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torn between 2 prospective high schools

(20 Posts)
bonnie1981 Sat 08-Oct-16 13:32:28

trying not to reveal my identity but would appreciate some advice.

In our current local authority, the high schools are not so good on the school league tables. Our current local authority is one of the most deprived in Scotland.

My DD is in P5 and we are starting to think about secondaries. Her primary school is fantastic and she has lots of friends there. They all seem to be going to the linked secondary but this is one of the worst in Scotland for higher grades and destinations. There have also been reports of pupils having drugs and knives.

I do know a few former pupils who have left there have become a lawyer, engineer, scientist. But there are many more hairdressers, retail workers etc that I know who came from that school. God I sound such a snob don't I? But I want my DD to have the best grades and job possible.

There is a bus service to a school in a neighboring LA where the school is in the top 20 of schools in Scotland. Its quite a 'posh' area so if DD were to attend, she would mix with a better crowd, whereas the local high school has a lot of rough areas feeding into it.

But DD would not know anyone. her current primary school is probably the best in this LA, its over capacity because everyone sends their kids here. She has lots of friends and I don't know of anyone (yet) who will be going to the posher high school although DD is a sociable girl and may make friends easily.

The better high school is balfron high school if anyone has experience of this one.

To summarise, I don't know what is best for DD. Help please.

1, the local high school with all her friends, but potential for less/lower highers and poor leaving destination
2, the other high school with no one she knows, but better grade and job prospects?

WankersHacksandThieves Sat 08-Oct-16 14:03:28

I'd go for the latter if you can get a space. She'll make new friends regardless of which school she goes to. I think the benefits of having less folk in school for a piss about in her class the better. My teenagers attend a non catchment high in same authority though. Best decision we ever made and we have no transport links and they are quiet but still made new friends easily.

prettybird Sat 08-Oct-16 14:48:40

Is she sporty as well? Balfron also has lots of good sports facilities.

How confident are you that a placing request would be accepted? I know you say that there is a bus service. What about in the evenings? Or when your ds wants to go to out of school activities or visit friends? Are you prepared to be a taxi service?

I wouldn't be too worried about her having to make new friends. That's part of the normal process of going to secondary school.

Ds was a placing request at his secondary (although it is only a 15-20 minute walk away and he's walking no further than some "catchment" pupils, both at the school he is at or at the school he should've gone to).

There were a few kids from his primary school who also made the same placing request. One was a friend of his - yet within a year or two, they'd both moved on and made different circles of friends. He also already knew quite a few of the kids going to the school via his rugby club, yet interestingly, many of them but not ds gave up on rugby and the friends he socialises with are different.

If you can get into Balfron High, I'd go for it. But have contingency plan in case the placing request isn't accepted: maybe extra tutoring (all those bus fares you'd be saving wink), developing other interests outside of school to keep her motivated, keeping on top of her homework/teachers.

So much of "success" is down to the home environment and parental support - I'm sure your dd will be ok whichever school she goes to.

dovesong Sat 08-Oct-16 14:57:19

I'd say better school all the way. Not many kids remain friends with their old pals from primary through secondary anyway - they get put into different form groups and don't see each other much anyway.

bonnie1981 Sat 08-Oct-16 14:58:25

I went to a different school from my primary school mates because I was getting bullied at primary and my parents hoped I'd have a better high school experience but I did not.

so that's part of the reason I'm unsure about taking her away from her primary friends

My DPs are pushing for private school but I can't afford £10000 ish a year

dovesong Sat 08-Oct-16 15:12:33

From my experiences as a teacher, kids make new friends instead of sticking with their primary ones so imo that shouldn't be a factor, especially as you say she's sociable. Friendships change vastly through teenage years. But of course each to their own and I'm sorry to hear that you had bad experiences.

WankersHacksandThieves Sat 08-Oct-16 15:18:28

My eldest was bullied at primary which was the catalyst for us looking at a different school in the first place. He's got on well at the new High School, 5th year now and has a nice circle of friends. Being boys they don't socialise in person very much so the extra "taxi" trips are not too bad. When they have met up, they meet up in town so all make their way there anyway.

Noofly Sat 08-Oct-16 19:36:53

I'd go for Balfron (not that I know anything about it but given your descriptions of the choices I'd go for that option). I wouldn't worry about your daughter not knowing anyone. We've just switched DD to a private school for P7 and she has bounced right in and made lots of new friends. I'd been so worried about it because she is quite shy but it's been a fantastic move for her.

LunaLoveg00d Sun 09-Oct-16 09:31:34

We;re not too far from you in East Dunbartonshire and I have heard really good things about Balfron. It serves a very wide area and lots of kids get bussed in to school. Because children are drawn from a wide area many won't know each other and your daughter will slot in well into S1 where everyone else is getting to know each other too - it's the best time to switch schools.

I would send her to the better school without hesitation.

bonnie1981 Sun 09-Oct-16 18:40:49

would it be a placing request and how soon would I need to do that?

I've been told that the not so good school actually has some good STEM activities and some good excursions.

STEM subjects don't seem to be her thing though, more creative subjects such as art.

LunaLoveg00d Sun 09-Oct-16 18:47:52

It's usually in the January before they start secondary in the August. In this area, the primary schools send the forms home with the kids, if they're going to the catchment secondary you just sign and send it back, but there were full placing request instructions too.

If however you're not in Stirlingshire Council area at all if might be a bit more complicated - I'd leave it until she starts P7 and then phone their Education Dept to check what their procedure is.

WankersHacksandThieves Sun 09-Oct-16 18:59:11

In Stirlingshire, you can apply now (actually you can apply as soon as they are in P7) but all applications are not looked at until end of March. For DS2 we applied the day after he started in P7.

It works roughly like this:

All catchment pupils are allocated a space.
then they allocate pupils from Stirling shire in order off:
People with extra points such as looked after children, single parents etc.
Then allocated by distance to travel (not as the crow flies)

If there are still spaces free, then they look at applicants from outside stirling-shire in the same order as above.

You could be closer to the school than someone from the council area but you still go to back of queue.

It's worth phoning the school and asking if they are usually able to take all their placing requests. Just because a school is highly ranked and popular, doesn't mean it's full ime. For example Dunblane actively encourages placing requests due to falling school rolls, they haven't turned anyone down for about 8 years.

Lidlfix Sun 09-Oct-16 19:19:46

Bonnie if you have younger DCs have a look at Stirling Council holidays as they can differ significantly from LA to LA and this can be a childcare nightmare. As a teacher in Stirling I made the decision years ago to only teach in Stirling schools to keep my hols/in service etc same as my DCs'.

Haven't taught in Balfron as it too long a commute ( on crap country roads) but colleagues have and loved it.

The rural nature of the catchment area means lots of pupils traveling in, just be ready for Mawstaxi service to kick in when socialising does!

Beebeeeight Sun 09-Oct-16 19:30:01

I knew prettybird would be on this thread!

Go for balfron.

beatricequimby Sun 09-Oct-16 19:41:08

I would go and visit both schools with your dd, maybe when she is in P6 and see what you both think then.

I wouldn't worry about her not knowing people. Some of the Balfron kids will be coming from tiny schools so won't know many others.

What I know about Balfron is very positive, also Maclaren, if that's what it is called, the one in Callender, in case that is also an option.

bonnie1981 Sun 09-Oct-16 20:08:17

think mclaren would be too far.

Also never thought of school holidays although we only have the one DC.

I'll see if we can get a visit arranged closer to the time.

I don't know if her BBF will be going to Balfron (don't really want to ask the parents, like I'm saying their DD must go).

Her BFF has another BFF at a stirlingshire primary who will be going (and my DD knows this girl too) so I'm wondering what school she would go would help a lot if she had her BFF there. but as I said, I'd feel awkward asking. I asked DD and she is pretty sure her BFF is going to the local high.

WankersHacksandThieves Sun 09-Oct-16 20:34:39

Honestly OP it really doesn't matter if her friend is going or not, I know many kids that have gone to High School knowing no-one, including my two, they make friends right from the get go. At first parents night we spoke to DS1s teachers and expressed to a few that we were concerned about him settling in due to him not coming from catchment and knowing no-one and being shy and previously bullied. Not one of them had noticed any of that at all, he'd just settled in exactly like all the rest of the kids. We offered to try to get DS2 into a catchment primary for P7 so he's make friends before starting, but he chose to go up knowing no-one. When he arrived there were a couple of familiar faces as he actually found people that had been in his swim class and judo club.. Actually he wasn't in their classes and never really befriended them other than to say hi to in the corridor. He just made new friends.

Cocoabutton Sun 09-Oct-16 20:38:58

I have no idea how anyone got Balfron from the OP, but my DD's best friend moved there after P7, knowing no-one. It is a good time to move as everyone is new anyway.

Cocoabutton Sun 09-Oct-16 20:41:02

Okay, I am tired - the OP says Balfron... hmm

LunaLoveg00d Mon 10-Oct-16 08:32:17

My eldest moved last year into secondary school - the local one not on a placing request. In his class there were only 4 of them from his Primary, two boys and two girls. The other boy was someone he obviously knew, but had nothing in common with and wasn't friendly with. So he was in the same situation as someone moving into a totally new school really.

You have a couple of years to mull things over and start your research into both schools. I'm sure you'll find a way to engineer a conversation with your DD's friends parents too!

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