I'm slightly worried that we are not pushy enough parents

(49 Posts)
Mintyy Wed 10-Jul-13 20:32:24

Dd is in Yr 7 at a bog standard London comp, which is exactly what I wanted for her and am quite happy.

There is a but, though, which is that she is a top level student in every subject and I am worried that she will not reach her full academic potential at this school because they, quite understandably, are very keen to get as high a number as possible passing 5 gcses inc Eng and Maths at A-C, and I suspect that they are happy to allow their best pupils to get, say, 11 gcses at all sorts of grades.

I have no doubt that dd would be an A/A* student at private or grammar school, but I don't want her to go to that kind of a school!

What do people do to make sure that very clever children are being stretched (not pushed) at state secondary?

We are fortunate, dds school is very proactive about stretching children both in class and with enrichment activities. Each department has a g&t coordinator responsible for identifying children who are able and stretching them.

HilaryM Wed 10-Jul-13 20:55:30

Watching with interest as this will be us in a few years. smile

nextphase Wed 10-Jul-13 21:04:43

Let her do her school work, and lots of extra curricular activities to stretch her other than academically, and give her a boost into an area she might want to work in.

Highly recommend Duke of Edinburgh when shes 14 (go to an open award centre rather than through school)

creamteas Wed 10-Jul-13 21:43:38

My DC are at an middle-of-the road comp, but that does not mean that they are not pushed to get their target grades. The top set are expected to get and achieve A/A* grades.

What makes you think your school won't?

Mintyy Wed 10-Jul-13 22:16:34

Good question creamteas.

Its just a feeling?? I suppose that sounds a bit lame.

How can I find more detailed breakdown of exam grades within a particular school?

And, also, if my dd comes out of school with all A or A*, then what are the private school parents paying for?

springtide Wed 10-Jul-13 22:24:02

Nextphase - I agree about encouraging participation in extras like the D of E but really don't understand your sugestion it should be done through a centre rather than school. D of E is D of E - it doesn't have less value when done through the local comp!

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 10-Jul-13 23:35:59

Schools are judged on their A/A* results. You should be able to find out your school's results by googling. For statistical reasons schools are keen for pupils to get C grades and A/A* grades.

Lots of comprehensives have pupils finishing with A/A* across the board. My DC are at comprehensive and are on track for these kind of results.

What private school parents are paying for is a whole different thread!

Another who doesn't understand not doing DofE through school. DCs school is really good at preparing/training for their expedition supportive for the other areas too.

tiredaftertwo Wed 10-Jul-13 23:40:34

Mintyy, some schools publish a detailed breakdown of GCSE results - if your dd's doesn't, you could ask for it. If they won't give it to you, I would ask why not, and scour the websites of other preferably local schools to show that it can be done.

You can also look at the official league tables, as these now include information about high, medium and low attainers, ebacc and all the rets of it. It is not just about the 5 A-Cs inc E and M any more. You will see that the average GCSE grade for the high attainers varies a lot between schools, so your question is perfectly valid. Plenty of children come out of comprehensives with strings of As and A*s though - people paying for private education may be paying because they don't live in the catchment of any of them, for example.

When you say she is a top level student in every subject, do you mean she is right at the top of every single class? I would be a bit concerned in that case, whatever the type of school!

schooldidi Wed 10-Jul-13 23:51:20

My school is a comp and our top sets are expected to get A/A* in most subjects (we all have something we're slightly less good at).

Dd1 goes to a different comp and is being stretched in a lot of subjects, I fully expect her to get A/A* in everything when she gets that far, she's currently finishing Y8. The only subject I'm slightly concerned about her being stretched in is Maths, because she is quite a lot farther ahead of the rest of the top set (who are quite good in terms of a comprehensive top set) and she's better than the best in my top set.

Most of dd1's high achieving friends from primary school went to a grammar school, with a couple going to a private school. They aren't doing any better than dd1 as far as NC levels go right now, and I suspect they won't do any better at GCSE or A level either.

StupidFlanders Thu 11-Jul-13 00:14:18

I would talk to /email her teachers and tell them what you write here. Sounds reasonable to me (a teacher). Ask how they differentiate their lessons to challenge and extend her- and ask how you can support them as her parent. Ask them to contact you in a few weeks to see if there's been an improvement or if you could do anything else.

nextphase Thu 11-Jul-13 08:47:57

Spring Tide not because the quality is any different, but because if you break away from school, you get to see a different set of people, a differnt perspective on life, and get suggestions from a wider range of people about what you could do for each section. If the OP wants to stretch her child, there is more chance of having something different suggested than the stabndard "we've always done an aerobics class at lunchtime so if you turn up we will sign that section off"

The award is the same, the process (from what i've seen) is much more guided in schools, and hence gives even more developemnt opps if you go external.

Bonsoir Thu 11-Jul-13 08:52:38

I agree with others - if you want to stretch your DC you should offer her development opportunities in a context that is different to school.

NoComet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:14:48

Because DD is dyslexic she isn't in top set, but is still capable of getting As in several things.

What I try to do is be interested, talk about what she's doing, ask what she finds harder and talk through things that help.

These tend to be making sure she has her own copy of textbooks or revision books (as her notes aren't that great). Reminding her that she's good at using mind maps and notes on record cards and to do it and keep them safe.

Facilitating extra curricular things, both financially and as taxi service. One being music, which is directly relevant to her GCSEs.

NoComet Thu 11-Jul-13 09:19:12

Just generally being interested and supportive. With school work, extracurricular stuff and in ensuring she gets to spend time with friends that make her happy (both us and her DFs live in public transport free rural places, so even at 15/16 they have to rely on lifts).

Bakingnovice Thu 11-Jul-13 09:26:27

Interesting thread. Marking my place as I have a similar dilemma.

FormaLurka Thu 11-Jul-13 09:31:23

"if my dd comes out of school with all A or A*, then what are the private school parents paying for?"

That is a bit like saying Ryanair gets you to the same destination as BA but for less money so what are BA customers paying for.

Tigerblue Thu 11-Jul-13 10:15:45

If she is capable of getting A/A* in many subjects, why wouldn't she get them at her present school?. If she works hard in every subject and is really capable, then she surely can achieve her A/A*s.

My daughter was recently asked her language tutor if she had to do a language as an option. Her tutor said she was shocked my daughter wouldn't want to, as she is in the top sets for French and Spanish and the school hoped for A/A*s from all children in the top sets. Okay, it's might be only a hope but they still have to put the teaching in within every top set so many are capable.

My daughter's friend has parents who want her to do well in particular subjects, have explained this to the school and the school have agreed to set her extra work in the holidays. This is one avenue you could go down. Also, could the school set extension work for her?

Talkinpeace Thu 11-Jul-13 10:58:51

At DCs comp - and all the others round here (having been to the 6th form college open evening last night)

Top set : expected to get A*/A
Second set : expected to get A/B
Third set : expected to get B-D
Fourth set : expected to pass
Bottom set : glad to be literate and numerate

Year 7 you won't realise how hard they will start to be pushed as time goes on.
DD is year 10 : she had her revision notes propped up on the screen on the treadmill at the gym the other night!

The nice thing about being a really bright kid is that they can get top grades and have time for a good range of extra curricular activities that stretch. Does your dd do an instrument or other hobbies?

ShoutyCrackers Thu 11-Jul-13 11:04:19

Tbh with you, I don't do anything really. My DD is in year 9 and is predicted 12 A/A* GCSE grades. I would not describe her as super bright particularly < err although I AM proud of her! > and I just enquire as to whether she has done her homework and tell her to revise. It may have helped that she has been brought up with the expectation that she will go to university so that has always been on the cards. I have never done the whole ' you can do whatever you like as long as you're happy '... I've always been more ' when you go to university ... '

Apart from that though, I am not pushy at all and leave her to it.

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 11:04:26

I think a school which is rapidly soaring up the local league tables really isn't one to worry about, Mintyy.

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 11:06:41

My daughter's at a comp - I wouldn't, actually, describe it as 'bog standard' because I find it a rather vibrant, energetic place though it is certainly non-selective and is utterly representative of the local area - and I've got a reasonably high expectation that she will do extremely well at GSCE.

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 11:12:24

Mintyy do you know any parents with older children there who you could talk to? They might put your mind at rest, or they might make you feel you do need to do something, but either way it might be a good idea to have a sounding board?

When my dd was in year 7 the school didn't seem to be talking much about what she'd get in her GCSEs, to be honest, but that certainly changed as we moved through the years.

Arcticwaffle Thu 11-Jul-13 11:19:51

I have dds in yr8 and yr 7 of a bog standard comp. Their school has expectations similar to Talkingpeace's - top set expected to get A/A*. They obsessively track students from their yr6 sats levels and expect the top students to make as much progress as the middle ones - so there is certainly pressure, even in yrs 7 and 8, for the most academic kids to keep achieving.

One of my dds is doing very well, on current showing she'd be expected to get all A*s without breaking a sweat (though GCSEs are a long way off still and of course I know they can change a lot over these years), but the school does push her and the others like her. Lots of extra clubs, extra extension activities etc. Quite a few "G&T" clubs after school as well as separate activities within the class. Are you sure your school doesn't have these things going on too? Comps tend to be less obvious sometimes about what they're doing but IME they are pretty enthusiastic about bright students doing well, it reflects well on the school.

motherinferior Thu 11-Jul-13 11:23:20

Yep, my lot appear to have various slightly obscure ways of identifying kids for special sessions/classes/subjects.

Preciousbane Thu 11-Jul-13 11:35:27

DS goes to a bog standard comp, it's the feeder school for the junior school he went to, its in a deprived area. The roughness of the school would give some people a fit of the vapours.

We had his end of year school evening and he is currently on course for A/A* grades as are quite a few of the friends he has made. Well at present, anything can change. Thinking of colleagues DS who failed almost all his GCSE's, he attends the best secondary school in the county and lives in a delightful village in a rather beautiful house.

I think parental influence, activities, interest and how much a parent can tutor their dc is the key to back up formal education.

glaurung Thu 11-Jul-13 11:36:03

I suspect it depends on her own drive to a very large degree. The dc that achieve highly at our local (not especially good, but improving) school are quite noticeably very driven individuals.

So if she's top because that's where she wants to be and is prepared to work to be there it will probably be OK and her grades will be not far short of what they might have been. If she's more laid back and coasting a bit but is still top, then there's a bigger risk of underachieving imo - although a few dc do manage to coast through GCSEs and do very well.

pointythings Thu 11-Jul-13 12:34:39

Seconding what talkinpeace has said - DD1's comprehensive works in exactly this way and is very firm in making sure the students know that they are expected to do well. Good state schools will just handle this kind of thing.

How the DCs feel about the pressure as they develop into full blown teenagers is another question, but that is our problem as parents, not the school's.

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:10:35

I mean bog standard in an affectionate way MI smile. I have had several people this week telling me it was their First Choice for their Year 6 girls, which is great. One has chosen it above an offer from TCS iykwim.

Nit, yes I do have a good friend with a dd who has just finished her gcses there. Sadly, she is choosing not to go to the sixth form. Both she and her mum seem to think there is something lacking in the sixth form, but tbh I don't want to grill my friend about it because we usually talk about things other than school when we go out. I find I get immensely bored of school talk, and I worry that that in itself is an indicator of my woeful non-pushyness as a parent!

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:15:35

"I think parental influence, activities, interest and how much a parent can tutor their dc is the key to back up formal education."

Yes, I suspect this too but am floundering a bit as to what to actually do. I don't want her to take her eye off the ball but I don't want to put her under a lot of pressure either.

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 13:17:49

Thanks for great responses btw!

hernow Thu 11-Jul-13 13:28:42

I get concerned every now and again that I really should be a pushy parent or at least a bit but I doubt very much that it would have any affect on our DC. Plus I feel there is already enough to push and argue about. Life is too short to add to the stress school/peer group can already add to life is my excuse.

Interested why do Duke of Edinburgh through open award centre rather than school nextphase why?

hernow Thu 11-Jul-13 13:29:42

Apologies nextphase just read too quickly earlier.

Elibean Thu 11-Jul-13 14:25:37

Oooh Minty, thank you for starting this thread.

dd1 only in Y4, but may well be heading in similar direction and I want to support without being pushy...and don't want a pushy school for her. She is bright, top sets at primary, but doesn't respond well to pushing/pressure.

Very interesting answers, and I do totally relate to muddling through and that 'feeling'!

TheOriginalSteamingNit Thu 11-Jul-13 14:28:40

Mintyy, don't be too worried about your friend's choice of sixth: some of dds friends are staying and some are not, I think they and their parents and I just all see different pluses and minuses to it!

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 17:08:28

Could not agree more about the dullness of school talk! As far as pressure goes, some kids respond really well and thrive and others don't. Encourage your dd to aim high and try lots of new things and be constructively busy (A Good Thing for most teens IMO and IME). And then see. You'll know if she is happy or not. I would not assume pressure is a bad thing though especially if she is very bright and schoolwork comes easily. It is just finding the balance.

schooldidi Thu 11-Jul-13 18:18:52

I hate school talk too, and I'm a teacher blush.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 19:30:19

op check out your school's website. Many schools have their GCSE results tables there.

It should tell you how many pupils sat X gcse and how many attained an A*, A, B etc etc, or it might tell you the figure as a percentage.

You can find out what the national average was for pupils getting an A* etc.

This is a good indicator of whether your school is actively challenging their most able students and whether the education provided is appropriate for them.

This is also a good indicator of a school's particular strengths and weaknesses.

It's true that some schools do use their energy and resources to ensure that as many students as possible pass. You might think this is a fair use of energy and resources actually, as it will actively benefit the largest number of kids. But if that's the case in your school, you may have to step up to the plate for your own DD!

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 19:55:43

I can find a summary of gcse, AS and A2 (assume that's A Levels?) on the website, don't know how it compares to other schools though.

I just feel slightly twitchy when I consider how deeply involved some parents seem to be in their children's education. You know, the sort of deeply involved where they can reel off the results of similar schools or participate in endless long long long threads on here about the minutiae of exam results and all that.

I don't want to become an obsessive but I don't want to let my dd down by being too hands off and just accepting that she will do well because she is capable.

lljkk Thu 11-Jul-13 19:59:59

What do people do to make sure that very clever children are being stretched (not pushed) at state secondary?

Trust that ambition & motivation come mostly from within and that my role is to support not live thru the vicariously.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:01:24

You don't have to be remotely obsessed. Just informed. It is a work of moments to see if your school is doing well by its most able students.

If the answer is it's doing very well, then all you need do is keep your eye on the ball.

If the answer is no, then you need to decide onm a course of action. If any.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:03:21

lljk ensuring that your DC have access to an education appropriate to their needs and aspirations is not vicariously living through them!

It is our responsibility surely?

Mintyy Thu 11-Jul-13 20:25:22

wordfactory - I don't know how to interpret the results.

wordfactory Thu 11-Jul-13 20:28:12

Ok. Look at the table.

Start with an easy one. English Language. How many students took it? How many got an A*?

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 20:32:20

Mintyy, just look at the various govt sites and you can compare your school with local schools, with schools with similar intake etc etc. Wordfactory is right. Finding out the basic facts is very quick. If they don't reassure you, you may need to do a little more digging.

There are people strangely obsessed with extraordinary level of pointless detail about schools. And there are people, who through bad luck, ill health, the postcode lottery or whatever, have real problems with the education on offer to their dc. These two groups collide on MN. Joining in with that will not help your dd one jot.

glaurung Thu 11-Jul-13 21:01:22

Not the best place to start wordfactory. % A* for English language for last year will probably only reveal if the school has an early entry policy for English language or not. But aside from that glaring anomoly last summer the method probably works reasonably.

MrsSalvoMontalbano Thu 11-Jul-13 21:08:25

Even the boggest of standard schools are fully aware of what students need to achieve in order to get A* - it is very formulaic - just do the homework, do what her teachers tell her to, and she will manage it.

tiredaftertwo Thu 11-Jul-13 21:29:18

Mmmm, some schools do better than others, ith similar intakes http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/performance/.

You can compare the performance of high, middle and low attainers in different schools, average grades and lots more. Do bear in mind that it is all broad brush strokes - three categories is not much but I just checked a couple of (similar) schools near me and in one the "high attainers" got an average of A-, and in another C+. That would make me ask questions about why - there might be a good reason but that is a big difference.

And if the school publishes a grade breakdown, then look at numbers of A/A* in the main academic subjects. And think about how that relates to say the top three sets (depending how the school organises teaching).

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