There aren’t any secondary schools in Charlton – but there are plenty nearby. Are they worth sending your kids to, though? I went to one and came out alright, but that what’s it like now? With plenty of friends upping sticks and leaving town, Charlton Champion reader Paul Chapman and his wife recently thought through the dilemma, and came to a surprising conclusion.
The feedback we’ve had from other local parents is – rightly or wrongly – that secondary schools in the borough are poor. In fact, of the five parents of young children we have met since we’ve lived in Charlton, three have since moved out of the borough (and London) altogether and in each case I can safely say that the unwillingness to have their children educated locally was the prime motivation. Of the remaining two couples, one send their children to a local private school (which is not something my wife and I could afford to do even if we wanted to, which we wouldn’t).
Recently we were forced to make a decision. For various reasons we decided that we needed an extra room and so, in considering whether to move home, we had to decide whether to move locally (which realistically meant sending our eldest to a local secondary school) or follow a number of our friends to the ends of the earth (in most cases Kent) in search of better schools.
We decided we needed some more information so I went online. This table of 150 local authorities ranked on GCSE achievements was not promising (if you don’t have time to look for yourself, Greenwich is 18th from bottom).
But we looked around a bit more and took heart from this Department for Education site showing that from a very low standard in 2005 the borough is actually making impressive strides in improving local educational achievements.
The percentage of students gaining 5+ GCSEs including English and Maths in 2009, that made it rank 132th out of 150 in the first link was 43.4%. However, considering that in 2005 this was a dismal 34.3%, and by 2010 it had reached 50.1%, this looked to us like an impressive improvement.
Finally, we looked at a local school we had heard was quite good – John Roan – while there are no guarantees as to which school our children will get into – the fact that it looked good and would mean that our kids had the chance of a decent local education with other children they actually lived near to made us resolve to stay in Charlton, where we are all very happy, and throw in our lot with the Greenwich education system.
Of course we know it is not just the school that determines a child’s education achievements and the work we put in as parents as well as a host of other factors will ultimately decide whether Mabel and Max end up in university or borstal.
But the schools in the area will have a significant impact on the education of our two kids, time and exam results will determine whether we made the right choice.