Feeling dismayed and worried about applying for Primary for DD

(24 Posts)

Hi - we live in a large town, with lots of Primary Schools, not sure exactly how many but over 20. Where we live is on the edge of town, a nice enough area but with dodgy areas around it. The two closest schools to us are in special measures, the next after that is 'Requires Improvement' with some good aspects. These are under a mile from us, then there is another school with a better reputation about 0.2 of a mile further away.

I am just really worried that we have basically no choice - either bad, bad or not quite so bad. Then there is a Free School that we could apply to in addition to the 3 choices, as they are opening next September. Whilst it sounds good it is run by a church group and there is no way of knowing what it could be like.

I am a teacher (secondary) so I know in a way a school that has a bad ofsted isn't going to stay that way necessarily, things change with the catchment areas etc, but I know the children and families going to the schools near us are going to be one of the biggest reasons - the gradings that are 3 are for pupil attainment. They are big estates, high teenage pregnancy rates, places you don't go in the evening etc.

We are going to start looking as soon as they have open days and will I am sure feel happier then, but right now I just feel a bit miserable about it all, I feel bad that we don't live in a 'naice' area where the schools are better - it just isn't what we considered when we moved here 7 years ago - just not on our radar!

Has anyone got experience of their DC going to a school with a less than great reputation but things turning around? Is it enough to be supportive and on the ball at home, even if the school isn't great?

Pizzahutlover Sun 08-Sep-13 20:50:34

Cant you just move to a better place in catchment for a good school i think you need to do that if your not happy with the schools in your area where i was living before i had a good school beside me but was not happy with it as the school looked tired and results were poor so moved without me realising had one of the top schools in the area on my doorstep and applied and my child got a place and im very happy with the school but most importantly my child is too. I think its important that you like the school because if you dont that may rub off on to the child and the child may start disliking it too. There is a big difference between a good school and a bad one because as a child i went to both and if its not good dont want your child to go their. Why dont you go have a look and then make up your mind about whether you like it or not and see what kind of families kids are going their as thats important to. I think you should move though hope you get what you want when you apply good luck

Pizzahutlover Sun 08-Sep-13 21:06:31

Maybe you can apply to another school in a different town being as you live on the border. Look at the schools in the other town

Pizzahutlover Sun 08-Sep-13 21:15:51

And admissions for that town and distances offered last year for the schools in that town

Thanks - we are right in the middle of our town actually - and can't move, we don't have any spare cash for a bigger mortgage/house move unfortunately as my DH has been out of work since June. plus the applications are in for January so I think we would be hard pushed to move before then! My parents live just down the road, they help with childcare, which means picking up and dropping off from school. Without their help we are much worse off and DD and any future kids would be stuck in childcare from 7:30 till 6 every day.

SO I guess I will have to just make the best of a bad lot. Thing is, where we live isn't bad, just has bad areas, like everywhere.

Does anyone know where I would find what pizza mentioned, distances offered? At least then I could look at what was offered for the outstanding school just up the road.

tallulah Tue 10-Sep-13 20:33:52

Furthest distance offered should be available on your LEA's website under school admissions.

The only thing I would suggest, assuming you like the outstanding school, is put that first but use your last choice for one of the nearest SM schools. At least then if you don't get a fab school, you get a poor one that's nearby rather than a poor one on the other side of town.

The LA website should have last distance offered info in the schools section. If it doesn't, you can ask the LA and they can tell you.

Thanks - We haven't actually seen the schools yet, so maybe once we start looking we will find that the Ofsted doesn't mean much. In terms of distance there is nothing in it, .10 of a mile in some cases. We also have the complication that my mum doesn't drive, so have to manage with either public transport or bike/walking. But nothing is very far away, the one school we think might be an option is only around the corner form them and our third furthest. also the largest of the three.

philbee Tue 10-Sep-13 21:31:34

DD1 is in yr 1 now and when we applied for nursery and reception the school was in special measures. They had their ofsted earlier this year and got 'good' for everything and 'outstanding' for leadership, so things should continue to improve.

We applied because it's our nearest, we knew people with children there and it has a reputation as a community school. It was quite important for us to be close as we have no car. They were rebuilding, had an exec head brought in in a federation with another school which was 'outstanding' and had other changes going on which we felt was all promising. The dodgy ofsted was based on yr 6 sats results so we felt it wasn't going to be too much of an issue lower down the school. There was another local school (next closest) in special measures with an ofsted which gave '3' for 'pupils feel safe' which was pretty shocking! However we also applied there as they had similar changes going on.

DD is very happy at her school, and I know children at the other school also v happy. I'd visit and see what your feeling is, ask what they're doing to make changes, see what the kids seem like etc. You may find that the school assessed by ofsted will be quite different by the time your daughter starts there. Good luck, it is nerve wracking!

philbee Tue 10-Sep-13 21:32:46

Sorry, '4' for 'pupils feel safe', or whatever 'unstisfactory' was.

Thanks philbee that is encouraging. I do know schools can go through huge changes, this one does have an executive head, which usually helps. I think the biggest problem around here though is the children going there - it sounds awful to say it but they are from families who mostly don't have any care for how their children behave or any aspiration for them to do better. I taught at secondary and I saw just how many of the year 7 came in with just horrible attitudes to school and the teachers, I worry she will be either led astray or will be prevented from learning by the children she is there with. I don't know how much that changes, although I suppose catchment plays a part in it.

My school sounds just like that - catchment is not very mixed, mostly deprived, recently out of SM with an exec head. Attainment is alarming and progress patchy. Lots of unconvincing talk about raising aspirations. But - it is still improving, DD has some good friends and is progressing well. I am keeping a close eye on it.

I guess at primary it is still easy for parents to help a lot - once they begin something like Phonics, reading, I could possibly read up about it and do whatever she needs if extra?

Just don't want to have to be the pushy parent, I think they go too bloody young anyway, they should be able to relax at home, there is scant chance for that once in secondary!

Plus I am an art teacher and not very good at maths.....--just colouring in--

ooops and obviously not very good at strikeouts!

Does anyone have any experience of their child going to a new Free School? that is another option for us...total unknown, but almost guaranteed to be near my parents house and to have a place for her.

teatimesthree Tue 10-Sep-13 22:37:12

"it sounds awful to say it but they are from families who mostly don't have any care for how their children behave or any aspiration for them to do better."

Well yes it does sound awful to say it. My DD goes to an inner city school with a very mixed catchment, and I can honestly say there are very few families like you describe. I think it's fair to say that most families care about how their children behave and have aspirations for them, no matter what their circumstances. Not all may be as well placed to support their children's education as you or I am, but it would be a big mistake to think that they don't care about how their children do.

I strongly advise you to have a good look round your local schools before making assumptions.

AllabouttheE Tue 10-Sep-13 22:41:11

We live in a mixed London suburb.
Our school is grade 3 but I respect the head and pupils feel safe is graded 1.

Without meaning to sound class-ist, my Dd choses her own friends and without fail, they are kids on her wavelength whose parents are more "minded like me"

I always encourage her to play with everyone and friendly to everyone but the kids just seem to be drawn to their own ilk.

So look at it from the perspective that she will understand a society and class setting.

I taught in local secondaries where the students were from the area I live in, I live near to the areas where the children who go to the primaries near us live and I see the older children every day as they make their way to town or on their way home from those areas through our street. I see how they behave. I have had conversations with parents about their childrens antisocial behaviour - trust me, some of them do not care.

I have had conversations with many parents when teaching in those secondaries who told me they didn't care about how their children behave in school - that it is the teachers problem as soon as they walk through the gates. So yes, I am making assumptions, based on what I know already.

I know that not every child there will be like that, I know that to be deprived or live in a deprived area does not mean they love their children or care for them any less. However, if they are disruptive, not supported at home to do well, have low attendance, behavioural issues or purely just come from a background where the parents do not care about them doing well at school - then that affects my daughter as she will be in a class where there will just less time available for the children who might be behaving, getting on, not needing as much attention. I am not saying she is an angel and she may even be one of those children who need extra attention. But it is a worry.

Whilst I will be going to look with as much as possible an open mind, I also will be using the other information available to me.

allabout yep, that is another way to look at it. I think a walk through our local town centre on a Saturday is a lesson in social behaviour anyway!

I am sure it will all be fine - variety the spice of life etc. I think the families that are in the rougher areas tend to stick together as it were, certainly the kids from those areas did at the schools I taught at, there was a definite difference in the groups that formed.

I suppose it is a lesson too in being tolerant and waiting your turn/letting others get on with silly behaviour and not getting involved when there are disruptions or others needing more help.

tricot39 Tue 10-Sep-13 23:48:05

* Just don't want to have to be the pushy parent*

I think teachers are so fed up dealing with pushy parents that they go too far in the opposite direction and fail to advocate for their kids. have seen it a few times and am always a bit shock. So try to strike a balance for the sake of your dd.

Your area sounds like mine although our local primary is level 2. level 3 would make me very wary but we were in the nursery of another local school which went from level 2 to 3 under a new novice head. the ht was replaced and some facilities modernised and we ended up impressed - bbut live too far to apply there. so find out more about how long it has been level 3 and why.

also a neighbour put his kids in a special measures school and became a governor. he helped get things improved. his kids went to grammar school and then cambridge so i think it is more about the parents than the school.

that said i went to a comp with fairly rough kids and it was tricky socially. it took a long time to.find like minded friends so if there are no other mc families i would be less keen if it were me. school without friends is a bit grim

We live in a similar area and attended every open day for our local schools. It's the best way to really get a feel for the environment, you may find out that some are not so bad and have a lot of positive things going for them!

The most important thing is that your DD is happy and safe at school smile

NynaevesSister Wed 11-Sep-13 11:25:44

Son goes to a school with a challenging intake, 50% free school meals last year. However, raising aspirations, attainment and behaviour for all pupils is high on the priority list. The school is outstanding with 100% L4 SATs. So no it doesn't come down to the kids or their families. The school can make a difference. Ours runs an outreach program starting in the children's centre to work with parents and help them understand the value of education.

admission Wed 11-Sep-13 17:31:24

Before you make any judgments on any of the schools, pick the 6 nearest schools and arrange to go and see them - appreciate that might be easier to say than do, seeing you are also a teacher. Go with you gut feeling on them, are the children enjoying learning in the school, did you see lots of stuff on the walls that is recent and not all curled up and dog-eared. More especially was the head teacher or deputy head teacher interested in you coming to visit the school and did they make a positive impression on you.
Then look at the pros and cons of each of the schools in relation to ease of access, after school clubs, facilities etc. Finally look at the Ofsted report. But be careful, if it is more than a year old it will be on a previous inspection regime. Your outstanding school may have been outstanding but would it be outstanding if inspected now?

Thank you all - I do just need to step back and try not to worry about it. I think I just feel a bit helpless as trying to get a look around the schools will be the most difficult thing with my work - I work over 30mins from home, I never am able to leave on time, but I will have to try.

There are lots of great suggestions there - thanks all.

Tricot you are right - the pushy parent thing is a worry as we get it so much - however I have had the other end of the scale and that is definitely worse..so will make sure we always try to strike a balance.

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