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Moving for secondary schools - is it worth it?

(37 Posts)
monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 18:10:25

Just that really. Was chatting to DH about the whole house/secondary schools - I think it would be but he disagrees. Obviously, we don't have the benefit of hindsight and I was wondering what other people's experience has been - especially in terms of university outcomes etc.

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Changethetoner Tue 06-Oct-20 18:15:43

The things is, life happens, you don't always get what you plan. We moved and found a good school for our child, but then my husband got made redundant, and we had to move to a completely new area. Best laid plans...

monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 18:29:19

am sorry to hear that, though am sure that your child was still ok.

Am very easily influenced by others especially when it comes to things like - get your kid into the best school, best hobbies etc and do assume they should at least stand a chance at good unis. My husband thinks it's silly and would like to have the nicest house.

But DM does love to remind me that whilst I went to one of the top schools, a naice girls school and then a terrible inner-city comp for A'levels my grades were the same at all of them and I still got into a top uni. My brother only ever went to a 'terrible' London comp and also got into a top uni and we've all ended up with PhDs etc. So maybe schools dont really matter all that much

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Terribletiming Tue 06-Oct-20 18:36:33

It seems these days, going to a bog standard comp or school in a disadvantaged area and getting good results is a positive when applying to university. I suppose the problem is ensuring your child is able to get the good results if there is less of a positive learning culture at the school.

JoJoSM2 Tue 06-Oct-20 18:40:33

If you’ve got PhD then you should be a whizz at stats - the right school makes a massive difference on a statistical level. Like 1.5 or more grades at GCSE, eg 5’s vs 7‘s for a similar cohort.

On an individual level, though, a child from a very academic family like yours, is likely to do well despite their school rather than because of it. However, I’d still move for a better catchment so that my child has a better environment where expectations are much higher and a much higher number of children come from households where education is highly valued. It might make for a nicer experience in terms of friends and ethos.

monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 18:48:03

@JoJoSM2 not all of us are that great at stats ;-) I think what scared me was looking through uni websites and noticing that most decent unis basically now need 3As (if not higher) to get in for what back in my day were quite bog-standard degrees. So kids must be really penalized for any slip-ups.

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wonderstuff Tue 06-Oct-20 18:49:03

I work in a 'good' school, 2019 we got progress 8 results (progress since KS2 SATS) in top 10% of UK. My dd 'outstanding' school got average progress.
I think it is important what you want for a school.
I've also worked in a tough council estate school. We had great pastoral care, it was small so every child was known by every teacher, there was a core of great teachers, but we had a high staff turnover, struggled to recruit for some posts, particularly maths. Some kids did really well, but too many didn't.

Maternal education is still the strongest indicator of children's education attainment, but good teachers matter too.

I have one child who would do well in any school. My other is struggling, let down by his current school, easily led and I absolutely would move him if I thought he would have more support elsewhere.

RandomMess Tue 06-Oct-20 18:56:01

It depends on how bad the "bad"
School is and how "good" the good one is AND whether it is great fit for your DC...

monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 18:59:08

@wonderstuff would you in your experience go for the best school? I worked in unis and would always recommend that kids go to the top one but thats for their CVs not the teaching. My DC are ok - but not the child geniuses that would do well no matter where. exDH was like (and he really was a whiz at maths), they arent.

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Meredusoleil Tue 06-Oct-20 19:12:18

We were in the same position as you not that long ago OP.

Dh wanted to move. I didn't. We tried to move. It didn't work out. Despite dd1 being offered a place at a top grammar school.

Then Covid happened and like a pp said, Dh got made redundant. We now thank our lucky stars we didn't move afterall, as that would have meant taking on a larger mortgage and staying in debt for longer.

And all for what? So we could have the prestige and status of saying dd1 was at a grammar school? No thanks. She's now at our second closest local comp and doing very well too 👍

JoJoSM2 Tue 06-Oct-20 20:00:46

www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/

Looking on there, how does your local option compare to the alternative you’re considering? Do you know about the schools much otherwise, things that’s stats don’t tell you?

If you feel that your children aren’t the type to excel wherever they go, I’d be much more inclined to move.

Guymere Tue 06-Oct-20 20:02:14

There are several things to think about. I would move to avoid a comprehensive that yo-yos in and out of RI or worse. You really do know it won’t be Good for very long. If you compare Good schools that have been consistently Good, is it worth moving for one of these over another? Probably not.

You seem a bit way out regarding university entrance. Many universities below the top 6 don’t necessarily expect all DC entering to get AAA. Especially courses where they make offers to everyone. Some will be lower due to the social factors they consider as well. There are very popular courses at some universities but if you go to a RG university for MFL snd some sciences, they will be delighted to see you with a dropped grade! Also with 1/4 of A levels being A or above, of course DC get into these courses. There are a lot more As about!

Private schools don’t just educate for exams. A good private school will fully educate in a wider sense and provide more opportunity for activities. You don’t need these to apply to university but it gives you s chance to spread your wings at school and try something different. Great state schools hsve this too. Poor state schools are rigid and lacking in imagination. They give dc fewer opportunities to shine. Only you know what you value most!

CamillasHardHat Tue 06-Oct-20 20:29:48

We did move for a secondary school but not to a more expensive area. We moved from an outstanding primary area (but kept the children in that school) which was very expensive and moved a few mile away into a different town. The secondary school was outstanding but the primary school we moved into catchment for was in requires improvement. Meaning we got a much bigger house than we could have afforded in the previous area. That primary is now outstanding so our house price is now ridiculous, but we moved 10 years ago.

I think there are many factors to a child's academic success, the school is one of them because of the teachers passion for their subjects plus if it has good discipline and pastoral. There are things you can't control such as friendship groups and peer pressure. Then there is home life and ensuring your children know the importance of education plus being available to help them. Then there is the attitude of the child.

I am lucky that I have children who are curious, full of questions that they want answers to and are willing to look for them. Ds2 is now in year 10 but has watched a ridiculous amount of Casually Explained or Extra Credits because he just loves learning.

I think if your local secondary is good then stay put.

wonderstuff Tue 06-Oct-20 20:35:34

Depends how you are defining best.
How old kids are is also significant, in a few years a school can go up or down.

monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 20:37:32

@Guymere yes lots of food for thought.i was just surprised at the new entrance requirements. We definitely can't afford private in London so that's not an option.

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monkeygoesbananas Tue 06-Oct-20 21:20:31

@wonderstuff yes, it is very hard to define best. i have a good idea of what a good university is but have much less experience with schools. And it's very hard to anticipate what teenagers are like. Hence my nervousness around this whole issue and DHs determination that none of it matters :-)

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Guymere Wed 07-Oct-20 00:10:31

Actually your DH is wrong. Schools are not all the same. Some will get far better progress from DC than others. The government comparison web site has all the data on it. This inevitably means the DC in these schools will do better than if they had gone to a school with negative progress. You could look at, say, 6 schools you know and see what their data looks like. How well do they do in exams? Of course this could reflect catchment area but it can also reflect excellent teaching. That’s the biggest key to dc doing well - excellent teaching. That only happens with inspiring SLT and ensuring the school continues to improve and attracts and supports teachers.

You could also do a search of the Ofsted web site. Look at reports that were published in February last year. Covid free times. Read the secondary school ones that were Inadequate. How well would a dc do going to one of those? How happy would you be as a parent? Then read a few Outstanding or even Good reports. You can certainly see the difference. Ofsted inspect the education delivered at a school over time. It’s not a snap shot. It’s based on a lot of data. They don’t judge individual teachers but they do look at how effective teaching is. If you read a bit more, you and DH will see there are differences in schools. However DH might not think that matters but many parents think it does and would move. They do get less house for their £ but they trust the local school.

Africa2go Wed 07-Oct-20 00:30:34

We did (moved just before starting primary school but with the aim of being in catchment for local grammar schools). High school in old area according to the website posted above is well below average for attainment with just 25% getting Grade 5 in English and Maths. The attainment at the schools my DC go to now in new area is well above average and 99% get Grade 5 in English and Maths.

For us it's paid off. It's a much nicer area, hundreds of activities on offer as lots of families like us have moved here for schools. Everyone seems to work hard, its expected that they raise their game and study. Am sure its not all tip top but my DC are doing well, much better than I expect they'd have done in previous area. Houses are expensive though (we doubled our mortgage) but that was the cheaper long term option than going private in the old area.

Malmontar Wed 07-Oct-20 00:43:08

I'm no statistician but I've worked in a few London comps. I have always believed that it is not the school, but the house that you come from that matters. This has been proven in studies but ime it looks like this: Obv there are factors like peer pressure etc. However, by the time they're in Y10 and 11, a lot of them have matured even in the worst comp and they realise GCSEs are real. A chunk will stop turning up. Schools won't want to off roll them before Oct/Jan census otherwise they won't get money for them. This is often why you sometimes see the message that this data represents 224 out of 249 pupils. The ones from 'good' homes with parents that will help them with revision timetables, warm meals, grade incentives, tutors etc etc will be the ones that always make it.
In my opinion this is why the 'naise' area schools have such high progress made. Those parents are there and they are not working nights, they speak English, they have a quiet space, their kids are told GCSEs are important not just by the cringey head teacher but by their parents. Their parents can laugh with them about how hard o levels were and they have common ground. All of this is a huge huge thing and almost impossible for a school to replicate.
I am always impressed by the schools that have high progress 8 in drugged up areas of Enfield or Southwark.
The ones that worry me are the leafy nais area schools that get mediocre results, you must be down right awful for that to happen.

JoJoSM2 Wed 07-Oct-20 06:49:41

* I am always impressed by the schools that have high progress 8 in drugged up areas of Enfield or Southwark. The ones that worry me are the leafy nais area schools that get mediocre results, you must be down right awful for that to happen.*

That’s because the school does matter a lot. It isn’t just the parents. It’s not uncommon for the senior leadership to change from crap to great and GCSE results to jump up by 20% in 3 years.
Poorly performing schools often have a culture of v low expectations or some teachers giving up on lower sets (talking about schools with normal behaviour not absolute dumps where it’s almost impossible to teach).

Malmontar Wed 07-Oct-20 09:57:16

@JoJoSM2 oh absolutely. I'm not saying they don't at all. I'm saying home life is more powerful as it can undo the damage done by an awful school. It can also give kids that are already in a good school an even bigger boost.
Bad schools effect the kids from bad homes the most.

monkeygoesbananas Wed 07-Oct-20 09:59:49

yes, have looked at the progress scores but realistically they only indicate the change in grades from y6 to y11, right. Had a look at the two schools we are considering and the outstanding has a much lower progress score than the good school even though the outstanding has 70% of kids passing English/Maths at grade 5 and the other only 60%. I guess a high performing school with bright students will always have a much lower progress score. Such hard decisions

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CamillasHardHat Wed 07-Oct-20 10:50:35

monkey you have to look beyond the whole our school achieve 70% for 5 GCSEs including English and maths. The compare school performance table JoJo linked above is where the information is buried.

I have looked at my son's school on there. They get 0.71+ for Progress 8 so well above average. You then need to open up
Results over time and
Results by pupil characteristics - in there, disadvantaged pupils and prior attainment.

This shows the progress 8 separated out.

You can always name change to stay anonymous but post on here and ask about the specific school. Parents are always willing to talk about their child's school.

Africa2go Wed 07-Oct-20 10:54:14

I guess a high performing school with bright students will always have a much lower progress score

That's not correct OP. The Progress 8 score shows how much progress pupils at a school made between the end of key stage 2 and the end of key stage 4, as a comparison to pupils across the country who got similar results at the end of key stage 2. So the starting point (in theory) is pupils of a similar ability - the measure is how they progress. Just because you start with bright pupils doesn't mean the progress will be low.

Guymere Wed 07-Oct-20 11:25:39

Where I live, the grammar schools get the best progress scores. One reason for this is that they have no DC with learning difficulties ,or for another reason are lower attainers, that slow down the progress the DC make. In schools it takes a huge effort to get the lower attainers to make good progress. They frequently don’t make any. In grammar schools, these dc don’t exist. That’s why grammars frequently do get good progress scores.

The poster who said one school got 25% 9-5 GCSEs in English and Maths but their school attained 99% truly overlooks the fact that this must be a selective school. No comprehensive could get such results. (If anyone knows one that does I’m happy to be corrected). If you move to a grammar area, don’t forget the local schools will be secondary moderns. The brightest dc are in the grammars (mostly). Having said that, I know secondary moderns that get 60%.

Leafy Lane areas can also have average schools. In fact more dc from these areas go to private schools. It’s not all about parental input either. Teaching quality is absolutely vital. Even dc with engaged parents get let down by poor teaching.

Op: do look into the stats more deeply and read all ofsted reports. They confirm the status of schools over time. Schools have track records of excellence or otherwise. Yes, there might be blips, but the very best schools stay at the top of their game.

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