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Dreading move from private to state - help me feel more positive!

(122 Posts)
LeatherSuitcase Mon 30-Jul-18 14:23:23

My DS has been at prep school for years 5 & 6, we'd hoped for grammar like my older DS but he just missed out.

DS is now heading to our local state school for year 7 onwards. He went for transition day and hated it and neither of us are feeling very positive about the new school (though I'm hiding this obviously). Apart from Eng and Maths all the classes are mixed ability and he's worried (and so am I) that he'll be bored after the pace and level at his prep school. Also he's done two years of French and Spanish at prep so is predicting being bored for two years in those subjects.

I've had some other threads under different user names exploring mine and my husband's dilemmas re keeping him in the prep school versus sending him to the local state school. If I had more money and a DH that supported me I'd rather keep him at the private school where he's currently very happy (it runs to end of year 8). But I can't do that and now I'm dreading the new school and feeling miserable.

How can I cheer the h*ll up and embrace this new phase and also stop worrying that I'm ruining his life by taking him away from somewhere where he's happy and making him go somewhere he's decided he doesn't like?

StoatOfManyColours Mon 30-Jul-18 14:56:14

Setting aside the language classes where he may be repeating stuff, presumably as English and Maths are streamed he'll be amongst kids of similar ability. In the mixed ability classes there will be some kids of a similar ability to him, surely? Would pointing that out cheer him up?

noblegiraffe Mon 30-Jul-18 15:08:15

Transition to secondary school is difficult enough without a mother who is miserable about it and thinks she’s ruining his life.
If the pace and level of his prep school still failed to get him into the grammar then perhaps mixed ability classes won’t be such a problem after all.

Talk about the friends he’ll make, the extra curricular activities he can do, if you need to avoid the topic of how slow and dull you fear his geography lessons will be.

It’s where he’s going, so you’d better make the most of it. At least he’ll be top in languages, right?

babyyorkie Mon 30-Jul-18 15:09:41

I teach in a state school where all classes are mixed ability right up to A Level. The brightest children are pushed even harder in my experience, they certainly don't slip under the radar and they shouldn't be bored. It's so hard to judge a school after one transition day- I'm sure that your DS will enjoy it once he has started and made some new friends, and then you'll be feeling more relaxed too.

LimeIce Mon 30-Jul-18 15:45:35

Dd goes to the local comp (in a fully comp county.) She and her friends are no different from the girls I went to grammar school with. (In fact they are better behaved than my group of friends were!) They are bright and are challenged. They are happy and thriving. Hopefully your ds will be too.

LeatherSuitcase Mon 30-Jul-18 15:52:44

noblegiraffe bitchy / sarcastic much?

He had one year at the prep before the grammar exam and was too focussed on doing the stupid amount of homework they gave him to do the prep for the 11+. So in that respect, the decision to go private backfired. Or maybe he's just not clever enough. Either way having just missed the passmark by 0.25 of a mark he's obviously going to be at the top (academic ability wise) of his future school as all the other kids who passed the 11+ are now going there.

I did a whole thread on mixed ability classes and there were so many posters who felt they benefited lower and middle ability but not top.

Why shouldn't I care about my child being engaged at school and fulfilling his potential, doesn't every parent care about this? Whether a child is bottom, middle or top they have a right to feel stimulated and engaged in learning and disengagement is hugely damaging to self-esteem and attitude as well as results.

NanFlanders Mon 30-Jul-18 15:55:42

OK. You aren't ruining his life - the vast majority of kids go to state schools and, speaking personally, I can't think of anything a private school would give my daughter that she doesn't already get at her outstanding comp. What is the school like? Does it have a good range of abilities? What extra-curricular activities are there? Do try to big it up before he goes: he might be feeling low if he thinks he has done less well than his older brother, or feel he has let you down, so do look at the school's website, and Twitter feed to point out the positives. If the school offers any residential trips in the first term, as quite a few do, try to send him on these - good bonding experience.

LeatherSuitcase Mon 30-Jul-18 15:59:18

NanFlanders thanks so much that's a great post.

Unfortunately I'm feeling negative about the school because a) I missed the open evening and the open morning was just a year 8 girl walking along corridors and the whole place felt kind of depressing b) a mum with a boy at the school decided to sit me down at her BBQ recently and tell me how bored and unengaged her son is at the school. I preferred the 'feel' of another state school that doesn't do as well in league tables etc but my son wanted this one.

Anyway, great idea to look at the Twitter feed and look out for residential trips.

noblegiraffe Mon 30-Jul-18 16:00:34

bitchy / sarcastic much?

Yes, a lot. Because you are wailing and gnashing your teeth like the world is ending because your DS has to go to a state comp, and not even a grammar, like the vast majority of the population of this country.

If you’re the sort of family who has enough money to send their kid to a private prep in the first instance, then they’re already winning in the educational stakes, and will most likely continue to win wherever they end up.

MarchingFrogs Mon 30-Jul-18 16:03:24

Number 1 - grammar schools are state schools, just as your local comprehensive / upper school / high school (depending on the system) is.

Number 2 - how exactly did he fail to get into grammar school? Presumably you moved him to a fee-paying school for his upper junior years in order to 'be sure' of a grammar place, not because you were moving him out of the state system, full stop? You - and he - might find that he isn't actually as near to the top of the tree as you both imagine him to be, once everyone gets going in year 7.

Our daughter failed our local 11+, almost certainly through making one silly but fatal mistake on one of the papers, and ended up in a comprehensive with a very poor general reputation. Yes, her SATs placed her in the top stream, but although she was at or near top of the class in most subjects, she certainly was not without equally able peers. She makes friends easily, but I can guarantee that she would have had a pretty hard time of it if she had pitched up with the attitude that she was cleverer than everyone else, she'd done it all before, she was going to be bored all day every day etc. That is going to be your DS's main problem, I'm afraid, if you allow him to go in with that attitude.

buckingfrolicks Mon 30-Jul-18 16:03:58

Good god. "bright child has to attend state school" horror. It's hardly Dotheboys Hall.

You're being narrow minded. He'll be fine. Unless he's a total snob. Hmmm.

There may even be other bright kids there, you know, with parents who don't hold with elitist education?

BertrandRussell Mon 30-Jul-18 16:04:41

What are your specific concerns? Does he have friends going? What are the school’s strengths?

MistakenHoliday Mon 30-Jul-18 16:06:24

He might not be far and away the brightest in the year - there might be other kids there who didn't sit the 11+ (for whatever reason) who are equally as able.

Foxyloxy1plus1 Mon 30-Jul-18 16:07:09

It does sound though, as if you’ve decided he will be disengaged from learning before he’s even had a proper day there.

What would you have planned to do at the end of year 8 if your DH had supported you in leaving him at prep school?

You never know, the school he’s going to might give him opportunities for things that he and you might not have thought of. Grammars, as you will know, having a child there already, can be very hot house and it sounds as though that wouldn’t suit your child.

Give it a chance! Btw, although you haven’t said anything negative about the school, I wonder if he’s picking up some negativity from you.

OnTopOfSpaghetti Mon 30-Jul-18 16:07:35

If it makes you feel any better, my DS has just finished Yr 9 in a huge state school, he is very bright and he is thriving. He's predicted really good grades and I am confident he'll achieve them. He also has a good friendship group and is gaining independence and confidence. I'd give the school a good chance to show what they can do before you write them off.

MerryMarigold Mon 30-Jul-18 16:09:49

To be honest, a pass on 11+ won't get you very far round here. You need to be oink the very top centile of the passes. I'd approach it as a great opportunity to do 'other things' whilst trying to maintain a position at the top of each class, if that's where he thinks he'll be. Learn a new instrument, take up a new sport, join several clubs. There's so much more at a big secondary than just lessons, but he can certainly try to excel in those classes. Science isn't easy at all.

StoatOfManyColours Mon 30-Jul-18 16:12:30

A friend of DD's narrowly missed getting into grammar school and is now a couple of years into high school. She is really happy and flourishing, and has said that it has helped her self esteem to be at the top end of the class in her current school, rather than being at the bottom of the grammar school. Maybe your son will find it the same?

EvilTwins Mon 30-Jul-18 16:13:57

For a start, not every Year 6 child will have sat the 11+ so it's absolutely possible that your DS will not be the brightest child in the school. Plenty of DC choose not to take it, and plenty of parents choose not to take it.

I spent 15 years teaching in a comp in a grammar area and DC still managed to get A*s at GCSE and A Level and go to university.

Sounds very much like you're pissed off that your investment in private education for years 5 & 6 didn't pay off.

Your negativity will not help your DS, however well you think you're hiding it.

LookAtIt Mon 30-Jul-18 16:20:23

No need to be so unpleasant. The OP has not let on to her son that she is disappointed and has asked how she can stop worrying things and embrace the new school. Your description of her ‘wailing and gnashing her teeth’ is ridiculous and unkind.

trumpetoftheswan Mon 30-Jul-18 16:23:56

It's a shame that you missed the Open Evening, but it's positive that your ds 'wanted' this school as opposed to the other state alternative.

Finding the transition days dull/hard/boring/anything else is normal. Don't put too much emphasis on that.

Focus instead on what you ds liked about this school in the first place. Had he been to visit it? Why did he choose it? What is he looking forward to? I do appreciate that some secondary schools come over as a bit depressing in the environment, must be more so if you're used to a prep. This doesn't say anything much about the quality of teaching or relationships that your son will experience.

Unfortunately, your own lack of enthusiasm will make you very susceptible to others tales of woe re the mum and the bbq. Parents do this for all sorts of reasons - teenagers often claim to find school 'boring' - this is reinforced by their parents wanting to hear how unchallenged etc they are. This often isn't borne out by school reports and exam results tbh.

HaroldsSocalledBluetits Mon 30-Jul-18 16:25:48

In fairness to those pointing out that most children are state educated and do more than fine, a comprehensive school within a grammar area is often a different beast to one in an area without grammars. However, she had no qualms about perpetuating this, to the extent of buying in advantage, when she thought it would work in her son's favour so tbh sympathy can only extend so far.

OP, agree that you need to start thinking of this as a fresh beginning and find the positives. You say the school gets good results - better in fact than the school that streams, so they obviously know what they're doing. Encourage your ds to take every opportunity the school offers, whether academic or extra curricular. Talk him through the routine of getting there and moving classrooms etc so he's all geared up and ready to be more independent. Reassure him that there will be other kids there who don't know anyone and even if they do, that friendships go through a period of change at secondary school while everyone's getting used to each other. Talk about the facilities, about how interesting it will be to study subjects he likes in greater depth.

It's not second best; it's his school. Help him feel a sense of ownership.

LeatherSuitcase Mon 30-Jul-18 16:30:04

noblegiraffe I borrowed the money to send him to private for two years because I wanted to give him the best chance possible at a better education than I had.

I grew up with parents on and off benefits (so a lot of stress and not much support) and was moved schools twice at secondary. I failed most of my GCSEs and as a direct result my own adult life has been difficult to get on track and I've had my own periods either on benefits or not but unable to buy food for my kids.

Finally as of five years ago age 40 I have a great job and can afford to borrow money for a couple of years of private school.

Stop making assumptions. I am TERRIFIED of my children failing their GCSEs and having a life like I did. I would move heaven and earth to avoid this so how the hell am I supposed to feel when a mum with a kid at the school tells me it's failing her son and he's disengaged? I'm supposed to be excited about sending my son there am I?

noblegiraffe Mon 30-Jul-18 16:33:33

Oh come on, Look. ‘Dreading move from private to state’ ‘miserable’ ‘ruining his life’.

I also strongly doubt that her DS has failed to pick up on this. Or drawn conclusions from the switch to private, the applications to the grammar etc.

It’s also pretty bloody insulting to those who send their kids to state comps as a matter of course.

SnuggyBuggy Mon 30-Jul-18 16:33:37

Does he have a favourite subject? I'd be tempted to try and encourage him to do some independent studying in it as independent study is a good skill in itself. I also agree a club could help keep him engaged with learning.

At least he is being set for English. I wasn't and it sucked.

StoatOfManyColours Mon 30-Jul-18 16:33:42

Did she say how or why he's disengaged? Some teenagers are just like that, I'm afraid (former lecturer here).

Will he know anyone at all at the school? Where do the kids who live near you go to school?

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