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Heartbroken daughter - doesn't want school I appealed for

(45 Posts)
practicalnomad Wed 27-Jun-18 13:44:43

Sorry, this is longwinded

My daughter didn't get into the expected secondary (because the catchment shrank massively). We were allocated a school that didn't work for us, and chose another from the (very) short list of options available. We liked the sparky head, the facilities and the kindness of the school we chose from this short list, but it is RI and the results and progress scores are dreadful - also it's locked into an expensive PFI contract and the council has had to bail it out financially. Obviously we talked it up to DD because she needed to know we were OK with it - but there genuinely were some really good points and she was excited. We even bought the uniform.

I appealed for the local school and was exceptionally surprised to win (not as surprised as the council, but that's another story). She is heartbroken. I'd like her to try the school she now has on the basis that

a) it's the nearest
b) it is ofsted good on the cusp with outstanding
c) it gets good results
d) the curriculum offer is broader
e) it has great facilities and an interested parent body.
f) I really don't know anyone who is unhappy with it - it's a really solid local choice and often talked about on here as a great option.

She wants the other one because
a) it's co-ed
b) she feels it is nicer
c) there will be much less homework
d) she has got really excited about it
e) she doesn't actually want to go to the same school as the other girls in her class, who she doesn't love.

I've said go to the transition day for the school I've won the appeal on, and then we'll talk. But I feel like a witch - she's so sad and says she feels her opinions don't matter any more.

Am I being unfair? Who should choose. She's ten, by the way, if that sways people - but she's also quite mature.

OP’s posts: |
Doyoumind Wed 27-Jun-18 13:51:07

You have to decide for her, surely. Yes, children deserve a say but they can't necessarily judge what is best in the long term. I would encourage her with the school you want.

If it doesnt work out, it sounds like in the worst case you could probably move her.

She likely will be separated from most of the girls she knows so that's not a reason not to go. I can see why she would prefer a mixed school but it sounds like she would do better academically at the one you've chosen.

Bipbopbee Wed 27-Jun-18 13:53:47

She makes some mature points. I would agree that going to the transition day is a good idea... but personally I would be inclined to listen to what she prefers.
This is coming from someone whose DD also didn’t want to go to the same secondary as her primary class mates. She didn’t and I feel is much happier being where she wants to be despite the closer catchment school having better results on paper. RI is not always a bad thing.... if anything schools then pull their socks up to get better.
Good luck smile

SleepingStandingUp Wed 27-Jun-18 13:54:02

You have to make the best decision for her long term, and she will settle in.

user1499173618 Wed 27-Jun-18 13:54:50

You have to decide for her.

Starlight345 Wed 27-Jun-18 14:03:06

i agree send her to the transition days and talk to her again.

She then has a chance to be excited about the new school and see who is in her class.

practicalnomad Wed 27-Jun-18 14:15:04

Thanks all, I should also add that the school that dd wants doesn't have a sixth form, while the girls' school does, which is another factor I throw into the equation....

OP’s posts: |
Bombardier25966 Wed 27-Jun-18 14:20:14

Why doesn't she want to go to the school with her current classmates? That would be ringing alarm bells to me.

There's nothing wrong with moving schools for sixth form. Plus of course, things can change over the next five years, they may have a sixth form option by then.

practicalnomad Wed 27-Jun-18 14:22:31

I think she's just fed up with them. There are some very big personalities, and she isn't one of them...she's an adventurous soul and likes the idea of new things. I guess this school doesn't feel 'new', just like the 'next step'.

I agree there's nothing wrong with moving schools for sixth form, but many of the schools round here prioritise those from their own schools or MATs and the sixth form college is pretty poor. They may indeed have a sixth form by then.

OP’s posts: |
BubblesBuddy Wed 27-Jun-18 14:30:11

I would now talk up the appealed for school. There will be so many more girls to make friends with. Primary friends will be left behind. Can you find the really good things about your chosen school that will be great for her? Exam results don’t really hit the spot but non curricular might.

RI schools generally improve but a lot slip back again. Often RI can mean temporary turmoil too. You cannot expect their progress scores to leap miraculously over night. As a parent you do need to make the final decision though.

TJsAunt Wed 27-Jun-18 14:56:13

don't you have to let the council know which one you want? How are you keeping both options open?

FWIW the decision has to be yours IMO. She doesn't have the full perspective on the situation at her age. You clearly managed to sell the other school to her well so it's now about selling the new one?

sashh Wed 27-Jun-18 16:34:45

she doesn't actually want to go to the same school as the other girls in her class, who she doesn't love.

I was a bit like that, and at secondary it turned into bullying. This was a girls school too. The 'big personalities' seem to get bigger in girls' schools, maybe because girls are socialised to be quieter than boys.

* There will be so many more girls to make friends with. Primary friends will be left behind*

My school put all the pupils from the same primary school in the same class.

It also must be really disconcerting to have planned something for months and then have it taken away, I mean that from the point of view of your daughter.

Look at how well your dd will do in each school, ignore general results.

practicalnomad Wed 27-Jun-18 21:00:52

I can't keep both options open - but, as you can imagine, the RI school doesn't have a waiting list. The other one has a very long one. So it is likely we could go one way, but not the other, if you see what I mean. The words 'you'd be pushing on an open door' were used by the LA today when I asked what would happen if I said I wanted her to switch back.

Of course I understand that my daughter will be disconcerted. I would have done anything to avoid the last few months for her - it has been horrid. Completely unexpected too - this school was supposed to be our 'safe bet'. She'd been happy with it on the visits, and all the schools she had chosen had been girls only - we'd seen a co-ed, (not the one she ended up with as it is quite a way away from us) but she wasn't fussed with that one.

They won't put her with the girls from primary unless she wants that - I have checked. The girls' school has a good rep for pastoral care - it's not a pushy hothouse. I spoke to the head of KS3 today, who was wonderful. I don't doubt she'd be looked after.

It's just.... we've always treated her opinions as more valid than this - and I feel wretched, and like she might, just might, be missing out on the best fit for her.

OP’s posts: |
PeggySchuylar Wed 27-Jun-18 21:26:30

practical it is so hard. My DD did an induction day at two schools and chose the one her sisters had moved to which was our first choice. She sometimes wonders how things would have been at the other school.

The difficulty is that you can’t know. We are wrestling with sixth form options for a sensitive DC and I wish we had a Hermione Granger time turner to do a term at each and then decide!

I think you could focus on the idea of trying the girls’ school first as practically that’s likely to be the only way of trying it.

Growingboys Wed 27-Jun-18 22:39:09

The parent chooses no question.

At her age I desperately wanted the school all my friends were going to, my parents wanted the better school where I knew no one.

They sent me where they wanted and it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

An 11 year old is not sufficiently grown up or informed to make such an important decision. No way!

Pumpkintopf Wed 27-Jun-18 23:40:37

Op you've obviously done a brilliant job selling the other school.
Can you now do the same for the school you got into on appeal?
Could you arrange for her to have a visit there with you prior to the transition day?

littleducks Wed 27-Jun-18 23:54:51

I let dd have the final say and I think she possibly made the best choice a year on. I agonised over it but she was calm and consistent.

We didn't appeal but were offered a waiting list place at co-ed newly opened secondary. Dd insisted on keeping girls school option which was closer but 'lottery' entry no distance. It has fair reputation locally and outstanding ofsted and good results so I suppose it didn't feel like such a concern.

I had wanted her at co-ed so younger brothers could join her. I felt happy to over rule her for admission form but not months later at waiting list offer when she had friends from primary going and was excited.

Dont envy your position at all

Noqont Thu 28-Jun-18 00:02:45

Hmmm. Personally I'd let DD have the final say. She's brought up some good points and it is her doing it. My DD is in a similar position and is also choosing the school that current friends don't go to. I'm going to let her do that.

Raaaaaah Thu 28-Jun-18 00:12:30

Even if you make the decision for her you need to make her feel as though she has some input. Have you told her that if she isn’t happy at the school you have chosen then there would be room for discussion about moving to the one she has her heart set on. I just remember hating not being heard at that age. My advice is somewhat clouded by my parents choosing a high school that I didn’t want to go to. I hated it and moved three terms later. I’m not sure whether I had made up my mind to hate it or I really did know best. Either way I was much happier when I got my own way grin.

catandpanda Thu 28-Jun-18 01:03:56

I decided for DD and sent her to grammar but we've had a year of moaning so moving her after a year. I think parents should decide but some people let kids decide. I would try the school you want first then if she doesn't like it change but be prepared for moaning grin.

Takethemdown Thu 28-Jun-18 01:12:22

Decide for her.
I was in this situation at 11.
My Mum gave in and let me pick the school I wanted. It was not the right decision and I moved to the one she wanted in year nine by which time my confidence with learning was hammered.

dinosaurkisses Thu 28-Jun-18 01:35:32

You make the call.

If you look at the reasons you bullet pointed in your OP, it’s obvious. Your dd will get a more varied education in a better school which is neither to home.

I wouldn’t undermine her opinions, but she is ELEVEN and the reasons she’s given for preferring the other school aren’t insurmountable. Of course she’s going to prefer having less homework!

practicalnomad Thu 28-Jun-18 09:34:20

Actually, she's not even eleven for two weeks (those pesky summer borns)... I've told her we will take her opinions into account after transition and will try and get to the girls school before transition day - however it is next Tuesday which is a big ask on the teachers - who are up to their ears in end of term stuff.

Thanks so much for all the advice. We did all really like the other school - it's a real underdog locally - almost next to one with a tiny catchment, feeder primaries and a great local reputation so that it almost has a 'secondary modern' reputation as the one the 'non-academic' kids go to. It's also in a (umm) 'vibrant' area - which we love, but I can't deny it's gritty. It is out of special measures, but has been in twice in recent years, so no steady trajectory. Twenty minutes by bus.

However, it has great drama, small classes (due to the funding issues it has a special deal with the council) and a head who I liked more than any other I've met. He treated dd like an individual - which he had the luxury of doing because the school wasn't mobbed when we went round, and I'm sure that rubbed off. We liked the ethos, fab extra curriculars (unusual in a school in its position I think) and the sensible uniform, unlike the girls' school which has gone full on 'pretend we're a private school' with its clothing in recent years. It is a kind place and I think children thrive.

The girls school - which is only recently a school of choice for the chattering classes, is where we had always assumed she would go. I championed it constantly to friends who wanted to go out of borough while it was less popular and I've been there to do career talks. It is very feminist, in a very good way. It serves its community - only selects on distance. It's not an academy. Just a good, solid LA success story really.

It's only recently that the catchment has shrunk like this - because it is now very shiny after a refurbishment, which fortunately hasn't left it with the burden of debt that the mixed school has. It has an amazing curriculum - offers Latin and three other languages (as opposed to just one) and triple science. Results are good too. Those who used to choose private, or selective places elsewhere, now choose it.

But it is also a kind school - has a great reputation for pastoral care. It should be an absolutely obvious decision. I'm not sure why it isn't. Cognitive dissonance, perhaps.

OP’s posts: |
SundayGirls Thu 28-Jun-18 09:44:44

Be honest with her. Tell her that when the RI school was the only option, of course there were good things about it which you were going to point out - but that was before you had the option of the other school so it wasn't possible to talk about all the good things about the second school as there wasn't a place for her then.

Don't feel bad, it's the picture that's changed, not you. As a parent you go about doing the best you can for your DCs and that includes fostering a positive attitude about the only option there was at the time. Tell her you understand she's got her head around going to the RI school but she needs to dig deep again and look to see the new second option with fresh eyes, as there are benefits to that school which the first school doesn't have. Also tell her there's no one single perfect option, the RI will not be perfect in all ways.

SD1978 Thu 28-Jun-18 09:48:43

The school you appealed for- is it the one she would have gone to initially? Would she have been given any choice, or did the choice only occur because they changed the catchment. If this would have been the o my choice, then I don’t thi k that she should get the swaying vote.

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