Is DH bu? Or am I guilty of reverse snobbery?

(97 Posts)
mollysmum82 Sun 09-Dec-12 14:39:00

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 sad

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!

Jingleflobba Sun 09-Dec-12 14:43:20

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 grin

helenthemadex Sun 09-Dec-12 14:43:42

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

Levantine Sun 09-Dec-12 14:49:20

School 1. A headteacher sets the tone IMO and the non smiling teachers would be a dealbreaker for me

peaceandlovebunny Sun 09-Dec-12 14:51:42

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.

Flisspaps Sun 09-Dec-12 14:52:42

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" hmm

Themumsnotroastingonanopenfire Sun 09-Dec-12 14:53:38

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.

Sirzy Sun 09-Dec-12 14:54:54

From your description I would go for school 1

Can you arrange to look around both again before deciding?

Leafmould Sun 09-Dec-12 14:57:01

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.

cornflowers Sun 09-Dec-12 14:58:22

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.

SmallIWantForXmasIsA6ft2Dwarf Sun 09-Dec-12 15:00:56

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!>

ImperialSantaKnickers Sun 09-Dec-12 15:10:28

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.

DozyDuck Sun 09-Dec-12 15:24:08

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

ImperialSantaKnickers Sun 09-Dec-12 15:26:48

.... eleven for school One...

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Sun 09-Dec-12 15:28:19

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.

HollyBerryBush Sun 09-Dec-12 15:28:29

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.

ImperialSantaKnickers Sun 09-Dec-12 15:30:21

... thirteen ...

DorsetKnobwithJingleBellsOn Sun 09-Dec-12 15:31:07

School 1

RaspberrysAndIcecream Sun 09-Dec-12 15:31:09

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!

BrianButterfield Sun 09-Dec-12 15:34:18

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!

MrsTerrysChocolateOrange Sun 09-Dec-12 15:37:34

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.

AnnieGetchaGun Sun 09-Dec-12 15:37:57

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.

TidyDancer Sun 09-Dec-12 15:42:05

School one for me. Have also asked DP and he agrees.

MummytoKatie Sun 09-Dec-12 15:54:29

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.)

RedHelenB Sun 09-Dec-12 16:07:15

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.

hackmum Sun 09-Dec-12 16:16:40

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.

thebody Sun 09-Dec-12 16:26:35

School 1.. I don't do non smiling head and teachers.

CailinDana Sun 09-Dec-12 16:37:13

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.

bakedbeanqueen Sun 09-Dec-12 16:45:01

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.

TeWisBeenNargledByTheMistletoe Sun 09-Dec-12 16:48:58

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.

badguider Sun 09-Dec-12 16:49:44

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.

woahwoah Sun 09-Dec-12 16:57:46

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.

shriekingnora Sun 09-Dec-12 16:59:12

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.

Almostfifty Sun 09-Dec-12 17:59:38

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.

complexnumber Sun 09-Dec-12 18:25:07

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.

lashingsofbingeinghere Sun 09-Dec-12 18:51:45

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.)

mollysmum82 Sun 09-Dec-12 20:52:39

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.

mollysmum82 Mon 10-Dec-12 16:33:06

Hi con

mollysmum82 Mon 10-Dec-12 16:39:38

Dodgy iphone!

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.

mollysmum82 Mon 10-Dec-12 16:41:55

Yeah thanks lashings, I have visited school 2 twice but I should see school 1 again too.

WinklyVersusTheZombies Mon 10-Dec-12 16:45:11

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.

SecretSantaFix Mon 10-Dec-12 16:45:12

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.

zzzzz Mon 10-Dec-12 16:45:29

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.

Emandlu Mon 10-Dec-12 16:45:49

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.

Lonecatwithkitten Mon 10-Dec-12 16:49:23

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!

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Mon 10-Dec-12 17:26:01

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.

3monkeys3 Mon 10-Dec-12 19:09:19

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.

WeWilsonAMerryChristmas Mon 10-Dec-12 19:11:36

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.

helenlynn Mon 10-Dec-12 21:38:02

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.

Rudolphstolemycarrots Mon 10-Dec-12 23:23:57

I like the fact school 1 feeds into he best secondary

Jinsei Mon 10-Dec-12 23:32:11

School 1 - no contest!

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 10-Dec-12 23:40:09

I'd say school 1 - and that's from someone shoes children go to a private school

Dh has taught in a highly saught after state grammar school. It was situated in the middle if a very run down area but was a brilliant school.

Go with your instinct.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 10-Dec-12 23:42:40

Saught! Where did that come from? Sought after.

misterwife Tue 11-Dec-12 01:17:07

Go for school 1, all the way - busy, aloof teachers really fuck me off.

The proportion of SEN/EAL kids is not an issue - in fact, your DH is being VU to raise it as one. The issue is the quality of teaching and learning.

JamieandtheMagiTorch Tue 11-Dec-12 05:42:32

I think your DH is being a snob.

And school 1 sounds better in all ways.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Tue 11-Dec-12 07:26:10

I'd be going for school 1 too.
I think you're not so much being a reverse snob as your dh is being a straightforward one.

I was also a fence sitter until the no-bullying post. Every school has bullying, even if they deal with it quickly and well it happens. But it reminds me of an incident when my mum was on my school's PTC and asked if the school had a drug problem. Was told absolutely not, looked out of the window and saw some boys clearly taking drugs pointed this out and the head teacher was saying no, no boys there, can't see anything. Literally he was saying nothing to see there. If the staff are denying anything goes on that would be a massive red flag to me.

babybythesea Tue 11-Dec-12 08:09:11

One quick point with regards to the gifted and talented comment the HT made.
One of our local schools takes in a large number of kids who aren't at the national average in terms of their language ability, for whatever reason, when they start school.
The Ofsted report notes that, and they receive a lot of praise for working well with these children so that by the time they get to Year 2 they have brought many of them up to national average - clearly their work with this end of the spectrum is fantastic.
It then goes on to state that those children who are performing above average on arrival at school (I presume children who can already read a bit or whatever) are not stretched and as a result don't do nearly as well by the end of Year 2 as you would expect, given their capability on arrival.
It doesn't mention gifted and talented, just children of normal but above average ability. Reading between the lines, I think they have such a high intake of children who need extra support that much of their time is spent with these kids and those who can, to a certain extent, just get on with it without lots of help are left to do so.

We didn't choose this school - DD may not be G&T but she's reasonably able and I don't think it would have been right for her.

If this is an issue for school 1, then you may well find that it is mentioned in Ofsted somewhere - have a look through it for anything that looks as though it might be referring to this.

babybythesea Tue 11-Dec-12 08:11:13

What I was trying to get at is that you do't have to guess, necessarily, based on an off-the-cuff comment by the HT. There may well be evidence for you/your DH to go on. Or not.

deXavia Tue 11-Dec-12 08:15:57

If also say school 1 based on your description but I would be fascinated to see the same thread if your DH wrote it and gave his reversed summary of the pros and cons!!

TheLightPassenger Tue 11-Dec-12 08:29:15

school 1. but I wouldn't be too worried tbh by head not showing parents round etc with school 2. bear in mind that if the school gets great results despite a lot of pupils having SEN/EAL then sounds like the teaching is great. Also I wouldn't read much into head not wanting to speak at length about G & T - to be blunt, a lot of ambitious parents will ask about G &T provision, whose kids won't ultimately need it, whereas parents who ask about EAL provision/SEN provision are unlikely to be asking groundlessly!

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:16:03

Peaceandlovebunny, good point! The Head's PA in school 1 was lovely - she was friendly when I initially rang to ask to view the school and then on the day she went out of her way to photocopy catchment maps, give us prospectuses and answer any questions. There were too office ladies at school 2, a receptionist and a business administrator (who showed us round). The business administrator was actually really nice but the receptionist was a bit frosty! (You're going to all think I'm making this up now to argue my point...but honestly this is how it was!) The receptionist said a few times we would be very lucky to gain a place at the school as we were out of catchment, but when I questioned a bit further it turns out they usually take children who are baptised in other faiths (we are catholic) so go quite a bit past our criteria. She said we would need to put their school as first choice to stand any chance.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:37:00

MummytoKatie, Winkly, 3monkey, zzzz and babybythesea - yes, these are the concerns we have which is why its making the decision so difficult.

I do think DD is on the gifted and talented "spectrum" if that's the right word - I'll go into why I think this if you like but I don't want to sound like a twat!

Part of me thinks a school that caters for such a diversity of language and special needs would be flexible and passionate enough to deal with a gifted and talented pupil? But yes, it could be that I'm just a typical mum of a pfb and DD is just bright...in which case I'd hate her just to coast and be bored. But there's nothing to say she would coast at school 1 but not 2 - like I say the results are the same. Its just that niggling comment from the Head about "bringing all pupils up to the same level for equality". In some ways that sounds lovely but in other ways I guess children naturally have different "levels" in different areas and it should be more about bringing all children up to their potential? Maybe that's what she meant?

What you say about being the "different kid" is scary. I'm so sorry you were bullied for this Winkly and 3monkey sad

I had a similar experience as a kid. My parents were from a different area so my accent was more neutral than many of the children at my school and I too was bullied for being "posh" (which I wasn't, nor richer that's for sure). DD is shy, bright and has a soft accent too. But part of me thinks school 1 is so diverse that accent wouldn't matter? The school I went to was very white and english speaking - so difference in accent/class was the only real difference and therefore more obvious. But school 1 has such a range of cultures, faiths and needs that I imagine everyone is "different" so accent and class alone are less of an issue? Or does that sound really naive?

The only reason for sending DD to school 2 on these grounds would be for her to be with pupils "the same" as herself in culture, class and faith. Which kind of feels wrong. DH thinks this is the main positive though.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:49:57

hackmum, yes I totally agree about being near the school to have local friends.

School 2 takes from a wide area though, including many of my neighbours. So in this regard it could actually be better socially from a school 2 perspective (see everyone, I can be objective about this!) Plus, because of the area school 2 is in we tend to do our shopping there, go to the park there and attend the linked church there. Whereas the parks and shops near school 1 do have a "rough" feel to them, so we tend to avoid them (particularly at weekends with DH in tow ;) ) So we're more likely to bump into school 2 kids when out and about.

Another problem is what do I do if DD makes friends with someone who DH disapproves of at school 1 (obviously this could happen at any school, but he's much more likely to be concerned if DD goes to a playdate at a house in the "rough" area.")

I know I'm making him out to be a snob...but ultimately he does care about DD as much as I do and has her best interests at heart.

I think he thinks I'm letting my "socialist" principles cloud my judgement on what's best for DD.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:50:47

PS I'm one glass of wine down and postnatal so probably pissed... so sorry if I'm waffling and please be gentle smile

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:57:09

Emandlu, Turkey, Commander, Wilson, Lurked - yes the "we don't have bullying" thing did worry me at school 2. If the Head at school 2 had said that I would run a mile. But if I try to give the business administrator a chance, maybe she doesn't have dealings with bullying? Or maybe she thought that's what she was supposed to say?

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Dec-12 20:59:22

Do you know people locally to you who go to either school? I think it's really nice to go to a school where people live walking distance/ round the corner/ down the road from you. It's a lovely community feeling all walking to school at the same time and my kids have many VERY local friends (under 2 mins walk).

I would also go for the happier school. My Dsis had a school in mind for my DNiece and they were just checking out another school to put as option 2, but fell in love with it. She said it had such a happy atmosphere, so even though it is further away, she loved it. She also said it had better outside space.

Not sure about your children, but personally I think of you are very talented, these talents will be brought out in secondary school. I think it's more important to be in a school that deals well with children with potential issues.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Dec-12 21:03:57

If you are postnatal, you do also have to think of your second child. He/ she may not be on the gifted/ talented spectrum and you may very much wish for school 1's attitude to children!

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:04:04

Lonecat, yes I thought that was odd too! Normally schools don't pay for sophisticated surveys to prove their schools are great, do they?

There was actually a pretty bad (alleged) bullying incident at school2 a couple of years ago which made the papers. Apparently a kid was physically injured (enough to have to go into hospital for scans later) but the teachers were so strict they made him sit and wait till the end of the school day, not believing him. When the parent went to see the Head he had a go at her about the kids uniform not being up to scratch!

But I have gleaned this information purely from the internet so it could be completely exaggerated.

My point was though, maybe they have done this statistical survey because they received such bad press for this?

Like I say, every parent who I've spoken to in RL seems to be really happy with school2, which is why I'm so worried about trusting my gut feeling with school 1.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:08:49

Merrymarigold, thanks for your post. You're right, I should be thinking of DS too. He's just been an all round happier, more chilled out baby so I'm less worried about him (I know this sounds ridiculous)

DD has always been clingy, shy, spirited, intelligent and downright difficult! She's also been quite poorly though which is why I think I've obsessed about every decision for her.

Oh goodness. I'm sharing. Should NEVER drink wine smile

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Tue 11-Dec-12 21:17:44

mollysmum82 Actually, your latest post reinforces my feeling that school 1 would be better. Papers may exaggerate, but an incident like this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Additionally all staff in a school are supposed to know their policies, so the business administrator should know about policies on bullying.

Blu Tue 11-Dec-12 21:19:21

School 1.

A school pays lots of money for a survey as a marketing tool, not for genuine consultation. And especially not in a school where the Head is even thought capable of saying anything like 'there's the door'. It sounds as if the school is trying to create a mc competitive frenzy and thus massage his intake.

The EAL thing is a complete red herring unless a large majority of the children all speak the same home language and use it amongst themselves in school. And IMO and IME you can tell a lot about a school and it's attitude to ALL children from it's support for children with SEN.

Being close to a school is a huge benefit.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:20:50

deXavia, that's an interesting question. I've just asked DH (bearing in mind he hasn't read ofsted/league tables etc and hasn't visited school 2)

School 1 his pros - same as some of mine - friendy, nice facilities, great feeding secondary school. His cons (his exact words so please don't think I'm saying this) - rough area, broken glass, rubbish on street, unsavoury characters hanging around so wouldn't want us walking there, area has known drug problem so possibly parents may too (and therefore wouldn't want DD there for playdates), he feels many people on benefits=low aspirations for themselves and therefore kids, therefore more bullying/behavioural problems in the school. High number of EAL/SEN would make DD fall behind as more attention would be given to these pupils.

School 2 his pros - nice area, he would be happy with us driving there. He thinks DD would have a bigger "bank" of friends to choose from as more children are like her (in other words he would approve more of their parents and therefore allow more playdates) His cons - more religious than school 1 (he's a non believer and school 2 takes all catholics/baptised in other christian faiths)

StinkyWicket Tue 11-Dec-12 21:24:38

I would go for school one as well. The school I have applied for my children to go to next year (they are in the pre-school this year) was under-subbed last year. Good OFSTED, but I have always been of the opinion that so long as the teachers seem nice, and they seem to be progressing (obviously something could change as they age) then I am happy with a 'Good'.

When I visited the school, the teachers were just lovely, the school so friendly - and having attended a couple of assemblies, the children are happy. Also it is convenient to get to!

For me anyway, the feel of the school was so so important.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:27:13

*two office ladies not 'too'!!

TheLightPassenger Tue 11-Dec-12 21:29:57

visit school one around school run o clock, get a feel for whether it seems at all dodgy to you. I still think school 2 sounds awful, and like it's not learnt from the publicised bullying incident. IME "nice" middle class kids are just as likely to bully as any others tbh.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Dec-12 21:50:40

IME "nice" middle class kids are more likely to bully...

...also a lot of "nice" middle class parents are hideously competitive. I met a few parents like this the other day (kids go to different schools) and I suddenly felt VERY grateful for the parents at my school (which is very mixed). There's a couple of 'yummy mummies' (only 2 I can think of in the whole school ie. wear lovely clothes and shoes on the school run!), and there's tons of just very normal people and probably only 1 mum who is the 'my kid started piano aged 2, and gymnastics, and football and swimming, and is top of the class..." etc. Check out the mums at the school gate, but you do want to avoid mums who are like your dh (trust me! no offence dh, but judgemental and competitive, not fun to be around when it comes to kids).

WeWilsonAMerryChristmas Tue 11-Dec-12 23:26:59

He does know unsavoury isn't contagious, doesn't he? grin

I think I said upthread, we went to a very similar school as school 1. It's actually quite easy to manipulate play dates and stuff in school - for example, we all used to decamp to the park in the summer. And while it isn't particularly pleasant pushing through 'rough' parents at the school gate, your kid isn't at school with the parents and kids are just kids, at the end of the day.

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 10:06:26

Haha I'll tell him that wewilson!

Yeah that's true marigold (although I had to smile as dh bought me a Boden scarf last Christmas...he must be trying to turn the whole family ;) )

The light - yeah, I went along one day to school 1 at kicking out time. It seemed chaotic, but happy chaos, not dodgy. I felt awful standing there being judgemental though!

shewhowines Wed 12-Dec-12 10:39:23

I think secondary is far more important than primary. If going to school 1 guarantees the better secondary then that would be enough for me.

I would visit both again and look particularly at behaviour. Which is the better learning environment? Look at the older kids involvement in lessons. Quieter isn't necessarily better but are they all on task if they are noisy, or are they messing around? See if you can spend a little longer in several lessons throughout the years.

No bullying comment may just be ignorant remark from administrator. Somehow arrange a chat (over telephone if necessary) and get HT opinion. Revisit G&T provision in school one. Ask again about reaching full potential rather than the equality thing. That is as disturbing to me as the no bullying comment.

Gather as much info as possible then go by your gut instinct. A "show" school isn't necessarily better.

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 20:03:51

Thanks lots shew. Yeah I totally agree about the attached secondary being a huge advantage to school 1. The only thing I worry is it may well change in 7 years and i only know its good on paper, like school 2 was supposed to be!

Yes the equality comment was worrying, surely equality is about helping all children reach their potential? I'll have to find out more on that one.

Good idea about seeing how the children are in lessons. All the key stage 2 children were away when I looked at school 1. I took it at face value but maybe this should make me suspicious? The children at school 2 did all seem on task.

So hard!

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 20:06:22

In reality a lot of children from school 2 end up going to the good secondary, as many from the other feeder schools aren't catholic. So if I'm being balanced I shouldn't give this as an advantage to school 1. It would just be nice to have the guarantee that attending school 1 gives.

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 20:07:48

I posted on another local patents board about the area school 1 is in and the response I got was 'avoid'. (They didn't know about the school, just the area)

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 21:48:11

Ps I looked at school 2's website and they do indeed have a bullying p

mollysmum82 Wed 12-Dec-12 21:48:45

policy. So it may have just been a silly comment?

mollysmum82 Thu 13-Dec-12 21:14:58

I just wanted to thank everyone so much for all your posts. You've made me feel a lot less crazy for loving school 1...but ask some important questions too.

Maybe I'll have to bring in a school 3 just to placate DH smile

CheeseToasty Wed 19-Dec-12 14:41:58

Difficult decision! A lot sound great about school 1. If its doing so well and in an area of deprivation it's doing well. From my knowledge of our local so called middle classed school the parents are doing a lot at home eg tutoring. Ds goes to a more mixed school but ds started when we were living closes to it. We now live closer to so called mc school but haven't moved there. If you live close to school to school 1 are you not living in an area of deprivation? Where do you think you and your child would fit in better? I would ask again about bulling policy as perhaps secretary was not informed well. I think it is really important and our school is very proactive.

MakeItALarge Wed 19-Dec-12 17:08:44

Wrt the gifted and talented thing - my son is brilliant at one subject. After a few weeks in reception we got called in and asked about this. He started getting extra work.

In yr1 we again got called in to be told arrangements had been made for him to study that subject with yr4.
By yr2 the school provided his own private tutor for the subject.

I did ask about the gifted and talented thing at one point, and the ht explained that as a school they downplayed this as much as possible to avoid competitiveness between parents and to stop children being singled out. The emphasis is on supporting rather than labelling the child.

So I would say just because they didnt explain this does not mean they wont offer any help, ime its so they dont have parents banging on the door asking if their child is classed as g&t yet! And from what you have said, school 1, just because it sounds like a happier environment

mollysmum82 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:08:40

I'm having a bit of a wobble. Yesterday I found out that the lady who lives next door to this school deliberately set fire to her house, and the primary school fence caught alight. Luckily everyone was ok but it's made me worry again about the area. It's strange because the free school meal number (22%) doesn't indicate an area of deprivation but this might be because the school is catholic so takes from a wider area? And I also found out the trainers on top of the telegraph pole aren't the result of drunk students messing about, their colour relate to which gang controls the street and there are shootings from different gangs. Now I feel mad to send dd there. But the ofsted, results and teachers remain great. Wwyd?

mollysmum82 Mon 22-Apr-13 18:09:06

*school 1 I mean

I think at this stage you have to talk to some of the parents if current pupils and see what they thinknof the recent event.

it would be such a shame
but it's not like your dc will be walling to and from school aline.

kitsmummy Mon 22-Apr-13 18:48:40

In an area like that, I'd avoid school 1 like the plague - gang shootings on that street, I wouldn't care how good the school was, my DC would not be going there

Andro Mon 22-Apr-13 19:08:50

he 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".

This would concern me! We ended up moving DS from a school where the head had a similar attitude; 'the provision in class' for gifted an talented was limited, the teacher never had time TO implement what provision there was because the focus was on the SEN children to the detriment of the others. A school needs a balanced focus imo, not to (inadvertently or otherwise) sideline certain pupils.

mynewpassion Mon 22-Apr-13 19:18:47

If all things mostly equal, then I look at safety. Boarded up houses, gang signs, and other unsavory things would make me choose school 2. I would still choose school 2 even if it had a little lower standards because of the safety issue.

mollysmum82 Mon 22-Apr-13 21:36:03

Thank you everyone. Unfortunately I don't know anyone at the school to talk to. I walked there the other day and its a lot further than I thought (40 minutes)

cumfy Mon 22-Apr-13 22:18:05

Keep asking questions.

You'll get there.

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