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What do we think about 3 tier education?

(25 Posts)
RelocatorRelocator Wed 26-Feb-14 20:41:18

We are thinking of moving to an area that has 3 tier education ie First, Middle and Upper Schools, First school being R-Yr4, Middle Yr5-8, Upper Yr9 onwards.

We've hit on this location partly because the schools look really good - obviously Ofsted not the be all and end all but the Upper school is rated Outstanding and the Middle/Lower schools all rated Good. I really like the feel of the schools from what I have seen on the websites - obviously we would plan to visit them to see for ourselves. The Middle school especially looks like it has a carefully planned progression from Year 5 (mixed ability classes, mostly taught by class teacher with specialist provision for PE, Music, French) to a more secondary style of teaching by Year 8 - it was also praised very highly for its pastoral care by Ofsted. It also says most children leave having achieved levels expected at the end of KS3, which is quite impressive.

I am a bit wary of the three tier system though, possibly at least partly because it's totally unfamiliar to both dh and I. I can see there are potential issues with school changes not coinciding with ends of Key Stages. But if the schools are all really good does it matter so much?

I can also see it might be a bit of an advantage for dc1, who will be going into Year 6 next September - I've always thought this is not a great time to move for the last year of primary but perhaps better that (a) dc1 doesn't have to make 2 schools moves in consecutive Septembers and (b) isn't going into a primary where everyone has known each other since they were 3 (the middle school has a few feeder schools)


Slapntickleothewenches Wed 26-Feb-14 21:00:05

Love it smile
DS is in yr5 and has just started at his middle school. From a personal point of view he was ready for the move up at 9, far more than he would have been at 7. He will stay at middle school (as you already know) until 13 when he will again be ready for the next step, a move I feel ATM he wouldn't be ready for at 11.
Our system links all first schools to 3 middle and then one upper. The curriculum is geared towards all children being at the same level when they move up a school, eg. All first school children have studied two years of French rather than some having done this, some one year and some none at all. There is also great opportunities for interaction between the schools with a base of shared specialist teachers.
The fact that DS receives teaching from specialised teachers at 9 is also a bonus, particularly in music which is his passion.
I think the fact that a child who starts in yrR is likely to stay within that system until the end of yr13 at least rather than the dispersing that happens with two tiers at 11 makes for a smoother and more focused education. Our upper school is much sought after and although we are looking at private education for DS at 13, it would certainly not be the end of the world if he stayed in his current system.
Obviously that is only my experience in our area (I am two tier educated) but I am very happy with it smile

trinity0097 Wed 26-Feb-14 21:03:12

Middle schools especially are fab! Best of both worlds and children far more ready for a big school when they are 13 than at 11. No yr 7 dip in a middle school, and no yr 9 did either. Whereas most yr 7s in a 2 tier system regress somewhat.

poocatcherchampion Wed 26-Feb-14 21:06:29

brilliant for parents, awful for school organisation.

I'm happy at home and annoyed at work smile

Tansie Wed 26-Feb-14 21:34:56

I would've killed for 3 tier.

It fits so well with a DC's developmental age. Kiddies in First, pre-adolescents in Middle, adolescents in Upper.

I was lucky in that my DSs did Infants, then Juniors, 2 schools on the same site but 2 different Heads, 2 different uniforms etc. When we moved and DS1 went into Y6 and DS2 into Y4 of a similarly sized Primary, we saw the real differences . Suddenly, for them, everything was 'dumbed down' to YR and 1 level. No kicking balls 'in case it hits a younger child'; No specialist teachers for anything, 'All things bright and beautiful' in assembly (nothing challenging like 2 or 3 part harmony for older DC); nativity all 'O little town of Bethlehem'- all, basically, 'Look! Look at the cutesy little 'uns!' And sod the needs of DC who have, in some cases already hit puberty.

And, for my DSs, the 2 tier transition from middle sized primary to huge secondary was less of a wrench because they had already experienced one well-managed transition between Y2-3; Infants to Juniors. It would've been even easier if they'd gone from, say, 4 Infants, to 2 juniors to 1 Senior School!

Joules68 Wed 26-Feb-14 21:40:06

Love it too, my dc all thrived

However, every few years there is talk of reverting to two year. Government seem keen to phase it out. Think they will succeed soon, sadly

Joules68 Wed 26-Feb-14 21:40:31

*two tier!!

harbinger Wed 26-Feb-14 22:01:57

Excellent. Just love the three tier. I can only speak as a mother of girls.

Unfortunately, I think that the Government is trying to get rid of them.

However, if your middle and senior school are nearby there should be no problem.

lottysmum Wed 26-Feb-14 23:04:39

I live in a 3 tier area where they voted to change to 2 tier because they felt that the second change in school just before options had a detrimental affect on exam results schooling was very good in lower/part middle then not so good.....two tier change did not go ahead due to government lack of funding...

We opted out of middle school and moved my daughter to the only secondary in the borough although now there are a few more converting at Yr 7 move we ever made daughter is thriving and doing much better than we could have ever hoped for ...

My personal feeling is that teaching tends to lapse in year 7 and 8 in middle school because they are targeted for SATs results and Keystage 2...but may not apply to all schools ...DD's intake at secondary school had a significant number of bright kids (some working at level 7 in yr7) The middle school she had attended was affluent village school...

I guess you are looking at Lincroft/Sharnbrook ...which is probably one of just a few middle/upper school successes within the county....I am not sure whether they will eventually have to change to two tier ...2 more schools in the county are converting from Upper to take in Yr 7's in 2014 there is allot of change whether this would affect LC/SB who knows because they are a linked Federation ...

harbinger Wed 26-Feb-14 23:24:16

Is Bedfordshire the only good one?

RelocatorRelocator Wed 26-Feb-14 23:46:17

Thanks everyone - that's very reassuring. It's not Sharnbrook no, a different one.

tansie we have separate infants and juniors here - have never experienced primary so don't know how it would compare but I can see what you mean.

I don't think the issues you describe for years 7&8 would apply at this middle school lotty as if their website is to be believed, they aim to complete the KS3 curriculum by the end of Yr8. Might be a good thing to ask about though smile

RelocatorRelocator Wed 26-Feb-14 23:48:05

I guess I should ask about potential school reorganisation as well though? I'd rather not put them all through one move just to be faced with loads more upheaval tbh. (I will have one going into middle school and two into first school)

lottysmum Thu 27-Feb-14 15:54:35

There's not many three tier school counties left ...certainly Beds voted to change to two tier but as I said there was no funds available ...

I am not sure where the other three tier schools are but I would ask about change ...the general feeling was that the last change into Upper School had a detrimental impact on results (GCSE's)

I think Bedford was one of the top towns for Lower/Primary range children (according to Ofsted) but its a fair way down the list when it comes to Secondary Schools which speaks volumes ...

YoureInMySystemBaby Thu 27-Feb-14 16:18:02

I went to first/middle/high school and I loved it (I live in the North-East). Education here is now, unfortunately two tier so my 3 DCs attend primary and then comp and I'm not a fan of it, I think 11 is far too soon to be mixed with 14 yos onwards...

mumsneedwine Thu 27-Feb-14 16:18:54

The only downside is that the school only have one year to get to know the students before they start their GCSEs. So if they don't have a great 1st year at upper school it can affect their choices.

Slapntickleothewenches Thu 27-Feb-14 18:46:30

My area has a very good upper school and apparently no plans to change to two tier. The school sizes are so large that accommodating everyone in two tiers is logistically a nightmare so three tiers are here for the foreseeable future.
relocator, it's not in the South West is it? <tilts head>

SuffolkNWhat Thu 27-Feb-14 18:50:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tansie Thu 27-Feb-14 19:13:13

lotty surely the problems of which you speak actually only apply because we have a system, the NC, set up for 2 tier. If we had 'KS1' from YR-Y3; KS2 Y4-8; KS3 9+ etc it wouldn't be a problem. That's why you have the you have the problem of'transition just before KS outcomes.

Of course they'll all go 2 tier. I'm amazed there are any 3 tier left! In terms of £, which is, at the end of the day, all that matters, obvs 2 tier makes 'sense'; 2 lots of admin, 2 blocks of buildings, versus 3 for 3 tier.

diabolo Thu 27-Feb-14 19:50:14

Suffolk - I've spent the last nine years working in a middle school (maybe the same one depending on who you are grin) in what I guess to be the same area as you. It's such a shame as 3 tier really works where we are and the schools that are closing are very good.

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Feb-14 20:30:23

There are more places that do 3 -tier than you would think:

The ages of transition vary as well.
R-4, 5-7, 8 upwards is 1 model.
R-5, 6-8, 9 upwards is another.

It works very well in rural areas, where small first schools, ideal for smaller children, feed into larger middle schools just at the point when children start to 'grow out of' a small school, then feed into an final stage of much larger secondaries at an age when it isn't a probem to go a long way to school on a bus.

In the area I know well, the two high schools are, respectively, Good with Outstanding Features and Outstanding, with very good results, so there doesn't seem to be an issue with the quality of the 'final tier' in all areas.

teacherwith2kids Thu 27-Feb-14 20:33:47

Moving to two tier would be very difficult in the area I know well. It would entail young children being bussed very long distances AND a huge problem of school building - none f the small rural first schools could accommodate a full primary age range, and to accommodate all the first school children in the current middle tier would either involve more than doubling their sizer (to 5-700 odd!) or building several new schools from scratch. One or two have merged first and middle, where the two schools are adjacent, and there is some discussion about federations and sharing heads, but no meaningful move to 2 tier.

Sparklingbrook Thu 27-Feb-14 20:36:19

Worcestershire here. Have the three tier system and both DC have done really well with it.
It felt weird for me, them not going to High School until Year 8 though.

It felt as if the big leap was going from First to Middle.

SuffolkNWhat Fri 28-Feb-14 08:42:44

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ApocalypticBlackHorseman Sat 01-Mar-14 18:07:29

We're in a 3 tier system and I love it, it seems to suit both my two really well. They have two years in high school before they have to start their GCSEs so the school have time to get to know them.

hiccupgirl Mon 03-Mar-14 22:13:11

I went to primary, middle and high school and I wish it was an option for my child. Unfortuantly it's 2 tier where I live now but it was changed to 2 tier where I grew up anyway about 20 yrs ago.

It just seemed to work better than the longer phases of the 2 tier system. And I also liked the fact we didn't go to high school until 13 and were much more ready to cope with being with the more mature teenagers than at 11.

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