Sunday, 3 June 2007

The Slack Mum's Guide to Choosing a Secondary School.

A slackers guide to choosing a secondary school.

A time will come in our parenting careers when we will have to choose a secondary school for our children.

When we choose a primary school we want teachers who will care about our children, understand their little quirks and an environment where they can be nurtured.

When it comes to secondary schools none of that matters, we all want results dammit! Because secondary schools are where our little darlings will sit their GCSE's, and if we make the wrong choice we could ruin their whole lives, or even worse expose them to 'the underclass'.

When I was a kid (and yes, I was a kid once!) things were so much simpler. There were no league tables, no SAT's, no OFSTED reports and best of all no choice. You just went to your nearest school.

Obviously there were unofficial rankings. For instance, at my school all the girls wore knee high socks...this was a sign that there was a good chance of us passing our O-Levels. At a nearby school all the girls rolled down their socks and wore stilettoes. This was a sign that they were destined for CSE's and marriage to undesirables.

My parents didn't have to think about secondary schools until I was about 10 years old. Today, if you haven't got a plan for secondary education when you are admitted to the delivery suite you are screwed.

I thought that the hysteria about secondary school was an urban myth perpetuated by The Guardian. I realised the error of my ways when my daughter started at primary school. Even when she was in reception there were agonised conversations about secondary school choices. And by the time she was in year 2 at least 50% of the children in her year were being tutored for the 11+ in the hope of ensuring a grammar school place.

I have known parents who have planned extensive rebuilding work to their houses so that they can rent a house in the catchment area of their choice for the duration. I have also known parents who have planned 5 year gaps between their children so that they can afford to go private when their kids get to 11. I have also known parents who trust to fate and send their children to the local comprehensive. They are normally pointed out in the playground as being very 'brave'.

So, if you have a child approaching secondary school your choices are:

Move to a nice area.
Go private.
Tutor you children from the age of 5 to get them into your local Grammar School.
Trust to fate, send them to your nearest school.

And if you don't make the right choice the video below shows where they'll end up!

Good Luck!


Julie Midas said...

God, the sheer, decision-making stress of it all! Living in a small(ish) village where practically everyone sends their kids to the catchment school has distinct advantages!

My secondary school made Grange Hill look positively posh! In all honesty, it's a wonder I've turned out quite so well!

I think the LEA was going through a 'progressive' phase during my secondary school years. We certainly had a wide and varied curriculum. Despite being in the middle of coal mining country and not very rural at all, we had to endure the delights of Rural Studies, learning how to plant things (using copious amounts of John Innes Seed Compost) and look after livestock. The school had chickens, rabbits, goats and even a small flock of sheep. The lowpoint of the year was having to attempt to shear the greasy beasts (before dyeing, spinning and weaving their wool.) It could all have been very useful, had I married a farmer or decided to become a self-sufficient hippy-type....

nicola arnett said...

hi, love the grange hill clip. my dad never let me watch grange hill so just watched my first episode at age 30.
p.s visit my blog on how to make a million

Mirabel said...

People should read this.