Advanced search

Why are parents so secretive about trying for selective schools?

(41 Posts)
choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 17:13:53

I was chatting to another mum at the PTA-thingy last night, and the conversation got onto secondary schools. I said DS will be going to the local (very good) comprehensive and innocently asked what she thought for her DD. Cue much umm-ing and ahh-ing and "we're considering all the options". I (accidently) piled on the pressure by asking where her elder daughter goes, and she almost whispered the name of a private (selective) school.

Given that my DS could probably get into Grammar, if we'd tormenting him with coaching, (too late to worry about it now), do you think she's trying to keep the competition down? Or was she maybe embarrassed because she thought mine wouldn't stand a chance?

Or was I asking a rude question? It seemed a normal topic of conversation, but I felt as though I'd asked something very personal. All the other Y6 parents had been chatting about the same thing during the tea-break, with no obvious embarrassment.

I'm not that stressed about it, though I do feel a bit guilty at not making DS at least TRY the exams. He insists he wants to go to the same school as his mates, and

choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 17:16:34

oops, pressed post too soon, but that's about the whole story anyway.
I decided being with your local mates, and being able to walk to school, (rather than over an hour bus-ride each way) was more important than perhaps the odd A rather tha A*

scarlettsmummy2 Thu 15-Sep-11 17:17:26

Maybe she just isn't sure what your views on private schools are. I haven't told anyone I am considering it for my daughter as some people do not agree with them and therefore I don't want to get into a debate about it.

AgonyBeetle Thu 15-Sep-11 17:20:50

She's entitled to send her child where she wants. She didn't parade it, you more or less forced it out of her. She didn't diss your dc's school, she didn't big up her own, but for whatever reason she has made a different choice from you.

I don't see what else she could have said, under the circs. If you're happy with your choice, then it shouldn't matter to you if other people make different choices.

EdithWeston Thu 15-Sep-11 17:27:57

If it is selective school, then they know there is a chance their DC will not be successful. They do not want their child's failure known on the grapevine if they do not secure a place. They know parents gossip, and also mention things to their children, and anything can become common currency in the playground.

They want their DC to be positive about what school they do go to, even if it is a fallback, not preferred option. This may be better achieved if the selective option isn't known publicly until its conclusion, if at all.

And it isn't anyone else's business at all.

choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 17:30:52

Good point scarlettsmummy2, I suppose because I volunteered the comprehensive, it could be interpreted that I was against selective schools. She might have suffered arguments previously and just not want to go through it all again.

Thing is though Agonybeetle, I still don't know where her younger DC is going; presumably the same as his big sister. However, I agree it really is "none-of-my-business", especially as our DCs are in different classes and not particulary friends.

choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 17:33:24

Cross posts on the none of my business.
It just seems that all DSs close mates' parents have been comparing notes for the whole of Y5, without any apparent uncomfortable silences. Then again we do all seem to agree on the local choice. In public anyway.

nokissymum Thu 15-Sep-11 17:39:35

I just recently moved ds from state to private and only discussed it with 1 parent, i was good friends with. Reason being i didnt want to get into state v private debate, also some peope might think you are showing off even if you're just contributing innocently to conversation, i also didnt want people judging me.

The one parent i did discuss it with immeadiately proceeded to tell me about the "up and comming" school round the corner from us and DEMANDED to know if i had researched the available state schools properly, this is after i had told her the reasons for the move and that ds had already been accepted at a prep.

So to avoid to the raised eyebrows and million questions i just keep quiete about it.

diabolo Thu 15-Sep-11 17:39:48

Considering the huge amount of stick parents who go private get from a lot of people (both here and in RL), I don't really blame her for being quiet about it.

Jinx1906 Thu 15-Sep-11 18:05:55

My oldest DD is in GS and our youngest is still in a state primary. Our back-up plan in the event ours don't pass the 11+ has and still is a local Indie. Our decision is based on the fact that we are not keen on our local comps. and because we believe this would be the right thing to do for our children. I think it is important that you make up your own mind about schools rather than send them somewhere because that is where others are going. Our oldest DD is still at school with some of her primary school mates and if they bumb in to each other at school they usually say hi but nothing more than that. They have all gone their own way and made new friends. I would not go to the local comp because that is where their mates are going but I would go there if I thought it was the right school for my kids. People shouldn't worry or feel pressured because of what others are or may be thinking.

CustardCake Thu 15-Sep-11 18:40:45

If the school her DD is trying for is very selective and far more sit the exam than they have places for, she might not want many people to know in case her DD fails to get in. It's bad enough haveing parents gossiping about it but, at this age, parents often tell their children too and then she'll be confronted with it at school too. It may not bother her but perhaps her mum feels she would be upset if everyone knew she had failed to get in.

wordfactory Thu 15-Sep-11 18:43:57

Like others have said she probably didn't want to get into any sort of disagreement with you or have any comments made. For example someone might have said she tortured her DD in order to secure her a place at a selective school.

choccyp1g Thu 15-Sep-11 19:14:54

Wordfactory. I didn't mean it would be torture for every child, just mine is particularly horrid about homework so it would be torture for us.
But I realise now that it was a rude question; because we'd been chatting about more general stuff and getting along really well, I suppose I overstepped the mark.

I think I am oversensitive about the whole subject, as a little part of me fears I'm letting him down by not trying for the grammar shool.

mummytime Thu 15-Sep-11 21:56:57

It tends to be a very emotional subject.
Even worse when the stories about children (boys) being in tears at the entrance exams. Then there are the parents who don't listen and decide Tarquin is a genius and send him to entrance exams he has no chance of. Of course there is also Angus whose mother says hes extremely gifted, which makes his teachers snigger, but he gets a scholarship to a top Public School.

Its a mine field. And I've been guilty of being a bit odd with people when I've heard. To be honest it is hard when its the one: "if it was the last school on earth I wouldn't send you there (bullying)" or "anorexia central" or "doesn't that nasty child go there" or actually even worse "I've spent time there, and its definitely not somewhere I'd want my kids to go, but I can't tell you that".

exoticfruits Thu 15-Sep-11 22:10:15

Keeping the competition down!

LovetheHarp Fri 16-Sep-11 08:50:47

I agree it can be a very emotional subject.

Round where we are the local comprehensive is diabolical and everyone who can avoids it, either by moving house, finding a faith or moving to private.

People with children in Y5 and Y6 have learned that saying "oh I am going private" to people who sadly don't have a choice but to stay put and go for the diabolical school is a bit of a slap in the face, so they just remain vague.

There is also the risk for many that they will not get into selective independents and/or faith schools or maybe a house move might not go smoothly, so they prefer to genuinely keep an open mind.

I understand completely where they are coming from, as we will be in a similar boat in 3 years time and I can see myself being vague until I know for definite what is going on.

Ladymuck Fri 16-Sep-11 10:43:59

Better that, than to find out that your friends, who have all said that they're aiming for the local comp, in fact have a change of heart and have sat their kids for selective schools.

Denferdoodle Fri 16-Sep-11 11:12:27

Well if its anything like round here there'll be a strong element of keeping competition down. There's only one grammar (state). Most will admit to putting their kids forward, but since 85% of entrants don't get in its no slight really if they don't. Parents do suss each other out though, attempting to ask whether they've brought in a tutor without actually putting those words into the sentences - sometimes in an impressively creative way. Its competition, but its also making sure you've put your DC on even keel. Personally, I've fessed up to about 20% of the prep we're putting in. That lady who comes to our house every Sunday with a big folder is just popping in for coffee!

HerdOfTinyElephants Fri 16-Sep-11 11:39:21

I suspect issue(s) may be one or many from
1. Some/many believe private education is morally wrong, and she doesn't want to risk your pelting her with rotten eggs if you turn out to be one of them
2. Some/many believe selective education is morally wrong, and she doesn't want to risk your pelting her with rotten tomatoes if you turn out to be one of them
3. Some don't have an issue with selective education per se but believe that coaching/tutoring to get in is morally wrong, and either (a) her DD has been coached and she doesn't want to risk your pelting her with rotten bananas because of it or (b) her dD hasn't been coached but she knows that many people will assume she has been (back to rotten bananas)
4. She doesn't want to say airily "oh, of course we're planning to send Cosima to St Bruno's along with Daphne" and have you starting a MN thread accusing her of being smug.
5. She knows not everyone can afford private education (even if they don't disapprove of it on principle) and doesn't want to come off as rubbing people's noses in her (comparative) wealth.
6. She is genuinely still considering a lot of different options and doesn't want to sit you down for a half-hour lecture while she explains them all in detail, with accompanying Powerpoint presentation, until you nod off in boredom.
7. She knows her DD2 might not get in and wants to limit the number of people who know she applied so as to limit the number of people making (tactless or deliberate) remarks about "oh, you weren't good enough to get into St Bruno's, then?"

MillyR Fri 16-Sep-11 13:17:10

There could be lots of reasons. She might not be able to afford to send both children to a private school. She might not be able to afford to send either child - the older one may be there on a scholarship.

Colleger Fri 16-Sep-11 16:12:51

Most people keep it a secret because they are sick and tired of everyone getting on their high horse stating how private or grammar education is wrong, wrong, wrong! I mean could you imagine if someone said they thought sending a kid to the local comp was wrong?

Which I do - I'd rather home educate! grin

Iactuallylikeabigmac Fri 16-Sep-11 16:56:42

Some people are just down right rude when you mention private schools. I refuse to get drawn into the ins and outs of where my Dcs go to school anymore. It pisses me off.

I wouldn't dream of sneering at someone who chooses to send their child to the local comp but people think they have a right to sneer at my choice.

Malcontentinthemiddle Fri 16-Sep-11 17:02:16

Well Colleger, your post is the only persuasive argument I've ever heard that education at Eton isn't the most snobbish thing anyone can do and certain to propound a sense of - yep - ENTITLEMENT in its pupils. Home ed with you would clearly be worse!

In answer to the OP - perhaps they're rightfully ashamed?

StopRainingPlease Fri 16-Sep-11 17:24:30

We kept the decision to go private fairly quiet because we knew most of our friends couldn't afford it, and we therefore have a choice that they don't. Also, of course, we are exercising that choice because we didn't fancy the school that most of said friends will be sending their kids to, and I didn't want to get into a conversation about why we didn't want to send them there.

And yes, if they fail the entrance and you have to send them somewhere else, it's not very nice for the kids if everyone knows this.

valerian Fri 16-Sep-11 17:31:29

It's to avoid getting shouted at by people who like to impose their views on others. Feelings run very high on this issue, and it's boring dealing with the wrath of bigots.

It's like not vaccinating. It's just much easier to keep schtum; you won't convince people who just know they're right, and start shouting if you beg to differ.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now