To not support my friends in their fight to save their dc's schools?

(47 Posts)
IwishIwasmoreorganised Sun 10-Feb-13 21:47:54

Our council are reviewing their education budget and are proposing to close 2 local primary schools. This is based on the fact that county wide, there are nearly 15% of primary places vacant.

Both schools are very small (less than one class per year I.e. some years are taught together) and very rural. They are both more or less full to capacity, but have a large proportion of children from out of their catchment area. Each has their own head teacher, caretaker etc and I can see that relatively they must be expensive to run (on a cost per pupil basis).

They are both successful schools and their latest estyn reports are excellent.

Friends are up arms about this as their dc attend, but they are not in catchment for these schools and have chosen them mainly as they are feeder schools for what they perceive as better comprehensive schools (which they aren't in catchment for either).

They are saying that it will rip the heart out of rural area, yet they all travel to these schools in their cars when they could walk to their catchment schools. I'm struggling to see their point with this argument tbh.

My dc have nothing to gain by these schools closing since I cannot see that the money saved will be distributed between the other schools.

Both schools have made facebook pages to gain support and my friends have added me to both. While I will not unfriend myself, AIBU in not being supportive to them in trying to keep these schools open?

HollyBerryBush Sun 10-Feb-13 21:51:39

Depends where you are perhaps, I'd be campaigning to keep a rural school open but - this astounded me - in a 5 mile radius of my front door, there are 1500 (not a typo) primary schools, excluding prep schools. So losing one or two of thsoe would#n't make a massive imact as pupils could be absorped easily elsewhere.

At the moment we are in a declining roll, although I believe school places needed are on the increase in 2015

treesntrees Sun 10-Feb-13 21:53:33

Would it be any skin off your nose to support them. I personally think all primary schools should be small but that is my opinion based on my own experience.

Lovelygoldboots Sun 10-Feb-13 21:59:26

There are two issues here. Yabu, in my opinion if you think that school closures will not be disastrous for a rural community. But you seem to be also questioning your friends motives for supporting keeping school open. It is up to you whether you support them but why wouldnt you? It effects your community. Not everyone who lives in a rural area has a car to transport their kids to school. I don't and I am rural. I walk with my kids.

SandStorm Sun 10-Feb-13 22:00:25

You say your DC have nothing to gain but if these schools do close, where will those children go? Will you suddenly find your DC's class sizes going up?

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sun 10-Feb-13 22:02:28

No, it wouldn't be any skin off my nose - except that I really don't have a lot of free time inbetween working, doing an evening class and looking after 2 dc while my DH works away a reasonable amount. I'm certainly not in a position to be going to the meeting that they're inviting me to.

The primary that our dc attend is small ie 1 class per year, but it is full of children from within catchment. Surely that's more of a community than these really small rural schools whose children are driven in from miles around?

I forgot to say that the feeder system that is currently operated is currently under review as well, so even if their schools do stay open it's unlikely that their dc would go the the secondary schools that they would do under the current system (which they perceive to be better than their catchment secondary schools).

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sun 10-Feb-13 22:05:18

My dc's school won't be affected at all. They are educated in a different language.

The affected children would be moved to schools that do have capacity - closer to home in the cases of my friends. I assume that the local authority would have to provide transport for those whose journeys are longer and above whatever the distance is that necessitates transport to be provided.

aldiwhore Sun 10-Feb-13 22:11:50

I do see your point, but I've seen many wonderful villages die and they cannot be replaced.

For what it's worth, our local council is considering cutting the school bus budget.

I would support them by adding a name to any petition if it's no skin of your nose, but you don't have to get actively involved with any campaign, that's your right.

Unless of course you think it's a fabbo idea, in which case, you should politely refuse and involvement.

Our rural communtiy has gone from being a fantastic mish mash of classes and age ranges, with a buzzing sense of community to commuterville in under 10 years. First the school closed, then the Church (which I never attended as not Practising Christian), then the shop and the pub is just about to go. Which leaves us with a village choked with Waitrose delivery vans and people who don't knwo each other at all. Words cannot describe how sad it is.

Lovelygoldboots Sun 10-Feb-13 22:16:57

If you don't want to commit then don't. Sometimes change in rural communities can be hard and emotions run high. Intrigued about another language. Gaelic?

idshagphilspencer Sun 10-Feb-13 22:24:17

Welsh?
smile

MummytoKatie Sun 10-Feb-13 22:30:17

"Sorry I can't make it but good luck - I'll be thinking of you all."

Sorted!

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sun 10-Feb-13 22:30:49

Yes, Welsh. smile

babanouche Sun 10-Feb-13 22:31:42

You don't have to go to any meetings - I shouldn't think you'd be expected to as your kids aren't at the school. But I think you should lend your support to your friends. Your virtual presence is a support. It should never be easy for councils to close schools.

IwishIwasmoreorganised Sun 10-Feb-13 22:32:53

MummytoKatie. I think that's the tack I'm gong to take, but there's another month of consultation yet and judging by the amount of Facebook activity that's going on I'm a bit worried that won't be enough.

Lovelygoldboots Sun 10-Feb-13 22:33:43

Idshagphilspencer wins! Welsh is a beautiful language.

HollyBerryBush Sun 10-Feb-13 22:34:18

School closures are loss of jobs too - not just the teachers buit the support staff, TAs, IT techs, office stad#ff, cleaners, caretakers - schools are small villages in themselves really. Breaking up an established school can also affect relationships for the children. Their security blanket is taken away.

idshagphilspencer Sun 10-Feb-13 22:35:06

My Dc's are also in a school learning the language of heaven smile

MajesticWhine Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:47

I think actually YANBU at all.
But out of interest, and because I'm nosey, what is your main objection to supporting them? Is it the prospect of saving taxpayers money? Is it an objection to their sense of entitlement to getting a better school than their local one? Is it the environmental cost of them driving their cars to school? The assumption that you give a damn about their DCs schooling? Or perhaps some other hidden reason that you're a little bit ticked off with them? Do tell.

Startail Sun 10-Feb-13 22:40:47

Wales, the whole of Welsh education is one great mess made far, far worse by the money wasted on Welsh medium education and the blackmail exerted on non Welsh speaking parents, in non Welsh speaking areas to send their DCs to better funded Welsh medium schools.

Keeping rural schools open in areas of falling birth rates, has been a problem since not long after I left school, almost 30 years ago.

I can't understand how anyone ever thought they could spread a declining rural population over a system of two languages at a time of economic hardship.

Startail Sun 10-Feb-13 22:46:09

Language of heaven it might be, but it's almost totally useless outside Wales.

Almost, because I do have a D(English)F who used her Welsh A'level to get into a London Uni. She needed any MFL to do SALT and our French dept were spectacularly bad.

idshagphilspencer Sun 10-Feb-13 22:50:28

Sorry star not going to bite
Nos da
smile

It is very sad when the rural school close especially if they do have enough children in them even if they come from outside the area.
When we move back to Wales Dd will go to the village school, 90 pupils preschool to age 11 and many combined year classes. Next schools are only a few miles away, next village and small town, but being able to walk to the school is a very convenient thing. Closing a village school can change the whole feel of the village itself. I also found that the ones who went to the village schools had better Welsh skills than the ones who went to the bigger schools in town, ours had 40 or so children in three classes, my family members went to the big school in town with hundreds of kids, I like small better. Dd goes to a school of over 700 kids, age 4 through 11 it's a nice place I like her teachers but hate how big it is, very impersonal.
You don't have to go to her meetings, but I'd probably support her in wanting to keep her Dd where she is.

Lovelygoldboots Sun 10-Feb-13 23:26:24

Most languages are "useless" outside of the country they are spoken. Not an argument against ensuring they are taught correctly in schools of the native country.

Startail Sun 10-Feb-13 23:33:03

idshagphilspencer no offense, it's not genuine Welsh people who want to hang on to their culture I have a problem with.
It's the Cardiff political elite, who twist that perfectly natural desire to their own ends.

I was brought up in Mid Wales and spent all my school day's there, I was born in England, but move as a toddler. My parents and DSIS still live there.

My Senior school was well over a 1000 pupils, 1 year 13 and 1 Y7 spoke Welsh. It is not part of the beautiful gentle sheep farming communities heritage. Certainly not within the memories of anyone's grand parents I knew. I only ever heard Welsh spoken once on the street and that was a North Welsh tourist.

The good road links are to Hereford not north or South Wales, So Radnorshire was always, I think, a bit of Wales that belonged not to England or to Wales. Devolution has imposed on the area a caricature of a Welsh identity that doesn't fit.

Sorry OP, I've high jacked horribly. I can certainly understand your wish to see the education budget spent wisely.

I also understand the desire of small communities to keep their schools and their jobs, We have the same problems here to and there are no easy answers.

lisianthus Mon 11-Feb-13 09:09:02

So hang on, they are closing a full, oversubscribed school to which people want to send their children, in order to force the parents to send their children to a school "with capacity", i.e a school that is less popular. I do not understand the reasoning behind this at all! Why not close the less popular school?

And what other posters said about this creating unemployment.

badguider Mon 11-Feb-13 09:14:41

YANBU to be too busy to help 'campaign'.
YANBU to be a bit hmm about your friends' choices to use out of catchment schools and drive there.

But YABU if you don't think that keeping small rural schools is important for the communities they are based in and children who live in-catchment and attend their local schools.

jojane Mon 11-Feb-13 09:23:27

I would always pick a smaller more rural school any day, mine go to a small (1 class of 30 per year) village school in the next village over, out catchment school is in a nearby town (is bigger although was fairly new and sparkling when I looke around so not a bad school in the least) but I love the school my DCs go to, the year 6 play with te reception at break time and look out for them, everyone knows everyone, the grounds are lovely with little wood areas and a forest school, they do learn welsh but it's not a welsh speaking school so it isn't a big part of school,

mam29 Mon 11-Feb-13 09:32:19

Ok guess as person with o kids at either school have no vested interest.

However im welsh

I have kids one school age.

Live in england and goes to small village school 20 a year 5classes in whole primary school.

Shes recently moved from primary double the size and was struggling.

So in our case small is better.

But as a welsh person and south wales at that.

I have seen the effect my old county where my mam still lives has had on communities both in town and rural villages.

The county was monmouthshire -mostly rural non welsh speaking.
Infact there are no cities in ,monmouthshire.

They have shut many village school in favour of building super schools.

Llanellan. Llnaover, govilion recently wemt im amazed Llanfair still open but they supported by the church.Llanfoist used to have lovley village school but expanded
and rebuilt as super school and new houses changed makeup of that community.

Many village kids now have no choice but to bus it into towns.

Even mams hometown they shut 3infants, 2juniors, turned my old juniors into smallish primary, built one super primary with nursery wrog side of town to most people, a length walk for infants, in wcrappy location near to one senior school so cleverly sent so much traffic one side of town seems madness. Most people favour the rc even if not rc,

Also taken look at monmouthshires welsh med schools both have low numbers so yes its political move by welsh assembly-even in cardiff capital dont hear that much welsh spoken

I think its nice to have choice but from what I gather in your area they trying to impose welsh meduim education on english speaking welsh people is wrong and think you should see wider picture maybe you are welsh speaking but what if other services only offered in welsh.

What the assembly dont say is they trying to make savings yet spend on welsh meduim education when demands not there.
Hard to make comparisions as we have ofsted and league tables here and you have estyn.

But in the league of national education welsh education falls below englands I reckon partially due to too much political and ideological meddling myself.Just look to the welsh bac.

Chiggers Mon 11-Feb-13 09:57:42

Merched Bore da. Gymraeg yn iaith sydd yn marw, felly mae'n braf i'w gadw i fynd.

This phrase translated, says "Welsh is a dying language, so it's nice to keep it going".

OP there are not as many people learning the welsh language. It's such a shame because it's a lovely language, if not hard, to learn.

I'm fron Northern Ireland BTW, but lived in South Weat Wlaes for about 3.5yrs and learnt a little welsh from the road signs of all things grin.

Chiggers Mon 11-Feb-13 09:59:08

Doh!!!!! That should be "but lived in South West Wales.

Startail Mon 11-Feb-13 10:13:45

I have friends who live near the Welsh border, who commute in to Wales to work. They have colleagues who come all the way from Bristol.

Non of them will move into Wales, schools is a major reason.

Also jobs for DPs.

It is one thing to teach Welsh as a subject and quite another to try to teach children who's home language is English in Welsh.

If the local politicians really valued the small scattered villages and small towns that make rural Wales so special they would have told the Cardiff elite these changes were wrong.

They didn't and as there is now a huge mess.

DorisIsWaiting Mon 11-Feb-13 10:16:10

Closing schools impacts not only on the children there but also on the wider community. Our local school has less than 50 pupils in 2 classes (R-Y6) if the school closes the community will lose so much more than education. Theschool itself is used as a meeting place for all manner of community groups and all ages.

Sports groups, craft groups the parish council the list goes on. Now the school has a new head things look like they are on the up (things looked very dicey for a while).

I think yAB selfish not to support your friends.

Startail Mon 11-Feb-13 10:18:10

As for hearing Welsh used, I love Cardiff and DSIS and I stay there sometimes.
I've never heard WeLsh spoken, just Chinese and something East Europian.

We've just been thorough this (also in Wales) and 5 small rural primary schools will be closing this July. TBH I think they had decided to close them right at the beginning but had to go through the period of consultation etc to make the communities think they had a say.

No-one could have fought harder than the communities involved to keep their schools open sad

MidniteScribbler Mon 11-Feb-13 10:25:07

Before you refuse to support your friends, stop and ask yourself if would want them to support you if your children's school was at risk?

YABU not to support your friends. Its a two way street...

MortifiedAdams Mon 11-Feb-13 10:29:35

Id be adding my name to support the families within the catchement area who.will lose their village school, even if I didnt know them.

Your friends situation is irrelevant imo.

If these primaries close, would the comprehensives not find new feeder schools?

Should they not fight for their new schools to feed into the secondary of choice?

Startail Mon 11-Feb-13 10:34:24

Yes, there is a knock on from closing schools.
If DDs old primary shut I suspect the local church and Village shop would notice very much.

Yes some families have a deep faith and go to church anyway, but several sing in the choir or go to the children's group because of the churches links with school. In turn this lot invite more of their friends.

Jubilee celebrations, fetes, the local cricket team, bingo, quizzes you name it, happen because the enthusiastic older members of the village can get the school children or their parents involved.

Without the school and the pester power of wanting to do something with their friends, what busy working parent would bother.

If you bus DCs in from all over to a big school, you don't get a feeling of community. School gate politics and the PTA busybodies are annoying sometimes, but you gain more than you loose from everyone knowing each other.

jojane Mon 11-Feb-13 11:16:58

Here in South Wales schools are mainly English with the odd bit of welsh thrown in so children aren't force to speak welsh all day at school, unless you OPT to send them to a welsh speaking school.
We are English and know hardly any welsh, my dc can count and do colours in welsh and some other stuff and actually I think it's good they are being exposed to another language at a young age, hopefully it will help them learn other languages in the future.

mam29 Mon 11-Feb-13 11:25:36

Blimey startrail excatly some bristol schools are dire I know I love here so welsh ones to be perceived as worse.

Plus shocking bridge costs hubby used to commute to newport.

I always wondered why bristol dident have welsh school so many of us as they have a french one.

Theres the saying welsh dont stray much further than southwest or monmouthshire/newport practically english!

Just because I grew up near border doesnt make me any less welsh. Hate the north/south divide.

I dont rate my welsh education and I dident even attend welsh meduim as dident exist.Welsh dident become compulsary until year after me when I was in comprehensive . I did learn through lunchtime club and odd word but im hopeless at it I have tried none of my family are welsh speaking mam watches poblycwm with subtitles as akid we couldent get c4 hates just having flipping s4c.

Of course some counties predominatly north/mid wales more naturally speaking welsh people.

Monmouthshire, newport and cardiff I would say not very welsh speaking. Maybe its cloeness to border or fact lots og english people live in these areas.

Other areas like blaina gwent/powys theres a much greater push for welsh language maybe you have to look at area as a whole..

Like i say mams town to shut so many schools and open a welsh meduim that provides for just a few.

Then when you get to secondry

only pontypool-torfean coucil has a welsh med secondry.

so any one from valleys as in ebbw vale, brynmawr, abergavenny, monmouth, cwmbran, all of newport, chepstow have to take bus there.

Imagine the miles and the cost. I not sure if just here but out lea wont even fund transport to faith schools. Senior school bus is £60 a month+ its huge outgoing do welsh assembly fund all school bus travel?

I had old college teacher who was quite snobby said in north wales we speak proper welsh and proper english not valleys slang we spoke.

Its not even about the school

its about imposing language and political veiws on people who dont want it destroying communities not to mention extra congestion on roads, loss jobs once the school goes so does everything else.

As for feeder comps we have none of those linked yes as in thats where some kids choose to go and primary may visit that school.

At end of day they freinds and they losing something tats valuable to them and their kids.The alright jack attitude not great.sad

Imagine uproar if they had welsh meduim hospitals.

They said plaid and assembly are socialist-communist more like it.

so just out interest how far if school shuts is their nearest english speaking primary? what results does it get? how many pupils. .

Mrspringle Mon 11-Feb-13 19:22:48

I Believe we are talking about the same schools iwishiwasmoreorganised.

I've joined Facebook groups out of support for mY friends effected.

The changing of the comp catchment effects Many parents in surrounding primary schools too, as feeder primary schools for the said comprehensive are smaller in some cases, so many children out of catchment can attend, to then get into that favoured comp. Infact it is out of catchment children bossting these primary school numbers.

I personally am not so shocked it's happening. We have friends who used private up to 11 always planning to go to the local comp on their doorstep from 11. Yet the comp class they are told is full and they can't get them in, reason being their children were not in a feeder primary school.

piprabbit Mon 11-Feb-13 19:29:16

35 years ago my parents were part of a village community fighting to save our infants school. As a group, they gathered a lot of local support, they also made an excellent case for keeping the school open.

I am very proud to say that 35 years later the school is still open and remains the heart of the village. The two shops are long gone (there is a tiny shop that opens for an hour or so a few days a week), but with a school younger families are able to continue living in the village instead of leaving the village to age, wither and die.

Why wouldn't you support your friends? It sounds like you simply can't be bothered rather than actually having any strong objections.

YANBU to not attend the meetings but, speaking as someone whose DC's school was threatened with closure a few years ago due to excess surplus places, YWBU not to provide moral support to your friends.

It's a horrendously stressful situation to be going through, and will be so much worse for the locals than even your friends, so for their sakes at least surely it wouldn't kill you to provide some moral support.

FWIW, we saved our school and now it's oversubscribed, so we have been vindicated. smile

IwishIwasmoreorganised Tue 12-Feb-13 22:12:35

I think we are Mrspringle

It is wrong that children living in catchment of a particular comprehensive cannot get places and are 'trumped' by out of catchment children who attend feeder schools but live far further away and in the catchment of other comprehensive schools.

The welsh and English education system within Wales does no doubt complicate funding here, but welsh as a language and culture are very important and do deserve continued support and that needs to start at grass roots i.e school level.

The language itself may be more or less useless outside of Wales, but if our children opt to stay in Wales then it will open lots of doors to them and close none. Learning a second language as a young child is also supposed to make learning other languages more easy - what's not to like about that?!

I believe that most of the staff from these schools under the threat of closure travel from a reasonable distance away, much like a fair proportion of their pupils. I do feel that the 'ripping apart a local community' argument is null and void because of this.

I've accepted the invites to their facebook pages but will not be attending any meetings regarding this issue. If it was my dc's school under threat then I would not expect any more from my friends tbh.

Startail Wed 13-Feb-13 00:53:48

No the fact that children drive there doesn't negate the community idea.

Many of us drive to the DDs primary, but we still get drawn in to village and church events and use the village shop on our way past.

We know there's good food and a warm welcome at the pub from PTA.

The village isn't very big and it's not somewhere you'd drive through by accident. In many ways the school doubles it's active population.

It may be a hassle driving to something in the village, but you feel your letting the side down if you don't.

If it was a big school you wouldn't feel anything like the same, there's always someone else.

Actually the very English speaking place I went to school was Powys. The sheep farming communities of the old Radnorshire are not Welsh Speaking at all. Aberystwyth is a bit and Montgomeryshire in the North, but not the very centre.

Perhaps because of the Elan Valley dams, we were a happy mishmash of sheep farmers and English in comers who all rubbed along very happily.

I hate the Welsh/English divide devolution and Welsh medium education seem to have stirred up.

I know it's silly, but I almost feel that because I was born in England and don't speak Welsh, that I can't call my Welsh hills home anymore.

LittleEdie Wed 13-Feb-13 00:57:37

1500 schools (not a typo) in a 5 mule radius?

Mind boggles

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