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AIBU to consider NOT putting my bright DS1 in for the grammar school entrance exam?

(35 Posts)
ptangyangkipperbang Thu 12-Jul-07 11:02:13

I didn't really know which category to put this in because perhaps I am being unreasonable. I have considered the pros and cons but still can't make a decision.
Pros for grammar school
Amazing ofsted report
Fantastic GCSE/A results
Perhaps more stimulating because ofsted recognised an outstanding learning environment
DS1 bright but willing to 'coast' so perhaps he will be pushed a bit more
Better behaviour (this comes from pupil comments)
Not 'uncool' to be bright

Cons for grammar school
5 miles away - his friends could be dispersed in about a 10 mile radius of our home
More difficult bus journey
1 year of tutoring!
1.5 hours homework each night - he currently does lots of activities that he enjoys and would not have time to continue them all
Long day - out of the house at 7.15am
Perhaps will be nearer the bottom of the academic pile

Pro for local comprehensive
Very good ofsted report
Good GCSE results, not so good for A levels
More accurate reflection of real life with a mixture of kids
Nearer
Easy journey
Shorter day
No tutoring

Cons for local comprehensive
More accurate reflection of real life with a mixture of kids!
Some kids behaviour 'challenging'
DS1 may not be pushed

Sorry about the long post and I'm aware I haven't covered all points but would just welcome any comments.

Feel I'm making such a massive decision and don't want to get it wrong!

SSSandy2 Thu 12-Jul-07 11:04:58

well in the end it's your dc and you will have to do what feels right. You know him better than we do and you've sen the schools we haven't

Frankly I would definitely try for the grammar no doubt about it. But that's me

Hallgerda Thu 12-Jul-07 11:08:09

Have you considered the "apply but don't bother with tutoring" option?

And have you consulted your son? He may have an opinion on the matter.

(Had similar choice and went for Option 1, without the tutoring. DS1 got in and we have absolutely no regrets.)

Reallytired Thu 12-Jul-07 11:08:44

Prehaps the question is how your son feels about the decision. Does he want to go the grammar school? He might be happier with his friends.

If he fails the 11+ after one year of tutoring then will his confidence be smashed. A child can be bright but with intense competition your bright child might be beaten to a place by a less intelligent prep school child who has been tutored for four years.

As far as A-levels go, your son could probably transfer to the grammar school for A-level if he wanted to.

Hallgerda Thu 12-Jul-07 11:10:19

reallytired, I'd worry about any child who hadn't had some kind of disappointment in preparation for the inevitable teenage unrequited love

Kaz33 Thu 12-Jul-07 11:11:13

Well very tricky.

I agree with you about supporting local comp as it is more reflective of real life and you will continue to be part of the community. Certainly, your son will have to push himself as opposed to being pushed so hard by the teachers. However, if he mucks up his GCSE's, as long as he can get into the sixth form he will have learnt an important lesson ( just like I did )

Is he infact old enough to make the choice himself?
I would take him to see the grammar school and comp. Talk about it with him and enter him for the grammar school exams. If he gets in, leave the choice to him.

Wisteria Thu 12-Jul-07 11:11:16

If I may stick my oar in - do you realise how lucky you are to have a grammar school?? IMHO you are barking mad if you don't at least give him the opportunity.

Put him in for the exam - if he fails then so be it, if not, you know your ds will have a much better education.

fennel Thu 12-Jul-07 11:14:04

My bright niece lived in a similar area, decent comp in her home town, but option of grammar school a 10 mile bus ride away. She didn't try for the grammar school as she wanted to go to school locally and now at 14 she seems to be happy and doing well at the local school. There doesn't seem to be a motivation problem.

Not sure what I'd do in your position but it does seem to be working out well for my neice.

WendyWeber Thu 12-Jul-07 11:15:13

Definitely put him in for it - he doesn't have to sit it, and if he does sit it and passes he doesn't have to go - but it keeps all your options open.

Does his school practise test papers? If not buy practice papers for him.

My DS2 thought he didn't want to go, partly because lots of his friends in Y6 weren't bothering and partly because his older brother went and was always grumbling about the teachers; but when we went to the open night he liked the school and the teachers and changed his mind.

He has never had 1½ hours of homework! His friends live over a wider area than yours and they do manage to get together a bit, though I agree it's not as satisfactory as being able to drop in and out of each others' houses.

Def give him some input though.

frogs Thu 12-Jul-07 11:15:28

Spell out the options to your ds and listen to what he thinks.

It depends a little on how bright he is, as well -- my ds is bright, but I'm not going to put him through grammar school entrance because it is hugely selective and competitive here (North London), I'm not convinced he'd get in without a lot of tutoring, and not convinced he would thrive in a very competitive environment even if he did get in.

Dd1 on the other hand was adamant that she wanted to go to the grammar school, despite the fact that none of her friends were going, did a modicum of exam preparation, scored v. v. highly in the entrance tests and is blissfully happy despite the shedloads of homework and high expectations. I don't think even a very good comprehensive would have suited her as well; conversely, a good comprehensive is exactly what we're after for ds.

Horses for courses and all that...

WendyWeber Thu 12-Jul-07 11:17:52

Also, for a boy that 'not uncool to be bright' ethos can be very important - much more so than for a girl.

nappyaddict Thu 12-Jul-07 11:18:13

a pro of grammar schools is they get longer holidays to compensate for the longer days. i loved that! i preferred to have more full days off in the holidays than to finish 20 mins earlier. i mean what would you really do in that 20 mins anyway!! and my parents loved the fact we could go on holidays and to theme parks etc when it wasn't busy and having to queue for hours.

i didn't go to a grammar school but did go to a private school. there was a varied mix of people that went there. a few were very rich, most were of an average income, there were a few of a lower income who were either on scholarships, assisted places or the parents just saved really hard to send their children there, so was still a reflection of real life.

it might be better for him to be nearer the bottom so it makes him try harder and put the effort in than be near the top not put any effort in and then when he gets to a-levels realise he has to actually put effort in to pass but can't because he doesn't know ho because he's never had to.

one thing i did hate about it being so far away and everyone living all over the place was i couldn't just say after school oh do you wanna come back to mine which i could do when i moved to a more local 6th form.

GrowlingTiger Thu 12-Jul-07 11:18:22

But most comps will still draw pupils form a large area - there is no guarantee that your ds will not choose as friends those who do live in the oppoite direction.

In terms of being part of the community - each school is different. They may represent part of the community, but no school is truely mixed. Grammar schools will have pupils with a full range of personalities and quirks for ds to deal with.

Have a look round the schools and see what you both like. Frankly I distrust OFSTED reports, yet you seem to be putting a lot of faith in them. Talk to parents and teachers, especially teachers at his current school and see what they think.

frogs Thu 12-Jul-07 11:19:25

State grammar schools get exactly the same holidays as any other school in the borough, na.

mumblechum Thu 12-Jul-07 11:19:36

I'd enter him for the 11 plus. 5 miles away is nothing, our ds is at grammar 4 miles away and I drop him on the way to work, it's only 10 mins (we are in the country, though).

Agree with others about taking him tio see both schools before making a decision.

Our ds's experience is that they certainly do stretch them which is great. He was bored rigid at primary and suspect he would have coasted at comp.

ptangyangkipperbang Thu 12-Jul-07 11:21:53

I realise I have made it sound like DS1 hasn't been consulted . Initially he said he wanted to go where the majority of his friends are going but has realised that because we have 3 good comprehensives close by (yes I appreciate how lucky we are!) and 2 grammar schools they are going to be dispersed so he actually isn't expressing a preference at the moment.

EVERY child, however bright, seems to do the tutoring. Main reasons seem to be because they do not cover verbal reasoning in their regular curriculum and the entrance exam, which they sit In January, covers ALL the year 6 maths curriculum so obviously he won't have studied it all at school.

choosyfloosy Thu 12-Jul-07 11:24:33

Enter him without tutoring.

TBH I would want to see the schools, and would want to take him round, but I wouldn't take the decision based on his preference only.

ptangyangkipperbang Thu 12-Jul-07 11:24:37

Growing Tiger - yes I appreciate OFSTED reports not always that accurate but they give a bit of an indication. They are just one factor of a whole list of considerations.

saadia Thu 12-Jul-07 11:28:01

If it was me I would definitely try for the grammar school. The fact that it might be more stimulating and a better learning environment, coupled with better behaviour would swing it for me.

I'm guessing that if he hates it you can always move him to the local comprehensive.

canmummy Thu 12-Jul-07 11:28:22

I've got 3 points of view on this so bear with me! :

- I went to a grammar school. Struggled quite a lot with the work and came out with crap A-levels. Had no friends who lived anywhere near me, made for long holidays Oh and it was my decision to go there, my mum was hoping I wouldn't get in (she's a teacher and tutored me herself)

- My dsd was a teacher at his local comp and hates grammar schools. His dd went to the comp and won a place at Cambridge uni (which incidentally she turned down!). Now extremely successful with a great career

- If it was my dc I would still def go for the grammar school option



Does that help at all?

hatwoman Thu 12-Jul-07 11:32:39

really interesting and thoughtful thread. makes a pleasant change from teh local private vs comp/grammar ones.

I agree about talking to your ds - show him your excellent list of pros and cons - ask him if he has more, ask what he thinks about each. I also agree with the idea of going for the exam whilst not getting too het up with tutoring etc.

I also agree that GSCEs aren't the b all and end all. Relative to my ability I cocked mine up and it was a big shock. I had taken so much for granted and then suddenly I was middle of the road. I pulled my finger out and got in to a top university.

so far, I have added nothing to this thread...but there are a couple of things - you put as a con that he might have to give up some of his out of school activities - is this likely to be compensated for by extra-curricular activities at school? how does the grammar compare with the comp on that? also are his current activities ones he's really going to stick with - is it not the case that as he gets into being a teenager he might choose to drop some of them anyway in favour of facebook and ipods and listening to loud music in his friends' bedrooms (do teenagers do that? I have no idea what they do but you get my point...)

and the other things is friends - I went to a girls school about 7-8 miles from home and developed a local social life totally outside my school circle. it might depend on where you live and what your ds is like (I was a sociable teenager in a small village - it would have been imposisble not to make friends) and also on what his ties wre with his current school friends - but it's not impossible. and 5 miles isn;t that far. he'll be a strapping lad soon who can cycle that distance in 20 minutes.

nappyaddict Thu 12-Jul-07 11:33:33

oh sorry i didn't realise it was a state grammar school.

LilRedWG Thu 12-Jul-07 11:35:15

My sisters are twins. One went to grammar and one to local comprehensive. Both got idential O-Level results (they're olllllllllllllllllld ), sister at comp got marginally better A-levels and went to uni. She's now a teacher and has two degrees to her name. Sister who went to grammar didn't go to university and works part time for her husband doing admin work.

My point being, ask your DS what he wants. His opinion matters greatly - how would he cope with failing? The sister who failed the 11+ felt like a massive failure, amplified by her twin passing, and wishes she had never been entered. She is pretty low on confidence and it may have been better for her if she hadn't done the exam.

Sorry for the ramble and if I've repeated anyone else. Only read the OP.

ptangyangkipperbang Thu 12-Jul-07 11:38:34

hatwoman - DS1 sporty and the grammar school is musical. Friend with DS there said sporting activities always seem to be cancelled.

Canmummy - now you know why I think its such a big decision . Lots of opinions to consider...

katelyle Thu 12-Jul-07 11:39:35

I had almost exactly the same dilemma last year, but the local high school is OKish, rather than good.

When we did the school"milk round" my daughter fell in love with a grammar school in the next town (we have one quite near - but still a bus ride away) She became amazingly determined to go there. We hadn't planned on doing much practice "let the dice fall where they may" but dd insisted on practicing. She passed and will be starting at her preferred school in September. We are now planning managing her disappointment if it isn't what she is hoping it will be! A parent's work is never done!

See what ds thinks when you visit.

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