17

A 45min journey sounds fairly run-of-the-mill. After the first couple of weeks of Y7 it is second nature. It will make her more independent and resourceful (especially when she encounters transport difficulties!)
However, when it is winter and she is getting more and more tired, might she feel jealous of her sister who has an easier journey?

I don't think parents evenings, etc will necessarily clash. In fact it could be a lot easier to have two separate nights than trying to see double the number of teachers in one evening.

And less chance of comparing with each other if they are in different schools?

That said, schools can promote themselves as being xyz specialists and the reality is that in most schools children are able to follow what they are interested in.

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