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going mad trying to choose between 2 schools... please help me decide (very long - sorry)

(35 Posts)
elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:22:08

I'm going round in circles trying to decide between 2 primary schools for dd who is starting in reception this September, it's driving me crazy and I'm driving my family to drink.... please can you help me make up my mind?

I wanted to send dd private but we can't afford it right now, so I've shelved that idea till 7+ or 11+ by which time I might have discovered a miracle get rich quick scheme.

Needless to say our first choice school (only half a mile away) has a catchment area that requires an electron microscope to see it on the map, so dd's 26th on the waiting list and will probably only get in if hell freezes over. We live in North London, in one borough but on the border of another so I applied to both boroughs and each one has offered us a school, currently I have said yes to both but obviously have to make a decision soon.

School 1:
Pros: Good results, near the top of the league table (about 8th I think), dynamic head, lovely setting big playing field and backs onto woods, great teaching staff with very little turnover of staff. 6 of dd's friends from her current nursery will be starting there in Sept (but none of her best friends), pro-health - good school meals and plans to increase PE, 10% of year 6 leavers go to selective secondary schools (although all had extra tuition according to the deputy head)
Cons: Expanding this year from 2 form entry to 3 form entry, lots of building work going on over the next year or two, would have to drive as too far to walk and too difficult to bus, infrastructure of existing school very cruddy, half hearted approach to uniform, had a slightly chaotic air to it, IT facilities so-so

School 2:
Pros: Across the road from my mother's house, walking distance, dynamic head, very good pastoral care, great IT facilities, very calm place, kids really involved in their lessons when we visited, uniform is important, pro-health - good school meals and lots of PE, promotes self-esteem in the kids encourages involvement in lots of activities outside the scope of the curriculum.
Cons: academically not great - this year at the bottom of the league table (I've been assured this is a blip - they are usually somewhere in the middle) slap bang on the North Circular (big major road), no-one goes on to selective schools when they leave (maybe none of the parents wants to fork out for extra tuition), dd knows no-one else going there (not a big problem as she is very sociable and will make friends quickly).

In a nutshell if I had only been offered one or the other I would have been happy but trying to choose between such different places is proving impossible, like trying to decide between chocolate & cheese.... I'm sure dd will do fine whichever she ends up going to, but I really have to make a decision... which would you opt for - help me please ?!?!?!?

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:23:42

what does your gut feel say?

zebraX Thu 05-May-05 19:24:24

I'd go to School1.. and cycle to get her there

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:25:28

personally I would say academic results are less important in the early years compared to a happy and healthy environment where children can learn to socialise and learn the fun of learning

I think a bright child will shine through with the right encouragement from parents - how do you know that no-one goes on to selective schools btw?

tiffini Thu 05-May-05 19:25:42

i think you take a risk whereever you choose, school reputations can go from one extreme to the other over a year or two

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:26:02

that's the problem one day it's one the next day it's the other - I really can't pick between them

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:26:21

and totally agree that results change year on year

go with the one where you are happiest with the head and direction the school is taking

bundle Thu 05-May-05 19:26:22

whereabouts are you elibelly?

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:26:53

what do you like doing with your child best -

reading / writing or outings?

frogs Thu 05-May-05 19:27:15

What would you do if she was offered a place at your 1st choice school 4 months into the year? (This actually happened to us, so worth considering).

tamum Thu 05-May-05 19:28:23

School 1. It sounds good, and I wouldn't worry about numbers or building work. I always went to relatively small primary schools, so I couldn't imagine being at a big school, but ds and dd's school has about 550 pupils, and yet still manages to be very friendly and inclusive. If the driving isn't a problem then I would go for that. The only other thing to bear in mind is whether it will be a long way to go every time she wants to go to play with a friend.

I'd be a bit wary of school 2 even though I don't really go much for academic hot-housing at primary level. Can't really tell you why though....

wangle99 Thu 05-May-05 19:28:23

You could always forget both and move to Cornwall

(You know you can't hide from me lol!)

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:29:14

zebraX - oooh no, me on a bike we'd both end up in casualty!

twiglett - both schools had a list of secondary schools that year 6 children are going to this sept

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:33:53

wangle - you've caught me, drat!!! Cornwall not currently an option, but I've heard it's good for holidays

twiglett - I prefer outings with dd to reading/writing to be honest but am happy to do both

frogs - don't know, might move her if the school she was in wasn't working out, otherwise I'd leave her where she was, what did you do?

I'm in North London near Muswell Hill

sobernow Thu 05-May-05 19:35:38

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:38:00

from what you've said I'd opt for school 2 too

I wouldn't worry too much about one year's secondary schools - london schools change year on year

I like the concept of healthy happy children and their 'involvement' in lessons

I wouldn't minimise the hassle of facing london traffic for the school run every day nor the convenience of having your mother living close by

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:38:54

If it helps both schools were once failing and crap, School 1 got its new head 8 years ago who has turned it around, School 2 got its new head 5 years ago and is turning it around

I agree about academic hothousing at Primary level, it was another thing that put me off private at this stage apart from King Alfreds which was way out of our price range sadly

bundle Thu 05-May-05 19:39:57

no.2 sounds nice

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:41:54

hmm, so far school 2 is slightly ahead, and I agree twiglett about the traffic and my mother

I really appreciate all your comments so far...

lapsedrunner Thu 05-May-05 19:44:01

Know nothing about current UK system as live abroad with ds (2.8) but I'd go for school 2, "location, location, location" everytime. Walking distance & oposite your Mother sounds fantastic!

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:45:44

out of interest DS starts school in September

we have chosen a school that was a failing school at last ofsted but got a super-head 3 years ago who has changed the teaching faculty and processes phenomenally. That coupled with involved parents committee and a desire to make it work makes it a lovely thriving enthusiastic place which has just had a fabulous ofsted report to send DS which is seeing a huge demographic turnaround in its student body (ie more reflective of the locality). I doubt any of the graduating pupils are going on to selective schools this year but by the time DS's class is ready to leave I am sure they will be

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:46:50

apologies for mixed-up paragraph and weird sentence structure - hope you get the gist in amongst the cut and pasted waffle

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:49:09

twiglett - that sounds similar, whereabouts are you? last ofsted was terrible and was 2 months after current head had started... they desperately need a new one, has to be done this year I believe as they aren't allowed to leave it more than 6 years. PTA is thriving here too and they have a parents drop in coffee morning every week which I like, school 1 has a PTA but seem less keen for parents to involve themselves generally

elibelly Thu 05-May-05 19:51:22

sorry my last comments were about school 2... losing the plot myself there... to go and bath the kids now before they murder each other....

Twiglett Thu 05-May-05 19:55:29

SE London elibelly

There's a good school nearby that I assumed that I would fight tooth and nail to get DS into when the time came

But I think it rests on its laurels to be honest and the office staff are unbelievably rude

at least I know with this school that its on an upwards path and not stagnating (or dare I say disintegrating). DS started in its nursery at 3 and I love it and the other parents there (and its just in the next road up )

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