Things I wish I had know when choosing schools - sharing some knowledge that those mums in the know will never tell you.

(96 Posts)
NaturalBlondeYeahRight Thu 09-May-13 19:41:15

Firstly, relax. Even the dodgiest school in the area is probably not that dodgy. No child will suffer in reception/yr1/yr2 if they have parents that care.

OFSTED doesn't count for shit (fact) Make your own mind up.

Sending your child to the attached nursery means nowt in the school process.

Don't just follow your friends blindly, no one type of school suits all.

Private is not the be all and end all. Nor is it a great 'back up' plan.

Going to church for a year will a three year old doesn't fool any vicar (lighthearted)

Anymore???

scaevola Thu 09-May-13 19:45:48

The biggest thing will prove to be the other pupils in your DC's year. You can do nothing, nothing whatever, about this as no-one can possibly know who they will be when at application stage.

wheresthebeach Thu 09-May-13 19:46:52

Sometimes the schools with the best results are because of tutoring...not because of the teaching

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Thu 09-May-13 19:50:19

Hear hear to that bleach! Speaking as someone who has seen that in action - school get all the glory.

mamaduckbone Thu 09-May-13 19:54:53

That parenting is the single factor that makes the most difference to a child's academic success.

That being able to walk to school and play out with local friends counts for a lot.

LePetitPrince Thu 09-May-13 19:59:29

Staff and pupil turnover is a very important sign; if high, ask why.

wheresthebeach Thu 09-May-13 20:00:22

Yep Natural...if I'd known at the time it would have been helpful. Maybe during the tours they should let on that in Yr 4 they bring in a tutoring agency for an afternoon to show the kids how 'fun' it all is! And then send home a letter.....Grrrrr.....

muminlondon Thu 09-May-13 20:02:44

You don't get a choice - you get your nearest school (if you are lucky), otherwise the school chooses you.

Class sizes may not be what they seem - state schools have more classroom assistants than private schools (where they might otherwise have been employed as a teacher). And so pupils get taken off into smaller groups.

A 10% 'drop' in SATs results from one year to the next may just mean three children with no English joined the school in Y5.

newgirl Thu 09-May-13 20:07:32

That state schools have changed a lot since most of us were kids - pretty much all have absorbed Montessori and Steiner methods (outdoor learning, through play etc), the opportunities are fantastic

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Thu 09-May-13 20:09:02

Oh my, yy ^^ to all these. You see so many threads about this stuff on mumsnet. They need to just read this.

Wish I'd read this when it was applicable.

Leeds2 Thu 09-May-13 20:12:50

If you can, go to a school that you can walk to.

Consider the provision of pre school and after school care, if this is likely to be important to you at any point.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Thu 09-May-13 20:19:36

yy - to 'no choice' . You can express a preference; that's as good as it gets.

If you have a child in a nursery class attached to a school don't forget to apply for a Reception place. It's not automatic (and it's not my fault as school sec that you ignored my multiple letters/texts telling you this) [bad day]

QueenOfIndecision Thu 09-May-13 20:21:45

if you base your school choice on the wonderful headteacher, bear in mind that he/she may leave at the end of your oldest child's reception year.

yy to after school care- dont' just assume there are childminders nearby.

OddSockMonster Thu 09-May-13 20:22:07

If you ask enough people, there will always be someone with a horror story for each school you're considering, even the best/nicest ones.

Ignore them if it's just the odd one, start listening if it's dozens.

newgirl Thu 09-May-13 20:24:38

Agree w sock - if you hear a criticism think about the person saying it - might be very different from you and sees the world differently - make up your own mind

Troubledjo Thu 09-May-13 20:26:34

Only listen to those whose DC actually attend the school, not those who have horror stories based on friends'/ neighbours'/ friends of friends'/ people they met down the shop once's DCs' experiences...

AvrilPoisson Thu 09-May-13 20:31:55

Agree wit newgirl- everyone who raved about the 2nd closest school to us was very hippyish, lentil-weavery type... we were appalled when we looked round to be frank!

newgirl Thu 09-May-13 20:34:32

Know that some headteachers are very good at pr - others prefer to spend their time teaching!

nextphase Thu 09-May-13 20:44:32

Always check YOUR LOCAL admissions criteria.
Don't take on faith 100% anything seen on line on MN or in playground gossip - round here, being in the school nursery DOES count -OK, its 7/7 on the criteria list, but it can matter, so check everything.

It is, from my understanding, hard to win an appeal - your stupid mistakes, or none understanding of the rules won't cut the mustard.

Sorry, natural, great thread however. How can we get parents of 2014 reception class kids to read it tho?

muminlondon Thu 09-May-13 20:48:39

Middle class children aren't always nice. Or clever.

Middle class parents aren't always nice. Or clever.

CarpeVinum Thu 09-May-13 20:55:00

That being able to walk to school

Oh hell. We are fucked then. DS's school is in Wales and we live in Italy.

He does play with all his local mates everyday though.

<tries to tally up plus and minus points>

I think the most important thing is the school is a good fit for that specific child. I thought our local school was awful. But some kids thrive there.

Hullygully Thu 09-May-13 20:57:14

This is my most important thing:

Hang about and watch the kids coming out of school.

happygardening Thu 09-May-13 21:05:23

Schools with fantastic results whether they are independent or state have achieved these by carefully selecting their pupils and asking those who are not going to do well to leave. Not by taking a whole school of Johny Average's teaching them so well that he leaves at 18 with five A*s at A level.

The local school with the highest proportion of FSM gets the most funding. A mixed intake is usually best for everyone.

Before looking at schools, it's best to actually determine which schools you have any chance of getting a place at. There is no point in looking at schools you will never get in to.

Ofsted is utter rubbish. Outstanding means the head is good at paperwork.

Think about how expensive and hard to source the school uniform will be. The more unusual it is, the more likely it'll be a pain in the arse. The best uniforms can be picked up cheaply in a supermarket. grin

You will be annoyed with whatever school you get at some point. It's guaranteed. There will be incredibly short notice requests for intricate costumes and ridiculous 'fun' homework that involves trips to hobbycraft etc.

You will hate biff, chip and kipper.

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