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Pulling kid out of private to go to (poor performing) state secondary(232 Posts)
Ok, I know it has been done many times.
We live in a relatively new build in an ‘up and coming’ area in Edinburgh. Our primary catchment school was of the worst in the city, so we decided to put the kids into private primary, but it is killing us.
We had already decided to pull them out for high school as the school was doing ok, but in the latest tables our catchment high school is in the bottom five performing in the city. Now I am panicking as eldest goes next year. Only 26% of kids got 5 highers.
Even before corona virus we knew we couldn’t afford private for high school. So do we risk it, or do we try and move? Looking around that means doubling our mortgage for a smaller house that needs fully refurbed. With corona virus, we might be even more screwed trying to sell our house 🥺
To be clear, I have no issue sending them to a state school, in fact it would probably be better for my eldest as she doesn’t do well with academic pressure, but I do have an issue sending them to a school that is crap. I can easily live with middle of the table, but this is just so poor performing.
I would move house to another area with better schools . If they are in private primary and then you switch to state secondary, they won’t know what’s hit them.
See that is what scares me. I grew up in a rough area and could handle myself, despite getting into the grammar school I knew how to dodge my way home so I didn’t get my head kicked in.
My kids, particularly the eldest, would just get mauled.
What are the chances of an out of catchment placement? If you could afford some tutoring that might be a good compromise.
It may have been better to have put them to the local primary but then moved them to private school for secondary. That’s probably not an option now though so could you put in placing requests for a school that is better than your local one as some may have space?
You write that Only 26% of kids got 5 highers. This needs to be translated into the context in which those results were achieved 26% achieving at this level may be a triumph of teaching a group who had extremely complex learning barriers/ chaotic home situation/ sudden change / bereavement- what about those who were on course for 5 but narrowly missed out on one subject- what about their person who achieved 3 or 4 top grades in the subjects they are passionate about?
You are clearly a concerned and loving parent so your children already have a massive head start in terms of their education.
Results Statistics are a blurry side view of what a school is really like. Ditto OFSTED reports.
In the context of my work I have visited a lot of schools. To me atmosphere and ethos have everything to do with whether the children thrive ( and thriving is nothing to do with how many grades they achieve imho-) You could have a world pressing professor teaching but if the children aren’t happy avd hate their school they’ll learn nothing.
Naturally an academic baseline is a good starting point for the next steps in a young person’s life. However, here’s a glimpse of what I always look for ( just my take on things for what it’s worth)
-How do students relate to one another? Are they kind?
-What are relationships with teachers like?—-Do students know where to go and if there’s a problem/ they’re worried about something?
- Are they stretched? ( not just in an academic way but are they encouraged to think with a growth mindset and think beyond what they think they know about themselves and life in general;
linking to this - what opportunities beyond the curriculum are there- especially in the community?
How is disciple handled? Is it based on explanation, restorative justice without humiliation?
Are the students prepared for adult life in practical and emotional ways?
Let’s face it senior schools are tasked with preparing young people for jobs which don’t even exist yet!
Being literate, numerate, having a passions, broad interests and being good at something coupled with kindness, empathy and an international outlook is more impressive to me than a string of high grades from a miserable, self serving and introspective teen!
Can you visit the school and view it with an open mind, talk to the pupils and teachers?
Any areas of learning you children need extra support with you would be able to boost w some extra tuition- finances being eased by not paying huge school fees.
@selly24 makes some good points and it is worth you investigating, however I feel sad for your children (though accept life does not always go to plan).
If you are able to double your mortgage to move to a different area to hopefully have a better state school (which may or may not be ok), can you instead take a loan for the school fees and stay in your current home?
I would move to a better catchment area too
To be honest OP, I would be trying to move if I were in your position.
Whilst I absolutely agree that statistics and Ofsted reports etc don't tell the whole story, and that there can be very good schools that don't score highly on attainment I would be concerned about sending my children to a school where a large majority of the pupils are reaching low levels of attainment. It is true that it is possible for able children to achieve highly in schools where that isn't the norm, and having supportive parents who value education does give children a head start, no doubt about it. But being taught in classes where that isn't the norm can be very difficult. I was in just that position as a child. I went to a school which, had such things existed at the time, would I am sure have been in Special Measures. Everything was poor - attainment, behaviour, attendance, you name it. Yet I excelled academically and went on to do a very demanding course at a RG University.
I could not have got higher grades anywhere else. But I was very unhappy. I was bullied relentlessly throughout my school life and had very few friends. I was always "different". The home life that facilitated my academic success was also one of the main things that made me stand out and identified me as a target for the bullies. I am very grateful to my parents for my upbringing and for the values they instilled into me now, but I would be telling lies if I said I felt that way at the time. It was very hard knowing that being the person my parents wanted me to be would result in me being ostracised and at times physically beaten at school.
Yes, your local school could actually be achieving great things with children that are from very troubled backgrounds. (Though surely that should be fairly obvious from Ofsted reports and Progress 8 scores, assuming you have those in Scotland). But even if it is the case then the fact that your children are going to be "different" still remains. I didn't go to an independent primary, but I did have parents with different values and expectations to most of my classmates' parents, a different accent and a Dad with a different type of job. That was enough to label me as "posh" and set up years of misery that have probably affected my whole life. It was the single biggest thing I wanted to avoid for my children. They have all been state educated and do have friends from a range of different backgrounds but I made sure that we lived close enough to schools where their background would not be the problem that mine was.
Sorry if that is terribly negative, and I am sure others will have different views and different experiences, all equally valid. But that's honestly how things were for me, and it was pretty awful I'm afraid.
@selly24 I love your point of view, but how does a parent find these things out? Can you recommend any questions they can put to the head teacher, for example?
I choice my dd's primary school on the basis that the head teacher was very kind and deeply concerned about the wellbeing of the children and I never regretted it. My dd learnt beautiful values there and is great at teamwork, seeking to unite rather than divide, which is essential for her job.
I would move to a better school catchment. Apply the school tuition to your Increased monthly mortgage cost.
I would avoid the low attainment school at all costs.
But haven’t you left this a bit late? If you knew you were always going to take them out shouldn’t you have already moved or know what else is on offer?
I agree it will be very difficult to sell a new build in the next 12 months.
So you are a bit stuck unless you could rent out your current house and rent yourselves somewhere better.
Do you have to stay in Edinburgh? Could you move further out for better schools.
I am trying to guess which one it is..... we know Edinburgh well...
I wouldn’t panic. Can you speak to some current parents at the school? The results don’t tell the whole story. If it’s the one I think it might be then there are some happy parents.
I know people in Edinburgh who moved heaven and earth to get their kids into the top performing secondaries then had to move them due to bullying. The “worse” performing schools were actually lovely places to me and better pastoral support
Like MrsAvocet, I went to an appalling school, which had special measures existed at the time, it would also have most certainly been in this failing category. When I left that school at 16 and went to a highly achieving school for A level, I had massive gaps in my learning, which could not be filled. As a result I struggled immensely. Some of the teachers at the achieving school were full of scorn for me. I thought these gaps were because I was stupid when in hindsight, I merely lacked the education.
If I could advise my 16 yo self, I would have advised her to study at college and take any courses going to bridge before then going to do A levels and a degree. I did both btw but struggled enormously through confusion and not having been taught methods of studying smartly.
As for your choice. Hands down I would move house. Your children risk being seeing as the oddities in private school because of where you live and oddities in state school because they don’t know how to handle themselves. Please don’t think that they can achieve anywhere. My start was so difficult that I never achieved my full potential. And my parents to their shame had the money to send me to private school. Instead they left me to the wolves and to be relentlessly bullied.
Cross post with Calledyoulastnight. I see perhaps the local school has good pastoral care after all??
Move house. we are in catchment of absolutely horrendous primary school (20 % of kids at expected level at year 6, none above expectations for the last years..,,), so we went private. we seemed to have lucked out and a new secondary has opened 4 years ago, and so far it looks great (the head is absolute determined, school days are 8:30 am until 5pm with mandatory homework clubs etc). oldest has SENDs, so will have to be private in secondary, but the youngest will likely go to this state school.
Use some of the cash you save for a tutor.
I have found this thread very interesting to read. @Caplin is there a reason you can't say the name of the school? I don't see any in Edinburgh from last year with a 26% pass rate.
This whole story has personal resonance with me. We are moving to Edinburgh and my son will start in S5. We were going to apply for Heriots and possibly Watsons (coming from a private international school overseas) but my husband has lost his income with Covid and that means we are living on 60% less than usual, so I'm just not sure it will be possible any more. We have a fixed place to live in Leith Links and the local Secondary is Leith Academy, with a 23% pass rate. I too was full of concerns about the thought of him going there but have since talked myself into thinking it might be OK. Their school inspection report does indicate that the ethos/relationships between peers and students and teachers seemed to be OK (would love to know more about this from anyone's personal experience) and I am thinking that only kids who are focused on their learning will be in the Higher lessons (they need to have passed Nat 5 to be in those classes, I assume). Appreciate that it is different going into a school from S1. My son is very academically focused and is achieving highly in his current school so I am of course concerned about the possibility of the school having a negative impact on him. Would love to hear any personal insights into this particular school. Good luck in making your decision.
Move house. Even moving to a flat and renting out your house until you are able to sell it would be a better idea than sending your children to a poor performing school.
So you must be paying for the private primary now ,while they are not there?
I’d be giving notice immediately that they are all leaving their private school ASAP..can you leave after may half term? Or after the summer holidays.do that first .
Find out which primary’s have spaces for September,and which secondary school they lead to ..then start applying to move all children to a state primary for September
Your eldest is in year 5? In year 6 in September? That’s plenty time to make new friends before they all move up together to secondary.
The local schools can’t all be bad
Personally in your shoes ,I’d be picking the school where it has best pastoral care ,least bullying ,ask around .
Kids could have a tutor at home ,or some work books do to extra work with you at home .
If the schools really are that bad ,could you home school .
Are your children achieving academically? If so then they will find a good work ethos in any school that sets children as they’ll end up in top set with the other kids that want to do well.
I have worked in a variety of secondary schools - kids seek each other out so the sporty kids find other sporty kids, the drama and music kids find each other too.
Before coronavirus I would have said to go around during the school day and you’d get a feel of what it’s like. Unfortunately you won’t be able to do that for a while.
Try not to place all your views on Ofsted reports and results.
The question I would want to know is what’s the staff turnover like? It’s exhausting working in a ‘tough’ school with poor management so the turnover will be higher than a ‘tough’ school with good management. Look at TES jobs to see how many are advertised from this school. There’s always a turnover but a very high turnover would ring alarms.
If you are religious I suggest that you look at a faith school as they tend to have a different ethos than the standard comprehensive school. I might be tempted to move but equally don’t panic if you can’t. I aimed to find a good enough for my kids school rather than the best school. There were a couple of good enough schools around my area and a couple that I would have been unhappy about sending them to. I think that the main problem is that you’re not going to be able to see the true picture at the moment. If you have enough time then don’t panic now.
Private is not always better. It depends on your kids.
I have 2 secondary aged children and they are having totally different experiences of the same school but I have a common theme of support teachers and pastoral staff making sure they have the best experience possible for them.
Good luck in whatever you decide.
Also ,all my 4 dc went to a different secondary school..they are all completely different and what was right for one. Was not for the others .
2 went to different various Sen schools ,and ended up with a combination of tutor and home schooling ,the other 2 ,one went to a sports school out of area ,half hour on coach ,where sport was the main focus,but still did all the other lessons ,and one went To the local school ,which didn’t have a great reputation,..the child who went to the school that didn’t have a great reputation got the best gcse results
I'd look to move, but send them with plenty of tutoring on the side.
I'm another that knows Edinburgh well and wondering which school. Nieces have both done very well at portobello, and I know people who went to leith academy. Leith is very hot on pastoral care. I also know people who were badly bullied at Gillespies and had to move.
I would move. I live in Scotland and in a previous job worked with these very poor performing schools - they are almost exclusively in areas of extremely high deprivation. Going from private primary to one of these schools would be like flying to Florida and ending up in Beirut.
I would also pull your other kids from private primary now if you can't afford to continue to private secondary - use the move an an excuse.
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