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school run distance

(40 Posts)
neuroticwhome Fri 05-Nov-10 23:29:30

How far would you travel to the right school? I have recently been trying to find 'the right' prep school for dc and have been disappointed with my local options. None of the closest preps seem to fulfil all of my expectations and I am constantly changing my mind on which aspects of school life/education I am willing to compromise (especially as I'm paying for it). I am now wondering whether to travel a couple of extra miles, to have the option of some very good schools, that would seemingly offer my dc a more rounded school experience.

How far is too far for a school run? Should I just pick one of the local schools? Advice/experiences would be much appreciated.

GrimmaTheNome Fri 05-Nov-10 23:39:04

The state schools near us were all faith so we ended up with a private primary - the best was the nearest but still 20 mins drive each way.
Some of DDs classmates had futher to come, around 30 mins I'd guess.

How far were you thinking of?

DreamTeamGirl Fri 05-Nov-10 23:39:35

I guess it depends on traffic locally, whether you have to go to work afterwards, whether your child would like to play after school with friends from his class and so on

We chose a very local school, where I went to a school a long way away that none of the neighbours did, but was close enough to have people to play
My mum travelled 40 mins to school and swore she would never do it to us

That said I would rule out a decent school that was 15-20 mins away

onimolap Fri 05-Nov-10 23:46:22

Do not underestimate theimportance of the school run!

It's not so much about distance per se, but ease and reliability of journey.

Would you be driving? What will be your fall back for days when the car packs up, or you sprain your ankle, or some other event that means you can't use the car? Is there a reasonable alternative route if they dig up a key bit of road, or will it be miles around for the duration?

What is parking like? Factor in cost of any charges if you have to be on the street in a residents' badge area. Can you park for long enough if your DCs start after schoolclubs and finish at wildly different times?

How would you cope with school run, followed by yo-yoing back to the school for parents' evenings, concerts, plays?

Where do pupils at the schools typically live? Do you want your children to have friends local to your home? Or are you happy to ferry them round to widely dispersed friends? Or non-school clubs popular with school peers, especially as these could be at an even greater distance?

How relevant/important are these factors to you? And how do they weigh up against the other plusses and minuses of all the schools you are considering?

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 00:04:53

The farthest schools are about 5.8 and 6 miles away / 22-28 minutes (according to aa route planner site) but in heavy traffic could take 40-45 mins.

I wont be going to work afterwards.

Clary Sat 06-Nov-10 00:34:16

Oh man, imagine driving 45 mins to and from school twice a day!

So you set off at say 8.10am, drop DC at 5 to 9, set off back just after 9, get home a bit before 10...

Then you need to go and get them at 2pm and you'll all get home a bit before 4pm?

I have a commute of about 5m to work and atm because of roadworks it's taking me 30 mins. Which is as long as it takes on a bike. But at least I don't have to come back then go and come back again.

It would be a no for me. 6 miles on rural roads might only take 15 mins, but in a city etc could be a lot longer.

Good post onimolap. Sometimes I am to and fro to school 3-4 times a day (Brownies and Cubs meet there or v nearby!). But as it's 7 mins' walk it's OK.

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 00:36:03

I would be driving and used to commute a similar distance/ route as one of the schools when I worked full time. One of the schools states that it has pupils from a wide catchment area and they also run a mini bus service to areas a similar distance away or slightly further. Parking looks tricky at this school. The catchment area for the other school is less obvious, but they do have a large car park.

There are bus options for both schools, should the car break down etc. I have friends from both areas, and visiting them does not seem like too far to drive (but i don't have to do it every day!).

ShoshanaBlue Sat 06-Nov-10 00:39:26

About 5 miles here. We do it by public transport too!!! But I have to say it's worth it to see my child in the right school....

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 00:50:02

Thanks for to responses thus far. 3-4 times a day back and forth - wow! I hadn't considered that, but I guess with extra-curricular activities etc I should. Unfortunately, even my closest preps are not in walking distance (1.9-2.8) miles, so we will be driving anyway.

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 00:52:08

If only moving to the areas with the best schools wouldn't mean a tiny house!

bruffin Sat 06-Nov-10 00:54:27

Our estate adjoins the dcs primary school so it was just a few minutes walk. Agree with ominolop somedays I spent all day walking back and forward to school for various reasons.

Clary Sat 06-Nov-10 00:54:42

well neurotic, you would be making the journey a minimum of four times. Then if one DC had a club till 4.30pm, you'd have to hang around or go home and come back.

DD's Brownies meeting at school is not relevant really, if her school were 5 miles away <boggles> I guess she would still go to Brownies locally.

But there are PTA meetings, governors meetings, school discos, school fairs, school assemblies, school Christmas plays, parents' evenings etc. For eg last week we had DS1's parents' eve at 5.50pm which would have been a nightmare if we had a 40-min drive there. Especially as we get home from swimming at 5.30pm!

What Iam saying is that it's not just about school and IMO the shorter yr distance there the better (other factors being equal, which of course they aren't, always).

seeker Sat 06-Nov-10 06:46:39

I live 5 miles from my ds's school and 15 from dds.

We absolutely love where we live, but I would never, ever do it again.
Think of-

Friends to tea
Forgotten games kit
Picking up if they're poorly
Doing the school run if you're poorly
What if you have another child
Car breaking down
School plays

The list is endless. It may seem doable now, but you will be doing it for years and years. Closest school every time.

cory Sat 06-Nov-10 17:39:57

The scenario topmost in my mind would be What about when you have been chucking up all night and your ds still needs to get to school?

sarah293 Sat 06-Nov-10 17:44:58

Message withdrawn

DiscoDaisy Sat 06-Nov-10 17:47:01

2 of my DC go to schools a 15-20 min drive away. We're lucky though because there is a school bus that they go on although we have to pay for it. We only have to drive out to the schools if there is a club on. One of the schools only do clubs at lunchtime as 80% of the pupils travel in on school buses from the surrounding villages.

LIZS Sat 06-Nov-10 17:49:59

We lived 5 + miles initially and moved to less than a mile within 18 months. Logistically it was difficult and tiring, especially as dd was only just 4. In the snow it once took me almost an hour. ds will move to secondary shortly and have ruled out the some schools partly on the basis of logistics. Lots of their firneds a re spread out though so you may find you are 5+ miels oen way and their friends a similar distance the opposite way which makes tea arrangements tricky too. 20 miles+ round trips a day, 100 a week, 3500-4000 a year, makes for a lot of wear and tear on a car and petrol too let alone time out of your life.

tegan Sat 06-Nov-10 17:50:33

dd1's secondary schoolis a 5 min walk to the left of my house

dd2's primary school is a 5 min walk to the right of my house

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 18:12:39

Thanks for the well detailed replies. I think a few dummy runs at school drop off and pick up times are in order. The posts about extracurricular activities & after school meetings have got me worried, as this could mean not only the school run traffic, but driving at the start of rush hour as well. I have two dd's so hopefully I'm only going to one school.

Hmmm, out of area schools are starting to lose some of their allure. I will have to give this more thought. It's such a shame, as I haven' found a school locally that makes me think 'this is the one' without any reservations. That's part of why the grass is seeming greener at the larger schools, that are a bit further away.

Cory - The thought of having to drive to school at all (5 minutes or 30) after being unwell all night sounds awful .

neuroticwhome Sat 06-Nov-10 19:14:21

It seems the consensus is don't do it! Extra costs with car & petrol are a big downside, especially on top of fees. School mini bus service is an option for one school, but i'd probably only take that up when when dd's are older.

Riven - I think a three mile walk with two young children would take me around 30 minutes each way anyway. If that were the case I would be inclined to drive for the same amount of time to the better schools. Hats off to you though!

petelly Sat 06-Nov-10 20:01:31

our school is 3.5 miles away in London traffic. It takes about 20-30 minutes and I find it's just about do-able.

It's a big faith school so draws children from a wide catchment so we have many children who live locally - that's an important factor because you can get into a rota or at least have back-up if you can't get to the school.

We also CAN do the route by public transport even though it takes longer which is important for us as a back up because we rely on one car.

Finally, the school have put fairly good arrangements in place for parking so it's not as time consuming as it might otherwise be. A school that's a bit further but has better parking may be quicker door to door.

sarah293 Sat 06-Nov-10 20:22:01

Message withdrawn

Fiddledee Sun 07-Nov-10 09:14:31

Yes depends on the parking, how easy the route is to drive, if its on the way to work (if you do), if there is the prospect of getting on a school bus when they are older or getting the train. Other DC school to consider.

I had to take 2 buses to get to school when I was young (often took an hour), even though there were schools less than 10mins away - I understand why my parents made the choice and it was the right decision. I thought it was normal growing up.

I would choose the right school and then move if the school run became too much.

neuroticwhome Sun 07-Nov-10 12:44:09

Both schools are from a popular girls only chain, so would probably attract pupils form a wide catchment. One school has good parking and there is public transport to both schools, as a back up plan. I hadn't thought of asking the school specifically if they get many pupils from my area (seems so obvious now!) to see if a rota for the school run is an option.

Really cant afford a move to these particular areas, and school fees comfortably, without downsizing, or changing our current lifestyle, so this would be a long term decision to commute.

Riven - I'm definitely not up for walking an hour each direction - back to my earlier assertion that I would be driving even if i chose a closer school.

Fiddledee Sun 07-Nov-10 13:07:54

Also remember you are only commuting to school for about half the year as private school terms are so short.

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