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...to want my DC to change schools from 5 mins walk to 25 mins in car??

(30 Posts)
Hooliesmoolies Tue 04-Nov-14 21:32:23

I do not like my DC's school. I don't think it suits her. There are a lot of pupils in a small site, and it is noisy and busy. She is in Y1 and hasn't settled very well. She likes school, she has some good friends, but she is intensely shy with her teachers. Outside school she is bubbly and excitable. She is always moving and finds it hard to sit still.

Although she doesn't dislike school, she has been getting frequent tummy aches. I thought it might just be a bedtime not wanting to sleep thing, but it seems to be getting more frequent, and it is happening during the day before school as well. It may not be related to school, but I think it is because she is so tightly coiled at school, she is just feeling anxious.

The school has terrible communication with parents (not even an opportunity to write in reading diaries - we only have a tiny space to sign). In reception, we got to our first parents evening we were told that our daughter wasn't communicating AT ALL with teachers. She had told us she was scared of them, but she was basically not speaking at all, or even looking them in the eye. We were shocked because she was not like that at preschool and is not like that outside school. She can be a little shy, but nothing to the degree the school was telling us. After parents evening I phoned and discussed it with the teacher, and some measures were put in place. Over the next few months my DD told me it was getting better, and so we were shocked at the next parents evening to hear that nothing had changed. What concerned me was that the school had not bothered to consult with us even though we told them this was not usual. I then wrote a letter in June complaining about their rubbish communication, and basically after a meeting was told that she had settled in a bit better and they should have told us.

The school is considered good, locally and by Ofsted and it is just down the road. But it is very conservative (in my view), parents are kept at a distance, and I think that parents should be partners in their children's education.

So, the other school. It is a drive away, but it is a very small school (it is a new school and so only has 3 year groups at the moment). He headteacher is phenomenal (in my view), and it has a really strong set of teachers (again, in my view). The school has a really open creative ethos. They are focusing on developing critical thinking in a nurturing environment, and parents are not only encouraged but expected to be participants in their children's education. I think that it is going to be a really fantastic school. Because it is new, it is also not full at the moment. As a result, my DD would be in a class of 21 or so. As far as I can see, it feels like an opportunity for class sizes you would get in private school in a state school. If we could afford private, we would be travelling to that.

My DD is currently quite keen on the new school. She hasn't visited, but she wants to go. She is really keen on going to a smaller school. She has said she finds her current school loud and busy. I think that the smaller nurturing environment would really help her to come out of her shell, and would help her feel more relaxed in school. In a small school, she would get to know the other children in the school and it would help her to feel part of the school community.

So, to me, it seems obvious. The new school would be a 20-40 minute journey each way. It is a car journey where we can talk, listen to story and music tapes, do spelling home work, and hopefully other things. There also some other parents near us that we could hopefully carpool with.

But, everyone else (practically) seems to think it is a terrible idea, and that my DD should just stay where she is. I just don't want to leave her in a school which I don't think suits her at all, when there is a possible place in a school which I think would suit her much much better, and which would potentially be a considerably better school. Does a school commute have to be dreadful?? Is it not worth moving from something Blah to something that could be great?

whois Tue 04-Nov-14 21:45:11

If you have the time to do the commute, I would.

Consider impact on not living near friends tho. My school had a diverse catchment area so although we loved 15/20 mins by car others were a lot neater and further away so mum did a fair amount of driving me to see friends.

Meechimoo Tue 04-Nov-14 21:56:30

I took our dc's out of the local school and drive them 25 mins to a better, much smaller high school with excellent teaching. They've both absolutely flourished at the new school and constantly tell me how much better the teachers are (mum, they really explain stuff till you get it) and are very happy. I do often spend weekends driving them to friends there, but they have local friends too. They've been there about a year now and I'd absolutely do the same thing again tomorrow. Local folk do raise eyebrows when I mention the school they go to, but there's only one high school here and I suspect 99% of locals would just send their kids there regardless cos it's on the doorstep and the ability for their child to walk to and from school trumps all other considerations, even whether the school is any good or not.

Meechimoo Tue 04-Nov-14 21:58:51

Ps. Only thing which bothers me is what will happen if i have car trouble (school very rural and no public transport there) or if we have lots of snow in the winter and I can't get them there. Presumably the school would shut though.

whois Tue 04-Nov-14 22:01:20

Car trouble - how often does that actually happen? Get good AA membership and keep your car serviced. Phone round to try and get a lift, cal a taxi.

Snow - again, how likely? Check to see if open, of open probably ok to get there.

starlight1234 Tue 04-Nov-14 22:10:00

I thought I was going to say no but on reading how your daughter is struggling I would move her.
esp if there has been no real difference moving to year 1.

Allegrogirl Tue 04-Nov-14 22:13:03

I don't know whether YABU but I am in a similar situation to you. My DD1 is in Yr 2 and her case her behaviour is awful at school because she finds it so stressful. The school went from 2 to 3 from in her foundation year and is having to cram more classes in every year. My DD does appear to have some SN (currently being assessed) but nothing we/she can't manage outside of the school environment. School is 2 minutes walk away and DD2 has just started and is thriving (DD2 is as an easy child who would thrive anywhere though). Communication is dreadful and as a PT working parent it's impossible to get involved with the school.

The school I'm thinking of sounds very like the one you are considering. Very new with a child centred ethos. It would be a pain to sort out the school run and working but I'm starting the think it may be worth the hassle.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

Hooliesmoolies Tue 04-Nov-14 22:21:01

Ah, I'm so glad to have some positive replies. I've been reading other mumsnet threads and they all say walking round the corner is best. But I just don't think the school is right for her. People keep saying I should give the school a chance, or maybe she's just shy.

Not all schools are the same, not all children are the same, there must be some schools that are a better fit?

Allegrogirl for me it's partly the feeling that the school have my DD classified as 'shy' and that's it, and they aren't interested in what she is like outside school. It is so hard when it feels like your child is a different (and less happy) child in their school environment. Hope you mange to sort something out for your DD.

fairylightsintheloft Tue 04-Nov-14 22:33:42

We rejected the closest school and went for a small village one 25 mins drive away because it was absolutely the right place for our DS. Similar reasons to you - smaller school, village setting. Upsides are it IS the right place for him and he is thriving. Downsides are: Petrol costs, best part of 2 hrs per day driving too and from (don't forget you have to do the return journey). Playdates are difficult and I feel bad that he is missing out on those - he is in Y1 and desperately wants to go and play at his friends' houses more or have them come to us but its difficult (though that is partly because we work FT and there is childcare involved most days also). We work another 20 mins further on from the school and are planning to move house to be closer to reduce the commuting but also solve the playdate problem - the village kids in older years all hang out easily after school and I want that for him. Is that an option for you? Ultimately, yes I would do it, but be aware of these issues. Car trouble and snow are going to be an issue maybe 3-4 times a year, not worth factoring in.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Tue 04-Nov-14 22:39:22

Round the corner in the right school is best - no doubt. But round the corner in the wrong school - not so much. I'd move her without a doubt in the situation you describe.

Only thing I'd be wary about is it's not going to stay small for long if it's as good as you say, so do make sure you are both happy with every other aspect of it, as I suspect class sizes will be up soon...

misdee Tue 04-Nov-14 22:40:55

I moved dd4 to a smaller school where dd3 attends (long story about lack of spaces, waiting for space at closer school for dd3 which never happened, so moved dd4 instead).

Anyway, the year groups are half the size, (1 form entry instead of 2) the grounds are huge, the classrooms are bigger as it's an older school, dd 4 has gone from being a 'shy' child to one who has a nice group of friends, talks to staff and children and has really blossomed.

As such ds and dd 5 are both now at the preschool there.

So rather than doing a 10min walk to school we know do a 10min drive three times a day. Except the morning drive back home takes 20mins due to traffic. Costs us more in petrol but the children are flourishing .

psychomum5 Tue 04-Nov-14 22:53:55

Move her. I moved mine when they were small, best thing I ever did for them, and not one regret.....well, one....that I dithered for 6mths instead of following my gut.

Mine went to a school I could see from my front door to one that took 45mins to walk to, or 20mins to battle through traffic to, and the only time I had car issues was after a car accident.....by then however we had made some amazing friends who helped us with the school run.

tallulah Tue 04-Nov-14 23:02:54

Do you have any younger children? Would they still get in if the new school suddenly became full? (Some local authorities put out-of-catchment siblings below in-catchment firstborns).

WooWooOwl Tue 04-Nov-14 23:10:38

Up to one hour in a car each day isn't really much compared to the six hours a day she will spend in school. That's the time that matters, and if that would be better spent in a more suitable school, then go for it.

Hooliesmoolies Tue 04-Nov-14 23:11:02

I thought I couldn't be the only person who thought this was a good idea!! But I was beginning to worry. My OH is not keen at all. He likes her current school, which I find mind boggling. He thinks she may just be shy, even though she wasn't like that before. He is the main obstacle I have, and obviously a very very crucial one because he would have to do some of the drop offs and pick ups.

I am as sure as I can be that this is the right decision. DH is as sure as he can be it isn't (although obviously I'm right wink).

She does have a sibling, but he would get in via the sibling rule.

I think that it is likely the class sizes will get bigger, but one other thing is that the school is bilingual. We aren't, but it is another reason why I want to move her ASAP - she has only missed 6 weeks of this new school, and so it would be easy to catch up on the French she has missed. Leave it much longer and it will be harder.

Icimoi Tue 04-Nov-14 23:23:30

Bear in mind that the new school isn't going to be small for long: will have 7 forms by the time dd leaves, I.e around 210 children.

Also think carefully about whether you want to spend the next 6 years spending two hours a day driving - or more - bear in mind days you have to make an extra journey for parents' evenings and that her school friends may well live even further away.

SoonToBeSix Tue 04-Nov-14 23:42:01

I hope you are joking re the spelling homework, driving needs your full concentration.

waithorse Wed 05-Nov-14 06:12:33

I'd move her in an instant.

The bilingual aspect is a massive plus - I'd choose the second school purely for that! That must be unusual in a state school?

That said my parents sent me and my sisters to a C of E primary a half hour drive from home rather than the village school within walking distance, and the combination of that and of not being "born and bread" locally meant the local kids had no time for us and wouldn't play with us, which was a lonely thing... I swore I wouldn't do that to my kids if I could help it, and its lovely to have their friends through the house informally every day and see them playing out together. If you move her it is good there are other local families at the 2nd school, and you need to commit to driving her to see friends and maybe pick the friends up to come to yours - more effort generally; a shy child won't benefit from being isolated.

BTW not saying you shouldn't move her, just that its more than just the school run that you need to factor in, if you are going to try not to put her at a social disadvantage.

HamishBamish Wed 05-Nov-14 07:07:52

I don't think the school run is an issue, as long as you have the time to do it. Our DC go to a school 20 minutes drive away and other pupils commute much further than that. If it's the right school and logistically possible for you to do, then I say go for it.

It will be trickier organising playdates etc as her fellow pupils will be further away, but as long as you're prepared to make the effort then it shouldn't be an issue.

MeMyselfAnd1 Wed 05-Nov-14 07:23:17

Similar problem here. I finally moved him from a school that was very considered 'very good' by ofsted, full of very satisfied parents and just across the road.

My only regret was not moving him much earlier. A couple of months in his new school and he was a completely different boy. A year later his former school was put on special measures when Ofsted found out children were far behind than the figures presented by the headteacher suggested. The behaviour was classed as wild, the teaching inadequate and the school was near to bankruptcy. So... Listen to yourself and address your dd concerns.

And yes, a long car ride is a hassle BUT it will improve the communication with your child. We both still miss those long trips where we talked so much about everything.

LL12 Wed 05-Nov-14 08:17:27

I would move her.

Hooliesmoolies Thu 06-Nov-14 15:11:43

She's going to move schools smile. Thanks for making me think that perhaps I wasn't the only person on the planet to think it was a good idea (in fairness, you all had it from my point of view, and others would have bigged up her current school more). But she's moving, and I'm delighted. thanks

Marylou62 Fri 07-Nov-14 10:05:50

We moved DS2 in year 5...walk v hour round trip..should have done it about 6 mths earlier....I cried so much and worried so much...he didn't want to move but the day WE made the decision....the weight off my mind was enormous...follow your instincts...He was fine and went from a very troubled boy to very popular...the difference in him and ultimately us was amazing....

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