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eek secondary school dilemma

(17 Posts)
CheerMum Sat 27-Aug-11 19:07:09

Hi all. I know some of you know me from FB but my dd has access to that so I am posting here instead. My dd has been HE for 1 year and is about to go into Y6. So, we are faced with the joys of applying to high/secondary school in the next few weeks.

We always thought that HE would be a temporary thing, just to get dd through the health issues that she has faced for the past year (or three) but I have to admit that the thought of her going to secondary school fills me with dread. (she has an excess of growth hormones so although she is only just turned 10 she is 5'4 and size 7 shoes. her brain seems to be growing with her body as her academic levels are prob at yr 7/8)

I cannot really admit this at home because we are trying to allow dd to make her own choice based on her own feelings (plus dh is concerned that HE for secondary school will turn her into some sort of hippy with no qualifications)

Without being braggy I am confident that I have the intelligence and confidence to teach my dd to a variety of GCSE's.

DH and i have tried to discuss this but we tend to end up arguing. I am not sure what i am expecting from this post so all opinions welcome.

singingmum Sat 27-Aug-11 19:25:41

My son is now 17 and def not hippy type is in fact goth and proud of it. If your both happy to continue HE and its what your dd wants then why not carry on as she can do GCSE's if she wants and even do some early if she feels ready.My son is about to start a short course from open uni(he heas no GCSE's and has already discussed if this will be enough to prove him able to enter uni with the proffesor in charge of the degree he wishes to take and they have said that as long as he does the short course(which is in the field he wishes to study and at first year uni level) theyll be happy to accept him.
He is different to other teens his own age and no its not easy but it does allow them to grow and become the person they chose to be without the pressure to live up to what peers and others push and influence them to be.He was shy but is now more confidant because he dresses and acts as he feels is right and strangley is actually more polite and kind than the most popular and fashionable of his school going peers as hes been able to grow in the real world not the false 'society' of comp and school
Dont know if this helps but thought youd like to hear from someone who has HE'd teen as wish I'd had someone when we decided as a family to continue HE.

stressedHEmum Sat 27-Aug-11 20:29:13

My DS2 is 18 and hasn't been to school since he was 11. he most certainly isn't a hippy. He doesn't have any official qualifications but was offered a place on every college course he applied for this year, including Glasgow uni's access to engineering. He is different from his peers but he was always going to be that, he has AS. However, he has far more confidence and self awareness than almost anyone else with AS that you'll meet because he has been allowed to direct his own path and to discover himself without the limitations that school or peer expectations put on kids.

My 14 is also not a hippy, he is a polite, articulate young man who is free from the extreme peer pressure and destabilising influences of our local secondary. He is his own individual self following his own individual path. He still has friends, all of whom go to school, and is a very active and valued member of our local BB company (best boy 4 years in a row, captain's award for participation, beginning President's badge) where he learns vital life skills like teamwork and how to get whiplash while go-karting. He is also far happier and confident than he ever was at school.

DD is 11 and approaching secondary. She thinks that she might like to try it. I am dreading that. We removed her from school in P2 because she was being bullied so badly that t made her ill. The secondary schools here are much, much worse and I don't think that she would survive, if I am honest. She is sensitive, creative, hard-working and bright, also polite and well spoken, it's a recipe for disaster.

At this age, HE is what kids make of it, it's much more about them than about us. If she turns into a hippy, maybe she would have done that anyway.

CheerMum Sun 28-Aug-11 08:44:43

i hope i haven't offended anyone with the hippy comment, hubby is just a traditionalist, it was a battle to get him to agree to HE in the first place. I can see the change in my dd over the last year, her confidence has grown and, she sounds exactly like your dd stressedHEmum and that is what worries me about school.
i think that HE would be the best way forward for her and all of the HE teens i've met all seem extraordinarily polite and well mannered compared to other teens.
thanks for the replies guys x

AMumInScotland Mon 29-Aug-11 10:03:19

If it's the qualifications which bother your DH, then there are various ways which you can take to help her get them - with HE she doesn't have to do qualifications, but equally she can if she wants to (or if it's so important to DH that it's a dealbreaker). DS did IGCSEs - they don't have marked coursework so it's easier to arrange. There's a group about exams etc for HE children - I don't know what its called offhand but its been mentioned a numnber of times on threads so I expect you'd find it if it's of interest.

CheerMum Mon 29-Aug-11 14:15:39

Thanks, I'm on that list and it is indeed very helpful. We've kind of settled on laeving it to her own choice and i am trying to be very even-handed when i talk about secondary school. will let y'all know what she decides.

thanks again for letting me offload x

Saracen Mon 29-Aug-11 22:31:34

I don't think you have to take a totally neutral stance, so long as your dd knows you will support her in whichever decision she makes. Has your dh mentioned the benefits of school to her? If so, then why not explain to her why you think school might not be the right choice.

Sometimes I think it's a bit confusing for our kids when we pretend to them that we don't have an opinion. Of course you don't want to push your opinion onto her too hard, but that doesn't mean you can't have an opinion. Wouldn't you share your opinion with her if she were making any other major decision in her life?

Through all her years of dithering, I've always told my dd honestly what I thought the advantages and disadvantages of school might be. She knew that I thought she'd be better off home educated but that the choice was hers. She chose to go to school in Y5 and then chose to come back out again. The following year, she got herself all tied in knots about whether to apply to secondary before eventually deciding not to apply.

I did tell her that I thought if she was going to try secondary then Y7 was a pretty good time to do it, with everyone else being new and all. And that if she wanted a short journey to school then it might be wise to apply at the usual time in order to be sure of getting into the local school. But I also reassured her repeatedly that whether she applied or not, she could change her mind later at any point. There's nothing to stop her going into school (or coming out) halfway through Y7, or the following year, or the year after that.

Saracen Mon 29-Aug-11 22:42:38

Oh, have you and your dd read this book? Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends and the New Realities of Girl World by Rosalind Wiseman. We read it together and thought it was brilliant, especially good for this age.

As it happened, we read it after she had already decided not to apply for secondary. It's still useful to her, because that sort of stuff does go on outside school to a certain extent and it gave her a very good perspective on issues she has had in the past and expects to have again. However, we both commented repeatedly that it is all far less of a problem outside of school. The situations described in the book are all magnified by spending very large amounts of time in a fixed social group from which there is no escape. In that sense, it confirmed to my dd that she has made the right decision in giving school a miss for the time being.

If ever she does go to school, I think we will be reading it again. I'm sure it would come in very handy.

CheerMum Tue 30-Aug-11 09:21:33

i've outlined the pro's and con's for her, like with school it'll be easier for her to work in groups, but with home ed she can keep her purple hair and get up when she wants, more trips, more choice.

thanks for the book idea, i've just reserved it from our library so that'll be good.

she has commented that she worries about bullying and i think she'd be a prime candidate as she is a nice, sweet, well mannered girl, though we have had a chat and i've told her that she will encounter bullies all through her life, not just at school, so not to let that put her off school.

CheerMum Tue 30-Aug-11 09:49:25

i told dd about the book and she said, oh that's the book that the film Mean Girls is based on (one of her current faves) so should be interesting!

CheerMum Sat 15-Oct-11 17:39:41

Just a quick update. We took dd to visit a couple of local secondary schools recently, one was a hovel but the other was state of the art (the Head stated that he was "relentless" in his quest for academic excellence - shudder).

We left the choice entirely to her and she has said that she wants to apply to the exam factory.

So, we are going to try for a place there.

This leaves me with just 9 months left of HE. I know that my dd will thrive within a highly academic environment and i know that it isn't a reflection upon me or HE as she has stated that if she doesn't get a place there she will continue to HE as the rest of the local schools are rubbish.

I'm trying so very hard to focus on what my darling girl wants...but between me and you guys - i'm feeling slightly bereft.

(Please no nasty comments...)

mummytime Sat 15-Oct-11 17:59:59

My kids are at an exam factory, but.... over the years the head has mellowed and it is actually pretty good pastorally. The kids also have lots of chances (and more so now the national curriculum has eased just a bit) to do other things. For instance there is a lot of Drama, Music, Sport. There is also a lot of fund raising for charity, and they put on concerts for the elderly.

Also HE will have given your DD a lot of skills that most school pupils struggle with (the ability to work independently, to think for herself etc.). But a friends daughter did find it easier at school as she didn't have to be quite so self motivated. You will still find that there is a lot you can help her with, and teenagers need their Mums a lot!

Saracen Sat 15-Oct-11 22:00:51

"a friends daughter did find it easier at school as she didn't have to be quite so self motivated."

Oh yes, when my dd was at school she said she rather liked maths worksheets because she could just sort of switch off her brain and do something straightforward and repetitive, which can be relaxing. She said school maths reminded her of colouring in! And she didn't have to think about what to do from one hour to the next through the day because those decisons were taken care of for her.

Good luck to your daughter, CheerMum, in getting the place she wants and making the most of her time there! Now that she has decided she wants to do it nine months is a long time for her to have to wait, isn't it? But I know you said it sounded short to you! I can see it from your point of view too.

julienoshoes Mon 17-Oct-11 10:48:41

"but between me and you guys - i'm feeling slightly bereft."

Oh I so know that feeling!

Our children were all autonomously home educated. DS took himelf to college post 16 to do GCSEs.....and on to Uni
I'd always known that dd1 was fiercely independant and would move out of home ASAP-but in the end she didn't go until she was 18-and I consider myself fortunate that she hasn't (yet) settled on the other side of the world, that we still see her often and she calls for a chat most days.

But dd2 was so severely SEN I 'knew' that I'd be home educating her right up till 19 or so, that she wasn't ready or able to cope with college. She'd started an OU path and we both thought we'd be following that through. But, as often happens in HE, dd2 suddenly had a huge developmental and educational spurt.
There I was happily sitting at HesFes, contemplating a few more years of blissful HE, and she said she wanted to go to college!

I was thrilled and excited that she felt able and wanted to go, something we had never felt would be possible, given the severity of her SEN. But oh boy I too felt quite bereft.
I guess it was because I had had the path I thought I'd be following, pulled from under me suddenly.
I just hid that from her though and rejoiced and helped her get ready and held her when she panicked........
I got over it, and have now come to the conclusion that this is just another unexpected twist in my life's path..........as was home educating them all in the first place!

seeker Mon 17-Oct-11 10:57:23

Have you checked out the other stuff the exam factory does in thE way of clubsand things? It might mqkenyunfeel better if youndiscover that there re fabulous choirs, orchestras, patchwork clubs, groups that go qdn do things in thenlocal community- that sort of thing. my dd's school is very academic, but there is loads of other stuff going on as well, the kids have loads of fun.

OTOH- there is another school locally where they seemnto do nothing but work- a seriously joyless I wouldn,t touch withna barge pole.

Oh, and don't worry about the "relentless pursuit of academic excellence" thing- heads have to say that- it's innthe script!

And if she doesn't likenit she doesn't have to stay.

CheerMum Mon 17-Oct-11 16:21:26

thanks guys.

seeker, the school has a wide and wondrous variety of afterschool stuff. what worries me is that my dd has fragile health (that was the reason we pulled her out in y4) and gets tired really easily. the school day runs from 8.15 - 4 and i am worried how she will cope.

oh the horrid reality of letting your baby go off and try something that is not the safest option (thank goodness for wine hehehe)

mummytime Tue 18-Oct-11 06:40:03

CheerMum if she has medical issues I would talk to the school about them. If its a state school they can't discriminate but having a chance to think about how they can adapt things will help them. I have had kids who were given slack to arrive late to classes (still recovering from pneumonia) and others are given permission to go to the library or something to rest during breaks. It is certainly something you want flagged up (so she isn't chosen as the one to do 10 press ups to compare heart rate in science for example).

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