She was a middle set child, if you lined a cohort up she would probably stand proudly in the middle. At primary school she had a great group of friends and she was happy. She excelled in sport and made average grades in the classroom. Year 6 saw her having a few booster sessions to help her with her upcoming SAT’s, she didn’t like reading much you see.
Chloe never read for pleasure instead she would run or play hockey. That is where her pleasure lay. And still does truth be told!
We then sent her to a local comprehensive. Gloucestershire still has a pretty archaic secondary school system. We have four grammar schools in the city and then a handful of comps. Some of the comps are a bit lacking because the academic layer and wealthy layer has been creamed off for the many private schools and four grammar schools (not much comprehensiveness left then).
Therefore we sent Chloe to a faith school, a Catholic Comprehensive the other side of the city. It wasn’t a popular move and Chloe moaned. She wanted to go to the local comp where her best friends were going.
She started year7 full of trepidation and fear. Chloe is not at her ease in a room full of strangers, she didn’t have the small talk or the social skills to waltz into a new situation. Instead she stood on the outside looking in. The school tested them again that first week – preferring their own tests to the SAT’s recently taken.
Chloe didn’t do well. It was a new environment and new routines, she knew very few people. The next thing was that she was put on an accelerated reading programme. I went to the school and explained that she wasn’t that behind. And yes she had underperformed but for a number of reasons. They pretty much had her down as SEN at this point which I disagreed with.
Chloe quickly settled, made a wonderful group of friends and found her feet. Suddenly I wasn’t a bad mum and I had made the right decision on our choice of school.
My middle of the range girl was happy again.
She stayed in middle sets and continued to excel in sports. She was placed on the elite pathway and was soon playing county hockey. Reports were always good and she plodded along.
Until GCSE results.
Which was when she blew them away getting more A’s than some in top sets. My set 3 daughter who had been on the accelerated reading programme in Y7 got an A* in her English paper. She got one of the highest A*’s in Religious Studies and we couldn’t stop smiling.
The girl who flew under the radar had blown away the expectations on her. This wasn’t down to luck but sheer hard work. Chloe had studied night after night. Making flash cards, doing revision for GCSE’s, completing past papers and marking them herself. She had nailed it.
Then it was A Levels and her target grades had increased slightly but still she kept her head down and got on with her work. Year 12 was fine but the start of Year13 told a different story.
Parents Evening was the hardest we had ever had. Gone were the encouraging phrases like – she has beautifully presented books. She is always smiling, and what a lovely girl she is. Instead, they told us that she wasn’t likely to hit her targets and that she needs to start working. This mama bear reared up a little and I fought back. I called the Geography teachers out on a few things, I told her Philosophy and Ethics teacher that she works plenty hard enough and that obviously what she was doing wasn’t working but it wasn’t down to lack of effort or commitment. It seemed that they had forgotten what Chloe was like and how much she grafted.
Chloe kept her head down and she grafted like she always had. We could ask no more of her. She spent hours revising, her walls were adorned and decorated with mind maps, key facts and things she wanted to remember. I spent a small fortune on flash cards and highlights (we probably should plant a tree or two in return).
Fast forward to the night before results when suddenly I couldn’t sleep.
The morning dawned and we all saw it rise! At 7.30 Chloe screamed to me that she had got her first choice Uni. The tears flowed and they were mine! She had to wait until 9.30 to go and collect her results but we knew she had been accepted. The phone call I then got from Chloe was jumbled. Excited.
She had done it again, getting the highest result in her Philosophy & Ethics exam in her class. Not bad for the girl who was feeling like she was the lowest in the class. Her teacher couldn’t hide his surprise as he said ‘she choose the right moment to peak’ She also got one of the best grades in Sociology, she shared it with the two boys who had also been top all year long. My middle set child had exceeded expectations again. Flying under the radar has suited her. It has allowed her to go at her pace, to thrive.
The moral of the story…. Oh I can find so many:
- Let kids go at their own pace, they thrive when happy and comfortable rather than pressurised.
- Mums know best. Full Stop!!
- Kids will rise to the top if they are motivated to do so.
- It’s not the school that matters, it’s the kids that matter.
- Find a hobby that makes you happy, it is good for the soul.
- Hard works pays off
- Flying under the radar is no bad thing
- Believe in yourself
Obviously, the sting in the tail is now that my firstborn will leave us to head to Plymouth! But we’ve prepared her for this and now is her turn to fly.