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 Sat 24-Nov-12 14:23:34

vary between 5-10 *on busy years.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 14:24:33

And *over rule...apologies-predictive text

Kamer Sat 24-Nov-12 14:38:36

I would go for the larger school. 170 pupils divided into one form entry is still not a large school. Less than 50 pupils is a very very limited friendship pool and your DC would be in mixed year age groups throughout school. I doubt there would be much in the way of after school activities also.

Kamer Sat 24-Nov-12 14:40:07

Sorry, just read your last line. I am not a teacher but my DC go to one form entry village school of around 200 pupils.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 14:53:14

Oh no I appreciate any opinions/advicesmile

Trying to figure what is most important small and nurturing or bigger and more friends, equipment extra curricular opportunities etc.

One is a walk away one is a drive...I'm going round and round very hard choice.

i woudl go for the walk away.
how far is the drive.

cheesesarnie Sat 24-Nov-12 14:56:22

dd went to a 'big' school and loved it.
ds1 went to the same school and really didn't get on so we sent him to a school. he loved it and so did we.
ds2 goes to the small school and loves it.

different strokes and all that.

we have to drive to the smaller school instead of walking to the bigger school which imo is worth it.
ds1 just went up to secondary, no problems going from small school to big school .

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:03:09

Small school 5min slow walk!
Bigger ten min drive.

I do have concerns about the future of the small school, as in ability to stay open, funding etc but my concerns maybe unfounded.

The bigger school is a feeder to the secondary I would choose (if it hasn't drastically changed come that time)

cece Sat 24-Nov-12 15:09:05

As a teacher, I would go for the bigger school. More resources and opportunities for friends etc.

As a parent I would prefer a school I could walk to.

IslaValargeone Sat 24-Nov-12 15:15:55

Definitely the bigger school, I'm not a fan of mixed year teaching and I think 50 kids limits friendship opportunities.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:16:34

Thank you cece
How important would you rate the extra facilities and equipment etc. Important enough to warrant moving the children?

It's so hard as in the past I've read a nurturing environment would count for more than all the other stuff.

I'm very torn.

The bigger school is federated hence the reason they prob do more and have more equipment.

The small is still running alone...atm.

Welovecouscous Sat 24-Nov-12 15:19:46

I think mixed teaching can have benefits - I was taught in mixed groups and it suited me well. My school was smallish - say 100 pupils and that was perfect for me.

I would want to check the gender balance as well - friend of the family was the only boy in a class with 9 girls and he was very excluded.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:20:10

Thank you Isla do you also teach, I really appreciate the thought even if you don't...just curious.
As I have wondered the same about friendships...although the small school is within our village so the friends they make are close by but like you say it is limited.
The school play together and look after each other across the year groups, but in terms of numbers in my daughters actual year group there is 5!

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:22:13

The school says the mixed group are a plus as more able can move forward less able can recap.

ninah Sat 24-Nov-12 15:23:02

I'm not a massive fan of the mixed stage teaching I've seen in my dc's school but it can work. I tend to prefer slightly larger schools although I work in a small one atm.
How about starting an after school sports club with other parent volunteers?

Welovecouscous Sat 24-Nov-12 15:23:54

That's exactly what I liked four - meant I could read ahead of my age

ninah Sat 24-Nov-12 15:24:11

four, differentiation like this should happen in any class!

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:25:18

My eldest has formed some friendship one very strong. But I don't know for sure but I'm fairly sure there will be a few children moving onto private at 7.

IslaValargeone Sat 24-Nov-12 15:26:46

No sorry angels, I'm not a teacher.
We moved house and moved my dc to a village school with 50 pupils, a 5 minute walk away with mixed age classes.
We thought it would be great, nurturing environment, family feel, outstanding Ofsted blah blah, but it didn't work out for us.
Opportunities for friendship were limited, 5 including my dc in the year group,my dc ended up being bullied and we had no support from the school. From an educational point of view my dc was stifled by the limitations of what the school could offer.
I know someone else will rave about smaller schools but it wasn't for us.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Sat 24-Nov-12 15:26:52

Wow the big one isn't a big school. You are choosing between 2 small schools if that helps your thinking. Your bigger one still has all the benefits of a small school as it is one (around here its 2,3 or even 4 form entry.) I'd go for the one form entry as a teacher but as a parent being able to walk is tempting. Do you know the other 4 you'd be in kid year with?

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:30:36

They do ok I suppose for a small school they have a sports club come in one day after school...but with numbers and bids groups it's prob difficult to get full benefit.
They do offer a drama club too.

I couldnt organise one due to having younger children too.

ThePoppyAndTheIvy Sat 24-Nov-12 15:30:55

I would go for the larger school as it would prepare your DC slightly better for moving up to secondary school. Yes, a little school would be lovely & cosy & nurturing but it would be an even bigger jump up to the hugeness that is a secondary school.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:40:54

Isla sounds identical to where my girls are now.

My dc1 is in yr2 and so yes knows the other children.

My dc1 is in reception and knows the children they all tend to move on together from pre school but she is struggling a bit 1 or 10 going up only two other girls. Dc2 is a very girly girl and lovely caring but also a little sensitive so easily upset.

Tryin to figure out if long term they will be better all round at the bigger school and what it offers over the small doorstep nurture.

I love to walk them esp as they are the first two of four dcs but I suppose that isn't the most important factor of school choice.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:44:47

That is true re moving to secondary although being a close knit village the children that have moved to secondary seem to do so with ease...maybe the nurture and small setting has given them added confidence!?

But, as we are cross county the larger school is a feeder the secondary I would choose (if it's as good in years to come as it is now)

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

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 14:26:18

Sorry for typos bfeeding.

Also the amazing head of the other school, is now running two as I've mentioned my concern is it may not continue to be so amazing if he is now reading himself across two schools!?

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Nov-12 14:32:42

Four, The budgets can change quickly and with very little warning - there was simply an announcement that there were schools due to lose 26% or more of their funding from 1 year to the next (has been temporarily stabilised but unlikely to be able to do that in the longer term).

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 14:35:42

Thank you teacher I feel like there are pros and cons to both options...knowing which is the 'right' one feels impossible.

admission Sun 25-Nov-12 20:08:52

What most parents do not appreciate is the restrictions that such small schools as 50 pupils work under, because of the lack of finance.
In April 2013 a new funding scheme comes into being for all schools in England. Whilst there are minor local abilities to alter things slightly the bottom line is that small schools generally will be worse off, as will schools with high levels of SEN pupils.
I would suggest that your school with 50 pupils and 3 classes, will have no option come September 2013 to move to two classes only and even then the head teacher will have a significant teaching commitment. I suspect that fairly shortly the school will be talking about federation with other schools, such that there is a headteacher over a number of schools, not individual schools or considering closure of the school.
As such I think that under these circumstances I would go for the one form entry school, because quite frankly that could be where you kid is in a few years whether you like to or not.

TalkinPeace2 Sun 25-Nov-12 20:18:50

Middle ability child will do best in smaller school

High or Low ability child will do best in bigger school with more resources

and check feeder schools

SundaeGirl Sun 25-Nov-12 20:31:24

My DS is at a tiny school (19 pupils!) and it is amazing. Really astonishing and we are incredibly lucky.

Obviously, this is down to the Headteacher and also partly the catchment area - nice ambitious families. The whole thing is really fun for the children a like being in a big family environment where they all learn at their own pace.

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 20:45:05

admission Are you a teacher? I just wonder where you have got the info from as i have been searching online with no luck.

I have an appt with my dc's current head and plan to ask or try to get some honest information on the future of the school, without ruffling any feather.
Any tips would be appreciated?

Also i am interested to know how the changes withh effect the bigger schools i have been looking at the one with 170 already federated...is it likely to just get bigger over time and is it possible for a head to run to schools and maintain such high standards??

Or the other school in mind is already at 200 but not federated..can it continue to be inependant?

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 20:48:41

sundaeGirl are you not concerned about closure?

SundaeGirl Sun 25-Nov-12 21:00:24

No, closure unlikely. The council closed a local village school a few miles away then the same year gave permission for lots of family houses. Now the children in that village (lots of children) have to get bussed to the local town. It hasn't been popular. There are plans afoot for more houses on the other side of the catchment area so I think we are safe as the council got so much grief they'll think twice before making that mistake again.

As with all schools, it does depend on the head. But, really, I would encourage you to give it a go - it is fantastic to be so near by as well. If you are an intelligent, imaginative parent then things that might be drawbacks (e.g.not enough children for full rugby match) can be met outside school.

The pupil/staff ratio is - obviously - brilliant and it is comforting to know that all the staff from the dinner lady to school secretary know DS properly well.

Maybe it wouldn't suit everyone but the gentleness of this school (nowhere to hide so everyone is nice) has been fantastic.

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Nov-12 21:08:59

Sundae,

Have you checked the effect of the new funding formula on your school? I know that a 40ish pupil school in a county nearby has had its funding cut by 36%, and basically the funding cut for 2013 onwards is proportional to size, so a 19 pupils school would be hit even harder.

Locally, as I say, action has been taken to 'cap' the funding change for at least a year - so the gainers have gained less, but the losers have also lost less for next year so that there is time to make transitional arrangements - but everything is up in the air again within a couple of years.

It may not be popular - but if the central funding formula doesn't give the council enough money, then they can't pass it on to the school, and them academisation, closure or federation become the only options.

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Nov-12 21:13:13

(Actually, Googling 'funding 2013 small schools [county name]' reveals different responses by county to the new funding arrangements. In one county relatively local to me, small scgools have been very badly hit, as I have described above. In another, funding of small schools has been maintained but at the expense of medium-sized schools - 250+. Definitely worth an intelligent Google around your own area.)

fourlittleangels Sun 25-Nov-12 22:05:55

Thank you, ive had a skim through, although i dont really understand alot of it or struggled to find direct information realted to the 'small' schools.

Is there any hope of schools staying at least small ish...makes me feel a bit
sad esp as we moved here for the small school sad

QOD Sun 25-Nov-12 22:20:11

Bigger of the 2
My dd went to a one form intake 210 pupil school and I wish I'd gone bigger.

teacherwith2kids Sun 25-Nov-12 22:31:18

Four,

Again, in the county I know best, 100 pupils [PAN of 20, as it is an area with First Schools] seems to be something of a 'magic' number for schools in terms of being affected by current funding plans. So still not very big.

fourlittleangels Mon 26-Nov-12 11:50:54

teacher sorry what does [PAN of 20]
Mean?

The DCs current school is a C of E Aided..does that make much difference?

The direct information I have been given is that the funding reform will not effect them much and that they have always had three classes and intend to keep it that way.

They did also say that their optimum numbers ideally need to be 50-60 max to maintain their current way of schooling. But with an amazingly successful feeder pre school they seems more likely the previously, as they have another 9 due to join in Sept.

They have no plans to federate but may go down the joint academy route...

Couldn't tell me much more, I just have to hope it's all as honest as poss. Atm they see no risk of closure.

Does this all sound quite plausible?

Leafmould Mon 26-Nov-12 18:22:14

Pan stands for planned admission number: ie the amount of kids they plan to admit to reception class that year.

fourlittleangels Mon 26-Nov-12 20:18:00

Thank you for that, makes sense now.

Does the information above, that I was given today sound plausible?

stargirl1701 Mon 26-Nov-12 20:27:07

As a teacher, I would prefer the bigger school. Bigger budget, more resources, more friendships groups, different teacher every year and more than 1 staff toilet. grin (Last one not so relevant for your dc)

fourlittleangels Mon 26-Nov-12 20:59:26

stargirl is that from a teaching point of view. Or what you feel is most beneficial to the child's development end education?

fourlittleangels Mon 26-Nov-12 20:59:51

And education!

admission Mon 26-Nov-12 22:31:23

Fourlittleangels, no I am not a teacher, I am a governor at two schools and also on the schools forum for the Local Authority. This is the committee that looks at all issues to do with funding within a Local Authority.
The type of school as a CoE aided makes no difference to the funding they get to run the school, however when it comes to capital projects for buildings etc they have to find 10% of the cost.
If as a school of 50 pupils they think that the funding reforms will not affect them, then they are either in a very small minority of schools who could be in this position or they do not know understand the ramifications of what is happening. For a school of 50 to have three classes I would be really interested in seeing their budget. There is no way that a primary school with anything from 50 to 500 pupils could normally afford to have classes averaging 17 in the class.
Federation is where schools join together to get economies of scale, so they will probably have one executive head over a number of schools etc. Joint academy could mean anything to be honest but in the context of a CoE school possibly means that they may join with other CofE schools in the area.
I am somewhat fascinated by this school, would you PM wit their name an LA as I would be interested in trying to find out what their budget is for the year and how they can afford these small classes.

rotavirusrita Mon 26-Nov-12 22:55:00

I'm going to stick up for small schools.
There are 50 at my childrens school ( yrs R to 4)
smallest year is 4 pupils and largest is 15. Currently there is a year R and 1 class, 2 and 3 class and a separate yr 4 class.
They are doing really well. There is a real family feel. Teachers know exactly how each child is doing/ what their current goals are. More importantly the children are confident and nuturing towards each other. I have very shy academically average boys. They would have been eaten alive/ gone in the background at a big school. There are real links with the local community with older members of the village helping out with reading, in assembilies and so on.

As for extracurricular activities. Well we are one of the few local schools ( some are much bigger) who put on A B and C mixed sex football teams in the local league due to the support of 5 or 6 Dads and Mums who run the Saturday morning team. There are Brass, Violin or recorder lessons for those who want them. Plus an afterschool club, zumba, rugby and knitting clubs! You might get more things at a big school but just because its a small school doesnt mean there cant be really exciting things going on!

I really wouldnt change a thing.

SundaeGirl Mon 26-Nov-12 23:03:43

Rita, I'm so glad you posted. We have such a brilliant little school, exactly as you describe, and as there's so few people at little schools there aren't that many parents to stick up for them!

OP, do you know parents at the little school that you can talk to? Maybe be cautious asking friends what they think of composite teaching/small school because I noticed quite a, hmm, strong reaction in some friends who didn't have that option and whose children were going into classes of 35...

rotavirusrita Mon 26-Nov-12 23:24:15

thank you Sundae.

Op, I've had a proper read through and knowing that the little school is walking distance would swing it even more for me. Do meet the teachers/ headteacher though- I think you'll know very quickly whether its the right fit for you.

People always say that small school are due to close iminently due to funding issues..... the thing it then becomes a self fufilling prophecy as parents dont use their local school and so numbers fall and then it has to shut!.

As far as I know there are no plans to shut our small school.... I hope not as DS3 isnt due to start for 18 months! However a clever headteacher can use their budget very wisely. PLus there are ways around funding cuts ( federation etc). I always think that even if the school was to close tomorrow and they had to go to a differnet school my children have had a few yrs at a great school..... which is surely a good thing!

twooter Mon 26-Nov-12 23:40:34

My dc go to s small school - currently 30 pupils over 2 classes. I have at times wished I'd sent them to the bigger school, about 4 miles away.

My thoughts are:

My dc get far more opportunity to do netball/football, as if you want to play, you're in the team. There's a league for the little schools, that the bigger school isn't included in, so our kids do far more school netball or football.

There is a real family feel to the school. Just seeing them hanging around together - no boy/girl segregation, they just play with who they like.

Lovely walking to school, and knowing if a child is sick there will be someone who will take them with theirs.

All the dc in the school get decent parts in school play.

Lots of trips

Very sociable for the parents

Cons

No after school or breakfast clubs, so need separate childcare. For this reason their are a lot of sahm, as not much other childcare availability.

Small friendship groups. May not be a problem, unless you have bitchy/manipulative children in the school.

They are more likely to outsiders if go to other clubs.

Fewer teachers, so if one is bad, the dc are stuck with them a lot longer.

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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