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how much do other parents matter when it comes to choosing a school?

(28 Posts)
nowirehangers Tue 12-Aug-08 17:17:31

before xmas we need to decide on a school for dd1. We might go state or private, not going into that debate here. BUT I have noticed recently with dd1's nursery that bitchy school gate cliques, which I always thought were an invention, are in fact true and I want to stay well clear.
Nearest school to us is private. Have been told on a few occasions it's not right for me because it's "full of yummy mummies and you're not yummy." Also told it's very bling ... and I'm not bling.
Can't decide if these are compliments or insults (though it has made me think I need to smarten up a bit blush), but it has made me think. The next school from us, which I hear is far more down-to-earth, is a good 10-min drive away if traffic is OK, while the yummy school is walkable. I am hate the idea of a school run for both eco and convenience reasons if it's avoidable. I also like the idea of dd1 having more local friends. But if I'm not going to fit in, does that mean she's not going to fit in? And ideally I'd like to be friendly with the other mums, though as I work four days a week I doubt I'll have that much to do with them. Ultimately it's where dd1 will be happiest and I don't think four year olds will give her too much stick because we don't have a 4 by 4/go skiing/wear top-to-toe designer. Or maybe they will? Wise advice gratefully received grin

MadreInglese Tue 12-Aug-08 17:19:15

You're going to come across closed cliques, friendly groups, alpha bitches and lovely mums at any school, I don't think whether it's state or private would make a difference.

nowirehangers Tue 12-Aug-08 17:21:29

not so much worried by state vs private, as hearing how snooty the first school is BUT it is the nearest by far. State is furthest away of all options, otherwise would be my first choice

cornsilk Tue 12-Aug-08 17:23:08

They are digs. Ignore them - snooty mummies at every school. Easy to spot and give a wide berth to.

FioFio Tue 12-Aug-08 17:24:52

Message withdrawn

nowirehangers Tue 12-Aug-08 17:31:21

exactly, fiofio, that's what I think!
But if I'm not the kind of mum who fits in with the school ethos would that affect my child?
I must sound really thick, but I just don't know - warnings have scared me off and made me think I'm some kind of hillbilly, once I used to be quite glamorous and convivial but obviously no more wink

captainpig Tue 12-Aug-08 21:36:58

Just make appointments to visit the schools, and you will know which one is right for both of you.

Uriel Tue 12-Aug-08 21:39:23

Who on earth has told you to your face that you're not 'yummy'? And do you care about their opinion?

nowirehangers Wed 13-Aug-08 10:20:42

The head of dd1's nursery!
She meant it in the nicest possible way, she's famous for her bluntness. Think she wants to save me from a tornado of Boden clones wink

AMumInScotland Wed 13-Aug-08 10:32:49

I think that, while it's interesting to hear other people's opinions, in the end they may not have first-hand experience of what they're talking about, and they are also not you, so what they think may not match what you think.

So, go to look at the possible schools, with these questions in mind, and see how they match up.

You might also find that, although you are in walking distance of the private school, many of the other children will be coming in by car, so you may not get local friends that way.

MaloryDontDiveItsShallow Wed 13-Aug-08 10:35:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ELR Wed 13-Aug-08 10:42:16

i wouldnt worry yummys dont wear boden far to comfortable!!
i would say if you can comfortably afford private, you will fit in no problem.
If its a struggle then the whole lifestyle is out of your reach if you know what i mean.

ELR Wed 13-Aug-08 10:46:12

you dont have to be a yummy mummy but remember that people with money do tend to go on nice holidays, drive nice cars and live in nice houses, so if you dont have all these things then maybe your dd could be left out or indeed feel left out. As some girls get older they do become more bitchy and competitive.

nowirehangers Thu 14-Aug-08 09:44:33

very good point mum in scotland about others kids being driven to school. In the meantime I think I need to lurk a bit around school gates in question and see if we blend in! x

RubyRioja Thu 14-Aug-08 09:52:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chipmunkswhereareyou Sun 17-Aug-08 21:43:04

I think it does matter but is secondary to whether the school is right for your children.
The two issues are of course linked as I do think if you don't fit in at all as a family it could be tricky for the dcs to fit in.

I personally would run a mile from a school populated by the offspring of Boden wearers but that's another thread! Imagine all the flippy spotty skirts...I wouldn't cope grin.

I sincerely hope the nursery head didn't mean that as it sounds!

But back to the OP - seriously, go and visit the schools - I suspect the one which will appeal most will be the one where you will fit best as a family anyway.

Am intrigued as to which region of the country you live in as it sounds a bit like one of the private schools near here...the bling one.

bluejellybean Sun 17-Aug-08 21:53:52

OMG you choose the right school for YOUR CHILD. You need to be thinking about curriculum focus, extra curricular activities offered, Special needs, gifted and talented provision.

Perhaps the parents who clearly have too much time on their hands, could get their hands dirty in the classroom helping out instead of comparing sun glasses?

morocco Sun 17-Aug-08 22:03:59

I avoided a few on those grounds, not cos I'd have to slink in and out of school gates but cos I didn't want the kids to mix with too many money obsessed spoilt brats. I went to a very snooty school and there was a lot of bitchiness about cars/holiday/presents. we were lucky though cos our nearest school is brill. not posh but fantastic caring ethos and achieves really good results based on value added. beware the good schools with good sats but crap value added - make sure the results don't just reflect parental input - all too common at a lot of so called 'good' schools

TotalChaos Sun 17-Aug-08 22:10:49

IME very little. As other ladies have said, visit the schools, and see what you think of the atmosphere. Not all well groomed well dressed women are going to be stuck up!

nowirehangers Mon 18-Aug-08 14:46:35

chipmunks - where are you then? Go on, gissa clue?
Of course I would look at curriculum etc at both schools and that would be the most important thing - I THINK what the nursery head was trying to say is the bling school has a reputation for being very social, the parents hang out together a lot and they are a certain "our husbands all earn loads in the city and we drink lattes all day and go to the gym" types. I'm not like that, I work, dh doesn't work in the city, we drop dd off on a bike rather than in a 4x4, which is the norm round here and often look a bit scruffy as we both work from home and don't need to dress up. But having said that I can scrub up if needs be. What I really was asking was if the other parents are very different from you will your child fit in and as some of you have said possibly not!

chipmunkswhereareyou Mon 18-Aug-08 15:11:21

N. London.

nowirehangers Mon 18-Aug-08 20:07:02

ha ha, we are s london.
Hard to avoid bling these days, maybe the credit crunch will change that

chipmunkswhereareyou Mon 18-Aug-08 20:13:30

I'm quite reassured - I thought it was only up this way that we had hideously blingy, glitzy big haired mums with rhinestone coated accessories!

harpomarx Mon 18-Aug-08 20:19:19

you will know which is the right school when you go to visit. The parents don't matter but you sound worried about something else - odd dilemma to be choosing between state and private on these grounds. Is it more the case that you want to go private but are struggling with the idea of it (doesn't fit in with your beliefs etc)? About having local friends - if it's a private school, surely lots of the children will be coming from further away? ie not all local at all - if this is true that would cancel out that argument for choosing the school.

Chandra Mon 18-Aug-08 20:31:48

Have only read the OP so apologies if repeating something else someone else has said, or for jumping just in time to be slagged off

I also had a problem when deciding between a private school that seemed excellent and a very good state one. If money is not a problem, the walkable one issue will sell it to me (I drive for more than half an hour each way to take DS to school), being able to participate in the community that is meeting around your house is another inmense bonus, as it involves plenty of play dates and helping each other out to collect children, drop children, some new friends in the area for your, etc.

Regarding the "nasty" clique at the doors of the private one... I agonised about this. I attended a private school and being the daughter of one of the teachers, a rather "alternative" type one, I really had a bad time so I was fearing the story will repeat again when at the doors. The thing was that, I had the oportunity to go to parents evenings at both schools and soon realised that I had more in common with the parents of the private school than with the ones in the other one. (Don't take me wrong here, the ones in the other school were also fantastic people, but as a expat I felt somewhat isolated and very noticeable, and I found this private school full of mums that were exactly in the same circumstances as I was. So we had some common ground for friendships to flourish, therefore it wasn't long before I was leading the one and only "clique" at the doors blush.

It is not a mean clique, we started having coffee after droping off the children on wednesdays and so many people started to join us that now we are more than 15, everybody is welcomed, even those nasty alpha mums who refused to say hello in the early days wink).

BTW I'm not a yummy mummy, far from it, I'm not rich, I have travelled a lot though but not in luxury IYWIM, but I feel this other women at school may be richer, prettier or whatever but I don't care because I like them for what they are inside and I supose that's why they like me too

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