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Would you send your child to an "Alternative school"?

(20 Posts)
ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 09:44:23

Bit of background...DD is 6 and in a very timny private prep in he UK. DH has a job offer in Oz which is going to see us temporarily move over there...we will be there for a year to 18 monhts and obviously finding the right school is a priority. At the end we wil come home to our own school

I did think to home ed her so I could keep her on a British curriculum but think she would do better in school...she's very sociable and with a 2 year old at home and the fact that I work from home, I think it might be too much

So, I want to find a school which is small and with a close "family" atmosphere...her current school has 60 pupils...so I dont want to dump her into a huge primary when she will already be dealing with a new country.

I have found a very nice looking "alternative school" which is bascally a community run school...autonomous learning and lots of drama and arts which DD loves. I feel it would be a good thing...her school now is very academic and though she loves it, she is also very tired and would enefit from a relaxed approach.

DH went to visit as he is currently over there... and said "It's very nice but it's a bit too hippyish for my liking"

Which dissapointed me..I'm a bit of a hippy so I suppoe thats' why I liked the look of it.

He couln't fault it in any way other than "The kids look younger than DD even though the ones he saw were the same age. I expect that's because she goes to a city school where the kids are quite sophisticated whilst the kids at the alternative school are country mice...very lovely ones by hs own admission!

He thought it looked too relaxed....kids can go barefoot if they want and they call the teachers by their frst name. I just think that this kind of setting could be the best soloution...a relaxed place with no pressure to learn a new curriculum...I could support her a lot at home to make sure she's where she needs to be regarding reading, writing and maths.

The other options are rather snooty looking and expensive private schools...I avoided these ones in the UK for my own resons...I don't want her to be at a single sex school and the one he liked best is Lutherian...we're not...so why would I send her there?

I would rather she went to a little friendly place and had fun! She is only 6 and very creative...loves drama and art...dancing etc.

Am I being naive?

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 10:02:54

sorry it's so long!

AMumInScotland Thu 11-Nov-10 10:11:50

I'd love a school like that for a 6yo, and when its only for a year or two I don't think ou'd have to worry about results or "getting behind" etc. But it does have to be a choice you can both be happy with.

Does the school have any figures for how the children do later - do they go on to do exams, get into college, have useful and happy lives? Anything you/they can show your DH to prove that it works as a style of education would probably make it seem less hippyish to him. Or at least reassure him that autonomous education works even if it is hippyish!

beachyhead Thu 11-Nov-10 10:17:11

Ask the advice of your present school - especially if you want to come back to there. They may feel the contrast is too great and she will find it harder when she gets back.

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 10:18:22

Well yes AMIS...they do well...move on to secodary schools as normal....many different ones so it would be hard to check the academics.

But saying that there were some ntes from ex students on the site and they were all in succesful media positions or the arts....

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 10:22:17

beachy...she will only be 7 when we return though! Surely we can't damage her education so fast?

The school will say that it's up to me...I know they will, they will give me support though, in terms of hat she needs to know when we come back.

As for contrast, I feel that the alernative school is actually the cloest match in terms of size, demographic and the care of the childrens spiritual well being. Whereas the other ones are huge....and very academic...her current school is academiacally succesful but they have a strong tradition of drama..and those kids who are not academic are still fully enouragd and helped to be the best they can.

mummytime Thu 11-Nov-10 10:39:18

I think you and your DH need to discuss what you want or the education of your DD. Why have you sent her to the school she is at in the UK? What you want her to do long term? etc.

Personally I would send Children to Frensham Heights or Bedales, but probably not to Summerhill (UK equivalents maybe?).

My DCs have gone to a state primary which uses 1st names, but also does well academically (including sending them on to very selective private secondaries).

At 7 she should be able to catch up whatever you do. I would be tempted to send her to school if just to make the most of living in a different culture.

However do think about whether you will still like the school if you decide not to come back.

Good luck!

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 10:59:37

Well that's the thin MT,...DH was not involved in the choosing of her current school...he was working all the time and though I tried to involve him, he wasn't really interested...that sounds bad...but Idont think he realised how importnt it all is.

Now he is so happy withher current school he wants to have a hand in thie choice...fair enough but I must say it'sannoying as I am the one who does all the research and I found the current school too!

There will be no "not coming back" Ihave lived in OZ before and DH and I want to live in the UK for the future.

I cose the current school because of it's size...DD was very shy...and because it's artistic and creative as well as academic.

I knnow what you mean about SUmmerhll...this is nothing like that...an as for Bedales...I wish!

lljkk Thu 11-Nov-10 11:11:28

I attended an alternative school (in California) for 2 years (age 12-13). I also seriously considered Summerhill for DS1 and very well might have sent him there if money had been no object.

I guess at 6yo you can try it and see how it goes, especially if the other school options are so distasteful for you. If it were me, I would push reading at home all the while, as good reading skills are an in to every other aspect of education. The problem, as my dad discussed with me for DS1, is the lack of ambition that such environments tend to instill. Not every time, but most often. Schools like that also attract a higher proportion of kids with behaviour and attention-type disorders, perpetuating the in-school culture that a conventional education has no relevance or value for them. I went from mediocre to becoming an academic top achiever after I left my alternative school and went to more conventional school.

sunnydelight Thu 11-Nov-10 11:26:25

Both my boys went to an alternative school for a couple of years, had a great time and there was lots going for it, it wasn't very good in terms of learning though. They are in quite a conservative, conventional private school now in Sydney and doing much better.

At your DDs age I would think why not, but to be fair to her you do need to bear in mind the fact that she will have to go back into the UK system. You may well find that she will be quite behind her peers after two years, remember a lot of kids don't even start school here until they are nearly 6 which is compulsory school age.

Is it Kinma by any chance? I was quite taken by it as I have a bit of a hippy streak, but resisted the temptation in the end!

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 17:09:33

It's not Kinma no....I think I will hve to visit tbh. I can;t judge from website can I?

Mahraih Thu 11-Nov-10 18:20:21

Yes, I definitely would.

Only for a couple of years, though. DP and I are thinking we might move to Kenya at some point (where I'm from) and that will necessitate some kind of 'different' education.

I was educated in Kenya until I was 9, and it didn't seem to affect me (still can't really do my times tables though, that's a failing) so a couple of years would be fine by me for Baby.

As for going back into the UK school system ... again, I can only go by my experience ... it was more social than anything else. I was a lot less socially savvy than the other kids, rather than academically behind.

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 19:43:56

Oh thanks Mahraih...I do think there will be some social difference but not that much...Kenya is very different to the UK while Oz is...but not that much!

I think as long as I help DD with the basics...the three Rs she shold be fine. It'ss earl enough in her schooling to have a little fun time...thanks for that...you really helped set my mind at rest.

Unprune Thu 11-Nov-10 19:46:40

I wouldn't hesitate if it wasn't Steiner/Waldorf, but they're pretty rare, I think, in Britain.

ForMashGetSmash Thu 11-Nov-10 19:57:01

No...its ntot Unprune....nd we're moving to oz...that's why we would change temporarily.

vess Fri 12-Nov-10 22:11:07

I would, yes.
It's a great opportunity for her to experience something different.

onceamai Mon 15-Nov-10 20:32:51

I wouldn't. I would be worried about her fitting back into the UK system from something quite as alternative as you describe.

whiteflame Mon 15-Nov-10 21:18:15

Hi formashgetsmash! i am from NZ, and just wanted to say not to read too much into the no shoes thing... all the primary schools in my (relatively posh) area allow no shoes in summer. it's a cultural difference.

Also, i find the kids generally seem much younger here (I'm originally from the UK). For example, 10 year olds will spend the summer dressed in the same pair of shorts/t-shirt and bouncing on trampolines. I think it must come from the more outdoors focused lifestyle.

ShanahansRevenge Sat 20-Nov-10 01:04:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thinkingaboutschools Sun 21-Nov-10 19:10:01

I went to an alternative school - there are lots of pro's to it. However --- I concentrated on those things that I wanted to, so when I went to a more conventional school, I was way behind in things I hadn't focused on. I also had never done any exams - these were a real shock to the system. Generally I was underprepared for a more conventional set up.

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