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Help - I'm torn between childminder and school...

(16 Posts)
outthere Tue 07-Jun-11 13:08:16

Hi all,

I have 3 year old twin boys who go to a fantastic childminder while I'm working shifts.

I now have to start thinking about putting their name down for a primary school.

I have 2 options:

1) Boys can stay with their fantastic childminder but will need to go to school X.

2) Boys will have a nanny and go to school Y.

Both schools are outstanding according to Ofsted but school Y is my preference because it's smaller and the boys are far more likely to be accepted (I know that sounds like a paradox but it's true for various reasons).

I'm SO stuck. I love our childminder but I also really value the importance of going to the right school. My concern is that if we choose option 2 we may not find a nanny because my shifts are all over the place so it really limits our choice (the nanny would have to want a flexible, part time position).

If we stay with the childminder my boys may not get into school X (and run a good risk of being placed in a terrible school instead) and even if they did get into that school I have concerns about my DS being in such a large setting (it has about 500 pupils) given that he has Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

HELP!!! Don't know what to do and really losing sleep over it sad

swash Tue 07-Jun-11 13:23:37

Definitely choose the right school for your boys and then find childcare after they have a place. Your childminder will increasingly become less and less important to your children. She may even become ill or decide to give up in a year or two. Certainly do not risk your children being allocated a bad school for the sake of wraparound care.

cjbartlett Tue 07-Jun-11 13:25:48

Yes don't just go for what is easiest regarding the cm
choose the school you want
it might have breakfast and afterschool clubs/care

Hassled Tue 07-Jun-11 13:25:57

What swash said. The school setting is the more important issue - and you need to be confident re how they handle your DS's ASD.

outthere Tue 07-Jun-11 13:39:31

Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the advice. Just so worried that I won't find a suitable nanny... I'm going to be on maternity leave from November so would have 3 months to find someone before I go back to work...

My only other concern is that school Y (preferred option) is only an infant school. On one hand it is great because it only has 68 children but on the other hand I'm also worried they may not get in to the junior school as we're out of catchment.... If they didn't get in they may end up in crap school after all and have to join after all other friendships have been formed - very unsettling for both boys but especially DS with ASD...

Would this change your opinion or not?

Thanks everyone

ILoveDrKarl Tue 07-Jun-11 13:39:39

school first - wraparound care second. And don't ever dismiss a gut instinct about a school - it's usually spot on! You may find once they are at school that a combination of breakfast/after-school clubs and friends etc... works out for you rather than 1 nanny.

ILoveDrKarl Tue 07-Jun-11 13:40:33

cross-posted but extra info wouldn't change my opinion.

Hassled Tue 07-Jun-11 13:42:44

Infant school is still 3 years - a big proportion of their lives. And by then, crap schools could be considerably less crap - schools can turn around very quickly with a new Head/Governors etc.

outthere Tue 07-Jun-11 18:23:20

Thanks everyone, makes me a lot more sure of my decision...

sunnyday123 Tue 07-Jun-11 18:44:30

pick school first although not to be too negative i would be likely to go for the one which serves all primary years (school X)- i wouldnt risk applying for an out of catchment school as my DD1 is in an out of catchment school and as the numbers applying change yearly and most prioritise catchment over siblings, my DD2 isnt going to get in next year and its caused us so many sleepless nights with worry that i would always caution against it. Also you may think moving them to another school is '3 years off' but that will go quickly and they will be so much older. I am already preparing myself for 2 school runs as my DD1 is so settled in reception already the thought of taking her out into a new school next year would be awful! She would be devastated.

I'd also go more for a larger school as i think they provide more opportunities (as a result of more money usually). My DD school has over 450 in it and i chose it over the local 100 kids one purely based on size, clubs, friendship opportunities etc.

In terms of wrap around care most have pre-after school clubs.

sunnyday123 Tue 07-Jun-11 18:52:56

sorry just re-read your post im confused - is school X out of catchment then? Either way if you put X as 1st choice and Y as second, the schools have to consider your choice equally (in other words they dont know whether you put them as 1st or second) - they will put forward an offer to the LEA and the LEA give you the offer which is highest on your preferences - even if they both offer you a place the offer you get will be your first choice if you get me?!. Therefore you can go for X, confident you will get Y if not.

HappyMummyOfOne Tue 07-Jun-11 19:00:50

Definately school first, education is more important than your feelings for childminder. A nanny is probably the better option as a childminder will rarely take children to afterschool activities or collect from school clubs but a nanny can.

outthere Wed 08-Jun-11 07:01:01

HappyMummyofOne - That's exactly what I thought about a nanny too - I don't want my silly shifts stopping the boys from doing extra cirricular activities if they want to.

Sunnyday - I know it's confusing - I could cry from the complexity of it! Actually both schools are out of our catchment. The only school in our catchment is diabolical... Really appreciate your advice and actually it highlights why I'm so confused - I'm not sure either school is a clear cut preference although all things being equal I would chose school Y. If school X was crap then there'd be no contest but the trouble is it's actually a really fantastic school, just very big.
Last year all children who applied for school Y got in even though they were out of catchment and it's the same most years so I feel there's more hope for us there.
The reason for wanting a small school is because my DS really doesn't cope well in large groups. Also he's definitely going to be a target for bullying in the playground and I feel that this is more likely to be noticed and stamped out when there are fewer children...

teacherwith2kids Wed 08-Jun-11 19:14:33

outhere, just to add something from my own experience.

DS is on the autustic spectrum. He started school in a small (120 pupil) village school, where like you I thought any bullying would be noticed and stamped out.

Sadly, he was bullied not only in the playground but in his own classroom, became extremely stressed, developed an acute stammer etc etc.

He now attends a 420 pupil town centre school, where the single bullying incident he was the recieving end of (actually after school) was so swiiftly and effectively dealt with the school that I barely had time to register it before it had gone...

So a) ASD children don't have to be bullying targets and b) small does not always mean better at caring for the individual...

outthere Wed 08-Jun-11 19:45:44

Thanks teacherwith2kids, that's a good point and actually I have been challenging my own views on small school vs large school over the last couple of days.

I guess in a small school, if there is any bullying it's harder for the individual to distnace themsleves form the child(ren) they don't get along with. In a large school there are also more likely to be children with similar "quirks" and issues which may give all the pupils a better sense of people's differences and encourage more tolerance/understanding.

The good news is that I went to see a preschool today which is linked to school X and they were really fantastic. They said they would help me to apply for a school place and would support me in appeal if need be. They had a lovely, knowledgable SENCO and I'm definitely swaying towards that option now...

Really helpful to know that your DS, with similar issues, did well in a similarly sized school- thank you.

IndigoBell Thu 09-Jun-11 10:53:33

I would be concerned about sending a kid with SN to a very small school, as larger schools have more experience with SN, more TAs, and more SENCO hours, more space......

However - it all depends on how good the HT and SENCO are. That is the absolute most important thing wrt how good the school will be.

Other things to look for when assessing a school for a child with ASD is how noisy the classrooms are and what the behaviour is like. All things being equal (which they're not smile ) for an ASD kid (like my DS) I would choose the school which has the calmest class rooms. Which has nothing to with the size of the school.......

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