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To be stressed & upset about poor secondary schools?

(65 Posts)
Stressingismyhobby Sat 23-Mar-19 22:15:29

Daughter is 8. We live in a grammar school area. I have a tutor lined up for her starting in yr 5 ( never thought I’d tutor but everyone here does which raises the bar).

Probably sounds stupid but I’ve only recently really looked into the non-grammar secondary school options and they are really, really not good. I have no idea which I’d choose if my daughter fails the 11+. It’s made me wonder if we should move area but I know she would be absolutely devastated if we moved her away from her friends.

I also have a younger daughter who would be upset (but would take it slightly better).

Anyone else in this situation? I’m so worried that I’ll be devastated if she fails the 11+ not because I’d be disappointed in her but because I don’t want her going to a shit school!!!

cardibach Sat 23-Mar-19 22:17:16

Are the schools shit? Or just getting lower results than the grammars because all the more able kids have been creamed off?

Katebob22 Sat 23-Mar-19 22:19:00

Agree with cardibach. Is it a fair comparison with other secondaries.

Stressingismyhobby Sat 23-Mar-19 22:24:38

Well, that’s a fair question, I suppose. They’re mostly average, below average or well below average at the end of key stage 4. But speaking to other parents with older kids, they’ve all said they really struggled to find a secondary they were impressed with.

nattynoonoo821 Sun 24-Mar-19 02:06:58

i failed my 11 plus. went to a truely awful school. was one of 5 pupils who got 10 a-c gcses, met lifelong friends and thrived from being a clever fish in a dumb pond. please dont heap pressure on her to pass this. failing wont necessarily ruin her life.

Gettingstronger2 Sun 24-Mar-19 04:20:37

I’m in Scotland and our secondary school league tables were published this week. My Daughters catchment secondary which she will start in August has come 318th out of 339. It is concerning. A secondary just 2 miles away has come over 300 places above - in the top 10. Myself and my Husband have debated for two years what to do about secondary and I have only just settled myself now with the decision. To move into the catchment for the better school, which would be less than 2 miles away, would cost us about 100 grand more for the same house we have now plus increased council tax bill and factors fees. Could we manage an increase like that - maybe just. Could we have the family life we have now - no! Does my Daughter want to move - no! She has anxiety issues already and professionals agree moving her would make these worse. Even if she didn’t, I think forcing her to move would not be good for her. I have settled myself with the fact it’s not just the school it’s how the child and parents work alongside the school as well. As a teacher once said to me ‘education does not just happen in the classroom’. This hit home to me when we went to Florida two years ago and managed to arrange our visit to Kennedy Space Centre to coincide with a rocket launch. Life experience’s and knowledge like that can not be learned in a classroom. Doing these things as a family makes it all the better. Could we have done this and all the other things we have done as a family if we moved into the better catchment? Definitely not. I like all others parents would love my child to get the best grades, go to uni and be successful but I realise there are a lot of other ways to achieve what you want to these days and don’t want to put any more pressure on her than I have to. I know the next 6 years will be tough for her but I still want to enjoy my little girl as well and for her to be happy.

cardibach Sun 24-Mar-19 10:58:58

So, children who failed a test designed to select the above average and send them to a different school turn out to be average or below. Not really a surprise... Most people are average. It’s what average means.

BarbarianMum Sun 24-Mar-19 11:02:14

If they are that bad then why not bite the bullet and move? Not an easy choice but better than years spent tutoring and stressing. Your dds would make new friends.

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 21:07:50

Thanks for all your responses. Pros and cons to staying and moving. I am kicking myself for moving to an 11+ area in the first place but we lived here before my daughter was born and it’s just not something I gave a second thought when she was little.
Totally agree that education doesn’t just happen in school and like a PP said, I failed the 11+, went to an ok school but did well, went to uni etc. It’s not that I think success is ONLY about exam results, I just want her to be at a school where she’s able to fulfill her potential, whatever that may be. And I don’t want her at a school with mostly little oiks who couldn’t care less about education!! 🙈

Myextensionisgivingmeaheadache Sun 24-Mar-19 21:12:54

@Gettingstronger2 I s* myself when I was the Scottish tables too. Mine are only early primary but it’s made me think ‘do we move now?’. The secondary they’ll go to is just a year old so I’m hoping the school just needs to find its feet. I do know people who went to the school in its old campus who have done really well though so a lot of it (most probably) is down to the individual and their parents but I feel awful at having chosen this area for them.

AJPTaylor Sun 24-Mar-19 21:18:41

You have 2 kids. What if the elder gets into grammar and the younger one doesn't? You are hardly going to take the older one out.

Tidy2018 Sun 24-Mar-19 21:31:08

Another Scottish school parent here, agonising periodically about the choice of moving house to a top ten catchment area, or staying where we are all settled and hoping that the school improves over the next three years when DC starts secondary.

LondonJax Sun 24-Mar-19 21:39:27

Do your secondary schools have a grammar band? We're in a grammar school area and our DS passed his 11plus.

But we went to look at both the grammar and the comprehensive school (which has a grammar stream) and all of us decided that school would be better for DS.

Our reasons were that his old school friends go there (albeit in different streams), he can walk to school as opposed to buses so he's home almost an hour earlier than his school friends who went to the grammar school. Although the comprehensive has a lesser reputation than the grammar we found the teachers more open and seemingly warm - case in point, we got to the final classroom on the grammar school tour with 10 minutes to go until the end of the sessions. The teacher was locking up (early) and refused to let us have a look around because 'it would take more than 10 minutes'. At the comprehensive we peeked into a classroom as we were leaving and, even though it was after sessions had ended (we were on the way out) the teacher called us back and asked if we wanted to have a quick look around. We just felt we (and more importantly, DS) were important at the comprehensive. So that swayed it for us.

He's learning at a rate of knots and is really being stretched. He's in a class with similarly academic children (obviously) so he's bouncing ideas around with kids who really want to learn, who really want to achieve.

It's worth checking and finding out if there is a stream for the grammar level kids. DS had to sit a test (along with all the other kids to help them stream them correctly) so, even those who didn't sit the 11 plus or failed it ended up in the grammar stream if they should the aptitude in that test. The nice thing about it is that, if the kids begin to show aptitude they can be moved up streams and if they're struggling they can be moved down. Two of the kids in DS's year were moved down last term because they really were struggling to the point of tears. They love their new stream because they're near the top in it and can cope with the work. They wouldn't have had that chance in a grammar school.

Ihavealwaysknown Sun 24-Mar-19 21:39:38

We don’t live in an 11+ area but the two high schools in our town fluctuate massively over time. Our safety net was getting out DD christened Catholic to allow her access to 1 of 2 local(ish) catholic high schools. Not ideal, but we figured it was important and can’t see ourselves moving out of current town as we quite like it here!

bibbitybobbityyhat Sun 24-Mar-19 21:41:36

I would move house if you possibly can. The schools are much better in a non grammar area and you won't have to put yourself and your child all the ridiculous 11+ shite/worry.

Mustbetimeforachange Sun 24-Mar-19 21:44:43

Is it Buckinghamshire? The quality of the secondary modems (known as Upper Schools) is very variable. You do have to remember that the grammar schools have creamed off 30% of the students, so the results are always going to look much worse.

FullOfJellyBeans Sun 24-Mar-19 21:52:39

YANBU. I live in a grammar area and did some volunteer teaching in local schools. They were terrible. Really bad and have always been (overcrowded class rooms, terrible bullying - children don't feel safe around the school or using the bathrooms, no resources or teaching for higher ability students). I would move to avoid them to be honest. There are some genuine comprehensives a little further away so it's possible for people I live to move a little way while keeping younger siblings in the same primary.

HopelesslydevotedtoGu Sun 24-Mar-19 21:58:33

I would move area. I wouldn't want my kids to have the years of tutoring typical in grammar areas, and I wouldn't want them to have the stress of the exam and possibly failing. I would move to an area with good comprehensive schools.

Your DC will make new friends if you move.

puppy23 Sun 24-Mar-19 22:00:17

It isn't just about the grades she's likely to get at these other schools. Its about the behaviour in these lower ranking schools too, which is often much poorer. Using the poorly ranking school near me as example I've heard some true horror stories surrounding bullying, and many children concequently having to leave the school. I don't want to worry you further, but its another important variable.

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:03:46

Thought of moving makes me want to cry...I know they’d make new friends but they’d take it so,so badly...

It’s Bexley. Any experience of schools in this area much appreciated!!

wejammin Sun 24-Mar-19 22:04:04

YANBU, we are also in a grammar area and our local non grammar is appalling. We need to move anyway as we have just had DC3 in a 2 bed house, and the secondary school issue is one at the top of our list.

SnowdropsiUnderTrees Sun 24-Mar-19 22:08:30

Move to Winchester.

Mustbetimeforachange Sun 24-Mar-19 22:09:27

Honestly, by Christmas of year 7 your children will have new friends even if they go to school with the current ones.

Kolo Sun 24-Mar-19 22:10:28

I think you’re worrying prematurely. You really need to have a look round the comprehensives yourself, and look into their exam stats better. What do you mean by ‘average’, for example? Average progress, achievement? Because, in a grammar area, the comprehensives will always take a hit as the highest achievers are creamed off.

I went to a grammar myself, then taught in comprehensives. Most kids, wherever they are, want to do well. The idea that comps are full of ‘oiks’ Is pretty insulting. Having known thousands of students and their parents over the last 2 decades, the vast majority are good people, want their kids to be happy and do well. There are some proper sink schools, though, but you’d have to actually visit the schools to find out.

missyB1 Sun 24-Mar-19 22:12:23

I know exactly what you mean, we also live in. Grammar area. Here people start tutoring from year 2! The comprehensives here are awful, it’s not just the results it’s behaviour, violence, drugs etc
We are lucky that we can just about afford to go private to avoid the whole shit show. I’ve tried to persuade dh to move but it’s very tricky with his job.

feelingsinister Sun 24-Mar-19 22:16:03

You've already arranged tutoring but you don't even know if your daughter will want to go to grammar when it comes to it. Does she get any choice?

I can't think of anything worse than children being hothoused to pass the 11+ then being put under enormous pressure at grammar.

If you hate the schools then move or get involved and see how you and other parents can contribute to improvement.

Don't put everything on your children getting into grammar schools, that's a huge amount of pressure to put onto a child.

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:17:11

Kolo- I didn’t mean the “oik” comment to come out as insulting and snobby as it did, I apologise. I just remember in my own school there were lots of kids who didn’t give a shit and their disruptive attitude affected those of us who did.

Also, apparently the schools in our area are secondary moderns rather than “true comps” although, forgive my ignorance, but I’m not entirely sure what that means...??

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:20:58

No, absolutely, Feelingsinister, I’m not going to force her into anything - 11+, grammar etc. She’s up for the tutoring and when it comes to choosing schools, of course I will take her preferences into account (although I suspect a main factor will be she’ll probably want to go to one that her friends are going to!)

BertrandRussell Sun 24-Mar-19 22:29:15

Trying to move past the oik comment.

I presume you live in a wholly selective area? Is it Kent? You should be able to work out which two schools are the grammar and the high school your children will go to. Look at the high school. How does it do in exam terms by the different ability cohorts? What are it’s progress 8 figures? What does Ofsted say?

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:37:23

We’re in Bexley. Closest grammar to us is one of the best schools in London. Closest non-grammar is one of the worst schools in the country....

Goposie Sun 24-Mar-19 22:39:01

Just been through the process and the smartest families imho moved in year five close to the schools they wanted. So no stress. Just be sure you are very very within the catchment area and be aware they can shrink a lot one year to the next.

Goposie Sun 24-Mar-19 22:39:35

Are you near townley?

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:45:29

Yes, Goposie, near Townley. When you say you’ve been through the process, what happened with you, if you don’t mind me asking?

Goposie Sun 24-Mar-19 22:46:40

Will pm you

Stressingismyhobby Sun 24-Mar-19 22:49:25

Thank you

bibbitybobbityyhat Mon 25-Mar-19 02:56:57

"True comps" have pupils with the full range of ability levels. In grammar areas the smartest 25 or 30 % (or whatever the figure is) go to the grammars and everyone else goes to the other schools. So the other schools are lacking the top band of the brightest children - they aren't therefore the same as comprehensive schools and their results always look bad in comparison, for obvious reasons.

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 10:06:37

Thanks Bibbity.
So before I up and move, I clearly need to look into the non-grammars properly. What should I ask/ look for to help me weed out the genuinely crap ones?

BertrandRussell Mon 25-Mar-19 12:10:54

Start by looking at how they do with their low, middle and high attainers. Do they make expected progress? Look at the progress 8 figures. Read the OFSTED.

CaptainButtock Mon 25-Mar-19 12:13:43

‘A dumb pond’ ☹️

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 12:18:46

You're in Bexley ?

I can give you chapter and verse on every school in the area - you're only alternative to Townley - whcih has horrendous levels of bullying anyway - is St Catherines, or Trinity if you can get in. DON NOY under pain of death - touch any of the TKAT schools - Cleeve or Welling - which have plummeted since TKAT took over . King Henry (old Erith) has rebranded, several collegues have moved over there and enjoy it

Harris, does what it says on the tin, they are hard drivers but they do get results. Not a vehicle for my child>

I assume by your comments you are close to Welling ? The Head has just been forced into retirement but has reappeared at Cleeve as HoGeography, they've had to bring Cavenagh in from Debden in Essex to try and sort it out.

TKAT also fraudulently manipulate their exams results.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 12:19:37

*s'cuse typos, stabbing one fingered on the phone

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 12:20:24

OFSTED for TKAT - all dire. Progress 8 - all dire

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 12:24:46

@Stressing - the Bexley Grammars take in 22% of the cohort - except 82% of those places are filled by external candidates, those from Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley, Dartford

The only true comprehensives in Bexley are King Henry (bilateral), and St Catherines and St Columbas. You might want to consider Blackfen Girls – still gets good results. You also need to look at those schools which have banded entry. Because again you may fail the selection again.

anniehm Mon 25-Mar-19 12:26:27

Not a grammar area here so the schools are all equally rubbish! Well the fluctuate between just about ok to truly horrendous (think average 5 gcse passes in the teens). Rather than move just ensure that she's ready for the exam and if she doesn't pass work out which school is right for her as that means she's not right for grammar school. (Ps mine both got a's/8&9's despite their school being in special measures by the time dd1 left, dd2 switched to a different school which was "only" needs improvement.)

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 15:05:56

Plainspeaking - do you teach in the area or are you a parent (or both)? I’m not in Welling, I live in Bexley (i.e. the town, I don’t just mean the borough)

What is banded entry based on (god, I know nothing)!

modgepodge Mon 25-Mar-19 15:19:34

Ignore the headline results - of course non grammars don’t get 10 a* per pupil average, because anyone capable of getting that passed the 11+ and went to grammar. You need to look at the progress made (I think progress 8 is the measure) - how well does each pupil do, compared to their KS2 sats results? If they make good progress, there’s no reason your children wouldn’t do well there.

Also look at OFSTED reports - what are the areas of strengths and weaknesses and do they matter to you? Eg poor provision for SEN children might only matter to a small percentage of parents. If your child is very arty/sporty/musically inclined you want to be looking at provision for them. Consistent issues with bullying would be a concern for many I’d imagine.

Also, most importantly, go and look around and get a feel for the place. Lots of children will do well at most schools. I often think a child will do better at the top of a mixed ability (comprehensive/secondary modern) school, than scraping along the bottom of a very competitive grammar.

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 18:55:58

Thanks modgepodge, all good points. I do agree with you about being better off at the top of a mixed school than struggling at a grammar. I guess it’s just no one likes to think they’ve sent their child to a ‘bad’ school.
Anyone have any positive Bexley secondary school stories??

fc301 Mon 25-Mar-19 19:07:07

Please please do not use the word failed. Especially around your DD.

No one fails the 11+. Some pass. Some don't pass (about 80% don't pass!). It's about finding the right school for each child. No child should labelled a failure at 11.

As you were.

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 20:45:50

I don’t use the word failed around her. I don’t talk about any of this around her. She knows about the 11+ and knows that if she passes it, she’ll have a greater choice of schools. That’s it. I’m not pressuring her at all. I feel all the pressure is on me to make the right choices for her and her sister.

fc301 Mon 25-Mar-19 20:56:23

You've used the word repeatedly on here. It's a bad habit & children do hear your conversations even if you think they aren't listening.

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 21:05:50

Yes, because I’m talking openly on an anonymous adult forum. There are many subjects I discuss very differently depending on whether I’m talking to my children or adults. I’ve also referred to “crap schools” on here - again, not language I have, or would, use in front of my children.

TFBundy Mon 25-Mar-19 21:23:19

OP I haven’t read the whole thread but I think you should seriously consider a move. No axe to grind - I went to grammar and hope to get DS into one. In my day it was less of a big deal - no tutors or advance preparation (at least not in my class!) Howeber if DS doesn’t pass then I will continue to send him to private school rather than use any of the state secondaries around here. If we don’t have the means to continue privately then I will move.

It’s one of the major downsides of grammar areas imo.

I also have a friend with 2 kids of which only one passed. It’s been a nightmare for them. She did everything humanly possible to get her DC2 in but it’s oversubscribed and ultimately his marks weren’t good enough. It’s cause a lot of bitterness and problems between her DC.

time4chocolate Mon 25-Mar-19 21:38:52

I am kicking myself for moving to an 11+ area in the first place but we lived here before my daughter was born and it’s just not something I gave a second thought when she was little

This was exactly my situation a few years ago and, knowing what I know now, I would have moved out of the area well before my two DC started primary school. I think you have to live in a grammar area to truly grasp the craziness of it.

Stressingismyhobby Mon 25-Mar-19 22:37:37

I could cry. This thread makes me want to move...but telling my DC that we’d be moving them away from all their friends -and ours! -as well as our support network breaks my heart...😞

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 22:45:22

@Stressing - both

Look at the Dartford tests too, Wilmington is reputedly easier.

Trouble is, schools evolve so quickly, once the academies sweep in - Bexleyheath turned right round, then slumped back again.

Are you in catchment for Haberdashers - although, colleagues say it has the worst behaviour in the borough and they are not backed up by SLT.

Banded entry, those not taking the 11+ obviously have to look at the other schools, most of those dont take in by catchment - they do a 'banded test' which divided the school into academic bands - theoretically it is to stop a sought after school from creaming off he rest of the best, but in reality they artificially expand the top bands.

You'll go through all this very shortly at a Y5 preparation parents evening.

PlainSpeakingStraightTalking Mon 25-Mar-19 22:46:03

Out of borough - could I recommend the Leigh Tech schools and Wilmington Academy. Only ever hear good things about those.

Babygrey7 Tue 26-Mar-19 06:37:36

Where would all her friends go? They can't all be going to the grammar?

We moved when the kids were 6 and 4 to a county with comps, to a catchment where all comps are good.

Seemed bonkers at the time, maybe it is...

But I can understand not wanting to leave friends,and support network and home

So am curious, where will her friends go?

RedHelenB Tue 26-Mar-19 06:46:47

Have you actually been and looked round these schools during a school day?

I really don't get the school angst, if your child works hard and is roundabout grammar ability she will do well in any school. She won't be the only "try hard" in her year and when she makes a group of likeminded friends she'll be fine.

SummerDog Tue 26-Mar-19 07:03:47

I'd move. My DSS and DSD go to secondary modern. It's dire and really rough. DSS missed the 11+ by 2 points. His mother refused to tutor. He's a really bright boy but he's easily influenced. The social group is dodgy and the teachers spend a lot of time on behaviour management. They just want to get a pass out of all the kids they can. There is no stretching going on. It's about dragging as many over the line as possible. DSS now scraping a 3s and 4s in most of his mocks. He could have done much better elsewhere. Think long and hard OP.

Look at how their top set are doing? What does the progress 8 look like?

TheNoodlesIncident Tue 26-Mar-19 07:11:20

We've got the same situation in our grammar school area - four grammars, two for each sex, plus two selective faith schools. No wonder the rest of the secondaries look "bad", with all the top attaining children creamed off. But it's not really the results that concerns parents, it's the behaviours. I do worry a little about the disengaged kids who don't value education and don't care about anyone else's, but I suppose they would be encountered anywhere.

I think RedHelenB has a good suggestion - go and see what the secondaries are like, although bear in mind there could be a headteacher change before your dc are old enough to go there. But you might be surprised.

(As a separate point, it's a change to see Scottish posters admitting they have secondary worries - usually any thread on this topic is full of them saying how rubbish the English system is and they're glad they don't have the stress of it. I have experienced both and prefer the English system myself)

Phineyj Tue 26-Mar-19 07:45:07

Would you consider moving to Bromley? You'd have a choice of good comps (if you choose your house carefully) and could still access grammars for one or both kids if that suits. I sympathise as we will be facing a similar decision in a couple of years.

bibbitybobbityyhat Tue 26-Mar-19 13:53:50

I'm sorry for those of you who feel trapped in your grammar school areas, I really do, but am pleased to see that so many people on this thread can see the grammar system for what it is: divisive, insane, undesirable and altogether just a really shitty way to treat our kids.

Stressingismyhobby Tue 26-Mar-19 14:11:11

I fully intend to look round the schools in September - who knows, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

In theory, I’ve nothing against children being selected based on ability - that’s just life, isn’t it - but yes, like others, what I don’t like is the stress of the whole 11+ process and the effect that grammar schools have on surrounding schools.

And yes, I don’t know where her friends will go, of course many won’t go to a grammar.

I just want a good school -grammar or not. And nice kids. And by “nice”, I don’t mean middle class or anything snobby like that, just kids of a similar mindset as her, no bullying etc. The same as everybody, really...

Kolo Tue 26-Mar-19 21:42:50

I don’t think there are any schools without bullying. A grammar school isn’t an escape from bullying. I’d be looking for a school that tackles bullying properly (visit the schools and ask the students).

Stressingismyhobby Tue 26-Mar-19 22:20:21

Yes, I know, grammar school doesn’t guarantee nice kids. Pretty tricky to get a true picture of bullying, I imagine - I expect any students at an open day will be keen to defend their school?

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