School went bust. Would you trust another small independent or go to the local comp?

(38 Posts)
WorriedMutha Mon 21-Jul-14 12:43:26

My DD was at a small girls school that has just thrown in the towel. We found out after they had broken up for the holidays and another independent school posted news of it on their site. The teachers similarly found out at going home time at the end of term. Shocking I know but we've got to move on.
This has been emotionally upsetting for everyone but is particularly devastating for year 10s who are half way through GCSEs and are having to find a school with a good enough fit to their syllabus. For some this will mean abandoning subjects.
My DD is approaching options and we could go to another independent who are sweeping up many of the girls. I do have issues with their options, particularly that they don't offer triple science. It is also a more awkward journey
Equally, we could go to the comp. This school has had a fortune spent on it and a new head is turning it around but this is work in progress. I should just add that although it is our catchment school, we didn't get it on application because it has become so popular that the de facto catchment has narrowed. We were offered a school 2 buses away that has just gone into special measures. Hence, we went down the private route.
I gather that the comp does have some bullying issues but the school are on to it. Mums with children in top sets (and DD would be) feel that they aren't stretched enough. One mum said that her son has suffered from there being a culture of it not being cool to be smart though she wasn't sure whether this was more of a boys thing at the school.
Has anyone switched from private to comp half way through secondary?I'm worried that she has worked hard so far and would become demotivated at a key stage.
I feel disillusioned with the independent sector but in no way want to sacrifice DD's potential.
AIBU? Will she be fine at the comp?

LIZS Mon 21-Jul-14 13:01:11

I'd be very suspicious of any private school which cannot offer triple science , are you certain ? Given that they have offered to absorb the Year 10's could they not make an exception ? Is there even space at the comp at this stage .

TalkinPeace Mon 21-Jul-14 13:05:58

Sorry about your upheaval.
Yes, kids swap between private and comps regularly.
A kid joined DDs school from the local selective half way through year 10 : he was a tad surprised to find himself at the bottom of the top sets but settled in fine.
At least then you are going into a known quantity and her reason for arriving cannot be a source of gossip.
Many comps do great things with their top sets. THe headline data does not show it because the numbers are so big, but they do.

WorriedMutha Mon 21-Jul-14 13:20:48

They really don't offer triple science. They did do it one year when they said they had a particularly able year and said it may be reviewed in the future. I'm fairly certain that DD would do at least biology and chemistry and I have always perceived the science and science+ options to be a bit dumbed down (might be wrong). Despite sounding very sympathetic at the 'emergency meeting', I don't think the independent is bending over backwards to accommodate all subjects and to be fair, it may not be easy or practical for them to do so. Girls who were doing German will also have to drop that.
I am more than willing to give the comp a go but the lateness of the announcement of closure means that I can't arrange a try out day (for either school for that matter). It also meant we missed an opportunity to go to their open even so we could have met subject heads as it looks as if we will have to be up and running with her options in September.
Thankfully, they confirmed there is a place. We were asked to fill out a form with her grades and attendance particulars. They then rang us with a place.
It would save us a bloody fortune but I can't let that be the only criteria. I just want to know that children really do make the transition from such wildly different environments.

LIZS Mon 21-Jul-14 13:24:38

Double science isn't just 2 of the subjects - it is still all
3 be it in lesser depth than Triple. Or they may do individual ones. Check you aren't talking at crossed purposes.

WorriedMutha Mon 21-Jul-14 13:28:46

I should have been clearer. They do core and additional science, not individual subjects.

NorwaySpruce Mon 21-Jul-14 13:30:14

I know the school you mean (I think). If I'm right, it really was a very small school. Almost any other school is going to be a bit of a shock.

Would your daughter feel more comfortable entering a new school if she had some friends going with her? Personally, I'd stick with the independent school, if only because your daughter is likely to know a few of the other students, and they can all start over together.

Is the alternative independent school non-selective and only up to GCSE? That might account for the lack of science options.

A school with a sixth form would be a better bet, if you could find one.

Is there any chance of testing for/asking about a grammar school place?

The top sets of quite a few of the local schools are really very good, as they tend to be made up of children who didn't pass the 11+, but blossomed later.

The only people I know who switched to non fee-paying schools before 6th form, did it for financial reasons, and would have preferred to stay in the independent sector.

If your daughter is happy to give the comp a go though, then why not? I'm almost certain the fee-paying school would take her in later if it didn't work out after a term.

TalkinPeace Mon 21-Jul-14 13:31:58

Worried
the transition depends on the school : phone them and ask how many kids come in each year from fee paying - they will know
they will know what they do to help kids settle

most state schools have not yet broken up
phone them now

LIZS Mon 21-Jul-14 13:32:55

I'm almost certain the fee-paying school would take her in later if it didn't work out after a term. but by then she'd have less than 6 months to exams.

Hakluyt Mon 21-Jul-14 13:34:17

People do make that transition all the time. And you may actually find that academically speaking, the difference between the private school and the top set of the comprehensive may not be as huge as you think. She only has one year to go- so she must be on track, so to speak already-she just has to keep up the momentum.
What are her predicted grades?
Does she have any friends at the comprehensive?

NorwaySpruce Mon 21-Jul-14 13:37:09

LIZS Sorry - for some reason I thought the OP's daughter was only in year 8. blush

titchy Mon 21-Jul-14 13:42:01

Unless she wants to do science a levels I wouldn't worry about only doing double. It's the same curriculum as triple but they don't do the final module of each science, just the first two.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 21-Jul-14 14:07:22

Friend of mine's daughter did exactly that change last Easter - small girls private school was closing in the summer, and she went to comp for her last term of y9 and has now just finished y10. (They actually pulled her out just before the announcement, so it was their choice.) Anyway, she's much happier there and doing well.

It's only potentially for two years - if your daughter has been used to working hard, then she'll probably carry on like that, and you can save some money and it gives her a bit more choice at 6th form.

Belloc Mon 21-Jul-14 14:14:34

My eldest son did double award science and then went on to do chemistry and biology A levels, very successfully.

WireCat Mon 21-Jul-14 14:15:08

I know the school you mean.
Maybe try the grammar schools?
The 2 high schools in the next town up are both very good.

The way it was handled is awful. I hope you find a suitable school for your daughter to do her exams.

Belloc Mon 21-Jul-14 14:15:55

What does your daughter want to do?

Belloc Mon 21-Jul-14 14:18:32

I wonder if it might be easier for her turning up at a new school alongside other familiar faces, whereas turning up at a new school where she is the only one might be very different.

What are her friends doing?

LeBearPolar Mon 21-Jul-14 14:22:26

Your situation sounds incredibly similar to what's happening in my home town but the independent school that's 'sweeping up' a lot of the girls does offer triple science.

If she is motivated and wants to do well, I think she will be fine at the comprehensive. As others have said, you can rethink at sixth form if necessary.

HeyBabyBaby71 Mon 21-Jul-14 14:22:56

Phone the comp. it's only for a year. I bet they will be very accommodating.

WorriedMutha Mon 21-Jul-14 15:18:30

wow. Just nipped to the shops and am overwhelmed by all your helpful comments. Just to avoid confusion I should say that she will be going into year 9 in September. There were only a handful in her class and all but one are going to the other indie. She will stay in touch with them and 2 of them actually live very local to us.
She knows 4 girls at the comp from outside activities but it really depends on which class she is placed in. We have a meeting with the head this week and I will be asking how they manage pastoral care. Can she join the girls she knows (2 are in the same class)? Do they have a buddy system?
It is entirely feasible to go to the comp and jump ship at the end of a term if it isn't working. The indie don't start options until year 10 whereas the comp start in year 9.
I have read the options at the comp but we don't know any of the teachers or lessons so it is a big ask choosing stuff speculatively and we've got a million questions which they won't be able to answer over the Summer. They will have had full consultations with their year 8s to help them choose the right options.
As for our local grammars, I phoned them as soon as I picked myself up off the floor. Both had just tested the previous week to fill their gaps so we missed that particular boat.
The lack of notice from the school has robbed her of:-
1. Grammar tests
2. Opportunity to attend the comp open evening and try and talk to subject heads
3. Opportunity to have try out days to avoid making a god awful mistake.
I think 1,2 and 3 has contributed to my disillusionment with the indie sector. We would have to give notice of a term to withdraw her but they can close down with immediate effect.

JimBobplusasprog Mon 21-Jul-14 15:41:48

It doesn't matter that your dd has missed the grammar tests. There is something called the in year fair access protocol. Your dd has a right to be assessed for the school and you can appeal for a place.

Hakluyt Mon 21-Jul-14 15:45:35

"Your dd has a right to be assessed for the school and you can appeal for a place."

But you are very unlikely indeed to get a place because grammar schools tend to be oversubscribed, and there won't be much movement in year 10.

Hakluyt Mon 21-Jul-14 15:48:49

Have you looked on the comprehensive's website? The will probably be information about the different subjects which will help her choose her options. Maybe get in touch with th girls she knows and ask their opinion about teachers and subjects (then adding a pinch of salt?grin)

WorriedMutha Mon 21-Jul-14 16:31:17

I have looked at the options list on the website and ended up with a list of 15 worthy of further consideration. It wasn't clear what subjects were compulsory and I wondered if the range varied across ability groups. Meeting the heads of both schools over the course of tomorrow so will jump one way or the other and post an update.

Hakluyt Mon 21-Jul-14 16:43:42

When it cones down to it, she will probably only have a choice of three or four, the rest will be compulsory. There isn't that much variety between schools to be honest. I have one child who's just left a high performing grammar and another who has just chosen options at a bog standard high school. The only differences are that he didn't have a choice of lMFL and he also only gets to do double science. Apart from that their final GCSE choices are almost the same,

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