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If your very bright older dcs went to an easy going primary which didn't challenge them, do you regret it now or are you happy about it?

(51 Posts)
carolemiddleclasston Thu 12-May-11 12:10:17

I'm wanting to benefit from the wisdom of hindsight here!

If your children are in secondary now, how has it affected them - good or bad - if they went to a very easy-going primary where they were not challenged/ they coasted?

toughdecisions Thu 12-May-11 12:15:42

Great question. Shall watch with interest.

Hullygully Thu 12-May-11 12:16:48

I switched schools because they were bored.

Hullygully Thu 12-May-11 12:17:22

Oh, and in hindsight, I'm glad I did, both because the devil finds work etc, and it is a waste of potential.

Emsoboe Thu 12-May-11 12:44:12

My son is in Y5 at an easy going school. It has been an advantage as they are not so SATs obsessed and so he had sometimes been given the opportunity to pursue his own, outside of NC, interests, although I do wish this happened more often.

Unfortunately, being a laid back school, they have been pushed to improve their SATs results fast, and so I think the school is rapidly becoming less laid back, which is not of benefit to my son. He has already been assessed as achieving 5As in all SATs areas and has not, and will not be until the end of next year, assessed beyond this.

The school has a high number of SEN and some locally don't send their children to this school as they are "too bright". We have been more than happy (most of the time) and our DCs have been able to mix much more socially than they would at other schools - a definite advantage for us. School is, afterall, about so much more than academic achievement!

The other schools locally which appear to do better academically (based on SATs results) have a very straightjacketed approach and parents of bright children often complain that all the children at the top end are 'kept together'. Also parents whose children are at these schools often complain that they are not listened to and that 'teacher knows best' whereas we've always been able to communicate with our school and rarely felt judged as 'pushy'.

Once they reach secondary school, they all seem to mix in from all the local schools, and those with more academic ability are identified quite quickly, irrespective of their primary school experience.

So, for us, Laid back has definitely been a good thing.

carolemiddleclasston Thu 12-May-11 16:05:18

bumping for the after-school crowd...anyone else?

Dunlurking Thu 12-May-11 16:21:26

My ds went to a small rural school and has been the only child in a 4 year period to get into the grammar school. Now in year 8 he has moved his way steadily up his very bright class (there are 2 unofficial top streamed classes) since he started the school and is in the top 5 or 6 in the class.

He could just be a later developer, or it could be that he underachieved at primary level. Very difficult to know confused The primary school had an outstanding ofsted and the head moved him (and now moves his sister) around between year groups to keep him stimulated. On balance I don't regret it because they helped him socially (prob borderline asperger's) enormously.

Cornflakemum Thu 12-May-11 16:28:44

DS1 is very academically bright - just absorbs information, reads a lot.

He was at an outstanding state primary but we felt by end of Year 1 and in Year 2 he was 'coasting'. He was also being 'used' to help the other, less academic, children which I have to say, I wasn't overjoyed about.... "what did you do today?" "I did reading with John... he read, and I had to listen, and tell him if he made a mistake..." hmm

So we moved him into an independent prep at Year 3, and at £10k a year shock.

It has suited him, and he has flourished. Probably the best aspect is that the expectations are high, and he works hard to meet them. Also being bright and hard-working has no stigma attached to it. We had a few minor bullying incidences at the infant school.

He's now Year 6 and just got academic scholarships to two excellent senior schools. But then again, so did two of his contemporaries from the infant school who went onto the state junior school!

We're quite a 'hands-on' family - we talk about the news/ visit museums/ read a lot together etc etc, and if I'm absolutely honest I think it's this sort of thing which makes more difference to learning than the school curriculum.

I'm happy with the choice we made, but with the benefit of hindsight, I think he probably would also have been fine at the 'easy going' junior school and we could have had some stinkingly good holidays every year instead! grin

Cornflakemum Thu 12-May-11 16:32:32

Sorry, forgot to add - I think one thing which he has really benefited from is the teaching he has had in organising himself and planning his homework/ structuring his work etc.

I know one of the teachers at the Grammar school, and she says this is one of the biggest differences between the prep/state junior kids at entry in Year 7 - the prep kids are just generally more 'together' (her words), better organised, motivated and used to the whole set-up, therefore settle in more quickly.

DamselInDisguise Thu 12-May-11 16:35:24

I wasnt challenged at primary school or even at secondary. I coasted through everything and came out with excellent results. I wasn't really challenged until the final years of my undergrad degree. I did very well and now have a PhD.

I honestly wouldn't worry about it at all.

lovecheese Thu 12-May-11 17:00:33

You can push your child into achieving, but to what end? The motivation has to come from them. I'm coming over all philosophical...

roisin Thu 12-May-11 19:41:31

The boys' primary was fairly laidback, certainly didn't put children up to higher classes or do GCSE Maths at age 10 or something.
But they did from time to time give the boys appropriate challenges and stimuluses to get them to think outside the box.

We were 100% happy with the ethos at the primary, as it matched our own.

The school offered a very wide and flexible curriculum, with lots of time given over to things like music, drama, dance, trips, outdoor activities and philosophy. The boys really blossomed and flourished there.

They are 12 and 13 now (yr7 and 9) and doing exceptionally well at (a non selective state) secondary school. We frequently get a range of scarily extreme superlatives at parents' evenings and in reports. They are happy, contented boys with a range of interests.

So far I have no regrets whatsoever in our choices for their education.

Swarski Fri 13-May-11 11:46:31

My DD passed the entrance exam for a highly academic independent school at 7, but after lots and lots of soul searching (and extensive 'lists' of advantages and disadvantages!) we chose to send her to the local primary school. It is average and she is not being pushed.

But..we are still certain that we made the right decision. She has developed so much socially and in sports and music (plays two instruments) and has a very wide range of interests. If we had chosen the alternative option then she would have 1 hours homework every night now (in yr4) and would not be able to carry on with Gymnastics, dance etc.

She is still at the top of the class, but is not being really challenged in school. We have mentioned a number of times at parents evening and they have responded to a degree by setting her an extra level to achieve in class. Initially they responded by setting extra homework - which we were not happy about and stopped as this was one of the main reasons for sending her to this school (2 half hour pieces of homework a week which she generally completes in 10 minutes).

I think that it is child specific, our DD wants to be a doctor when she grows up and she is learning at this school that everyone is different and is learning skills to interact with people from many backgrounds and with varying intellect. If we had sent her to the private school she would have been with all girls from a similar social background to her and all of a similar academic level....

Divawithattitude Sat 14-May-11 08:11:45

My youngest went to our village school and was head and shoulders above academically above most of the others in his class, teacher often used him as a teaching assistant to help the less able children. Although he had l ots of friends he never really fitted in as he did not share many of their out of school interests
He was never stretched, we saw to that need at home really.
He went to the 11+ interviews in the local grammar school and I will never forget him looking around at the other boys and saying to me 'there are lots of boys who look like me here mum', earnest little lads with glasses!
He thrived at grammar school and it was as if he had always been there from day one, he relished the comptition for the first time and that was what kept him interested, pitting his skills against other boys.

NerfHerder Sat 14-May-11 09:09:49

Almost word for word what damsel said... except I never pulled my finger out (have masters not phd).
I am very lazy in many areas of my life- because its just so easy; it isn't healthy, or happiness-inducing, and life often feels like a complete waste of time and talent.

My children are going to an academically driven primary school, as I believe the foundations are laid in the early years of schooling.

(Fear not- I have always had a v strong work ethic in actual work, and take the same approach in parenting, just other things, especially creativity and my own development it just all seems like too much hard work.)

MollieO Sat 14-May-11 09:19:08

I went to a very average primary and was always top or second in my year (always top of my class). Very very few got into grammar. I did and struggled with friendships as only three of us went on to the same grammar. If I had the choices now I wouldn't send my Ds to my school. I think my parents were lucky with me as I had a very string work ethic and would challenge myself even though I wasn't being challenged and interested in school.

MollieO Sat 14-May-11 09:19:57

Strong not string!

tallulah Sat 14-May-11 09:47:00

We moved ours

cory Sat 14-May-11 10:40:57

Another one relating own experiences here. I went to a Swedish state school where there was basically no differentiation between different abilities (though standards were not too low). I can see with hindsight how it could have made me disillusioned and made me lose interest in education, but somehow it never did. I think because I did not primarily associate education with school: my family were heavily into learning for fun, so I just assumed that's what one did, I can't remember a time when I haven't wanted to find things out. I kept up with school work, read extra books under my desk lid, taught myself foreign languages at home, read extensively, tried to write stories. It wasn't because I was pushed but because the people around me seemed to get so much fun from learning. Also think it helped that both my dad and my paternal granddad had come from very poor and uneducated backgrounds and got to where they were entirely through self motivation, so noone in my family expected to sit back and be motivated by others iyswim.

This attitude has stayed with me through life, I did a PhD and kept on doing research unpaid while I was at home with dcs, am only just starting up my career again and seeing some financial remuneration, but the enjoyment has never stopped. I don't care greatly about titles and awards, but I want to understand things and know that I have done a good job.

Fortunately dd seems to have inherited this attitude too, which is just as well as a combination of ill health and nervous trouble keeps her off school for much of the time. She reads even more than I do, and writes more too.

KateMiddletonsEyebrows Sat 14-May-11 10:55:03

Also watching with interest. DS1 is in Year 1, they're not pushing him (this week's maths homework was join-the-dots), but he is happy. He's at an 'outstanding' infants; we need to apply for junior school this year. He has a place at the local prep school but we'll probably turn it down for financial reasons.

Both DH and I are/were very bright but lazy, but we were both public/private school educated so were pushed+++ and achieved a lot. I've done a professional degree but have never really struggled, and always seemed to come out top of the class, so I can really identify with laziness/self development. I'm sure I could be so much better if I actually worked. But when you're bright with good self confidence it's easy to attribute relative failure to lack of effort ie 'I could have been Prime Minister {or whatever} if only I'd pulled my finger out'.

Emsoboe Sat 14-May-11 11:44:24

I think 'work ethic' comes from home. For our children being in a very socially mixed school has taught them so much and based on their own comments they understand the importance of working hard and what happens if you don't work hard - they see it for themselves, we haven't needed to comment.

I think its an important point that if you are pushed at school its harder to then be able to work independently when you need to. I certainly wasn't pushed at school but very quickly learned that to achieve you need to work hard. I think being with people who didn't have a strong work ethic taught me this more than being pushed at an academic school.

singersgirl Sat 14-May-11 17:03:34

DS2 (Y5) doesn't need to work hard to achieve at primary and consequently chooses not to push himself - in fact, he's very uncomfortable, even angry, if confronted with something he can't do. It's actually getting worse the older he gets because he's now mastered the things he couldn't do in early primary: write neatly, for example.

We try to provide opportunities to fail eg music, but he has the same attitude here; he's very defeatist if he can't do something instantly as he thinks he should be able to.

He's following his brother to an academically selective secondary school (got an advance place this year for 2012) and spontaneously commented the other day that he was really looking forward to making some new friends who would understand what he was talking about "more than 50% of the time". Of course, he's exaggerating as there are lots of intelligent children at his primary school, but he has a very adult way of expressing himself and I can see that this might begin to make him less popular as children become more aware.

On the other hand, I'm very pleased that he and his brother have had a relaxed, largely homework free primary schooling in a lovely local school whose values etc I wholeheartedly support.

Rosebud05 Sat 14-May-11 17:07:32

Marking my place.......

quirrelquarrel Sat 14-May-11 19:52:37

My parents now regret not doing more- they knew I was bored in lessons, but otherwise I didn't seem too unhappy there. I think they also kick themselves a bit about their so-relaxed attitude towards my effort- I was top, but when it came to GCSEs things went a bit wrong, because they are mostly a memory test and you can't rely on things like independent thinking etc to pull you through.
My primary school was very easy going and not v. curriculum based- although I can remember when I was young, coming home and railing against "this terrible National Curriculum! we are reigned in!" etc to my poor mum. I think they did make the distinction between "we are doing this for your development" and "we are doing this to please Ofsted", or my dad did, at least.
But I am terribly lazy. It does catch up with you. Especially when secondary school work isn't likely to really catch a bright child's interest so they go above and beyond, much less a child who is ahead of his peers.

Miggsie Sun 15-May-11 17:57:25

Ditto to Cornflake mum!!!!

DD was just coasting, and helping the other kids read, fine for the other kids but DD would come home complaining of boredom.

We moved her to a private school at huge expense (sigh) where she is constantly stimulated and is learning French and Spanish: that keeps her occupied. She comes home burbling about how great it is. She still sees her old friends but I'm so glad we moved her, in one term her spelling is so much improved and her hand writing is fantastic.
The big shock for her was, at the old school she used about 20% of her brain and was always this school she is having to use about 90% of her brain as they are really targeting the work to her ability, particularly maths.

That said, we searched long and hard for a private school that she would find stimulating, not where she would be intensively farmed to pass exams. That was a bit of a challenge.

A friend was telling me his boy coasted for a year at his old school and basically spent a year "learning to be idle", he says his son still hasn't got back into the idea of applying himself 2 years on...they sent him to a private school as well.

I coasted at school and I do think that by the age of 11 I was so used to coasting I didn't really achieve my potential, 20 years into my career I'm just about where I should have been when I left university. Live and learn!!!!!

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