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Starting secondary school a year early.

(88 Posts)
Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 12:50:40

I was wondering if anyone on here has made the decision to send their DC to secondary school a year early and if so what were your reasons. I am considering this for DS2 but have lots of questions such as
- what are the benefits
- what are the downsides
- how do I go about it
- do i need the support of the primary school or just the secondary school
- should he miss year 5 or year 6 (currently in year 4)
- will he have to take the SATS a year early or can he miss them out
Am also interested to hear from anyone who considered this but made the decision not to in the end.
Thanks in advance to those who take time to give me your thoughts.

blueskyinmarch Fri 17-Feb-17 12:58:30

I would say that the major downsides would be that he would not be with his friends/peer group and may be left out. Also if you move on to the point where he is going to uni he might be very young and not really ready in terms of emotional maturity?

I did the actual opposite with my DD2. She Is a smart girl but we moved her schools at age 10 from state to private (we are in Scotland if that makes a difference) and she went back a year going from the youngest in her year to the eldest. It was the best thing we ever did and now she is at uni she is really reaping the rewards. She would have gone to uni aged 17 but actually went aged 18 and that year made all the difference.

viques Fri 17-Feb-17 13:02:21

Your first step should be to phone up the admissions office at your local authority and speak to them. Having said that it is extremely unlikely that they will agree , many authorities are finding it hard enough to provide places for children in the right year group without accommodating children outside their cohort.

secondly, think about how your child will cope emotionally .Puberty is stressful enough without the added confusion of being a year younger than your classmates. depending on your child's date of birth they could be nearly two years difference in age.

At secondary age friendships are very important, a child is taking their first independent social steps outside the home, who your friends are makes a big difference to your social and emotional development, your self esteem and confidence.

If your reasons for moving your child are academic then you need to address this with the primary school, very bright children CAN be accommodated within primary schools, but it needs cooperation from home and school.

If your reasons are social then putting your child in an environment geared to children of another age group is not going to help at all.

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:06:47

Thanks blueskyinmarch. This is the issue which concerns me. Not so much the friends/peer group as there is a change of school at 11 anyway and if he gets into he school we would like him to go to then there would be very few if any of his current class moving with him. He is also a November Birthday so one of the older ones in his year and potentially only a few months younger than the youngest children in the year above.

I am very interested to hear about how those who have done this in the past are coping once they get to A Levels/Uni.

blueskyinmarch Fri 17-Feb-17 13:09:03

I also know that a girl who was in DD’s year and the same age as her,, was moved up a year at the insistence of her mother. I think this happened around Y7/8 or Y8/9. She was clever but not super clever and she ended up doing very badly in her exams in 6th form and didn’t get into any of her uni's. DD has told me this girl spent most of her time trying to keep up socially with her new peer group to the detriment of her studies. Just one cautionary tale.

Newtoday Fri 17-Feb-17 13:09:50

Assuming you are UK based, then children start primary way too young, never mind secondary!

I cannot think of one good reason, ever, to start secondary early. The emotional/social impact is just too great.

In secondary he may be streamed, may be able to take sons exams a year early, may not even be among the brightest in his class. I'd wait!

Brokenbiscuit Fri 17-Feb-17 13:14:14

I wouldn't do it. The main issue for me is that, if a child is really exceptional academically, then moving up by a single year will not make a huge amount of difference - they will still be way ahead. If they're very bright but not that exceptional, then it should be more than possible to cater for them in their own peer group.

It was suggested in primary school that my dd should skip a year, but we declined - she has a summer birthday so is already young in her year. I didn't want her to be out of step with the rest of her peers, and I think it would be difficult at secondary when they're all hitting puberty etc.

I don't have any regrets. Her needs were met very effectively by her state primary school, and she is now thriving at secondary.

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:14:49

Viques - thanks for your thoughts.
My reasons are academic and it is the social side which concerns me. DS2 is very able and whilst the school do try to differentiate for him I don't think they have the time to do this effectively and he is not being challenged particularly in Maths. I don't think they really have any idea of what he is capable of.
Obviously you don't know my DS but do you think that a relatively mature child who is one of the oldest in his year could feel at ease with a higher cohort. She of them will be just over a year older than him but then a lot will only be a few months older.
With regard to the availability of places I am not aware of any shortage in my area and the admissions booklet and the website for the school do say that applications from a younger year group would be considered.
The school I would send him to is selective and he would therefore have to pass the 11+ to get a place.

d270r0 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:15:56

I really don't think its a good idea. As a teacher at a secondary school there is an extremely wide range of ability. We have no students in the wrong age group, but lots of classes are setted so that all students are given the correct work for their ability. I have taught many extremely gifted students in the top set. They are given different work in many cases to ensure they are being challenged. I have had 14 year old students doing A level work. They are still better off in their own year group for social and developmental reasons.

titchy Fri 17-Feb-17 13:21:52

Think further ahead. What age will you be happy with your child going to parties and drinking? If they go to school a year ahead you have the choice of your child going to parties and getting drunk a year earlier that you'd like, or them being excluded socially.

Sixth form - everyone's going to nightclubs except you. Everyone's driving except you. Everyone's shaving except you.

Academics can be sorted within the correct year group. Being excluded from your peer group could have lifelong repercussions.

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:22:11

Newtoday - Thanks for your views. Do you have any experience of what the social/emotional impact could be.
Brokenbiscuit - do you not think that there is a downside to staying in primary for year 6 when you can already do all the work necessary. DS is thirsty for knowledge and in year 6 he would be covering the requirements of the SATS curriculum which in Maths he can already do now. He already has a broad base on general knowledge from being an avid reader and I just don't want to see him coast for a year. i would rather he wasn't the brightest in the class as I think children benefit from having an element of competition between them and that a group of bright kids can encourage each other. At the moment he has nothing really to aim for.

Artandco Fri 17-Feb-17 13:27:24

I wouldn't do this. School is more than learning. If he knows everything befor eyear 6, so what, he can have a relaxing year playing with friends, high confidence of being able to do stuff, and can still cover new topics etc, enjoy art and sports etc

AssassinatedBeauty Fri 17-Feb-17 13:29:35

I started secondary school a year early, having been moved up a year in primary school. This was easy to do as the classes were quite small and mixed two-year group anyway. So I was 10 when I started secondary school, and my birthday is in spring, so I wasn't particularly old for my actual year. My parents only wanted to do it if I could perform at the same level in the higher year group, they didn't want to do it if I was only going to be getting average marks. They sought a fair amount of external advice before deciding what they wanted to do, but they also involved me in the decision too.

I had no problems socially in the higher year group, after the initial interest pretty much everyone forgot I was a year younger. Puberty happened pretty much in line with everyone else, as there's a fair range anyway. I got straight As at GCSE and A levels (no A stars in my day!), and went to uni at 17. That was also fine. I think all Scottish students start uni at that age anyway? I then did some post grad study before starting work at age 21.

I probably could have been moved further ahead, but I think there definitely could have been social issues if I had been noticeably younger. As I was only a year to a year and a bit younger, I went out and did everything along with everyone else.

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:30:28

Thanks d270r0 that is good to hear. I suppose it could be easier to differentiate in a secondary school as there are more children overall and hopefully a bigger group of more able children.
Titchy - i take your point but as DS2 is being brought up as a muslim we may have an issue with parties and drinking and the corresponding social exclusion that goes with that anyway. The point about driving is a good one as well but as he will only be a few months younger than the youngest in his year I don't think that everyone he will know will have passed before he is 17. Why do you think he would be excluded from his peer group. An academic year group has kids which span a year and he would only just be outside the typical range. If he starts at the beginning of year 7 I am guessing he may make friends before anyone knows he is a bit younger.

Thanks everyone who has commented. I may come across as defensive here and arguing against the points made but my mind is not made up and I am interested in a wide range of opinions. Interesting that no one has yet commented in favour of this or has experience of it working for their DC

Brokenbiscuit Fri 17-Feb-17 13:30:55

Brokenbiscuit - do you not think that there is a downside to staying in primary for year 6 when you can already do all the work necessary.

Yes, but my point is that a really bright child would already be able to do all of the work in year 7 as well - at least in the main subjects, anyway. Skipping just one year wouldn't be enough to close the academic gap, but skipping more than one year would be disastrous.

I get that Year 6 is mostly about SATS prep at many primary schools, and that must be incredibly dull for kids who can already do the work. Tbh, I think it's pretty dull even for the kids who can't. We were very fortunate in that our primary didn't think the SATS results were the only important thing, and they did lots to stretch dd in her final year.

AllotmentyPlenty Fri 17-Feb-17 13:32:58

I don't understand how a child could already do "all the work necessary" in a good primary school. So much of what they do, for example in English, is about their own reading / writing / research - so a child doing their best would easily extend themselves just within the activity.

Even in Maths, a good teacher should be able to plan work to extend and encourage any child.

Are you satisfied with your child's primary school?

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:35:15

Oh I spoke too soon. Thanks AssassinatedBeauty, its interesting to hear about it from the perspective of someone who has experienced it.

Artandco, this is the alternative, i.e. letting him have an easy year. However he seems to be doing that every year and the school is not doing much to address it or to stimulate him.

Brokenbiscuit Fri 17-Feb-17 13:36:01

Have you spoken to the school, OP, about what they are doing to stretch him?

StealthPolarBear Fri 17-Feb-17 13:38:43

I did this. Was fine at school and a levels but I went to university far too young and wasted my chance there. It's worked out fine but looking back I should have been encroached to have a gap year or two in the world of work.

Mumski45 Fri 17-Feb-17 13:42:14

AllotmentPlenty - it think this is the issue, no I am not particularly satisfied with the primary school. DS2's had a succession of supply teachers for most of year 1 and most of the class ended up behind where they needed to be. The fab year 2 teacher did a great job of making sure most of the class came up to scratch for KS1 SATS but did not have time to stretch the more able pupils at the same time. Year 3 he had a lovely but inexperienced NQT who again concentrated on the less able pupils and did little differentiation. Now in year 4 they are starting to see what he is capable of but he is so far ahead of the cohort i understand it is difficult for them. There are also a number of children in the class with behavioural issues who rightly take a lot of teacher attention.

However having said that I know the year 6 teacher well and she is FAB (DS1 is currently in her class) and I am somewhat reluctant to move him ahead so that he misses her class. Would no move him from year 4 straight to year 6 as I think that would have social/emotional consequences.

MrsJayy Fri 17-Feb-17 13:48:22

Dd1s group in primary 7 got 1st year work (scotland) sent from the local high school in English and Maths this was 12yrs ago I wouldn't have sent her to high school early she needed to be with her peers we dont have G&T list here so it wasn't so prominent (sp) 10 or so children got work that they could do ,

AllotmentyPlenty Fri 17-Feb-17 14:05:18

Mumski45 - that is a shame. My first port of call in your situation would be to discuss things with the school (maybe including with the Year Six teacher). If you can get your son's needs met in his current setting, that would be the ideal to my mind.

Cuppaqueen Fri 17-Feb-17 14:08:15

Just to offer another perspective as a child who experienced this. I was moved up a year in primary school (missed the year 9-10 years old, whatever that's called these days!) - we'd moved back to the city from an amazing tiny village school where they really pushed me and I was way ahead in English and Maths. I then went on to (private) secondary school at 10 - my birthday is May so I didn't turn 11 until virtually the end of the first year there.

Academically, I always did well and got all As etc for GCSE and A-level. However, socially it was a disaster - I was bullied constantly for the first 5 years and it killed my confidence stone dead. Of course it's hard to say how much age was a factor in this but lack of being into the right music, TV etc was part of the issue. Some of the kids used to like asking me questions about this stuff so they could laugh at my ignorance. Being good in class was no compensation!! Yet I had no problems making friends at primary or at university afterwards, thankfully - just at school. Once you've been labelled odd, it's hard to come back from. I never recovered my confidence - still have issues as a grown woman, though I hide it well mostly - and although I know my parents meant well, I wish they'd never done it. After all, what do you really gain being ahead a year? If your DS is bored at school, maybe a tutor would be an option to challenge him some more, or just give him interesting books, puzzles, trips out to broaden his own mind. If you do move him up, be extra alert to any issues - my parents put my misery down to 'being a teenager' and didn't find out about the bullying until I left. By which time the damage was all done.

Brokenbiscuit Fri 17-Feb-17 14:13:19

Given that you say your son is "so far ahead" of his current cohort, OP, what do you think he would actually gain by moving up a year? I totally get your wish for him to have some "competition", as it's easy for a child to become complacent if they are not challenged effectively by other children. But if he is that advanced, I wonder if moving up a year will really change this?

OrlandaFuriosa Fri 17-Feb-17 14:18:30

Why don't you get him engaged in all the additional maths he can do outside school, the competitions etc? Talk to school about him moving up for maths only, or being taught with his class but not at the level if his class.

Friends had this exceptional son, truly exceptional, kept him in his year in primary , he then went to private secondary but was still way way ahead of everyone. Did all the things like the maths Olympiad, competitions, also masses if extra curricular things, music etc. Got into top college of the then top university for maths, but really rounded grounded person.

DS was good at maths, had a ropey teacher, he and one other ended up teaching the class (grrr). But they did a lot of extra work together, fought it out. V good for him. Competed with her and his best friend all the way up.

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