Downs and Balfour....(13 Posts)
We live between both of these and would love to hear some thoughts from current parents as to pluses and minuses of both as really finding it difficult to decide what to put down first...of course I know the decision is ultimately out of our hands but I thought they would feel more different and what we've seen so far they felt similar.
I know Balfour has more outdoor space and a uniform....Downs is on separate sites and non uniform....so not telling them apart at the moment really!
Any thoughts much appreciated.
I missed whatever your message was @hildeburgbrown...now very curious 😂
If you definitely want your Dc to go to one of those schools and you don't have a strong preference then I would put first choice as the one you have most chance of getting into (criteria wise). I had a friend who put Balfour first but lived a bit closer to Downs and had no other higher criteria - she got neither school (I think there were a lot of siblings that year).
I would also think about the school ethos and attitudes of the Head - are the staff happy or is there a big turnover. I think the attitude of the Head really influences the "feel" of a school and how DC are supported. Are the Balfour kids still allowed out into the fields at play time or has H&S prevailed? Their actual playground isn't any bigger than Downs. My kids are in secondary/6th form/uni now so I can't give you up to date info. I felt Downs infants was a bit windswept and the view of the recycling centre and the Jewish graveyard wasn't inspiring.
I know children who went to both schools and they were in general both good.
Downs Infants has a new headteacher (and deputy) as of September and she is lovely. Although I can envisage there being some changes afoot as she’s quite feisty in her own way!
The head at Balfour has been there a while now, quite established but it is a massive school. Quite a lot of staff movement over the last couple of years.
You have to also consider that one is a through primary and the other is infants and then juniors. You would have to apply for juniors again in a couple of years time. The feeling between the infants and juniors is quite different. They are completely different schools as opposed to sites.
I’ve had friends send their children to both and I think Downs pips it in balance. Although people are much happier with the Infants than the Juniors. Go to both, look around and see what you get the best feel for.
disclaimer- Brighton and Hove teacher. I used to work very nearby
I would recommend that you join the "brighton and hove mummy group" (annoying name I know) on Facebook if you are on it as you'll probably get more replies there. I have friends with children at both schools and all happy. I'm not sure there's much between the two schools so go with your instint. they are both as you know in a pretty affluent area and both have a good reputation.
My impression is that Balfour does tend to attract wealthy "down from Londoners" and downs is slightly more more diverse on the socio-economic front if that's important to you. I would probably go for Downs for that reason but that's just me (we moved from that area to Portslade before we applied for a school place)
WRT what Wormulonian says above regarding putting your top choice as the one you are most likely to get into, you won't be penalised for putting a school as your second preference. ie if you put Balfour as your first but don't get in due to distance you will be considered for Downs on the same par as someone who put downs as their 1st choice. hope that makes sense.
If you care about oftsed Balfour has just got requires improvement......
@fluffychickenmonkey what do you mean by the 'requires impovements' by latest Ofsted report? The ofsted website still shows the 'good' result from the last 2012 inspection. Have you got any knowledge about it?
We are considering both schools at the moment, and went to the recent open days. They both seemed really nice and staff/heads from both the schools impressed us. But still very in doubt - not used to the divison into infants/junior, so it's more difficult for me to picture the school routine that way.
They have just had an Ofsted inspection and it hasn’t been published yet.
I see. It is surprising though, we where there last week (evening open day, so no kids around) and were very impressed by the school premises. Everything looked spacious, tidy, clean and plenty of equipments/tools/resources. The teacher we toured with seemed amazing and the headteacher too. They also have very good results, so I can't see how they could have such a poor result!
@fluffychickenmonkey Do you know when it'll be published? I'm curious to read where they lacked results the most.
It's on the schools website here www.balfourprimary.co.uk/web/ofsted-reports
Thank you @GreenGoblin0, I'm reading it right now. Very useful
Maybe you should consider why Balfour has such good results, is it because of the amazing teaching or is it because of the intake of the children? I would say it is an exceptionally middle class school with very motivated parents, so the results are massively influenced.
Balfour has much better outside space that Downs and isnt next to the recycling place aka the dump which often stinks and drifts over the playground and it is now one massive primary rather than 2 schools.
But I have heard several times (from staff and parents) that children who are SEN or relatively low achieving (who in another school would be middle of the road) are not always supported and so I was not surprised to see the Ofsted report highlighting it.
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