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Is DH bu? Or am I guilty of reverse snobbery?(97 Posts)
Hi everyone. We're in the schools applications process and DH and I have very different ideas. I've got a young baby as well as DD and I think my pnd is making me more anxious than I need to be about all this
We have a good chance of getting into two schools (they're catholic and usually go into the 'baptised in other faiths' category)
School 1 is our 'catchment' catholic school. Its ofsted was outstanding, although dated (2007 and a new head has joined since then). It gets great results (94% level 4 and 34% level 5 at key stage 2). I looked round and I loved it, the staff seemed really friendly, the children seemed happy and engaged, the facilities were great, bright and cheerful, the Head seemed like she was a good leader but also made time to listen to our questions. Its linked to what's perceived to be the best secondary school in the area (and with it being catholic it actually guarantees entry to this secondary if you attend the primary). Its not too "pushy" on the catholic sense - it teaches all the morals but is very inclusive of the many children of other faiths who attend there. (Good for non-believer DH). We can walk to it too. So basically this would be my top choice, I love it. However (slightly snobby) DH is quite worried about the area its in. The houses around are all boarded up, there's loads of rubbish in the street and there are a couple of pubs next door with "unsavoury characters" (DHs words) hanging around outside during the day. Basically, DH would be a bit worried about us walking there. His other worry is it has high numbers of pupils with special needs and EAL - I personally see this as a positive as I have been enriched by friends of many cultures and walks of life myself (oh and my mum and sis in law would have been labeled as EAL) but DH worries a lot of time will be spent "bridging the gap" to help these pupils. The Head compounded his worries when she spoke passionately and at length about helping pupils with special needs and EAL (which is obviously wonderful) but when he asked her about gifted and talented pupils she just said "there is provision within lessons". Is he right to be worried, or do you think it is just snobbery/fear of the unknown?
School 2 is very different. It has an AMAZING reputation, everyone I know wants to get their kids in there. The ofsted parent opinion questionnaire was brilliant and the school have even paid for statistical surveys to show how happy the pupils are and how well they're doing academically. It gets the same great results as School 2...but its catchment is much more middle class and has less EAL and special needs pupils so I guess you would expect even higher results than school 1? I looked round twice, expecting to love it but I really didn't. None of the staff smiled at us and they seemed quite stressed out or even aloof. The Head teacher was supposed to take us round but he was too busy on both occasions. Other prospective parents have been let down by him not being there either in the past. He has a reputation of saying to parents "if you're not happy there's the door", but this could just be hearsay. Its just over 2 miles from our house, so not as easy to get to and it doesn't link to the best secondary. But it is in an area we spend a lot of time in (shopping, parks etc) and I do attend mass at the linked church so this would be a nice community feel for DCs. And like I say parents who's children go there seem to really love it. Whereas I don't know anyone who attends school 1.
I want to go for school 1 but am I right in going for a feeling rather than an established reputation/written and proven questionnaires etc? My local friends would think I was mad for considering school 1 over 2 because of the area its in. DH has left the decision up to me. Help!
Personally school 1. A big red flag for me would be the HT attitude of if you don't like it, leave in school 2. DS goes to a high school with a large intake of other faiths and special needs (sorry to be a bit thick but EAL?) and has thrived there. Actually it's also in a roughish area but he buses
its a really tough choice, but I don't think your DH is being reasonable leaving such a big decision to you alone, its leaving you with all the responsibility
School 1. A headteacher sets the tone IMO and the non smiling teachers would be a dealbreaker for me
what are the office staff like? you can always tell by the lady who answers the phone.
the head in the second school sounds horrible.
School 1, but DH is being an arse in "leaving it up to you" - that's like he's saying "if anything DOES happen then on your head be it"
I would go for school 1 without question. For me, it is all about the feel and atmosphere of a school. FWIW, when we moved to the area we live in now, lots of people tried to put us off the local school but when we visited I was very impressed by the then new head and the lovely, caring atmosphere in the school. 10 years on, all three of my children thrived there (youngest is in her final year) the school is now very sought-after locally, has an outstanding ofsted and several people of my acquaintance now regret not having sent their children there. We went on gut instinct and I don't regret it for a moment.
From your description I would go for school 1
Can you arrange to look around both again before deciding?
School 1. Go on the instinct you feel when you visit the school. But if he is leaving it up to you, make sure you get an agreement out of him that there will be no 'I told you so' or 'I knew that other school would have been better' when the inevitable niggles occur.
I read recently that EAL students, those from Eastern Europe in particular, are actually raising school results at primary level. I think the explanation offered was the influence of a strong work ethic at home.
With regards to the two schools, the Catholic one sounds much better on the basis of your description.
School 1. A head who has such a positive attitude is a fab a miserable unapproachable head? No thanks. Stressed staff will lead to high turnover which can be very disruptive <speaks from bitter experience!>
School One. Ticks all my boxes on lots of levels. School Two sounds like it's got a nasty attack of 'bits of paper that prove nothing' syndrome. You'll be escorting your dd, so no need to worry about what's outside the gate, and it may all change by yr 5/6 when you might be considering letting her walk to school alone (although by then your baby will be school age, so you'll be escorting them both).
And make sure DH agrees in a way that doesn't leave him any option of 'I told you so'.
As I write you have 9 votes for One, none for Two, and one fencesitter. And I make 10 votes for School One.
School 1. You don't know for sure your DC won't end up with some sort of academic struggles themselves anyway so keeping them out for high number of pupils with SN is pointless
.... eleven for school One...
School 1. My DM works a lot in different schools and her theory is that you can forget everything except whether a school has a good HT and a good librarian. If they have those, everything else is a moot point. School 1 had a friendly, approachable, lovely HT, school 2 didn't.
Go with your gut feeling.
Schools can go up, and they can go down. No guarantee in 3,4,5, 10 years a school will be in the same place.
When you have an outstanding Ofsted, Heads can afford to be choosy, but then again, he very well may not be there in a few years.
School 1 - mainly because of the way u describe it. It's a happy place to be
Where do u want ur dd to be - in aschool where the head is to busy and with stressed teachers that don't acknowledge people (v rude in my opinion) OR in a school where everyone is appreciatedfor who they are and there are happy staff around?! I know which one I'd pick everytime - as a child or as a parent - I'd rather be in a happy environment than a stressed one!
I teach some Polish students who are therefore down as EAL - one of them speaks perfect English and is a level 7 in English at y8. He's a real asset to the class; conscientious and polite. Another is not quite as proficient but always contributes wonderfully to class discussion. My classes would be poorer without these EAL students!
It's funny about EAL. I spent time abroad as a child in schools where you could argue most of the children were (whatever the local language was)AL and they were rich, happy, fun, very academic places. I now speak three languages. It can be a serious advantage.
Personally, I dont particularly rate Ofsted inspections (I am a teacher!). I also wouldnt go on 'hearsay' from other parents - there can be so many different and often dubious reasons people hold the opinions they do about schools.
As an example, I live in an area with three Ofsted Outstanding schools (one RC) and one Ofsted Good school that takes in a big proportion of EAL and SEN children. My oldest child attended one of the 'bunfight to get in to' schools and was very unhappy there. The HT was a very cold, arrogant person and the staff generally seemed stressed and unhappy. Hands down, I think the 'Good' school he now attends is better - terrific 'value added', great atmosphere, very dedicated teaching staff and it is just a lovely, happy place to be. What else do we want from a primary school?
Go with your instincts on visiting. Absolutely.
School one for me. Have also asked DP and he agrees.
I guess the only advantage of School 2 is if you genuinely feel that you child is likely to be gifted. All schools have strengths and weaknesses and this sounds like one possible weakness of this school.
The other thing is whether, at either school your child is likely to stand out as different for whatever reason.
Dd goes to a (private) nursery that is attached to a school that has a brilliant ofsted report, scarily high Value Added results and generally pretty decent results. However, the catchment area is very disadvantaged from a socio economic point of view. We live outside catchment (so haven't a hope of getting in anyway) but even if I could sleep with the head or something I don't think I would as I don't want dd to feel uncomfortable about who she is or who we are. (We are pretty comfortably off.)
Just a word of caution. A friend chose a school a cos HT at school B WAS too busy to take her round & the other head spent a lot of time with her, Ended up moving to school B with busy head after starting at school A. Maybe ask to have another look round schoo l2 or to ask for a good time to look when head is around.
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