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Gentle primary school

(17 Posts)
rosemarie04 Sat 04-Nov-17 23:24:43

Dear all,

I have a very sensitive child and am looking for a calm and gentle school that is more a continuation of nursery than real school with lots of free play, outdoor time, crafts, singing... Which primary in Cambridge comes closest to this? I am really not bothered about results and we are flexible location wise. Currently considering moving abroad as I am very worried about starting school at 4. We are not considering home schooling.

I would be very grateful for your advice and opinions. Thanks a lot!

MrsOverTheRoad Sun 05-Nov-17 00:19:18

Well unfortunately, no state schools are as you describe...they're not nursery...they're school and that's a different kettle of fish isn't it.

I do understand your concerns, it's very young to begin formal education but most children adjust perfectly well.

Jaynebxl Sun 05-Nov-17 08:25:16

Reception classes in any school should have free play and outdoor time etc but as the pp said they're all still schools. Go and look at some so you get a feel for them. And I'm not sure moving abroad will help... It's a myth that children in this generic abroad place start school at 6 or 7.

StarAboveParvati Sun 05-Nov-17 10:40:24

Have a look at the new University of Cambridge Primary School. It's out towards Girton off Huntingdon Road but lots of people go there from citywide at the moment as its catchment area hasn't been built yet. Easy to get there by bike and public transport (the U bus stops right there, or close by is the Citi5 or Citi6 or the Madingley Rd Park and ride (or car if needs must).

From what I can gather (happy to be corrected) it kind of builds on the free flow element of the EYFS, children are free to come and go as they please indoor/outdoor. It has a huge outdoor play area with forest school elements.

I think it is a bit of an educational experiment (although they say it is not).

Might be worth a look if you are looking for something completely different.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 05-Nov-17 10:44:30

Agree, 'abroad' may not have formal schooling until 6 or 7 but they still go to Kindergarten and have to abide by the constraints of a group setting. OP, you don't have to send your child to school until Year 1 if you don't want to, although I think you'd be doing them a disservice socially to withhold them. Unless of course you can find a nursery that's willing to keep them another year so they don't miss out on socialisation. But you do then have to take whichever year 1 place is offered for your child and it would be a good idea to cover some phonics/reading/numeracy so they don't arrive in year 1 with no idea. For what it's worth there is a lot of play in reception, but Year 1 is a big jump up in terms of what's expected, so I would think it's better to ease your DC in gently by doing reception.

rosemarie04 Sun 05-Nov-17 12:54:39

Thanks, my husband is from Scandinavia and there they dont start school until 6 or 7 and it is still very play based. I know that there is a lot of difference in how reception class is managed depending on the school. Have heard of one school that already does a lot of formal tests in reception and sits children in year 1 according to results, something I definitely want to avoid but which some of my friends appreciate. I am not saying that one approach is better than the other. Good to hear that there are alternatives such as university primary and am very thankful for this sort of advice. I would prefer him to start school with everyone else at the same time but still in a setting that comes closest to nursery. Thanks a lot, I admit that I might be worrying too much.

Jaynebxl Sun 05-Nov-17 18:10:33

my husband is from Scandinavia and there they dont start school until 6 or 7 and it is still very play based
But in reality most children below that age are already in educational settings. Drives me mad when people bandy around this idea that in other countries children are home with mummy til 7 without being subjected to the cruel torture that is a school setting .

I'd also be careful how much you believe about stories such as the one you quote op. Everyone has an agenda. Go see for yourself.

rosemarie04 Sun 05-Nov-17 18:38:14

I never said that in Scandinavia children are with their mums until primary school. In fact, this is very uncommon, most children attend nursery from 1.5 years old. However, in my opinion it is still very different to start formal schooling at 4 or 6.
I am just asking for school recommendations and personal experience, there might be people in Cambridge who have felt the same when looking for a school. Thanks!

Jaynebxl Sun 05-Nov-17 18:44:04

I think you may have an inaccurate idea of what starting formal education at 4 may actually look like in the UK. There's only so many times I can suggest you actually go and look for yourself though.

NewbyCambs Sun 05-Nov-17 19:06:03

Have you been to any of the primary schools in Cambs, as Jaynebxl says, I don’t think any Reception class (or none I have seen) have a particularly formal approach to education, it’s just a gradual progression from nursery, still lots of learning from play but maybe more subject focused, lots of phonics songs and counting various objects I am anxcious about the start of Reception too but I think 6/7 would be delaying it for far too long. The majority of children do adjust to the setting they are in and are ready and willing to learn. I went to look at Morley Memorial Primary off Hills Road last week and it seemed a lovely, supportive and unintimidating place. If you wanted to go private, Sancton Wood are well known for their pastoral care and much smaller class sizes (15 per class). It depends what it is that worries you, the curriculum or the setting, im pretty sure all schools in Cambs will follow the same curriculum in terms of learning, it’s just what place you like best. Although as it’s all catchment based in anycase for state schools you would need to be living within the area by beginning of January 2018 when the applications close.

Biscuitsneeded Sun 05-Nov-17 21:09:18

It's been a few years since mine were that age, but I know for a fact they did a lot of playing in reception, lots of outdoor exploring etc. They certainly didn't sit any tests. It was a lot like nursery at first, with a gradual introduction of some more formal learning but all in an accessible way. To be honest I think they struggle much more with year 1 when they suddenly had to sit down and do more of what they considered 'work'. Reception was rather lovely actually.

overmydeadbody Sun 05-Nov-17 21:29:28

It's been a long time since my DC went there, but park Street primary school in the centre of Cambridge is tiny, like one big family, and they were quite 'hippy' and alternative back in the day, so might suit what you are looking for.

RonnieHall Wed 11-Apr-18 15:18:39

Looking at this myself, but my child is already in Reception and it has been very tricky. We are in St Neots, Cambridgeshire. Schools seem to vary a lot so my advice would be to visit a number of schools, speak to them about your concerns, visit at both open evenings and during the daytime when the children are there and go with your gut feeling. Remember a schools culture is very important and this is often built top down.

Also it is worth noting, many people aren't aware of this, that there are lots of options.

Firstly, children don't have to start school at all (Home Ed is completely legal and you don't have to register them or anything).

Secondly if you choose to send your child to school then pay attention to the CSA dates (compulsory school age). Many people say that CSA is the term after the turn 5 years old but this cna be misleading. The prescirbed dates are 31st December, 31st March and 31st August (so children born 1st April onwards are summer born and not CSA until Year 1). Check out School Admissions Code, point 2.16 for more information.

You can defer a school place without losing it until CSA (or Summer term if your child is summer born).

You can also send your child to school on a part time basis before they are CSA. You can't be fined for taking them out of school before they are CSA either, so holidays and days off are fine (but you will have to inform the school formally of planned absences the same as all parents - they will just be authorised automatically). This may be frowned upon, and schools often discourage these things or tell you you can't do it but this isn't correct.

There are lots of groups online that can help with advice and legalities too if you're interested.
Facebook: Flexible School Admissions for Summer Borns is one group, and there are Home Ed groups and FlexiSchooling groups that can help too.
You can also check out Personal Education Now org website too. They have an info document on their FB pinned post for pt schooling for under 5's that is helpful.

Hope you find a wonderful place for your little one. There are great schools around, and not one size fits all. Go with your instincts, you know your child best. Not all state schools are the same, visit and ask questions.

Bob13 Wed 11-Apr-18 23:59:03

I'm another one seconding the university primary. The reception has a big open outdoor area that children can use freely much of the day. The ethos is very inclusive, creative, and child centered. I've not heard of any children that are not happy there.

BlueChampagne Fri 13-Apr-18 13:35:33

Can only advise you to arrange some visits to schools. You may want to prioritise those that have separate infants and juniors, but also check your catchment area, unless you're planning to go private. Woodland/Forest schools might be something you want to keep an eye out for too.

Free flow and play-based education are very much part of EYFS curriculum, which includes Reception.

DS1 who has a late August birthday has thrived at Hardwick primary.

SunnyLikeThursday Sun 15-Apr-18 18:15:58


I was in your shoes 4 years ago and infants was a ghastly experience. We've now had an assessment with a pediatric psychologist and found that my dc's language is just a little delayed, which is why he struggled so badly. He also had anaemia, which took forever to be diagnosed because nobody believed me that he was struggling.

It might be worth leaving the school question aside and getting a private appointment with a pediatrician and a pediatric psychologist asap. The school can move mountains for your child if you have a letter from a professional, but they will do nothing on the word of a worried mother.

Just a thought, as I know how you feel, and how difficult it can be.

Take care there. flowersx

RonnieHall Thu 19-Apr-18 14:27:07

SunnyLikeThursday so sorry your child had a bad experience too. We are certainly not alone. My son has no specifics holding him back just that he's not quite ready for the full on nature of school; and the culture at his school is poor imo despite their Outstanding Ofsted. I have reduced him to 3 days pw until he is CSA (compulsory school age on 31st August 2018). So hoping a new school for Yr 1 will do the trick, as he'll be that much older and hopefully cope better.

His father is going for tests for thalassemia at the moment so may look to get the kids tested if he is.

Thanks again.

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