Opinions on travel time

(28 Posts)
VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 12:37:17

I'm stressed about schools. All state schools near me are either oversubscribed or far below average. There's an affordable independent school but in traffic is 34 mins drive. Worried how fair this long drive is on my child and his 2 year old sibling. Any advice appreciated.

redskytonight Thu 13-Oct-16 12:41:41

I wouldn't want to do it. That's over 2 hours a day that your 2 year old is spending just sat in a car. Bad enough for the older child. Plus what if you have to come back in the evening for school plays, parents evening etc. Presuming you'll send the 2 year old there once they are school age, that then adds the complexity of after school clubs - what do you do if one child wants to stay for a club after school and the other doesn't?

RiverTam Thu 13-Oct-16 12:42:29

Personally I think there's a lot to be said for being local. Have you actually visited all the local schools? Don't go on Ofsted or hearsay, make sure you get your own impressions.

LIZS Thu 13-Oct-16 12:43:00

Is that on a typical day? What is the start time. We used to have to leave at 7:50 to get Ds there for 8:15 in y3 and then wait until 8:50 for dd in reception. Ds finished at 3:45, later for clubs, and dd 3:10 so it made for a long day and a lot of hanging around. We moved much closer very quickly!

Bear in mind friends could live a similar distance in the opposite direction which makes play dates and parties a pita.

Have you visited local schools? Just because one is oversubscribed doesn't mean your dc wouldn't get a place. Several around here have expanded this year to take an extra class throughout.

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 12:46:03

Yes I have visited the schools. The one I know we will get offered is really bad - couldn't send my son there he would suffer. I don't believe in ofsted so made my own mind up.

idontlikealdi Thu 13-Oct-16 12:48:01

Any possibility of moving? Over 2 hours a day without traffic issues is an awful lot for the sibling in particular and if anything like my kids they'd end up falling asleep in the car on the way home and cocking up bedtime.

NotCitrus Thu 13-Oct-16 12:49:20

I would look at the "below average" schools and ask lots of questions - many schools have a bad reputation for 30 years after it becomes undeserved, others are deemed below average because of the intake or factors outside the schools control - one I looked at admitted the KS2 results looked poor compared to the KS1, but didn't take account of the fact that only 1 of 60 kids had been there in KS1. They may start with lots of 'behind' kids and get them up to nearly average, but that tells you nothing about how they might look after and stretch your child.

Then consider independent later if you and child aren't happy. Over an hour in a car, plus getting child and 2yo in car seats and finding parking, sounds a nightmare if there's an alternative.

Don't panic about oversubscribed - if six schools have 6 times the number of applicants than places, each child gets one of those schools as you apply to 6 of them (or 3 in places usually less oversubscribed).

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 12:54:26

Thanks for helpful comments. Yes I think we'll have to rule out that drive and cough up for a closer prep school (beans in toast forever). We're only allowed 4 school choices in my area. One school near me had only 53 percent achieving ks2. Think national average is around 80 percent.

catslife Thu 13-Oct-16 13:13:56

One school near me had only 53 percent achieving ks2. Think national average is around 80 percent
KS2 SATs were changed (made harder) in 2016 and this has meant that the results appear to be much lower than previous years.
53% is close to the national average for 2016, it was higher in previous years.
Please see link for information schoolsweek.co.uk/key-stage-2-sats-results-nearly-half-of-pupils-fail-to-achieve-expected-standard-in-tougher-tests/.
Hope this helps, I wouldn't want you to make a (costly) decision based on out of date figures.
As a compromise would you consider starting your ds at state school and moving him at a later date - perhaps when your younger child starts school where the journey would be more manageable.

redskytonight Thu 13-Oct-16 13:22:07

OP, you do need to do drilling down more than the headline KS2 results though. I think 53% is about what DD's school gets - that doesn't mean it's a bad school, it just has a very diverse intake. The most able children are still getting excellent results but equally they are great at working with the children who have SEN, or who just need more support! The other thing to look at is the mobility rate - DD's school gets loads of DC joining in mid Y5/6 who of course count in their KS2 results but they've only had a short time to actual impact!

We have a school near us that regularly gets 100% in Level 4 SATS (or did, when we had Level 4 SATS). The school sets great store by that. The reality is that most of their intake is bright children from affluent middle class families who gets loads of support. It's actually very bad at supporting DC who don't conform to their "mould" - I know of a couple of DC that left the school because it just wouldn't/couldn't support them - which of course means that they don't feature in the school's stats ...

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 13:28:53

Thanks again. No that was in 2015 so was 53 for the school vs. 83 national average. Very poor. I just want better for my child than I had, and that means not putting him to a school where every second child failed.

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 13:30:50

That figure was in 2015 so every second child at that school failed to meet the government standards (53 pct vs 83 pct National average). I want better for my son than I had, and that's just not it.

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 13:32:58

Sorry for double post my phone playing up.

redskytonight Thu 13-Oct-16 13:33:54

OP - my answer was based on the 53% being 2015 results. Having less able children in a school with him does not mean your child will do badly!

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 13:39:47

Don't you think it's likely to be poor teaching? Why would almost half the year group be unable?

LIZS Thu 13-Oct-16 13:48:42

Doesn't it also depend on its intake? How many are non-native English speakers, Sen etc, what is the level of parental support, disadvantaged families and so on. Does the Ofsted report highlight this?

redskytonight Thu 13-Oct-16 14:05:18

I don't know your school but in DD's school there is a high proportion of children who only started learning English at the age of 8/9, there are lots of DC with SEN, there are children with chaotic lifestyles, there are children whose parents are struggling to find the money for their next meal, there are children who continually move house and school ...

... that's why I say you can't just look at the headline rate. If every single child at the school comes from an affluent middle class home with university educated parents - yes, I agree it's probably bad teaching.

You need to visit the school and find out the outcomes for children who are like your child.

VANITYKM Thu 13-Oct-16 14:24:06

Well whatever the reasons it's not a selling point. I'll keep looking but we'll prob have to go on a waiting list for over subscribed & pay private in meantime. Moving not an option over next couple of years.

fittedcupboard Thu 13-Oct-16 15:55:45

That's a pretty standard independent school commute. many do similar so don't be too put off by this thread if you think it's a better school. if you can sort out a rota then you'll only be doing it once a day

elfonshelf Thu 13-Oct-16 16:04:17

We commute to DD's inner London primary by train and tube. Total commute is around 3.5 hours a day and we've been doing it since Y1 (now Y3). It works very well for us as the train is about an hour, we are one of the first stops so always get seats, and we can do homework and reading on the journey. DD goes to after-school club so pretty much has a daily playdate.

DD does local activities at weekends so we have friends in both areas. Tend to hold her birthday party in London, and we do have to make an effort to come up for parties etc but definitely worth it.

Only downside is that we are with Southern Rail and the strikes have meant being late twice this week.

elfonshelf Thu 13-Oct-16 16:10:01

On the results, I would want to know why the school aren't doing so well. DD's school has 80% EAL, nearly 70% FSM and are in the highest band for SEN - she is the only 'White British' girl in her class of 30, yet they get 100% getting L4 at KS2 for reading, writing and maths and a very large percentage get L5. 20% get L6 in maths.

If the school has a challenging intake then what are they doing to help this? We have things like 2 hours a week of extra phonics after school in Y1 for any child not reaching their potential and a lot of extra support for children struggling with reading or who are SEN.

TheTroubleWithAngels Thu 13-Oct-16 17:30:18

If the school has a challenging intake then what are they doing to help this?
Do you think they're just sitting in the staffroom eating biscuits?

We have things like 2 hours a week of extra phonics after school in Y1 for any child not reaching their potential
That's great, if parents want to bring their children to after school classes,. A lot won't or can't, because childcare options are better at 3pm than 5pm etc etc.

And then you need the staff to run them. I wouldn't be teaching for free for an extra two hours a week.

and a lot of extra support for children struggling with reading or who are SEN.
You can support all you want, but if children are coming to school hungry, terrified, sleep-deprived and worried about going back home, you are fighting a losing battle.

Nearly every teacher will tell you that EAL children aren't that problematic. No doubt someone will come along and point out this is a huge generalisation, but immigrant families are often extremely supportive of education.

elfonshelf Thu 13-Oct-16 21:04:52

I'm very fortunate that the staff at DD's school do an awful lot of extra teaching after school - there are clubs for a variety of activities as well as extra maths, reading and phonics. Take up is extremely high for the classes - some the parents can join too, the children can also go to after-school club until 5.30 once the club or class has finished if childcare is an issue.

I imagine that the pupil premium money helps pay for some of this and the school gets a lot given the intake.

I very much doubt that they are eating biscuits in the staff room, but if a school has poor results then parents are entitled to ask what the reasons are and what strategies the school is following to remedy the situation.

Having been a school governor for a secondary school that had a fair number of children with major issues of the sort you mention, I'm not unaware of the struggles that many children and teachers faced every day and that often it is a losing battle no matter what is tried, or how caring and committed the staff.

Also agree that immigrant families are on the whole very supportive and appreciative of education.

The school that shocked me the most was one my sister's DC attended that was 100% White British, with very low levels of FSM and SEN, in a nice town and yet only managed 56% getting L4 in reading at KS2. I really couldn't see what the excuse was there.

RiverTam Thu 13-Oct-16 21:31:47

any child not reaching their potential sure it's that? Or is it 'any child not reaching the arbitrary target that the government have said and the school is terrified of Ofsted so let's keep those kids in school for even longer so our results don't look bad'?

I would not be happy about year one children been kept in school longer, for any reason. Some will learn more slowly than others. For some phonics isn't the best way. These kids are 5 and 6.

I would not like DD to attend a school like that, and I certainly wouldn't be doing a 3.5 hour round trip to get to that school.

Believeitornot Fri 14-Oct-16 09:07:54

I would go for a local school. we had ds in a school which was only a 5 min drive but my god what a pain that was. I found driving when stressed on the school run was horrific.

Anyway, I'm not clear why you're ruling a school out based on ks2 results. What's the ofsted rating? Have you spoken to local parents? What was the teacher saying at the visit?

Paying for a school doesn't automatically make it better - a trap many parents fall into. I'd be asking the same of an independent too.

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