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‘Posher’ versus ‘poorer’ school – what’s the real difference?

(325 Posts)
stickygotstuck Mon 22-Oct-12 13:58:04

A bit long, sorry.

Please feel free to be very candid about this, I am being! I am forrin and my perception/hang ups about class/social advantage are different to DH's (or the majority of the population for that matter).

My DD will start primary school next September. So far, we have seen two state schools. Both are in our catchment, although one of them is very small and oversubscribed (we are talking 70 vs. 170-ish pupils) The larger school has a Good Ofsted, so does the small school. The larger school is in our relatively 'poor' (if you like more 'working class') village, whereas the small school is in the more affluent village next door. When I have spoken to parents asking for advice I can't shake the feeling that there is a certain snobbery towards the larger, 'poorer' school, and I am not sure that it's actually a better school.

We like both schools, but they are totally different and we can't decide our order of preference.

I guess my question is, would we be missing a trick by not pushing for the small school? Is there some sort of 'social advantage' to be gained for DD? (also could it even influence whether she gets a place in the oversubscribed local state grammar later on?). We are not the type to engage in convoluted social dilly-dallying for personal gain, but we are not so naive that we think it does not exist (we are just useless at it!) and we are aware that it's not all about numbers and academic ability.

Elibean Thu 16-May-13 14:34:18

Possibly a tad late in the convo, but I had a similar experience to Teacher's.

The commiserations (over a school we actively chose over three others, two indies and one 'the best' state) actually make me smile and feel smug wink

I couldn't be happier, and I hope you'll be able to say the same in the future!

AlienAttack Thu 16-May-13 14:25:50

sticky you can not have your place automatically withdrawn if you get a place at different school from waiting list. One of the admissions experts in here was very clear on that on another thread here yesterday or the day before. I suggest you speak to your LEA, say you have accepted a place at school B and are happy with that and can they please confirm to you an to school A that your DC is going to school B.

FadedSapphire Thu 16-May-13 14:22:43

So true DadOnIce. Round here some of those parents are wetting their pants as catchment changed so given place at equally near school but not so 'middle class'. [I can titter as know that school they fear is great. They are crying into their Pinot Grigio].

DadOnIce Thu 16-May-13 14:13:15

A lot of parents will very proudly and noisily send their children to the nearest school, the catchment school. They will have spent 3-5 years before this very quietly making sure it is the best one in the area.

FadedSapphire Thu 16-May-13 13:59:46

What's the situation Sticky?

FadedSapphire Tue 14-May-13 11:03:54

How annoying stickygotstuck!
Definitely ring your county council to see if anything that can be done about this. Did you accept school B? I would have thought that would be enough to keep position safe.

Abra1d Tue 14-May-13 10:16:58

Peer pressure is the most important influence on children once they reach a certain age. Perhaps it doesn't matter as much in the early years of primary, but i know of left-leaning friends of mine who have moved children from primary schools with a very working class ethos into a more middle class environment.

I wouldn't be as worried until the children were around eight or nine, though. But once they are 11 or so you want them somewhere where most families take school work, sport or music, etc, seriously. This may be a private school or a state school with a lot of children of very hard-working migrants. Some groups: Indians, Sri-Lankans, Chinese, etc, don't seem to take any nonsense about not trying your best.

stickygotstuck Tue 14-May-13 10:07:59

I have yet another update to this whole sorry story. We have just got a letter saying DD has a place in school A (the tiny one). You go on the waiting list for your first choice automatically here, and now we have a place there and the place in school B has been withdrawn automatically. I didn't know that's how it worked. I naively thought we would be given a choice. Nothing makes sense to me.

I have spoken to school B and I think there is not much we can do about it at this stage as they are full up, although they suggested I ring the Ed Dept. to double check.

So it looks now as if fate has sent us to the school A instead after all. I am pulling my hair out with all this, and I think the only thing to do now is send DD to school A. If she is not doing well there, then try and move her to school B for year 1. Not ideal sad.

stickygotstuck Thu 18-Apr-13 22:03:15

Thanks teacher. Glad to see it worked out for your DC, especially for DS.

You know, I think my mistake was precisely asking the locals. We have lived here for a few years, but had no involvement with the schools as we only have DD. I did the same, read the Ofsteds and visited the schools, and felt quite relaxed when I saw that 'our' school B was the one closest to us, as it seemed like a decent school.

Even though I have been getting used to people being surprised when we said we rather liked school B, like you, I am finding the commiserations rather uncalled for. I like your response though smile.

teacherwith2kids Thu 18-Apr-13 20:44:10

FWIW, my children go to the 'wrong' primary school (by local reputation). We moved here from elsewhere, so I visited the schools and read the Ofsted reports, but did not have any input from local 'word on the street'.

Loved the school we went for (School A). Did NOT like the 'best school in the area' (School B). Was very unprepared for the commiserations received from everyone after we moved about how sad we must be that we didn't get places at School B...and if they pushed it I did always rather enjoy saying that no, there hd been a place for DS at School B, but we preferred School A.

School A did brilliantly by DS - arrived there at the end of Y1 as a fragile, recovering selective mute, with pronounced ASD traits, who his previous head had stated 'would probably never be suited to mainstream school'. Bounced out at the end of Y6 with level 5s and 6s in his SATs, confident, outspoken, a little socially awkward still but absolutely thriving (met someone who runs his school orchestra the other day, who didn't know I was his mum - exclaimed spontaneously 'sonofTW2K - I love that boy').

Of course, we never know what 'the road not travelled' might have brought - but in our case the road we did travel was an extremely good one, despite what 'other people thought'.

stickygotstuck Thu 18-Apr-13 12:51:07

Thanks, petitdonkey.

My biggest reservation with school A has always been its size. DD's nursery teachers tried put my mind at ease about it, but the change to a large secondary was a worry for me. Although DD seems to have become much more outgoing now, if still a sensitive soul.

I hear what you say about Friday boozing! But school A's entire staff has changed in the last 3 years, including the head and everybody is youngish. That's what's made it popular. I understand they had spare places with an intake of 10 before then!

Thanks for the compliment (am blubbing now), hope you are right!

petitdonkey Thu 18-Apr-13 12:37:46

I'm so glad to hear your update - I've only just read this thread but was reading from page one internally screeching 'school b! school!' - I used to be a teacher in a large Sarf London school which was just amazing, stimulating and caring.

My biggest concern was a quite quiet child going into a school of 70 pupils. It may suit her now but can you imagine the anxiety at 11 going into a large secondary?? In my experience, those small schools have the potential to be amazing but often have older teachers who have been there for years and who are not as motivated. Not many dynamic newly qualified teachers I know would chose to work there - very limited promotion prospects and no mates to go out boozing with on a Frida (you asked for candid!!)

A dear friend of mine has just moved her child from a school A in yr1 - the lack of choice regarding friendship groups meant that she was becoming (in her teacher's words) 'introverted' - she has moved to a school with an intake of 45 per year group so has so much more opportunity to find friends that are a fit for her - does that make sense??

Larger schools also have bigger budgets so more opportunity to get in a PE specialist for a term/a drama workshop/a history hands-on session.

It really is about finding the right school for you and your child - my children go to a school that people can be snobby about (independent but people are even more bloody snobby about those!!!) but my children are thriving and motivated and I don't really give a shit that they are not in some ivory tower where everyone jets off to St Tropez for the weekend.

If it doesn't feel right when you start, you can always move. Give it a great chance but your instinct will tell you very soon - people worry SO much about moving children's schools but they are surprisingly adaptable.

You sound like a really lovely mummy - just putting this much thought and care into your dd's primary education tells me that she will do well because of the level of parental support smile

stickygotstuck Thu 18-Apr-13 12:30:41

mummytime, thanks for reminding that it is a big emotional investment for us all. I guess I am also feeling defensive.

It's actually very encouraging to hear you say that about the school where you work, good to know you do know the school and think it's good, despite the fact that there are people who think it's not.

Sunflower, I'm off to start practising in front of the mirror, thanks! wink

SunflowersSmile Thu 18-Apr-13 12:23:47

Smile and say how happy you are with your choice.
Look surprised if you get pity looks.
Smile, smile, smile!!

mummytime Thu 18-Apr-13 12:16:24

Do try to grow a thick skin.

Parents tend to have a lot emotionally invested in their children. So actually get defensive if you make decisions different to the ones they make. It takes maturity to realise that what is right for one person may not be right for someone else.

I do some work in a school which if I said my child was going there would probably get sympathetic looks; but actually I'd be fine with my children going there, and compared to other "preferred" schools I know it is far better.

stickygotstuck Thu 18-Apr-13 11:21:30

Thanks mummytime, that's the issue isn't it?You won't know until you've tried it. Sadly, I am a control freak who needs to know everything in advance!

CecilyP, thanks for the compliment, almost made me cry (in my defence, I am feeling a bit fragile with all this wink). And yes, it was the most likely outcome, especially as it looks as if they have been flooded by applications this year.

However, I am not feeling quite so positive today. I bumped into a few people since yesterday and I got looks of pity when I told them we got school B confused.

Frankly this is pissing me off now, because I rarely give a damn about what people think. I think I should open a thread called "Are you happy with the school you got but everybody else pities you?". It could be popular, or it could just be me grin.

CecilyP Wed 17-Apr-13 21:05:50

So, in conclusion - I ended up applying for the school that deep down I didn't really want because I am such an impressionable, feeble-minded individual that I let myself be swayed by the prejudices of a bunch unknown people (i.e. local people without real direct knowledge of school B). Pretty disappointed in myself here.

You actually sound lovely OP. Glad it has all worked out. After all that anst it was eventually decided for you in a way that was probably inevitable considering that school A is so small and you don't live in village A.

mummytime Wed 17-Apr-13 19:09:37


The hardest bit is: you can never know if a school is the right school until after your DC has started there. In the end it can boil down to: the specific children in their class, the exact match between teacher and pupil personality, and all the unknowns.

I hope though school B works out well for you.

stickygotstuck Wed 17-Apr-13 19:02:35

Hello all, this is the OP.

I thought I'd post an update in case anybody is interested.

Still a bit unsure, in the end we put down school A (the 'posher' one) as first choice, and B (the 'poorer' one) as a second choice. We went back to visit school A again (although we could only do it after having sent in the application to the LEA) and some of our niggles were ironed out. Even so, I have spent 3 months very anxious about having made the wrong choice [eye roll]. In the last few days we had decided to go on the waiting list for school B if DD got into school A.

So, in conclusion - I ended up applying for the school that deep down I didn't really want because I am such an impressionable, feeble-minded individual that I let myself be swayed by the prejudices of a bunch unknown people (i.e. local people without real direct knowledge of school B). Pretty disappointed in myself here hmm.

After all the angst, fate intervened anyway, and we just got the school admissions letter today where we live. We got school B, the 'poorer' school. We haven't had time to assimilate it, but I think (!) we are happy with that.

VikingLady Wed 13-Mar-13 16:05:45

Betty may have phrased it more candidly than most people are comfortable with, but ime she is pretty much right. I've had this at senior school - I've attended 3, and she is spot on for my experience. Peer pressure will exist in any school - who do you want her peers to be? Especially if she is shy.

QTPie Wed 13-Mar-13 15:23:43

Go visit the schools during term time: compare facilities and your feelings about the teachers, way of working and general attitude. If you can watch how the kids interact (in the class room, playground and leaving school). What is better specifically for your daughter? Speak to parents with kids at both schools too - what do they say?

I went to a state primary in a mixed area and it was good, but their was no pushing or opportunities to really grow as an individual (everyone just plodded at the same rate). I then went to a comprehensive and a sixth form in the same mixed area: I did pretty well, but it came as quite a surprise: again, there are few opportunities to stretch yourself and - at secondary level - it was very cool not to do well (doing well in anything was very uncool!).

So I have chosen a school for DS where hard work and excellence are strongly encouraged and there are lots of opportunities to try different things. The other parents are similarly minded.

nononsensemum Wed 13-Mar-13 14:16:37

NotQuint - where 'natural development' in Norway or 'pampering up' in UK? Would loved to know as have similar concerns.... Thanks

APMF Sat 24-Nov-12 23:24:13

'poorer' schools tend to have more discipline problems than so-called posh schools so of course they will have more 'silly' rules.

Our local rag recently had a story about the new head at a failing school. In the new regime girls couldn't wear make up and skirts had to be of a certain length. Well, one girl got suspended because she (and her mom) refused to comply.

I accept that a smarter, more modest uniform does not make a pupil a better student but faced with widespread discipline problems its one way of establishing order in the classroom.

meah Fri 23-Nov-12 20:23:05

In my experience posh concentrate more on the education standards the children receive where as 'poorer' concentrate more on making sure children stick to ridiculous ott rules and punishing those who dont, as their main concern is upholding their reputation in the community and getting a good report and not on quality of education

Xenia Fri 23-Nov-12 19:12:12

During the riots in London some young people were asked why they targeted small local traders (many of whom have profits of about £10k a year from tiny shops). They said because shop keepers are rich (which compared to the unemployed they may appear although the unemployed in practice may have more as their rent is paid etc). It's all relative,.

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