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Child-centered or academic?

(12 Posts)
catastrophiser Tue 02-Dec-14 01:12:56

Calling all educational specialists OR parents whose kids have gone on to secondary from primary. I am going through the bewildering process of trying to choose a local state primary for DC1, a summer-born boy. I have studied league tables, spoken to parents and visited all local schools and for once, my instincts have deserted me.

Schools in my part of London seem to be split between arty, liberal middle class establishments with no discussions about results (taboo?) but lots of emphasis on 'holistic, nurturing environment' or deprived former 'sink' schools that are now getting a truckload of pupil premium money and are driving up results, being rated Outstanding by Ofsted with the heads openly declaring they want their kids to go on to grammar or other selective schools.

Would you choose a school which seems more child-friendly and has more kids from similar backgrounds (still very multicultural but not as deprived a catchment) and not be so worried about results? Or would you go for the improved former sink schools which are now apparently Outstanding with more than half the pupils on free school meals?

I envisage our DS - if academic - will go on to a grammar or selective private secondary (sorry, I am just being honest). If your DCs went to a relaxed, arty primary school, how did they find secondary? Would the transition be harder at a grammar or private school if they went to a more relaxed primary?

It seems to me that some schools are excellent at nurturing the very young pupils but may lack the grit to get the KS2 results or prepare them for secondary.

CharlesRyder Tue 02-Dec-14 06:49:30

Are the results actually worse at the 'arty' schools? Have you looked at them on the Ofsted Data Dashboard?

Also, will you genuinely have a choice? I impression I got from MN during the last round of allocation was that people in the sort of area you are talking about just got what they were given!

EdithWeston Tue 02-Dec-14 06:56:22

You won't have that much choice in London.

After you've checked the admissions data for the last few years, how many schools do you stand a reasonable chance of qualifying for?

It doesn't really matter whether a school discusses results, they're all published.

And you may find that, whichever school you opt for now, you end up tutoring (yourself, or paid tutor) for 11+

So you need to think about your DS and his character, and which school you think would suit him best. Clearly as he is still very young, a lot of this will be guesswork and consideration of your family ethos. But do centre it on him, not on whether you want to be seen as a cool/arty/academic/sporty parent (apologies in advance if that's a wrong angle).

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 07:02:57

1st one

pyrrah Tue 02-Dec-14 09:19:54

2nd one..

Lot to be said for enthusiastic HT hauling school up to Outstanding and having high goals for the kids.

Pupil premium money also not to be sniffed at.

DD is in a school much like the 2nd one, and the number of MC arty liberal families there is getting bigger.

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 10:15:50

First school strikes me as ultra competitive and that can breed bloody awful kids

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 10:17:04

Second school would be too competitive sorry!

Forget the grades - look on the parent portal on line - look at value added to see if kids are reaching their potential

Levantine Tue 02-Dec-14 12:08:18

It is a rare liberal arty school in London that doesn't also do sats seriously, though they do exist. I don't think they can afford to be complacent about them. I have experience of an ofsted outstanding hothouse and of a liberal arty school and their sats results were actually exactly the same. So do look at the numbers (and take on board the caveat that you might not want your son to be crammed for sats in year 6 if it comes at the cost of other activities)

ReallyTired Tue 02-Dec-14 14:29:00

I thought I had chosen a liberal arty school for my daughter, but it failed its OFSTED and now has a high pressure superhead. Schools cannot get away with ignoring SATs anymore.

OFSTED outstanding hothouses are not nice places for small children. I think a five year old needs somewhere warm and nuturing in infants and a bit more pressure in upper key stage 2. However most of us do not have a choice about where our child goes to school.

catastrophiser Tue 02-Dec-14 15:29:29

Thanks soooo much for all your feedback!
I should say, we are closest to a small, arty school but will probably not get in so that is why I have had to take the search seriously for the ones I will rank 2nd to 6th etc. We are in a catchment black hole as we are at least 100 metres too far for any other school rated Good and above.

I notice the schools with a higher mix of Nigerian kids are more results driven, despite many of them in our part of London coming from modest backgrounds. Amazing to see how brilliantly aspirational their parents are. Makes me sort of resent the middle class complacency from the white liberal parents, who I hear talking about not wanting little Oscar to have to undergo any testing at school or any homework. (Yes but how will Oscar cope when he hits secondary school and is swamped?). But then again, are Oscar's parents right? Is slow and steady and play-based learning the way to go?

I totally agree with ReallyTired, you sort of need different schools for infant school level vs key stage two.

Am also trying to weigh up how important peers are and what the consequences could be of sending DS to school if 95 per cent of the kids are from much poorer backgrounds. Will he be bullied? (I would equally worry if we were sending him to a school with only very wealthy kids who think owning a ski chalet is a birthright.)
We are immigrants but have been lucky and have relatively high family income. Am really not keen on private school at infant level. Am a bit worried about DS' behaviour and how easily led he will be. He is not hugely confident but puts on bravado when around boisterous boys. He is easily led, looks big but acts young for his age and will be possibly the youngest in his year group. I saw one CofE school where he would be one of the only white children in the class, but they have amazing discipline. I am not sure whether we should go down the strict route or the Scandi-style play-based learning which seems to be all the rage? Thanks again for your help. Am just trying to make sense of it all and I know I am supposed to know my own child but am struggling!

Pelicangiraffe Tue 02-Dec-14 18:09:53

I hate to tell you this but the leftie creative middle class school still jumps though the same SATS hoops as every other state school. It's not truly alternative like Steiner schools or home education. Your leftie creative school is just a main stream state school and has to follow guidelines like all the other state schools. DS will be tested throughout primary school which ever state school option you go for.

Personally I'd go for option 1 because I have only ever found bad sportsmanship among the children in very competitive schools. It's sad to see children so desperate to be the best and it's sad their self worth rest on their performance. The underlaying ethos has to be key for me. An education is more then the grades a child leaves with

RiversideMum Tue 02-Dec-14 20:31:07

Children need to be active and they need to be outside. If your child is very young in the year group, I'd say something more play based would set him up for success better than a formal setting.

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