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Secondary education

Any regrets AFTER being at a super selective school?

119 replies

howmanyshirts · 01/03/2024 06:23

Good morning,

If you have had your child in a top super selective school completed gcse / a levels (probably came out with amazing results) Or maybe they got burnt out due to the environment.

Any wise advise? Would you sent them to the same school again? Did their mental health crumble? Was the pressure too much around gcse? Or would you send them to a very good not as pressured school?

Or would you still go with the super selective school?

Thank you and have a great day x

OP posts:
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MooseAndSquirrelLoveFlannel · 01/03/2024 06:27

My eldest is in one, it's been terrible. All they care about is the grades, not the fact they have an issue with bullying and violence. Mental health is an inconvenience to them.

My middle child is at an "room to improve" school with a bad reputation, and it's bloody brilliant! He's thriving, any bullying is dealt with swiftly and it's about the child not the grade. I'm relieved that my youngest has gotten into this school..

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Familiaritybreedscontemptso · 01/03/2024 06:29

I went to a super selective. I have excellent gcse & a level results. They really mean nothing to my life now. I also still have the eating disorder I got due to the pressure & expectation. That affects my life daily. I didn’t make the same choice for my dc.

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Meadowfinch · 01/03/2024 06:32

I went to a super-selective.

The first year was hard for my 11yo ego because all of a sudden I was mid-class rather than coming top in everything, but probably good for me as a person. I can imagine I would have been a very conceited teen otherwise. 🙂

And I got the degree and the career I wanted.

The main issue I had was my friends were scattered over 3 counties so socially it wasn't easy. It was hard to maintain friendships.

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Haphazard8 · 01/03/2024 06:33

My son is at one, it’s early days but so far it’s very good for him.

The school is very focused on character education and wellbeing and try’s to play down academic competition.
That said the boys do compare grades, my son is towards the top of the cohort so perhaps that influences how he feels, I imagine it might feel quite different for those highly tutored to get in and struggling to keep up boys.

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Partridgewell · 01/03/2024 06:41

I went to a bog standard comprehensive, but I went on to Oxford, so met a lot of people from super selective schools. I am very, very grateful for my educational background, because I was relatively mentally tough, and was able to feel more pride in my academic achievements, because I didn't feel like I'd been spoon-fed.

It was very hard going from top of the class to middle of the road, and I'm glad that happened to me at 18, not at 11, when I think I would have found it more difficult to manage.

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FedUpToTheBackTooth · 01/03/2024 06:44

My son is at one and it has been amazing. It is a smaller one and the pastoral care is incredible. We have 3 super selectives that the exam covers but we picked this one because it had such a lovely caring feel to it.

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bluefrog11 · 01/03/2024 07:41

I went to a grammar school - I don’t think they had the SS tag then. I was awful and maths and science, my mum had me tutored heavily to get through the exam. My clever sister was already at the school.

I didn’t hate it as I was good at English type subjects however they never offered me any extra help, I felt so stupid constantly compared to the other kids and my confidence in life has struggled. As soon as I could give up the subjects I hated at a level I enjoyed it more.

I think I would have had more and better support at a less academic school.

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TheWayTheLightFalls · 01/03/2024 07:45

I worked in the City for years, and there was a 100% correlation between two schools in particular, and eating disorders. I wouldn’t be sending my DDs to one if they paid me £20k a year, let alone charging me for the experience.

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Toblerbone · 01/03/2024 07:45

I went to a highly selective independent school on a full scholarship. I was a bit shy, but overall I enjoyed my school days, had a nice group of friends, got excellent exam results and went on to Cambridge.

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Thethingswedoforlove · 01/03/2024 07:47

My dds went to one. There was less pressure and workload from the school then any of my friends’ dc. It’s been amazing and I would pick it again in a heartbeat. So pastorally strong, kind, supportive. Got the best from my dds. I can’t fault it. So good their friends want to work but they support each other. Totally suited them both.,

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CeliaCanth · 01/03/2024 07:55

My son went to one for sixth form. He had a top class education, made friends, got excellent A levels and went on to university. All open days, etc., mentioned their super pastoral care but he said it didn’t really happen and you either dealt with that environment or didn’t - no middle ground. His sibling couldn’t have coped with it but he enjoyed it. So, it depends very much on the child in our specific case.

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VivaLaResistance · 01/03/2024 07:59

I think it really depends on the school. We have a few in our area, and I picked where my son now goes based on the fact that there was a strong emphasis on character growth and pastoral care. The others really only spoke about their impressive facilities and grades.

It's still quite early on but I've found the school to be brilliant so far.

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DodgeDoggie · 01/03/2024 08:04

Eating disorders particularly rife sadly

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YouTulip · 01/03/2024 08:05

TheWayTheLightFalls · 01/03/2024 07:45

I worked in the City for years, and there was a 100% correlation between two schools in particular, and eating disorders. I wouldn’t be sending my DDs to one if they paid me £20k a year, let alone charging me for the experience.

Literally everyone I knew at Oxford (where I went from a sink estate school, incidentally) who went to Withington Girls seems to have come out of it with excellent A levels and an eating disorder.

I’m still in touch with some of them nearly 30 years on, and last year I visited one in hospital where she was an in-patient, not for the first time, because her organs had started to shut down.

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Panicmode1 · 01/03/2024 08:08

My three boys are at/went to one - but it has excellent pastoral care and aims to produce a holistic child, not just a hot housed one. We turned down another SS for my eldest because we felt it was all about pressure and grades. DS1 is at Cambridge and feels the pressure but thrives on it. DS2 is more artistic and creative and is given space to do that - he will get good grades, but not stellar ones like DS1. DS3 is a law unto himself - he takes advantage of all of the extracurricular stuff (fencing, debating, sport, drama etc) but the good teaching, not so much ;-). He's in Y9 so there is time for him to realise he has to make the effort himself - which is very much what the school teach them.

My DD went to an all girls selective grammar - she could have gone to the superselective one, but chose not to. I don't know whether it's the single sex element of the school or the particular school but it wasn't happy (until 6th form) and I think in hindsight, we may have made different choices.

So, I think it probably depends on the school - but also your individual child.

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Haretodayswantomorrow · 01/03/2024 08:11

One of mine went to a SS.
I wish we hadn’t done it.

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PettsWoodParadise · 01/03/2024 08:16

DD thrived at her all girls SS Grammar. It did help that she chose the school, it was aLao our geographically closest secondary school so she didn’t have long days. She chose to stay for sixth form she was so happy there and now Y1 at Uni. It wasn’t as hot house as the boys equivalent school. Some of the girls who wanted a change and moved to the boys sixth form (both are co-Ed at sixth form) regretted it. The independent she left in Y6 had a senior school and had more oroblems than the grammar so as others have said it is very school specific and whether the DC is the right fit.

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OneRingToRuleThemAll · 01/03/2024 08:18

DD went to a super selective. She was diagnosed with autism in y8. Couldn't cope with Covid lockdows and the back and forth of in school / school closed. And then when they returned full time there was no support and it was all about being there and getting the grades. She refused to return in y9 and hasn't had an education since. Very upsetting.

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RandomMess · 01/03/2024 08:20

One of mine went to all girls one for 6th form and she said it was like a brain washed cult!!

Didn't get amazing grades due to Covid tbh

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RampantIvy · 01/03/2024 08:23

Familiaritybreedscontemptso · 01/03/2024 06:29

I went to a super selective. I have excellent gcse & a level results. They really mean nothing to my life now. I also still have the eating disorder I got due to the pressure & expectation. That affects my life daily. I didn’t make the same choice for my dc.

One of the super selectives schools in the next county has had several pupils end up with eating disorders as a result of the pressure to do exceptionally well.

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ncsurrey22 · 01/03/2024 08:25

No direct experience but one of DD's prep school teachers had sent her first DD to Tiffin Girls' and said it destroyed her, she sent the 2nd to the local outstanding comprehensive and she said she will regret for the rest of her life sending DD1 to Tiffin. Granted this was probably 15 years ago and hopefully pastoral care at SS has improved.

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Previousreligion · 01/03/2024 08:26

I went to one and loved it. But I was naturally academic and near the top. Friends who were near the bottom generally didn't like it and possibly would have enjoyed a different school more, where Bs and Cs weren't viewed as a failure.

Like a pp, when I went to Oxbridge I found it hard to then find myself extremely mediocre.

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coldmilled · 01/03/2024 08:29

Would echo previous posters about mental health problems. I went to super selective schools and we all had mental health problems, many of us still do. I would not send my children to those schools but the heartbreaking thing is that friends of mine who have, are seeing eating disorders, self harm and other mental health problems arise in their children (boys and girls) too.

I do think that it depends on your inherent personality and resilience of course. Some people might thrive in these environments, (but the ones that I have met who do are kind of arseholes…!)

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AmazingLemonDrizzle · 01/03/2024 08:29

It's been brilliant for my autistic girls. The other local choice was a "no excuses/detention for getting anything wrong school" and the grammar school has less homework and understands if it's the first time you've forgotten to do homework for example so is a much nicer environment to be in.

It's also calmer without the behaviour issues and without boys.

There really isn't the pressure put on by staff BUt there is internal pressure as all the girls want to do well so it's an interesting environment that way.

There are some with issues but we've often wondered if it's the high achieving personality that means they'd have those issues if they went elsewhere. It just happens that collecting very high achievers in a school together concentrates them?

The girls have loved having Subject specialists and interesting lessons where people (mostly ) want to learn.

A down side I do think though having come from aa lower income family is a bit like going private- friends suddenly have big houses/holidays.

Similarly going from being top to being mediocre. However the growth mindset stuff is interesting as many kids if they sail through being top never learn to work at something.

The thing I do regret though is both mine were sporty and primary and joined lots of clubs, similarly did the school plays etc.

At grammar it's really those who play for the country/played at private school that join the teams and those who are seriously good at drama from older years that get into the play.

Also - you can go from "being good at maths" to thinking "Oh I'm not good at maths" for example because you're no longer top set. But really you're on track for a 7-9 and actually are if that makes sense. So can internalise the "I'm not good at x" because it's relative to a very high achieving cohort.

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AmazingLemonDrizzle · 01/03/2024 08:31

They've also surprisingly been really good around autism. They've not queried the odd sick days and have put support in place where needed. They have a tutor who talks through any trip before they go and sees them half termly or more often if needed.

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