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.

NaturalBlondeYeahRight Thu 09-May-13 21:13:21

nextphase my mistake grin It happened to me so presumed it was the same for all. You prove an excellent point for reading the fine print on admissions criteria.

I forgot another one, a wiser mum than me once said nothing is set in stone, you don't have to stay at a school that doesn't work for you. In fact, admissions other than reception year can be a lot easier.

It's very hard to type correctly on a phone....excuse my title error.

ravenAK Thu 09-May-13 21:14:33

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

^^this.

If you are very pro- or anti- godbothering, check how much of it the school does - there's no such thing as a 'secular' school, but there is a heck of a lot of variation in how the guidelines are interpreted.

happygardening Thu 09-May-13 21:16:10

Independent Schools Inspectorate reports are also rubbish not worth the paper they're written.
Forget heads being good at paperwork these actually lie!

Don't worry too much. It is all a crap shoot anyway. How much can you really learn from a quick tour and a chat with the head?

Primrose123 Thu 09-May-13 21:20:39

I agree with a lot of the above.

Middle class children are not always nice - very true.

The biggest thing will prove to be the other pupils in your DC's year - this is definitely true.

That parenting is the single factor that makes the most difference to a child's academic success - I agree with this too.

If a head says that there is no bullying in their school, you can pretty much guarantee that there is a lot of bullying, but they do nothing about it.

CarpeVinum that's some school run! How do you manage that?

If your LEA has a feeder system for secondary school admissions, you're probably best off listing (realistic) preferences based on what secondary/secondaries you'd be willing for your children to go to. It's better to go to the unpopular primary that feeds to a secondary you'd be happy with than a more popular one where the feeder secondary is miles away and awkward to get to.

nbee84 Thu 09-May-13 21:41:27

That it is more important (than top exam results) for your child to enjoy school and have fun learning - if they don't at primary school age then you'd need a miracle to turn that around at secondary age.

dizzy77 Thu 09-May-13 21:54:13

Reception class 2015 watching with interest grin. It will all have changed by then, of course.

musu Thu 09-May-13 22:53:21

Know your child. Choose the right school for him/her rather than the one all their (or your) friends choose.

This can be hard to do in practice. Ds moved schools for particular reasons. He lost his school friends and I lost the mum friends I made. It was a hard move but has proven to be the right move for him.

SonorousBip Fri 10-May-13 11:24:30

Check out the office staff - they will tell you a lot more about the "tone" of the school than anything the head stands up and says when all eyes are on him/her.

Also, you will have much more to do with the office staff over your years in primary school than you will with the head - ours are really on the ball, know every child and will give you a quick call or email if there is anything wrong.

Good office staff will significantly ease your school life, particularly if you have a child who could not be relied on to bring their own body parts home if they were not attached. (Yes ds I am thinking of you).

I also think local should be a strong deciding factor when they are young - it means they get a lot of mates in the surrounding area, which all helps with the - "can ds walk back with you and you drop him off on the doorstep as I am stuck with a child with d&v" occasions - which WILL happen. Plus we have met some nice people as well.

50shadesofvomit Fri 10-May-13 11:35:54

Primaries with good SATs results often have good results because they spend large amounts of time prepping for SATs.

Last year many schools had residential trips after SATs so didn't enter any children for level 6.

My friend reckons you should look at the cars parked outside to see if the parents are similar to yourself.

If you can see the playground from the road have a watch to gauge the atmosphere.

mam29 Fri 10-May-13 12:39:21

Dont be too hard on yourself you make the best decision based on facts you had at time for us was

good ofsted
smallish school
nice head
nice outdoor space
went to ajoined preschool.

Thinks can change.

our 3rd choice has impressive open day went into special measures.

I know some on mumsnet say if ofsted dowgrade can be bad thing.

but in dds old school the pressure they putting on kids for year 6sats huge as their next inspection depends on it.
the negative environment, unsettled, temporary heads made me think yep time to move but was more specifically dd 1 wasent happy or doig academically well.

The best performing schools here

give tonnes homework
loads sat prep
reccomend tutors.

thankfully my dd year 2 doesnt even know what a sat is her new school is laid back and reminds me of my school as child traditional and fun.

Try not to judge school by all the parents there will always be the annoying competative ones and the chavvy ones.
In my opinion the chavy ones nicer hated the snobbery and how flashy old school was.

school office-old school like doctors receptionists should have run a mile then.

New school-one lady superwoman also like school mummy watches kids when ill, phones me , looks out for dd and made school life so much easier. even when sick she rang and said we starting friday club 1st come 1st served know you asked shall I put her name down.

ofsted not everything but sometimes can highlight thinks we were unaware of ie dd in infant part of roimary had no idea juniors had so many temporary teachers and were doing badly.

Govereners reports sometime schools out them online the minutes can be real eye opener.

Try not listen to everyone no schools perfect.

always even if 6th choice go visit every school in person.
1school we were going to ,look round were rude on phone so dident veiw.

Another infant school we looked at were not allowed to speak to staff/teachers and had weird supplemnetary evidence form and they were la controlled.

Yes you can ask freinds
look at last years admissions or year before
but no one years the same cathcments shrink.

dont assume faith schools all faith dds one was 50%rc but can see how admissions criteria put people off.

ring admissions and double check find mine really useful.

mrsshackleton Fri 10-May-13 12:50:11

Schools with large percentage of English as an Additional Language in state system that parents are always freaking out about
= Schools with large percentage of "cosmopolitan, bilingual" children in private system

TheWave Fri 10-May-13 12:54:01

Small school may seem perfect at age 4 but limiting at ages 7-11 yrs.

Look for evidence of ideas-sharing between different teachers. Not all teachers at primary school are good at everything.

Ask what they did at last few training days.

meglet Fri 10-May-13 12:54:33

Agree with the tutoring comments. I've found out that the best performing secondary in our town tells parents to get tutors for 'under-performing' pupils. Which my colleague did, and hey-fucking- presto, her DC passed with flying colours. The school gets the glory hmm.

That your gut instinct is worth listening to. I decided against a nearby school as we weren't able to meet staff or the head during our visit, the year 6 kids showed us round. A year or so later I know 2 people that have left said school as there was no communication with parents.

adeucalione Fri 10-May-13 12:55:05

Don't be fooled by flashy nice-to-haves, good teachers are the most important thing - pastoral care, academic achievement, parental relationships all hinge on this, not how big the playground is or the new ICT suite.

tethersend Fri 10-May-13 12:59:59

Remember that it's your child going there, not you.

<tells self>

Look at how the staff and pupils interact when you go around the school. When I visited the school my children now attend I like the fact that the Head of the Infants section knew all the children by name and that the children were actively coming up and saying hello to him.

The children's Reception teacher wasn't very good with adults but the children loved her and she was a good teacher.

BalloonSlayer Fri 10-May-13 13:22:01

- Don't be too put off if the teachers/HT don't seem to relate to YOU all that well. Look at how they relate to the children.

- If your DC is struggling in state school, don't immediately assume that private is the answer because the classes are smaller and your DC will get more attention. Some private schools are utter shite at SEN and - please someone correct me if I am wrong - I don't think they have to follow the same guidelines as state schools.

wordfactory Fri 10-May-13 13:22:11

If you have summer born DC don't let anyone assess their ability in comparison to a September born child.

Your DC and you will enjoy the experience far more if you throw yourself into it. positively.

DeWe Fri 10-May-13 13:25:04

grin

On the gossip, make sure you get it first hand and take with a pinch of salt.

What one parent says is not necessarily the whole truth. "Head won't listen to me, and has refused meetings with me" might equal "head refused me a permanent space in the car park which I think I deserve because I've got to work, and when I wanted to discuss it for the fourth time said she didn't feel the discussion was getting anywhere..."

Certain parents like to down other schools. And rumours will propergate amongst schools, so even if you hear a rumour several times, it may well not be true.
So they'll tell you "I heard that a child moved from X school to my school because they were severely bullied. all these things happened and the school did nothing". I heard that from several people. Problem was that I knew the only child that had moved in that timescale from X school to that school, and I knew exactly the reason they'd moved. Simply down to having moved house and the younger sibling not getting in, so they moved both rather than have two different schools.

And I've lost count of the number of times generally quite sensible people have told me that the head of one local juniors is moving to take over a local primary in the last two years. This rumour was going on before the local primary's head had even announced she was moving on. confused Since the new head has been announced I've been told twice the junior's head is going to be advising them. hmm I expect with a large juniors he is thought not to have enough to do.

The best measure I've seen you can get from a school's gossip is often if the parents are saying "yes Y and Z down the road are also good schools, look round them all and see which fits your child". That means they don't feel threatened by other schools successes, so are willing to learn from them, which is surely helpful.

SomeBear Fri 10-May-13 13:42:03

Agreeing with a lot of these comments. Also to make sure you remember that going to an outstanding school does not guarantee every pupil will get outstanding results, likewise a failing school does not fail every pupil. Ofsted is only someone's opinion on a snapshot of the school. You are still your child's parent and will still have the greatest influence over their lives (not so true when they get to secondary!).

LovingKent Fri 10-May-13 14:21:16

Very useful thread - thank you. Things to think about for my DS who starts school Sept 2014. Maybe get moved to Education so more can see it?

Bonsoir Fri 10-May-13 14:53:50

That a single school may contain really rubbish old teachers awaiting their retirement while doing as little work as possible and fabulous, highly-involved, energetic teachers who give their all. Some years are good, some are bad and it is up to you as parent to fill in the gaps as you discover them. There is no point at all in tackling the school about them.

thegreylady Fri 10-May-13 15:03:46

The children your child sits next to will affect their education at least as much as the teacher.You will affect it most of all.

BeCool Fri 10-May-13 15:04:26

I get a ridiculous thrill from the Head Teacher ringing a hand bell every morning and knowing the all the children by name.

This was not my experience at school (every London primary might be like for for all I know, but I think it shows a successful connection and interest from the top down).

pollywollydoodle Fri 10-May-13 15:47:35

quote from friend who teaches at one - selective grammar schools can be rife with eating disorders, anxiety and depression secondary to perfectionism and pressure to perform sad

OddSockMonster Fri 10-May-13 16:18:08

If you do insist on paying attention to Ofsted reports, read the words, not the score.

Tingalingle Sun 12-May-13 20:09:57

God yes, SockMonster -- our old school's report said 'Although some parents complained of bullying we saw no evidence of this'. Yup.

I went to an open day on the weekend for a traditional public school (senior). They have centuries of history, impressive grounds etc. The HM ended his talk by telling us to go and look at other schools, get a feel for the atmosphere of each school and pick the school that was best for YOUR child. He was quite prepared to accept that his school wouldn't be the right school for every child present.

So remember that no matter how impressive the external elements are, if the ethos of the school really doesn't suit you child then its not a good choice.

cory Mon 13-May-13 09:01:25

Pastoral care can still matter to the brightest child.

A child who is unhappy at school will not be learning however good the teaching.

Or if they are learning and doing well, the fallout can still be horrendous.

And yes, yes, yes to this one:

"SonorousBip Fri 10-May-13 11:24:30
Check out the office staff - they will tell you a lot more about the "tone" of the school than anything the head stands up and says when all eyes are on him/her."

A school that can't keep its office staff happy, probably can't keep anybody happy. And disgruntled office staff can make life very difficult for everybody, parents, children and teachers alike. Besides, stressed and disgruntled office staff may well be a sign that they are dealing with a lot of complaints...

When I ring reception at dd's secondary they always sound positive and helpful: you get the immediate impression that they are used to having good communication with both parents and other staff.

stickygotstuck Mon 13-May-13 17:07:06

Why oh why did this thread not exist when I was filling in DD's application? [bangs head against keyboard]

This is all great advice. I have been (still am!) incredibly stressed over school choice [bangs head again]. It's great to read your comments, thanks all. But I do so wish I had some perspective, found something like this before applying! I think this thread must be saved for posterity.

tiredaftertwo Tue 14-May-13 17:26:22

Agree agree agree about office and also support staff. When your child runs out of lunch money, loses their bag or phone, or forgets where they are supposed to be, it is often those people that are around and they really can affect the feel of the school. Cheery and kindly efficiency and imagination when sorting out glitches makes a huge difference - on a practical level but also in making the school feel welcoming and safe (very important when bigger problems emerge - you do want your dc to feel the school will help those who need it).

And my tip - don't listen to gossip. At secondary, it is almost always wildly wrong - and propagated either by those with an axe to grind or those who miss the playground huddles and intimacy of primary. If you are worried about something, go to the school (usually).

maillotjaune Tue 14-May-13 20:03:21

Choose your local school unless there is a very compelling reason not to. Being able to get there quickly and easily, preferably without using a car, will really help your quality if life and you'll meet your neighbours with children.

(I know this won't be possible if you live miles away from any school)

Go for feel of the place rather than the fanciness (or otherwise) of the chairs in reception. Honestly, I have heard prospective parents say they preferred the school up the road because they have brand new chairs...

Brilliant thread.

GreyGardens Tue 14-May-13 20:34:58

Community is massively important, especially at primary level. Think about after school, playdates, making friends (your child and you), reciprocal favours between friends re pick-us etc.
Walking distance is a genuine plus point, so your children will have friends in the immediate neighbourhood.
Many inner London state schools are fabulous.
Uniforms can be a GOOD thing, as long as you avoid hideous polyester trousers.
School lunches are not that bad, plus children get free fruit.
Ofsted is often immaterial.
Happy hildren are generally a good indicator.
Small is most definitely not always beautiful, and large class sizes don't necessarily hinder children. Conversely, if class sizes are too small, you may find your child not in a friendship group, or totally outnumbered by gender.
Even if you are an atheist church schools are often really caring annd offer much in the way of community.
Don't stress about school gates shite or trying to be every mum's new best mate.

sorry for the essay - I love DD's school!

lainiekazan Wed 15-May-13 10:21:48

Agree about local school. It makes a mahoosive difference to quality of life if you can walk (and have done the car thing at previous school so understand terrible stress of trying to park at 5 to 9 or having to arrive at 2.30 for 3.30 finish in order to secure spot less than 5 miles away).

Agree about office staff. Current school - office ladies v friendly and helpful. Previous school - sat behind thick (bulletproof?!) glass and looked hostile.

Don't reject big schools. With three classes across a year group, the teaching is moderated so you can't have one duff/lazy/unpleasant teacher mucking things up for your dc as you might in a small school. Also there is a bigger pool of friends for your dcs.

Look at the school library. I find this is a good indicator of how much they care about literacy and how

lainiekazan Wed 15-May-13 10:22:29

whoops

how they view the importance of allocating budget to book buying

I don't necessarily agree with those saying pick your nearest school/one you can walk to. I have a primary school 5 minutes walk from my house. My children go to a school nearly 15 mins drive away. It's a much, much better school. My children love their school. The drive doesn't bother me or them at all.

Totally agree about very small schools though. They seem nice and cosy, but are often under-equipped and have no economies of scale. Plus there's a smaller range of children to be friends with.

Startail Wed 15-May-13 10:55:17

MN needs to put a link to this thread in it's section on choosing schools

This is all so very true.
Non of the things that have caused people I know to change schools can be easily foreseen. They depend so much on the details of peer groups and child parent teacher relationships.

The very clever DCs who left our school couldn't have known in advance that the old HT was hopeless at G&T or that in a MC area they would be the only very bright children. DD2 isn't quite that bright, but fell on her feet with 3 bright peers and a different HT.

You either get DD1 or she drives you mad, for Y4-6 she got the one teacher who got her perfectly. This is shear luck.

Likewise that The girl who moved to us because of being bullied fell into DD1s class and instantly felt she'd always been there, not the more difficult year groups on either side.

Unless it looks an impossible fit give your nearest school a try. We have no option, but to drive to any school and DDs and especially me would have found making friends easy if we'd walked.

LatteLady Fri 17-May-13 14:59:00

Go and have a look... you will be able to recognise a good happy school with all your senses.

Does it look well cared for? Do the toilets smell? Is it noisy or is there a purposeful hum? Is it clean? Do they listen to you when you ask questions? For primaries, is the Head or Deputy out there during the start and end of the day?

Look at the displays, whose work is up there, is it the children's or is it the teacher's? Is there work from different levels up there, as this will show you that every child is celebrated.

Go past at the start or end of day, is it a scrum... we once had parents fighting with umbrellas over a parking space in front of an Ofsted Inspector... you had to be there to see the Head sort it out and get the parents apologise to each other and the children who had seen it... Leadership and management came out well, LOL.

By all means consult the Ofsted report, but find someone who can read between the lines as the reports are restricted in their descriptors.

Finally, don't forget to ask your DC if they like it!

LaQueen Fri 17-May-13 17:06:30

Ofsted results, mean diddly squat.

The largest deciding and contributing factor towards any child's success academically/at school, is actually the educational background of the child's mother.

BalloonSlayer Fri 17-May-13 19:03:59

Really LaQueen? What about the Dad? What about the poor parents of my parents' generation who wanted better for their DCs? Or are we talking about "at the moment."

Not challenging, just interested.

elsie07 Fri 17-May-13 19:17:55

Choose your local school unless there is a very compelling reason not to. Being able to get there quickly and easily, preferably without using a car, will really help your quality if life and you'll meet your neighbours with children

I agree with many of the points above but probably this the most. Three children, 2 almost through secondary and 1 about to finish primary and this is the thing that has made the biggest difference.

Tingalingle Sat 18-May-13 07:53:21

Yes, Elsie, but I'd add:

...and be prepared to find that actually your child's misery at the local school might just outweigh the convenience of being able to get them there easily and you might find yourself driving 5 miles daily down sodding country roads to get them to the next-nearest instead despite swearing that you would never pander to a child this way

yorkshirepuddings Sat 18-May-13 08:15:30

Go to your local school unless there is a compelling reason not to.

At some point you will feel that the school has let your child down.

Small schools do mean limited friendship groups, but at least children learn to get on with everyone. There are 8 children in my son's year and they are a really tight little group. Given a wider choice I'm sure they wouldn't all choose to be friends. They also tend to be given a lot of responsibility and are very good at helping younger children.

I think LaQueen is correct - studies have shown a link between the education of the mother and achievement of children. Even if the father is present and plays a big part, the education of the mother is more important. (Obviously only statistics. Difference will probably be minimal and there will be plenty of exceptions.)

alreadytaken Sat 18-May-13 09:13:55

schools are more about selecting an elite than about learning, your child's real education will take place at least as much outside school as inside it. They will forget almost everything they "learnt" at primary school apart from how to read, write and perhaps play a musical instrument.

"Good" schools are often those whose head is good not just at paperwork but at publicity and at fiddling their results to make them look better than they are. As a result they attract bright, motivated children - but that doesn't mean the teaching is any better. There are bad teachers who appear to get good results.

The best view of the school comes from those whose children have left, they can be more honest

DO listen to those who knock the school, even if they don't have children there. It will tell you want you need to check on when you visit. Check with the children, not the teachers or parents (unless their children have now left). Many parents refuse to see any faults in their child's school.

Children who go to "poor" schools sometimes develop excellent self-teaching skills and that helps them at university. Those who go to a "good" school but are less academically able may become demoralised and do less well as a result.

LaQueen Sat 18-May-13 13:17:52

Balloon as far as I remember, the Dad doesn't really play that much of a part. Obviously, exceptions apply...yadda...yadda...

Can't remember what study I was reading, but it was definitely the educational background of the mother, that was the deciding factor.

Also - I seem to recall, it was also down to the number of books in the family home. But, it was years ago, I read it.

Look at a school's homework policy. Our first school does very little homework and I love this.
It also does very little in the way of dressing up , another thing I am grateful for.
I hung around the school gates and asked the mums what they thought of the school.

LaQueen Sat 18-May-13 13:47:29

I wish the DD's school didn't give homework. As fas as I can tell, it's utterly pointless, and just takes up time.

They're at school for over 6 hours per day...that's more than enough time, for them to spend formally learning.

I know our HT doesn't really believe in it either, but so many of the parents demand it. Like it's going to magically make their DCs extra intelligent, or something hmm

Sticklebug Sat 18-May-13 13:57:43

Don't underestimate the value of being able to walk to school. It is not just the extra time in bed, it is the independance of walking alone when they are ready, learning road sense, having local friends and arriving at school with a brain that is awake and ready to learn.

simpson Sat 18-May-13 17:24:13

LaQ - I went to a literacy session at DC school and the HT said the best way to get a reluctant boy to read was to see their dad reading.

BalloonSlayer Sat 18-May-13 17:41:05

There was an article in the paper very recently which said that (according to a study) the average number of books a child in the UK has is 30. 10% have more than 100. 1% have none. sad

I thought 30 was OK-ish, until I did a count and realised that where children's books are concerned, 30 books take up a space of about 14" on a bookcase. shock

My DCs each have way, way, in excess of 100. And yes, I admit it, I preened. I preened for England.

LaQueen Sat 18-May-13 17:49:45

Hell Balloon can I preen wid ya grin

I have 3 large bookcases in the study, there's another large bookcase in the DD's playroom...they probably have a further 50 books each, in their bedrooms. Another bookcase in the guest room...

We must have upwards of 1500 books, I reckon hmm

And, yes I have read them all, every feckin one...many, more than once smile

LaQueen, our parents would like more homework too but our HT is formidable and says NO.
Up until last year we used to get spellings to bring home, but now they do them in class. All we get is reading.
Oh, and the class bear hmm
I hate the class bear....

Choose a school without a class bear.

MeiMeiMeiMei Sat 18-May-13 18:52:51

So you keep your books instead of charity shopping them. Don't understand the preening hmm

greenfolder Sun 19-May-13 08:22:13

my only advice is this,as a parent of an 18 yr old, a 15 year old and a little one

How much your child enjoys and gets out of school depends on 2 things

How much your child likes and feels seen by their teacher

How much their teacher likes your child.

This will change on a yearly basis

greenfolder Sun 19-May-13 08:24:01

and i totally agree about local school- dd 18 is leaving next week with some friends she has had since reception and most since she was 9. that has made a difference to her (dd2 is somewhat different)

HKTekGuy Sun 19-May-13 10:06:53

I'm also confused at all the preening parents. You choose to buy and hoard your books while others choose to either support their local libraries and charity book stores. Now that we have two Kindles in the house the only new books in the house are Christmas/birthday presents

BalloonSlayer Sun 19-May-13 10:24:26

I think you missed the point, HKTekGuy - I think we were preening at finding out that a hobby of ours that we would have done anyway turned out to look like good parenting. A bit like how you'd have felt if, say, you had been a rabid Mozart fan - never listened to anything else, bored everyone to death - when the "studies" came out however many years ago saying that listening to Mozart raised children's IQs: Not why you did it but happy to take the Good Parenting credit anyway.

(See also: red wine makes you healthier)

HKTekGuy Sun 19-May-13 10:33:10

Apologies Balloon. My comment was more to do with the general conclusion that loads of books in the house equals good parenting.

LaQueen Sun 19-May-13 12:37:26

HK it's perfectly possible for people to hoard books and also use local libraries, and charity book shops...I do 'em all.

I am obsessed with books/reading, and always have been - and for years, worked within university libraries, for (essentially) a pittance, just because I love books so much.

ommmward Sun 19-May-13 15:13:18

If you don't think your child is ready for school, or that they are a round peg and school is going to be a square hole, just opt out of the whole thing and home ed them instead.

<smug home educating bastard>

Madsometimes Sun 19-May-13 21:52:11

Another one who says go for your local school where possible. The school a drive away may seem better in terms of sats and ofsted, but don't dismiss your local school.

Even at secondary level, you may be getting frantic texts from your dc about forgotten PE kits or other items. It's great to be able to drop these off to a school nearby.

I know it's obvious, but be realistic about schools on your CAF. Most LA's provide information about distances that children have lived from particular schools in previous years. In inner cities it is going to come down to metres of even cm for popular schools. You may overlook the back of the playground, but if distance is measured by quickest walking route to the school's front door, don't assume your child will get in.

I know of many children in my area who have been put forward for grammar schools, been tutored for two years, passed the test but not gained a place because they live too far away. So don't raise your child's expectations for a particular school that they have little chance of getting into. Also, don't assume comprehensive schools are bad because they have a much lower GCSE A-C rate than selective schools. Selective schools don't allow 80% of children past their door step (or 98% for super selectives).

Pleasecansomeonereply Mon 20-May-13 15:43:55

this is a really interesting thread.. my dc's attend a school 2 miles away. a lovely school granted but only accessible by car realistically due to location/where I work.

DD (10) is in a shitty class - in years she has never received an invitation to a party (seems shallow but I think says a lot about how she is accepted) she has made a lovely friend in a different class now.

DS is (7) and seems to enjoy the school although he is unsettled at a lot of the jostling etc that seems to go on.

I hope to move them in September to a school 1/2 mile away -within walking distance. that way they can make friends in their own neighbourhood and have normal childhoods instead of hanging round their mum and dad because they don't have any friends!

Academically they will probably be ok wherever they go... Altho my DD compains that the class shits are the ones getting pupil of the week etc - I explained that these kids need encouragement to behave well and that she should have more compassion.

Sometimes I do feel angry for her tho unreasonable I know

Pennybubbly Tue 21-May-13 06:49:42

mamaduckboneThu 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.

Thank you for posting that. It really struck a chord with me.
smile

tapdancingmum Tue 21-May-13 17:57:12

LaQueen It could have been the EPPE report which does make some correlation between a mother's education and the attendance of an effective high quality pre-school and primary school to increase the attainment scores by the end of Y5.

The full report can be found here : media.education.gov.uk/assets/files/pdf/e/eppe%20final%20report%202004.pdf

I am no longer in primary school but do agree with all that is written here.

mummy1973 Tue 21-May-13 20:40:57

As well as finding a school you think your child would be happy at you should also think about the things that are important to you. e.g. amount of homework lots or not, uniform strict or not, active PTA if that's your thing. Otherwise you might spend time trying to change things that are ingrained.

LaQueen Tue 21-May-13 21:24:38

That seems familiar, but it was a while back, so not sure?

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