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.

fourlittleangels Tue 27-Nov-12 08:54:00

Thank you admission I will pm you when not on my phone.

Although worried about outing myself incase you live round the corner or something ;)

fourlittleangels Tue 27-Nov-12 08:58:53

I do think the head is quite passionate about the school so probably 'makes' it work, I think it had an average reputation when the head started and has been on the up since, the head has been there years and the recent ofsted was good with outstanding features.

I do think the head is nearing retirement though so that does concern me.

Can't really talk to friends as a lot are mums at the school and they are very defensive and also being as there is nothing 'wrong' with the school I don't want to start anything.

socharlotte Tue 27-Nov-12 09:30:18

I know lots of families who have chosen to move their children from large schools to small schools but not a single one the other way round.

socharlotte Tue 27-Nov-12 09:38:14

admissions - I thought that
a) there was a 'lump sum' element to the formula to cover the fixed costs of running the school and
b) transitional relief whereby no school would lose more than 1.5% of its budget next september or the september after.
I don't know where you have got your 36% budget cut from? Your posts seem rather alarmist to me!

teacherwith2kids Tue 27-Nov-12 16:30:45

Socharlotte,

That transitional relief is exactly what I refer to above when I say that local arrangements have been made to restrict the effects of the changes.

However, a) that is short term and b) it means that shools which would gain from the new formula have had to have their gains capped in order for other schools to have ther losses capped - this is unlikely to be sustainable in the longer term.

I am also not quite sure what happens - here admissions may know more than me - if more and more schools become academies. Presumably they get paid their money directly - so if e.g. the 'gainers' become academies, then there is less money available to the LEA to mitigate the effects on the 'losers' IYSWIM?

admission Tue 27-Nov-12 18:21:15

One of the reasons for the change to the funding formula from April is so that more funding is devolved to the individual school rather than kept by the LA so they can use it across all schools. The argument about academies and free schools is that they get more funding but the new funding formula will remove that, all schools will be on effectively the same funding regime.
The new formula does contain a lump sum but the same lump sum has to be given to every school, primary and secondary and independent of size of the school. Many existing funding formula (and each LA has a different one) had a lump sum in them but usually with different levels of primary and secondary schools.
I should say that there is no reduction in funding across an LA, just a redistribution of the funding and the winners tend to be the bigger schools and those with low levels of special needs pupils.
The funding regime has what is called the minimum funding guarantee which basically means that if you have the same number of pupils from this year to next year the maximum the school will lose is 1.5%. That sounds OK, until you realise that not all the funding is included - funding around SEN is not included for instance. Even the head of the funding division at the DfE still keeps saying no school will lose more than 1.5% but that is not what the regulations actually say.
I will give you an example of a small secondary school,near to me. The current budget is £3.26M, under the new funding formula their real new budget is £2.53M, a reduction of £733,000 or 29%. In April their actual funding, because of the minimum funding guarantee is expected to be actually only £61,000 less than this year. But how many years do you think it will take the school to get down to their real funding losing 1.5% a year? The LA think it will be 25 years plus! It is really death by a thousand cuts for that school.

realcoalfire Wed 28-Nov-12 10:13:04

The new formula does contain a lump sum but the same lump sum has to be given to every school, primary and secondary and independent of size of the school.

but then wouldn't that benefit small schools more than large schools? confused

fourlittleangels Wed 28-Nov-12 13:25:39

'Tis quite confusing...well for me.
Making my decision quite tough!

haggisaggis Wed 28-Nov-12 13:48:56

My 2 dc were at a tiny (2 class, between 25 and 46 kids in the years my dc attended). Then moved and they went to a slightly larger 3 class, 60 pupil primary. ds much preferred the smaller of the 2 schools - he was there from P1 until Easter of P7. He found the next school too noisy(!!) Having said thta, he moved to a large 1000+ pupil secondary with no problem. THe secondary did additional transition stuff with the small rural schools and also the rural schools would join for things like sports day so they had achance to mix with more people. dd prefers the slightly larger school - there is a slightly larger friendship pool (but still only 2 girls in her year group and only 6 girls in the three year class of 15). Learning support at both schools very good - her dyslexia was picked up and acted on in P1. Both schools were quick to provide support and are good at liasing with parents.Atmosphere of both schools very good - children play across the ages and girls play with boys.But at the end of teh day it is down to personal choice. I like small schools - and my dc have thrived - but others will think differently.

fourlittleangels Wed 28-Nov-12 15:05:39

Originally I was looking at 'larger' school to see if my DCs would benefit from a few more opportunities. Esp my eldest who is quite physical but restricted in a small school.

But after visiting the other school to get a feel for it, I realised my whole agenda had changed as I'm now basing my decision on whether the children's current school is sustainable and if so if it can also sustain to the same level.

I started looking into budgets, when the head of the other school said there was no future for small school as the received money per pupil.

Now I seem to be discovering all sorts of things I didn't know about making my decision more complex.

The reason I picked the school that the children are at now was because of small numbers, class sizes, high teacher to pupil ratios etc. It seems pointless for them to continue there if they can't sustain those things.

Knowing whether they will or not is another matter...hence the extremely difficult decision.

admission Wed 28-Nov-12 22:10:11

realcoalfire, an interesting question. All the modeling done within my LA where there is a lump sum now but a different (higher) lump sum in the new formula has ended up with the school schools being worse off. That has been attributed to the number of other small school allowances etc that they now no longer get.

However having had a PM with fourlittleangels, the school is talking about is very small at 50 pupils. Their LA has gone for as large a lump sum as possible and this actually equates to roughly 2/3rds of the current budget. So I suspect from that the specific school involved will not be worse of financially. However as the size of the school increases the lump sum will become a smaller and smaller % of the budget and as the funding in the rest of the budget has been reduced by the increased lump sums, then they will probably be worse off. The LA in question has also capped any increase to schools who are winners to 1.5% increase, so they have actually created a totally artificial situation, which could take many years to unravel to the real funding level for each school.

It is now obvious that each individual school is dependent on how the LA decides to look at the new formula in relation to what they were getting before as to whether they will be a winner or a loser with the new funding.

fourlittleangels Wed 28-Nov-12 22:26:18

admission-so I'm theory if the school does not increase in size, then they will be able to maintain their current funding? And in turn continue to run as they have always done?

Taking into account the head saying their optimum numbers should ideally be 56-60! I'm not sure they could go bigger due to only having 3 classrooms.

I think the probably will have around the 50 mark for the next couple of nears at least...big influx of babies and toddlers in the community. Not sure how they would be affected if numbers drop a lot. As they are considered 'big' now compared to previous years, there were under 40 when my DD1 started.

twooter Wed 28-Nov-12 23:21:05

I'm sure I read somewhere a out a school in aberdeenshire with only one pupil - now that would be too small, and presumably not much fun for the teacher either.

fourlittleangels Thu 29-Nov-12 09:51:50

Definitely too small, although a free one to one education smile

vikinglights Thu 29-Nov-12 09:53:27

I think its not just down to size but also the individual school. My dd1 is in a tiny school (6-13, 24 pupils in three classes) and i am very happy with the school.

I totally agree with the point about friendships not being restricted to one year group, she has friends of varying ages. She also has more oppotunities in drama etc. Rather than havibg so many kids that most end up with minor roles.

And in a group of 6 kids she has loads of individual teacher time and chances to go on trips and activities that simply are not feasible with lots of kids.

The school is pretty well equiped, computer suite, good library, kitchen, art room, floodlit all weather pitch.

She has some challenges in pe being the youngest and by far the least compenent with a ball, but she does fine in gymnastics, swimming etc. And the school also do lots of outdoor pe (tramping up the local mpuntains etc.) so the smaller ones aren't at much of a dissadvantage there.

Therevmsy well be more chances for extra curicular clubs at larger schools but she does gymnastics, dance and violin outside schoolnand i don't feel the need for anythng else extra

TunipTheVegedude Thu 29-Nov-12 10:01:57

I dunno.
My kids are at a school of about 100.
In many ways it's fantastic - lots of individual attention, real family atmosphere, lots of clubs and trips - but for the little problem of my dd being the only girl in her year (15 boys). While she has friends in the years above and below it's not the same, and she's often left out.
I'd like to move her really but then I'd have to move ds1 as well, and school run would become a problem.
I think 50 would probably end up being too small.

catinhat Thu 29-Nov-12 12:12:58

I would always suggest going to the nearest school. Much nicer not to have to rely on a car.

However, a school with only 50 children is tiny and you might find its existence threatened.

What is common around here is that small schools (up to 100) are federated with other schools which can spread the head teacher thinly.

I think our girls see the head teacher of their 200 intake school more frequently than a friend's son does at a federated school of 100.

Plus, there are more opportunities for friendships at a larger school. I have pondered on this and concluded that the perfect sized school is one of one class in each year.

fourlittleangels Thu 29-Nov-12 12:36:39

cat the other school they have been offered a place at is one class per age total of 170 but that is already federated with another school so the head does a 50/50 split.
We would have to drive everyday.

The one they are at now with under 50 isn't yet federated and the head says they have no intention to, but are considering becoming an 'umbrella academy' which in her words means they would still function usually independently as far as a head, teachers and governors go.

So which is best...I have no idea.

We are also viewing another tomorrow with 200ish on the role. View are not federated or an academy as of yet I don't know what their future plans are.

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