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Ok local school or perfect school that's a drive away - wwyd?

(118 Posts)
moginthedark Fri 07-Jan-11 11:13:51

I don't know what to do. DD will start school in September, and we've narrowed the choice of schools down to two and now I can't decide what's the most important.

One is just perfect for DD in every way (I won't bore you with the details, but it really is, and gets an OFSTED outsanding for pastoral care). But it's a 15+ minute drive from us (in a town) in a different village. Almost all of the children there will live in the village.

The other one is within walking distance, and does also have a lovely atmosphere and a reasonable local reputation. But it's by now means so right for her. Except that I do think it's really important to walk to school, for us to be part of the school community, for her to be able to have friends round. Whereas if we go to the village school she could easily end up a bit left out.

Has anyone else faced this choice? If so, how did it work out for you?

(And we can't afford to go and live in the village, houses there are twice as expensive as in the town...)

ChessyEvans Fri 07-Jan-11 11:22:22

Personally unless your child has special needs that would only be served by the other school, I'd go to the school within walking distance. We will have the same dilemma but the local school to us is still 'good' on ofsted and is literally a 5 min walk away. Can't help but think I'd be crackers to drive past it every day!

Only hypothetical for me at the mo as pregnant with the first and a lot can change in 5 years re Ofsted etc! But if your local school gives you no real concerns then I'd plump for that one. I walked to school when I was little and it was nice getting to know the other children on the route. For secondary school I went to a grammar over an hour away from home and really missed out on the social aspects of being able to meet up with friends as easily.

Also... if you went to the local school and really felt that it didn't meet your daughter's needs, you could try and transfer later? Not sure how possible that is though.

strandednomore Fri 07-Jan-11 11:27:20

Definitely the local school. Unless there is something massively wrong with it, it will be so much better for you all to be close to the school. Having all her friends near her, you being part of the community, being able to walk to school rather than drive etc. Also, I don't think you can tell that much about a school until your child starts there - you might think the other one is perfect at the moment, but you may think differently when she starts (and i don't have great faith in Ofsted reports either). Just think how annoyed you would be if she went to the further school and it wasn't as great as you had hoped?

KirstyJC Fri 07-Jan-11 11:30:12

We went for the school 2 villages away. Our village school is very good too, but the one further away (6 miles) is better.

We don't regret that, but then we both work so drive every morning anyway - and I drive past the school. Also, the our of hours club in the local school was not so good, didn't cover holidays etc so that was another reason for us choosing the other school too. We also knew we would be wanting to move house in the short term and are now in the process of moving to a village the other side of the school and it' s only a mile and a half away.

I think you need to go with what feels right. If you don't think you'll move, and your child will be able to walk to school with friends, then maybe the local is better? Although - don't worry about them going to a school where they don't know anyone and playing at weekends with different children - our boy is very shy and he has had no problems with this at all, just takes it in his stride.

Good luck!

moginthedark Fri 07-Jan-11 11:31:44

Thank you. You're all reinforcing what I probably think myself.

The 'problem' with the local school is its size rather than the Ofsted. DD doesn't like, really doesn't like big groups of children, and even the nursery has suggested that she'd be better off in a smaller school. The local one has two classes of 30; the village one would just have 14 max in reception. It's quite a difference, and that's why I'm still prevaricating.

But we may not get into the local school anyway (it's not our catchment one - that's bigger, noisier and definitely not the right place for her).

moginthedark Fri 07-Jan-11 11:32:58

Kirsty JC - that's interesting. DD is quite shy, but she will know people at the village school (a boy from her childminder + one of our neighbours goes there).

puffling Fri 07-Jan-11 11:33:01

I'd also be interested in the teaching partic. of reading.

UniS Fri 07-Jan-11 11:33:43

Walk to school.

ilovetulips Fri 07-Jan-11 11:46:21

I would say the village school without a shadow of a doubt.

Walking to school is all very well,but surely the school itself is the reason why we send our children to that particular one?

The fact that her nursery have suggested a small class due to her quiet nature would be a no brainer for me. A class of 30 reception aged children is very noisy indeed.

You have got to feel happy about her school, not just by the fact you can walk there.

ilovetulips Fri 07-Jan-11 11:50:50

You wrote that the local school is ' bigger, noiser and definately not the right school for her' why even bother thinking about it??

If you sent her there and she was really not coping you would probably end up moving her anyway and you might not get in the village school by this time.

I know it's really hard, but you have to do what's right for your dd.

vnmum Fri 07-Jan-11 12:13:40

I would go with the village school tbh. I have actually had to make this decision mydelf twice now and DS only started reception in september. When i was looking for his school for him to start reception there were numerous ones locally that i could walk to but DS went to nursery in a village about 5 miles away and i applied for his primary place there too, as the schools were better, he would have friends from nursery and he also would do better in a smaller school. Luckily it was a low birth year and we got a place at the village school.

We are now moving to a completely new area(due to DH work) and we had the choice of a school across the road from our new house or one that was about 4 miles away(10mins drive max). The local one was fine but the further one was better. it just felt so right for DS, small class sizes, good pastoral care etc and those things are important to us. So i went with the best school for DS rather than the closest and i am very happy with my choice. I did wonder about the friends issue but he doesn't seem to have any problems playing with children he meets at softplay or parties etc so i knew he would be ok making friends with neighbourhood kids aswell outside of school. The other thing that swung it for me is that the local school has a very trabsient population and the further school didn't so i wanted DS to have a chance of his friends being around through his full primary school years rather than him having to lose friends regularly when they moved on

vnmum Fri 07-Jan-11 12:14:44

that should say transient population, not trabsientsmile

PatriciaHolm Fri 07-Jan-11 12:20:09

Do you stand a realistic chance of getting into the village one?

Personally - we live a 5 min walk from school and love it. All the DCs friends are local, or at most a 5 min drive away, and I can't imagine having to spend an hour in the car on the school run every day.

However, that said, 15mins isn't really that far - would you be able to drive them too and from playdates/afterschool activities etc easily?

VivaLeBeaver Fri 07-Jan-11 12:20:10

I would go with the local school, it may suit her better than you think. If it doesn't then its no hardship to move her after a year, kids that age will cope well with a move and make friends easily.

We moved DD from the local, walking distance school to a school a 10 min drive away in Yr3. sHE Was having a lot of problems at the local school or we wouldn't have done it. I do think she misses out a lot on friendships, after school stuff from not being in close contact with the other kids in the village.

VivaLeBeaver Fri 07-Jan-11 12:22:32

You could drive her over to friends' houses for tea, etc but it is a pain. This works OK when they're younger but my DD is now 9. At that age kids in our village are round each other houses at the weekend, playing in the park together, calling round for each other, etc. DD doesn't know anyone enough now to do that.

PatriciaHolm Fri 07-Jan-11 12:22:51

Also - 14 in reception sounds great, but it's a very small pool to make friends from; my DNs are at a private school that has about 12-14 per year, and SIL isn't happy about that aspect of it as it means any disagreements etc are blown up across the whole class and it can be difficult.

werewolf Fri 07-Jan-11 12:26:18

I'd go with the local school.

It might be noisier, so she'd have to get used to it, but there are way more friendship opportunities in 59 other children, than 13 other ones.

neuroticwhome Fri 07-Jan-11 12:34:22

What would you rather say to yourself in a couple of years?- a) we're not really happy with the school but at least we can walk there, or b) we're so happy with the school, although the drive is a bit of a pain.

ChessyEvans Fri 07-Jan-11 12:40:10

But what about c) the school's not all it's cracked up to be and we have to drive there as well!

Just playing devil's advocate, as someone else said you'll have to go with what feels right.

You might find as well that with the smaller class sizes that they merge them for some things (my sister works in a little village school and that is what they do). So although there are only 14 or so in each year, the children's experiences would be the same as if they were in one big class, as the 2 year groups are lumped in together quite regularly.

asdx2 Fri 07-Jan-11 12:41:42

We travel from our village to a school in a deprived area 15 minutes away because it's the right school for dd who has SEN. We travelled to a different school for ds who has SEN but our three NT children went to the village school. Personally if there were no SEN I would send my child to the village school unless it was particularly poor (ours isn't it's just not as good with SEN)

moginthedark Fri 07-Jan-11 12:48:12

Thank you everyone, there's a lot to think about here.
And I haven't explained v well -there are 3 schools. Our catchement one is the 'wrong' one, but there is also another one in walking distance, so local. Ironically we would be almost certain to get into the village one, less chance for the near but not catchment one.

The friendship group is a worry, but they are in mixed year classes after that, so more scope.

Vivalabeaver -that's it exactly. Although these are all first schools so only up to 9.

The real unknown is whether she would adapt to a larger school or just retreat into her shell. She never really adapted to toddler group though, just said it hurt her ears...

VivaLeBeaver Fri 07-Jan-11 13:06:59

I think that school, even reception would be less rowdy than a toddler group. My DD as a toddler didn't like the hustle and bustle of toddlers, she was the girl always crying at birthday parties as she didn't like the noise, etc. When she was at her old primary school which was a large one she was fine, it really helped her be more confident and she was the one organising games in the playground, etc.

The non-local school she goes to now is much smaller (60 kids in whole school). I think that some of the kids who have been here from the start may find secondary school a shock when they start.

We're moving DD back to her old school in Sept for Yr6. Mainly due to secondary school admissions criteria but the bonus of being able to make friends in her village has helped to make our minds up.

onimolap Fri 07-Jan-11 13:14:17

This may be stating the bleedin' obvious, but also bear in mind that your DD will not be that small for very long. I can remember being sooo concerned for DS moving to a large school, but in the blink of an eye, he's in year 5 and is large, loud and active. We all love the amount that there is going on in a larger school.

The amount children change in their first term in "big school" is a huge, and often unacknowledged, shock.

moginthedark Fri 07-Jan-11 13:43:35

I do wish I had the ability to predict the future.

We may just put it in the lap of the gods; put the local one first on the application, and if we don't get in (which is quite likely) accept being at the village school quite happily.

walnutwhip Fri 07-Jan-11 13:49:37

I have had to make that decision, well I moved my children out of the local catchment school as none of us were happy with it and they go to a school that at the moment I have to drive them to, I am hoping that when they are older they can ride bikes etc. I was concerned about friendships and being left out of the loop as it is a village school they attend but that hasn't been the case at all. In fact there are a number of families that do the same as us and a lot of the friends they have made live nearer to us than to the school. Go with whatever school will make your DC happiest.

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