NB this post discusses private schools and faith schools. If you are likely to be offended by this, please don't read any further...
DD1 has been offered places at two local schools. We are finding it hard to choose between them. School a: - prep only, mixed, has a girls' junior section for which there are interviews again. - Classes small - 10-12 in prep, they recently divided the school between a village site and the city centre (where DD would go) so overall about 25, but over two sites, one day a week the children all meet up at the village site to do forest activities - A very attractive approach to learning - they have "learning habits" that they focus on each term, eg resilience, curiosity, and they apply this in different ways to each subject area. - I was very impressed with the headteacher - slightly less of a family feel, perhaps because of smaller classes - site of the one DD would be at has just playground, but the school does visits to local gardens, nature reserves etc - big library, plenty of digital resources (interactive whiteboards etc)
School b: - junior school up to 11, all girls - Classes slightly larger, they have a rather odd thing where the reception class also includes some 3 year olds (!) as a transition from nursery - faith school - this is important to DH, less so to me - DH was very impressed with the headteacher - more of a family feel to it - very strong on house system, older children looking after younger ones - site has more green space and a big garden area - Library has fewer books! and less in the way of up to date technology, though headteacher is hoping to improve this.
So the difficulty is, I really like school a as I think they would inspire DD more than school b. But they have such small classes that we're not sure if it's too intense. Meanwhile in short, school b is a private school without any particularly dramatic selling points other than small classes - the state school we'll be applying to for her meets many of the criteria of this school as well. (but fully mixed, usual classes of 30 etc)
Any thoughts? DD is a pretty sociable child once she's settled somewhere, can be shy in big groups where she's not familiar with people. Loves climbing, jigsaws, trying to read, putting on 'plays' with DD2 etc.
I would research the financial viability of school a)
And on the face of it would agree with your summary of school b) - that it's one of those private schools which has no particular advantage over the state option (overall, class size does not have a statistically significant effect on educational outcome BUT individual children with particular needs e.g. very shy children, children with hearing difficulties etc may benefit very much from smaller classes - so that decision needs to be taken on a child-by-child basis)
I only know about state schools but I think small class sizes have really helped my shy/ emotionally immature children. we live in a part of the world where village schools can be very small.... so there are 15 in my ds1 aged 8 class for example. they too spend lots of time outside and he has really flourished. he academically in the middle somewhere and think he would have got lost in a class of 30. However i know some people, particularly parents of very sociable/"grown up" girls have more their daughters out of the school as socially they find it wasnt suitable.
Teacher - do you mean the viability of school a as in is it liable to close down? I think that's extremely unlikely as they are associated with a very very popular senior school, and the junior section is the feeder for that.
Rita, that's interesting about sociable children finding it hard in smaller groups. I would be a bit worried in case she didn't hit it off with anyone, ther's not many to choose from if the class is only 12!