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Middle of pack pupil - will she be better off at state or private

(10 Posts)
Thisdoesnotgeteasier Thu 09-Feb-17 09:31:52

DD is fairly bright academically (11 YO) at a decent state school. She's middle of the pack on maths and probably slightly above that on English. Very socially intelligent and a decent sports all-rounder. She is always incredibly popular with all teachers because of her attitude and helpfulness but I sometimes wonder if she gets ignored work-wise as she never causes any bother and just gets on with things, albeit at an average level.

We are in the catchment area for Waldegrave, so pretty much guaranteed a spot there, and she is on the waiting list for Surbiton. We are hoping that turns into a firm offer once the girls who get the likes of LEH, Putney, etc make their decisions.

My specific question is - do you think a middle of the pack girl would be better off at Waldegrave v Surbiton? I am guessing that she would also be middle of the pack at Waldegrave academically and towards the lower end at Surbiton. Would the private school push her harder and get better exam results out of her? Or would being in the bottom set (most likely) hit her confidence versus being middle (as worst probably)
at a state school - and somewhere like Waldegrave would be just as good with an average kid?

It doesn't seem that class sizes are all that different, just slightly smaller at Surbiton.

Obviously she still needs to get an offer from Surbiton and there are other considerations (money, distance, etc) but we are trying to evaluate the academic angle at the moment - the other issues are easier to analyse. Find it really hard to know what the relative value add is for the two schools.

Any thoughts? Thanks.

nocampinghere Thu 09-Feb-17 10:14:14

I think it's often the "middle of the pack" kids who gain the most from private education.
Do you have other choices or still waiting to hear?
I know surbiton stream for maths, not sure about anything else. Do you know?

bojorojo Thu 09-Feb-17 10:20:39

All children gain from going to a school where progress is good or excellent for all children, top, middle or lower. If you look at any statistics on progress you nearly always find it the lower attainment cohort who make the least progress in very many schools and the PP children too. Your DD is not in this cohort.

Therefore you have a good chance in any school. So choose the one that ticks most boxes for you. A good school does not forget anyone but you have to accept some pupils will always be shining stars in the school's galaxy (it happens everywhere!!)

Thisdoesnotgeteasier Thu 09-Feb-17 10:24:47

Thanks. That is what we are beginning to think but don't really know. No one in our broad family circle has ever gone through private education.

She has an offer at a less academic school (coed - she wants to goes to a girls' school though) and a waitlist from a comparable school but Surbiton is by far her first
choice private school. Several of her friends are going to go there (not that that should be a real factor - she will make new friends, regardless of where she goes).

RedHelenB Thu 09-Feb-17 12:21:42

A lot of success at secondary is down to work ethic and attendance. Some lower middle of the pack children in my dds classes have ended up with results on a par/better than some who outshone them at primary.

Mary21 Thu 09-Feb-17 12:34:24

Waldegrave does do very well by its middle achievers. They score higher on this front than Orleans or Teddington. How were they are non selective other than by post code. They do have girls with behavioural problems, some of these wouldn't have got through Surbitons admissions process due to references and interview. They also have the full range of ability, where as Surbiton will be middle and high ability only

nocampinghere Thu 09-Feb-17 15:30:34

Surbiton don't interview. But they do get head teacher's report which I guess is the same thing.

bojorojo Fri 10-Feb-17 10:53:07

Err. No. It is not the same thing. Interviews are all about conversation, fitting in and personality. References are more about school work and behaviour. I would not want a school if it is known there are disruptive pupils. In my experience independent schools are very poor at dealing with them!

I think most children have an instinct about where they fit in! Both of mine did. Much as we had desires on school A it was school B that they went to!

nocampinghere Fri 10-Feb-17 10:54:03

so which is more important?
is it an issue that surbiton don't interview?

bojorojo Fri 10-Feb-17 11:33:57

If a school does not interview it takes a bit of angst away, that is all.

I have looked at the results at Surbiton and compared them to where my DDs went to school. The A level results at A*/A grade are more or less the same. (DD's old school is in the doldrums these days with GCSE results - no doubt new Head will try and sort that out). Lots of choice means there are academic and cheaper options elsewhere! However the school was very good and suited bright and middle of the road children very well. I think the super-bright, less so!

However, as a first time buyer (we were essentially) you need to consider what your money is actually buying. It should be a school that offers opportunities for all pupils to find their niche and make friends. A varied curriculum with a chance to explore ideas a bit further than some schools can because they have the advantage of smaller classes. A school that has a strong ethos and everyone pulls together. A school that has fun! Poker faced people put us off! Teachers that are on top of their game. A sense of purpose and a few traditions. Things that can be celebrated, eg drama, sport, music, art as well as pure academics. Good facilities but not necessarily the best of everything. As parents, feeling welcome and valued. Opportunities to go to events at school, eg carol services, drama, concerts, competitions, art displays, talks, sport, dance and a welcoming Friends Assiciation. How does the school raise money? Some are pretty demanding on that front these days! Will you fit in? Are you confident they have a policy of continual improvement or do they sit back on their laurels? Is every child valued, or are some more valued than others? Does money talk?

If Surbiton ticks the boxes for you and your DD, why not?

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