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Which secondary would you encourage your child to choose?

(26 Posts)
TwoConsonantsAndAVowel Sat 11-Aug-18 07:37:08

My child will soon be starting final year of primary school. We live very rurally and she doesn't go to our local village school as I wanted her nearer my place of work in case of emergencies. We did a placing request and she got in right away without having to even start at the village school.

We have one neighbour for miles. Their child is going to our local secondary which is outstanding. The council would put on a school bus and my child and theirs would get this together. Behaviour from pupils is reported as exceptional and it's the best school within our LA for exam results. My child isn't really friends with the neighbour's child and they've only played out together once or twice in two years.

We could apply for the secondary linked with my child's current primary school and most definitely get in (no school is oversubscribed around here). This secondary is very good however doesn't offer as many opportunities such as extra curricular activities and trips as the outstanding one. There are some reports of bullying and disruptive children and exam results are very good but not AS good as our more local secondary. However, all of dd's friends (except one who she doesn't really play with) will be going to this secondary. She struggles socially and it's taken her a long time to find a group of people to play with at intervals and lunch. Due to the distance of where we live, she doesn't socialise with anybody outside of school (though does go to several clubs in the evenings which i collect her from after work).

So we'll soon be looking around the secondary schools to get a feel of the place. DD herself is in two minds about both schools but I think is leaning more towards the one her friends are starting at. I feel it's very important for her to start a new school already knowing people and having social support from primary friends than starting a school knowing nobody. I think that would ruin her confidence and she'd end up staying quiet and reserved and not initiating friendships her whol secondary life.

So pros and cons of both.

'Outstanding' school pros: best exam results in our LA, excellent behaviour of pupils and very strict anti-bullying policy, excellent range of opportunities, council would put on a school bus.

'Outstanding' school cons: Dd won't know anybody and may struggle socially throughout high school.

'Very good' school pros: very good exam results, good range of opportunities for students, pretty much all of dd's current class will be going here.

'Very good' school cons: some reports of bad behaviour, the council would not put on a school bus as it's not our nearest secondary meaning dd would need to navigate herself on two buses home herself each day which would mean her not getting home til 5.30pm (or she would just remain at after school care for a few more years which she wouldn't mind at all as she really enjoys it).

What would you encourage your child to go for in our situation?

(Moving home is not an option)


nicebitofquiche Sat 11-Aug-18 07:43:09

Allowing your child to choose what school to go for is a massive responsibility on her shoulders. You are the parent. You should choose the school you think is best for her.

solittletime Sat 11-Aug-18 07:49:16

In the long run the outstanding school would be better all round. Friendships change as they get older anyway, and once she starts being more independent I think it will be more important to be local / closer to school and have friends locally.

It's a tough one though, very had to ignore the ease of starting secondary with friends.
Doesn't sound like there is much in it in terms of schools.

Once you've gone to both open days you might get a feeling for which school you see her in best. I'd try and base it on that rather than friendships.

PattiStanger Sat 11-Aug-18 07:50:35

I don't think a 10 year old should be making the decision either, they aren't able to understand all of the implications.

For me nearness and travel to school would be a big factor because of my circumstances but may not be for others.

IheartNiles Sat 11-Aug-18 07:55:55

Will she have more opportunities to socialise outside of school if she goes to the more ‘local’ offering? It sounds like both are fairly remote from where you live.

I would visit both, you’ll both have a better feel for the places and hopefully the decision will be much easier. Go on a normal school day.

TwoConsonantsAndAVowel Sat 11-Aug-18 07:59:37

My family and colleagues have been persuading me NOT to make the decision for her as she'll end up resenting me (cue lots of their anecdotes about their parents pushing school choices on to them). That's why I thought it would be better for DD to feel like this is her choice with me gently guiding her. I'd hate for me to put her into the outstanding school, she struggles to make friends and then hates me for it for years.

Just to say - starting the outstanding school is not likely to increase her social life outside of school. That school is still 15 miles from us with very poor public transport links. I'd be happy to drive her places though but meet up would need to be very organised and structured. They couldn't just be 'let's hang out after dinner' etc like it was when I was little.

I agree about the visits. Hopefully they'll make things a bit clearer. I'd like to talk to staff about their experiences of children starting not knowing anybody and what support was in place etc.

My gut is telling me to go for the better school but I'm really worried how dd will cope not knowing anybody when she starts.

delilahbucket Sat 11-Aug-18 08:00:08

She shouldn't be choosing, that's your job. Going to the school where her friends are going is likely to be irrelevant as they will be split up anyway. The friends thing will be the most important thing to her at that age, and that is why she cannot choose a school, because she cannot see future implications. The better school is the better choice.

TwoConsonantsAndAVowel Sat 11-Aug-18 08:02:59

Also just to add - dd absolutely loves where we live and is happy. I appreciate that might change when she's older and having to ask me for lifts everywhere or base her social life around my work pattern/the two-buses on a Saturday into town pattern - but for now she is happy. Moving is not an option and likely won't be until dd has left secondary.

Idontmeanto Sat 11-Aug-18 08:08:27

Your choice, not hers. Go for the nearer one. An outstanding school will have strategies for helping integrate new year 7s.

IheartNiles Sat 11-Aug-18 08:09:26

See what you both think when you visit, it might be a very easy decision once you see them. Chat to the pupils and look at the lessons and behaviour. Ask them about their behaviour policies and how they enforce. Ask them about staff turnover.

I agree with you that it should be a joint decision at this age. Of course, you can guide her to the better decision. Kids are pretty sensible. I agree that friendship groups change at this age, although not always.

Enko Sat 11-Aug-18 08:20:40

Go visit them both and see where you both feel.
For me I have 4 who has been through or are in Secondary schools. I put my foot down over certain schools due to issues I was not comfortable with. They were simply not permitted as part of the selection process. With dd1 she went to the school I had a 2nd choice she as 1st. With dd2, dd3 and ds we agreed on the selection choices. For 1st choice and they all got into their 1st choice.

DS and DD3 attends schools where they are not home until 5 each day. I don't think returning home at 5 30 is that bad. A 2nd bus to wait for will be annoying but not to bad.

Where we live nearest school is 9 miles away so it is simply the norm for children to have the travel to school.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Sat 11-Aug-18 08:22:58

You put her into a primary school and she made friends. Even if she has difficulty with socialisation, she has made friends and there’s no reason to suppose she won’t again.

If she goes to the school where her friends from primary are going, she’ll get fed up of the journey on two buses in the dark in winter and would have an impact on her capacity to do things after school. It’s even things like the bus being cancelled or late and your child being late to school which will probably stress her. If it’s transport put on by the council, a late arrival won’t be penalised.

There will be other children who don’t know anyone and staff responsible for induction may well put them together as they’re in the same boat. It’s what I used to do.

meditrina Sat 11-Aug-18 08:23:41

DC don't really stay in after school care happily once they actually are at secondary. So wouid you be happy for her to be hanging round the town where school B is?

Never underestimate how much an awkward school journey can embugger life/social life of teens.

StoorieHoose Sat 11-Aug-18 08:30:52

I agree that it should be hour decision not hers. While it would be nice to have a familiar face when starting at the new school, There is no guarantee that she will have any friends in her class or that she will still be friends with people from primary school in high school after about a month

Think of her future - go for the school that gives her the best opportunities

HushabyeMountainGoat Sat 11-Aug-18 08:31:33

Are there any local activities that your daughter could get involved in this year where she might get to know some children going to the Outstanding school?

I understand your dilemma. The secondary schools local to me aren't great but there is an outstanding one in the next town which isn't usually oversubscribed as if's more rural. I'd love my DS to go there but i do worry that i would be depriving him of having mates just round the corner and his entire social life would be in the other town.

cece Sat 11-Aug-18 08:41:42

Why are you letting your child choose?

As their parents you should choose.

Zoflorabore Sat 11-Aug-18 08:45:42

I was allowed to choose op. It was the wrong decision but I was headstrong and wanted to go with my friends.

Big mistake and I moved for the start of year 8.

Such a huge decision with future implications should not rest on the shoulders of a 10 year old child.

Good luck whichever one you choose smile

TwoConsonantsAndAVowel Sat 11-Aug-18 08:45:45

Not really hush. We only have one house near us for miles. All around the outstanding school is little villages and not really anything club-wise is advertised for kids. Her current school is in the town which is where all the social activities seem to be. She currently goes to drama and sports clubs in the town which a few of her classmates also go to.

Thanks for all of the advice. I really do think we were prioritising friendships due to dd's previous struggle forming friendships. I'm quite looking forward to arranging visits and feeling more clear about things.

Summerisdone Sat 11-Aug-18 08:58:35

I'd send her to the outstanding one if I were in your situation. Friendships change massively and it's only a minority that remain within a similar friendship circle throughout secondary from primary school.
When I was starting secondary I had a similar choice of a very good school where I wouldn't know a single other person or a school that really wasn't that great, but about 80% of my primary class was going to. I obviously wanted the latter at 10yrs of age, but DM didn't let me decide as she wanted me going to the better one, and honestly within a couple of weeks I had a whole new set of friends and no longer felt like the loner who had no friends, and I was a very shy kid who struggled massively approaching new people (still do tbh).

GreenTulips Sat 11-Aug-18 09:02:40

3 kids all in secondary

None of them are still friends with junior school mates.

What's worse - being left behind when friends move on or staring new friendships?

Your the parent you decide

lljkk Sat 11-Aug-18 09:23:57

I let mine choose... they made much better decisions than I would have.

Bullying destroyed my academic achievements for six+ years, so would always prioritise social over every other aspect if I had to choose. That said, Convenient bus is a huge factor.

I could not give a shiny about Outstanding, Very Good, etc.

Daxter Sat 11-Aug-18 09:43:36

Will most of the other kids at the local school have friends going there? Of course friendships change and she might not stay friends with her primary friends but IME, it's very difficult to break into established groups when you're not the greatest at social stuff to begin with. A bit different if there will be loads of kids starting with no friends though.

TeenTimesTwo Sat 11-Aug-18 10:28:45

I agree with others that this ultimately should be your decision.

All schools have some level of bullying. it is how they deal with it that counts.

When you visit, talk to the teacher in charge of transition, and also someone from pastoral care.

Are results at one 'better' because of better intake or better teaching (look at progress 8 values but remember they have confidence values around them too).

A long commute can take time away from relaxing, hobbies or schoolwork.

TwoConsonantsAndAVowel Sat 11-Aug-18 12:06:34

Thank you all very, very much! Lots of great advice and things to consider.

We've had a chat about it this morning (no idea where my anxiety about this has suddenly come from!) and she admits she is nervous about starting a school not knowing anybody and that is why she is opting for the one in town next to her current primary. I've said we'll visit both in the Autumn as many times as she wants and we'll have a sensible discussion about applications.

Re the outstanding school - yes, my fear is that most of the kids there will already know each other. It is joined to a big primary school. There will be a few other kids like my dd though who come in from villages and will maybe only know one or two faces.

Another thing putting DD off is that at the leavers' ceremony before the summer, she watched the older kids all saying goodbye to each other in the playground on the last day of school. Only one child was going to the 'outstanding' school and all the others from her class were going the 'very good' school. DD said this girl was crying hysterically and was screaming/shouting how unfair it was. I don't know how much of this is an exaggeration as it's all coming from dd, but it's clearly had an impact on her and made dd realise she would be in the same position as this girl next year.

lljkk Sat 11-Aug-18 12:35:22

Is it easy to transfer to the VG school if outstanding one proves to be pants? This (plus the convenient bus!) is argument in favour of starting at Outstanding. I think I will be pushing this msg with my own youngest kid (also due to start yr6 soon).

Risky experiences are good ones... they teach us to be confident and that we can deal with uncertain situations. Don't be afraid of the unknown; it can be great!

(Hysteria I would take dim view of, sheesh)

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