This is a Premium feature
To use this feature subscribe to Mumsnet Premium - get first access to new features see fewer ads, and support Mumsnet.Start using Mumsnet Premium
Schools recommendations for Gentle/ AP parents(20 Posts)
Does anyone have recommendations for primary schools in and around Cambridge that they would recommend for those who subscribe to gentle/ attachment/ respectful parenting styles? We have been very disappointed with our sons school (he's in Reception) despite it's village location, its Ofsted outstanding rating and being one of the top performing schools in Cambridgeshire (in terms of SAT results). We have found it very pushy, focused solely on ticking boxes and forcing children to reach, what we see as, unrealistic targets. They never seem to praise or celebrate the child's individual achievements, effort and progress but focus on what they can't do. As the mother of a summer born boy this has been very frustrating and has had a visibly negative impact on our sons well-being, confidence, opinion of school and view of himself - which is understandably heartbreaking as a parent.
I realise the school system in the UK is very pressured and teachers and pupils are all under a lot of pressure to achieve certain quantifiable standards but I am sure some schools manage to get a better balance. We aren't focused on academic results alone, but on effort and steady progress - going at our child's pace. We want him to remain cheeky, funny, enthusiastic, curious and to continue to ask questions and explore. We love him getting dirty, spending time outside and learning from real world experiences. We are creative and music, drama and the arts are valuable in our opinion in terms of education as is sport is also something we are keen on.
I know it looks like a huge wish list but a caring environment where the school works in partnership with parents to meet the needs of the children whilst nurturing their natural passion for learning, and encouraging intrinsic motivation (not simply chasing rewards) is integral to our belief system. Children spend a lot of time at school and are there for many years, so a positive and welcoming community is what we are searching for. We are moving so would like to focus on areas around schools that most closely fit with our family - and avoid any that clearly won't. Thanks in advance.
*I am in no way suggesting that our values and ideals are any better than anyone elses. Every parent does what they think is best for their children, with the options they have. Just looking for advice from those who can relate to what I am looking for*
We are not particularly keen on Steiner School approach. Also unless one lives close to Fulbourne, which is pretty pricey, getting to the Steiner school would be tricky with Cambridge traffic. We'd prefer to be able to walk or cycle to school and have a community around the school (which we are lucky enough to have now). Thanks though, I would consider it for nursery/ preschool. We also are looking for a state school rather than private,
Are you at Bourn? Only Outstanding one locally I can think of. Generally the better results mean it’s a FIFO school (fit in or f... off...), and right from the beginning your kids are expected to toe the line, prep school lite style. I’d also stay away from Shelford, Thriplow, William Westley schools and similar. The neighbouring schools to that lot of schools tend to be quite different in style, so would be worth a look.
Amongst people we know, those with the happiest children making solid progress are at “normal” schools, ones where you don’t need a million quid to buy a house in catchment. South Cambridgeshire villages can be quite old school, which surprised me given its proximity to Cambridge.
You're not going to get that in a state school, particular not one with an Outstanding rating!
you might find it in a school in a more deprived area with a lower rating tbh.
agree that the sort of thing you are looking for is unlikely to be found in most state schools. You might do better with a small private school where your child will be in a smaller group and as you are paying you will get more deferential treatment. Alternatively you could home school and seek out like minded home school groups. No school is perfect and you are setting yourself up for disappointment if you think you will find what you are looking for. I think though that you are much more likely to find somewhere that will have the outward appearance of what you are looking for privately.
The trouble is that state schools are judged on 'results' so there will tend to be an element of targets to them. They should however be praising children, encouraging their talents etc.
You may be better off looking at one of the smaller private schools eg Sancton Wood or Heritage perhaps? I don't know very much about either of them but they both seem to be big on 'small' and 'nurturing'. No idea what they do for outside space though as both are pretty central to Cambridge.
Heritage is very much a family run thing looking at their staff and trustees which may or may not be a good thing depending on how you view those kind of things...
Ofsted outstanding means a tick box school where they half kill the teachers to get results, and so much less likely to do mucky free play, learn through play stuff.
Go for a good. Good is good enough. And you might find what you want.
(Attachment/gentle parent and ex teacher)
Sancton Wood sounds like it would meet your needs.
Surely there are only a handful of schools withing cycling distance of your home? Have you visited them all?
Will you also be searching for a non-academic secondary school?
NotAnotherJaffaCake thanks for your responses. Yes they only want children who fit their mould. We didn't send out son to the school he's at because of it's Outstanding rating, it is our local village school and has a good reputation it's just not for us.
Cansu thank you for your reply. I realise that no school will be perfect but it isn't unreasonable for a child to feel happy, supported and valued. We have no SEN and we won't be sending our child to private/ independent school. It may seem like an unrealistic, and as I said we don't expect all our wish list, but it is worth letting people know the things we value in terms of receiving relevant advice.
DullAndOld and CLarryLove thanks. I would avoid Ofsted Outstanding rating going forward. In the words of a friend who left teaching because they didn't agree with bureaucracy "If a school is Outstanding they are failing someone. The teachers are often frazzled and stressed trying to maintain the ridiculously high standards; and the focus is not on the children and their needs but on obtaining the best exam results". In my limited experience this seems ti be the case from my sons school experience and from speaking to friends who are, or were, teachers.
(No it's not Bourne but did get 85% in SATS and is Ofsted outstanding in Cambridgeshire).
Bi11yOneMate thanks for your reply. I whole heatedly agree. Many thanks. Good is definitely good enough.
Thanks RockNRollNerd, you may be right but private/ independent schools are not an option for us, financially or otherwise. Thanks though. I have a good friend who teaches at The Perse Prep and hear great things about that school.
PerspicaciaTick I am in the process of moving, early days. I am researching school options to help inform our new location closer to Cambridge (we are currently in Cambridgeshire).
And I think Secondary School is a completely different kettle of fish; we'll send our children where will be best for their needs and interests as much as possible
Bear in mind that most of the “naice” villages around Cambridge are full of pushy parents so to a large extent schools are just catering to demand. Makes it even tougher if you want a less bonkers environment for your children. That said, those schools are out there in the state sector. There is a lot of turnover in heads around here at the moment though so some schools may change significantly in the short term.
My dc were at Bourn although several years ago now so it might have changed. But I loved its ethos and it certainly didn't used to be pushy. IME every child was celebrated for his/her individuality and strengths. It's still got the same head so I can't imagine it's changed much.
It was me who incorrectly suggested Bourn as I think it’s one of the very few Outstanding schools close to Cambridge - the OP has confirmed it’s not Bourn so I don’t want people to think badly of Bourn!
Apologies for any confusion!