How long/far are you willing to travel for a good school?

(33 Posts)
SkiYesPlease Wed 12-Jun-13 15:24:08

Just wondering how far people are willing to travel for the right school? We live in a rural location with the nearest state/faith primary 15mins drive away and the nearest prep school 20mins drive away. Other larger preps are 35-45mins drive away.

SkiYesPlease Tue 18-Jun-13 12:19:32

Sorry savemenow I missed your post. That's reassuring to know and since looking into this a bit further I think you are right most do seem to travel this kind of distance to prep.

SkiYesPlease Tue 18-Jun-13 12:12:08

Lots of food for thought, thanks again.

moonbells you have posted just about every question we have been asking ourselves over the last couple of weeks. It was great to hear it from someone else especially as you touched on my biggest concern which is the transition to prep if we start with state in terms of longer day, different teaching methods, making new friends etc. The prep school we are considering is non selective and offers early years funding (will have to double check we are eligible) which would be an added bonus.
Financing 2 through the independent route would be manageable any more and we would struggle with.

Whilst the facilities are great they're not paramount in our decision to start with state or prep, I'm more interested in choosing the least disruptive route and quality of teaching.

SaveMeNow Tue 18-Jun-13 11:57:32

My daughter is at a lovely prep about half an hour away. She is just finishing Yr 1 so we have been doing it for almost 2 years now. I actually really enjoy it - it's a pretty drive (although not so great in the snow!!) with little traffic. I also think that time we have in the car together is lovely - it's a real chance for us to chat without any interruptions. I always feel like I am missing out if someone picks her up for me!

At my daughters school it is the norm for people to have a 20 - 40 minute drive in (as I think it is at most preps) - the only downside really is it can be a bit of a trek for playdates when her friends live 35 minutes in the other direction from school!!

I would absolutely go for the better school - rather than the distance, as I think the distances you are talking about are quite normal.

Hope that helps!

Bramshott Tue 18-Jun-13 11:44:23

I'd come at it from the other side - a school would have to be quite bad for us to want to travel to avoid it if it was the nearest/catchment option.

Startail Tue 18-Jun-13 11:39:00

With a new baby 25 minutes drive and very close parking, may beat 15 minutes, but always needing to put the baby in the buggy and older DCs wrapped up against cold and rain.

moonbells Tue 18-Jun-13 11:25:42

Joining a bit late... we are 13 miles away from DS's school, which takes about 30 mins factoring in the traffic. School is about 5-10 mins away from my workplace, so I don't have the to-fro twice a day problem, but we've been doing the commute together for pretty much his life (he was at workplace nursery before school) and it works. We chat, go through his spellings, he reads to me, mostly in slow-moving traffic jams or waiting for lights to change! So we use the commute time well I think. On the actual school and your points above: (assuming your preps are non-selective!) the YR, 1 and 2 are foundations for what happens in Y3 when things rack up several gears. If your DC is in a pre-prep then they should work to make the transition to prep smooth. If they start state then there might be a hiccup but should be ok. Less of a step than state to indie at CE...

If you have the ££, and are sure you are eventually going to go indie anyway, then I'd go for 2. DC will make lasting friends and there won't be changes in curriculum (or shouldn't be!) and no early emphasis on NC testing. I guess 3 is similar but you'd have to change friends mid-way, or decide to stay there.

Also look at the big picture. Where do you eventually want them to end up at senior school? If indie, which prep school is most likely to get them there? And finally, if you're going indie, and TTC, then can you afford to send both DC of would it be better going state to begin with (saving the fees) and then switching when they're older?

Good luck!

tallulah Mon 17-Jun-13 17:36:16

Luckily we don't do it anymore grin. We did it for 6 years, and that was enough.

There isn't much difference in travelling time between your choices, so I would just pick the option that suits your DC at the moment with a view to possibly changing later on.

LIZS Mon 17-Jun-13 08:40:20

I've known many transfer successfully from state to private at Year3 . tbh very few pre-prep children benefit from the more showy facilities, they are often used more by older children.

SkiYesPlease Mon 17-Jun-13 08:03:32

Your school run sounds like a full time job Tallulah! We are ttc at the moment so will also have to consider the possibility of also travelling with a smaller child in toe.

Agh! Too many factors and the pressure to get in right first time is blowing my mind at the moment. What would you choose:
1. State (good) or faith (was outstanding now good) primary both 15mins away then transfer to large prep 30mins away?

2. Start at larger pre-prep/prep (excellent) 30mins away and stay there until 13?

3. Start at smaller pre-prep/prep (20mins away) which is good and transfer to the larger prep?

I know I've only provided limited info but i'd really appreciate your input based on the above facts. TIA

SkiYesPlease Mon 17-Jun-13 07:54:06

Wow, that's for all the responses. It's very reassuring to hear that i'm not the only one in this dilemma. How old is your lo anniejane?

I'm swaying towards one of the larger pre-pre/preps after doing a practice drive at the weekend. It was exactly 30mins door to door along quiet country roads, we also think that a school bus may be able to collect halfway when a bit older. The facilities look amazing, ISI report looks very good.

If we started at the local primary/faith, at what stage would we transfer from state to private and would this be hugely disruptive? This is a big worry for me. Would it be better to start as you mean to go on?

We'll go and have a look around a few schools both state and indie in the autumn and decide from there I think.

tallulah Sun 16-Jun-13 10:46:26

Ours started off at the same local primary. When DD went to secondary it was 17 miles away, so a good 30-40 mins drive. DS2 transferred to the Junior of the secondary, and a couple of years later we moved DS3 to a state primary about 22 miles away (nearer to the other 2 schools).

DH did the school run which went

16 miles to drop off DS2 for 8.30 ish
across the road and up the hill to drop off DD
back down the hill and up the dual carriageway to drop off DS3 for 9am.

Then pick up DS3 at 3.40pm
Back for DS2 at 4pm
Back over for DD
Home by about 5pm

It cost a small fortune in fuel, and the car had to be serviced once a month because it was racking up so many miles shock (there was a shorter road-route from one school to the other but at rush hour it was gridlocked, so we went 6 miles in the wrong direction to turn round and get on the right carriageway, twice a day).

But we didn't have any problems with friends/ playdates and they all had a good social life. The only one who missed out was DS2 who stayed at the first primary then transferred to a secondary he could walk to in about 30 mins. He was happy because he walked with friends.

poppydoppy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:30:01

The further the school the further the friends will live. My school is a 30 min drive, I spend 4 hours in the car collecting and dropping off children. At the weekends I spend my time dropping them off at parties or friends houses up to an hour away. There next school will be local to where I live.

Eastpoint Sun 16-Jun-13 09:17:07

When they are tiny I think you want as close as possible, from the start of KS2 a greater distance is easier. When you have to go & watch plays in the morning, sports days etc its a real pain if you can't go home in between drop off & the activity. I used to feel v sad when I'd driven 30 mins through traffic to pick up my dd and someone would ask her to tea - I'd invariably have to say no to spontaneous play dates which was a great shame. The closer to school the easier to do all the extra-curricular activities which take place at senior school.

LIZS Sun 16-Jun-13 08:55:31

We originally lived 25 mins away from school and it was a big chunk of the day taken up driving too and fro , a lot but just about manageable for a 4yo, and also significant cost over the course of a week/term/year. The main issues would be extra curricular activities, sports' matches and parent events such as Parent's evenings and socials and the fact that their/your friends may live a similar distance the opposite way, which makes playdates logistically difficult during the week and extra travel at weekends.

anniejane100 Sun 16-Jun-13 08:41:02

SkiYesPlease, this is a question on my mind a lot at the moment! DD is currently at a wonderful nursery 15 mins drive from home and on my way to work, with a minor diversion.

Our options are this: leave her there til she's 4, then send her (hopefully but not guaranteed, as we have a Satisfactory school in our own village) to an Outstanding primary in the next village from ours, drop off on my way to work.

Or, subject to her being selected and we don't know if she will be, send her at 3 to the nursery of a top-ten indie in our nearest city. That would mean a 1hr10 round trip 4 days p/w initially, then 5 days week once she's in Reception.

DH went to the same indie and loved it, we looked around the nursery/ pre-prep and were blown away. Head is amazing! The cost is an issue but we could manage it, really torn at the mo. DD won't be assessed for the indie nursery til January so we have time to think about it. The local option feels so easy although the school is due an Ofsted soon, but I have heard good things from current parents so it will probably remain Outstanding.

The indie nursery/ pre-prep feeds into a prep/ upper that us hugely in demand and very selective. I know there us no guarantee that kids who start in nursery will go all through but it's more likely than not, I think.

So travel time is part of my concern, definitely, amongst a lit if other stuff!

SkiYesPlease Thu 13-Jun-13 18:32:50

Hi hardboiled to answer your first question both the state primary and local faith school are ofsted rated good, they're are on opposite sides of the same road so no difference in distance. The faith school was rated outstanding until recently but got downgraded to good due to pace/level of work, not giving sufficient instructions on how to improve and mathematics attainment isn't as high as reading and writing. The local prep is pretty small (60kids) which puts me off and the larger preps are 35-45mins drive away but are excellent.

hardboiled Thu 13-Jun-13 14:45:52

Is the state/faith primary good enough? It has the shortest drive and you can save fees for secondary...

When looking at distances, think of after school activities, play dates, friends (lots of birthday parties)...etc.

DS got into a superselective grammar 15 miles away (bus, train, bus then walk) and never in our dreams did we think of accepting the place without moving closer! I wouldn't even do that commute to work myself. It's exhausting.

iseenodust Thu 13-Jun-13 09:24:00

We live in a village and no schools are in walking distance. We went for catchment primary for which there was transport available. Proved to be the wrong choice of school for DS. (The transport wasn't great either. A minibus full of primary kids with no adult other than the miserable old driver. Older kids opened the rear door one day.)

In Sept he will go to a school which is 40 mins drive away in commuter hour but we are planning to move closer and on to the school bus route so he can use that at secondary age.

marialuisa Thu 13-Jun-13 09:09:56

If you are rural and money isn't a particular worry I would suggest looking at all your options and then deciding. DD does approx an hour door-to-door (has done since Y3) using the bus but due to volume of traffic rather than distance. There are closer options but they are just not as good for DD so she travels. I grew up in a rural area so the travelling seems normal to me which is probably why we considered the school in the first place.

Sparklingbrook Thu 13-Jun-13 07:05:57

DS1 is at Secondary 12 miles away, I drive him 6 miles to the bus stop and the coach does the final 6. It costs us £547 a year for the bus. So worth it because he is at the right school for him which is the most important thing.

At Primary level we got him into a small village school 6 miles away. You do get used to doing whatever journey is necessary, but if you are driving them yourself for an hour each end of the day that is a large chunk of the day. Consider what the journey would be like in bad weather, snow, ice etc.

mummytime Thu 13-Jun-13 06:54:01

The advantage of the closer school is that if it is over a certain distance (2 miles for under 8's) there will be free transport.

Personally: I went to the closest Primary but also the one my Mother wanted me to; I then went to the closest secondary BUT not the one I was "in catchment for", I would have been quite willing to have travelled further to two even "better" secondaries. A friend travelled 1 + hour by tube to school every day, for what is now a very selective private school.

My children have gone to the nearest Infants and its follow on Primary, but I choose to live here for the schools. They have gone to the 4th nearest secondary. But one is transferring from there to another school which will involve a 50 minute train journey and a walk/cycle ride at each end (at least 1 1/2 hrs each way).

SkiYesPlease Thu 13-Jun-13 06:44:56

Thanks for your responses, I really appreciate it. I had considered the school bus route but given we are looking at primary level I would prefer to drive lo myself with the view to using the bus when lo is a bit older.

Your responses have confirmed that I would be wrong to dismiss those schools further afield without more investigation/visit. If its the right school then the long drive would be acceptable. Similarly, we will also look at the closer schools as these may be more suited to lo and make decision based on this.

If anyone else has a long journey for school drop-off/pick up I would love to hear about it.

Triumphoveradversity Wed 12-Jun-13 23:31:41

DS goes to bog standard comp almost across the road, appears fine. Unless there are major problems such as bullying he will remain there. DH can tutor him in all sciences and maths beyond A level as he is an academic so lucky in that respect.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 12-Jun-13 22:25:07

It's about a 60 mile round trip to Dd1s school and back. She goes on the school bus, the whole journey, door to door, takes about 1.25 hours, give or take 5 minutes. She loves the bus journey. It gives her and her iPod time to work on their relationship. It's a fabulous school - one of the top superselectives in the country - and it's well worth it. I have never really thought the journey was too long since that's about how long it would take me to get to school on the bus when I was a kid in London (I used to walk home, that took more like 40 minutes going at a fair clip, because I walked the direct route and the bus went all round the houses, there was a bizarre bus principle in the part of London in which I grew up which sent all the buses through the centre of the borough and out again on arterial roads rather than using sensible B roads to get to places where schools were ).

HabbaDabbaDoo Wed 12-Jun-13 22:20:08

Not quite the same thing but DC's school is a 30min school bus ride away.

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