Which school would you choose?(21 Posts)
OK, without mentioning any names, we have a choice of 2 schools for DS that are so different with very opposite strengths! Finding it really difficult to decide, so would really value thoughts from other mums. The first is a grammar - highly academic, very strict, very high exam results but very pressured. The second is an all ability secondary school which is a warm, caring faith school. DS primary school says he is of grammar ability but I feel (from visits and on the grapevine) this grammar within our catchment is rather cold and clinical and only cares about results, whereas the secondary felt really nurturing. I think he might to better academically at the grammar and mix with more children who are a 'better influence' but he may not enjoy school; the faith school I think he will be happier in but may get in with less academic peers and be lazier. How would you weigh up happiness at school v academic success?
What is your son like?
For my older two children I'd definitely go for the mixed ability, but for my youngest I'd probably go for the Grammar.
I'd agree 2 DD would love the pressure they work hard and enjoy achieving - DS would hate it - the world moves at his pace alone!!
If your son is an academic, applied, self-motivated lad who enjoys a challenge, I'd go with the grammar. Send him to the school where his mind and curiosity will be fuelled and where his challenges will be met.
Grammars aren't that bad from my neighbours experience and were nurturing when the academic side slipped.
Has he taken the 11+ yet? If not why not wait for the results first then decide. If he doesn't pass the choice is made for you.
My son is naturally bright and loves school, but is not good with tests (gets stressy) and homework (needs the school environment to apply himself it seems, homework is always last minute and rushed). Not a bookish and studious nature, just naturally bright with a quick mind. Really unsure how he will adapt to a school where you get detention if you forget something as he is scatty and disorganised!
Then it sounds as if he probably wouldn't pass so the grammar is out of the equation anyway. All secondary schools i know will give detentionsome for forgetting stuff though :-(
DD1 was at a grammar, and describes the atmosphere as toxic. The girls put so much pressure on themselves to do well. A B at GCSE was seen as practically a fail.
I thought she would love it there, and she did meet lovely friends, but is much happier at the slightly less selective 6th form, where she is now. (All 6th forms are selective.)
I would put the case to your son and see which school he thinks would be best for him. His reasons might well give another perspective.
We are going to be faced with a similar decision in a couple of years. I intend to let my DC make the final choice (hopefully after plenty of discussion, and advice.)
Definitely take him for a tour, he may express a strong preference and sometimes DC see through the surface show very differently to their parents. It is also worth observing how well teachers interact with him. Some teachers seem much better at talking to adults/near adults than 11 year olds.
It's so hard to tell. I have seen kids adapt really well to strict schools when I thought it was bound to be a disaster, but also seen confident kids crumbling under pressure and really struggling to make friends.
If he went to the grammar school and it didn't work out, would he be able to get a place at the other?
Have you looked in detail at the results for the nurturing school? The most information is found on this website:
Type in the school's name and then click on the result. You'll get a mountain of statistics but half way down the page you'll find a "grade per GCSE" for high attainers. If this is B+ or better then this is very good from a genuine comp. If the school is in reality a secondary modern then B is good.
You haven't said what your son's feelings are - I would think it will be hard to get him to do the necessary prep if he's really against the idea.
I personally don't think its a good idea to put a child in a hothouse environment unless you're really sure they will be happy there and the child likes the idea themselves.As an ex-grammar school girl myself it really is no fun at all bouncing along the bottom.
I think it depends on him. One child's hot house can be perfect for another, while a less academic more nurturing/ laid back school can be another child's deadly boring.
Absolutely not the grammar school, far too much pressure and I think the risk of reacting badly to the pressure and ending up massively unhappy and with poor GCSE results is a higher risk than getting in with the 'wrong' crowd.
I think some children get their work done, thrive on a faster pace and react well to high expectations in a grammar school. Being "bright" does not necessarily mean compatibility with a grammar school.
However, a big difference between grammar and all ability schools is often the choice of GCSEs. For example my DN is at a school where lots of children do BTECs and they only offer Spanish at GCSE. Would he find a favoured subject not offered at the all ability school? The top ability group of children is also small. It is actually smaller than in many of the secondary moderns where I live. It is nurturing up to a point but they won't forgive constant forgetfulness, not properly completed homework or not complying with school rules. The grammar schools near me are not cold. They are thriving, lively schools full of great children. You seem to think your school is full of automatons. This will not be the case. These children are real people who laugh, have fun but work hard.
If your DS is less keen on completing homework, the grammar school would seem problematical. You will be forever nagging a reluctant child. If he passes for the grammar, maybe a reassessment of his approach to work might be needed. Also children usually make friends with children like them and do not sunk to the bottom. Why do you think he would do that?
Definitely depends on the child what does he think and why? I had this with my DS last year he favoured the grammar out of catchment and the easier choice would have been the good local comp where 95% of his classmates were opting for. We had several in depth conversations, he got a good mark in the test, so opted for the grammar. For my DS it was definitely the right choice so far. He has made some good friends and their is some healthy competition in Maths and Science. I think for my DS Secondary school would have been the wrong choice as he'd be more tempted to take the easiest route and a temptation to get involved with the wrong crowd to fit in.
OP, your son will get detention for wiggling his pinky toe wherever he ends up. That's pretty much a given at most secondaries. It's a great thing! By 14, he'll be so organised. I never thought I'd see the day with my own. Good luck with your decision.
Just be aware, and I know it's obvious but worth stating...
If you have a grammar and a Comp in the same area on the whole ( taking aside the few "moral objections to grammar " or similar) the intake of the comp will NOT be comprehensive -it will be taking the lower academic ability students. The top 10-20% or what ever will on the whole go to grammar.
This makes it hard to work out how they will work out for a grammar ability child. I theory they will work well with all abilities. In practice they need to get as many kids to a C grade as possible at GCSE so getting your child from a perfectly respectable A to an A* might be less of a priority.
Does that make sense?
I'd suggest choose the grammar and step back to comp if needed. If it's a highly regarded comp it won't be easy but going the other way is likely to be pretty much impossible .
Ds1 passed the grammar test and was desperate to go to his extremely ss grammar school. He is incredibly happy there.
Ds2 is much happier at his no local comp, he didn't pass the test (was diagnosed with dyslexia at secondary ) so we looked at a few comps before deciding.
Dd passed the test but really wants to go to the same school as ds2. She will be able to do all of the same subjects as the girls grammar she turned down and intends to work hard.
There is no harm in preparing for the grammar test, passing it and then deciding on the choice of school. My advice is listen to your Ds.
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