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Is smaller always better? (Reception aged child)

(24 Posts)
duchesse Wed 03-Jul-13 21:44:11

I'm trying to choose between two schools (long story but one is a new free school not yet physically built which is why we have two places still in hand this late).

School 1 has a KS1 mixed age class of up to 30, although I think that it will be yr2: 9, yr 1: 9, yr R: 4 this coming academic year (so 22 in total). 1 teacher, one TA, plus visiting student teachers.

School 2 will be a mixed age class of 17 pupils year R and year 1. One teacher, one TA who is also a qualified teacher.

DD is pretty confident and outspoken and trying to teach herself to read and write, but she is still 3 (will be 4 at the end of August).

What do you think- which would you choose?

teacherwith2kids Wed 03-Jul-13 21:57:27

I wouldn't do either of them, tbh.

I wouldn't do the first one because a mixed age class of Reception - Year 2 is too small and too 'samey' to be in for 3 years, especially 3 years in which a child grows and develops and changes so much (I have taught such a class - with a 'real' age range of 3 years and a 'typical ability range in terms of age' for 7.5 years, from a child working at 18 month old targets to able Year 2s who should have been working at levels typical of average 9 year olds - and vowed never to send a child of mine to a similar one).

I wouldn't do the second because it isn't built yet and it's easy to promise things but less easy to deliver them...on time, in full and to agreed high quality. If the free school had been running for several years, had a good track record including a full ofsted inspection and good feedback from parents, that would be my preferred option of the two simply because of its (slightly) smaller age range.

steppemum Wed 03-Jul-13 22:02:55

my dcs did a small school like your first option. While it was nice, and family feel etc, the opportunities for friendship were so few that it really affected their confidence. We moved after 2 years
Wouldn't recommend it.

With option 2, is this a full school, or are they beginning with R/Y1 class and then expanding from there? I wouldn't like that

duchesse Wed 03-Jul-13 22:05:34

They are setting up with years R-3 (so 4 year groups)

duchesse Wed 03-Jul-13 22:06:38

And there will be 3 equal sized mixed age R + yr 1 classes, so around 55 of that age range.

meditrina Wed 03-Jul-13 22:08:39

Are these your only choices? Or are there other schools nearby which might have a vacancy?

What happens in each school after KS1?

duchesse Wed 03-Jul-13 22:08:58

Forgot to say School 2 will be in temporary buildings for the first couple of years while they sort out permanent buildings (for which the word is that the site has been acquired). So it will just be a matter of dumping some pre-fabs onto the site they're using for a couple of years, and connecting them up to the utilities. I'm fairly confident they can do that over the summer.

duchesse Wed 03-Jul-13 22:12:29

School 1 has a not very nice (I hear) y 3+4 teacher, and rather goes downhill academically in ys 5 & 6 although its reputation is good. Y 5 & 6 have been taught by the headteacher but she is retiring and the BofG haven't yet appointed a replacement despite 2 rounds of interviews. There is some uncertainty there. We are in catchment for 2 other schools but both would mean a pretty crappy commute every morning- one would be a 10 mile round trip, the other has abysmal parking which would spin the school run out to 1 hour each way, and furthermore is definitely going to be full.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 03-Jul-13 23:50:21

Duchesse are the non free schools the same side of the river as the free school?

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 09:56:51

No. Commute is a major consideration re free school.

edam Thu 04-Jul-13 10:00:27

That sounds like a shitty range of choices, tbh. Sorry, not very helpful! School having problems recruiting a head rings alarm bells - and it is the head who shapes a school, good schools can go downhill if new head not up to scratch. Mixed KS1 class (actually reception is still foundation, I think, so not KS1 at all - at least in our school) would bother me and it's so small - what if your child falls out with someone, or is one of only three boys/girls?

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 10:11:06

Well, I only have the figure of 4 from another parent. DD has an induction session this afternoon so I'll find out more about numbers then. Also I believe that the children play together across the age groups so not necessarily a problem even if there are only 4 of them. I am slightly alarmed at the lack of a proper head (although they've appointed an interim one) but tbf it seems very difficult to recruit heads generally these days, let alone for tiny village schools.

SavoyCabbage Thu 04-Jul-13 10:16:59

It sounds like a nightmare! I think very small schools can be tricky.

Our school was without a head for about a year, although we did have the deputy step in as well as an interim head borrowed from another school, but it was not good. A crap teacher was hired during this time and things began to spiral downwards.

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 10:18:22

TBH the size itself is not really a problem- many schools around here are small and it seems to work on the whole. What is more worrying is the temporary lack of direction. Former head is/was the bee's knees and has already stayed on longer than she needed to.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 04-Jul-13 11:14:26

duchesse the commute will be a nightmare. Leaving aside any views about the nature of the school itself - are you familiar with that road? And what the routes across the river will be like every morning (and evening)? sad

Have you considered the 'new' (moved) school in Cranbrook? I'm guessing that would be a much easier journey.

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 11:17:54

That's the one I mean will be a 10 mile round trip- because of the location of the entrance into Cranbrook vs where we live.

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 11:18:48

And I would go north round the city, then over the river near the station. I haven't tried doing it in rush hour yet but out of rush hour it takes 25 mn.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 04-Jul-13 11:28:57

duchesse In the morning it's gridlock (and the jamming can trail back beyond the prison). When there;s a train. Or, as sometimes happens, two. Or three. Or when there is a vehicle too big to actually make the turn turning to go over the level crossing in the other direction sad I honestly would rather put my own eyes out than commit to doing that drive 4 times a day every day for the next 7 years.

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 11:30:36

Oh, I mean seriously north. Because of where we live we don't actually need to enter the city until Cowley Bridge.

RussiansOnTheSpree Thu 04-Jul-13 11:52:46

Traffic backs up well beyond there in the rush hour. It's the levee crossing. sad

holmessweetholmes Thu 04-Jul-13 12:42:08

Smaller is definitely not always better. Like you, I have a dd with an August birthday who is very confident. I sent her to a seemingly lovely, tiny village primary and ended up moving her - partly because the school was threatened with closure due to low numbers, but also because we weren't happy with it. Mixed year group teaching, limited resources, limited choice of friends, and a general lack of purposefulness. Very friendly, cosy etc but just not actually very good.

duchesse Thu 04-Jul-13 13:52:24

Just dropped her off for her induction afternoon. Apparently there are only 3 reception children this coming academic year!

TheInvisibleHand Thu 04-Jul-13 14:25:14

in case it helps on the free school thing, we had a really good experience. perfectly good temp accommodation in the first year, lovely new building in the second year. lots of energy and enthusiasm. Thing to test there is what you think of the head as even more than usual they totally shape it

duchesse Fri 05-Jul-13 01:20:01

Thank you Invisible, that is good to know. It looks like there might be a hold up with planning permission for the temporary site anyway, so it might be a decision we may not have to take.

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