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How did you choose -Arty but bit "rougher" vs Academic but bit "straight"?

(18 Posts)
plippypla Tue 25-Sep-12 16:34:32

Would love to hear from those who faced a similar choice - between chalk and cheese!
Our options are;
A - academically v strong, great results,
good behaviour,
very white middle class intake, a little bit straightlaced
not so strong on arty/creative stuff, less interesting clubs/activities for the kids,

B- academically pretty good, results have gone down a bit in past 2 years, more socially mixed intake,
apparently some behaviour issues with minority of pupils,
really strong on music, art, drama etc
kids seemed a bit more upbeat/animated/confident here?

So for those of you who faced similar choices - how did you go about choosing? Confident you made the right choice or niggling doubts?

Thinking about what's more useful for the future - the confidence that comes from arts and performing or just banking on a really solid academic foundation?

To make it harder, I think my 2 dcs would suit different ones!


Niceweather Tue 25-Sep-12 20:51:32

Arty stuff could be covered outside school more easily with music, drama groups etc. I moved ds from B junior to A junior because he really needed discipline more than he needed creativity which he has in abundance anyway. As you say, it depends on the child.

MsAverage Tue 25-Sep-12 22:14:49

For me behaviour would be the major factor, not the maths/arts choice.

fuckadoodlepoopoo Tue 25-Sep-12 22:25:26

My gut instinct is the arty one but then i am arty as is my oldest, not sure about my youngest yet . . . and i feel it is so important and often overlooked by those who think English, maths, science etc are everything. Academia doesn't suit everyone and without art my time in school would have been even more miserable than it was. It was the only thing i feel as good at so the only thing that gave me confidence.

You can't really cover it adequately outside of school if you wish to go on to further education in those areas to became an artist, designer etc as you need to support and encouragement at school to put together a fantastic portfolio and get good exam passes to get onto the good degree courses.

Tricky one though. The fact that they seem more confident at the arty one is interesting.

Have you been for a visit?

plippypla Thu 27-Sep-12 09:35:46

Hi, thanks for replies (sorry for disappearing!).
have seen both and think it's a really tough choice. The arty one feels more dynamic, but i suppose the academic one seems very calm and purposeful. Just worried it might be a bit more exam-factory?
We want to make sure the school develops the whole child but I also want them to have the chance to achieve academically.

How did you all feel about the decision making process and the choices you made?

Elibean Thu 27-Sep-12 10:29:12

For dd1, I would go with the arty one. If the behaviour issues are with a minority, and pastoral care/support are good, she would be fine - and I like the sound of upbeat/animated/confident. I think that goes with a bit more independence and freedom of expression, in schools.

If I had a very quiet, shy, academic child I would probably go with option A.

Elibean Thu 27-Sep-12 10:29:55

And if its secondary education.....well, I'd take dd to visit both and (assuming I don't think either is out and out wrong for her) would let her choose smile

racingheart Thu 27-Sep-12 15:10:13

Hmm. I think a slightly stuffy academic school is preferable. It gives the message that school is a place for studying and learning. Which it should be! Let them work hard without peer pressure to do the opposite when they're at school. They'll have plenty of time at weekends and evenings to do drama and art and hang out with vibrant people. During the school day, give them the chance to learn. Bad behaviour and dipping results suck.

mathanxiety Thu 27-Sep-12 15:28:47

I can tell you that with the DCs I went with arty but a bit rough and it worked out better than I could have ever imagined. However, that was a choice between an American public high school and an American private RC high school with a great academic reputation (boasted more CEOs of Fortune 500 companies than any other HS in the US as alumni), and luckily, the public high had a great academic reputation too (had a very impressive wall of fame in the main entrance, lots of photos of eminent judges, writers, actors, one Miss America, ballet dancers, etc).

The RC high literally offered one art class and the attitude was 'if you really feel you must waste your time on something pointless, here's an art class for you'. DD1 won a scholarship there and turned down the place because she loved art. She thrived in the public high school, as did the others, did really well academically and had no problems adjusting to university life when she got there.

Although arty and huge, with a large underperforming minority, a special section for kids who had such massive social/emotional issues that they were not mainstreamed, occasionally a teen or two wearing an ankle bracelet who had to report to the police every week, and plenty of fights in the hallways and cafeterias (especially among the pregnant girls), the DCs found themselves in the streams where they didn't rub shoulders with people who caused trouble in class and although the school had its fair share of hard partyers they mostly managed to steer clear of that element too. I think they became much more responsible for their own learning and conscious of where they would end up if they didn't put their ears back and work as a result of going there. 'Upbeat/animated/confident' -- that really described the mood of the DCs and the school, and the teachers too.

The DCs' personalities were all quiet, some more outgoing than others, but nobody was the life and soul of the party type. School was big enough to accommodate all sorts.

I would ask about streaming in the arty place, and ask about discipline procedures. I would also ask about their college counsellor, maybe go to see him or her, find out what they do, whether they are willing to support a child with academic ambitions.

mathanxiety Thu 27-Sep-12 15:45:30

Yes, I agree with Fuckadoodlepoopoo (can't believe I just typed that grin) about trying to do art outside of school. You simply wouldn't have time for starters, nor the continuity of teaching, and the possibility of submitting your work for review at the end would be slim.

Elibean Thu 27-Sep-12 16:32:01

Art and drama at weekends/evenings is fine for hobbies - but not for serious study. I also agree (and am pushed for time or would enjoy typing wink).

And as well as needing space and time, and facilities, I think for an arty dc having one's passion/future work valued by placing it at the heart of a curriculum - and not as an 'extra' - matters too.

7to25 Thu 27-Sep-12 16:39:32

Does the school not offer art at all?
To go to University or Art College she will need a good portfolio AND good academic grades.
She will have to write good essays for any art A level.
Art portfolios can be done in college as a foundation year.
the daughter of friends did this. Her father is an artist but she had a good academic education before going into art and now is a qualified and working jewellry designer.

teacherandguideleader Thu 27-Sep-12 22:25:44

I have taught at 2 schools - one like school A, one like school B. Of those 2, I would send my child to school B every time.

Statistics only tell you so much - they don't measure achievement anymore but attainment. It could be that although school Bs results are lower, they are doing an amazing job with the children they have.

I've not visited schools as a parent, but have done as a prospective employee. I always look at the ofsted report to give me an idea but I take my gut instinct more seriously.

WynkenBlynkenandNod Thu 27-Sep-12 22:47:39

We've just gone with B for DD as it's smaller than our A option and she wanted a fresh start. The school she's started got hammered by the English grade changes and I did take a deep breath when I saw them.

But DD really likes it. She's making new friends, is very enthusiastic . The school does the Art Foundation year so they have a lot of arty 17-19 year olds around who bring a slightly different dynamic to the school. Nowhere near so many designer labels around. It's very much DD's cup of tea but possibly wouldn't suit her younger brother so well.

nomnomdeplume Fri 28-Sep-12 10:37:31

the first one! Don't make the mistake of trying to pick the 'cool' school!

nomnomdeplume Fri 28-Sep-12 10:38:16

what racingheart said. Every time.

plippypla Fri 28-Sep-12 12:21:46

There's no streaming so feels a bit riskier for that reason.

Have been pondering this a lot. I think the decision is hard because my view of what education is for is shifting slightly. Before, it did seem that the obvious path was: good grades, uni, good job. But with graduate unemployment, big debts etc I'm wondering if the most important thing is to have confident, motivated, can-do children with a better sense of who they are and what they are capable of. Of course to be a dr they'll need great grades in science and maths.

Which school will deliver that? A too-cool-for-school attitude won't do it, but nor will an exam factory that makes you complacent that 3As is a ticket to success.

So still don't know if it's A or B!!

racingheart Fri 28-Sep-12 22:27:54

Plippy I agree with your analysis of what children need to get from school, but don't see how they will get this from a rougher school with behaviour issues.

The attitude I am going all out to avoid from a school is one where it's cool to be thick/lazy/play up in lessons/disrupt/backchat. I really loathe and resent how far some pupils can prevent the rest from learning. If you get a sense that this might be prevalent in the arty school - I'd steer clear. Are they strong at art because their academic subjects are weak. If so, why are they weak? is it because the pupils are too lacking in self discipline to apply themselves, except to fun lessons?

Fundamentally, pupils will be best served by a school that can teach them to think clearly, express themselves clearly, plan their work and enjoy motivating themselves to do it to their best ability. Whichever school you think excels at this is probably the one where they will learn the best life skills and thrive in the long run.

Is there anywhere else you can look? Are there only two options?

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