The battle for school places – are our kids being put under too much pressure?

Mar 2 • Featured, Uncategorized • 692 Views • 3 Comments on The battle for school places – are our kids being put under too much pressure?

I feel so sorry for those families who missed out on a secondary school place yesterday – it’s estimated that 16,000 kids won’t have been given any of the choices on their application forms.

To me it’s utterly ridiculous that there should be this kind of formal rejection at such a pivotal stage in a child’s development.

I think the system as it stands needs an overhaul – it’s grossly unfair. I’m not sure how it works where you are but where we live I’ve known of parents who’ve rented houses in a catchment area just for a year or so to get their kids into a particular school; or start attending church a few years before admissions start.

Of course everyone wants to do the best for their kids. But what I worry about is the effect all this pressure puts on the children themselves. Whether you voice it or not, they will be aware of how much is riding on their ability to get into at least one of the schools of your choice, not least because of talk among their peers.

So I’d love to know your thoughts. Do we put our kids under too much pressure? Is some pressure good for their development? And what’s the solution to the shortage of school places?

written by Liz Jarvis


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3 Responses to The battle for school places – are our kids being put under too much pressure?

  1. Parent Confidential says:

    The fact that families are moving to try to get their kids into certain schools is a big upheaval for everyone, not just the kids. Pressure all round. How much pressure and rejection children feel is more a matter of how the whole issue is presented to them. Children are always going to experience failure and challenging situations and, as with any other, a great deal of how they deal with it is guided by how their parents approach it. We can’t shield children from reality such as this. Formal rejection is a fact of life even for children – it may be the school play they didn’t get a big part in, a competition they didn’t win, an exam they failed, a sports team they weren’t picked for – these things are all dealt with as they come up. Perhaps this is more about a parent’s own hopes and dreams for their child’s future, rather than the chilld’s hopes and dreams for themselves. Does the child know that this school may be the best for them, can they see their future panning out in the same way as their parents? That is what makes it harder for parents to deal with this issue as they would any other challenge, because they know how much the choice of school could affect their child. ‘How much is riding on them’ is a strong phrase and feeling this woud certainly make any child feel pressured. As with anything else, there is an element of parental choice here – as you say – do we put kids under too much pressure? There is no individual solution to the shortage of school places, so the next question must surely be – how can we avoid putting our kids under so much pressure, given the fact that we can’t magic school places out of a hat? This may be more to do with how parents discuss this with their kids, how parents manage their our own emotions and aspirations, how they manage possible failure to secure a place . In one sense it isn’t about the rejection, but the reality of dealing with rejection. How often as adults do we do everything we can to get something and then fail to achieve it? This is a real life lesson in how to deal with a setback. It is ‘one of those things’ that ultimately is not in our control, albeit a very important and, upseting, and irritating thing. What is in every parent’s control is how well, or otherwise, they deal with it and this is what children learn most from.

  2. Crystal Jigsaw says:

    I can only speak for special needs children as you know, but I do think too much pressure is applied when trying to find suitable schools. Catchment areas are a ridiculously unfair solution to which school a child attends. For example, Amy goes to a school 7 miles away, it’s mainstream and she’s doing "okay". They can’t do enough for her to be honest but she is autistic and so isn’t doing as well as a typical 11 year old would. This school isn’t actually in our catchment area. The school that is however, is approximately 6.9 miles away! But that school wasn’t a patch on the one she currently attends – in my humble opinion, and it is also Cof E which I refused to send her to – I have personal reasons for that decision. We are currently looking into a special needs school in Northumberland, there are four to choose from. But it could be a battle because the best one is 30-odd miles away. There are no special needs schools in our catchment area which means we will have difficulty finding a suitable place for Amy. She might not cope with mainstream high school which is why we are looking in special schools. If I had my way, I would get her name down on the SS list right now and have her enrolled there by the time she’s 13. But we all know it doesn’t work like that; the stupid and very outdated system warrants too much red tape and faffing about, giving parents a headache and pupils unnecessary pressure to perform. As always, I’ve ranted on your blog post. You’re just too good a blogger!!! CJ xx

  3. Maritza says:

    From my post on the BMB site, it’s quite apparent that this is very relevant to me this year and next as my second daughter will be going into secondary too. I have to admit, my husband and I contemplated moving/renting just to get into our preferred choice. We’ve had these discussions for a couple of years now. Thankfully we decided not to as it would have been too much upheaval for the rest of the family, and what if she still didn’t get in. The pressure and disappointment she would feel, just wasn’t worth it. In fact we came to the conclusion that maybe we should stop thinking the grass is always greener… And just make the choices we have near us, work for us.


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