Secondary school choice.....options in year 8.(11 Posts)
Looking at secondary schools for DD and have narrowed the choices down to the two that she is likely to get into (the others being a faith school, a boys school and a school that is so sought after you have to live 100m from the school gates as they only have 20 or so general places available) so am being realistic with our choices.
School 1 is a traditional fairly strict girls school (5 form entry) which gets fantastic exam results (in top 5 state comps in the country) and school 2 is a mixed comp (8 form entry) which until the last few years did not have the best results or reputation. That has changed however and the school has fantastic facilities from the money invested into it and exam results are now 10% above the national average.
School 2 however chooses options in year 8. I can see pros and cons to this (dropping subjects you have no interest in vs. not knowing what you want to go on and do as a profession and how your gcse choices will help with this seem to be the main ones). DD is also the youngest in her yr group (31/8 birthday) and I am worried that if she goes to school 2 (which we would be guaranteed a place at) she may have no idea what she wants to do when it comes to picking options in yr 8 and therefore may ultimately make the wrong decisions.
What does every one think? I should point out however that she loves the girls school and it is her clear number 1 choice but as just trying to cover all the bases with regard to school number 2 and make sure we don't overlook some important point that may benefit DD as I do think she would love all the facilities that school 2 has to offer.
I personally think that choosing options in y8 is too early.
My DD1 would have chosen different (less suitable) options had she been made to choose a year earlier.
I'm not so bothered about 'mini options' selecting tech subjects or something, but I wouldn't want to see the option of dropping language / history / geography etc a year earlier.
The language question is interesting too. School 2 do French in yrs 7 & 8 with other languages available as options from year 9, however school 1 you have to choose 2 from 3 languages(from French, Spanish and Latin) for years 7 to 9. I know DD would jump at the chance to drop French and would like to study Spanish (as her grandparents live there) and Latin looked really interesting as it concentrated on the history of language and how it has been influenced by Latin rather than learning Latin as a actual language if you see what I mean..
DS's school also have a 3 year KS4, so pick options in Year 8. From DS's point of view, it will mean that he can drop the subjects he has no aptitude or interest in (think art, Product design), whilst focusing on those he does. He also has the opportunity to pick up extra subjects that aren't offered lower down the school. He's in Year 8 now, so not picked yet, but it's looking like the only downside will be that he drops history or geography a year earlier than he might otherwise have done (he can do both, but not with the combination of other subjects he wants to do!).
From listening to his friends, they are mostly surprisingly clear about what they want to do, and the choice is broad enough that they are not closing any doors.
What's the pastoral care and extra curricular activities like at both schools?
Although I'm generally not sure about choosing options in Y8, I don't think this should be a major factor in choosing a school. It's perfectly possible that the time options are chosen and the number of options available could change at a later date at school 1 or school 2, especially given the changes in the exam system. So am not sure if you can really choose on the basis of what system the schools have now.
Extra curricular activities are excellent at both schools (school 2 has a total of 93 clubs either before school, lunchtime and after school). School 1 has enough to keep DD very happy (basketball, swimming and trampolining - it has its own pool whereas a pool is about the only facility school 2 does not have).
With regard to pastoral care, both schools run a buddy system but got a better feeling about the care that school 1 offer. The yr 8 girls that showed us around mentioned without asking that there was always someone you could talk to if you were having difficulties whereas it wasn't mentioned at school 2.
I agree, it wouldn't be a deal breaker for me, but it would be something I would consider in the second group after my top priorities (which are pastoral care, good results for my type of child, and 'whole child' school ethos as opposed to pushy results driven).
DC school choose GCSEs in yr8... but not really. They start choosing but there is flexibility to alter the programme as they go along. I am fine about it, would not be a factor in my decision making. Besides, the choosing time may change in a few yrs, schools change.
Personally, I think Year 8 is too early to choose options, but I wouldn't see it as a "deal breaker" when choosing a school.
The eldest child chose options in Y9 and did a two year KS4.
The next child chose options in Y8 and did a three year KS4, at the same school.
Choosing options in Y8 worked better. The students felt that Y9 had more purpose and they worked harder because they felt more invested in the subjects they had chosen.
It would be a deal breaker for me. The new curriculum is tough but I know that if I had to spend three years on it I would get really, really bored. I love the stuff we currently teach in year 9, enriching and cross curricular. I like that all year 9 study WW1 in History (it saves time in English lessons). Year 8 is far too young to make these decisions and narrow their curriculum and options for the future.
It's all part and parcel of the obsession with league tables and results and the drive to insist on better performance while raising the minimum bar. What happened to us encouraging intellectual curiosity?
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