When choosing a primary school, it’s usually the parents who choose the school for their children. Maybe you dragged them to look around a few schools, and took any preferences into account but as a rule , 4 year olds are likely to choose their school based on how pretty the teachers are or what colour the uniform is. Most parents will make the ultimate choice themselves and when it comes down to it, as long as the building is welcoming and the faces are friendly, young children usually settle at the school chosen for them in the end.
Choosing a secondary school is a completely different ball game.
When it comes time to choose a secondary school, your children are likely to have an opinion of their own about where they’d like to go. And it’s possible that that opinion might not match your own.
We were lucky when it came to make that choice for DD1 last year. She wanted to sit the exam for a localish partially selective school and so we arranged a tutor, helped her go through papers and let her get on with it. She was pretty focussed on getting a mark that would get her a place, but we did have the odd hiccup. If she had been totally against the idea of this school we would not have had a chance of a place, no matter how much we believed this was the right school for her.
As it was, when push came to shove, she said she ‘wasn’t sure’ and that she might want to go to the nearby very good comprehensive instead. But we took the initiative; she’d done the work and got a good mark and we felt she should at least give the more academic option a try. Two months later, she loves it and we feel we all made the right choice.
This year it was DD2’s turn. She will get a sibling place but we made her sit the exam anyhow; mean parents that we are. She was not so keen on the exam but likes the sound of the school. Again, this is lucky for us. We’ve only had to visit one school when some of my friends have spent the last month visiting a different school every week.
Who knows what the younger two will do? How will we react if they don’t want to go where we want them to? The truth is, I don’t know.
I suspect we might feel that we have the right to override them; after all, we are the adults and as such are far more likely to look at the important things when choosing wisely for our children’s education. But then, I don’t know if I could send them somewhere that they really didn’t want to go. Hopefully we’ll never have to make the choice.
How do other parents choose what secondary school to send their children to? Would you send them to a school you really weren’t keen on because your child wanted to go? Or would you rather they went somewhere you approved of, even if they didn’t like it?