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Dilemma! How do we choose between 2 schools that are particularly different?

(39 Posts)
CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 17:04:34

Background- we registered our daughter with the (independent) school in our area that we liked best, however as we had left it later than we intended, she only had a place on the waiting list.
As it drew closer to the time when she should commence school we started to panic dither a little, so went to view another school that we had previously discounted for some unmemorable reason. We actually quite liked this 2nd school, so put her on the waiting list there immediately.
The current economic climate being what it is, the 2nd school intimated that it was very likely she would secure a place there to start in september after DH pressed them on the matter.

This morning however, we received a letter from the first school offering her a place to begin in January shock- something we weren't now particularly expecting.

The problem is that the 2 schools have quite different strengths- and there are aspects of each that I prefer- how on earth do I decide?

It is compounded by the fact that we have been offered for her to start in January BUT I am due to give birth in Jan, and I feel this would be far too much for my DD to cope with emotionally- she isn't 3 until February.

Has anyone been in similar circumstances? Is it likely that school 1 would let us defer entry until Easter without penalty, when things at home will have settled a little?
I balk a little at paying her nursery fees (FT) and school fees for a whole term when in reality she is likely to attend neither very much once I am home with the baby.

Practicalities-wise I do not see how she is to start school- any school- in January. Both schools are somewhat distant from our home, and neither DH nor MIL drive, and it is growing increasingly likely I will be having a csection this time round, putting me out of action for 6 weeks or so. We are intending to move (closer to both schools), though in 18 months time probably, especially with the housing market the way it it at present.

If you have read this far.... Thank you! smile

Overmydeadbody Fri 24-Oct-08 17:06:30

Forget about the strengths that you prefer or like, which school's strengths would suit your DD better, long term?

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 17:10:53

That's the problem- there are aspects of each that seem to suit her, and aspects of each that shall be a compromise shall we say. Of course DS will also be going there hopefully, and we know nothing about him yet!

LIZS Fri 24-Oct-08 17:13:53

I'm not sure why you feel you have to start her so young particularly if she is already at nursery. Ask them to consider her for a start later on as your circumstances make it impractical to take up their offer at the moment - chances are they can fill the place in the meantime and keep her top of the list when the next place comes up. After Easter you'd probably get LEA grant. You do need to make a choice mentally now though as the dilemma may well crop up again.

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 17:19:40

We are worried that if a place is offered to the next child, another may not come up. When we viewed the 1st school we were told that turnover was extremely low, which is why we had kind of lost hope of her being offered a place IYSWIM.

Also, she has definitely outgrown her nursery now. sad She really seems ready to start in a school environment- though I feel that will wobble a little come January of course.

needmorecoffee Fri 24-Oct-08 17:24:41

distance

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 17:26:31

LOL- they are equidistant!

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 17:27:39

Hellish commute to/from both at present tbh, but as we are moving in the nearish future, we will move closest to whichever we have chosen.

lljkk Fri 24-Oct-08 17:57:22

How sure is it, really, that you WILL move closer? How near is the 'nearish' future, when would you actually move by?

needmorecoffee Fri 24-Oct-08 18:14:21

just read her age. She's 3! Ehy is she starting school at 3?

LIZS Fri 24-Oct-08 18:23:59

oh and I would n't subject a 3 year old to a regular lengthy commute, let alone want to commit to it with a newborn. How far a drive is it ?

mazzystartled Fri 24-Oct-08 18:28:12

leave it till after you have moved. a govd while after. a new baby, a new house is enough to cvpe with.

can you nvt defer a place at either school until september?
May at the earliest?

i have to say i find it extremely unlikely that any two and a half year old is "ready for a school environment" and any decent nursery should respond to a child and provide suitable activities and experiences appropriate to her age and abilities

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 18:40:52

lljkk we are definitely moving closer- to within 200 yards of school 2, and 500 yards of school 1- it is much closer for my workplace.
Currently commute would be 3 miles, but cross-city which is the nightmare part.

We aren't planning to move for 18 months btw.

Re nursery- she is older than all the other children in her room unfortunately. There is no space in the room above her.

mazzystartled Fri 24-Oct-08 19:08:35

when will you be working again post baby? and where will they be?

why hasn't your nursery planned it so there is room in the room above? Sounds a bit disorganised on their part.

Will she stay at this school only for preschool or beyond? or be moving again?

In all honesty kids are really adaptable, she may well cope with a nursery move at the same time as a new sibling. But if the commute is a nightmare now, imagine it with a tiny baby in tow as well.....

dilemma456 Fri 24-Oct-08 19:18:27

Message withdrawn

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 20:06:39

Unfortunately we have been unlucky at her day nursery with her age-group- there seems to have been a baby boom when she was born, and she has almost always been the oldest in her room, and developmentally (in terms of EYFS) she is ahead of her age. However the care provided and the staff being so lovely and stable have meant that we have not wanted to move her from there as she has been so happy- though at times a little frustrated by younger roommates. The niggles are so minor that it really isn't worth the disruption to her life, and we did select this nursery after viewing lots of others. Children are pretty adaptable, but she is less easy-going than some!

I will hopefully be returning to work after a year (ie Jan/feb 2010) when DD is turning 4, and looking to move pretty soon after that (commute is a killer for me at the moment).

The 2 schools we are looking at go through nursery, pre-prep and prep up to 11- so it will be a long term move, and we want her to start with the cohort she will grow-up with IYSWIM.

dilemma456 sorry- don't remember giving you advice on schools.... but yes it is Bham! Umm- re-reading the title... it looks like this thread was addressed to you! grin

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 20:17:00

OK -
School 1
Reasonably academically orientated
Excellent outdoors space- children in early years have free access to the outdoors at all times
Class size of 16
Newish Head who seems to have cut out some of the dead wood IYSWIM
Excellent destinations at 11
Focus on sport as well as academic side
I HATE the uniform! blush
gender balance 50:50 by chance

School 2
Little less pressured academically-wise
Larger, brighter classroom space
Poor access to outdoor space (imo)
Class size of 20
Head been established there for 15 years
Excellent destinations at 11
Focus on Music as well as academic side- Kodaly method every morning from age 3
Swimming pool onsite
No uniform until prep (7)
Gender balance 50:50 by design

TheWickerCam Fri 24-Oct-08 20:22:38

Captain nancy, I am confused. Why can't you state when you want the entry to be for your child?

When I put my dd's name for independent school, I told them I wanted a place in September Year **

It is entirely up to you when your child starts.

TheWickerCam Fri 24-Oct-08 20:24:14

Any school will have a completely new intake every September, after all

fembear Fri 24-Oct-08 20:26:04

Ask both schools for deferred entry until Easter: if one is understanding and flexible and the other isn't, then do you have your answer?

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 20:31:55

fembear you may have something there!

(I do not trust fate to make the decision for me though....smile)

wicker (you are cammelia no?) if I defer when the place is available, I am worried there will not be a place when we want one. To be honest, ideally that would be September 2009. We were truly given the opinion by school 1 that even though we were on the waiting list we would be unlikely to get a place, as they are extremely over-subscribed.

That said- this was before the downturn in the economy... and perhaps people have been hit quite hard by that and are re-assessing whether independent education is currently within their means.

TheWickerCam Fri 24-Oct-08 20:39:04

Yes tis me. I seriously would not be willing to place my child in a school before I decided she was ready/I was ready.

As you are paying, it really must be your decision. If a school does not have a place when you want it, that is the school's loss wink

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 20:44:10

The problem is- September 2009 intake was full... so will they go for that if we say that's what we want? [clueless emoticon]
Of course, who can say where the economy will be by September next year....

(We are thankfully protected from that though, as the funds for DCs education are already in place)

dilemma456 Fri 24-Oct-08 20:45:11

Message withdrawn

CaptainNancy Fri 24-Oct-08 20:58:39

Dilemma- are you CATable?

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