What would be the ideal school/learning environment for your child entering secondary school?(11 Posts)
Starting to think ahead for dd.
That's an odd question. Everyone's child is different and suits different environments. Most want somewhere small enough to care but large enough to have good facilities and wide option choices.
Depends on the child.
Dd1 starts high school next year, we have a choice of 2 schools, one is one of the top schools in the country, has great ofsted reports and great exam results this year but it is a huge school. The other school is a lot smaller, friendlier but ofsted reports are not as good. Dd1 is very academic ( g&t ) so the obvious choice to most people would be the bigger school but dd1 also has Aspergers and possible dyspraxia, for this reason we have chosen the smaller friendlier school as we feel she will not get the support she may need at the bigger school. The smaller school has a good SENCO and a lot of support for children who struggle socially ( they have a room where children can go at break time if they are struggling in the playground ). For us dd1's happiness is the most important thing.
- good pastoral care
- valuing the 'whole child' not just the results
- encouraging all children to achieve their best - no 'lost middle'
Depends on the child. More to the point, it depends on which schools are within reasonable commuting distance and are likely to offer a place.
For us (with very bright kids with mild HF ASD) - a mixed, friendly and inclusive school with small classes and a belief that our kids can do just as well as others (and that is willing to push them academically to achieve that).
Must have lots of clubs including chess, Minecraft and other generally geeky ones Regular small group lessons in social skills and team work.
Not too much emphasis on team sports, although regular physical exercise is a must. Preferably about 10 minutes walk away with no need of public transport and no main roads.
For DS1 - no school uniform, limited sports, chess, computer and geeky clubs. Small classes and good pastoral care.
DS2 - lots of sport, football, badminton, strong discpline, small classes and excellent teaching
DS2 is there, DS1 we are trying to get sorted!
Good teaching - appropriate to the ability of my DC
Strong behaviour management
Good pastoral support for the individual
Flexibility to meet the needs of the individual
Lots of sports, especially encouraging girls to participate
Happy, caring and inspiring ethos/environment
Clear ethos with appropriate rules/boundaries that are enforced appropriately
Within 45mins travel distance
And lots of other children that my DC "click" with!
Thanks for feedback.
Coolas - you are absolutely correct that different sorts of dc thrive in different kinds of learning environments. I kept the question non-specific because I wanted to hear all sorts of answers - I find it helpful to think about situations and perspectives different than my own initially to get a wider view, and then drill down into my own (in this case, dd's) specific needs.
Having said that, I would welcome thoughts from anyone who wishes to 'think out loud' with me on this thread.
It is exactly the school environment DD1 is starting this week.
It's a selective, all girl, grammar school. DD1 is clever but tends towards laziness. If stuck at any of our local secondaries, she would have been allowed to (and content to) just pootle along, somewhere very near the top...but just garnering some As and Bs at GCSE. At her grammar she will be challenged and pushed to reach her full potential, so hopefully plenty of A* too.
Her GS takes girls from all demographics and has no catchment area really, so girls are selected purely on academic ability. This is the demographic we want for DD1, we don't care who she sits next to, so long as they're clevet and focused on the lesson. We're not fooling ourselves, we know that at a grammar you're still going to get some behavioural problems, maybe some bullying and occasional teen pregnancy...but there's less of it at her grammar - and being alongside girls who are in the top 20% of academic ability is a pretty good base line to have.
Also DD1 is very athletic, and plays 2 sports at county level. Sport provision at her grammar is fantastic, with girls competeting at national and international levels. Sport provision at other local secondaries was poor and sporting achievement was mediocre. DD1 wouldn't have been allowed to play cricket 'because girls play rounders and boys play cricket' even though she could wipe the floor with most boys her age.
And at her GS it is very 'cool' to be clever and do very well in exams. Academic achievement is lauded - and her school fields very successful maths teams, debate teams etc who compete at national levels. Her school also has sister schools in Japan, Spain, Brazil and Germany with very active and exciting exchange programs. School trips are diverse and adventurous - going to South Africa, Japan, Brazil etc...other local secondaries just...don't. Maybe a week in Normandy if you're lucky?
Old fashioned manners and courtesy are very much in evidence, and respect between pupils and teacher is very strong. Discipline is strict but fair. Very few problems with truancy or bad behaviour, if any?
Finally she will be going to her school with 4 of her closest friends, and will know dozens more girls through her cricket and netball teams.
We couldn't be happier with her school and neither could she.
DD would want an ultra ambitious energetic pushy school (like her).
DS1: I would prefer a calm school with excellent behaviour & teaching that kept telling him he wasn't quite good enough until he was highly excelling when he might just about earn a "Not Bad" assessment (he rises to a challenge in spite of slacker instincts).
DS2: In theory a school that could help him love learning in spite of his determination to do battle with the world.
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