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Small schools - any experience?

(9 Posts)
muddaofsuburbia Tue 17-Aug-04 14:08:30

As some of you know, we'll be moving to Loch Lomond in the next few months. The nearest primary school is a few miles away in a tiny village. There are 21 pupils and 2 teachers. The ofsted report is good, but obviously having only 2 teachers means that one isn't great then 50% of the school suffers.

Does anyone have any thoughts or experience of small schools? There is a slightly larger school in the next village again which some parents prefer to send their children too for a more "normal" school atmosphere.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a small school? Ds is 2 next month, so we're a few years off, but I'd like to know my options.

muddaofsuburbia Tue 17-Aug-04 14:09:15

Meant to say "if one (teacher) isn't great..."

shrub Tue 17-Aug-04 14:12:39

i send my ds1 to a small school, having looked at bigger ones i would say there is more opportunity for learning and a caring atmosphere rather than crowd control, not good on sport but feel if and when he shows an interest then we can make up for any shortfalls at weekends/evenings?

suedonim Tue 17-Aug-04 14:35:33

My dd2 goes to our village school (about 28 pupils) as did dd1, and we all love, love, love it. We moved here when dd1 was 9 and she's now 17. Yesterday she said she would probably have gone through her school life loathing it, had it not been for her experience here.

But I take on board your concerns about the possibility of having a none-too-hot teacher. Ime, it's harder for such teachers to 'hide' in a small school and I think if you ask around (not just one or two people, but lots) you'll find out local opinions. Do go and look at the school, as well, and get a FEEL FOR THE ATMOSPHERe (oops!). Re the sports aspect, our council runs a Cluster System where all the small schools join in together for sports and other activities as well. The small schools go on to do well at senior school, generally achieving better results than the norm.

This is a good website for the pros of small schools. Nat Assoc Small Schools

muddaofsuburbia Tue 17-Aug-04 14:39:45

Thanks for that excellent site suedonim - will have a good browse tonight.

lou33 Tue 17-Aug-04 17:06:06

Miaou helps at a tiny school , I believe.

lou33 Tue 17-Aug-04 17:07:12

Also meant to say that mine attend a small infant school, only 4 teachers, and it's excellent. Much better than the larger schools they have attended in the past.

Piffleoffagus Tue 17-Aug-04 17:19:54

My son is moving from a school with 3 of each year yr classes yrss 1-6
to a small village school with 26 pupils, only one class for each year, FWIW their ofsted and results are outstanding.
I am really looking forwrd to the smaller atmosphere for him, admittedly not as small as the one you mention, it must promote closeness and reduce that lost feeling of little fish big pond, that ruins so many young kids ambitions.
Embrace change!!! There are good and bad points to anyn decision you ever make, but seek the good first

Miaou Tue 17-Aug-04 18:22:13

Hi there Mudda, as Lou said, I work in a very small school (one teacher, eight pupils). We have just had our school inspection and it was outstanding, which is completely down to our "gifted" (according to our Director of Education, no less) teacher. In a small school the teacher/pupil relationship takes on more importance because of the amount of contact each child has with them, and the fact that they could have the same teacher year after year - in our case this is a definite bonus! I know for a fact that dd1 would really struggle in a larger school as she is extremely shy, so we have no regrets about this. We are unable to "cluster" for sports because of our location (remote island), but that's our choice.

I agree with suedonim, it is much harder for a "less good" teacher to "hide" in a small school. Also, in Scotland the HMIE are committed to inspecting primary schools at least once in every seven years, so they pick up fairly quick on any problems.

As suedonim says, look at the school, try to pick up on the atmosphere, watch the children interact with the teachers ... and think seriously about the advantages of small class sizes. My dds are working between 1 and 2 years ahead of their expected levels because of the amount of time their teacher spends "teaching" them, as opposed to giving out instructions, getting them changed for PE, waiting for everyone to be quiet.... etc. HTH.

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