Anyone fancy chatting about Primary schools?

(28 Posts)
lililolo Tue 12-Jul-11 14:35:00

I've searched the archives and know it's all been done before, but having a little panic about my DD's reception place.

We've been given a place in the bulge reception class at St Mary Mags. Which we were largely pleased about until we went to the open evening and realised the emphasis on religion which we known now we were naive about. We were both raised as RC and went to RC schools, but I'm now atheist / humanist and my husband would say he is Catholic but disagrees with the church on quite a lot: contraception, sanctity of life, sex before marriage, same sex relationships and the general brainwashing that goes on. We didn't have a reference from the priest, obviously as we don't go to mass and didn't tell them we were even nominally catholic on the form. Anyway, starting to get cold feet about sending her there (although the staff at the school are lovely and it's perfect in every other way). Can any one reassure me about the level of religion?

Meanwhile, our two nearest schools are Barnes and East Sheen and we are no. 37 and 33 on their waiting lists respectively. Kew Riverside has made a surprise appearance in the charts and we found out we are no.5 on their list. We went to see it yesterday and really liked it, although it is a bit of a trek we would def send her there if she gallops up the list. Can anyone guess whether this is likely? Good news stories of other people being lower on the list would be great. I've been considering spreading viscious rumours about it so people drop out ;) ;) (just for legal reasons should point out this is a JOKE!).

Lowther is the other option. We are waiting for them to do the measurements, but apparently someone else in our street is quite high on the list. I know it's a good school, but it is far from us and DH is worried about their lukewarm ofsted (although what do they know).

Not sure if it makes any difference, but DD knows other children going to Barnes, East Sheen, Kew Riverside and Lowther, but no one for StMaryMags.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts smile

Kewcumber Thu 14-Jul-11 11:13:05

My DS is at Riverside and I love it. there are definitely drop outs right up until the start date and even a few weeks in (staggered starts so wouldn;t be a problem) Truly a very nice small school.

DS has a friend at Mary Mags and though he loves it I would say (from my atheist perspective) that it is very churchy indeed! He mentioned God at his birthday party when we saw him last!

Kewcumber Thu 14-Jul-11 11:14:06

I think one of DS's classmates was about 6 on the list last year and got in but not until late August so a bit of a nervous wait.

lililolo Thu 14-Jul-11 20:55:43

Thanks for replying Kewcumber. I probably saw your son in the reception class on Monday! It does seem like a lovely school. I am trying not to get my hopes up too much, but it seems much more in line with my beliefs and had a lovely atmostphere (although StMaryMags did too, to be fair).

SMM is a really friendly school, and I have the impression they are very kind. But I do have a problem with the God stuff. Apparently the only right I have to appeal her place is if she had a sibling, which she doesn't thanks to infertility!

That's reassuring about your DS's classmate though. I'm going to hold my nerve. Possibly until January as she doesn't have to go into compulsory education until then anyway. Plus, a few of her friends are doing 2-5 at her current nursery until they go full time in January, so she could just do that.

Feel a bit mad as I know so many people desperate to get a place in SMM. I wish I didn't feel so strongly about the religious stuff, but I doooooo!

Kewcumber Thu 14-Jul-11 22:46:14

we had 4 places open up during the year this year (one in January as the family were posted hme to Canada) so not at all impossible. Yes you probably saw my DS then - the impossibly cute one with a will of iron!

I didn;t even apply for either of the lcoal church schools (we would have got a place at Queens) much to my mothers horror because I was too disturbed by the idea of having God conversations with my 5 yr old.

Anyway my mum has come around as she loves the school too.

sfxmum Thu 14-Jul-11 22:52:46

I will butt in an second all that KewC smile

can't really go for all the God business and the school is lovely, dd is now at the end of year 1

good luck

Kewcumber Thu 14-Jul-11 22:56:05

we still have God conversations but they are a great deal easier when he doesn't come home saying "miss X says if we don;t do blah then God will not love us" apply other religious belief of your choice.

sfxmum Thu 14-Jul-11 23:01:12

oh yes only she decides every other week she wants to be a different religion just because they talk about it at school grin

just have to stop DH telling her 'no darling we do not have religion we have reason' that would pretty much guarantee a chat with the teacher about respecting different beliefs

Kewcumber Fri 15-Jul-11 13:18:26

sfx - you want to try my explanation which is a little more teacher friendly "do you beleive in god mummy?" no DS ""what do you beleive in then?" I beleive in people.

Lili - had a class coffee morning this morning and one ofthe calss was number 5 on the waiting list and one was number 9 both got offered places in July.

gingergaskell Mon 18-Jul-11 23:36:01

Hmm, that's interesting lili, Kew Riverside was my first choice. I live in Kew about 700m from the school and was 27th on the list {when they first came out at placements}.
I was told that they'd be unlikely to get that much movement {IE 27 places worth!} in a year as single intake school.
If Barnes is your closest school though I imagine you'd be a lot further away than me though?

Anyway we got into Queens as we DO have a religious background {and we're closer to that than KR}, but that's my husband's back ground, not mine. I don't feel comfortable at ALL with state run / funded schools being religious based {am from Australia, this is an odd concept to me}, so am uncomfortable about it.
I was also surprised when looking into this {I was comparing KR to Queens} that KR DO have 'collective worship' despite not being a church school.
www.kewriverside.richmond.sch.uk/about/curriculum/re.htm
As I said I'm new to the system, so maybe all UK schools do that?

Anyway, as I mentioned {was my first choice} I really like KR. Friends who prefer Queens {and perhaps other schools, I don't know much about your other options Barnes and Mary Mag} do so because KR has a lower percentage of students feeding on to 'good' secondary schools. It's a newish school though, so who knows what that will be like over the next 6 years they are there.

The reason I liked it was because of the open plan / indoor outdoor etc learning. While the more 'traditional' schools are popular because of their 'academic' status, I prefer child led etc.

Let us know how you get on. smile

gingergaskell Mon 18-Jul-11 23:49:49

Oh also one friend's child HAS currently got a reception place in KR, but is high on the waiting list for Queens, so seems very likely to get in there, and give up KR place {we each got the school the other one wanted, if only it was possible to swap!!}.
So that's a very good chance of one place higher for you at KR. smile

Kewcumber Tue 19-Jul-11 00:11:12

yes ginger all state schools have to have collective worship of a predominantly christian ethos <<ridiculous>> because we don;t actually have separation of state and church in this country yet. KR is pretty liberal in teh way they interpret that though.

Feding onto other schools isn;t really anything to so with KR being a newer school - its due to being a very small school so we don;t get linked status with any secondary school and parents choosing schools.

depends what you mean by less good secondaries? Presumably more Queens pupils go on to private secondary given the socio economic groups at Queens vs that at KR as the schools SATs are broadly comparable so can;t see any reason why schools would prefer Queens over KR. Although obviously Queens has priority at christs so that could be teh main differnce.

gingergaskell Tue 19-Jul-11 14:55:02

We're expats, so unlikely to be here for secondary, so it's not something I took into account / looked into personally.
I gather the idea is to have the best chance to get into grammar schools though.
{crosses fingers I don't ever have to get my head around secondary placements, the primary school thing was challenging enough!! grin}

As you said though Kewcumber, KR actually has some of the highest scores in borough. { I think they are higher than Queens for example?}
So I agree, results themselves are not the reason less pupils from KR go to those schools.

Lili have you looked into, if you were to stay at St Mary Mags, being able to opt out of religious education there? You can in all the schools I looked at, even the COE ones, but I don't know about the Catholic ones.
You'd still have the overall tone and collective worship, but would be less likely to have the things you are uncomfortable with, taught to her.

In our case we are actually church goers {FIL is a vicar!} so even though I don't agree with it being part of school at all {I am a non believer} it's not an issue for me for my children to be exposed to it at school, like it is for you Lili, as it is in our life already, so dealing with the differences in beliefs is something we need to manage anyway.

Kewcumber Tue 19-Jul-11 15:02:59

KR does indeed have some of the highest scores in the borough despite having significanlt more childrne with SEN than Queens and one of the highest percentage of childrne with free school lunches aorund here [proud emoticon]

I don;t think there's much to choose between the schools academically but the perception tends to be that Queens is more academic and certinaly is much more the norm to do a variety of the "right" after school clubs (I have no direct experience of that though)

I was opted out of religious services in my catholic primary. I wouldn't recommend it.

sfxmum Tue 19-Jul-11 15:04:03

regarding secondaries from the KRPS this years list has quite a few going to very selective private and state schools, so I am not worried about the standard of teaching, on the contrary. I like it that it is a small school, quite liberal in some ways and keen to encourage parent participation and involvement, to me it feels inclusive. Also I feel they are always keen to develop the children on quite an individual basis iyswim

LoveTheRain Wed 20-Jul-11 10:21:14

I'm also a humanist atheist. I went to a Catholic Secondary school myself, back in the 1980s and found the experience (of being in a minority, although I hadn't fully formed my views back then) very formative. I used to express my views quite freely, and although they were sometimes disapproved of, that was all part of making me the thinking person that I am today.

On the back of that experience I decided to send my own primary-aged children to our local Church of England school. It was the best physical setting (small,close, good facilities), and I wasn't worried about the RE teaching. RE has moved on a lot, and now it is more about children exploring their own views, and learning about other religions as well as the nominal one of the school. My advice to anyone going down this route would be to talk freely to your child about your own views, and to let them know that they can decide what they would like to believe when they are older. Don't tell your child that they should keep their opinions to themselves, as that is very damaging for everybody. My eldest son told me quite adamantly that he was a Christian in Reception, but now that he is in Year 2 he says that he is not a Christian. Despite that, he got top marks for RE in his report (1 = "well above the expected level" for his age). His teacher wrote "He expresses views and feelings about themes with a mature attitude. He responds with interest to all activities and tasks in this subject.....He has a good understanding of the importance of caring for the needs of others; of respecting others' beliefs and of following the way of life that we encourage in a church school". For my part I take every opportunity to feed back to the school the needs of its non-Christian population, and I will be encouraging them to increase the number of open places in consultations on future admissions. I am also thinking of putting my name forward as a parent governor. I'm very happy with my choice of school because I believe that the best way to change the status quo in our education system is from the inside, and slowly, one step at a time.

If you do send your child to the Catholic school, then think about the benefits to the other children that go there. They will have the opportunity to mix with people who have different views to themselves, and that can only be a good thing.

islandhaze Wed 20-Jul-11 22:45:49

Hello Ladies!
We have just moved here to London from Denmark few weeks ago, and i was very desperate to get school for my 6 year old daughter. We can do private, but i heard that the state schools are good here as well.
I went to see Kew Riverside, but of course the waiting list is way too long for a newcomers. We were offered Darell, and Lowther. As it is a last minute , i was scared to stay without any school at all ( the lady in the Civic centre said she was very busy, and couldnt guarantee she will have time to put us in any school by September), and after reading Ofsted reports i chose Lowther. They were very helpful , the Head called the CC, and she assured us right away that we have a place and can come on the 5th of September.
However, i discovered this website just couple of hours ago, and i see that many mums like Darell. I hope i made a right decision...

Kewcumber Wed 20-Jul-11 23:04:17

hi islandhaze - I doubt you;d have much of a problme with any f the primary schools around here - even the worst of them would be considered a good school almost anywhere else in the country!

I'm surprised that Kew Riverside has such a long waiting list not non-standard entry into yr 1 because we've had 4 spaces avaialble for at least a term and only recently were two of them filled. There is also a pretty good rumour that another one will be opening up by Spet as one of the families is planning a move.

Though come to think of it at 6 already she is probably going into year 2 in Sept and I'm not so sure about availability of spaces.

Kewcumber Wed 20-Jul-11 23:06:02

"the lady in the Civic centre said she was very busy, and couldnt guarantee she will have time to put us in any school by September" - Charming!

If you want to meet local mums go check out the general chat thread on MN local - nights out are arranged and daytime meets in the holidays.

Highest priority for you is probably to buy an Annual pass to Kew Gardens for the summer holidays!

sfxmum Wed 20-Jul-11 23:19:08

year two will have at least one if not two spaces come September

islandhaze Wed 20-Jul-11 23:37:07

Thank you for your answers!
Yes, she will be going to Y2, and i asked the lady there to keep us on the waiting list to KR.
We already have the pass to the gardens. we go there everyday smile
I would be really happy to meet local mums, especially with some children age 6. My daughter sure misses her friends, and company to play with. I still didnt discover the area for playgrounds, but thanks to this site i found a lot of activities for my 2 year old. Unfortunately we will have to wait until big sis starts the school smile

sfxmum Wed 20-Jul-11 23:48:33

mine is 6 since June <faints> happy to meet up sometime smile
and yes The Gardens are a sanity saving place

MrsLittle Fri 12-Aug-11 22:37:41

I just wanted to add that we have recently selected Lowther, even though it wasn't our first choice. After visiting the school and meeting the head, we decided it was the perfect choice for our DD. The green outdoor space is amazing and the allotment with chickens is so unusual to find in a central London school. The Foundation head also showed us the plans for the new buildings and it looks like it will be wonderfully modern and suited to the kids. Still.... you never actually know. Let's hope its as good as it all sounds!

islandhaze Sat 13-Aug-11 09:08:14

MrsLittle what year is your DD is going to go? We also choosed Lowther, DD is going to be in Y2.
I also liked the school when we went there. They were very nice to show around, and although its really far a away from Kew, we chose it.

MrsLittle Sat 13-Aug-11 14:51:06

She's going into Reception in September. We know quite a few parents who didn't have Lowther as their first or second choice, but ended up selecting it because it seems like such a nice community school. I'm going to try and get the younger one into the nursery when she is old enough as everyone raves about it.

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