Saw our local (outstanding) school - and hated it!

(26 Posts)
aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 16:37:07

Our local school has an excellent reputation - people talk well of it and it's OFSTED outstanding. DS and I want to see it today and were expecting it to be great. But I hated it! I came away feeling sad sad

There's another school down the road (also OFSTED outstanding) which I loved when I saw it.

I think both schools are probaly great in reality, but the main difference between Near-school and Down-the-road-school is the ethos IMO.

Both are infant schools. Down-the-road-school has an emphasis on learning through play and creativity. They're obviously atheist-led: interpreting the requirement for Christian worship in the looses possible way - no overt mentioning of Christ or God, no hymns for example. (We're atheists).
They do their lesson planning and choice of topics based around the children's own interests, which is very ambitious but great for encouraging learning IMO. The walls were covered in colourful children's own art and work.

Near-school is very formal in comparison. Reception class all sitting at tables. In one reception class a group was colouring in and there was a right and wrong way to do it (which made me want to scream!) They do religious assembly with prayers and hymns every week, and say grace every day. The whole school is following the same topic. The art on the walls in reception looked very adult-directed to me, and in YR1 and YR2 the emphasis was on written work on the walls.

I can see how many people would prefer Near-school, perhaps if you value discipline over creativity for example (the children were all very quiet and well behaved). I value encouraging creativity more than discipline at such a young age however!

But ... we're not guarenteed a place at Down-the-road-school. I worry it might would be a bit of a gamble.

Really nervous now! Worried if I put Down-the-road school as our first choice we might end up not getting in and being shipped out to a school miles away!

WWYD? (Sorry for the essay btw!)

aufaniae Fri 16-Nov-12 21:12:36

confusedperson, yes, great he's happy smile

zimbah your Further-away school sounds just like ours smile I love the idea of outside classroom space. This does all seem very grown up doesn't it?!

radicalsubstitution and exoticfruits I see things must have changed! When I worked in a school we were given a few weeks notice of OFSTED, IIRC. This was over a decade ago however!

thanks for the info radicalsubstitution, very reassuring smile

Zimbah Fri 16-Nov-12 20:58:35

It's such a dilemma isn't it. I much preferred the atmosphere at my 25min walk away school compared to the 10-15min walk school, but obviously the nearer one would be more convenient. Further away school seemed more relaxed and to have lots of 'outside classroom' space, whereas the closer one seemed more formal. I wish there was a real grownup around here somewhere to make a decision for me.

confusedperson Fri 16-Nov-12 20:48:25

I was in a similar situation last year (DS is now in Reception). Had to choose between good Down-the-road-Ofsted-good, secular school which I loved and Near-school, Ofsted outstanding, faith, which I didn't love. I chose Near-the-outstanding-school because of convencience, wrap around childcare, familiar children and parents and marginally better Sats results. It was mind, not heart decision.

Few months forward, I still feel nothing about the Near-outstanding-school. But my child seems to be happy, that is all that matters.

I was also afraid of all the discipline and sitting-down and learning attitude, rather than creativity, but he seems to be OK with it. I thought, I will let him to learn how to work hard and learn discipline from young age... it should not do any harm, right?!

radicalsubstitution Fri 16-Nov-12 08:19:20

The law on school admissions changed about 7 or so years ago and means that councils/schools cannot favour applicants based on the priority order they rank schools in. It is called 'equal preference' and if you do a search on it, you will find a billion or so previous threads on it.

Definitely put your first choice school first, and your 'catchment' school second if that is your order of preference. Your application to your catchment school will not be affected by the fact it is not your first choice.

On the Ofsted bit, 2 days notice is actually pretty good! But, getting a 'good' is also pretty good under the new Ofsted framework. I teach at an outstanding school, and cannot possibly imagine that it would be outstanding if inspected tomorrow. Outstanding in 2010 terms is not the same, by any stretch of the imagination, as outstanding in 2012.

Trying to keep up with the requirements of oustanding is damn near killing me....

exoticfruits Fri 16-Nov-12 07:31:54

I expect they only had 2 days notice the last time as well.

exoticfruits Fri 16-Nov-12 07:31:04

It is only the new framework - it doesn't mean they are any different!

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 23:24:45

Oh, interesting. I see that Down-the-road school had a new OFSTED report in September and they've been downgraded from "outstanding" to "good".
I notice also that their website states they were given two days notice of the inspection. (Not hard to read between the lines as to what the staff think of that!)

Doesn't change the way I feel about either school however. Still love Down-the-road school smile

trifling Thu 15-Nov-12 21:15:53

Ask the council how it works, not the school. They often give out inaccurate info. But ime you should put first choice first.

Fizzypop001 Thu 15-Nov-12 19:50:59

Distance from home to school and what distance was the last to be accepted

Fizzypop001 Thu 15-Nov-12 19:49:42

Some councils put down the distance from which families were accepted it miight be worth checking that but it will be for 2012 so you can get a idea

midseasonsale Thu 15-Nov-12 18:57:20

All 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th choices have equal weighting.

midseasonsale Thu 15-Nov-12 18:54:17

You need to put the down the road school as your first choice and then your door step school as second choice. If you don't get into the down the road school, appeal and ask to be put on the waiting list if appeal fails.

BackforGood Thu 15-Nov-12 17:51:10

Definitely value your instincts, and what you actually see in practice over an OFSTED report.
Agree with others that it won't 'put you to the bottom of the list' if you don't get the 'down the road' first choice place, they then look at all the criteria for the next school on your list, so you would probably get your 2nd.

Chunkamatic Thu 15-Nov-12 17:40:19

We looked at two outstanding schools and one good school, I had quite different feelings about all 3. Didn't like the good school at all, even though I have lots of friends with DC's there who love it. The choice between the other two was harder, but I went with what my gut was telling me and so far (only started in sept) I couldn't be more happy!
IMO not all schools are created equal, you know your child and you know your own priorities in life so you should go for the one that mirrors this the closest.
Good luck!

exoticfruits Thu 15-Nov-12 17:14:29

Act on it!

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 17:13:01

I left the evening open day at Down-the-road school really excited about DS going to school.
I left today's open day at Near-school feeling really sad.

My gut feeling is shouting at me!

exoticfruits Thu 15-Nov-12 17:09:34

Ask at Down-the-road school. Ofsteds are only a guide-nothing beats gut feeling IMO.

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 17:00:27

Thanks all, really useful smile

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 16:59:40

They're both standard state schools, not Church schools.

However their interpretation of the legal requirement to provide worship which is broadly Christian in nature differs dramatically. So in effect, one is a Christian school, the other atheist.

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 16:57:03

I've just re-read the council's admissions critera, and it's worded in such a way that it's totally ambiguous on that point!

You both sound like you know what you're talking about however!

I'm going back to Down-the-road school for the daytime open day with DS next week, so I'll ask them then if this is how our council does it.

Thanks, the collective wisdom of mumsnet is unbeatable IMO smile

wicks71 Thu 15-Nov-12 16:54:02

Check with your local authority as to how their admissions work as I wonder whether it might vary from area to area (maybe not though) but what noblegiraffe says certainly reflects what happens in our area. The only way in which the order of preferences counts is if you "qualify" for more than one school you will be given the one that you've put highest preference.

Also - religious school may be a church school and may give priority to attendees - again, the LA should be able to give you this info.

CelticPromise Thu 15-Nov-12 16:53:19

The school doesn't get to know which one you put first. If there is a place for you there is a place. That's my understanding of it.

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 16:50:37

Thanks for the reply.

Really?! I thought they dealt with first choices first! Oh, that makes it much easier then smile

noblegiraffe Thu 15-Nov-12 16:45:39

From what I understand, what choice you put a school at doesn't make a difference to whether you are a priority for a place there. Put your favourite school first, religious school second. If there's a place for you in both, you'll get the one you put highest. If you end up too far out for favourite school then you'll get a place at religious school over people who are further away but put it as first place (unless they have siblings, are in care etc).

Anyone more informed, please correct me if wrong!

aufaniae Thu 15-Nov-12 16:39:54

Also I think Down-the-road school would suit DS's personality better. He finds it hard to sit still but has an amazing imagination.

I feel he would be more valued at Down-the-road school.
I worry at Near-school he'd be in trouble more.

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