Opininons on TINY primary schools - under 50 pupils.

(26 Posts)
educator123 Mon 14-Jan-13 19:40:40

Thats it really. Just wondered what the general opinion of them is.

In a way i would think its a positive having so little pupils?

Any opinion valued, but would also be very grateful for teachers opinions

TIA

MorningPurples Wed 23-Jan-13 07:15:55

I'd also worry about siblings always being in the same classes. Depends on the siblings, of course, but I had one year where my sister and I had quite a few shared lessons, and I felt really hemmed in somehow, like I couldn't ever be 'me' (I tended to view school as a bit of a chance to get away from some of the pressures at home). I don't think it would have been good for me to be with siblings long-term, either, because we were competitive and ended up conforming to certain 'roles'.

I also appreciated the wider choices of friends and activities at the larger schools, and they felt a bit less intense, too, as I often felt scrutinised and sometimes just wanted the chance to relax a bit, which a small school might have made harder. We also mixed the classes up each year, so always seemed to be the chance for new friends, re-inventing yourself, changing habits/patterns/ruts that you get in to with other children.

I was academically advanced as well, and that was probably easier to deal with in a larger school where there were more similar peers. And a huge library, which was fantastic for me!

But for the right children, a small school could be great- think it depends so much on the school, peer groups, etc. If it works, wonderful. It's when there are problems that there is less wiggle room for changing things.

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 23-Jan-13 00:18:06

My DD went to a 2 form entry primary. She struggled with friendship groups from Y4 on, basically a small group of girls ran the playground and decided DD didn't fit. This as never really resolved - I think social issues can occur in any size school. One of the reasons for her choice of secondary was very fe children from her class would go there.

DD is now in Y8 of an 8 form entry secondary where the vast majority of children come from tiny village schools (we live in a very rural county). As a result the secondary very rightly prides itself on its transition process.

OddBoots Mon 21-Jan-13 10:17:42

I'd love it in Yr, 1, 2 and 3 but by the time you get to Y4, 5 and 6 I would want my children to have wider social networks and better preparation if they are going to go to a middle size or large secondary. Of course wider social networks can be developed in out of school activities so it's not the 'be all'.

Madmog Mon 21-Jan-13 10:13:03

I can only say what it was like for my daughter at the opposite end. She went to a primary school with over 450 pupils. Despite this teachers seemed to know her well. They didn't do level 6 SATS, but she got level 5 in everything and is in all the top sets at comprehensive school, so a large school hasn't held her back compared to a small school. The positive sides for me are that there are lots of after school clubs, large school library, plenty of PE equipment so easy to offer a good selection of sports, teachers with lots of different knowledge to help support children with problems, you got to know many parents on school pick up and so there's lots of support for everyone. Also, as sometimes happens there are friendship issues, but she was never without anyone at breaktimes as the other girls were always welcoming to eachother. She then moved into a 1600+ pupil comprehensive so the move wasn't such a major issue - she knew four other girls in her tutor group and some of them knew no one.

TomDudgeon Mon 21-Jan-13 10:02:08

My dd goes to a school of 40

My experience its fantastic. They can cope with the fact she's quite behind as she's in a mixed class anyway
They did well with my ds (who we moved for other reasons) who was ahead because of the differing levels already in class.
I think they do need a best friend to make it ok though. If they're on their own it may completely change how they cope with day to day school life

Honestyisbest Mon 21-Jan-13 09:52:11

Speaking from experience....avoid at all costs, for all the reasons mentioned above.

Tearsofthemushroom Sun 20-Jan-13 17:53:24

There are pros and cons to a small school. My DC go to the local primary and it is a lovely community who all look after one another. The older children play with the younger and they are very nurturing. My DS is in a year of 13 which is a good number, but my DD has only three in her year and she is the only girl. There are only a few girls in the year above and they are already a close group so I think she is lonely. I also think that she is not being pushed academically as she is more than six months older than the others who seem to need more support and attention.
We are leaving things for now, but keeping our options open to move them in the future is we become concerned.

educator123 Wed 16-Jan-13 21:45:48

Well facilities wise it is quite nice...huge field, playground and seperate big play area for ks1 off of the first classroom. It is lovely with a veg patch etc.

They have a sports coach come in weekly, a music specialist and someone comes into do art. A drama club and sports club. Swimming once a week. Forest schools, weekly welly walks. So they do well for a small school.

I do worry a bit about the friendship restrictions, although there seems to be no bullying or unkindness, quite the opposite. But my dcs best friend is leaving soon and not many others to fall back on sad I also worry a bit about the mixed classes - the school say there are only positive benefits!

The alternative is a bigger one form (19-25 per class) entry village school, with lots on offer in the way of extra curricular and a very good head and reputation. But this would mean a drive to school (we currently walk everyday) and a move away from the community. I alos have the guilt of not supporting the village school, esp as they aren't doing anything 'wrong' as such, good reputation, ofsted etc. If we choose to change it may start something.

It is a very tough decision, i just want the children to be as happy as possible and i can't decide which option will make them so...

Muminwestlondon Tue 15-Jan-13 08:58:13

My kids went to a tiny independent and it was a mistake for the following reasons:
Few kids to choose friends from/bullying rife
Poor facilities, especially sport
Kids tended to go there because they had problems in other schools
Whim of head teacher/proprietor dominates everything
Poor teachers are not recognised/dealt with
Poorly resourced in terms of books and materials
If year groups taught together - tend to teach down rather than up

The only positive thing was that there were quite a few LEA funded SN kids and my own kids regarded them as completely normal and see beyond the disability. They also went on loads of trips and stuff. Academically it was rubbish. My elder daughter got into a superselective because she is very clever and it only tested on VR/NVR. She was several years behind in maths and never caught up. My younger child on starting a normal size state primary in year 4, reminded the teachers there of someone who had never had any formal teaching. She is dyslexic and could not read or write. She ended up at level 5 in year 6 after attending the "normal" school.

JoanByers Mon 14-Jan-13 23:54:19

I went to a three-class primary school, only for a year thankfully, it was essentially run by the headmistress, and it was fucking awful.

Startail Mon 14-Jan-13 22:30:03

friends DS loves his tiny two class school. His sister is the only Y2 and wants to move.

He is very sweat and quiet, his sister is equally sweet, but not quiet.

steppemum Mon 14-Jan-13 22:11:53

based on what I wrote above I would be asking myself:

who else is starting in dc's year? (in the village we knew all the new children coming up)
Is there a reasonabel number (8-10) and how many are girls/boys?
Does my dc get on with any of these?
Does my dc have a special interest (eg music/football as mentioned) that would benefit from a bigger school?

Would you consider the small school at infant level and keep the option of moving in Y3 if you decided that was necessary then?

I went to a tiny primary school from when I was 6yrs - I was the only person in my year and the max no of pupils was 30. We had one FT teacher for the school.

Times have obviously changed -this was the 80's - but some of the negatives were a lack of other opinions from the head's, a difficulty in assessing my own skills or talents as no peers to check against and fear of secondary school!

The pros were freedom to mess about (tiny outdoor swimming pool meant long swimming lessons followed by spending ages to get dry playing outside in swimmers - summers were better then!) and confidence that comes from being the oldest.

tilder Mon 14-Jan-13 21:51:57

I have seen the appeal of small and cozy at preschool to be a big attraction at a local and very small school too. I just find that small and cozy at 3 is a nightmare at 7 or 8. How old are your children and what do they think?

steppemum Mon 14-Jan-13 21:47:08

my oldest 2 went ot a small school There was one infant class and one junior class. Total in the school = 40

there were pros and cons

good points:
family school, everyone knew everyone, close relationships between teachers and children, the vertical grouping gave flexibility. teacher pupil ratio was great and kids got lots of personal 1:1 attention and the teachers all really knew the children well

bad points
everyone knew everyone! Could be claustrophobic.
you had the same teacher for 3 years in infants and 4 years in juniors, so any less than great teaching gets intensified, and if you don't get on with your teacher you are stuck with them

one teacher in our school was very average and I would not have been happy for him to have been the only teacher mine had for 3 or 4 years (he actually job shared so it wasn't so bad)
only 2 or 3 teachers puts a lot of pressure on the teachers to do everything, and if you (eg) don't have anyone who has an interest in music or pe, then you don't get any of those extras (eg a choir/football club) that you get in a school with more teachers.
There is no football team in a small school, - just not enough kids, and if you are a 7/8/9 year old boy who wants to play football, that is an issue

Also my ds is above average and by chance in his first year all the other children in his year group (4 others) were having some sort of support or help. Children work well with others who are at the same level, and someone a bit ahead can spur them on. But he didn't have anyone, until a new boy arrived - see below!

but the biggest issue was friends. My ds had one other boy in his year group, he was ok, but then he left and a new boy arrived. They didn't get on. it was very intense unhappy relationship. They had to work together and play together. There were older boys around, but that also had problems, at Y3, my ds played a lot with a Y6 boy, which was ok, but didn't always work. He really struggled with this and he wasn't the only one. One mum I know finally moved her daughter in Y5 to a bigger school, because there were only 3 girls her age and she didn't really have a friend. Within days at the new school she had made friends and was much, much, happier.

On the other hand, my quiet dd went into reception in a year group with 8 children and there were 3 girls in the year above too. They made a group of 4 friends who were very close and had no competition so it was a very happy group. She also had a close relationship with her teacher and TA, who knew here well and looked after her when sometimes she was a bit little for school (she always needed reminding to go to the loo) It was a lovely start for her.

We moved house and found a one form entry school as we didn't want a big school and I am glad we made the change, my kids are doing much better in lots of ways but we also at times miss the small closeness of the village school.

educator123 Mon 14-Jan-13 21:42:00

No offence taken smile
Its very tricky as i have been very happy with their school, and we live within the very lovely community, everyone gets on with everyone etc. Its a stones throw away from my front door and connected to an AMAZING preschool. I have two younger dcs yet to start school, so it lovely to all walk together,

BUT we have an amazing school on offer a short drive away too, with an inspirational head who is often headhunted and a broader variety of activities etc. Saying that the small school doesn't do bad...two after school clubs, weekly swimming, guitars lessons etc, due to numbers, welly walks, forest schools...

The list of fors and against is a minefield...

Think its a case of two much choice in a way, good situation, but parts of me wishes i hadnt started to look around as i was happy before now i'm unsure what is 'best'

Ginberry Mon 14-Jan-13 21:38:17

We have exactly the same class format as your school educator123 and in my view it isn't a very good way of serving the needs of children at either the bottom or the top of the class. One of my DC is on the g&t register for everything and is really bored. The school will only move the child up to work with higher years, but as the child approaches the top of the school this doesn't offer enough challenge.

The other DC has struggled to cope as only one of 4 boys in his year group. The other 3 just don't include him in anything. Including their birthday parties! It's horrible and in a small village there's no pretending- everyone knows the situation.

tilder Mon 14-Jan-13 21:31:54

I hope I didn't offend you educator123, just trying to be honest.

I think very small schools are a bit like marmite. Every school has good bits and bad bits and I guess you need to be happy on balance with your school. Think about what you want your children and your family to get from the years at primary and work out which school can best meet these.

Moving schools is a big decision, particularly in a small community. Good luck and I hope it works out whatever you decide.

educator123 Mon 14-Jan-13 21:24:25

Yes it is 'our' school...but i have heard some of the negative points mentioned above so wondered what teachers/parents thought.

The school is split across three classes, varies dependant on intake e.g last year class1 - r,1&2 class2 -3&4, class3 -5&6.
This yr Class1 - r&1, Class2- 2&3, Class4 - 4,5&6.

We do have the option of a slightly bigger one form entry, total of 170 a short drive away, so was interested in personal experiences.

rotavirusrita Mon 14-Jan-13 21:14:55

And disagree about fewer classes/ mixed year classes leading to poor academic achievement. good teachers will provide different work for children with differing achievement within a yr. Plus with one teacher yo 20 or less theres no place to hide!

rotavirusrita Mon 14-Jan-13 21:11:45

Love ours. All the children know each other. They are friends with boys and girls and children from other yr groups. all the teachers know all the children (and in some cases taught their mums and dads too). the children are confident sociable and nuturing towards the younger children.
I went isnt suitable for everyone. I know some parents find it claustrophobic but i love it. Takes a vilage to raise a child and all that!

tilder Mon 14-Jan-13 21:11:34

Sounds like your school?

My view is that it is too small. The social side can be very tricky in such a small school. I feel it is best to have a choice of friends, as you get different things from different people. In very small years, there is so little choice, sometimes none and I think its quite an assumption that they will get on. I see this problem locally and the result tends to be children starting to leave around age 7, further shrinking the year. Most parents who have withdrawn their children give the low pupil numbers as the main reason.

There is also the issue of the way the classes are taught. Less than 50 children sounds like a 2 class system. I would be extremely unhappy about this and feel my child's education would suffer.

Sorry, probably not what you wanted to hear.

educator123 Mon 14-Jan-13 21:01:13

I must add that ive never had a sign of children being left out, not getting along etc. If anything ive noticed the opposite, the children all seem to really take care and look out for each other across all the yr groups etc.
Unless is goes un noticed. Or maybe its because everyone went to the onsite pre school together and all know each other in the village etc...so all the children/parents are already friends.

Ginberry Mon 14-Jan-13 20:41:11

Very bad news unless you can guarantee your child is going to be the "popular" one. It can be very lonely indeed being one of only 4 or 5 girls (or boys if you're a boy) in your year if the other 3 or 4 form a gang and decide you're not in it.

AmelieRose Mon 14-Jan-13 19:43:09

I went to a primary school with only 47 pupils. It was fabulous.

I am a secondary teacher and all our feeders have 150 plus pupils with the exception of one (two have approx 300). The small one is my favourite.

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