Worrying about schools

1 April 2009

The worrying has started! My child is in Year 4 but already I’m worrying about where he might go to secondary school. Living as I do in Tower Hamlets, the choices are rather stark. There’s an Academy which all the parents want their child to go to; there’s a pretty good Local Authority comp but there are rumours that, despite its good reputation, bad things might be going on there; and there’s the local sink school, which is under-subscribed and is right next door to where we live.

On the surface, it’s a no-brainer: the best school is definitely the Academy. But the trouble is, we live just too far away to get him in. Only by a few feet, but that’s enough because it’s a very over-subscribed school and generally takes students close to the school.

But the thing is, as a teacher, I know it’s a bit more complex than that. The local sink school has just got a new Head who’s determined to turn things around: I’ve seen him by the gates making sure the pupils behave. Some of them are frighteningly aggressive in the streets after school when he’s not around though: a friend of mine narrowly missed getting hit by a flying chair the other day! That said, my instinct is the school shouldn’t be written off: it’s got great facilities, it’s close by, it’s clearly got some good teachers, and, unlike the Academy, it’s not over-subscribed so it will have smaller classes. Plus, supportive parents and good pupils are nurtured. I know of one pupil who has done very well there — and never got into trouble.

The ultimate thing is: it’s the parents that make the pupil, not the school. If parents are on the ball, have high expectations, and make sure

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