Okay I have worked at Howard of Effingham, and have to say what might be described as "disruptive" in that area is dream behaviour for most. The kids even in their rebellion are pretty well behaved. A friend also did some teacher training at St Lawrence, and found it an okay school (and any issues were more to do with how she was helped as a trainee teacher than the behaviour). Traveller/gypsy families do create an issue for schools, as the children are usuall sometimes there and sometimes not, but this is more of an issue for teachers than other pupils. It might make it very very hard for a school to be rated OFSTED outstanding, but it doesn't make the education of other children less "good".
Thank you merrymonsters and bucksfizzed! I will visit the school next week. Annoyingly its a short drive away (I wanted one I could walk to) but begggars cant be chosers eh. I try not to take TOO much notice of Ofstead - 'they' sometimes catch the school on a bad day I guess (my sister is a teacher - who incidently used to teach at the Howard where I hope to get my daughter into eventually - and she told me this).
From what I know it has suffered from a poorer reputation than its neighbouring schools, Eastwick in Bookham or Raleigh in Horsley. However I do know some happy parents who like the smaller classes, one form entry and the staff and have not moved their child when a place at their first choice school has become available. That says a lot to me.
Surrey schools are hardly well known for diversity! I am guessing just a few kids at the school becomes newsworthy and their behaviour probably scrutinised more than other kids (by the other parents)! There are a few 'settled' traveller children at my dcs school not far away, I didn't realise that they were such for several years. They do tend to stay off school regularly but I cannot see how that would significantly impact the other 28 odd in the class.
I think it's reasonable to worry about your child's class being disrupted. I guess it would be best to visit the school yourself. Sometimes rumours like the one you heard can be quite out of date or secondhand.
We are moving this week and although it wasnt top choice it seems OK. Havent had chance to visit yet so wondered what opinions were. Someone told me quite a few gypsies from a nearly permanent site go there and they can be quite disruptive...I hate to say but this has put me off a bit (sorry!) Or..am I being unecessarily worried (or, er prejudiced...)