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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:29 pm 
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I always believed that to be a big fish in a small pond did not do the "big fish" any favours, especially once they moved onto university or the working world but now I am not sure.

I'm still pondering (or stressing) where DS2 should end up. If he goes to a large prestigious school he will be fairly average within his bright peer group and as he doesn't have a huge amount of self-esteem I wonder if he will always feel average when he is not. The benefits of a large, over-subscribed environment would be that the music provision will be better, mainly because there are a larger number of children to form orchestras.

If we opt for a small school that is not viewed as prestigious (I know, but ykwim) then he will be one of the brightest and most musically talented and I wonder if the confidence he will gain from that will mean he always has confidence when he enters the big bad world. But the reources, and specifically music, are never as good at small schools. The fact that there are no bassoonists in the good, small independents we are looking at says it all really. I don't worry about him thinking he is smarter or more musical than he due to being in a small environment because outside of school (RCM mainly) he will be in environments where he is near the bottom.

With DS1 I am definitely making sure he is a small fish because he needs to learn to be competitive and have smarter peers to spark off of but he doesn't have any issues with his self-esteem :roll: so I do not have the same dilemma.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 3:54 pm 
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I asked something not dissimilar a couple of years ago, here's the link viewtopic.php?f=5&t=10299

I think in the end you have to rely on yours and your DCs gut instincts once you've visited all the relevant schools. Sometimes a fab school on paper just doesn't feel right at all and therefore can be excluded, and the smaller slightly quirky place may welcome a bassoonist and all we be as you hoped. We did in the end go down the GS route - DD has got into a fab school, but it remains to be seen if the right choice was made - I'll post back in 5 years time!! Best of luck with it WFG


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:00 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
I expect you know that whatever you end up choosing, you will know it was the wrong choice in the end :oops:

I think you just have to go with your gut instincts....which school do you/does your son prefer? If as you say he is doing a lot of music outside school, then does it really matter whether the school is fabulous for music? My son plays cello, and has come along in leaps and bounds because he is the only cellist in the school orchestra - his school is a music college, and I can honestly say it is really excellent for music, but still there is a shortage of the less popular instruments....if there were others he may not have put his whole life and soul into learning, but he feels responsible as he is the only one.

If he is going to feel average in the 'better' school, and you feel that may have a detrimental effect on him, you may want to think about the smaller school


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:17 pm 
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Location: Warwickshire
[quote="Looking for help"]I expect you know that whatever you end up choosing, you will know it was the wrong choice in the end :oops:

I know what you mean - however the way I try to look at it and certainly tell my DC is that they we have made various decisions during their lives (including but not exclusively regarding schools) , based on information and our thoughts at the time. As parents you never know whether you are making the best decisions ... you may know in 5-7 years then again it may come out on a psychoanalysts couch in many years time! I do think you have to go with the decision based on the available info at the time.

On this site I so often hear people saying that when you visit a school you know whether it is the right or wrong school for your child. As parents we have occassionally known a school was wrong but never known definitively if it is right. My DH loves to draw up an elaborate spreadsheet with influenceing factors including weightings and formulae to account for the marks and weightings. He fairly recently did this for what car to buy - no of seats, fuel consumption and many other things of no interest to me. There was a clear winner - guess what we bought no. 3 on the list. It clarified his thoughts even if it drove me mental.

Sorry this is a bit long - but you are clearly a very dedicated and well informed mother WFG so I think you and DH need to make a decision (bearing in mind DS's thoughts) and then go with it knowing that you made the decision with his best interests and the info available.

Regarding the original question a slight preference in this case for big fish smaller pond - but not too small!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:50 pm 
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Speaking from experience of being a big fish in a small pond (musically as well as academically) and also being horribly insecure, I think it made it worse. Looking back, I'd rather have had the opportunity to expand and develop to the fullest extent in an academically and musically challenging environment rather than been seen as something unusual and extraordinary. In reality I wasn't unusual and extraordinary because I didn't have the resources to hand to enable me to be so. Once I hit university the gaps in my knowledge were such that it took me a year to catch up and I don't believe I ever really fulfilled my potential.

Also as a big fish in a small pond you are a target for less able students and can be singled out for some pretty unpleasant behaviour. If you're at all lacking in self-esteem and even a little bit different from the majority, then it can be fairly hellish.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 4:52 pm 
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Location: Warwickshire
Quote:
But the reources, and specifically music, are never as good at small schools.


I'm not sure that's always true. Our DD's grammar is small - three form entry, 25 girls per form - and the music is excellent. They happen to have two enthusiastic teachers who really stretch the girls in and out of lesson time. The Jazz Band is planning a second trip to New York soon, for example.

The size of the school means small music ensembles are actively encouraged and they get individual attention. There's also time in the concerts for them to perform!


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 5:48 pm 
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I went to a very small independent school (around 300 students altogether ) and at times there wasn't alot of support avaliable from the teachers if you had problems with a certain subject but smaller schools can provide an environment that may suit less confident children.All schools have their pros and cons, and one may not suit your son but I think that it is the happy children with high self esteem that better fulfil their academic potential.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:18 pm 
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PianoPiano wrote:
Speaking from experience of being a big fish in a small pond (musically as well as academically) and also being horribly insecure, I think it made it worse. Looking back, I'd rather have had the opportunity to expand and develop to the fullest extent in an academically and musically challenging environment rather than been seen as something unusual and extraordinary. In reality I wasn't unusual and extraordinary because I didn't have the resources to hand to enable me to be so. Once I hit university the gaps in my knowledge were such that it took me a year to catch up and I don't believe I ever really fulfilled my potential.

Also as a big fish in a small pond you are a target for less able students and can be singled out for some pretty unpleasant behaviour. If you're at all lacking in self-esteem and even a little bit different from the majority, then it can be fairly hellish.


Thank you for all your posts on this.

After reading this last paragraph I think a wee fish in a big pond may be better. He will not feel different and as he likes to be a follower :roll: it may be better if he is in an environment where the flow is going in the direction that I :wink: would prefer him to go in!


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 4:30 am 
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I think partly it depends how important you and he see the school music as being, just how talented he is at the music, and how tolerant he is. The trouble with other musicians is that they are audible, and if they are not very good it is excruciating. If he's a tolerant kind of boy that is fine, but if he's not, he's not going to have much fun playing in a not very good orchestra or singing in a not very good choir. You don't have to listen to other people's maths. And he's not training to be a concert pianist ......... there's not much call for solo unaccompanied bassoonist.

Also, I don't think the only driver of confidence is whether you are a big fish in a small pond or vice versa. There are probably other features of the school which will tell you whether it is one that is likely to bring out confidence in your son or not.

Have you done the Croydon move? Things might become clearer at that point.

PS. Are you giving him the opportunity to go to the same school as big bro? Even if he doesn't want to go there, it's not suitable etc etc, he might see this as a signal that you see them both in the same light and give him more confidence?


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 8:50 am 
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I would love him to go to the same school as his brother but he may not get in. There is not a sibling policy and he is at a school that has a senior school attached so they are unlikely to "sell" him in the way an independent prep school would do. They also know very little about other senior schools.


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