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AIBU to leave 13 YO DD to decide which school? (partly state vs private issue)

(37 Posts)
NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 17:11:26

DD1 is a mature, bright 13 yo. She is in year 8 and has been at a small local private school since year 7.

dd2 is due to start year 7 in September. she potentially has a place at the private school and at the state school.

At Easter we made a joint family decision to send both girls to the (good ) local comprehensive. Both girls were fully behind this decision- and in fact it was their preference.

The main reasons were a general feeling of disillusionment with the private school, especially about rather uninspiring teaching (despite good GCSE results). Also, as a teacher in the state system, i have never felt very comfortable with the whole private school thing, and prefer a school that doesn't feel like it's existing in some kind of 'bubble'.

Fast forward a few months...DD1 has suddenly got massively cold feet about moving school and is far more motivated and content at school. (One of the reasons about our decision to move her was that she was becoming unmotivated, but now she seems to have got back on track with her school work).

So... do we let her decide which school to go to ? Or do we decide for her? Or do we say 'we've made our decision and we're sticking with it'?

DD2 is has her heart set on the local comp- so if dd1 stays put, we will have one at state and one at private. this is not something that worries dh and me, as we feel sure that we are not giving one an unfair advantage. both schools get good results and both offer good extra curricular etc. however, there may be a perception of unfairness. this is ironic, as i actually feel that the state school is better in many ways!

dd1 is very feisty and quite a drama queen. she can also be very anxious. I was quite surprised when she was brave enough to embrace a move to the state school, but she convinced us it was what she wanted. now that she is having a change of heart, I'm so unsure what to do. I don't want to chop and change but can't see the woods for the trees at the moment.

AIBU to say to dd1 that it's her decision? Or is that expecting too much of a 13 yo?

AIBU to have one at state and one at private, in these circumstances?

Advice please!

Cheesenredonion Wed 10-Jun-15 17:14:40

Well, it isn't ironic as it is unfair on paper, at any rate - one DD has thousands spent on her education; the other doesn't.

However, they have the same choices, so I don't think it's unreasonable.

fredfredgeorgejnr Wed 10-Jun-15 17:15:09

Fine to say it's her decision, you can presumably trivially sway it to her going to the comp by putting some of the money you'll save her way? Which is really just a genuine part of the decision anyway, and would remove the one at private one at state part - not that I think that's a bad thing.

Certainly at 13 I was equipped to make the decision, I think it's not something you can really dictate if is a genuine choice and not something forced by finances / moves etc.

ZeroFunDame Wed 10-Jun-15 17:21:38

If the private school genuinely offers no advantage over the state - subject choice, day to day experience, ethos, opportunities, or even pure convenience - then I wonder if it is really worth paying for.

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 17:25:21

thank you cheese.

fred, I don't really want to sway her into anything, tbh, as I can see the whole of the first year being dominated by worrying about friendships, being accepted and fitting in (whilst starting GCSES straight away). dd has already said that she knows she will start worrying more about her appearance and fashion if she moves school, and that she can just be herself at her current school, warts and all! shame she wasn't talking like this back at easter when we made the decision! arrgh.

Soduthen116 Wed 10-Jun-15 17:27:11

I think you should let her decide. My dd decided at 13 to go to a different school to her older brothers. They went to a fantastic huge state school with outstanding results and teaching.

Dd choose the other smaller state high, still good but not as outstanding but smaller.

Against our wishes she went and it was absolutist the right choice for her. She blossomed.

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 17:30:48

zero, that's a huge part of why we made our decision at easter. but NOW we feel that the benefit of staying would be that dd would be spared all the angst of moving school. small all girls school to huge co-ed comp. the enormity of the change is dawning on her and now feels terrifying rather than exciting. so the fees would prevent her from dealing with upheaval/ anxiety/ transition as she starts her GCSEs.

howtodrainyourflagon Wed 10-Jun-15 17:35:02

have you pointed out that the fees you save will take thousands off their university debt? I guess for a 13yo that may be a bit abstract.

Mistigri Wed 10-Jun-15 17:38:50

Tough isn't it?

My DD is a similar age and changes schools in September, so choices were made this year (age 13; we live abroad and here they move up to senior high after Y10). She was absolutely adamant that she wanted to go to the private Catholic school where several of her friends go. We applied and she was offered a place and thought that was the end of it. Until she suddenly decided that she wanted to do a specialist language course that is only available at one particular state school in our area! I suppose that at 13 you are young enough to change your mind, and like you I think both schools are perfectly good enough. Hopefully the decision is now made ...

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 17:42:37

howto, i am not really thinking that far ahead, tbh. and I don't really want it to be a financial decision.

if anything, finances cloud the issue (people seem to think paid for= better). i know that's not what you're saying, howto, but we'll cross that bridge later on!

LokiBear Wed 10-Jun-15 17:51:29

I'd take her on a visit to the state school (again if you have already been) and then allow her to decide. Her anxiety may be relieved by seeing the school or it might firm up her decision. YANBU to allow her to decide.

LotusLight Wed 10-Jun-15 18:05:41

As someone who has chosen to pay fees for 5 children from age 4 - 18 I think if she wants the private school choice let her stick with it. It does tend to be better on the whole - 8% of children at fee paying school get 50% of best university places, are 80% of the judiciary, massive number of top positions in everything from Olympic sport acting the city etc etc

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 18:17:28

loki, there is a transition day in early July, but we need to decide before then, i think.

lotus, you're not helping matters! what about my dd2??

viva100 Wed 10-Jun-15 18:32:04

I had to change schools at 14 (just the way the system works in my home country). My parents made the decision for me, didn't listen to my concerns (the choice was alao between 2 very good schools btw). It was the wrong choice and they really regret it. I didn't fit in and had some quite tough 4 years. I still got excellent grades but I wasn't happy at all. I think you should listen to your daughter.

LokiBear Wed 10-Jun-15 19:06:04

I'm a secondary school teacher in a state school in charge of transition. You don't have to decide anything for definite until she starts back after the summer. You could even allow her to do the transition days to try it out and then decide. All you have to do is write or email the head teacher and local authority declining the place. Not sure how your private school would feel about her trying it out. In your position, I wouldn't tell them. The only way you and both of your daughters can know for sure which school is the right one is to go in and look. Phone the head of the state school and request a tour in the next week. Our head does about 60 personal tours per year. Good luck flowers

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 19:19:01

thanks viva, I'm definitely listening to her. its just that i am sensing that she wants to back out of going to the comp, but doesn't want the responsibility of making that decision herself. i think part of this is that she has developed a large network of people at the comp who she 'sort of knows' in RL and on social media, and doesn't want to lose face by deciding not to go to the comp.

loki, thanks very much for your kind post. she knows quite a few people at the comp already and has recently been to 2 birthday parties with some lovely girls who go there and are welcoming her. i thought this would be enough to make her feel less anxious, but she is still really worried.

i think you're right, loki, we need to book a visit before the transition day. i'm not sure if we could keep it quiet though, as her current school would realise where she was. i have been honest with them about dd's cold feet and they say she would be welcome to stay on, despite having given notice. are you suggesting she should go for a few weeks in september and see how it goes??

LokiBear Wed 10-Jun-15 19:22:58

No, rather that she could do the two transition days at the end of this year. Ideally, you need this sorting before the summer so that there is no disruption to the start of next year. With our transition days, we have the new year 7 pupils and invite older pupils joining other year groups too.

Leeds2 Wed 10-Jun-15 19:28:00

I would let her choose now.

NoonarAgain Wed 10-Jun-15 19:28:11

loki, she breaks up on 9th July and then its a couple of weeks before the comp breaks up. she could, in theory do a bit of extra transition then. but that would mean she would leave her current school for the summer not knowing if she'd actually left the school, iyswim.

she is lucky, as a neighbouring LEA still has a bizarre middle school system, so there is an intake of nearly 150 year 9 as well as 300 year 7 pupils.

i think a big part of it is an irrational worry about the co-ed aspect. strange considering she was at co-ed state primary till year 6. but she was younger then...

LokiBear Wed 10-Jun-15 19:43:47

In that case, I would definitely let her do the transition days. If she chooses to leave her private school, you could do something to mark the occasion with her friends during the summer. However, if she chooses to stay on it can be done very quietly with no fuss.
I think you just need to make sure she knows whatever decision she makes needs to be final. She can't go back and forth between the schools in September. Also tell her that she can make the decision but then blame you publicly. That way she won't lose face. I do this with my year 10s all of the time. They come to me struggling with work but scared to go to booster classes because they will look like a 'geek'. I tell them to tell their mates that evil Mrs Loki is forcing them to go and it is either booster classes or detention. Never fails!

DisappointedOne Wed 10-Jun-15 20:07:14

Not read every post but I decided which (non-private) school I was going to at 11. My sister chose the other school 2 years later. We're both relatively unscathed by our experiences. grin

DecaffCoffeeAndRollupsPlease Wed 10-Jun-15 20:21:22

It can be hard to fit into a large comp from a small private, and visa versa. Look around, do transition days, then let your DD decide, whilst giving her the 'out' by letting her know (and potentially tell friends) that it's parent's decisions over which school but your decision will be influenced by her opinion, which also happens to be true so it shouldn't be difficult to explain.

NoonarAgain Thu 11-Jun-15 09:25:53

ok...thanks again for all advice. having discussed the issue fully with my dh and my dm we think that moving dd1 would really be taking a massive risk with her emotional well being, due to her potential for anxiety and absolute obsession with peer pressure/ fitting in/ worries about co-ed. and btw, we have had a glimpse of potential issues already via social media with current students at the comp who's he 'sort of knows', but also some budding new friendships- so a very mixed experience so far.

we still prefer the state option, in terms of the rounded educational experience it offers, but think it would be high risk for dd1 (socially).

dd2 in a totally different ball game. she's easy going, knows her own mind, doesn't do friendship politics or peer pressure. is laid back. bright. quirky. happy in her own skin. she will do well anywhere. she wants to go to the state school. she will be fine there. a few years time she gets slightly poorer GCSES than her sister, she could turn round and say to me ' i can't believe you let me choose a state school when i was only 10- why did you let me decide?'

please talk to me about the fairness issue. does it matter that one is fee paying if both ddd are at the right school for them? Help, this is doing my head in!

PS loki, i absolutely agree that any decision should be blamed on us, as parents!

Drowsybutawake Thu 11-Jun-15 09:45:43

I think you've made the right choice OP.

FWIW, I highly doubt the scenario you are imagining of dd2 blaming her low grades on moving school will happen. Or if it does then dd2 will be wrong. If she was easily swayed by peer pressure and the comp had low expectations of achievement then maybe, but you describe her as knowing her own mind and the school is good.

I say this as someone who was similar to dd2, went to a comp that was bottom of the league table (and did have a lot of peer pressure not to succeed) but I still excelled academically during and after school. IMHO family support matters a hell of a lot more than schools, and can skew the statistics.

NoonarAgain Thu 11-Jun-15 10:04:21

thanks drowsy. thats reassuring.

it would feel so wrong to base dd2's school choice on her sister's current situation alone. if we change dd2's school now, we would simply be making her follow her sister, just so we can say we are treating them the same.

on MN, most people seem to think that one in state/ one in private is inherently massively unfair. i'm starting to think that it MAY be ok if there are extenuating circs, or if it happens by accident rather than by design!

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