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National Offer Day- From a Child's Perspective

(66 Posts)
rebeccapm Wed 02-Mar-16 10:44:50

My daughter is very distraught about the outcome of National Offer Day. She wrote this [as a letter to the editor] this morning, thought I would share:

My name is Lucie. I am 10 ½ years old, and I’ve never been more stressed in my life.

We keep reading in the newspapers about how stressful secondary school application process is for parents, but what about the children’s point of view? Here is mine:

It started last fall, when I had to take a bunch of entrance exams. Months of studying, doing extra practice exams, weekends spend taking tests and visiting schools, trying to do my best on each exam, although they were all so different. I worked hard, and am at the top of my class. We even moved houses a while ago, to be in the catchment of the school that I really wanted to go to.

Then we applied, then came the big waiting game. I’ve never waited so anxiously, for so long. October to March seemed like a very long time.

March finally came, and the few days leading up to it, all the papers were talking about how bad the school admissions process in London is and how oversubscribed. But still, I had my hopes up.

I thought I had a chance to get into my first choice. It was really the only school I wanted, but the other five on the list would’ve been okay. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my first choice. Or my second, or my third, or my fourth, or my fifth, or my sixth. I was allocated a place at a failing school, based only on the fact that it is the nearest to my house. I don’t even know where the school is, and have never even heard of it.

Meanwhile, I started receiving texts from my friends at school, telling me where they got a place. Most got their first choice and were texting happy emoijis. I had have to have my mom text them back to tell them my news, as I was so upset. I cried most of the night, and today is not much better. Now I’m stuck on waiting lists, in limbo, wondering if I will get in, hoping against all odds. My parents are talking about moving out the suburbs, but I want to stay and be near my friends as London is my home now.

I would to the government to know how difficult this process is and that there are probably hundreds of children in London feeling the same way I do. New schools need to be built, the system needs to be improved. Children should not have to go through this amount of worrying at this young age, just to get a proper education. In most places, the most worrisome educational application comes at age 18 for university, not age 10/11 for secondary school. Please fix this process, so that other children living in London don’t feel like I do today, the day after National Offer Day.

eyebrowse Wed 02-Mar-16 10:48:39

The way to fix it is to allow local authorities to build schools rather than having to rely on someone being interested in developing a free school in the right area.

eyebrowse Wed 02-Mar-16 10:49:15

Really sorry for your dd - hope she manages to get somewhere on the waiting list

SAHDthatsall Wed 02-Mar-16 10:56:19

Given the language and some of the comments is this real?

Are you American?

littledrummergirl Wed 02-Mar-16 10:56:32

Perhaps taking loads of exams and moving house added a huge amount of unnecessary stress given that your daughter has been allocated a local school you haven't even bothered to take her to see. My dc wouldn't have known about failing schools as we their parents talked positively about all of the choices to them and kept our worries and concerns to ourselves.

This stress seems to have been caused by those who should have protected her from it and made the transition as easy as possible.

TwigTheWonderKid Wed 02-Mar-16 10:58:32

Absolutely agree with littledrummergirl.

SAHDthatsall Wed 02-Mar-16 10:59:47

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

BarefootAcrossHotLegoPieces Wed 02-Mar-16 11:02:24

You have a place in your nearest school. The system hasn't failed you.

BarefootAcrossHotLegoPieces Wed 02-Mar-16 11:04:18

There's no need, in your DD's case, for another school to be built, because you have a place.

By all means, campaign to improve that school, help it raise money and standards, but you must have known a place at the nearest school was a possible outcome in London?

PatriciaHolm Wed 02-Mar-16 11:07:03

Why does she even know the school is failing? And that's not something she would naturally care about unless you've drilled it into her.

I think the bigger issue here is the weight of your expectations on her to be honest.

Shutthatdoor Wed 02-Mar-16 11:09:13

I think the bigger issue here is the weight of your expectations on her to be honest.

I agree.

Mysillydog Wed 02-Mar-16 11:09:48

You guys are being really harsh. Wtf does being American have to do with this child being upset.

Possibly Rebecca did not understand the system and only put down outstanding distant or grammar schools, rather than putting down a probable but less amazing choice as 5th place. But comments like go back home are not helpful.

Nottodaythankyouorever Wed 02-Mar-16 11:14:22

I agree with PatriciaHolm

deepdarkwood Wed 02-Mar-16 11:15:10

I am really sorry for your daughter - it's a horrid situation for her to be in and I really hope she manages to get a place somewhere she is happy.

But I agree with others - I worry that your dd should be more protected from this and has taken on too much of the worry that should be yours and your dh's. I bigged up ALL the schools ds might end up at, although we and he had a preference. And wherever he landed I would have been positive about it. We ended up in a school that wasn't my first choice for 1.5 years at primary. Ds didn't know it was an issue, and really enjoyed the school. I KNOW it's harder to do that at secondary, of course, but still - your poor dd having all that pressure on her shoulders sad

I'm amazed that - knowing it was your most local school - you didn't even go and look round too, as you obviously were aware of how tough the situation is in London...

meditrina Wed 02-Mar-16 11:20:16

It is possible to fall into a black hole where you simply do not live close enough to any school to receive a first round offer. In those cases you are allocated the closest school with a vacancy.

If the 6 preferences were all 'aspirational' schools which were iffy either because of score required for a super selective place, or just too far away for the entrance category your DC belongs in to be reasonably sure of an offer, this is what happens. It's why there is repeated advice on MN to include one school as a 'banker' (ie a school you might not like so much, but which is at least close and logistically easy). But I put banker in inverted commas because it's possible to follow that advice and still not get your preference, and it's down to sheer population density.

DramaQueen38 Wed 02-Mar-16 11:37:37

<it is the nearest to my house. I don’t even know where the school is, and have never even heard of it.>

I think her parents have let her down, not the government. How can she not even have heard of the nearest secondary to her house? Clearly you did not investigate the UK application process properly and did not prepare your dd for a realistic outcome. Hence her disappointment.

IdaJones Wed 02-Mar-16 11:42:31

You've never heard of the secondary school that's closest to your house?

IdaJones Wed 02-Mar-16 11:43:41

Sorry, didn't see Drama's post before I posted the same thing.

TheBalefulGroke Wed 02-Mar-16 11:46:49

The pressure she feels under has been placed upon her by her parents!
How can you not have visited the nearest school at all? Is it because you do not know how the English system works?
When she talks of exams, does she mean 11+? Because these are not compulsory... they are chosen by parents for their child to undergo.

Peregrina Wed 02-Mar-16 11:47:54

It also needs to be said that you need to go and look at the school for yourself, which clearly these parents didn't bother to take their DD to do. A school's local reputation is often based on how it was a few years ago, and doesn't reflect what the school is like now.

TheBalefulGroke Wed 02-Mar-16 11:49:42

FWIW, we have visited all schools available to us, as a family, discussed their positives, any drawbacks etc, chosen the ones we want to put down. End of conversation. No pressure.

rebeccapm Wed 02-Mar-16 11:51:54

Wow. I posted this for support, am really shocked by the responses here! I let her express herself in writing- these are a child's opinions, not mine. I simply wanted to show that we, as parents, write articles and express our stresses and wanted my daughter to have the chance to do the same.

Of course, we protected her as much as we could and did ample research. The school she was allocated is a failing school, and I really never thought we would be one of the 5% that were not offered one of the places on our list. This may indeed have been unrealistic/ optimistic, but even our school head teacher, today, told me not to accept at place at that school, as it is so bad.

I am still hopeful that we will be on a waiting list at the other schools and may eventually get a place at one of those.

exLtEveDallas Wed 02-Mar-16 11:57:47

Your child shouldn't be stressing about this - that is unfair pressure for a parent to put on a kid. Your child shouldn't know that a school is 'failing' (what does that actually mean? Is it in Special Measures?). Your child should know where her nearest school is, I am surprised she doesn't.

Your post is extremely emotive and I'm afraid I don't believe that your daughter wrote it herself. Helping her to write that has just put more pressure on her, pressure a 10 year old doesn't need.

TheBalefulGroke Wed 02-Mar-16 11:58:22

If you moved 'into catchment', may I ask what happened there? Has the catchment changed, or is it one based on distance?

SavoyCabbage Wed 02-Mar-16 11:59:41

Last year we moved back to the uk from abroad. My youngest dd, who is nine, was out of school for nearly three months as there were no places anywhere.

She knew she wasn't in school, like her sister and the other children in the area. But we just told her that the schools were a bit full and we were looking for the right one. We didn't tell her about the appeals and the absolute terror we had that she was going to end up in a terrible school on the other side of the county. Or at no school at all. She has no idea I had to go and sit in front of a panel of people and talk about her.

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