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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 9:10 am 
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Earlier this week one of my colleagues (and friend!) and I were talking about school selection. Her eldest is currently in year 6. She is not academic and quite shy and they are looking at all the local comprehensives but they have a genuine choice of 8, 6 of which they could virtually guarantee getting a place at on 1 March and the other two extremely likely by September, so they are really struggling to decide what to do. She asked what had made the most impact on dd's and ds's experiences at secondary school and on their (wording sounds dreadful but can't think how else to express it) "growth into who they're becoming as young adults". My answer was that it was their friendship groups.
That then got me thinking. That is something over which we as parents have very little (if any) control and which doesn't really depend on the school. As long as a school isn't absolutely tiny there will be similar groups of children everywhere.
I suppose I am assuming good pastoral care as a given - which I appreciate is not the case in all schools - but if it is in place, what do you think has influenced your secondary aged children the most?
(She didn't find my answer very useful as it didn't help her decision making :oops: so I'm hoping there might be a range of answers on here!)


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:15 am 
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Location: Herts
When dd1 was in Y6 there was a lot more support from the County Council than there is now.

There were sessions on how to fill in your CAF form that hopefully did manage to stop some families from losing the school they really wanted by putting it second or third.

There was a really useful Moving to Secondary School talk which I attended where we were told in no uncertain terms that "Peer Pressure" would be the greatest influence on our dcs at Secondary School.

Fast forward seven years.

Looking at the A levels results reported in our local paper I was saddened to see that many of my dds peer group from primary had not done as well as I would have expected of them based on their performance at primary. A friend from the year above at primary reported the same thing last year, out of her dd's friends almost half of them ended up repeating at last one of their A levels or did not get their first choice university or simply dropped out of sixth form.

What happened? I knew these students well and they were very engaged at primary school. Did they get in with "the wrong set" at Secondary? Was it not cool to be interested in studying at their school?

Another parent with a Y8 student has reported that all the ds in the class of her ds have given up playing an instrument. Her ds said that the "cool" set laughed at those who played music.

It is hard to be in the minority. everyone wants to fit in and have a friendship group.

I was inspired to watch a recent news report on Newham Collegiate Sixth form operated by a local man who gave up his job in the city to help local students realise their potential.

He has been wildly successful, 9 are off to Oxbridge this year and almost all of them got into their first choice Russell Group University. In interviews they all commented on how wonderful it was to find themselves with like minded peers.

So I would say make sure your students will be going to school with like minded peers. DG
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:34 am 
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loobylou wrote:
what do you think has influenced your secondary aged children the most?
Well this might sound odd or arrogant or deluded but I actually think mine have been most influenced by the way they have been brought up. They have had a slightly unusual upbringing and I think the way they are is an interesting interplay of their own genes and personality and the way they have lived. For example, they didn't go to school for part of their primary years. When they did go to school I wouldn't let them do their homework as I felt they ought to be free at the end of a school day. All three of them have exceptional drive to succeed for themselves and I partly think (and now they tease me!) that it is because if they wanted to work they had to do it for themselves. They are also what I would call free thinkers who don't think they have to fit any stereotypes. This has not made it easy for them but they all seem to be successful and have lots of friends. So I would say, hmmm...I think it is mostly the upbringing, along with a heap of luck and a good core set of friends - just one or two will do actually. And that accords with my experience in teaching as well. Sadly, children from disadvantaged backgrounds are much less likely to do well, whatever interventions you throw at them.

One thing I would say is that children who are highly pushed by ambitious parents when young have all in my experience either dropped out, fallen by the wayside or rebelled against their parents at some point. For me, the drive of the young person him or herself is paramount, and that comes from a creative, supportive, stimulating but largely hands-off approach which emphasises independence and responsibility for oneself. It also sometimes arises out of extreme difficulty which can spur a child on to achieve great things.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 10:48 am 
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Agree with both the above - family, friends, others in the class - and not sure in which order. It doesn't help one choose the school though, as you say.

And having groups of kids who behave as though learning is "uncool" and try to put another child off it can be either a positive or negative influence - some children will join in and others will think there's no way they want to be like that.

For creating a kind and caring citizen - not sure. A good dollop of this must be innate to the person themselves when you think that some pretty evil adults can produce quite fair-minded and generous spirited children whereas the opposite can happen too.

Sorry I am being no help.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 11:17 am 
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None of my 3 have really found the right "fit" at school. Two have been happy enough (one had a difficult time) but their main influence & friendship groups have been from activities outside school. Sorry, not much help either!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:28 pm 
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Thanks.

I do appreciate hearing everyone's persectives. I don't think you sound arrogant Amber - I would also think that our influences are definitely affecting the way our children are growing up. I suppose in my head I was thinking about influences in all the hours they are away from home too.
I completely get what you are saying DG about like-minded friends but it seems to me that that is a little bit of a lottery. I have friends with children at the DC's school who have very different experiences of their DC's friendship groups (I think my children's friends are wonderful!)

She is not looking too much at the results of the school but is looking at the value added scores because that is more likely to show her how her dd will get on - but on paper a lot of these schools appear quite similar in intake and outcome! Sometimes too much choice maybe isn't a good thing!


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:36 pm 
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I think parents first and foremost, as the parents greatly influence how the DC relates to the rest of the world and how the rest of the world (friends, school etc) influences them later.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 1:15 pm 
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Agree with most of the points already made. I think for secondary school aged children, parents have hopefully done the ground work to enable DCs to make good friendship choices but from there onwards, friendship groups and the school's "culture" have a bigger influence. DD1 was in a comp (a great one) up to Y11 and did well but has since upped her game and her ambitions since moving to a GS for 6th form. She said that from day 1 at the GS, their expectations were so much higher than her old school.

DS is currently in Y11 at a GS, is working hard towards his GCSEs and is very competitive. He commented recently that "it's cool to be clever in my school". He is also influenced and inspired by some of his teachers. He has developed a real passion for physics in the last 6 months or so - partly as a result of having an inspirational teacher.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:46 pm 
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Perhaps the answers here demonstrate the futility of trying to find the 'right' school. Parental support/upbringing/circumstances are key, as demonstrated by all the stats on student outcomes.
It is a game of luck and one cannot know for certain if a school will suit DC. My DDs went to the same school 2 years apart, their experiences have been VERY different. It has been a largely positive experience overall but for DD1, stability and support at home has been really important in enabling her to navigate situations that were completely out of her control. In short, she had bad luck with her form class and early friendship groups. This could have happened anywhere,at any school, it is the luck of the draw. What makes a difference is how well equipped a family is to deal with the situation, which can seem like the most draining parental experience, until you think about terminal illnesses, child carers etc. I do not think you can predict/legislate for this, what you can hope for is a school that deals with these things well (IME parents who have no experience of pastoral issues or whose children end up the 'winners' will eulogise about pastoral care so ignore them) and that as a family you have prepared them well enough and have the resources to support them. Children under achieve and/or are miserable in every school in the country. Equally the majority are happy and do well. You can narrow the chances but you cannot control the outcomes, so don't sweat the small stuff. I always thought having a choice of good schools would be great, (ours were limited) but now I am not so sure, an enviable position to be in nonetheless.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 21, 2017 3:29 pm 
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I think they are influenced by a variety of different factors.

When DS is well behaved, gets good grades, is kind and thoughtful I like to think that its mostly down to my positive influence as a parent. :wink:

On the other hand when he's rude, lazy, gets poor grades and is generally a pain in the backside its mainly due to the influence of his friends, his school and the slipping standards of our wider society! Or the influence of OH... :mrgreen:


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