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Think I made the wrong secondary choice

(32 Posts)
drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 07:05:46

My DD starts year 7 in September, state comprehensive. I found it difficult to choose a school but narrowed it down to two nearby. Both outstanding.

School A was lively and fun on the open day. This is the one DD wanted to put first choice. School B was a bit more serious on the open day. They have a reputation for being strict but also amazing results, sought after locally and I felt that maybe a more disciplined school might be better for my quiet DD. I was afraid she would be lost in the more lively school and that in all my adult wisdom I knew better than her. I put school B first on the form, not really expecting to get it with the tight catchment but we did.

Now it is August and I can’t stop thinking about school B and how DD came out with a smile on her face. I think with all the home learning as well I have seen how resilient she is and how she grabs every opportunity and maybe she would be better in the lively school. I’m sorry this sounds churlish - I know I should be happy we got my first choice and I really feel for anyone on waiting lists hoping to move up.

I contacted the local authority and they say I can request to change the order of my preferences and then go on wait list for school B but they will only do it ‘with good reason’

Has anyone done this and do you know what constitutes a good reason? I assume having an indecisive mother who got scared on application day doesn’t cut it. And has anyone done this? Would it be a mistake now to change? DD is geared up for school A - has uniform, practiced journey, has done the little homework tasks they gave for the Summer, is excited.

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BullshitVivienne Thu 06-Aug-20 07:07:13

Are your As and Bs the wrong way round? Or is it too early for me to be on the internet?

Cheesecakejar Thu 06-Aug-20 07:09:57

What @BullshitVivienne said.

Also in the nicest possible way I think you are going to have to suck this one up, she hasn't even started yet! She might absolutely love it there. Stop worrying about what could have been and make the best of your choice.

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 07:10:34

Haha it is too early for me to be on the internet i think!!! I did get them the wrong way round. I was just trying to be clear and messed that one up!

From ‘now it is August’ I got it wrong way round. I am thinking about school A (lively/fun). But DD got into and is prepared for school B (strict/great results)

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Seracursoren Thu 06-Aug-20 07:14:12

I went to an incredibly strict school (back where they could cuff the back of your head if you were messing around in class) but we still had fun. School is surely first and foremost about education. Great results would sway me over "fun".

Why don't you actually give the school a chance. You chose it for a reason, remember what those reasons are.

Strict also means less likely to have low level disruption in class and probably a hard stance on bullying. Sounds like a win-win to me.

RandomTree Thu 06-Aug-20 07:14:23

I think you should stick with school B. You say that it's a great school and that your DD is excited to go. Honestly that sounds great! Give this one a chance. I think she'll be fine.

toria658 Thu 06-Aug-20 07:18:35

A lot of open days are rather contrived. I’ve worked in enough secondary schools to know). They are both outstanding, you have made the choice and she will have outstanding opportunities.

I am of the opinion that open days aren’t worth going to and having a tour during a normal school day, with all the students present ( not just the shiny, smiley stars) is a better guide.

I think it is fabulous you went with your parental feeling, she has a place at an outstanding school. I really would leave the LEA to sort out the issues for parents who have children without places/ poor offers.

ScrapThatThen Thu 06-Aug-20 07:22:53

Try not to mess your daughter around. Go with the school she is gearing up towards. And excited about now. Remember there's no bad choice here, just different ones.

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 07:31:25

Why did I not come here sooner? Should have known I would get wise answers on MN.

You are all right. I should stick with my decision. I’m not sure why I have made it such a big deal in my head. Maybe because I feel like I am making the decision alone (that’s a different thread!) and I had a bad time at secondary and it has left me with a bit of dread for my DD.

Thanks everyone

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TW2013 Thu 06-Aug-20 07:38:16

We went for the strict but good results school. I warned her that because they are strict and she was disorganised that she probably would get detentions but to just always do her best.

She has been there a few years, no detentions, much more organised and loves school. Despite the strict reputation she says that if they know you try your best they are less likely to give you a detention if you occasionally forget something. She finds that due to the strict rules there is less messing about than at primary school so they can all get on with their work. The more lively/fun school also tolerates more lively/fun children which might be fine in yr7 but gets annoying by yr10 when some want to work and others still want to play.

How easy is it to move later on? The strict/good results school near us is hard to get into beyond yr7 intake as few people want to leave and lots of people want to move to it. The lively/fun school is easier to get into later on. I would probably give the stricter school a go as she seems up for it and reevaluate if you have problems.

It does though for me depend on how strict it is. Not sure I could stomach the Michaela school but I guess it depends on the alternatives and your dc.

prh47bridge Thu 06-Aug-20 08:16:28

Your LA is wrong. You do not need a good reason to go on the waiting list for school A. The Admissions Code is clear. You have the absolute right to apply for any school at any time outside the normal admissions round (paragraph 2.21). Far too many LAs try to place obstacles in the way of parents wanting to move their child to a different school within the LA. It shouldn't happen. If you really want to put your daughter on the waiting list for school A you can do so. If the LA refuse, tell them you will refer the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman as a clear case of maladministration.

Having said that, I agree with others that you shouldn't change at this stage. If you find that the school really doesn't suit your daughter you can apply for school A later.

SnakesOrLadders Thu 06-Aug-20 08:18:55

Where are her friends going? Does she make friends easily?

labyrinthloafer Thu 06-Aug-20 08:19:49

I would go to school b AND go on the waitlist for a.

Tbh, if you're in England, school will be pretty tough wherever this term so it'll be very hard to judge.

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 08:54:11

@prh47bridge thanks that is useful to know.

I hear what people are saying about discipline meaning less lower level disruption which was big plus for me. I was just worried it might be joy-sucking too! It is not Michaela school level strict but an awful lot of things seem to be compulsory - doing an extra curricular, taking duke of Edinburgh, helping at open evening. These are all good things that I would encourage my daughter to do but why make them ‘compulsory’? It feels like setting up an adversarial relationship from the off rather than explaining the positives of the activities to the kids and letting them take initiative. Plus so many ways to get a detention! Detention was SERIOUS at my school, not for forgetting your homework diary...

It is a difficult time with the lockdowns but I have been impressed with how the school have been in touch with the new year sevens. They have been welcoming and given some activities for them to engage with.

Thanks everyone for reminding me of the positives of the school.

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TW2013 Thu 06-Aug-20 09:44:20

Extra curricular activities were compulsory, everyone HAD to do three a week and if you didn't sign up voluntarily then they had a mental health group they would really push instead which helped dd jump into activities she actually did want to do. She still goes to clubs and missed them in lockdown as they are a chance to make likeminded friends. She is very much the exception. By Christmas clubs were not pushed as much, by yr8 it was more a case of form tutor saying 'Anyone going to a club at lunchtime? Anyone at all? Come on someone other than miniTW must be going to some sort of club today'.

I imagine with covid and bubbles, restricting movement etc many clubs won't run as often yr7 and 8 are combined, they are run in classrooms at lunchtime which might not be their usual class etc. Especially where single classes are bubbles in yr7.

Likewise helping at open evenings I am not sure will go ahead this year and my dc loved showing off their school. Duke of Edinburgh is a long way off and they can make it compulsory all they like but if your dd doesn't do voluntary work/ physical/ skills section then she won't get the award.

I think by making it compulsory they are setting the expectations, they know that some people won't do it but most will. I think that the world appears differently to an 11 yr old. They are used to being told what to do so this is one more expectation. I think as long as you appear enthusiastic she will probably embrace it.

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 10:18:02

Thanks @TW2013 it is so good to hear your DD’s positive experiences. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply.

Don’t get me wrong - I want my DD to do extra curricular and help at open evening and so would she, she is disappointed that it doesn’t look like everything will be running as usual. It is more that when something is compulsory it takes away a bit of that independence and pride/ownership in something you have chosen yourself.

But you are right, 11 year olds are used to being told what to do and probably won’t find it demotivating in the way I would. And I do think it is good for them to have high expectations and that they offer so many extra curricular activities.

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Nishky Thu 06-Aug-20 10:20:45

Why didn’t you let your daughter choose? We discussed options at length but ultimately we put as first choice the one my dd wanted to go to.

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 10:44:30

When we started looking at secondaries I always said that I wanted to hear her views but that the final decision would be mine because I felt that was my responsibility as a parent. I didn’t want to put the responsibility of the decision on her.

The reason I made a different decision to her was really fear. I felt she was taken by the school being ‘fun’. But I was worried she might not fit socially as she is quite quiet/shy and that ‘fun’ would mean low level disruption and actually at the moment she really loves to learn and I think would get frustrated if she can’t get on with it. I felt that as she has not been to secondary school before/experienced teenage social dynamics I have a perspective to give on this that she doesn’t have. I also have experience of school A in a different context where the kids were super noisy and appeared unruly. They were on a trip and it was a snapshot and none of it looked unkind but I did think it looked a brilliant school for a loud extrovert but maybe not for my DD.

Having said that, a lot of my worry is from thinking that I should have let her decide. Maybe she would have run with it, come out of her shell and flourished at school A.

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TW2013 Thu 06-Aug-20 11:35:41

She is only 11, possibly 10 when you submitted the form, I think you were right to go with your view as you knew more than she did and she sounds a bit like my dd who does thrive in a more ordered, quiet classroom. Where two schools are equivalent we are happy to go with the child's preference but where you can see that one will suit them more than another you should exercise your parental right of veto. That is why parents fill in the application forms rather than children doing it in class at the beginning of yr6.

If she is excited then I would build it up and see how she goes. I imagine she will learn from others mistakes early on in yr7 and might avoid detention entirely. We sold detention to dd as just trying to make sure everyone follows the rules and to remind them. All but the most disruptive children soon adjusted.

Nishky Thu 06-Aug-20 11:57:53

My view was that if we forced a choice and she was unhappy then that would cause an issue

The school she chose was considered to be the worst in the area with some low level behaviour issues- my daughter was very shy and lacking in confidence- I won’t say it was all plain sailing but she gained excellent GCSE results, predicted excellent A levels and most importantly she is so confident and outgoing it is gobsmacking to me ( how I wish I had worried less )

drivingmisspotty Thu 06-Aug-20 11:59:20

Thanks TW 👍

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Nishky Thu 06-Aug-20 11:59:50

@TW2013 I don’t agree that parents know best- as parents we are not by our children’s sides and don’t really know how they interact.

Nishky Thu 06-Aug-20 12:04:19

@drivingmisspotty one thing I did console myself with is that you are not signing up to the full 5 years and that children do successfully change schools

TW2013 Thu 06-Aug-20 12:13:31

Yes but a 10 year old can't make fully reasoned judgements. They see ipads, don't look at the small print that parents have to buy them and they can only have school apps on them. They see their friends going to school A and want to go there without considering that some schools divide up children into different classes, their 'friends' might not choose them to be in their class or might decide to reinvent themselves two days into secondary school and dump their old friends. The child sees detentions without considering that if they behave they are less likely to get a detention but if they like a quiet class then detention is often part of that.

Yes parents don't always know best but if drivingmisspotty has knowledge of the behaviour of the other school and her dd is happy with the decision then she is obviously not going to be dragging her kicking and screaming to school on day 1. If it turns out to be the wrong school then she can probably more easily move to the other school than the other way around.

Nishky Thu 06-Aug-20 12:32:45

TW - I have just made the same point about changing schools if necessary. My dd chose a different school to any of her friends because she absolutely loved the feel of the school - and I did too- it was the 3rd of 4 that we looked at and we liked the other two but the minute we walked out of this she was adamant she wanted to go there. Helped that a friend had the same experience with her daughter 8 years previously so we had some inside information.

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