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 Post subject: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
Posts: 577
My DS is in yr4, summer born. He's bright and loves learning (writes books & designs computer programmes in his spare time, so he clearly loves a brain-challenge.) But his core curricular subjects are not all they might be. I've learned from several reliable sources what I (and most of my friends) knew at heart: that the state primary he's at, despite being oh so friendly and full of extra-curricular pzazz, is very weak and underachieving in the core subjects, English and Maths. It particularly lets down more able students. There is an ethos that as long as they all reach national average levels each year, the school is satisfied. But that's clearly underachievement in more able pupils. We have an appallingly apathetic Head and his attitude now impacts on staff many of whom take extended sick leave for non specific illnesses. New staff rarely stay more than two years. It's a lazy, mediocre school academically.

So my concern is: should I try and move him for the last two years of school? I looked into a very good local private prep but it was oversubscribed with a waiting list. The other local prep feeds public boarding schools and so doesn't feel right at all. Is it worth risking moving to a different state school? Our school's sats are OK but that's because most children are tutored from Yr 3 onwards. Lower school sats are way below what they should be. Local 11+ tutors regularly say the children from our school are bright but know very little and are way behind similar children in similar schools.

I really don't know whether it's best to stay at this school, as he is settled there, and supplement with lots of input from home and tutoring, or whether to try and move him for yrs 5 & 6. Would the upheaval and settling in elsewhere be more detrimental than staying and doing most of the core work at home.

As parents here on the EPE are clearly serious about their children's education, I'd be very interested in your opinions on this. What would you do?


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:33 pm 
I moved my ds out of state education into private school for two reasons:
1. Much smaller class size in year three
2. Greater self confidence building

I was fully aware that private schools feed into senior private schools, hence knew that I would have to make arrangements to tutor him if he wanted to get into grammar. The point is really understanding what any potential private school intentions are for year six students as well as your own child's ambitions.

It is a tricky situation, the above is our experience. No matter what our private school told me, their agenda is always to service the private senior sector.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:41 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:22 am
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Sounds familiar ! I do think maybe my children would be better off at a different school but because they are very happy there and at the mere suggestion of moving they get very upset I have opted to stay put and put in lots of input at home.It isn't easy and occasionally I keep my children off on " health days " to teach them at home.It seems to have paid off and my 2 oldest ( both boys ) have increased their levels dramatically.I know of friends who have moved their children to different state schools and they have flourished but equally I also have 2 friends who moved their boys and say the grass isn't greener and they regret it.Only you know how awful your childrens school is.A little work at home can make a big difference.The question is how amenable is your son to doing extra at home ?


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Your feelings about your son's current school seem to be very mixed. In my experience extra curricular pizazz and apathy don't usually go together. If you (or your son) are generally unhappy with the Primary then, by all means, move him. Daughter has friends at her school how have come into Year 5 or even Year 6 and settled down in no time.

However - if you are generally satisfied with the school and are only concerned with 11 plus then I'd leave him where he is and concentrate on some really good tutoring (either DIY or with a tutor/11 plus class). See if you can get in contact with any Year 6 parents whose kids are going to the school you want - and find out what they did to help bridge the gap. It sounds like there's a strong culture of tutoring at your school so hopefully it shouldn't be too difficult to get recommendations.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:34 pm 
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Thank you for the replies. Scarlett - your situation sounds similar to ours. It feels a little odd for the children to come home to get their real learning, and to be doing all the stuff parents usually do for fun with them at school instead (LOTS of cooking and gardening and visiting theatre companies etc.)

Push-pull - it is an unusual school. It has a reputation locally for being weak academically, which I didn't understand as results seem quite good. Now I realise the results are skewed by the fact that around 70% of parents get private tutors. The children are from comfortable, secure families who are well educated and keen on learning, so they should be achieving higher than level 3b at the end of Yr 4. An example: at the parent teacher meeting, my son's teacher said he was not really very good at or interested in literacy. His reading book in school at the time was Animal Farm by Orwell, which she hadn't noticed, and he regularly gets up early to write adventure stories while the rest of the family sleep. That's not a child who dislikes literacy in my opinion. It's a child who is bored stiff by filling in overly simple Q&A sheets aimed several levels below his interest. The school loves add-on subjects but has a shocking attitude to academic work.

However, much as I'm grumbling, I think even the few answers here have helped me see that we can supplement his learning and keep him settled and happy for now.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 7:55 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jul 16, 2010 9:22 am
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I think your son sounds very bright. It is annoying for my children to have to work after school, but I just try and make it little and often and they still attend clubs , have friends over, go out etc...we just do half an hour here and there and for that to work you have to be quite organised and really set up lesson plans and set everything up ready to go.

I just think that the plan is to get them through Primary and to a good secondary and for that to happen, you have to put the work in and just adapt ....I now work mainly nights to be there in the day for them, but I know it won't be forever and I feel I can relax with DS1 as he's off to a good grammar........I shall have to change my name to Betty if he has problems at Secondary, won't I ?!


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 8:02 pm 
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I wonder if changing at year 5 isn't a bit late and might cause more problems - can take a term or so for a child to settle in then the entrance exams are at the beginning of year 6. DC's prep wouldn't take any kids in after the beginning of year 4, elsewhere a lad I knew moved to a prep at the beginning of year 5 but only on the understanding that he stayed until year 9.

Probably is best to let him enjoy the school and supplement learning elsewhere.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
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Herman, I think I agree. I feel a bit frustrated and guilty at not having acted sooner, but to be fair to the school, they do so many things so well (excellent music and art depts, which are not to be ignored) and the children are so happy there that I didn't really notice until I started thinking about secondary schools and realised how much further ahead other children are than mine, despite both being in the top sets at their school.

Think I'll stick to plan A and make sure they do 15-30 mins every weekday night, which isn't too taxing as they rarely get given any homework by the school.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 9:38 pm 
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Menagerie, your son sounds lovely and very bright and motivated.

Our DC's school sounds much like yours. It gets very good results and my DC has good friends there. But all the kids are tutored from at least year 3 or 4 (and a good chunk of them much before that, with Kumon and the like). I realized this year that I was going to have to do something to fill in the serious gaps for DC1. I've used the CGP books, appropriate to school year - one page of literacy, one page of maths, each morning (you have to find the time that suits your DC best), or at least most mornings, depending on how tired (and, therefore, counterproductive) he is. It usually takes about 20 mins altogether - sometimes a bit more, sometimes a bit less, but nothing too strenuous or time consuming. We, he and I, chose mornings because he is more awake and then he can just play after school.

Personally, I have struggled going back to basics; partly because I was never very good at maths and partly because I forgot (and was, consequently, frustrated) that some of this basic stuff has to be learned and isn't just automatic. But I would also say it's made me closer to my DS, partly because I'm moved by his effort and striving; and partly because sometimes he can laugh and explain things to his stressed mother :oops: :lol:

If he's got a concerned, caring mum like you, he'll be fine, whatever path he goes down.

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Seize the day ... before it seizes you.


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 Post subject: Re: dilemma
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2011 11:04 am 
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Joined: Thu May 26, 2011 8:37 pm
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Fat bananas, thank you for being so nice. That sounds like a plan. I've just bought the KS2 maths and literacy books that cover stages 3-5 so we can go through them and make sure he is rock solid on all aspects of the syllabus up to level 5 before he sits the first 11+ exam. I'll look up the ones you mention. Mornings would work for us too, as the children wake early.

Scarlett -
Quote:
I just think that the plan is to get them through Primary and to a good secondary and for that to happen, you have to put the work in and just adapt
- I think is is a very good plan and I'm going to copy it! :wink: Thanks for that.

Argh. I'm fretting that I've left it too late. A year and a bit until the first exam, and my clever boy is apparently 3b in English at the end of Yr4!


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