Old Victorian building vs more modern building

(12 Posts)
Tricccky Fri 16-Nov-12 22:01:13

OK, so perhaps not the most pressing question but would value some opinions. Sorry for the length.

We have two realistic choices for schools. Both are 'good' ofsted. Neither are popular with yummy mummies locally, but I've been round both and feel like educationally they are both ok, socially they are mixed (and I see lots of advantages in this) and overall, if either was my only choice, I wouldn't feel too worried about things.

The biggest difference between them is the buildings.

School a) old Victorian building. 4 storeys. Each year group sticks to one floor, except for lunches and playtimes. Small-ish tarmacced playground, divided up by age group (reception have their own, year 1-3 have one, 4-6 have another). they have made a good job of this - lots of great murals, but it is entirely tarmac, no greenery or chance of any really. Surrounded on three sides by busy roads. Only nursery opens direct onto playground. Reception gets out via a short corridor. Other classes have to go downstairs. It's essentially an old-fashioned school - high ceilings, biggish windows, probably a nightmare to heat etc. There are no pitches (they do use the school hall for gym) - the school uses a local sports centre which is 5 mins walk away for Y4+. School is 2 form entry.

School b) 60s or 70s (?) building - which has had quite a bit of recent renovation as well. All classes run off one corridor, which itself comes off a central atrium with a glass roof. The walls and doors into the classrooms are glass. And all classrooms open directly onto the playground. So basically, all the classes are fabulously light and airy and have direct access onto the playground. We were told on the tour that they use this space for learning as often as possible. There is a teeny bit of grass around and they are adding a vegetable patch for the reception kids (not sure about higher up the school). They have some great play equipment, climbing frames etc. There is a full size five-a-side pitch. It is 1 form entry

School a is nearer, more convenient, has a fabulous after school club and I prefer the head. School b is a little farther, has no after school club and I'm not sure about the head. However, I think outcomes-wise they are neck-and-neck, but I feel like school b might be a nicer place to spend 7 years, environmentally.

Anyone have any thoughts? Does the type of building matter much?

nellyjelly Fri 16-Nov-12 22:02:00

Really don't think the building matters.

ninah Fri 16-Nov-12 22:04:30

I've found some amazing chocolates. Truly. Macchiato, brazil. Or caramel, essence of orange. The only thing is I am not sure about is what box to get them in ...

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 22:14:24

Are you in London? I went to school in a 1950s almost new building and definitely felt sorry for my friends who went to school in a large, grim, Victorian building which looked, and still looks, a bit like a prison. Judging by your description, it could be the same one! Other things being equal, I would go with the newer school, but, in your situation, you still need to weigh up all the other pros and cons.

simpson Fri 16-Nov-12 22:16:43

I do like the fact that reception have their own playground in the first school, not sure about the rest....you have to go for which school "feels" the best IMO not what they look like...

Tricccky Fri 16-Nov-12 22:42:23

Reception have their own playground in both schools. Yes London. There are heaps of Victorian schools in this area though - at least 3 in walking distance of our house.

Thanks Ninah. I do get your point. And I did say in my OP that it's no the most pressing issue ever faced by a prospective parent. But you have to make a choice somehow.

madwomanintheattic Fri 16-Nov-12 22:47:30

Um, then you make a choice on what you need - after school club, approachable ht, convenience?

But if you get a better overall vibe from the new placer - go for it.

I've never really understood school angst. Mine have moved every year or two and gone to whichever school will take them. Sometimes I have registered them without even seeing the school. <shrug>

tethersend Fri 16-Nov-12 22:47:43

I am a teacher and think the building matters enormously. Especially outside space.

I would choose the modern building every time. Am a bit gutted that the school we've chosen for DD is in a Victorian building, but it's the only one she'll get into.

Am in London too- if you PM me the schools, I may know of them through work. Depends which area, of course.

Tricccky Fri 16-Nov-12 22:55:05

Which area are you in tethersend? North, South, East, West? If you let me know, I'll PM you if we're in the right direction! Thanks.

madwoman - I sort of agree re school angst, but it is hard not to get dragged into it. I should add that nearly everyone I know thinks I am very laissez faire as we didn't choose our house specifically to make sure we got into the near-ish "outstanding" schools..... So levels of anxiety are all relative!

Tricccky Fri 16-Nov-12 22:55:54

p.s. do you really think that a Victorian building will affect your DD's education tethersend? In what kind of ways? Thanks.

CecilyP Fri 16-Nov-12 23:02:51

It's not necessarily the Victorian building per se. DS went to a lovely little 1.5 storey Victorian school, tastefully modernised, plenty of outside space including a full size football pitch and then some, and no high wall around it. But the Victorian schools in London just look grim.

yellowsubmarine53 Fri 16-Nov-12 23:09:59

I agree that environment matters tremendously, not not more than teaching and learning.

My dc's school is Victorian. The EYFS and KS1 classrooms all lead directly into the playground and there is a glass roof in the hall, making the whole building very light and airy.

By contrast, the modern 1970s building down the road is falling apart, has parts of the building that get so hot in summer that the children get sent home early and is generally very poorly maintained.

I also know lots of other Victorian schools in London which are very far from grim.

I would, however, be more swayed by my view of the Head and teaching than any other factor.

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