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Would other DC's pushy parents affect my DC's experience? Plus or minus?

(21 Posts)
schoolmeplease Mon 10-Nov-14 23:24:39

Any wise MNers out there who can give us some advice? (NC for this as my previous posts would make it obvious which schools I'm talking about!).
DD1 (Y2) is currently in School A. It is diverse (which we love) and Ofsted rated 'good', but has historically had trouble meeting the needs of the 'more able' students (according to Ofsted and sats) while being excellent with SN). It has >60% FSM eligibility.

I learned recently that many parents were very put off by/ unable to do a web form for something -- this is not an educated community. Parents are not pushy and generally don't seem involved in the school. On the plus side there is no competitive project-making etc. DD1 was fairly happy in YR and Y1; Y1 teacher said she is highly able. But she now says she's bored, and is frustrated, and the response from the school hasn't been super.

DD2 will go into YR in 2015 so we need to apply for schools. School B is a local highly sought-after school, reputed to be superb with the 'more able', much higher SATS. This could be due to their more MC, pushy, intake, with parents who tutor and extend their DC at home. Or it might be School B's brilliant teaching. Or both. (More like 40% FSM so not an all-privileged school, but there is much more privilege there than at School A).

My question for you -- particularly any teachers out there? or anyone -- is this: DH thinks that other educated/pushy parents and their DC will benefit our DC, by making the whole group easier to teach, esp the more able -- the teacher would more likely have a group of very able DC and ours would have a group of academic peers (which they don't seem to have at school A). But I wonder if all the difference (eg in sats) is just due to the intake, and our DC will do just as well at school A as they would at school B because we'll challenge them at home anyway. Which would mean we should try for a place at school A for DD2, rather than try for B.

What would you do? All advice gratefully received!

writtenguarantee Mon 10-Nov-14 23:42:53

I think so. I went to a crap school with great teachers. what your fellow students do daily is important.

TagineKaput Tue 11-Nov-14 07:32:49

I'd probably go for school B if it doesn't make it too difficult to do the school run with your DDs at different schools. What were your reasons for choosing school a rather than b for DD1?

JimmyCorkhill Tue 11-Nov-14 07:50:48

Y1 teacher said she is highly able. But she now says she's bored, and is frustrated, and the response from the school hasn't been super.

I think this answers your question.

Do you know anyone at school B to chat to about the school?

If school B is so popular you should consider moving DD1 soon so that DD2 benefits from the sibling priority (if you haven't already considered this).

Bonsoir Tue 11-Nov-14 07:54:16

The teachers can be the most dedicated on the planet and you can be the most involved parents but a low-achieving peer group will nevertheless hold your DC back.

Timeforabiscuit Tue 11-Nov-14 07:58:12

I'm in a similar situation, except that my dd1 is still being pushed and is engaging well. Thats the most important aspect IMO - your other points are still up there on priorities, but you chose the first school for a reason - do those reasons still hold?

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 11-Nov-14 09:07:48

absolutely I think it would be a plus. Not because I believe in lots of pressure but I don't think this would be the case in School B. I think that if you have an intake of children from families who respect and value education then you will generally have children who are more likely to understand that you have to concentrate in class, work quietly, do what you are told etc. You will have families who are willing to do reading at home and any homework which in turn means that the cohort will hopefully all be working from a higher average level which obviously affects what can be done in class. The attitude of families towards education can have a huge impact on what a school can achieve. It isn't so much about whether the families are from a deprived area or even if they are bright or not it is about valuing education and respecting it, recognising that education is important and that attitude in class and towards school work etc is extremely important.

However that isn't to say that school A shouldn't be able to differentiate. My mum taught in an exceptionally deprived school with a large number of non English speaking children but she had some extremely bright children (mostly the ones who started school unable to speak English - she taught yr2) and she always made sure they had work at their level, alongside children who came to school once in a blue moon and didn't even know what their own names were.

If I was you I would personally probably put child 1 on the waiting list for School B, apply for School B as first choice for child 2 and hassle School A to do what they are supposed to be doing for your child.

Interestingly quite a lot of middle class families are among the worst and the working class families are the ones desperate for their children to do well.

Iggly Tue 11-Nov-14 09:11:30

The teacher's response would not impress me.

I would explore why they've said what they did and see if it tells you enough about the school ethos and ambition for its children.

JimmyCorkhill Tue 11-Nov-14 09:34:07

This book, The Nurture Assumption is interesting and states that it is your child's peers who influence them much more than you, their parents.

So a school with children who value learning is the better choice.

However, it would be good to speak to someone who knows school B as sometimes outstanding schools can have a pressured environment.

Soveryupset Tue 11-Nov-14 09:43:00

There are a few things to consider as you move up the schools.

1 - How much time do you actually have to challenge them at home? It becomes very time consuming when you have ballet/football/music or any other activity they want to pursue out of school and it isn't just about rehearsing timetables but there is grammar, spellings, extended writing, word problems, geometry, science, art, languages and all the rest - you need to get a good feeling of whether the teaching is adequate or not.
2 - Do you have a feel of exactly where and how they are differentiating in the classroom?
3 - We had children at both type of schools you describe and I can say looking back that the children had better teachers and more opportunities at the less "middle class" school. The leafy one with outstanding results and outstanding Ofsted was in retrospect a much poorer school. Terrible at stretching able children if they didn't line up with their SATS targets...
4 - It is true that many middle class families are actually quite loathed to go in and upset the apple cart by complaining if things are bad in the class - whether it is bullying, bad teaching or whatever - they'd rather get a tutor and/or quietly move schools with an excuse - this is my experience anyway.

I hope some of the above will help you a little - hard choices....

PastSellByDate Tue 11-Nov-14 10:44:19

In Y4 we moved and DD2 went from a school much like yours (which we affectionately named St. Mediocre) to St. Precious (with much loved little dears (often only children) and largely MC highly educated, professional parents behind intake).

Yes there are a lot of projects - and yes some parents do go to town. But - those projects - planning/ designing/ working on layout/ researching teach all sorts of skills I actually really value. Skills that DD1 is seriously struggling with her research projects/ essays in Y7 at her new senior school - because she never had this type of homework and had whole school years (Y3/ Y5) with virtually no homework at all.

I am thrilled with the new school for DD2 (now Y5). She's being pushed - she's not being allowed to be 'a fluffy blonde' (although not blond - but does have a tendency to be ditzy). And DD1 has commented that DD2 was doing things in Y4 that her class were only just doing in Y6.

From my perspective it is this last element - the pace of learning - which I think becomes a real advantage whether you're opting for the 11+ or just want them to get off to a good start in senior school.

I've posted elsewhere that my DD1 is struggling with spellings (still spells phonetically), structure (starting new paragraphs with new ideas/ breaking up the rhythm of sentences/ etc...) and planning - all of which children in the new senior school from St. Precious have no issues with whatsoever. We've worked really hard these last two months to lay in planning/ organising skills and get DD1 to really think through ideas before putting pen to paper (and proof her work - maybe even agree to re-write it if it's too scruffy - she often scratches out mistakes/ alters wording/ etc... so her first attempt ends up looking a bit like a battlefield).

I realise some primaries don't value these 'soft skills' which are hard to quantify and don't figure in KS2 SATs - but they're a huge advantage come the time you're starting Senior School.

TheWordFactory Tue 11-Nov-14 11:19:29

IMVHO school should be a collegiate experience. This means that DC need like-ability and like-minded peers.

A school with very few high ability children is probably not the best environment for a high ability child. Although, MN does seem to have a contingent who feel that being the top of the tree is rather comforting and helps self esteem. Personally, I think avoiding competition isn't a good way forward but hey ho.

rabbitstew Tue 11-Nov-14 12:33:10

You do know that 40% FSM is considerably above the national average too, don't you, schoolmeplease? I'm sure you could find an awful lot of schools in other areas that have a far larger middle class intake than School B's. wink

Seriously, though, I would be concerned if my child confirmed what the data and Ofsted said by pronouncing his boredom at school. Things might/probably will improve in KS2, but unfortunately you haven't experienced that at school A, yet.

I think it is a shame if your child is at a school where no-one in their year is working anywhere near their level. I don't think it remotely necessary for an entire primary school class to be working at a high level, but it is lonely to be out on a limb - you need one or two like minds. I agree, though, that primary school projects mostly completed by competitive parents are not a good advert for a primary school. I disagree with PastSellByDate that they teach the children anything except that their parents are supposed to do most of their homework for them. That's probably why they all appear so amazing in year 7, too, because Mummy and Daddy are still doing it... I see the educational value in doing your OWN projects with your children at home, but not in sending them into school and pretending your children did the work. If the school is setting projects like this, they are just taking time away from better targeted projects you could be doing with your kids for fun, because you are one of those sorts of parents who likes to "challenge them at home, anyway." However, such projects are probably of use for children who don't think doing projects at home is remotely fun, so will only do it if the school forces them to. grin

merrymouse Tue 11-Nov-14 12:39:52

Have you visited school B? Nevermind what pupils do at home with their parents, do you think your DD would be less bored during the school day?

Hoppinggreen Tue 11-Nov-14 17:41:20

There are quite a lot of " involved " parents at my DC school ( what some people might call pushy I suppose) I believe it helps all the children there as many parents are involved with the school - to the benefit of ALL children not just their own.

catkind Tue 11-Nov-14 18:24:01

Where we are it's actually the rough catchment, high proportion FSM and behavioural issues school that is also the best at challenging the most able pupils. They're a big enough school that they can pick out a top set that are really able, and are setting out to challenge those students. In maths they appear to be working at a higher level than any of the middle class catchments or even the private schools. They also have some fantastic extracurricular stuff going on thanks to some enthusiastic teachers.

The more middle class schools seem to be coasting on that a bit. They get their L5s because the kids are bright, well supported, and often tutored. They don't get L6s the way the school I'm talking about above do.

This is based on comments from teacher friends and parents at the different schools, but ofsted says the same. Good teaching and particularly good leadership seems to be making a lot of difference here.

So I don't think you can base it on the catchment. You have to look at the individual schools and what they are doing. It sounds from what you're saying like you don't feel School A are doing enough for able pupils, and reputation is saying School B are doing more. Have you looked around School B and asked them?

schoolmeplease Tue 11-Nov-14 23:10:53

Lots to think about here. To answer a few questions -- we haven't really had a choice; we chose school B but barely missed the cutoff distance and a place hasn't come through (for us anyway) on the waiting list. We were given school A and decided to run with it- I had hoped that catkind's comments would be what we found -- a big, diverse school able to challenge everyone. And I did wonder if the outstanding rated school might be coasting on the tutoring etc that the parents were doing, which school A would not be doing.

We can try again with DD2. We will visit it next week, better armed with questions on this topic this time. I don't want to come across as assuming my DC are geniuses (and look like a prat) and I would also like time to discuss DD1 but it will be an open day format for prospective YR parents -- not sure how to raise this, whether to try to make another time to ask or what.

Soveryupset -- (1) we are indeed running out of time to do things at home! very relevant observation. (2) I don't have a good sense of how they differentiate, and I wish I did. There are different tables (labelled 1 - 5 and all the DC know that 1 is the "hardest"; DD1 is on table 1 for all the subjects, from what I hear). (3) would be a point in favour of the current school -- kind of what I'm afraid of re rocking the boat/moving /eventually appealing... and (4) maybe that's me! not wanting to be seen as complaining/fussing, as I have asked about this more than once...

Anyway. I guess we are leaning towards nonickname's plan (already on list for DD1 but hoping for school B for DD2). While hassling school A on what they are doing. I actually doubt we'll get DD2 a place at B, though it's possible. We could, if the situation worsens, appeal for a place for DD1 in Y3...

schoolmeplease Tue 11-Nov-14 23:17:45

Oh, and yes - we realise that 40% is hardly a severely privileged intake smile and I value a diverse school with a genuine mix. It's London. There's an even more posh state primary -- imagine -- nearby but not nearby enough to even have a slim chance. To be honest it's not the %FSM that I suspect would make a difference (that's just the only hard fact on record about the intakes), it's the presence vs almost complete absence of educated/pushy/MC/however you describe them families.

ontosecondary Wed 12-Nov-14 10:00:22

You sound nice. And not like a prat!

People used to think our school was like school A. The teachers had got into a bit of a rut of fighting the corner of the "ordinary" children and presuming that the MC parents' agenda would lead to a sort of apartheid.

Of course, it was a new head that made the difference.

But the MC parents getting themselves and their kids together made a difference too. I would do a push to find out who else in the class is high ability (I know this sounds awful and that you don't want to sound vile).

I remember satisfying myself that DS1 had made friends with some kids who could be his academic peers. I had a few peers at my comp. and it really is needed.

We are the most sought-after school in the area now and a rising tide lifts all boats. But I and many other people have put countless hours into making this happen.

ontosecondary Wed 12-Nov-14 10:01:56

sorry just one more thought - I think there simply must be quite a few more parents like you at school A because it's so unlikely you'd be the only ones to fall outside school B catchment. Can you find an in?

I wonder how the teachers would react if you said you would like your child to be boosted with other high ability children Maybe the teachers on here could advise.

SilentAllTheseYears Wed 12-Nov-14 10:06:22

catkind it's the same here as well with the two high schools. We went with the one that you describe and my DC are doing more challenging Maths and English than a couple of their peers at private schools. It just how it is.

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