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picking secondary for son

(8 Posts)
pickingschools Tue 13-Sep-11 19:32:12

help, this is really worrying but my son is probably quite below average compared to his peers and we have come to pick secondary schools

i'm really not sure about the local secondary, it isn't selective, but seems very average on all counts

i have looked at others in the borough but they all seem to have some sort of admission tests to get in, where the local doesn't.

i get this feeling he will just not get in anywhere where there has to be a test and we will have to go with the local.

is this how it usually works? there doesn't seem to be any choice looking at it this way

inkyfingers Tue 13-Sep-11 22:01:57

You need more information, I think.

Ask his school (last year's teacher) what she/he thinks about his ability and what local schools would be good. Ask to see CAT scores or some other concrete mark that might show how well he would do in admission tests and help you know if 'probably quite below average' is true - it might be better!

How do parents rate local schools their own children attend - the local secondary might seem average, but very popular with parents and pupils?

What are his views about sitting admission tests - is there one he'd like to go to and is prepared to sit it?

Theas18 Wed 14-Sep-11 09:27:22

that's exactly how it usually works. Interestingly I'd see the school and especially learning support/pastoral care sides but I suspect the local school will be ideal for you child.

Our area has highly selective schools and,actually that meant that the less academically able were extremely well catered for in the non selective schools- vocational course/BTEC etc were offered and support was good.

Be optimistic.

IndigoBell Wed 14-Sep-11 09:54:20

i have looked at others in the borough but they all seem to have some sort of admission tests to get in, where the local doesn't.

Are they grammar schools? Only state grammar schools are allowed to have any kind of admission tests.

Of course if you're looking at independent then that's a different story....

But he should be able to go to any state comprehensive, that he is close enough to to get accepted on the distance criteria.

cory Wed 14-Sep-11 10:05:42

Find out the admissions criteria and go in and look at the schools. I found the open evenings very interesting. The stats were up for all to see, but only from visiting the schools and talking to teachers and pupils did I learn that:

*one school was very heavily focused on the high achievers, talked obsessively about top GCSE results and supporting g&t students, and had very little to say about less able students; they didn't even seem to know what SEN provision there was. I did not think this would be a suitable environment for ds

*one school had incredibly low academic expectations of their students, really only wanted to talk about BTechs and vocational courses; they had nothing at all to say about academic studies and students going on to HE. Ds is not very academic but I still couldn't see this as an environment where he would be spurred on to as well as possible.

* two other schools seemed to have a wide range of ideas and supporting measures: their SEN provision was excellent but they also had plenty of interesting things for gifted students to do and made it clear that they would expect all students to work hard and do well- whatever that meant for them.

Kez100 Wed 14-Sep-11 10:44:53

You need to visit the schools and look at them from your childs perspective.

I have two non-grammar children and the only other choice is one school. However, many able children still go there because the commute to the Grammar is long and, actually, our school doesn't have bad results.

It manages 54% A* to C inc E and M and doesn't heavily weigh the syllabuses with BTECs etc to manipulate that figure. Bearing in mind about 10% of the very able cohort go elsewhere, that's not bad.

Its also a fun school with lots of extra curricular activities and a small and welcoming school with outstanding pastoral care and very little bullying etc.

For my average children it was perfect for them. They know they need to bat just above average or better to nab the qualifications they need to soundly move on but - at this school - with a 54% pass rate at that level - it can be done.

CustardCake Wed 14-Sep-11 11:34:48

Indigo - there are partially selective state schools where they choose 15% of the intake based on a selection test or on performance in music.
No school has been able to decide to introduce partial selection since 1997 BUT if they had started partial selection before 1997 they are allowed to continue it even now. They are called bilateral schools and partially selective schools - an example is King John School in Essex - a mixed, state comp where 15% are selected on ability in an exam. There are lots of these schools all over the place, all state comps but all with some selection process.

The semi selective schools take lots of other children as well though so all is not lost - 85 - 90% of the year group will be there because of distance or siblings so your child can still get in even if they don't do the tests.

Grammars are a whole different thing and only for very academic children so again, he won't be missing out if he cannot go to one of these as lots of children who are above average, average and below average would not get in either (the Grammars with no catchment area will end up taking only 6-10% of children out of the local school population so it isn't a big impact on the pupils who don't get in and all go together to another local school).

Where the Grammar school has a catchment upto 25% of local children might go there. The effect of this is that local alternative schools are seen sometimes not to cater so well for gifted students who didn't get a place. I have never heard the complaint that they fail to cater for average or below average students though.

All in all you are not in a bad position either way so go with your instinct as to where he will be happiness and check admission criteria to see which schools you have the choice of.

Needmoresleep Wed 14-Sep-11 13:13:53

Some schools use "banding" which means that they take so many within each ability band. Knew someone whose daughter got into a sought after school because she fell on the 74th percentile and at the top of a band. 76th percentile and she would have been at the bottom of the band above and would not have got a place.

(Though think that particular school's approach has now changed.)

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