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Going away to vocational school at 11???


charlie4dancin
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hummm its a tricky one, it is hard when only one parent is supportive but it comes down to what the DD wants to do and how many other family members there are, i have 2 one DD and one none, we had the chance for DD to go away in Y7 and her dad was not keen, and the rest of the family thought it was wrong to send her away at 11, I got the whole guilt trip over how that was the age a girl needed her mother etc, caused a few battles and in the end me and her dad had a frank discussion where each of us gave the pros and cons and weighed everything up, we had a bursery but only for 50% of the fees so it would have put a huge strain on the finances and DD has medical problems with eczema and IBS which dad was worried about, but the main decider was that if we put her through the school it meant that there was nothing really in the kitty to fund anything the other wanted, so they would have to give up their sports and the dance that they did and looking on it as a whole it just wasn't fair on the whole family. I still wonder if we did the right thing, but she's keeping up her training and fingers crossed she'll go at college.

 

She was gutted but now (3 years on!) see's how hard it was for us to make but she really resented her dad and sibling for a while.

 

I would say that you need to think hard about the impact on the whole family, is she likely to really make it as a dancer (thats hard to tell i know at such a young age) how badly does she want it and you need to be prepared for it to cost you in terms of the resentment that will build up either way, i have known it cost marriages and if you have other children they need to see that they also count in the family because invariably it takes so much effort and resources to get to the stage where they are accepted into the residential schemes that they sometimes get left out and that can cause issues too, i don't envy you, i know it was incredibly tough on us and took a while to get over it.

 

on the other hand i have seen it where the other partner started off very anti then saw how happy they were and came round but realistically it needs the whole family on board and the whole family makes the sacrifice to get the DD there and keep her there

 

.... ok, that sounds really negative and i'm sure that others have a more positive experience how about you and the dad have a 'no blame' conversation where you agree to put both your views on the table without bias and then clinically go through each point and then see where you stand.

 

good luck! :)

Edited by twinkletoes
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oh you are not alone in this its such a hard choice and no matter which way your family decides to go there will always be people who think you've done the wrong thing, you just have to do what is best for you and your family, the rest of the world can hang because you are the only one who knows whats best for you all :) (can you tell i'm still smarting from my mother in law telling me i was a bad mother for wanting my DD to go away lol)

 

I hope it all works out, i'm sure it will

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Hi

 

We are in the same position. DD wants to apply this autumn. Dad isn't against it but is concerned, said he never thought his dd would be leaving home at 11 - there's a long way to go yet. My opinion is if she doesn't try she will never know and I want my dd to look back and think - Mum & Dad did everything they could to help me not that they stood in my way. Other siblings have to be taken into account though & if there's no money for anything else then that wouldn't be fair.

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We had the decision when DS was a bit older (but only 13 and boys can sometimes seem less mature than girls)- luckily the financial side wasn't too much of a problem because fo a big scholarship but the emotional side was for us- no dancers ever in either side of the family so a huge leap of faith (plus DS has gone to another continent) and he is our eldest so a real shock to lose him.

 

In the end what swayed our decision was the idea that he could always stop and come home if he didn't like it, with not too much lost (a bit of schooling which can always be caught up) but we couldnt bear the thought of him applying at 16 for 6th form places, not being good enough, and believing it was because he hadn't taken the opportunity at 13. The teacher who offered the scholarship basically said- 'he will be a dancer whatever you do- it is up to you whether he has the chance to be the best dancer he is capable of (world class soloist) or is just a good dancer in a provincial company or the corps of a bigger company'.

 

Of course there are no certainties in this world so it is not like we think he is en route to stardom, but whatever happens he has had the chance to try for what he wanted to do more than anything else in the world. So far he is very happy, and although I cried almost continuously for a week after he first went, I can see for him it was the right thing- this is his life and he has a right to have a say in how he spends it. We are very close (thanks to facebook and skype- honestly the person who invented skype should win a nobel prize for services to humanity) and you would be surprised how much you still feel a parent despite the distance (doing 'math' homework at 11.30 pm doesn't stop just because of a 5 1/2 hr time difference!!!).

 

So yes it's very very hard and there were a feasible alternative we'd all have taken it. But for us it (so far) has definitely worked out. I have to say I also had lots of supportive positive comments from people on this forum which helped me immensely to feel I wasn't completely insane to consider vocational school. Plus my sister (who I expected to be very anti as she is quite protective of her children) was brilliant- she said that if to be a great dancer you really have to start early then that's just a different sort of life - and there are many parts of the world and times in history where children have had to be adults at a young age and have coped perfectly well. In some ways what an amazing and wonderful opportunity.... Children are more resilient than we think. As long as they always know there is no stigma or failure to them changing their mind if they don't like it then I felt they should give it a go.....

Edited by CeliB
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If she really wants to go, then do it. We have a son away since 11 and he is having the time of his life. Of course, there are financial considerations - which are extreme regardless of bursaries, scholarships etc. for example, fuel to do transfers... Getting more and more each week!

 

We have two others who aren't at vocational school. They take part in ballet through our son, and the question of not being fair hasn't come up. Indeed, we then spend more time with them, expecially our youngest, that probably she didn't get when they were all very much younger.

 

Yes, there may be hardships and worries, but never to have tried because something might be difficult means things may never be tried. They may not be at home during school term, but they are still very much 'at home' - they still need their parents and they still need to know they are loved.

 

Final hint - don't rent their room out! ;) and final note to show I am human! I hate going into my sons room when he is away. It may be tidy, but it's... Well... Tidy!

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Final hint - don't rent their room out! ;) and final note to show I am human! I hate going into my sons room when he is away. It may be tidy, but it's... Well... Tidy!

 

If only!! bedrooms is one of the made cause of concerns in our house a dd who keeps leaving and coming home etc, I won't go in DS room while he's away as I'm scared of the mess I will find!! (Small room and to much stuff)Luckily he's room while he's away is tidy!

 

Have to say if our DS hadn't been the youngest chances are he wouldn't have gone away due to the cost and what the other 2 would have missed out on to due to the money being spent on youngest.

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I agree that you have to do what is best for the DD or DS the problem arises when 2 parents have different views on what that best is

C4D what is the dad's objection? is it something that is tangible that can be argued against or do you think he has a point, i'm not sure if you are with the dad or not but if you are then you need to consider how this diverse view could affect your relationship, it is bad to look back on it and wonder 'what if' but both parents views/inputs are equally valid and one parent doesn't have the right to force a decision on the other, either way. Its very easy for us to say you should go for it but we are all a little biased on the matter :)

 

I think it may need an impartial view point maybe who knows your situation and can see both sides, you may find that you have the difficult choice of DD and D Dad

 

Playing devils advocate (don't shoot me its just putting the other point of view :) )it does need BOTH parents behind the schooling or you'll find that the family foundation crumbles and the DD may feel that they are responsible (even though they are NOT) you really find that you have to get him on board with the whole thing, although we're all very supportive of our DD and DS going to a school they've earned a place in, we don't really have any more right to say "they're going" than the other parent has to say "They're NOT going", if you are not with the dad then there is the other issue of contact, if you are separated and here is a contact order in place then that adds another layer of complexity depending how far away the school is because a contact order cannot be breached or amended without going to court and then he could reasonably block the move and i've seen this happen in the past when there has been a bad breakup and one parent was opposed to the schooling.

 

One has to ask the question, why didn't he object when she was going to all the auditions? its not like these things happen without notice, he must have known she was good, having seen all the coments you've made about her in the past she has obviously been doing dancing for quite some time and is very talented so why not mention it before this *sigh*

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Bear in mind that if you don't allow your daughter to go (without a valid reason) there may always be a feeling of resentment from her. If your husband is the one that stopped her going and yet you are keen you may well find that you always have a feeling of resentment against him! Not a healthy way to live. Overall if you can make it work financially etc then I think you need to let her go to at least experience it. Once your husband sees how happy she is there he might come round, and if she's not all that happy then she'll come home. It's a hugely difficult decision to make so take your time. When it comes to it you'll know the right thing to do ;)

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I would suggest that you take Dad's concerns as a chance to examine the decision to be sure you are making the right choice for your family. Its easy for us dancing mums to get so caught up in the audition rollercoaster that we sometimes loose the perspective of the bigger picture.

 

So much depends on the options open to you, both in terms of the vocational school and what is available locally if you chose not to take that route, your finances and your family situation. One arguement I would put in favour of full time training is that when they reach 14/15 it can be very difficult to get enough training at a suitable level locally. We ended up spending hours every week driving to classes all over the North of England. I'm not sure that this would have be practical if I had worked full time, and I think it would have been hard on siblings if we had other children. However with good local training it is possible to get into vocational school at 16 (although the Royal Ballet School is very unlikely!) and you have the advantage of having your child close during the teenage years.

 

Financial arguements are difficult as it is always going to mean a compromise for the rest of the family. But local training doesn't come cheap and you have to factor in cost of petrol/train fares and even your time perhaps. If you are getting into the realms of re-mortgaging the house to take up a place I would seriously stear clear. That's too much obligation to put on a child when there is so much still outside their control.

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Everyone's given some very valid points and I hope you find them useful.

 

Be reassured that you're not alone - even when you've made the decision for them to go, it can be hard to come to terms with for both emotional (not having them living at home) and financial reasons.

 

The point about whether it's the "dream" school is a good one (our son only went because it was, otherwise he'd have stayed at home) and what local training is available (again, because we had a son we felt it was the best way for him to get decent training - my daughter wouldn't have gone because we've got good local schools and associate classes within reach).

 

My husband was the "voice of reason" in the early days, making us stop and think about whether this was the right move, however, due to his own difficulties at work a while ago, he has backed it completely, knowing that it's best to have a good shot at being able to make a living out of something you love doing.

 

Good luck :)

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Wow not sure where to start... a lot of reading and very valid points, yes I am probably guilty of being caught up on the auditions roller coaster and maybe thought the audition process would be very good experience for her!!

We are very much a family and most certainly won't be selling anything to fund a place, I have an older ds (not ballet) who has no intention of going away. Dad just doesn't believe children should go away at 11 and doesn't want anyone else bringing her up, I agree with some of his concerns but I try to see the bigger picture and wonder if we stop her will she able to be at a standard at 16 to apply for 6th form?

I am trying hard to see both points of view but feeling very guilty for allowing her to audition knowing dad wasn't keen!!!

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c4d did Dad go with you to the auditions? If he didn't I would try and arrange for him to visit the school(s) you are considering as he may feel completely differently afterwards. Then I would show him this thread so he realises that you are fully aware of his feelings and that many others have been in the same position. The thing to remember is that most of the children at vocational schools would not be going away to boarding school if they were not dancers. You are not 'sending your child away to school' but providing them the education you believe gives them the best chance to succeed in their chosen path. Many non-dancing parents will criticise parents for allowing their children to go away at 11 but that is because they have no understanding of the ballet world. The parents on this site are the ones who can offer first-hand experience. I think the general consensus would be to 'give it a try' if offered the opportunity on the basis that you can always leave. However one word of caution - our local secondary school is very good and over-subscribed and whilst our dd was offered a place for year 7 she may well not have been able to get in at year 8/9/10. My dd is now in vocational 6th form and for various complicated personal reasons did not go away at 11. It was a very difficult decision and there were many times when we questioned it but now looking back we all (dd, us and siblings) agree it was the right one for us in our circumstances.

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C4D - try not to feel guilty. You're not the first parent to give your child the chance to auditio for the expeience and then have a difficult decision to make when the offer of a place comes up.

 

It IS possible to get a place a 16 without going away at 11. When myy dd auditioned for schools, girls from her associate class got a places at Central, Elmhurst, Northern Ballet School, Ballet West, London Studio centre to name a few. But you do need very good local training and a lot of parental commitment (as well as talent, hard work and commitment from the student of course!)

 

Have you looked at CAT schemes as an alternative?

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Well it was me in our family who strongly thought that you should not send a child away at 11 and not WL " over my dead body". And thats from someone in the business!

 

But it was turned round by a headteacher collegue who pointed out that I was not sending DS away, because it was he who wanted to go. She also wisely pointed out what I would do if he turned around at 18 and ask why he wasn't given the chance. Furthermore my husband still gets very upset about the fact that he wasn't even allowed to try for a prestigious school (not ballet) when he was 11 despite being virtually guaranteed funding so he was not going to hold his own son back.

 

Suggest you find out exactly why your DH has concerns and also just how much DD wants to go! If he hasn't already done so then I suggest he visits the schools and asks as many questions as possible. I did this and was even allowed to speak privately to the boarders.

 

Remember you don't cease to be a parent if your child goes away to school, in some ways you become more of one because time with your offspring become more wisely spent (I know I would have nagged more had he been at home!). You are also allowing them to spread their wings safe in the knowledge that they can always come back if it doesn't work out.

 

Good luck.

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Phew! Thats a lot of travelling! Maybe thats what put her dad off? It certainly sounds to me that you would all certainly have far more useful family time if your DD was settled in one place. And theres school work to consider, secondary schools in my experience are not generally supportive when it comes to juggling academic work and ballet lessons. This is where the boarding schools come into their own. We certainly found that DS was actually covering a lot of work within lessons (small class sizes mean no excuse for lazing at the back) so he usually found it very easy to complete prep in the supervised hour allowed. His day was done and dusted by 7.30ish, a big contrast to my students still doing after school classes and the going home to hours of homework!

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please do not consider you are 'sending your child away'. That just is not the case. You are supporting your child in their endeavour to be a professional ballet dancer.

 

This is nothing at all like the documentaries you see on TV about children indeed being 'packed off the boarding school because that's what we did, and our parents before us etc'.

 

The small class sizes and academic work is also a bonus as mentioned above.

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We were also (well, hubby especially) concerned about the idea of having someone else bringing up our son, but that's not really the case. You are still very much involved and they are at home for a lot of the year anyway with long holidays, leave outs/exeats. And my son learnt to be much more self-sufficient and confident with other adults that I believe he would have done if he'd stayed at home. The schools are very aware that most people would not have sent their children to boarding school under "normal" circumstances. Now we're at the end of our school journey I can safely say we have no regrets, even with the terrible homesickness for the first year, and the assessing out B)

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I would have given my eye teeth to have such an opportunity! (Instead, the orthodontist took them!) My parents were totally unsupportive, even to the idea of me having ballet lessons until our GP said I had to have them to strengthen my ankles.

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I can vouch for just how hard it is - financially and in terms of time - to try to keep up enough hours of quality ballet training to be in with a chance of getting a Vocational Place at 16, AND juggling an awful lot of homework if you have a bright child at a demanding academic school.

 

Including a twilight GCSE dance course, my Year 8 dd is dancing 5 days a week, and having piano lessons and singing lessons. With travelling, her Associate Class takes up most of Saturday. Approaching Vocational exams, she adds in a Sunday morning ballet class.

 

Tuesday is probably her hardest day as she has to eat a low GI dinner by 5pm, be at G6 ballet by 6pm, and doesn't get home until 9pm after Intermediate class. She's an academic high flyer and gets a LOT of homework, which takes up Friday evenings and most of Sunday.

 

She likes to do Easter and Summer Schools, and EYB every other year. All this is entirely her choice, but she looks tired out most of the time and never really gets any time off. Her friend is a day pupil at a private Vocational school, and does have two late evenings a week, BUT once she's home, she's home - not rushing out to dance class.

 

If she had been offered a funded ballet place at 11 we would have definitely let her try it - not that Vocational pupils work any less hard, BUT they aren't trying to fit all their dance training AND homework in after school.

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I wasn't clued up about vocational schools when my child was 11 at all, but later on I started thinking about it and sent off for brochures, etc. But DD's father was adamantly opposed to it all - the idea of ballet training, the leaving home, "breaking up the family", etc. He wouldn't even consider looking at the prospectuses or going to open days, zilch. It caused a few arguments, and I let it go. Personally speaking, I would have liked my child to have tried, and now she's stuck in a much grimmer than expected inner-city comp while cramming in as many ballet lessons as she can manage after school, I wish she had!

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Rowan,i can identify with what you just said. I have a 15 year old son, and ,despite my efforts when he was younger, showed no interest in any form of dance, or indeed any other Art form. Very clever,but at a large Secondary school [the largest in Northern Ireland with 1,300 pupils!]. The academics at the school despite its size, are excellent, and the discipline they instill in the pupils is second to none. His well to do aunt and uncle about two years ago, completely out of the blue, phoned me up saying, how would you feel about sending your son to private boarding school in Dublin? Talk about a shock. They offered to pay all the fees, uniform fees, etc, and if i was able to contribute a small amount each term [and it would have been small!] then so be it. I made the mistake, i think,of asking my son how he felt about this, and was told, quite, emphatically that if i were to send him away it would ruin his life. I tried talking to him about the pros and cons as i was very enthusiastic about it, knowing, apart from the academics, that it would mature him immensely, and would transform his life, probably. He was having absolutely none of it; didn`t want to leave his friends, home, etc.[And knowing this school would work them harder, which he didn`t like the idea of at all !] I ought to add that my son`s father has been dead for nearly five years, but i`m pretty sure he would have been as keen about the idea as i was if he had still been alive. So, after school, when homework is completed, he has no hobbies to go to, as he doesn`t want to do any, and spends most of the evening on that wretched X Box. The only consolation in that is that he is indoors in his room so i know he is safe,and not getting up to no good. The vast majority at his school hang around the local shop and set rubbish bins alight for something to do. How i wish i had been stricter with him, and "packed him off to Boarding School", when the chance came up. Now, he is right in the middle of his GCSE`s so it is too late to move him now anyway. I wish, for my son`s sake, i had done the right thing, regardless of whether he would have wanted it or not.

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Our international school here only goes up to year 8 and there are no other schools for us so i had no choice but to consider boarding.Over the last 2 years i had to ween the idea to my dh.He finally came around after seeing how great the school was!My eldest will be starting this September.As for my dd who wants to try for all the vocational schools,its her dream to go to one,my husband insists that she wont go,but at least i have got 2 more years to work on it.

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Gosh C4D that is a tricky one to advise on. I think you really do need to have a look at it from all angles and have a good long chat with DH. Do you know anyone in person that you can both talk to about their experiences of having a child away at school? My DD is older than yours and my DH still had plenty of reservations about letting her go away to school but he was able to have a chat with another Dad and that reassured him somewhat. On the whole, I tend to echo other posters in that the only way to know if it works for your family is to give it a try. Like spannerandpony I too know the difficulties in getting good training locally as it gets so much harder at the higher grades and schoolwork in year 8 is nothing compared to years 10 & 11. Wishing you all the best in your deliberations.

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The only problem with "giving it a try" is that, if the final decision is that it isn't working, this could be even more heartbreaking for your daughter if she is happy! I am sure that it would be much harder for her to be told that she has to leave than to be told that she can't go in the first place!!

 

Does all this deliberation mean that you have had good news already, C4D, or are you just planning ahead?

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