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OK, flame me gently... would you send your child to this school?

(34 Posts)
ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 13-Sep-12 11:26:33

Right. Ahem. Long-time lurker here.

We are in catchment for an 'outstanding in all categories' secondary school.
DD attends a feeder primary.
It's ten minutes away by bus.
All her friends will be going.

It's a no-brainer, really, isn't it? Lucky us.

Except that her brother went there for yr 7, and was so wretched that we eventually moved him to a less 'outstanding' school several miles away and NOT on a bus route. (Anyone recognising us from this unusual form of secondary-angst, please keep it under your hat.)

I love school B, but it undeniably gets lower overall results than School A; and DS, who says it's 'awesome', adds the rider 'but the English and language teaching was better at School A'. Art also appears stronger at School A. English and art are DD's strengths at present.

Two years ago we felt so let down by school A that we would never have considered working with them again, but certainly on paper it's the better fit for DD.

Aarggh. Anyone got some really penetrating-yet-tactful questions for Open Day that aren't just 'How would you help this child flourish at your school when it didn't work for her brother?'

ATailOfTwoKitties Fri 05-Oct-12 16:00:44

Yes, isn't it, Word? I've already emailed both schools asking if we can come round for a separate tour. School B (DS's new school) replied within half an hour to say sure, come next Thursday during a normal working day.

The art is bothering me more than the English, RacingHeart. Loads at School A got A*s, none at School B (they're stronger in performance arts). But hey ho, she could always be a mouldbreaker. Good idea about clubs if I can find one; older DS's sixth form college does one after school but she's a bit little for it (yup, I have three at three different schools already)

[I've just looked at the Ofsted for the school DS hated, and it's done nothing for my blood pressure. 'A few parents reported disruptive behaviour and bullying but we saw no evidence to back this up', hence the outstanding grade. No evidence? Parents reporting bullying isn't evidence, Ofsted??]

wordassociationfootball Fri 05-Oct-12 14:48:16

A tail, it's mad that you weren't able to ask teachers any questions.

racingheart Fri 05-Oct-12 14:12:26

Hmm. Here's what I think: a bright child with caring, supportive, educated parents will probably get similar results in any school they go to, state or private, outstanding or OK. The exception is, if they are unahppy, if they are bullied and left to rot, or the school expects them to conform, instead of letting them thrive as they are. Then their grades might drop. They will certainly be damaged.

I'd go for school B, personally. English is important, but if children read a lot, parents are articulate, the rest can be brought up to scratch with a handful of good grammar and crammer books.

Art is more difficult maybe, but you could find some evening or weekend classes or clubs for her to attend.

Perhaps she'll be fine, but from what you've described, I'd be doubly wary. What does she think?

'No bullying goes on at our school' is the biggest red flag in the world.

ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 04-Oct-12 12:51:43

Just an update, as we've been to the open day for the catchment school: still not much further forward, as there was no chance to talk to any staff or ask any questions of them! The entire tour was conducted by Yr 11 prefects, and the head's talk didn't leave a chance for questions at the end.

I feel a bit short changed. How are we supposed to find out about options, current pastoral care and behaviour policies from a couple of polite but rather vague 15 year olds?

Lots of buzzwords about happy confident achieving children, but DD said 'You should have seen your face, Mum, when That Woman said they didn't have a bullying problem...'

DD liked it, though

lljkk Sun 16-Sep-12 16:57:31

Let her have a big vote in which school she wants to attend. Plan to move her later if necessary.

Primary school that turned awful for DC1 has been fab for DC2 & adequate for other DC.

balia Sun 16-Sep-12 16:36:47

You might also want to look at the 'value-added' score for both schools - just because results are better doen't mean the school is moving the students on more - they might just have a higher score on entry.

Startailoforangeandgold Sat 15-Sep-12 19:44:11

I think you are just going to have to visit the two schools with and without DD if possible and get as good a feel as you can.
Looking at them, as far as possible, purely as schools for her.

ATailOfTwoKitties Sat 15-Sep-12 19:36:56

This is really useful, btw, as I don't want to inflict all my dithering on DD (and DH is just saying 'She'll be fine at either').

ATailOfTwoKitties Sat 15-Sep-12 19:35:40

Yes, the catchment school is oversubscribed (but we meet all the priority criteria).

She might be able to switch. When we wanted to move DS, there were two spaces in his year, and we were warned to act quickly if we wanted one. Plus, DS's grades dropped when he moved and it took at least two terms to catch back up again (admittedly he had to start a different MFL from scratch in that time!). And I wonder if I'd overreact to every little niggle by leaping to the phone and getting an in-year transfer started with the LEA!

jeee Sat 15-Sep-12 19:05:27

From your description the catchment school is likely to be over-subscribed? And again, going on your OP, I suspect your son's school isn't?

Assuming this to be the case, if your DD wants to go to the catchment school, put that school down. Presumably if the same problems arise she'll be able to switch?

RandomMess Sat 15-Sep-12 17:22:29

If dd is open to going to the catchment school I'd send her and be prepared to move her if need be. She is a different child, she has a lovely group of friends, it's strengths are her interests. I'd said it be worth giving it a go IF she is happy to do so.

ATailOfTwoKitties Sat 15-Sep-12 17:14:44

Ah. Great idea, Wines. Does the fact that I can already guess which school would say Yes to this, and which would say that that is what Open Day is for, tell you anything? I rather think it does.

Chese -- DD is less of an obvious target than DS ever was, so could have a perfectly easy ride BUT if things go wrong I don't trust the nearer school to deal with it.

shewhowines Sat 15-Sep-12 16:57:06

I asked to individually sit in some of the lessons at two schools near us. The schools were ok with this. I sat in 5 lessons at each school (for about 10mins in each) and based my decision on what I saw. Worth asking.

One school I was accompanied by the head but he didn't actually come into the classrooms as "he didn't want to influence the kids". With the other, the deputy head actually sat in with me and there was still bad behaviour. I thought that was rather telling in itself. The actual choice of school was a no brainer for me despite the other one looking better on paper.

cheesesarnie Thu 13-Sep-12 12:51:58

my daughter didn't get bullied so was fine.

ds1 has 'issues' (easiest way to sum it up- dyslexia plus behavioural) and the school refused to recognise it so he (imo) was more open to being bullied and less able to deal with the bullies because of their crapness lack of care.

ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 13-Sep-12 12:48:21

Thanks, all. I've got a much better idea of what to ask now. Will try to remember to report back after the Open Days!

ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 13-Sep-12 12:46:05

Star, your DD1 would indeed suit my son's current school (I'm getting my As and Bs muddled by this point). Quirky is what they're best at (ponders whether DD is in fact quirky enough for that school).

Having DD at the catchment school would be easier for transport, though she'd get fit cycling five miles each way whenever I couldn't take them!

DD changes her mind daily. I'd like to take most of this off her shoulders and let her concentrate on being 10, but we need to take her views into account.

goodstuffhappens Thu 13-Sep-12 12:43:27

I'm a teacher and I would never be offended if a parent asked me that questions (as you phrased it). We understand that children are individuals and that each child is suited to a different school. If you get a snotty response to your question, perhaps that's your answer...

Startailoforangeandgold Thu 13-Sep-12 12:40:08

1) How hard would it be having them at different schools?

2) What is the balance between DD being happiest with her friends, being teased like DS.

3) What does DD want to do?

DD1 (my lovely, social inept, quirky, dyslexic) collects hassle mostly off other kids, sometimes off staff. Good pastoral care and the ability of school to answer concerns is essential.

DD2 is any schools perfect pupil, clever, makes friends and fits in. (She saves her insecure side for home).

DD1 would be best at school A
DD2's best subject is English so I might be tempted to B.

Only you know your DCs well enough to decide.

Don't let the other Mum's bother you. I wish one off DD2's friends had stayed with the group, I understand why she hasn't.

ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 13-Sep-12 12:39:42

Purple, that is a very astute question. No, I would not move a child who was thriving, just because it didn't suit a sib.

nancerama Thu 13-Sep-12 12:39:15

Do both schools have open days that your DD could attend? I was thoroughly miserable at my first secondary school. I hated the examination day I had there and knew that I wouldn't fit in there. Unfortunately my mother didn't involve me in the decision at all and sent me to a school I hated. 3 years later when I moved on I was very much involved in the decision and have very happy memories of my second secondary school.

ATailOfTwoKitties Thu 13-Sep-12 12:38:17

Cheese --- that's interesting, as your daughter is presumably fine at the school that didn't deal with the bullying, because she's not the sort to be picked on, or can handle it?

Quint -- my gut is churning! Poor old DD is feeling a bit that way too. Two years ago she was frankly scared by the sound of DS's experiences at School A and only reassured when we said she didn't have to go there (that was the point that we realised we had to move DS). Now she has her friends from school and Brownies all discussing School A and is feeling like the odd one out even before the open days.

mummytime Thu 13-Sep-12 12:37:05

I would be asking school A lots of questions about their attitudes and practise on bullying. If things haven't changed, then I wouldn't send any of my kids there. Safety is right at the base of Maslow's pyramid of needs, so basically no-one can learn unless they feel safe.

However fortunately my kids Outstanding school has very robust policies and ways of dealing with bullying.

purplehouse Thu 13-Sep-12 12:34:29

Consider it the other way around.

What if your DD was the eldest and thriving at secondary school A. Then you sent your DS to the same school and experienced the problems you have described. Would you have moved both DS and DD to school B, or just DS?

I would perhaps challenge them on the no bullying statement. It is an idiotic thing to say. Some children are bullies, it's just a fact of life - all schools need to deal with this.

StealthPolarBear Thu 13-Sep-12 12:30:17

'he'd fit in better if he played football'

i think that's very telling. Conform or be doomed

seeker Thu 13-Sep-12 12:29:59

I would be incredibly wary of a school that claims to have no bullying.

And I think, if I was brave enough, I would ask your question as it stands.

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