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Right. Tell me what to do here- key words- 11+, g&t, University, widening access......

(371 Posts)
BertrandRussell Wed 08-Jul-15 22:28:25

Ds is at a secondary modern school. 7% high ability, of which he is one. Letter home today inviting him in a visit to our local (excellent) university because he has been "identified as talented in one or more subjects"

Fantastic thar the school is arranging visits- it has only just started to send any kids to university at all. The school's catchment means that there are very few parents with more than a basic education, and they are pushing hArd to raise the aspirations of the kids- which is fantastic.

Dp and I have 4 degrees between us. Dd is at a Russell group university. Ds will definitely, if he wants to, go to university. It iseems ridiculous of the school to waste a space on this trip on ds. Should I say something? He's not particularly bothered- except that it means a day off school. If he doesn't go, they could give the space to someone that it might actually make a difference to. Surely they should have thought of this? What do I do? And is it depressing that even in a secondary modern school, privilege attracts privilege?

Millymollymama Wed 08-Jul-15 23:16:18

Could it be that all who are suitable for, and would benefit from, this trip are actually going on it? Perhaps the school does not have another child who could take your son's place, should he be so high minded as to consider donating it to a deserving poor soul from an uneducated background. It sounds rather patronising to the other children and self congratulatory that you are so sure he will go to university and I think his view about being "not particularly bothered" about the trip and being chosen is somewhat arrogant. I don't actually think that is the right attitude and perhaps he could persuade some of his friends as to the merits of a university education by actually going with them? He might actually help them look upon university in a positive light.

TheyreMadITellYouMaaaad Thu 09-Jul-15 00:42:49

Just send him on the trip. You are agonising over nothing.

JustRichmal Thu 09-Jul-15 06:16:58

I don't think it patronising or arrogant to consider giving up this place. However, I would not. Peer pressure is an influence at his age, so having someone on the trip who is positive about going to uni could be a positive influence on the rest.

rifugio Thu 09-Jul-15 06:26:17

OP I know you think you're being thoughtful here, putting the less privileged first, but this isn't always the right way. You're idea of 'donating' the invite and your disappoint in the school actually comes across and condescending and arrogant.

The school have done the right thing by choosing the children who they feel are likely to go on to university, putting their 'best foot forward' as they say. I'm sure you haven't told them you and Dh have 4 degrees between you etc completely irrelevant. Why on earth would they even consider that? Surely the children are chosen on their own merit? You might not agree with that but that's a separate debate for another day.

The best way your son could help is to graciously accept the invite, and come back to share with his mates all about it. There is also merit in being able to humbly accept an offer no matter how small.

CamelHump Thu 09-Jul-15 06:34:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

annandale Thu 09-Jul-15 06:37:46

I see why you are thinking like this but to be honest, kids aren't daft. If your son doesn't go on the trip they will think 'why isn't he going, he's clever' and it will make more of an issue about it. Your son could be a university student, he should go on the trip, don't worry about it.

Whyjustwhy Thu 09-Jul-15 06:46:39

It's also a chance to spend time with a group of people some of whom he won't know. So think of if as an opportunity to make some new friends and widen his social group.
Plus, it's always nice to know that you are doing well, and being chosen for the trip acknowledges that success.

mummytime Thu 09-Jul-15 06:47:00

Send him - he will perhaps be more comfortable so make things easier over all (feel more at easy to ask questions and get the ball rolling).

If we are aiming for 50% at Universities, then a lot of secondary modern pupils should be going to University.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jul-15 08:08:04

Gosh- I didn't expect the arrogant, patronising, condescending posts!

This trip is about broadening access. It would not be broadening access if my ds went to university- he is from the sort of background that has been sending their children to university for years. He is "not bothered" about the trip because it means missing double PE, which he would rather do. And yes, I am assuming he will go to university if he wants to. And if he doesn't it will be because he doesn't want to or because he doesn't do enough work. Neither of which will be affected by a tour of a campus in year 9. I am sure there are children in the school where such a tour would make a huge difference. The more I think about it, the more unfair sending my ds on this trip seems.

And the school knows that dp and I have degrees because at the beginning of the year they sent out a questionnaire to parents asking.

TheWordFactory Thu 09-Jul-15 08:10:05

I would send him.

There is unlikely that if he doesn't go, the next man down will get an invite IYSWIM.

Also, I think you're making some very big assumptions about your son's future and the fact that he does not need to part of this sort of program.

OddBoots Thu 09-Jul-15 08:13:43

Send him. Even if you think he won't benefit (although I think he would) it is good for all the students attending to have a mixed background cohort, his peers with different backgrounds may take their cues from him if he seems comfortable in the university.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jul-15 08:15:54

"Also, I think you're making some very big assumptions about your son's future and the fact that he does not need to part of this sort of program."

Am I?

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jul-15 08:16:54

Sorry- meant to say "Am I? How do you mean?"

MirandaWest Thu 09-Jul-15 08:18:32

I have just realised who you are OP - I was wondering if you were still posting smile

I slightly understand your point of view - DS and DD get pupil premium as I split up from XH and for a while they got free school meals. I know that statistically they are likely to achieve less highly than children who don't have pupil premium - but they haven't shown any signs of this disadvantage in the last 4 years and I doubt they directly benefit from the additional funds the school receives because of their pupil premium status. This doesn't bother me and I hope others can benefit but it seems a bit silly.

DS is moving to secondary school in September and has been invited to a summer school week to help with transition for pupil premium pupils. He and dd will be visiting grandparents that week so he can't go anyway - but part of me feels that other children could probably benefit more anyway and it is an anomaly that he gets pupil premium.

Not sure what you should do about your DS and the university visit but I do understand your desire to let someone else take his place.

rifugio Thu 09-Jul-15 08:25:09

OP your second post is reinforcing a slight suspicion that underneath this veneer of fighting for the underprivileged, you're also slightly miffed about the fact the school haven't recognised your ds's privileged background and the fact that university for him has always been an option and this invite rather than to be seen as an opportunity is actually an insult.

They've seen you degrees etc like you said and obviously thought your ds would benefit from the going. Why are you so affronted? Let him go and use his background to ask all the right questions (which others may not have the inclination to ask) and come back to share the information. Helping the underprivileged is not always about handing out free food, sometimes it about teaching them farming.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jul-15 08:30:00

"OP your second post is reinforcing a slight suspicion that underneath this veneer of fighting for the underprivileged, you're also slightly miffed about the fact the school haven't recognised your ds's privileged background"

Had a quick check of my motives- nope- that's definitely not one of them!

Very amused at the idea that ds should be some sort of interpreter on the university trip.........grin Now that is patronising!!!!

ChocolateWombat Thu 09-Jul-15 08:34:43

I would send him. It is about widening access, but it is also about stretching the able. Your son might not get to spend much time with lots of able kids normally, because of the cohort at his school - even if he is from a background at home where Uni is expected. He will get a chance to spend time with a bigger group of able kids and to try some activities which might stretch him and to socialise with a group of clever kids. It would be useful for him as much as for anyone. Just because you have been to Uni and he might expect to go,doesn't mean that the type of school he attends doesn't affect his experiences and opportunities. Perhaps one of the reasons why he isn't very bothered about it, is because of the kind of school he goes to and the kids he is with have resulted in him not being very interested in academic things,despite being clever - going to this course might raise his own aspirations and make him more bothered personally about the future and his education, rather than him seeing it as an aspiration led by you.

I think he has lots to gain from attending such a course and you would do him a disservice to not send him.

TheWordFactory Thu 09-Jul-15 08:39:00

Bertrand I think your assumption that your educational background trumps his day-to-day lived experience is wrong/complacent/arrogant.

BertrandRussell Thu 09-Jul-15 08:51:10

Ah- the bit I missed out is that he most definitely does want to go to university, and has a pretty clear idea about the sort of things he might want to study and where. Or as clear an idea as any 14 year old can have.

Still not sure why it's arrogant to think that this is an opportunity that would someone else would benefit far more from.........

happygardening Thu 09-Jul-15 08:57:19

Why make him different? Your basically staing that because of your home life your DS doesn't need to go I agree with others this comes across as patronising and arrogant. You also I think are assuming that only your DS is in this situation how do you know that other pupils are going whose parents have had a university education?
You've filled in a questionnaire earlier in the year which was asking about your education (I personally find that weird for a start) so your school knows about his home life but still choose him to go, maybe they genuinely thought he would benefit and enjoy it. Finally do you have any evidence that he's taking the place of another equally suitable pupil? Maybe all who are eligible/suitable are going?

mummytime Thu 09-Jul-15 08:58:59

You are incredibly rude!

So your son is wonderful - and despite being in a secondary modern - he has a birthright which means if he chooses he can go to University. Of course he has a totally free choice in this, and will in no way be thinking university may not be for him because he is in a secondary modern, after all you and your DH have 4 degrees between you.

I would be furious if my DC met the criteria and were not offered the chance because they were perceived as not needing the opportunity - because of their parents. (Sutton Trust activities are different because parental past non-participation in University is part of the criteria.)

At the end of Primary school one of my DC was supplied with a resource by an outside agency. The school put subtle pressure on me not to collect it, as they knew we were wealthy enough to buy it ourselves. This annoyed me as: it was my DC's resource, it was well thought out - and I would have at least needed to take an inventory to make my own, and I was not sure that if we didn't collect it it would go to someone in need and not just be reused by the teachers.

Friends of mine have received Student premium despite their degrees because they live in a deprived area.

BTW DH and I have 6 degrees between us.

ChocolateWombat Thu 09-Jul-15 09:00:51

I still think he stands to benefit. Yes, you have been to Uni and are pretty clear in your mind he will go. He might have an idea about what he wants to study.
However, many of the kids who DO go will have spent their schooling in places where Uni is talked about all the time and both staff and kids are focused on a very different approach to school than your son might have had. Exposure to these kids and to university for himself is hugely valuable.

At some point, every kid needs to take on board the university aspiration for themselves and make it their own, rather than it being the thing their parents want. Actually visiting a university plays a big role in this,which is why he should go.

Have you discussed the idea of him not going to let someone else who is 'in greater need' go? Does he also think that it would be good to give up the place? It is up to the school to decide who would benefit from going really,rather than you - and they think he would benefit, so send him.

happygardening Thu 09-Jul-15 09:01:31

OP he's only 14 I know from personal experience children change their minds all the time. Maybe he'll go and decide it's not for him, perhaps he'd rather do an apprentaship or maybe he'll find a course that he's previously never thought of.
I just can't see what the problem is with letting him go is unless you have direct evidence that he's depriving an equally suitable or more suitable child of a place.

slicedfinger Thu 09-Jul-15 09:04:04

There are two reasons why I'd suggest it good for him to go. DD1 is on such a list, but was unable to attend one event (can't remember why) so was not invited to the next. That issue has been resolved, but it meant she missed out on something that would have been really useful.

Secondly, though it sounds like he has already thought about it, going along will mean he is better placed to start thinking about his future education as his own thing, not just what the rest of the family have already done IYSWIM.

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