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Help! Still undecided about secondary choice sept 20(22 Posts)
Hi I need some advise please.
I am overcome by anxiety that we may have chosen the wrong school for DS in September. It was between one school 10 miles away, great reputation, good results etc that he is a feeder primary so we got in. So are his 2 younger brothers. It’s a 15min drive to primary and a 20 mins drive to secondary in same town.
We chose this one due to its reputation and friends going there.
BUT I am panicking that we chose the wrong school. The other option was our local secondary 2 miles from home with a bus from the end of our road. He would know the odd face there but would be the only one from his school going. This choice was off the cards a few years ago hence the boys being in a feeder primary to a different school. But in the last 2 years it has Really improved and is coming back up. What do I do? It’s driving me insane.
On one hand I have minimal change but a 40 round trip school run (am and pm) for the next 7-14 years and this is what is scaring me. My DH can’t seem to understand that and I feel like I am mad thinking it’s a problem as I don’t work.
I don’t even know if we could get DS into local school at this late stage but as we are in catchment we might be able to even at the start of year 7. I would then move my now reception son to a local
Primary when son number 2 went there in 2 years. It seems like so much change and risk but the school run thing comes up again.
I would be driving a 16, 14, 10 year iOS to school every day in 5 years time....is that weird / nuts?
We live in a rural setting no public busses from our village .
It does seem crazy if it's not absolutely necessary. What if you want to get a job in a few years time? What if there are after school clubs at secondary that ds1 or one of the younger ones wants to stay to? Would you all have to wait an extra hour?
My ds goes to a school 9 miles away and I have to admit it's a pain. We don't drive him there, he gets public transport, but parents evenings/other events are a trek and of course he has to leave earlier in the morning (probably not such an issue for you).
On the other hand, if you expect to be at home for their whole childhood, maybe it would be nice to have that connection time in the morning and afternoon? (although to be honest, ds is often grumpy and uncommunicative at nearly 14!).
No possibility of lift shares for either school?
If your local option is good you would need to have a very specific reason not to choose it. The benefits of being closer are huge, starting at your DC being able to travel independently and going on from there - school events, friends, clubs, activities... is the further school so much better that it's worth the journey and cost to your time for the next decade and a half?
It really depends on how good the local school ACTUALLY is. 'Coming up' in my opinion is not good enough if you have a very good alternative.
Will there be bullying from the older children who've been there through its not so good stage?
Will it always be 'coming up' or might it go back down again?
We had the choice between one amazing secondary and one 'coming up' one and DH wanted the latter but I stuck to my guns and send DC to the amazing one and we are both so glad I forced it, as the 'coming up' one seems to be very definitely 'going down' again and lots of parents we know with children there are quite upset about it.
If it felt right for your son, then that’s a good indicator. When we moved, I had a one hour round trip twice a day with my daughter, and although I initially worried about that, it quickly became part of the routine. We all worry if we’re doing the right thing. I’m doing it again in with my youngest! We’ve turned down a highly regarded grammar on our doorstep...for a scholarship at an independent school which will be nearly an hour door to door...but it just feels like the right place for her, so we will stick with this instinct and see! Good luck
I would have huge reservations about that commute and would advise you to move to the more local school. Children mostly make new friendship groups in secondary school.
What does you son think about it?
A friend had a similar commute, The school had longer days than her state options as it was an independent they all loved the school but admitted without a Very reliable daily lift share arranged right at the beginning it would have been a total PITA. When both her DD’s were there the problem of one staying for an after school club or one needing to get in early and the other not became an issue. When we used to meet up her day was often limited by the fact she had to do the evening school run sometimes twice.
I agree schools “coming up” may go down again but equally those with “good results and reputation” may also change we have a school in our nearest local town which had “good results/reputation” but the last ofstead wasn’t great and results aren’t that great when you look at them carefully. My DHs secretary’s son in the same town goes to what many would call a very undesirable school, ofstead shocking “reputation“ for bullying lots of disruption in lessons etc, on the surface he looks like the sort of child who would be eaten alive there but he loves it seems to get loads of input/encouragement from the school )which is also trying to come up) he is thriving and is predicted good grades.
Ultimately your son will do better where he is happier, whether that's Harrow or your local sink state.
I would ask myself:
Is this school really that bad?
Will my son love the freedom of being able to get himself on the bus, away from his brothers.
Will my son be able to use everything in this great school miles away, or will he be restricted by me having to drop him off and pick up?
The first term it might be great having a lift. This will soon get boring, but so will the bus. It will be much nicer for you to get him 2 miles up than 10. Also, friends after school play a huge role. Will he be sad he can't go to the park with his mates after school? He's a little y7 for a very short time, imagine a 14 year old boy- which option would you prefer. Him waiting outside the school for him mum, or being able to cycle home after stopping at his mates?
I personally would try the easier option and if it doesn't work out, try to move him at the end of y7 or 8.
We are in similar position, same length commute coming up in September plus younger one still at our local school. I checked out us routes and taxi fares as well as back up lift share options to give myself some piece of mind. I agonised over the choice but if DS was walking to our local school it would take 20 minutes anyway so it's my time lost, not his. I also looked into podcasts and audio books we can use to stop the journey being dead time, I am planning to use language learning cds in the car too to support his learning.
Eventually though, I want to return to work and for that both DH and I have accepted that we need to move closer to our favoured school and make a life for ourselves in the next town. We hope to do this before our youngest goes to secondary.
What I am trying to say is that you are right to worry, but there are many ways around problems, you don't need to use your closest school.
Is there any option of public transport?
My DD does a 30 mile round trip to school. I sometimes drive it, well worth it for the calibre of education.
Your current arrangement sounds pretty stifling for you, and not wonderful for the children in terms of local friendships. Are you sure you will neither want or need to work for the next 15 years? Is there any way the children can get public transport for at least part of the journey?
I understand why you might chose an out of catchment school for better educational opportunities, we did the same and have not regretted it. But our choice is on a bus route so not predicated on just me to be transport.
Thanks so much for your replies.
My son always preferred the local school - he liked the more rural setting and localness Of it. I think he would like to get a bus to a school. However, as we went with the other school we convinced him otherwise so he switched to really not liking local school. Now, he is sick of talking about it understandably and just wants to choose any school. He said the other day “the main thing he likes about school he’s signed up to now is his friends”....obviously it’s less scary transitioning with friends.
There is no public transport anywhere from our village so that’s not an option. The next village that has the local school has a bus to the town where the other school is but it’s all in the wrong direction for the other two who are at primary in same town.
I would say both schools have good points and bad points and neither is a bad option. When I choose one in my head I panic it’s the wrong one so switch to the other one and on it goes but time is running out if it hasn’t already.
All I want for my son (s) is to continue to grow to be the awesome creative resilient loved young men they are on their way to be and to get a good education so they can follow their dreams. Who knew it would be so tormenting in my head to feel
Like I had made the right choice to lay the groundwork for that!
Thanks so much for your thoughts and advise - keep it coming!
Just to add on a practical note - both schools have same results, one is more of a mixed intake as awful as that sounds and not as polished vs polished and more middle demographic But 9 miles away. Please don’t berate me for those statements.
I understand why parents prefer the more polished schools but your son will gravitate towards the people he's comfortable with and thats likely the types he grew up with. Our DD (y7) has gone to a school she knew nobody in and one that has a very mixed intake. First week was hell, crying saying she wants friends etc but than all was well and she loves it now.
Don't underestimate the problems at these polished schools, they can be just as bad, if not worse, than the ones with poorer intakes. If they get similar results than sorry but I think you're fooling yourself thinking that 9 miles will be worth it.
I can't think of anything worse than having a teenager stuck at home in a village with no local school friends, no bus and always relying on my lifts.
Our ds started y7 last year - it’s our catchment school but as we are rural it’s a 5 mile bus ride. What I’ve noticed is although he had some really good friends at his primary, he formed a new group of friends by March. These were boys in his sets who he shared interests with. Just before lockdown they had started meeting up at the weekend which means that I have to do the 5 mile drive to take him there. Obviously I don’t mind at all but it does make me wonder how different life would be if his friends were very local and he could meet them independently.
Regardless of what the schools offer, I think in terms of friendship I would go for the local School. As long as I could see that there were boys there similar to my ds
Best of luck
Your son will be going to the school I think he should be given the choice. If he hates it he can always change. Imagine being him, he's probably worried about going and this is the only conversation. Ask him which school he wants. And let him go there.
I think there are huge immeasurable benefits in going to a secondary school that you can make your own way to. He can hang out after school, visit friends, spontaneously decide to stay after school (for an activity or just to do homework). And he/you don't have to synchronise your schedules constantly.
Remember it's not just one journey a day - you might be going back in the evening for after school events.
Finally, where will his friends live? Because if they all live near the school you will be spending holidays and weekends facilitating his social life, or accepting that he can't have one. With one child that's not so bad, but you have three children to consider.
Choose the nearer school, no brainer!
The problem is that...although the nearer school has many benefits, we can’t see that there are similar boys there that my son might get on with. Friends who have sent their kids there have reported name calling and a bit of meanness at the start, and the catchment is a lot more mixed. I fear is that I put him there because it’s near, but he goes in knowing no one to a school that has a reputation for having a bit of a rough catchment compared to the other school which rightly or wrongly is a bit of a bubble. In September they had a shirt stint at a local feeder primary school and it really didn’t work, as we had experienced the bubble of a feeder school to the other further away secondary. What I’m saying is there has been a lot of change already, but I am stuck at the cost of minimising more change and the long term potential reality. Of course it could all work well either way, but how will
I know. I won’t I guess. We could always try our current choice for a year and then move in year 8/9 when number 2 boys starts...
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