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school choices- no bust ups please!

(35 Posts)
Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:02:02

posting this cautiously......

Am bouncing ideas round in my head- so am interested in opinions/things I haven't thought of.

Suddlenly occured to me that d2 is 3 so we ought to start thinking about schools.

So the choice is narrowed down to 3.

1. Local State primary. Pros- will almost certainly get in, good reputation. Cons, VERY large- 270 children in infants alone. Old buildings and quite cramped. We rejected it for ds1 as it has such a bad reuptation for SN kids- especially those on the autistic spectrum. That's not really relevant for ds2 but still....
2. local church school. Pros Lovely school. Smaller. Probably won't get in- we're about 2 streets out of the catchment area. Con's no gaurantee that ds3 would get in. Also a bit further than school 1 so not sure how we'd co-ordinate pick ups with ds1's taxi.
3. Local small private school. Pros. Small- whole sachool smaller than the infants in school 1. They do pre-school, after-school and holiday care. This would give us a lot of flexibility in terms of working round ds1- both for his taxi and would help in the hoidays (say if ds2 went to holday club twice a week or something- would give me time for ds1). DS3 would be able to go as well. Cons. It's private so it cost, although cheap by private school standards.

I'm going to arrnage to go and visit these schools next week. I know people at all schools and all seem pretty happy.

Blossomhill Sat 12-Mar-05 12:18:22

If you can afford it the private option. However personally I would go for the local church school, if he can get in!

flashingnose Sat 12-Mar-05 12:23:09

Don't even think about it until you've seen the schools - seriously. It's best to go in with as open a mind as possible, then you can really trust your instincts.

Just MHO obviously !

Twiglett Sat 12-Mar-05 12:26:24

can you afford the private school .. I would ask if they have any bursaries

it certainly sounds like the best option IMHO (but be careful as I'm sure the out of school care will cost extra and you'd probably have to sign up for the whole year to it)

although I also think your state primary sounds pretty good, despite the size

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:27:48

I've visited and met the head of school 1 when we were looking for ds1. It's just big, and right on the main road. Sounds silly, but that kind of bothers me.

How easy is it to get holiday clubs for "normal" children? (sorry but I'm like a first timer when it comes to this sort of stuff). The flexibility offered by school 3 is a big plus for our family.

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:28:24

You can sign up for odd days here and there Twiglett....

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:29:28

The other thing about school 1 is that its currently 2 separate schools one the same sit (infatns and juniors). the head of the infants was lovely- but I;ve heard less complementary things about the head of the juniors.

Blossomhill Sat 12-Mar-05 12:30:15

Rememeber you'll be paying for 2 children once ds3 goes to school!

ScummyMummy Sat 12-Mar-05 12:31:35

I expect visiting may be pretty helpful in terms of deciding, jimjams. I remember that being a real eye-opener for me. Reputation is definitely not all- I hated one of the local schools with a great reputation, another was excellent and really seemed to deserve its universally brilliant accolades. Equally of the two schools I visited in trepidation, with the dire warnings of local parents ringing in my ears, one was great- my kids ended up there and they're pretty happy on the whole- and the other was really not so great! It sounds like you've got three potentially "good-enough", workable choices, so I guess it's a matter of picking the one you think will suit your boys and your day to day lives best, at the end of the day. Sounds soooooo simple when I put it like that, doesn't it?! I guess the attitude towards special needs might be a particular consideration for you. If there's a culture of not valuing children with special needs it could be hard for ds2&3 to talk about ds1 or acknowledge any issues with ds1 to friends/teachers at school. Of course they may not want to do that anyway but you might still want to think about the attitude of the school- kids do drink in the school culture, IME. Good luck with the visits.

Twiglett Sat 12-Mar-05 12:33:40

good they let you do odd days

for the state primary could he do infants then move for juniors saving 3 years fees? (well 6 including DS3)

or do they have a pre-school he can go in and you can make up your mind when rising 5

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:38:45

That is it scummy all are fine, but I do worry about the boys seeing someone with say AS being treated badly by the school (to quote local parent partnership who very indiscreetly told me that autistic children were "driven out" of that school).

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 12:43:27

incidentally the private schol is good with dyslexia and AS (the child I know there has AS and is very happy- we even thought about it for ds1 although he was too severe).

maddiemo Sat 12-Mar-05 12:48:59

Go with your gut feeling. You will know what suits their personality.
I would find it hard to send any of my children to a school that I knew had little respect for sn children.

School taxi should try to fit round you, ours was pretty flexible.

Can you apply to all schools and see what offers you get.

HUNKERMUNKER Sat 12-Mar-05 12:50:10

If you can afford the private option, I'd say go for that. I'd worry about the big school's attitude - if that rubs off on your DS2 and DS3, it won't be pleasant.

And the church school sounds like you won't get it - but I'd apply anyway!

ScummyMummy Sat 12-Mar-05 13:00:59

I would be very worried at my boys seeing that too, jimjams. One of my son's teachers is not as nearly as good as she should be with special needs issues or at valuing non academic qualities and activities generally, IMO. But luckily the school culture puts her very much in a minority on that and I am able to reinforce the generally inclusive attitude with my son, while ignoring her stupider actions/sayings or very gently suggesting to my boy that there's more than one way to skin a cat. (I do sometimes ache to tell my son exactly how horribly and ludicrously wrong I think she is on certain issues but then remember the thoughts of hmb on undermining teachers' authority and keep shtum.;)) tbh, I think there will always be the odd teacher who isn't as great as we'd like in any school but if the school as a whole has a better approach that's a huge compensating factor. I also know that if she really oversteps the mark- and boy she skates on thin ice sometimes!- I can discuss the situation with the wonderful head/deputy heads etc and they would take the matter very seriously. Actually, that's another thing I'd look out for- a good approachable head teacher who leads the school well. Makes a HUGE difference, IMO&E.

cloudy Sat 12-Mar-05 13:04:56

I would apply for the small state school with the big local school as a backup. Because you have said on other threads how your finances aren't that healthy (maybe that's changed). Being financially insecure would do my head in; add a lot more stress. I'd have to at least try the free school before getting into more debt. You can always switch to the private school later if you end up hating the big school.

lilyblossom Sat 12-Mar-05 13:10:02

Do you go to church?

ie is that part of it important?

If not do most of the children go?

I only ask because DS is at church C of E primary and most of his class go to church and belong to the youth club etc.

So DS2 may be left out if he didn't and most did. IYSWIM.

They have school services in church each term as well, the vicar does asssembley once a week.

They also have an after school club and breakfast club there too.

Also a holiday club that children from outside can come to as well and use club and swimming pool and playing fields.

If that sounds good to you then I would go for it

One of the schools round here is 3 form entry so has 90 children per year group. We personally didn't like the idea of that because of no one knowing any body.

At DS school the Headteacher knows all children and parents and siblings etc. Everybody knows everybody so is a school community, both infant and junior together.

tigermoth Sat 12-Mar-05 13:26:11

well, at least none of the schools are awful, so that's a start. I too would be worred about the large state school's somewhat anti SN culture rubbing off on ds2 and3.

FYI, once ds2 is 5 years old, you should have lots of holiday club and afterschool club options opening up. That's assuming your area is like ours. 5 is the magic age! Don't get too hung up on choosing a private school because they offer after school and holiday playclubs.

Our council runs lots of clubs for children (as do private organisations), they are reasonabluy priced and you don't have to attend any particular school to go to them. However, it's worth checking what after school clubs do school pick ups from your prospective school. If the club is near the school, and several children to go it, a school pick up is more likely. If the after school club is not attended by anyone else from the school, you may have to make your own arrangements in getting ds2 to the club. I have to do this with my ds2 - another mother picks him up after school and drops him at his afterschool club. A hassle to arrange, but not impossible!

To me your choices seem to be the church school (apply and see what happens whatever the case), the private school or another state primary school if there is one.

Think also, if you go for one school, and it doesn't work out, how disruptive would it be to move to another one? ie would it be worse moving from church to private or from private to church?

If you decide to pay the fees, what the private school offers in terms of education and flexibility, will it counterbalance the possible stress of you being poorer, and how would this impact on ds1 and you?

regarding the church school, why are you sure that ds3 would find it hard to get in if goes? is the criteria just church commitment and nearness to the school? does having a sibling at the school not count for anything?

can't think of anything else at the moment, but will come back if I do!

PuffTheMagicDragon Sat 12-Mar-05 13:29:25

If I had the money available and those choices (all of which sound good), I'd go for the private school.

roisin Sat 12-Mar-05 13:37:16

Hi Jimjams! There are obviously several 'issues' regarding school 1, and I would definitely echo the advice her to go with your "gut feeling".

But thought I should offer a few words in praise of 'big schools'. Our school is not as big - we have two (full) classes of 30 per year. But there is nursery, infants and juniors in the same building, and the building is not very spacious.

But there are loads of advantages in having a big school. For a start off budgetting is much easier for the Head, so there are loads of 'extras' for example we have: LOADS of 'extra' staff to support the full classes; we have a dedicated IT suite with 36 networked PCS, interactive whiteboards etc., full-time dedicated SENCO with no class responsibility, non-teaching Head, half-time dedicated specialist music teacher with no class responsibility (for teaching NC class music not indiv instrumental), separate dining hall (not the gym), fabulous resources for art, two amazingly well-equipped libraries. We also have frequent (4-6 times a year) visiting groups - drama and theatre groups, poets, etc. This sort of expense is easier in a large school, and the boys get an immense amount from these experiences. In the juniors they are able to divide the year group by ability for certain classes. In addition the boys have a larger pool of peers from which to find their special friends. Assemblies are very high quality, as each individual has to do fewer iyswim. There are LOADS of extra-curricular clubs and activities to choose from ...

I could go on and on. Obviously there can be disadvantages to larger schools, it depends how they are run. But it is not necessarily the case. The Head knew my boys by name within weeks (hours!) of them starting school, despite the fact that they were one out of 500.

Anyway, just felt I should say something to try and counteract the 'big is bad' feeling that you and many other people do have.

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 13:45:11

No the church school isn't very churchy- lots of my friend's kids go there as well. It is oversubscribed and I would assume we woudn't get a place as I applied for ds1 and they went to great lengths to tell me we didn't stand a chance. Only for them to then ring up 2 weeks after he'd started his m/s school and say they had a place if we wanted it. I know that they'll keep us hanging on.

Our finances are more of a cash flow crisis. I've started working now and by the time ds2 goes should be able to do a lot more. I would hope dh;s situation will have improved as well by then. Although free education would be nice - and the fees could go towards something for ds1 (although I don't want ds1 to scarifiice ds2's education iif that makes sense- so if choice 3 was right for him then I'd not want him to miss out because of ds1- he misses out on enough tbh).

Lots to think about- thanks. Anything I should be asking (I'm so used to asking about SN policies I have no clue about normal school life!)

I can apply to all 3. So I probably will, just want to save myself the deposit for the private school if we reject that iyswim.

The one I'm most unsure about is school 1.

Jimjams Sat 12-Mar-05 13:47:53

roisin- point taken - but doesn't work in this case. Because its 2 schools the infants school in particular is actually classes as a small school and therefore has a crap budget, That was a real problem for them when we looked at sending ds1 there. They had very little financial flexibility to supoort him and said unless he came with a full package (which he would have) there was no way they could cope with him.

happymerryberries Sat 12-Mar-05 13:48:52

As you already know the major issue is how good the schools 'feel'.

We send ours to a private school and one of the mojor advantages is that there is one pick up and one drop off with built in pre and post school care if we need it. This reduces my stress level so much. It also has the advantage that the children get to play with their friends from school.

I cannot tell you how much easier it makes my life without having to juggle post school care if I have, say , a meeting or parents evening.

I would imagine that this flexibility would be invaluable with ds1 IYSWIM. Private schools also offer lots of after school clubs, sports brownies etc. If this school is the same it will mean that the younger boys can have all of that catered for without you having to take them, this could be so difficult of ds1 didn't want to go etc. Dd does art club, Karate and Brownies and all I have to do is drop her at school and pick her up at the end. This takes the stress off me no end!

Also smaller private schools can be a boon for moderate SEN, with smaller classes, more staff and as you say they can be excellent for things like dyslexia and AS (dds class has a few children with ASand dyslexia)

But in the end you have to go with your gut instinct

lilyblossom Sat 12-Mar-05 14:09:02

oh btw

I wanted to just add that I/we are fully in favour of private schools

And apologies I was just saying the really big school around here in the local gossip/reputation is not well organised but we never went to look so I was only going on what others said about it rather than personal experience

Sorry everyone

I wish I had put that down in original post.

lilyblossom Sat 12-Mar-05 14:09:32

sorry rosin

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