Do you choose favourite schools for children with complicated commutes, or next best options with easier travel???

(20 Posts)
manyhappydaysoutside Mon 10-Oct-16 13:24:10

Hello all. My question says it all really. If you have the choice how do you make the decision? I'm thinking about secondary schools. How far do you go to choose an option that you think is a 'perfect' fit for your child/children? Or do you choose the convenience of an easy journey and maximise time at home for homework? Especially when everything is an unfamiliar location. I'm assuming all options are not bad. I'd love to hear your thoughts. I know it's an incredibly personal decision and there are pros and cons and not really a 'wrong' decision. I'm just hoping to hear about people's experiences. Thank you.

AnotherNewt Mon 10-Oct-16 13:30:45

Key things to me - in addition to the amount of time it takes - is how complex and how reliable. So a longish journey on a single form of transport with adequate reliability would for me be preferable to somewhat a shorter but involving two buses and a tube ride.

Also, how crowded? When you are quite small with a school bag, a sports kit and maybe a musical instrument to carry, the last thing you want is to try to shoehorn yourself into a commuter train.

Cost? If you are opting for a more distant school then you will not qualify for free transport.

HSMMaCM Mon 10-Oct-16 13:36:26

DD loves her school, but is very jealous of the people who live closer. Think about school holidays, parties etc.

manyhappydaysoutside Mon 10-Oct-16 13:39:00

Good point - thank you. I am hoping for school buses (2 kids in opposite directions) and advantage is fixed route but disadvantages are pick up need for clubs, after school activities etc. I just cycled to a local school, we are currently overseas, so it is all hard to picture.

OdinsLoveChild Mon 10-Oct-16 13:44:50

We opted for a longer commute because of what the school offered to the students.
We chose the school that offered the best opportunities for our children. We looked for extra curricular sports clubs, science clubs, gifted and talented provision etc I have actually found my children have never been bothered about the journey to and from school in fact they use it to plan their homework and generally unwind from a busy day.

manyhappydaysoutside Mon 10-Oct-16 13:46:00

Thank you HSMMaCM. Would you have chosen differently or is it worth it? Is she jealous of those who walk? Not an option open to many i guess. Difficult to think of v 'young' little people being concerned with parties etc but i know that these things are closer than parents are ready for.

manyhappydaysoutside Mon 10-Oct-16 13:55:08

Thanks OdinsLoveChild. Is that school bus or public transport? How do you cope with after school clubs/sport etc.

HSMMaCM Mon 10-Oct-16 13:56:28

DD is in year 13 now, so has been there for 5+ years. She loves the school and college. She is upset we are not closer when her pals arrange something together after school, or put an impromptu get together on their group chat, as they can all walk round to each other's houses and she has to wait for a bus or a lift.

She also does lots of after school activities, which causes chaos with missed transport. She's not keen on the fact that she gets on a bus at 7:30, before any of her friends are even awake.

With the benefit of hindsight, even though her school is wonderful, I would have sent her to the local school if I could have done, but I couldn't because there were no spaces.

OdinsLoveChild Mon 10-Oct-16 14:04:35

manyhappydaysoutside we are fortunate that if they finish at the close of school they can use the school bus to get home but we have public transport that is every 20 minutes directly opposite the school that they can use if they stay on for clubs.

They use the school bus to get to school.

manyhappydaysoutside Mon 10-Oct-16 14:10:57

OdinsLoveChild and HSMTrying to facts inMaCM thank you. I know that there is no perfect solution. I'm trying to factor in all permutations (as well as DH commute).

redskytonight Mon 10-Oct-16 14:17:45

We had similar dilemma and went for the local school. But then I had a long commute as a child and was just conscious of how tired I was and how much I missed out on. Having a school that is easier to get to has so many intangible benefits.
As others have said, if you're considering an awkward journey you need to think about how your child will do out of school activities, how they will meet up with friends, what they do if they miss the bus...

millyT Mon 10-Oct-16 14:47:21

My daughter has just started year 7 and we are both really happy we chose a school with an easy, short commute. Adjusting to secondary is a bit exhausting so getting up at 7am with time for a good breakfast and a chance to get sorted is great. She does have a lot of sporting commitments with a club so having a school one bus ride away makes that a lot easier. She has also made local friends and can attend school clubs easily, plus I can get to the school if needed .

I would say weigh up your child's current sport/music etc commitments and factor that in. Catching public transport seems to be very common, my very shy dd has become so much more independent since taking the bus. Also consider the best fit school for your child. Going to the school that fits your child well is such a positive thing even if it means a bus ride over a walk. Choosing schools is tough, I have it all over again next year! Good luck making your decision.

Davros Mon 10-Oct-16 15:26:38

I'm 56 and still haven't forgiven my parents for sending me on an awful school journey blush

Pooka Mon 10-Oct-16 15:34:21

I've gone for proximity. Weighed up how much actual value the school further away was "worth" and came to the conclusion that while results slightly better, the journey would be unpleasant (15 min walk, 35 min bus, 10 minute walk for an 8.15 start) compared with the 15 minute walk for 8.20am start. Particularly in winter.

Felt that DC would not be losing out by going to the local school, that they are likely to do as well there as at the school with better results, and that as a consequence the gain (in terms of perception of better results overall) would not be so great for them as to override the pain in the neck travel.

The more distant school is a grammar whereas the closer is a comp. Both have good ofsted report. But obviously the grammar results better on paper. However, the local comps have great results for a wide range of abilities.

catslife Mon 10-Oct-16 16:29:20

We had 2 schools both a similar distance (3 miles) away and both "good" schools which we considered putting down as "second preference". We only have 3 preferences in our area, so we put down the one with the easier journey (one bus rather than 2).
It isn't just about distance though as it could be possible if you live near a bus route that a school 5 miles away on that route is easier than one that is closer but would involve 2 buses.
I would recommend trying out the journey beforehand. We used an INSET day at about this time of year and it did make the decision much easier.

MrGrumpy01 Mon 10-Oct-16 17:59:13

We have discounted schools that she can't get to under her own steam.

2 are by school bus and the 3rd by public bus. They all use the same bus stops. The public bus will have a walk at the other end.

As our catchment school is a bus ride (we are probably not quite at the 3 miles to qualify for free travel) it isn't too much of an issue that the other 2 are also bus rides. However the one is more complicated but it is an excellent school so I am prepared for the more difficult journey.

As well as the journey there is issue of the timings, the catchment school has an earlier start and finish so a very early start whilst the further school the bus is slightly later, though obviously later home.

BackforGood Mon 10-Oct-16 18:35:13

It's going to depend on the difference between the two schools of course, but, a long or complex commute would be a very heavy negative on my list.

School buses are only any good for the 'standard' journey to and from school. I've had 3 go through secondary, you'd be amazed how much they need / choose to do things that mean them leaving late / arriving early / even going in on a weekend (drama, some sports). Sometimes it's just a short thing - wanting to go and find a teacher after school to check something - and sometimes it's a really late one, maybe getting back from an away fixture / tournament.
Living in a City, mine were lucky enough to all go to schools within a mile and half from our house, so have been able to walk there - again, I can't over emphasise how good this has been. Not just the exercise and fresh air, but the 'puttting the world to rights' with other friends the walk with.
Then there's their social lives - they can all get to each others houses under their own steam. If there is a late night pick up, it's not too far to reasonably drop each other's dc off, taking turns with other parents.

manyhappydaysoutside Tue 11-Oct-16 02:24:17

Thank you all so much for your sharing your thoughts. It has really helped frame my thoughts. Lots to think about. Good wishes to you all.

namechangedtoday15 Tue 11-Oct-16 10:53:23

I think it really depends on what you want from the school. Do you just want the academics / school day activities or do you want the after school stuff / children to have local friends / independence?

My DD has just started Yr 7 at a top school - girls travel in from all over the place. It may well change but there does seem to be a bit of a difference at the moment (I know its early days) between the children who walk / live locally and those that need to go straight to station / get collected / get on a school bus (I think there are 2 options - one goes immediately, one goes at 5pm). The local girls have impromptu stops at the café on the way home, or they're meeting up to walk in, and certainly the girls who stay for after school activities are forming little friendship groups. Some of them go on under 5/5.30pm - its ok now but with darker nights, I'd be a bit concerned about my DD getting on a couple of buses at that point or hanging around the train station. I also think starting homework relatively late is hard too especially if the child is having to get up early.

Hopefully too as she gets older, she'll be walking round to other friends houses by herself etc.

Drivingmadness Tue 11-Oct-16 11:54:11

The nearer one as dc have so many afterschoolactivites they would have missed out on had they gone to the one on the other side of town.

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