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 Post subject: Private v state
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 12:25 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:17 pm
Posts: 16
Hi - I wonder if anyone could help with a general query.

The area in which we live does not have the 11 plus. In fact my year was the last to do it many, many years ago. When my daughetr was due to start secondary school this year, we gave her the option of a private school or the local comprehensive ( a very good one). We allowed her the choice as she is very mature, very bright and had lots of best friends going to the comprehensive. We took her to visit both schools and she was equally impressed with both. We gave her our opinion (which favoured the private school) but she chose the comprehensive.

This decision was fine with us as we feel that she is one of those children who will always do their best and achieve regardless of advantage or circumstance.

However, since she has started at this school, we have been very disappointed with the lack of communication, lack of information, muddled information and the fact that no one teacher seems to know her or care that much at all.

She loves the school, but we are worried that she is being treated as a number rather than an individual child, and that her abilities are not being recognised and nurtured.

Do you think that a private school differs from a state school greatly in its pastoral care (as this is the area which worries us most) or does the move from primary to secondary inevitably involve becoming a very small fish in a large pond.

Any thoughts would be appreciated


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 8:44 am 
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Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 5:27 pm
Posts: 3445
Location: london
I think some private schools nuture more effectively, as do some states, it really depends on the school. Certainly the jump to senior school is a big one and at times it can take a while (at least for us parents!) to get used to it. If you are uncomfortable as you suggest, I think you need to see her form tutor/head of year and try to resolve it with them. Moving her mat well end up being the answer, but don't assume it will be any better inteh private school (class size notwithstanding) or that the state school can't sort it out.

One thing, I went to a comprehensive the first year the 11+ was abandonned in our area. I got significantly better academic results than my privately or grammar school educated elder siblings. That said, I was always aware that for my mother, the comprehensive was '2nd best', in the end this transalated in my mind at that time to me feeling '2nd best' as well. Be awre that DC may be picking up on your concern and interpreting it in a way that is unhelpful to both of you.

Good luck

_________________
mad?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 9:44 am 
It does completely depend on the school as to whether the independents pastoral care is better and it depends on the size of the school. If the independent school has another entry for Year 9, as many do, then I would hold out until that point and it will give the comp a chance to prove itself - or not. The only problem with the Year 9 entry is that the majority are prep school kids who, in general, have had an advanced education in many subjects so they are expected to keep up that pace, and Year 7/8 tend to be state school children who are accelerated in the languages for two years so they are up to speed by the time the Year 9 group enter. So your daughter would need to continue working hard if she was going to fit in academically by Year 9.

I don't have any experience of senior independent day schools as we are looking at boarding. Although I think pastoral care is generally high I do think once a child is at senior school there is limited contact with parents.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:26 am 
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Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 2:32 pm
Posts: 6965
Location: East Kent
I agree with that , there is far less contact and feedback at secondary school, especially if your child's primary was anything like ours where we were deluged under a pile of newlettters from everyone bar the caretakers cat! Add to that the black hole that is a a secondary school pupils schoolbag and one often feels left in the dark.

There is a huge leap between primary and secondary on so many things and your daughter is happy as Tipsy says maybe give it a bot longer?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:37 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:00 pm
Posts: 558
Location: Wales
Hi Strawb

Here is my experience.

My DD is now 17 and in year 12 studying for her A levels.

When DD was due to move to secondary school we gave her the choice of the local comprehensive or local independent. Just like your DD she chose the comprehensive mainly because all her close friends were going there.

The local comprehensive had a pretty good Estyn report (Wales) and results also looked pretty good so we were fairly relaxed as DD is a bright girl and many people had said to us that she would flourish wherever she went.

There were the inevitable issues with moving to high school: many more pupils, having to be organised, more difficult work, more subjects, more homework, petty squabbles, a bit of bullying.

Parents evening in year 7 was a nightmare. No organisation, large hall, teachers sitting behind desks with their name tag and parents literally scrumming to be seen (no appointments). when we were seen we had 5 minutes at most and this consisted of ". . . is settling in ok, is a bit too chatty, needs to remember correct books but is a pleasant girl. It took about 3 hours to get round all the teachers for this same message.

The first report we received was computer generated with stock phrases and told us more about what areas of the curriculum were being studied than how DD was performing. On the whole no alarm bells though and from what we could tell she seemed to be doing ok in all her subjects.

Repeat the above for year 8. DD seemed happy enough at school and she was proud to tell us that she was consistently top of the class in maths and in the top 5 of the class in science.

Parents evening year 9:
Teacher: ". . .yes, X is doing very well in maths and is always top of my class. She should be on course for a grade C at GCSE"

Us: Errrrrr - hang on a minute!

Teacher: "Well this is set 4 out of 6, (set 6 is a remedial class)"

OMG I nearly fainted!

- We had not been told at any stage that they had been streamed. DD was also unaware that the other classes were 'higher' than hers.
- There had been no indication from parents eve or reports that DD was heading for such a low set.
- DD had scored a 5 in her maths SATS and 3 marks off a level 6 in her science SATS in year 6.

We had to fight and in the end beg for our DD to be given the chance to show what she could do in maths. She had missed a lot of the curriculum taught to the higher sets and we worked hard at home to cover this. One teacher supported her case and DD went to him at lunchtimes to catch up as well.

She still remained in set 4 but was given the chance to sit the same paper as set 1 and 2 in the end of year tests. Her result put her around the middle of SET 1. I was proud of how she had managed to catch up but I was ANGRY!! I felt that the school had failed her. I felt that somehow we had failed her! It had nearly been too late. What if . . .

DD was moved to set 2 for year 10. It was felt that the pace in set 1 would be too great for her after so long in set 4. Phew well at least she would get a shot at a top grade. No, another battle had to be fought. The set 2 teacher was poor to the extreme and often absent. Several parents complained (as did we by letter). Eventually the teacher was monitored in her lessons by the head of maths and he had to correct her mistakes in front of the class! DD was offered a place in set 1. We were desperate for her to take it but her confidence was not high enough. It would have meant her catching up again as set 1 had been working faster than set 2 and set 2 had missed a lot of work due to the teacher being absent.

In the end DD achieved a grade B in maths. We were so proud of her! In separate sciences she gained an A* in chemistry an A in Biology and a B in Physics.

Just beware my story! If your school is a poor communicator and doesn't seem to 'know' your child, this is what can happen! I'm not saying this wouldn't happen at an independent. It is just an account of our experience with a 'seemingly good' comprehensive. Our DS will be going to an independent!

Hope this helped and didn't depress too much!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 10:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11936
I have heard similar stories from Private schools - the best thing is to make sure you read all reports and attend Parents evenings.
Many state schools give excellent reports and feedback and websites often have all the letters home etc.

The worst Parents evening I attended was when I went with a friend to her son's first one at a local Private school - her husband was away and she wanted to know what to ask - it was just like you describe :lol:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:02 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:17 pm
Posts: 16
Many thanks to all of you - your replies really helped.

I feel like I do know what is going on at her school as she tells me evrything and she also questions everything (if she wasn't in the top set for maths she would want to know why!!!). I'm also one of those really irritating parents who has their nose in everything.

I guess I just feel like I have much less contact. At her primary school, if I wanted to asked about something, I would just walk in and ask one of the teachers or the head who all new her really well. Now, if I have a question I can't just go into school, plus her form teacher doesn't know what she's like academically, her subject teachers are impossible to get hold of and can barely distinguish one child from another, and to anyone else in the school she's one of 1,200.

Having said that - she's very happy, doing very well so I guess we'll leave it a year or so and see what happens as suggested.

Thanks to all!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:16 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:17 pm
Posts: 16
Freya - thanks for your response.

Poor you - that sounds like a nightmare - just the sort of thing I worry about. However, she is very forthright, so I hope she would question things like this. But, sometimes they don't feel like they can do they? Don't worry, I'll keep an even closer eye on things.

Glad it all turned out ok, and thanks for advice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:46 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2009 5:00 pm
Posts: 558
Location: Wales
strawb, if my DD had thought she was in a low set then she too would have questioned it! The problem was that she just didn't know and we were not told when they were set either! Our DD kept coming home telling us she was at the top of her class - yes, at the top of set 4 and we didn't know!


We thought everything was going ok. We thought "she's a bright girl" We thought "yes, we're not happy about lack of information but we're sure that if there are any real issues then we'll soon know about it" We were WRONG! It was nearly too late! Be careful!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 12, 2007 1:21 pm
Posts: 11936
Did you not get 'working at grades' or levels from the school? What KS3 levels did she get or did she not trake them as you are in Wales?

I do not know any local state schools where parents would not know what level their child was working at.


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