Disagreeing with your child about school choices(40 Posts)
Just wondered whether anyone had disagreed with their child about choice of secondary school and how you resolved it.
DS wants to go to the school all his friends are going to. We want home to go to a school we think will suit him much better and which is more academic.
DH’s view is that we simply decide and tell DS where he is going. I am really struggling with it all- I would like DS to go to our preferred school but hate the idea of making him sad, even in the short term. DH is confident that DS will soon settle and that his disappointment will only be a short term thing. I worry about whether this is correct.
Anyone experienced this? How did you handle it?
If you send him to the school of your choice and he hates it, or doesn't do well, you'll get the blame. Maybe on trial basis? Review after six months?
Most of the open days are this coming September and October (or at least they are round here) Take a look round as a family and make sure you are not meeting up with friends so he can take a look with his own eyes. Make a checklist that he needs to tick off or ask questions about. It may not change things, however again it might.
We allowed DD to make decision on what order she wanted schools on her CAF, fortunately we would have been happy with any of them. She didn’t know anyone in her class but soon made some great friends.
I think your DH is probably right.
Allowing an 11 year old to dictate such a massive choice is madness. Of course you take him opinion into consideration and explain why your choices are better, but at the end, you make the decision.
if he is mature enough, sit down and ask him for criteria he thinks are important in a school and why, and add your own in. Then when he goes round the schools it will help him see why the other one is better.
If he isn't mature enough to do that, then he isn't mature enough to make this decision anyway.
Find some great points about your choice and sell them hard at the open evening.
If he is strong enough friends he can see them out of school. AND make new ones at the new school.
How different are the schools? Is he a high achiever? If so, how do high achievers do at both schools? How do the two schools support his interests- sport, music or whatever? What are you basing your judgements on?
My priority order:
= ethos & academics (for my type of child)
= distance & extra curricular
He may well find that some of his friends parents are also looking at the second school for their DC, unless it has some particular additional criteria making it harder to access?
When DD1 was in y5, she came home saying 'I want to go to B, everyone is going there'. We said we would choose based on the best school for her, and anyway we didn't believe everyone would be going to B. She, and 2/3rds of her year went to A.
Something similar happened with DD2. A number of children/parents were quite vocal that they thought B was better. After the open evenings quite a few changed their mind and went for A instead.
What the pupils say and what the parents do may be 2 different things.
We made the decision for my DS. He was only wanting to go to his 1st choice because he had a couple of friends going. That wasn’t a deciding factor and we sent him to the school we felt best suited him. He thrived and has thanked us. He was just very anxious then and lacked confidence which is why he wanted to go somewhere with friends. My DS2 is now going to the same school and he too has no friends going there but he is happy to go albeit a little anxious too. We had a lot of discussions with the DC about schools but ultimately you will need to make the decision.
We went to look at the two nearest schools - I liked the idea of School A, the one slightly further away, that he might not have got into anyway because on distance criterion we're right on the edge, and there seem to be more kids in ds1's year than most of the others anyway. It is also slightly awkward to get to, it's perhaps a 25 minute walk and you can only get a bus about half way, but that would matter less to him than me. 3 out of its 4 most recent inspections were OFSTED outstanding, and the head has resisted all pressure to academise.
School B has had several good OFSTEDs, and in our borough all schools are now good or outstanding. However, comparing the two open evenings School B just round the corner from our house was much better at welcoming everyone in, offering refreshments and a look at the school's chickens as an icebreaker, and being able to choose where we spent our time, where being shown round school A we didn't seem to have a say in what we got to look at.
I still wondered about A, dp favoured B, but I did give DS1 the choice, as he has to go there, and he's really sad about leaving primary and going to secondary anyway and DS1 has chosen A.
It's not clear that there are really big fundamental differences between the schools, both are co-ed comprehensives 11-16.
I did also consider looking at a third school with a sixth form but with fairly similar intake although it's much nearer to much more middle class areas of the borough, but DS1 wasn't keen as he thought he wouldn't know anyone there (it now turns out that one of his friends from school is going there and none of the boys he hung around with most are going to the same one).
I don't agree that children can't make a good choice - even at 10 I think DS1 was capable of making as justified a choice (taking into account that I don't know all the answers either) in this question. I think it's easier when the choices aren't totally fundamental, eg we're not choosing whether or not to do co-ed and there isn't a huge gap in academic outcomes between any of the schools we're close enough to for them to be a real option.
How old is your child? Presumably you are talking about secondary transfer. I was in this situation precisely some years back. Am afraid to say I gave my child no choice. Your husband is absolutely right. Parents sometimes got to make a clear decision; no ifs, no but's. . . DS never looked back after having gone to the school I chose for him. Now that it's all over and behind us, I asked him recently (jokingly) if he would send his child to the same school in the future? The answer was a definite Yes!
Would you let your son have 12 bars of chocolate for breakfast? I assume no, and the long term impact of that would be negligible. So why would you let him choose a school which could negatively impact his entire life?
You start with a conversation with him that says we need to put 3 schools down on our application form, so we need to go and visit all the more local secondary schools before we make any decisions.
Then you can hopefully have a good conversation between the three of you about what is important, make a list and then look objectively at each one.
You idea of a more academic school which will suit him better, sounds good but actually is that what he thinks? Is something else as well as friends driving his idea of which he wants to go to. It seems to me that between the three of you, you are all making decisions that are not based on reality but based on your thoughts. So maybe you all need to take a step back and rethink how you will make what is an important decision.
As someone who was forced by my parents to change School twice, at age 10 and then age 13, with absolutely no say in the matter, unless of course it was what they wanted to hear, I would never do the same to my child. I had a bloody miserable time and I’ve never really been ok with that. We’ve been going through the same with dd2 who is about to start Y9, and she is adamant that she wants to stay with her friends. If she’s happy socially it reduces the headache considerably, and ime you can focus much more clearly on your academic work if you’re happy with your friends.
Parents make the decision but hear their child's opinion and input.
I've known students get a really tough ride through secondary because their parents let them choose the school they wanted, then when there was friendship issues we had all the 'but I want to go to school B'. Sometimes they get moved. Sometimes the move works. Sometimes they get moved back after B hasn't worked. Letting the child dictate their school rarely seems to go well.
I'm all for taking on board what the child thinks and feels but ultimately the decision is for parents.
Discuss. Make lists of pros and cons. How far away is your choice? How easy travel. How many of his friends going?
It depends on whether you truly think the school is a better fit for your child, or whether you are just looking at results etc.
We let DS1 choose, because I watched him carefully at the open days, and the school he was desperate to go to was clearly the school where he had already bonded, and looked most comfortable at.
It is not, on paper, the best school he could have chosen, and DH still has some issues with this, but it was right for DS1. He has thrived.
DS2, I pretty much persuaded to go to the other school, because he wasn't bothered and I think it is a better fit for him.
Both time, we went to the open evenings and I told them to clear their heads of friends etc, and just imagine what they would do in the school in years to come. Clubs, options, etc.
Best to point out to your DS that schools often avoid putting friends together. DS1 went with a group of friends, but didn't have a single primary school friend in a class for year 7 or 8.
I think it's important to emphasise to DC (and to parents for that matter) that you don't get a choice and no one does. You get to express a preference. Even if a particular friend wants to put school B as first choice doesn't mean they will definitely go there.
You also need to emphasise to DC that so far they only have conscious experience of being a 6-10 year old (assuming they don't have much memory of being 0-6) but you need to choose a school suitable for being age 11-16 (or 18) in - and he doesn't know what that's like but his parents do.
Take his preferences into account when all other factors broadly balance one another out and you are choosing between options where the different advantages and disadvantages are roughly equivalent.
If other factors bring a different school to the front then go with your own judgment.
Both my children went to Boarding school not knowing a soul. They wanted the school far more than staying with “friends”. Others who did go to secondary with friends didn’t stay friends with those friends. They clicked with others. So who you know widens out as different abilities and extra curricular takes shape. The children mature and change.
I would look at more than academics and current friendships. When looking at schools we made a whole list of all our “wants” and ranked each element on the list. We ranked some as essential (eg equivalent results to the local grammar school which was the alternative) and others as desirable (distance from home). You can then see which meets requirements for all of you. Ultimately though you choose but hopefully the exercise has pointed to that school anyway!
We were down to two schools. dS2 desperately wanted to go to A, where his brother goes. We felt it was wrong for him (rather regret getting. The place in the first place, but the way the system works one has to apply in year 5 for a place in year 9) and it was too far ahead to be sure then).
He was distraught and we had a number of scenes for months. It was dreadful (I am aware that so need to establish more emotional independence from my children :-). ) but I did not believe that he had the skill sir rationality to make a better decision than us.
Thankfully he is now pretty happy with the decision. They are both great schools (it was all a ludicrously first world problem scenario) and as they have differing natures there will always be the odd twinge whichever way we went but ultimately I felt that parenting sometimes means making unpopular decisions.
Lots of good advice above about how to tackle handling things.
And totally agree about friends being. A poor guide. You never really know others' plans; they may not get places anyway; and he may well be in none of their classes anyway.
I was forced to go to a school several miles away that entailed 2 buses whilst ALL my mates went to the local high school at 13. I spent 2 years trying to make friends that I wouldn’t see outside school and had arrived with their mates from middle school. Too much focus and effort of make no friends & academia definitely slipped. Needless to say my 2 chose and my 3rd will. They chose from good schools, but ultimately the choice was theirs & will be. There’s a lot of factors involved and it’s a good idea for you all to consider your priorities such as school fit, ethos etc, teaching, pastoral care, differential between the schools re achievements (whatever that may be for your family & not necessarily stellar results), distance/ease of seeing school friends outside, ability to continue with existing friends, Is his choice very different to yours?
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