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Susan Hamlyn, director emerita of The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants, answers your educational quandaries and predicaments.
I have two children. My son, 12, is studious, serious and academic, but also sporty and likes performing. He has just started at an independent school and loves it. My daughter, 10, is bright but scatty, lives for her social life and manages her school work on the wing – with highly variable results. My son already talks about wanting to go to university. My daughter hates the idea. We could afford to send both to independent schools but my daughter wants to go with her friends to the local (and good) comprehensive. Shall we let her have her way or might she blame us later on for not giving him the chances her brother has?
The key to your question is that your local comprehensive is good. If it were not a school you could trust to help your daughter reach her potential then my advice might be different.
She is still very young, if you allow her the privilege of choice, she is likely to put herself into making her time there a success - if only to prove herself right!
On the other hand, were you to put your foot down and insist on her trying for and going to (should she get in) a good independent school, yes, she may well thank you for it later on and develop a more scholarly turn of mind.
But - she may not and she may well not apply herself as you would hope and resent the fact that you did not trust her to do her best in the school of her choice.
So - my feeling is, let it be a contract between you and her. At 10, she should appreciate her choice being taken seriously and that you are allowing her to have a say in a world that you, after all, know better than she can (which needs to be made very clear to her).
Yes, she may go to the comprehensive with her friends, but it must be on the condition that she takes work at least as seriously as she takes her social life. Any hint from her teachers that she is not applying herself and focusing on reaching her potential, then - out! And you will make other arrangements
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Some special needs are easy to spot, others are only determined once a child has experienced considerable difficulties, frustrations or social and emotional problems.
Over the years, diagnosis of and provision for SEN have improved, but both can still be a minefield.
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There are currently around 164 state funded grammar schools located in 36 English local authorities, with around 167,000 pupils between them. There are a further 69 grammar schools in Northern Ireland, but none in Wales or Scotland. Almost half of these are considered 'selective authorities' (eg Kent and Buckinghamshire), where around one in five local children are selected for grammar school entry based on ability. The others are areas such as Barnet or Kingston, with only a few grammar schools.
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State grammar schools
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