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Should we think about changing schools?

(12 Posts)
tangerino Tue 12-Jan-16 09:13:24


I wondered if anyone had any advice. My son is at a good and reasonably academic independent school- he's been there since he was 5yo, is now 9yo and could potentially stay until 18. We live in an area where school places are fought for and almost every independent school has a stiff entrance test, so being somewhere he can stay at until 18 is a good thing.

However, I've started wondering about whether we should consider moving him at 13. There are a few reasons for this- he's v academic and is at or near the top of his class in most academic subjects. However he's not sporty at all and, I think, feels a bit sad about this- he feels all the popular boys at school are the ones in the top football team and therefore that he's not doing especially well, which isn't true. I'm therefore considering whether he'd be better placed at a school which was more academic and less sporty.

Having said all this, he is v happy at his school and also HUGELY loyal to it- if I were to suggest looking at other schools he would be horrified. But it's coming up to the point that we need to decide (or at least decide to register)- deadline for the schools we would consider in next Autumn term so we need to start going to open days etc now.

What would you do? I can't work out whether I'm just tinkering unnecessarily and whether I should just say if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Pros of moving

- more academic school might be a better fit

- the school I have in mind is really superb for the right child

- if we don't at least look round, I'm worried that I'll always regret not giving him the chance.

Cons of moving

- he doesn't want to (although I suspect that his strong loyalty to his current school might transfer easily to his new school, if you see what I mean)

- having to sit a difficult entrance test that he might not pass

- general disruption

- new school obviously an unknown quantity- better the devil you know etc- and we all genuinely really like where he is now, just not sure it's the perfect fit for him.

I should say in all this that his current school is also strong academically and makes good provision for the more able kids, so I'm not worried that he's insufficiently stretched.

I had originally thought that we should just go to the open days with an open mind and decide afterwards, but I've started to feel that this in itself will be disruptive (we'd have to speak to his current school, for one thing, and obviously raise the issue with my son) so maybe we shouldn't do this.

Any advice v gratefully received. I realise I sound a bit ridiculous.

slicedfinger Tue 12-Jan-16 09:18:19

I haven't been in your situation, but in our area (SW London) a majority of secondary places now go at 11, not 13 due to large numbers transferring from state primary. My understanding is that the more academic children are more likely to do that. Not gospel obviously, but worth checking if it is the same at your options. It is possibly a very local thing!

notmynameohno Tue 12-Jan-16 09:51:59

Does the current school even have a football team after age 11?
Could you get your DS into say a cricket or tennis club outside school so that he has one school sport where he is more skilled?
Will there be an influx of children into his school at age 11 ? DS's year group increased by 50% at age 11 and school deliberately mixed up friendship groups/classes.

It doesn't feel as if your reasons for moving are that strong but DS changed schools twice before age 11 and both times were for the better and he settled in quickly so our experience is good. Oh and I went round open days without DS until I had narrowed things down.

DramaQueen38 Tue 12-Jan-16 10:12:49

Does the school have an enlarged entry for senior school? Our dcs are in a school which goes right through but at senior school more children join and the children are mixed up a lot. There are the cool sporty kids, the outgoing drama set, the orchestra... the chess club.

Rather than focusing on where he does not fit in, think about what this school offers where he might excel , enjoy the pastimes on offer and make friends with similar interests. If it's very small you may struggle but if it's big enough he will find his tribe. EVERY school has an A team for every sport and teams bond together socially as well as in their club. You will get this at any school you move him to.

If you are genuinely undecided then at least register with the other school even if you don't take it further. If you haven't registered then it will be much harder to make the move (e.g. the only option might be a scholarship route). Its better to lose £100 registration fee than to lose the choice of moving before you've made up your mind.

Do you know any parents of DC at the other school. Could you have a chat to find out how the school works in reality rather than the image in the glossy prospectus.

Additionally, do you know parents of older boys at your DS's present school. You might find that skills other than sports are celebrated further up the school e.g. Maths or Music which might give your DS a chance to shine.

May be go and look at the other school without your DS first so you can get a feel for the place without disrupting him. It might be that you don't like the feel of the place and your decision is made.

DS1 (yr8) is right in the middle of 13+ prep and it is tough. It is difficult to know if you have chosen the right school and the exam prep is substantial. There is is an element of crossing your fingers and hoping for the best.

Ladymuck Tue 12-Jan-16 12:16:01

I was going to post, but DramaQueen38 said everything I would say more succinctly. You are right to think about changing - 4-18 isn't for the faint-hearted - but equally if it is mainly the peer group that is the issue then that will change anyway.

tangerino Tue 12-Jan-16 19:41:29

Thanks, everyone. His current school has a big intake at 11 which might help somewhat. So hard to know what to do.

roguedad Tue 12-Jan-16 21:14:54

OP - your concerns are not at all ridiculous. I went through a very similar problem and ended up moving my non-sporty son to a more academically focused school with a much more flexible extra-curricular programme (though still a very sporty place - it was just easier to find something else to be good at). It was nerve-racking due to the intense competition for places, the issues of timing decisions, disruption of friend networks etc. But we are all damned glad we went through it all, because we now have a massively better fit and our DS is much happier. He looks forward to sports sessions now, and having recovered from the initial shock of much stronger academic competition he is now responding to it positively, making much more of an effort with his work. We have also made an effort to keep him in touch with key friends from his junior school.

bojorojo Wed 13-Jan-16 19:53:05

I never fancy the idea of schools that go from 4 to 18. It feels too static and not progressive for the children and a bit too easy. No challenge because you know what will happen for years on end. Do you not have any schools that start at 13 to give him a longer time to get used to the idea? Personally I would look.

bojorojo Wed 13-Jan-16 19:54:48

Sorry you said 13 OP! 13 is normal for many top schools.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 13-Jan-16 19:56:45

I have been in your position. I went and looked at other schools, I took DD and looked at other schools. DD took the entrance examination for her existing school and for another school, ultimately we choose her existing school. DD is aware that she will not remain at the existing school for sixth form.

Gruach Wed 13-Jan-16 19:59:01

Yes, I'd say the same as bojorojo - 5 to 18 is just too long at one school!

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