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Brain drain to the leafy suburbs?

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Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Tuesday, 10 July, 2007 - 07:59 pm:   

Readers of mine on the other channel may have seen a little bit of an argument over a throw away comment about our friends in the 'nicer' parts of the London Borough of Bromley. Clearly I had touched a sensitive nerve but there is probably a serious message there.

Now Baggy Dave has some little baggies, currently at a nice state junior school close to home. There has been talk from some parties, almost as soon as the kiddywinkies were born, about how the leafy suburbs were much better places to bring up kids, particularly once they reach secondary school age. And the migration has already started, sometimes amongst people I'd least expect, who'd always talked so positively about SE23, and supporting the state secondary schools. Perhaps after their politics or sociology degrees they had lived on the front line (eg Brixton), and I see them with Che Guevara posters and John Lennon 'Working class hero' Tee Shirts.

Now whilst I'm always happy to oblige with my personal views from personal experience of some of those living in Orpington, Chislehurst and Bromley Town I'd actually be interested to hear from others - would you stay here for your kids' secondary education? Have you already moved or planning to move?? And why.

BD of course retains the right to be a complete hypocrite and move out, although he wouldn't fancy the 15 mile cycle ride and the lack of excitement. Oh and not a thread on the private schools down this way - someone else can start that up.
Joined 06-05-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 07:14 am:   

Hi BD. Me and the wife lived above a shop in Dartmouth Road for 8 years and dragged/brought-up 2 children there - happy to stick with our own local people and schools ...until one fateful day. When my son was six I had a friendly little chat with his best mate at school and when I tried to trick him with a number puzzle he looked me straight in the eye and said, "It don't go up to 47 you dick 'ead!" (some will say he was right on both counts!). For a six year-old to have that attitude towards his best mate's dad is not his fault, nor the school's, in my book it's to do with the parenting. I didn't have the chance to find out if many more of my son's peers had been similarly influenced by their parents and, in the best interests of my son, I didn't have the time to find out and I immediately started researching some of the areas and schools in your so-called 'nicer' parts and made the move. My well-mannered and balanced son has just finished his comprehensive school education with a great bunch of friends as well as good A-Levels in Law, Business Studies & Psycology and an offer of a place at Sussex Uni'. Obviously, I am fully aware there are many kids who flourish in Forest Hill's schools - I'm just letting you know how the move worked out for my son.
Joined 29-09-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 09:10 am:   

I grew up in leafy Hertfordshire and went to the local 'highly' rated comp. All the kids spoke well and were well mannered particularly in front of friends parent's. However once the parents were gone, there wasn't much between leafy comp and inner city comp. This is going back 20 years, but even back then I witnessed stabbings, all manner of fights, under age drinking,/smoking, theft, vandalism, the list goes on. With a combination of luck and great parental support, I managed to do well at my O and A levels and went off to University with a number of my friends. However other friends who started school in similar graded classes did not go to Uni. Either because they went off the rails, parents did not support that decision or they simply didn't want to go to Uni. As it happens those who left at 16, went into manual trades and brought properties in the early 90's are sitting on bigger property capital than all my friends who went off to Uni and didn't buy until late 90's. I'm still friends with those who stayed and didn't go to Uni, most still live back in the town we grew up in. Their kids go to the same schools, some will go to Uni some won't. It's cyclical. Life's not a puzzle, where once we have all the pieces they fit together and then that's it. It's dynamic and what is good for one is not necessarily good for another. All you can do as a parent, is be their for your kids, keep a sense of humour, keep things in perspective and encourage them when you see enthusiasm. FYI We will be sending our kids to FH and Sydenham schools
Joined 06-05-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 10:01 am:   

Hi Haylands. Apart from the references to your actual experiences and your decision to send your children to lacal schools, there's an underlining tone to your post that I find a bit patronising. My contri was merely an answer, which I felt was befitting in the context of BD's original question, but you seem to be offering me, BD and every reader of this thread, some sort of a general lesson in life. As much as I toatally respect what you're saying, with the life I've had I seriously doubt whether there's anything you can teach me (for one) on how to keep it real.
Joined 29-09-2006
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 10:57 am:   

I'm sorry Anotherjohn that you have taken offence. It was not intentional. I was merely offering my own experience as you yourself had in the previous thread, and giving my reasons why I would be supporting the local schools. I was not offering any advice on parenting to you or to anyone else on As parents we have enough advise, contrary advise and contrary contrary advice to drown in. I was continuing the thread, blogs aren't there to only answer the original question but to continually change as more people contribute. However I still believe that I was answering BD's orignally posting, ie grass isn't always greener and save your legs on the cycle into work. You could also say that a longer conmmute reduces time spent with your kids...discuss!!
Joined 06-05-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 11:14 am:   

Thanks Haylands - I too apologise for misinterpreting.
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 03:28 pm:   

As the child of a state school teacher, who grew up in a leafy suburb--to be honest most educational studies conclude the a child's chance of success in academia and in the world at large mostly has to do with their family. A child with a strong and stable family unit will prosper at an inner city comp, while someone with a chaotic and unstable family life will fail at a suburban grammar school.

One of my personal bug bears is when familes take their children out of the state school system because the system is not up to snuff--in their opinions. But the state school system will never improved until families who are interested in their childrens' education and are involved in the community, send their children to the local schools. By opting out and going the private route, they are in fact contributing to the problem they are running away from.

Of course my blood would run cold if I had to send my son may go to a secondary school where students openly dealt drugs and brought guns and knives to school. But I don't think Forest Hill is that kind of community.

Sometimes I wish that we had a larger back garden for our son. But a recent visit to a friend in the 'burbs revealed that her children had never been on a bus or a train, rarely see anyone of a different ethicity than themselves (not because they are white surpremists, just because there aren't that many people of different races living around them) And I thought my son was lucky to get so many different visions and experiences living in a city like London.
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 04:10 pm:   

BD - I'm so glad you have started this thread - as we are currently thinking and researching the move from SE23 to the leafy 'burbs' ourselves.
From our little recent knowledge of local secondary education - the prospects for local girls, reaching secondary age and for little boys are very different. As we'll need the later ..... things seem pretty dire for us.
Joined 24-03-2004
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 05:36 pm:   

I'm never quite sure what to make of the 'bugbear' of families who apparently contribute to the decline or continued poor performance of local schools by sending their children elsewhere. It's an argument that one sees fairly often, but few rational people would be prepared to use their children to make some moral point by giving them anything less than the best education that is realistically available. My own view is that my very concrete responsibility to my children outweighs a (admittedly laudable) one to more abstract communitarian goals.

Elizabeth, I trust you will be sending your own to FH Boys in due course, gender permitting, but why not 'keep it real' and score extra Guardian points and send them to Kingsdale?
Joined 28-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 05:37 pm:   

Can't speak of the local schools but very good friends of mine have recently moved to Beckenham and believe me, Friday evening in Lordship Lane or Forest Hill is world's away from Beckenham Town Centre. Oh yes and the civilised side is not the leafy suburban high street!
Joined 30-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   

Curiously a lot of children at the attractive Bromley schools are children from Forest Hill/Lewisham. A lot of children in Lewisham schools are from Southwark. I often wonder where the pupils in Southwark schools come from!
Joined 09-04-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 08:31 pm:   

I fully expect to stay here when my kids reach secondary education.
I don't think you can make the assumption that the leafy suburban schools will be better.

I travelled out of the area that I lived in to go to a "good" school and it was a pile of dung. It had a good reputation from the past but the present was a different story.
Imagine paying a lot of money to buy an overpriced house only to find out years later that the school that was good is no longer. There are lots of (sub)urban myths about how good schools are. Often thinly disguised euphemisms for "white" or "middleclass".

Oh, and I was brought up in Bromley but went to school in Lewisham!
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Wednesday, 11 July, 2007 - 09:46 pm:   

Hmmmm, don't know about the differering opportunities for girls and boys. Always found single gender schools a bit of a strange concept, but now getting more used to the idea. Didn't think it they differed that much in the area. BD came from a co-ed background; if the three secondary schools in the area, the ex-grammar is now under special measures, BD's school which he thought OK at the time average at the best, and the one we all looked down on because that is where all the new estates were, is doing best of all. But no doubt nothing to do with history and location and reflects the some of the destructive nature of choice and competition, and the benefits of a good head teacher. BD was separated from the author Jonathan Coe, at 11 when he topped the entrance exam for the top state grammar in the area. Interesting to hear he hated it, reflected sometimes in his books. But the Rotter's club was well wide of the mark in a lot of respects as this is the way he thought us comp kids were all having a crazy time. Anyway I am well and truly digressing and I am enjoying the discussion so please let's have some more.
Joined 04-03-2005
Posted on Thursday, 12 July, 2007 - 09:32 am:   

Interesting that the idea of sending your child to the local school should be viewed as a using "their children to make some moral point." huh? Sending your child to the nearest, perfectly fine, local school is not a radical protest. It's called sending your child to school. Where (shock, horror) they might be sitting next to someone from a family that doesn't have as high an income as theirs, or isn't the same color, or might not have been born in this country. Oh my God, break out the tamboreens and "sing we shall overcome!"

The state schools will never improve until the surrounding communities get involved in its improvement. That includes sending your child to school.
Joined 19-05-2004
Posted on Thursday, 12 July, 2007 - 08:00 pm:   

At the risk of getting myself in trouble, again, can this be put back to the main site - this is very much about SE23 - should I stay or should I go!