Intrigued by the 'bright child will succeed in any school'

(255 Posts)
findasolution Wed 03-Feb-16 16:46:06

This comment fascinates me. I am a long time Mumsnet user (name changed), making my first post as an OP.

I was a relatively bright child, straight As up to 3rd year of senior school (in old money), when things started to go wrong.

I got tired of being bullied for being smart and driven, lost my confidence to in being different and dumbed down/rebelled to fit in, resulting in leaving school with 4 O levels - way below my potential.

My mum sent me to a local comprehensive (West Midlands) because it used to be a 'grammar'. Such was the due diligence 30 plus years ago grin. Couple of years after I left, each entry year was closed to allow the school to run out before the school closed, premises bought...at least there was a reason behind the teachers (most, not all) being completely disengaged with us.

Anyway, that's my background, and I know this is not reflective of most schools today. With so many making choices where they can, by religion; location; intelligence; cost etc allowing), I am really interested in people's opinions on how children can definitely achieve their full potential in any given secondary environment, and therefore considering alternatives to their local state schools is not necessary...

ArkATerre Wed 03-Feb-16 16:48:00

'Any' school that takes discipline and behaviour management seriously and will not tolerate any disruption in class maybe, but just 'any' secondary that does not address those issues.

PurpleDaisies Wed 03-Feb-16 16:53:13

I think the key phrase in your op is "achieve their full potential".
Bright kids can usually compensate to an extent for crap teaching (we had no maths teacher at all in year 10-substituted lasted up to a fortnight at a time), disruptive classes and uncontrolled bullying but take those kids who got A's and B's in rubbish schools and put them somewhere good and they might get straight A*'s.

I think poor schools have the biggest effect on the life chances of the middle kids. Put them somewhere good where the culture is to work and not muck about and you've got completely different students.

PurpleDaisies Wed 03-Feb-16 16:56:37

Forgot to add, bright kids end up in top sets so they're usually shielded from the worst of the behaviour.

The good thing is if these kids make it to A level they are brilliant at working independently and are often incredibly motivated.

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Wed 03-Feb-16 16:58:24

It's total rubbish imo. Only the very bright and motivated can get good results from a bad school. The moderately bright or less mature will inevitably flounder.

But even in the worst schools there will be a few children who do well, and people use that as evidence that bright kids do well anywhere. Never mind the other children who could have done better in a better environment.

Emochild Wed 03-Feb-16 16:59:24

An emotionally resilient child might succeed anywhere

Unfortunately dd wasn't and had a breakdown at 13 -at a school that ofsted describe as well disciplined

ArkATerre Wed 03-Feb-16 17:00:10

Yy, PurpleDaisies, I thought it was OK in my top stream but when we had to choose options for a year and I was off ill for the deadline only Life Skills was left. It was horrendous. Totally blocked from learning anything at all by the majority of the class. It must be awful to be stuck in bottom sets in some schools, for the teachers too.

NotCitrus Wed 03-Feb-16 17:05:06

I figure that a happy child will learn anywhere, and a miserable one won't learn much in the best-taught school in the land. Which would make a good school one that looks after its students as a priority, even before looking at the standards of teaching and behaviour management.

Also depends on how much the bright child is supported at home - I send my kidsto school for social skills, and know I can teach anything they miss out on in terms of academics, so as long as they are cooperative in lessons and happy to learn, they probably would be fine in any school. Other bright kids without academic parents would need more from school.

PurpleDaisies Wed 03-Feb-16 17:05:15

Actually the very bottom sets can be lovely-it's all about relationship with them and you can really make them feel that even though they're not necessarily going to get a very good grade they're still good people who you'd be happy to have working for you. Middle sets are more likely to be populated by kids that should be capable of more but are disruptive and wreck it for everyone else.

findasolution Wed 03-Feb-16 17:09:31

See my drive came back later, after leaving A levels after a year (was lucky they took me on as 5 'O's was the minimum requirement). Went straight into work and 'worked my way up', which was possible then as there were jobs, especially for those able to demonstrate ability in lieu of qualifications.

My concern is for parents who, even with the ability to take other options, stick with their local choices (when poor) because of principles, and then beat others up for exercising a different route. Russian roulette in the name of community type attitude.

Of course, there are many that have no choices...it is not these that are always judgemental of others...

findasolution Wed 03-Feb-16 17:12:40

And what kind of influences can parents truly make if becoming school governors...is there a real ability to change an SLT to be more effective in those schools where discipline/disruptiveness is rife?

sorry - I am adding more questions to my original one, but this is also a come back regularly made on here.

ErgonomicallyUnsound Wed 03-Feb-16 17:15:23

Nah I think it's bullshit. I went to private cloistered schools until 13, where I worked hard and aced everything.

My parents then ran out of cash, I went to the local comp, where it wasn't cool to be clever and you could easily operate under the radar and do very little work, which wasn't an option in the private school. I scraped 6 O Levels at mediocre grades, where I should've got 10 As.

I sent my DS to a SS rather than the local grammar as I'm sure he would've coasted at the latter, which was also the opinion of his primary HT.

MrsJayy Wed 03-Feb-16 17:21:57

My DDS went to a shit school they both did well much better than I did at the same shit school both were bright children 1 has Sen but still motivated and did great she was in a few low sets and had a few kids who were not the best behaved I guess some kids will thrive and some won't I'm not sure why this happens though

MrsJayy Wed 03-Feb-16 17:24:37

Dd2 was bullied for being a swat but she had great pals who were academic and IMO it helped her maintain her focus despite her SEN

HPFA Wed 03-Feb-16 17:28:54

If you look at the detailed results of any school it will show that the high achievers achieve more than the middle and the middle more than the lower. So in a low achieving school the high achievers might be achieving C+ average, the middle a D and the low an E. And in a better school those averages might be B+, C and D-. Even in those grammar schools which have a proportion of middle achievers(which most do, somewhat surprisingly, unless they're a superselective) there is a gap between the high and the middle. So on the whole yes, bright children will do better than the not so bright at any school, but not necessarily as well as they would have done at a different school.

You may be interested to know, that,over all the Kent grammar schools, the high achieving child achieves an average GCSE grade of B+. Some of the schools get higher than this, some less. But that's the average. So if your local comprehensive is achieving an average B+ for its high achievers you can be fairly confident that the bright children in that school are on the whole doing as well as they would in an average grammar. If your local comp gets an average of A- which a few do then that is a very good school indeed.
Whether any individual child will do better in one particular school or other is a very different question of course and rather harder to answer with statistics!

Hope this all makes sense and apologies for so much repetition of the word average - too tired to keep thinking of an alternative.

neuroticnicky Wed 03-Feb-16 17:32:36

Of course bright children can succeed anywhere-academic achievement depends on genes, parental involvement in their education and (least of all) the actual school.However, where the school is not much good it is important that parental involvement increases proportionately. Lets be honest GCSEs are not that difficult and there are far more teaching resources available to parents these days- especially online- than there were in our day. I'm afraid if a bright kid fails to get decent grades today parents need to question whether they have been sufficiently on the case.

ArmfulOfRoses Wed 03-Feb-16 17:36:54

I don't know about this.
I live in an area that has had a huge migrant influx and has grammar schools.

We have a high school a 5 min walk away but had dd not got into grammar we would have paid the £60 a month to get her in to a school in town.

Our closest secondary has numerous intakes throughout the year of children that have just moved to this country and the poor teachers obviously struggle (as do the children obviously).
Grades went down year on year which then meant it was the school with places as parents moved their children.

Just before dd took her 11+ it went into special measures which is usually a really good thing as they get funding and support but I just wasn't prepared for dd to be part of that.

It's fucking hard, because I know that makes me part of the problem, but it's my kid, you know?

findasolution Wed 03-Feb-16 17:37:43

Don't mind about the long HPFA... Am really interested in the views of you all smile

Merrylegs Wed 03-Feb-16 17:48:19

It depends what you mean by 'bright'. If you mean just booksmart, then No, it's not enough to achieve anywhere.

But if you mean bright enough to realise that to achieve good grades you have to put the legwork in -ie apply the 1000 hour rule. And get your head down and do it. Then yes. They will achieve. For GCSEs certainly.

neuroticnicky Wed 03-Feb-16 18:05:05

I suppose the problem is that everyone is swayed by their own experiences but I do think family background makes a big difference. I have MC relatives who went to rough inner city comps (or the equivalent) in the UK and the US and they all went to top RG/Ivy league unis.What they all had in common was a tiger mum! There have also been countless surveys on the effect of parental involvement see eg www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9165585/Parents-have-bigger-impact-on-exam-results-than-schools.html

insan1tyscartching Wed 03-Feb-16 18:26:17

Ds went to a school that got worse as he got further up the school and was closed soon after he left. Regardless he got As/A*s not because the teaching was good as staff turnover was ridiculous but because he was very bright. He loved every minute in the school and has lots of good friendships from that time. He moved elsewhere for sixth form and recently got his Masters so a poor school didn't harm him I do think though that it would be the more mid range students that would struggle I know many of ds's peers who had left Primary with 3 5s in their SATs didn't get 5 C's at GCSE most likely because of the high staff turnover and the level of disruption in class.

Hassled Wed 03-Feb-16 18:33:06

Agree that it's about emotional resilience, and also ambition and self-esteem. It's not enough just to be bright.

I have a DC who has achieved exceptionally well (Oxbridge) in a frankly shit school that technically only "requires improvement" but really is dire. He achieved this because he is so highly motivated and so keen to learn, in a way my other DCs just aren't, however bright they clearly are. And also because in every school, however shit, there are always excellent teachers who love the sort of pupil he was and will bend over backwards to support and help them.

BertrandRussell Wed 03-Feb-16 18:34:20

I think the missing words are "well supported"

A bright well supported child will do well anywhere.

Thistledew Wed 03-Feb-16 18:34:30

To blow my own trumpet - I am bright academically and went to an OK school but one that catered for the middle of the road far more than the brightest - if you were getting a B they were happy with you and didn't push for more. I absolutely coasted my GCSEs. I barely did any revision and just put in the minimum effort but still came out with A or A* across the board. However, it rather blew up in my face when I came to A Level as I simply had not learned how to work and how to study. It took me the best part of the lower 6th to actually learn how to learn, and as a result I was behind and ended up with mediocre A Level results. I didn't do as well as I could have done in my degree either. In post graduate studies I was finally diagnosed with dyslexia and learned some techniques to help me learn and to help me deal with exams. This could have been picked up much earlier in my schooling if the school had bothered to push me to my potential, but as I was bright it was never considered.

So to answer your question- yes bright children can do well in a bad school, but at some point they will stop doing as well as they really could.

2016IsANewYearforMe Wed 03-Feb-16 18:38:21

I think it's nonsense. Bright children from supportive environments will generally do OK in life and manage to become successful, fully functioning adults, but that is not the same as reaching one's full potential.

Most of us probably don't actually reach our full human potential. Perhaps being able to cope and to lead a dignified, independent life is a more realistic goal.

But, to pretend that schools, teachers, and curricula don't matter is silly.

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