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Should I move one of my two children from the same primary school?

(12 Posts)
SurvivalGuide Thu 09-Jul-15 12:22:53

Desperately need some advice. I currently have 2 children at the same primary school. DD1 is in year 5 and doing well academically. We will keep her there until secondary school. DD2 is in year 2 and not doing so well. She is average but not thriving and looks to be on track for the local secondary school which has been in special measures forever. Because she is average the school don't seem to be interested in pushing her to gain more than 2 levels each year (as required by Ofsted). We feel like we are constantly having to apologise for having ambitions for her. We have been given the opportunity to move DD2 to another well regarded local primary. Will they push her? They may well say that when we speak to the head when we talk to him before committing to a place, but will they really mean it? Do state schools want to push the average child to be an above average child or are they just interested in individual childrens progress and making those 2 levels? Also DD2 is in the middle of 5 sets and only the top 2 sets cover the most difficult work. We are in a grammar school area and if you are not in the top 2 sets (and ideally the top set) you are simply too far behind to have a chance of passing. So a change now could make the difference to us as a family between £15k a year private secondary (instead of the special measures secondary) or DD2 joining her sister at grammar. We feel that the primary we chose for DD1 is not the same primary they are still attending. All the spark has gone out of the leadership. What should I do?

pollyisnotputtingthekettleon Thu 09-Jul-15 12:48:20

Ok ... I have twins and have moved one to a different school. Different reasons , however I understand your dilema. Its been the best thing ive done ... both schools have different ideals and goals, as suit the children better. Go and look and speak to parents and ask about sub levels.

midnightvelvetPart2 Thu 09-Jul-15 12:52:15

The majority of your post is regarding your DD's academic level & whilst I understand the concern around the grammar school intake, a child's time at school is not solely for achieving academic success. Does your DD2 have friends, is she playing with her peers, does she enjoy school, all of these are as valid as the academic side of things.

In my experience then state schools want every child to succeed with the parameters set by the powers that be, if Ofsted say that 2 levels a year should be aimed at then once a child achieves that level then there is not much more pushing beyond that point. I have a G&T child & we changed (state) school as he was not being challenged at all, to another state school where he is being challenged. If your child is not in the top 2 sets already, then (& I really don't mean to be offensive) but perhaps she is simply not clever enough & all the pushing by the school won't do that much. If you think she is in the wrong set & could handle the more difficult work then speak to the teacher, they will know what level your DD works best at. The new school could promise the earth but until your DD is in their classroom they will not have an idea of her ableness so any promises made now would be meaningless, no school would push a child beyond 2 levels if the child was unhappy working under such pressure. Taking that forwards, even if DD2 did get into grammar would she be able to sustain working at that level happily? Would she thrive socially & academically in that environment or would she be happier in another less pressurised school?

Also keep in mind that school is not responsible for 100% of a child's education, so maybe start thinking around music lessons or sports outside of school. If your grammar has an interview process then a well rounded or accomplished child would stand a good chance.

Its a difficult one, I moved schools & I don't regret it for a moment, but simply moving school because your child is not achieving what you think she should be achieving, regardless of how well your DD is settled makes me uneasy. It could be that the new school will push her a lot further, but if she is unhappy in the new school that her work might go to pot regardless.

Step back from the academics of it & take into account the whole picture, academics is not everything smile

mrsplum2015 Thu 09-Jul-15 13:01:44

Totally agree with midnightvelvet. You have 2 DD and they are individuals - just because one gets into grammar, doesn't mean the second will or should.

Also if your DD2 is happy and enjoying primary (and your only issue is that she isn't in top set, which is sounds like from your post) then just get her some tutoring and she would be able to cover the material needed for 11+ and pass - that's if she is capable of it. I think any decent tutor would be able to give you a gauge of her suitability for grammar based on meeting/testing - although Year 2 might be a bit too early.

I kind of don't even agree with your view point though as how can a school push an average child to be an above average child? Surely the motivation to learn and achieve, if there is potential for it, comes equally from home at primary level.

Moving schools per se I think is fine and/or having DC at different schools - it's your reasoning I'm not sure about.

SurvivalGuide Thu 09-Jul-15 13:10:19

Thanks for your reply Midnight. I think you have made some really insightful comments. The whole situation is such a minefield! Of course I want her to be happy but although she is friendly with everyone she doesn't have any really close friendships like some girls do. She has an activity after school virtually every night so is more than up to speed on the extra curricula stuff. Maybe she isn't clever but she isn't worth giving up on. I feel that a change could either mean that we accept that she isn't clever anywhere or that another school could see her potential and bring it out. With only 3 year until the 11+ a change could effect her secondary school choices and ultimately life opportunities (yes, I know she is only 7 but its a harsh world!!). I feel that leaving her where she is kind of putting our heads in the sand and whistling a happy tune!

SurvivalGuide Thu 09-Jul-15 13:35:46

Thanks Mrs Plum. There is no shortage of support at home and she is booked in with a tutor for an hour a week from Sept onwards. I think my frustration is that I don't feel the school is supporting our views as a family. That is not just based on our views surrounding DD2, we have a struggle with DD1 too and she is in the top 3 of her year group for ability (out of 90 children in the school). I just don't feel the school is trying to get the most out of DD1. Children are identified as high achiever, mid achiever and low achiever in Reception and that is your place throughout primary school. It's like some sort of communist state where everyone has to be content with their lot and never question anything! With the sets in place and work allocated accordingly then a child not in the top sets falls further and further behind as time goes on, surely? I would be interested to see if a teacher could explain to me otherwise?

mrsplum2015 Thu 09-Jul-15 14:06:31

If children never move between sets that is clearly wrong imo. Although having gone through the primary system with one dc and being in a v different school with the other I can see that often children do maintain a general top, middle or bottom level, as can you I guess if you have any feedback on other children who are in year 5 with your eldest.

I think we probably have different views though as my eldest is top of the class and as long as she is happy (not bored) and has a good range of friends and access to other activities I am more than happy. No, state schools don't push them hard but I don't think it matters. If dds goal is Oxbridge I think she can just as well achieve that whether or not she is pushed in year 2 (or 6). She is a strong candidate for super selective grammar and would have been in her first outstanding primary as she still is in the satisfactory primary she's in now.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Thu 09-Jul-15 20:57:28

We moved our middle child two weeks ago. It was a tough decision but right for her. She was also on middle sets and not allowed to do harder work despite her wanting to. She has a rather spiky profile and is much better at maths than English but was on the same table for everything. She is really enjoying her new school. Not sure that it would suit our other dc though as it isn't as competitive.

I do think that different schools for different dc can work. I would say that I think you are focussing on the 11+ too early. She might be sick of it by the time it comes around. We also have emphasised that it isn't just about passing but being prepared for whichever secondary they go to. Dd1 was Miss Average in yr 2 but it has clicked into place and three years later she is doing really well.

Don't underestimate the hassle of two schools - what happens when one school has sports day and you need to watch dd1 at one school and find someone else to collect other child. It will be easier when your oldest is in yr 7 but you don't want to miss some of those landmark assemblies etc. The schools will have different traditions so you need to manage the 'I'm dressing up for World book bring a scientist to do maths day and you're not' (or maybe that is just my dc).

I don't have any regrets - the new class is much calmer and she is able to challenge herself. She has settled quickly and found some likeminded friends. I would say to try to talk to people who know dc, in the class that you want to move too, ideally, who can give you the inside scoop. I spoke to a number of people who knew that class to find out about it. The school she has left has some lovely classes with very happy children - unfortunately dd2 wasn't in those classes. She is by no means the first to leave for similar reasons. It's not just about the school but also the class. Do as much research as you can.

pollyisnotputtingthekettleon Thu 09-Jul-15 22:40:22

Thank god there are others who have done this.... have been feeling alone...or some kind of freak!

shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 10-Jul-15 05:31:14

polly I think that the trouble is that it feels a little as if you are passing judgement on other people's choice to stay there (and maybe on whether their dc are being disruptive). I have said that the new school is a better fit for dd2 - which it is, but we wouldn't have found that out if things hadn't been fairly bad in the first place. I have been less diplomatic with parents of children in other classes than dd2's although there is a core group of parents who have dc in her old class who also aren't happy and keep asking for updates. I hear the new moans and it confirms our choice. About 10 dc have left for similar reasons in the past and I imagine that more will follow.

If we had moved all of them then I wouldn't have to see them everyday, dd2 comes with me to her old school once a day so a constant reminder. They might have still thought I was weird but I wouldn't know about it! I am genuinely happy with my other dc's progress so don't see a need to change anything at the moment.

pollyisnotputtingthekettleon Fri 10-Jul-15 07:06:34

I could have wrote that ... her new class is calm and very welcoming. She wasnt learning anything due to the constant disruption. She had headaches and was crying alot. She wont be the first to leave. There is a core group who run riot and a very unsupportive head. I am confident that we did the right thing. I had a few comments about her brother staying but his class has different personality. And he didnt want to move. There has been a lit of complaints to the LA but nothing has been done, and I cant risk her sanity to fight them.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Fri 10-Jul-15 10:15:59

Just checking that dd2 doesn't have a twin brother. Nope you're not me. Same with the headaches too. Glad it is working out for you too.

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