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Superselective girls grammar: what kind of girl thrives?(27 Posts)
In a couple of weeks, we will be offered a superselective grammar for our DD. The back-up is the local independent which doesn't get as high results at GCSE (no where near). We didn't do much prep with DD as she is already at the independent. We didn't expect her to get into the superselective grammar. She is naturally very intelligent and musical, self challenges and asks for extra homework (at the moment, she stupidly does this in front of the cooler/sportier girls and then gets made fun of - which she then agonises about. She also stays in at lunch to make her work perfect etc). For some reason, she just doesn't identify with the typical type of girl who goes to the grammar. She has been programmed to think they aren't cool as she is so desperate to be cool/accepted herself. The irony! So if you have a similar daughter, what kind of school did you find your DD flourished in? Or will she inevitably just have to go through this phase wherever she goes until she finds and accepts herself? What do you all think? Especially if you have a DD like mine or were like this yourself. Unfortunately I have a totally different personality type and it is difficult for me to relate. I just got on with things, didn't care much about what others thought so ironically was always considered cool at school, despite doing OK academically.
I don't have a daughter but my son got in to our selective local boys grammar and it has really suited him. He sounds a bit like your daughter in that he is very enthusiastic about school work and found it a bit difficult to curb it to appear 'cool' at primary. He was teased quite a bit and felt a bit on the outside of things.
He is now in Year 11 has a great group of friends (always out and about at the weekend), got top GCSE mock results and has turned into a lovely quietly confident boy. He has chosen to stay on for sixth form too. I am so relieved he went there as I feel he would have tried to hide his academic side to fit in if he had gone to a different school.
My middle dd was at a superselective girls' grammar from Years 7-11. She was always very bright but it was more than that, there was just something about her from a very young age.
I would say as well as being bright, to thrive in a school like this, you have to be interested in learning and have an intellectual curiosity. At dd's school there was a lot of class discussion in all subjects, you can't really sit at the back and switch off. This really suited dd, she was (and is) interested in a wide range of subjects - politics, feminism, history and so on.
However due to the nature of the girls, the pressure was a bit intense at times. The school claims they are laid back and the pressure comes from the girls themselves, however there were some things that seemed very regimented - eg they HAVE to take 11 GSCE subjects, they HAVE to do triple Science. They strongly encourage 4 A Levels too, even though top universities only want 3.
Dd left at Sixth Form and went to another (semi-selective) girls school. Partly because her school didn't offer one of her A Level subjects, partly because she really didn't want to do 4 A Levels and partly because she wanted a less pressurised environment. It was a hard choice for her because she had been very happy and had some lovely friends. But a term and a half in (she is currently in Year 12) I think she has made the right choice. She really stands out academically at this school which is good for her confidence. The teaching is as good, if not better, and I'm sure she will get good results.
It sounds like your dd enjoys learning and would thrive at a grammar school. I know my dd really enjoyed being with other bright girls where they could debate anything and everything and really challenge themselves.
She does sound as though she would be better suited to the Grammar School tbh. Although you might have to keep an eye on her getting too pressured and stressed.
Those that work hard at lessons and extra-curricular flourish at DD's SSGS. Her school has a reputation for being v sporty and v musical, alongside the extraordinary academic results.
DD is the type that always challenges herself, and she loves it. She seems far happier than I think she would have been staying in the independent sector. The school she had a place at, whilst having the best academic results of any independent near us, very much seemed to produce a type, rather than her school which produces individuals.
The ethos is down to individual schools though- some have an ethos where it's cool to be clever and studious, others don't.
I went to one. I struggled a bit at primary with being picked on for being a 'boffin'. I much preferred my secondary experience. There were still the 'cool' girls who didn't work too hard but generally everyone was academic and so got on with it.
If your daughter is naturally bright and worried what others think, I would think she would do better at the grammar, as she is more likely to find her tribe. I'd be concerned that in a few years she might work less where she currently is to fit in. If she got in without much prep then she should have no trouble keeping up with the academics.
It is likely to be the best fit for her. Schools like this that I know select purely on exam scores and (really) have no time or inclination to care about anything other then academics. This self selects possibly the largest group (in relative terms) of similar girls.
Thank you everyone for your advice! My DD does way too many activities and also excels at music (she got to grade 5 distinction in one type of instrument in 5 terms of playing, despite not practising that much). But I feel she is socially immature for her age and not at all street wise! (at least compared to my DS or what I was like at that age). She is highly intelligent but sometimes says the most dappy things. She also seems very dependent on the approval of others be that friends, teachers or even us as parents. My concern with superselective grammar was that there wouldn't be much to feed her need for constant external sense of approval so she might get herself into a some sort of ratwheel that keeps spinning and burn the candle out too early. But she isn't actually happy at the independent as she is the boffin there really.
Very interesting what you say Pasternak! I suppose even superselective independents will make sure they select different types of girls so there will be the very sporty, the very artistic and the very thespian type as well as the purely academic. I mean what else will they write about in their weekly newsletter otherwise!
DD was the one who used to say ‘yay’ to tests at her junior school and as a result just didn’t fit in. At the SS grammar she is surrounded by like minded girls who generally all like to self challenge, although there are the exceptions who were pushed there by parents and are now struggling but it isn’t a huge number.
It is easier if they are not anxious to ‘fit in’ but are comfortable in their own skin and accepting of difference in themselves and others rather than wanting to please others and blend in.
Schools like this that I know select purely on exam scores and (really) have no time or inclination to care about anything other then academics. This self selects possibly the largest group (in relative terms) of similar girls
Which is why the exam results are better. The teaching might not be better at this school than the independent school, but all the children are brighter to start with. So you can't really compare the schools' academic achievements because you aren't comparing like with like.
How do you know she will be offered a place?
“Superselective”, so if indeed she gets in with v little prepping she’ll probably be fine.
I’d be v concerned about the ethos of her current school and peer group (“uncool” to work hard etc) - this was a thing at my comprehensive school and was shit, even for those of us with a thick skin / disregard for it. Would and want her out of there if a good, free option comes up, which the “supeeselective” with good exam results etc would be.
If you're in my area, the girls get told their scores and if it's a good one, you pretty much know whether you'll get offered a place.
OP, my DS sounds incredibly similar to your DD - right down to the grade 5 without practising much! We have no doubt that the super selective grammar that he is likely to be getting an offer for is the sort of environment he will thrive in. We know the school very well and it is wonderful for pastoral care and extracurricular activities (you only have to look at their orchestra and how week their sports teams do in inter-school competitions - against the independent schools).
We do have concerns about him being used to being big fish small pond in terms of academics and his other activities, but we actually think this can be a good thing to happen at this age rather than later.
I would be even more sure of the grammar if he cared when the other boys scoff at his enthusiasm!
There is no typical girl though, who has programmed her to think that
In our area you're told the score in October, along with expected cut-off score for each SSGS, two weeks before applications deadline so that people can be realistic with their choices and not be stuck with a place at a school they didn't even put on the preferences.
Same w00t DD is heading there in September as we know her score
She sounds like the type of girl these schools were made for. My DD is on the other side of the spectrum and in a local comp. Mid range results, nothing special. She's super well behaved at school and she's been teased on whatsapp for getting all the awards at assembly. I can't imagine how smart and we'll behaved kids cope tbh.
From your description of her perfectionism, I would look very carefully at the mental health provision at both schools. We’re not in a super-selective area, but I have a friend with a similar, very high achieving daughter who went to a locally desirable girls grammar school. She set herself insanely high standards and had some horrible MH issues during adolescence which continue to manifest themselves in early adulthood. The school seemed keener to deliver strings of A*s than mentally well-adjusted girls able to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
Agee with the poster who said their is no typical girl.
My dd is at a selective grammar school. She doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype of a grammar school girl. She’s not a fan of school, despite doing very well academically. ( achieved top grades in her recent mocks) She doesn’t like sports ,is reluctant to do any extra curricular activity and can be extremely lazy.
Her best friend isn’t very academic but is a member of various after school clubs , loves school , very sporty etc
What I am trying to say is that at grammar schools you will find a variety of individuals , the same as in all other schools.
Not every child at a grammar school is super intelligent, well behaved and sporty. It’s a myth
OP who programmed her into thinking you can put girls into boxes?
Not me! I spent years being bullied for not being clever enough and committing the cardinal sin of being rubbish at sports.
My DD is at a comp that I suspect half of mumsnet would go private to avoid. She is very bright (much more so than I ever was) and tells me she has never been bullied/made fun of for working hard. Because of the way that lessons are set most of her friends are of a similar level to her, but they all seem very supportive of each other. It’s a very far cry from the nightmare time I had at a girls grammar, and makes me very glad that we don’t live in a grammar area.
I agree with SunnySommer - your daughter sounds like a perfectionist and that rings alarm bells for me as my daughter was the same. A super selective grammar almost broke her and our family as she felt pressurised by her environment to perform and her mental health suffered. We put her into a less pressured environment and she is thriving now.
Ginfordinner, I dont know...my perspective is based on mental agony over the decision to decline the top grammar in the country in favour of the top independent. At the end one does what one thinks is best for them... I know this is contentious issue for many but holistically I do not agree.
If you look at possibly the most competitive grammar I know, the cut off scores of 10-15 candidates would run into second decimal points, and the tail is very long as there may be no more than 1-2% in scores among half of the intake. I suppose there is no other way of doing it 'fairly'. If you take swimming for example, you can run off today a list of fastest swimmers in the country at 11 and their times for say 200 free would look similar to grammar 11+ scores. However, I guarantee that the lists of top 100 at 11 and 18 when they hit the big time are substantially different, particularly when it comes to the top (worlds, europeans in swimming =~ oxbridge in academics).