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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!
There's a lot to be said for going to a school you can walk to - apart from the fact that you avoid the massive stress of driving to school, you have the advantage of local friends whose houses your DD can go to after school, and vice versa.
I wonder if you have loaded the dice somewhat in your description - you have made school 1 sound much more attractive, and I would opt for school 1 on that basis. (I mean, I wouldn't personally, as I don't like faith schools, but in your position I probably would.)
A couple of other things: 1. A good head counts for a lot, though of course you can't guarantee the head will stay. 2. If the kids seem happy and engaged, that's obviously a good thing. 3. If the school is making the effort to be inclusive of EAL and SEN children, then that too can only be a good thing, both in itself and because it transmits those values to the other children, teaching them that everyone's needs are equally important. (I know some kids who have been to a primary school like school 2 and they are the most fearful snobs and competitive to boot.)
I also suspect that academically it may not make a huge difference - all primary schools teach the NC, so they're all doing the same kind of things. If school 1 is getting very good results despite its mixed intake, it is either doing an excellent job or it is doing some excessive teaching to the test in year 6. Impossible to know which.
School 1.. I don't do non smiling head and teachers.
To echo all the others, and as a former teacher, I would always go with gut instinct. Your children have to spend long hours in the school - the way it feels makes a massive difference IMO. IME unless the school is utterly shit most children "reach their potential"- statistics about percentages of level 4 etc tell you nothing about how your child will do. Basically I think if they're happy and settled they'll do just fine, plus they'll have a good time which is the best of all worlds.
School 1. Just from what you have said about the HT. The HT at my son's old school was an arse who made his life a misery. His new one is wonderful and really leads from the front. Makes all the difference.
If it helps at all: I have just chosen a school that was rated good over one that was rated outstanding, and another good school in a more MC area.
I think your gut tells you a lot, and you should trust it.
My mum will think I am batshit though.
obviously from your description school 1 but what would your DH have written about the two schools? try to write down what he would have said and see if you can get a more balanced perspective.... it's so clear that you prefer school 1 none of us can ever say differently.
Happy staff equals happy school (usually). The staff at school 2 sound really stressed, which is often due to massive pressure being put on them from above (headteacher).
Cheerful staff tend to go the extra mile, and their relationships with parents and children are usually much better. This leads to children achieving their potential, at whatever level that may be.
I don't understand why some heads don't see this - they think leaning on staff and telling them they are not doing enough (when they are) will make everyone progress faster. It tends to have the opposite effect because staff just leave and are replaced by a new set, who are then leant on, etc.
I might be barking upthe wrong tree, they may just have been having a bad day, but I think you would need to visit again to see if it was usually like that.
It's a trivial point but two miles away will really matter when they have friends for tea or one of your dc has an after school club that ends an hour later and you end up driving back and forth.
I went with my gut feeling when we chose our eldest's junior school. I was right to do so, he was very happy there.
If the HT at the first school went on at length about EAL and SN but then when your husband asked a question answered with a brusque sentence, that would not be a good sign for me. It sounds like she has swallowed a brochure.
I would also not be overly concerned about a Head who did not show me around, it could be argued they prioritised their current students over marketing to potential parents.
I am a believer in going with my gut, I'm just not sure my gut would tell me the same as your's is.
I think you need another visit to both schools. One visit is not sufficient to make an informed choice (probably two isn't either, but at least it gives you a chance to confirm or question any conclusions or observations you have made.)
Hi everyone. Thanks loads for your replies, you've really helped. I feel a bit less mad now for going against the grain from all my local friends. Thanks for sharing your experiences too.
In answer to badguider and hackmum, I tried to give a balanced view of both schools but you're right, I have made school 1 sound attractive! The problem is DH hasn't seen school 2. He's not especially into school 2... its more he's against school 1. I had to drag him begrudgingly to see school 1 (he happened to be off anyway) but he doesn't want to take time off work to see any more schools as he "trusts my decisions". Aarggh pressure! He hasn't read ofsted reports/looked at results either, he's just going off the area. School 2 is in a "nice, middle class area" and he basically thinks he'd approve more of the friends DCs would make there.
Complexnumber, that's a good point, it could just be that the head of school 2 is more focused on his current students. And the 'theres the door if you 're not happy' could just be a rumour. That's why I'm so worried about going on a feeling and not the established reputation. This is so hard.
I was a bit concerned about the gifted and talented comment on school 1 but I agree with most that bright children will do well anyway. I asked about gifted and talented at school 2 but the school secretary who showed us round didn't know. I also asked her about the bullying policy and she said they didn't have bullying there! I asked if I could come and see the head on another occasion and she said I would be welcome to attend the next parent tour, but she couldn't say for sure that the head would be there.
Yeah thanks lashings, I have visited school 2 twice but I should see school 1 again too.
Although school 1 sounds like a warmer, happier place to be, it is worth wondering whether your child is likely to stand out as more 'middle class'. Not a problem if it's a genuinely diverse school, but as a child my accent was noticeably softer than most of the children I went to school with. Not because we were at all middle class, as it happens, but because my parents weren't from that area so DSis and I had more of a 'country' accent than a city one. That combined with me being shy & a high achiever marked me out as stuck up and a snob (utterly unfairly) and I had a miserable time. I was also more or less ignored in favour of the children with academic difficulties, so I was bored rigid for six years.
Given that the school secretary said they had no bullying there, I would go with school one.
It is a school in denial if they think no bullying happens- of course it does.
Bright children don't do ok anywhere. If you suspect your child might be at the top end of the class, I would go with the school which caters for that.
I would run a mile from any school that says it doesn't have bullying. Unless it is so small that there is barely a class full of kids, and even then I would be dubious.
Do you one thing that strikes me? Why in this day and age would a school spend precious money on a statistical survery to prove it's pupils are happy. Lets face it if you have the right question stats can prove anything. Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics!
I totally agree, anyone who says bullying doesn't happen in their school has their head in the sand. There's no way any school doesn't have even a little bit. This would be enough to make me plump for school 1.
As a former school governor we had to have a policy and to give it out so parents could see our stance on the issue. And as a parent, when DD was experienceing bullying in Yr5 from one pupil I can say it got sorted out very quickly and DD was treated with respect when I spoke to the teacher about it, no sweeping it under the carpet there!
My daughter is only 6 months old but DH and I agree that any school which says it has no bullying - and therefore no policy on it - is off the list without question. Sadly we were both badly bullied at school and while we know we can't prevent it happening to our daughter, if it does I want to know there are measures in place. All schools have bullying issues - it's sadly part of life for some - but it's how they deal with it that's important.
Based on all you've said, I think you know that school 1 is best for your family.
I agree with winkly I was a well spoken mc kid in a school that had a lot of kids from deprived areas and I was bullied right the way through school until we moved when I was 14. It was for being 'posh' (I'm not really, but that was how I was perceived). I would think carefully before putting your dd in a situation where she will stand out from her peers.
Well I was fence sitting till I read the no bullying post. Run like the wind from that one. They're in denial. ALL schools have bullying and all schools should have a bullying policy in place.
My DS has been to a very inner city school which was brilliant, supportive, inclusive and positive, despite rubbish in the streets, dogs on strings at the gate being held by parents smoking joints and a general consensus that it was best not to be at the local chemist sharp at 9 if you didn't want to see which parents were on methadone. I'm not exaggerating. It was grim. But it was a brilliant, brilliant school.
Our school 2 (we moved for unrelated reasons) is ... Nice. Perfectly adequate, rural, small. But it doesn't have the energy of our previous school, or the diversity.
If you're worried about the feel of the area around the school then I'd do the walk there and back a few more times to figure out whether it's something that is really going to worry you or not actually an issue.
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