small school under 50 pupils vs 'big' 170 pupils both village locations.

(93 Posts)
fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 14:22:43

The small one has 3classrooms mixed year classes, intakes tarry between 5-10 (no busy years)plenty of outdoor space but not much extra curricular activity.
In terms of computers etc there is around 5 per room.
Smart boards etc

170 one has one form classes average class size 22-26 but 30 is year 6. Again lots of outdoor space but utilized with lots of extra curricular. Lots of computers equipment etc.

My original view was small class sizes overall anything else...like facilities, technology etc. Now I'm not so sure.

Teachers opinions would be greatly appreciated.

Kewcumber Sat 24-Nov-12 15:47:14

Ha! DS is in single intake school of about 200 and its considered small! We love it. Plenty of after school activity if you want it, lots of different friendship opportunities.

Ability/progression really shouldn;t be an issue if you have a half way decent teacher - DS is in year 2 and we have everything form pupils (with English as a second language) still reading ORT at level 3 to fluency in chapter books. Maths and literacy are both streamed into groups in Year 2 but chidlrne are differntiated past the first term of reception.

I'd go for the bigger small school with more opportunities.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:50:08

They could still get in staying put but the chances are slightly less

VivaLeBeaver Sat 24-Nov-12 15:53:57

You can have a nurturing environment in a big school. You can have a bullying, unnurtuting environment in a tiny school.

Dd went to both types of primary. A large 400plus one, then a tiny 60 pupils total one and then went back to the first one.

There were friend issues in the smaller school. Only two other girls in her year who'd been best friends for ever. So dynamics weren't good. The parent of one of the girls was a teacher there so anything that happened would never have been her dd's fault, etc.

Saying that though, been able to walk to the school would be a big plus.

Forgetting their sizes, what is the atmosphere of both of them? Which do you get a good vibe from?

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:54:46

At the risk of sounding clueless...what is ORT? And I never am sure as to how the reading levels are based, from a parental view.

I feel incredible torn there are pros and cons of both its driving me crazy trying to decide sad

CremeEggThief Sat 24-Nov-12 15:56:01

I would go for the larger one too, for all the good reasons outlined by others. Maybe it's just me, but I would worry such a small school may be at risk of closure, especially if numbers drop further. ( I am a teacher, but not teaching at present.)

Kewcumber Sat 24-Nov-12 15:58:34

Oxford reading tree - you know good old Biff and CHip!

I went to an extremely small primary in the country and I always thought I wanted the same for my DC. However, looking back, there were 4 girls in my year group, total, all the way through primary - we were always in the same order in every race, every sports day, every year, we never really got on, it would have been great to have more variety!

DD now goes to a primary with over 400 children. She is thriving, there are some many opportunities, so much space. It was the right decision for us.

Having said THAT, I would always go for a walk to school over a drive. Tricky one.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 16:05:07

They are happy at school, it's small and on the doorstep.

But I'm not sure if it's enough!?

I'm concerned about its future if anything happened I would struggle to get places in the other school. But on the other hand they have always worried about its survival...but with the change in the schools system, academies, federation etc I wonder if the future of it is more likely to be bleak than previously.

Its hard to base a decision on lots of ifs and buts.

Bumply Sat 24-Nov-12 16:06:22

Ds1 first year at school was at a tiny school with only 26 pupils.
In hindsight it was mistake. It only had two classes which I wasn't against in principle, but there were only 3 P1s and he was the youngest with the other two being girls almost 10 months older than him. He ended up with an inferiority complex from not realising the others could do more things because they were older. Also his behaviour became tricky and his teacher had no skills at dealing with someone who was struggling. He spent most of his lessons under the table rather than sat st it, and it was months before first parents evening and us getting any idea of these issues. I moved close to the end of the school year and new school said he'd learnt pretty much nothing compared to their P1s. We ended up holding him back a year and he's never looked back.
The second school was larger and seemed to have a lot more experience of 'difficult' children and knew what resources to bring into play.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 16:13:41

Thank you creme that is helpful I do worry the numbers may drop further being an affluent area with parents planning to go down the private route at 7.

Having said that with a thriving pre school onsite the school is the 'busiest' it has ever been.

It's tough as we are country bumpkins, with active children whom love to be outdoors and amongst the village activity so not being able to walk would be very sad I hate getting them all in the car but don't want that to cloud my judgement.

The small school also offer things like weekly welly walks, forest school etc although this does tail off after foundation stage.

The bigger school does offer these too but less frequently. Although the offer clubs every lunch and after school everyday.

Sigh....this is tough...

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 20:49:19

Thank you for all your input it's good to get some personal experiences too.

I'm still don't know what is 'best'

UniS Sat 24-Nov-12 22:25:51

small small small.
-even in a class of 30 to find 5 PCs in the room is remarkable, DS is in a class of 25, 4 PCs at a ll times and sometimes extra laptops but never 25 at a time can use PC.
- a school of 170 is likely to have mixed year group classes. If not now then at some point future.
- If you live in walking distance of one, use it. Keep your community vibrant and keep a car off the road.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 22:57:44

The 170 had 7 one form classes and lots of PCs, laptops, Ipads, sports facilities, instruments etc.

How important it is is another question.

I started looking at first to see if the extra facilities were worth it and ended up wondering if our school will continue in the way I like or if my children will still be able to take the secondary smute I hoped staying where they are.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 22:58:15

*route

Leafmould Sat 24-Nov-12 23:03:54

I do agree with uni s comment: support your local small school.

However I will completely undermine that comment by saying, just watch the small school get closed down.

I picked the nearby lovely nurturing small school, and after my dd1 attended 2 weeks we had a letter saying they were starting the process of closure.
It took 2 years to close it down. We were all heartbroken, and now have to walk 20 mins travel by car to the new school, which nobody is thrilled with.

It would have been possible to see this coming if I was a bit more strategy minded.

Ask some questions about the sustainability of the small school.

And don't make your decision purely on the size factor.

Good luck picking!

Inclusioneer Sun 25-Nov-12 09:23:53

I would go for the bigger school (which is still small).

IMO mixed classes can work but it is much more difficult to get it right. It is a safer bet to go with single year groups.

Also think about the workload of the staff. In the smallest school each teacher will have to take on lots of reponsibility (SENCO, Lit/Num/Science Co-ord, Assessment bod etc). In the larger school there will be more people to spread these jobs around leaving each teacher slightly freer to think about planning for and teaching their own class.

I think single form entry schools are pretty much the perfect size TBH. As you seem to like both schools and there is not much in it that would swing it for me (as a teacher or a parent).

Bonsoir Sun 25-Nov-12 09:30:34

50 is too small a school IMO - I am not a fan of mixed year classes unless in a very large school as a form of setting.

CecilyP Sun 25-Nov-12 09:45:38

If I was just thinking about starting schools, I would be tempted by the larger one, which is still a small school IYSWM, if I was quite comfortable to do the journey. However, as your DCs are already happy and settled in the one school, I think the other school would have to be way better to consider moving schools. I would have to have a really good look at the school to find a few more plus points in order to feel the move was worthwhile.

One point not mentioned is that though your small school might not close; while at the moment there are 3 classes, if the numbers drop to about 40, which they may well do if a reception class of 5 becomes typical, it will go from a 3 teacher school to a 2 teacher school with an even wider age range in each class.

Sorry not much help really - I do understand your dilemma.

mam29 Sun 25-Nov-12 11:17:14

dd started at smallish primary 45intake so 303pupils but struggled partly due to her birthdate she as never in a split mixed class so she went

pure reception 30
pure year 1 30
pure year 2 27.

she lost freinds every year as reception was without oldest 15 in her year
year 1 she lost 15youngest in year including few personal freinds

few close freindships were spoilt as both classes dident interact for any lessons and played with their own chort at lunch and break.

My theory and teachers may think im wrong is if teacher has a mixed year group class I think they work hard to differentiate the work to diffrent age groups.

As dd was always in the middle and never got any attention or recognition.

what annoyed me was they had split r1 class so ta would take 15oldest reception year to play and teach the youngest 13in dd s year 1. even her teacher said r1 had it easier andwhen got to year 2 the youngets were all top of class.

As for computers they had an ict suite but shared computer 1between 3kids.

Think they had 1computer each class and computereised whiteboard.

They had large grounds hall, big feild., libary but none of it was ever used

They had no afterschool clubs or sports

we moved dd to school half size 132 pupils
village
5classes for whole school instead of 10.
reception are class by themseleves of 20 with their own fenced off playarea.
Dd oldest in year 1/year 2class.

her year groups 20
half her year group are in class 3 but they combine and teach science in year groups of 20.
Also phonics groups not seperated by age /class.
its ability think there are 5groups so some year 1 and some yera 3 in her phonics groups.

They do have seperate lunch sittings as hall so small
they have seperate playgrounds.
no feild but they have large village common for keystage 2pe and sports day.
They use church and village hall next door if need extra space.
They have loads of sports and afterschool clubs
better sats and ofsted than last school.

People do think im mad but smaller school feels more intergrated like a family. they going on whole school trip to panto they could possibly fill just 2coaches but its subsidided by pta so whol thing costing £5 per child for city threatre and coach.
They tend to go on more trips and can do music from year 3 instead of year 5.
They offer a breckfast club.
School dinners cooked offsite but same lea as last school so same menu /price.
They dont do after school childcare like old school but we wanted activities not childcare,
New school some c;lubs run by teachers ae free
old school said we couldent expect teachers to give up their time for free!

Also tas float around small school so think better than large school ahving 1ta as makes moving classes quite easy every child and staff know each other.

mysteryfairy Sun 25-Nov-12 12:38:18

My two DSs went to a small school of approx 60 pupils with mixed age classes. As they are only one school year apart they ended up in the same class in alternate years.

For a parent the small school was lovely - a real sense of community. However I felt that both academically and socially it was the wrong choice for my able DSs. It was a high performing beacon (that terminology demonstrates it was a while ago!) school but opportunities for extension were limited. When you were the older year in the class it was very boring.

My DD is six years younger and we moved house so she should go to a different first school - still a village location but 200 pupils. I never felt part of a parents community at the second school but would absolutely choose the educational experience over the small school.

PuppyMonkey Sun 25-Nov-12 12:47:25

My DD goes to small village school (57 pupils) - it means she has 56 very close friends of all ages, rather than only friends of her own age. It is such a lovely way to learn IMHO and she does very well. The school is one big family.

Moving up to secondary is a big shock no matter what, so I wouldn't get too focused on that.

DD also goes to Rainbows, so knows lots of other little ones that way.

My older DD went to the bigger school in our village and it was ok, she did well. But I feel DD2 is having such a nicer experience at the little school.

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Nov-12 12:53:03

I would go for the larger of the two (still a small school, in the general scheme of things) every time.

50 is too small - too small for varied freindships, too small for a decent football team, possibly too small to be viable (where I work, the new funding formula has absolutely hammered schools under 100, with the choices long term being to federate, become academies or close). Mixed age classes CAN be OK, especially if you are in the middle of the ability range. However, if a child is at one extreme or the other, they can be a real disadvantage: a) there is no peer group [my very able DS moved from a year group of 20, to a year group of 60. In the year group of 20, he was just 'the odd one out'. In the year group of 60, he had enough 'near peers' for hom to be socially comfortable and academically challenged] and b) they spend 1 year in 2 either being bored (more able) or potentially overwhelmed (less able).

HOWEVER, it comes down in the end to the quality of teaching staff, the curriculum, the teaching style, the overall ethos of the place just as much as to a matter of numbers. Computers are irrelevant if they are not well-used, outdoor space irrelevant if it is never used for learning in....

BackforGood Sun 25-Nov-12 13:25:38

Difficult. If all other things were equal, I'd defintely go for the larger school, but I put a huge stroe by being part of the community and being able to walk to the school. I think that's a real plus point.

exoticfruits Sun 25-Nov-12 14:02:25

Larger-just for a wider friendship pool, if nothing else.
I went to a very small one myself and it was lovely, but I was at a disadvantage at secondary e.g. I wanted to join the choir and the first people taken were those in their primary school choir, we were too small to have a choir. There were a lot of things we missed out on as being too small.

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 14:22:58

Thanks everyone.

teacher re the numbers dropping and staff numbers is that based on New budgets, as when dc started in reception there were under 40 but still four teacher (one being the head who teaches) spread over three classes. Plus very able TAs

The school actual feels big compared to the past!

I'm trying to make it simpler in my mind.

At the moment overall I'm happy with the school the children are happy they do get little extras - I sportclub, drama club, guitar lessons, forest schools (in foundation) so they do ok, and if nothing changes between now and my fourth starting and leaving they will be fine overall.

BUT

If it federates or similar it may change a lot and if I go by rumour it will join in the direction I don't want the children to head to secondary. And I worry about how the how dynamic of the school may change. If it closes then the other choice school will be in undated with applications but I have been offered the last two places of the other school.

If they move I suppose I'm covering all cases. But if our school carries on the way it is there is no need to rock the boat for dcs. My youngest doesn't start primary for another 4years!

Concerns about the other 'bigger school' is that they are already federated and running two school could be negative!?

So so hard I've been going round and sound for weeks sad

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