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choosing a primary - why can't i have the courage of my own convictions?

(20 Posts)
paranoidofpreschool Tue 07-Jun-11 14:59:22

hope someone can help me to see sense. I've got my dd into my first choice of school - loved it when I went round it, and even though it hasn't got the best results in the area (nor the worst by any means) it has a good head, is caring and kind, and she's happy in the attached nursery. And it's good with outstanding features, if anyone even cares about that.
So why do I panic everytime something goes slightly wrong, or my dd has a bad day going into class?
Probably because there are a coterie of mums in the locality who like to talk up another local school, whose sats are a smidge better, and intake is perhaps more 'middle class'. We're not even in catchment for it - though would probably get in on waiting list if we wanted it that much.
I'd like to trust our own judgment on this - I rate the school she'll go to, and it doesn't have the reputation of pushing the kids through sats like some others. When i went round it i thought, this is exactly where I want my dd to be. It has high nos of children with special needs (which I think is probably a good thing - don't think she is likely to be one of them at the moment but you never know, but shows that they are inclusive), highish nos speaking english as a foreign language too, but i don't see this as a problem either - except when these mums go on about it.
Trouble is I made a mistake on childcare before - thought a nursery looked fine, when it really, really wasn't, and now i don't think i'm any judge of anything to do with children - so i panic everytime anyone makes a negative comment about dds school - or when they act like the other school is the only possible local option for 'people like us'. I'm scared they all know something I don't - I work, and many of them don't so I worry I miss out on local gossip somewhat.
Oh I don't know. Is there likely to be something I've missed about the school to make it undesirable to these women, or is it simply that the other school is seen as some kind of holy grail? Am I being terribly naive not to fight to get her into the other one? I want my dd to go to an inclusive local school that's reflective of her local area, but worry that I'm making a terrible mistake because I don't think like all of these people. Help, it's driving me (and my dh, who has to listen to my witterings and who loves my dds school) completely insane.

nlondondad Tue 07-Jun-11 18:14:41

Your fundamental problem is that you are now comparing a scvhool you do know, and have experience of, to a school you dont know, but which some mothers you know claim is superior (and they have their children at it)

Your only option is to ignore those people. You see, as I have said elsewhere there is no such thing as a GOOD school; only a school right for your child. (There is such a thing as a bad school, and its true they do exist, and one hopes they get picked up and put into special measures.)

AMumInScotland Tue 07-Jun-11 18:58:32

I think you've got it in one with "the other school is seen as some kind of holy grail" - most areas have a school like that. It's "the best" on the league tables, it has the smartest uniform, the highest sats score, the nicest playground, the most middle-class intake. The parents feed off each others prejudices and don't make their own independent choice based on their own judgement of the school and their child, because they are influenced more by what other people think.

Don't let them put you off - you have visited the school, looked at its strengths and weaknesses, and decided it is the right school for your child. If you had picked a school with major problems, you'd need major reasons for deciding to pick it. It sounds like you have picked a good school by any normal standards of comparison if the "best" one gets only a smidge better
results, so you only need a minor "I think it would suit her better" to justify your choice of that over the other one.

ragged Tue 07-Jun-11 19:10:02

Ooh, a good bout of Middle Class Angst.

diabolo Tue 07-Jun-11 19:11:48

Agree - don't be persuaded by the middle-class mum's talk. Although I would technically be classed as one of these, half the time I find they talk out of their arses (pardon the expression).

swanyriver Tue 07-Jun-11 20:16:32

I have been in exactly the same situation. I decided to go with my heart and send my daughter to the 'second best' school which in my opinion is a much nicer, friendlier school offering a much more rounded education with equally good sat's results (but much less well known).
However this doesn't stop people questioning me why I didn't go for the 'superior' (& nearer) school, and making me feel I have to justify my decision. I do know a mum who switched her second daughter from the 'better' to 'my' school and she says she wished she'd sent all her children there. I don't tell people this as I too think people should judge for themselves with their own child in mind, but most won't even think it worth considering as their child will go to the 'wonder school'.
A few years in & I'm definately more bullish now, but it still niggles me, the middle-class mums talk carries a lot of weight unfortunately, and can still make me feel a bit uncomfortable even though I am very confident I made the right decision.

Elibean Tue 07-Jun-11 20:22:09

OP, you sound like me a few years ago, when dd1 got into our favourite local primary (we looked at 4, two state, two independent). We knew it was right for her, and we loved it - but at the time its reputation amongst my fellow middle class mums was not great (wrongly so, but reputation takes time to catch up to reality). I had many wobbly moments, but am SO glad I ignored them!
It really is the perfect place for dd - great pastoral care, children valued for themselves and their creativity, and the SATS are going up all the time anyway.
'Holy Grails' don't exist - people have to convince themselves that they do when they feel wobbly. Trust yourself - I'll bet you learnt a lot from the nursery experience, and now you know more!

Elibean Tue 07-Jun-11 20:22:42

ps you don't live in SW London, do you?! Such a familiar scenario....grin

wompoopigeon Tue 07-Jun-11 20:25:23

There's a massive amount of herd instinct when it comes to rating primary schools, and a certain amount of collective insanity. I know two families who have moved house purely to be on the doorstep of the local highly rated primary which they have never visited. All done on reputation.
Have the courage of your convictions.

IHeartKingThistle Tue 07-Jun-11 20:31:30

I could have written your post! I feel like I won't be able to relax until I know she's settled in happily and I also feel like an idiot for feeling like that!

It's nice to hear positive stories. Fingers crossed!

Elibean Tue 07-Jun-11 20:38:37

IHeart, not an idiot - wherever and whatever the school is, and whatever people say about it, I think we all feel anxious until we know our DC has settled and is happy smile

IHeartKingThistle Tue 07-Jun-11 21:50:28

Fair point! smile

beautifulgirls Tue 07-Jun-11 21:57:25

The other mums are bound to talk up their choice - after all why would they want to stand there and say anything negative about it if they chose it? Stick with your instinct here and you are very likely to be quite happy about it. At worst if you really decide later you made a mistake you can look for a transfer elsewhere perhaps anyway.

sunnydelight Wed 08-Jun-11 07:49:58

The whole "fashionable school" thing is a load of crap, made worse by the fact that the school admissions system is so stressful it feeds hysteria. ALWAYS trust your instincts when it comes to your child, you know what is right for them. I put DS1 into an unpopular school because I loved the new head and what she was doing for the school, ignoring the option beloved of the chattering mummies. Six years on it was the most popular school around, massively oversubscribed etc. There was a new head who was totally complacent, all the wonderful things like art and music rooms were gone as the school was packed to the gills. I took DS1 out much to people's amazement. Both decisions were absolutely right for my child at the time - nothing else matters for you.

paranoidofpreschool Wed 08-Jun-11 08:13:44

Thanks all. Middle-class angst is right - I know it's ridiculous. Shall try to stop being wobbly over it - it is a great school. Not in SW London, btw, but I guess you get the same situation all over

mumonahottinroof Wed 08-Jun-11 10:28:24

I was in exactly the same situation - still am, one school round here is FAR more highly rated than my dds' and no one could believe I was actively choosing it. Again, three years on no regrets at all. Go for it and be smug at your radicalism grin

Vintagepommery Wed 08-Jun-11 11:13:04

I was in the same position as you in that my choice of infant school - I'll call it school A - was out of favour with certain mums at the playgroup gate and 'school B' was in favour. I didn't waver in my decision but it did used to wind me up no end! The main difference in my case was that school B was a church school and that the intake of B was slightly more middle class.
I even had one silly cow mum telling me the juniors was no good on account of it being undersubscribed (she was a teacher and therefore an expert).

But what I've learnt is that things go in cycles - what is the most desirable school one year isn't necessarily the next. If any of the other mums asked how I was finding school B I'd say 'oh DD1 is doing really well' - which she was but probably sounded like I was showing off.

Flamingomum Wed 08-Jun-11 14:43:29

You will always find Mums moaning about certain schools and talking up others but my advice is to go with your first choice. Playground Mums can be a bit of a nightmare and often very competitive - or is that just London? That said you should keep a half/open mind because some of the factors that you thought were a bonus could turn out to be a hindrence. In that instance don't be afraid to move your child.

sarahfreck Wed 08-Jun-11 14:56:16

There are a couple of schools near me that have very high SATs results but are really SATs crammers, particularly in the last couple of years. IMO because of this, they push the children a lot and put them under unecessary stress and don't always meet the children's individual needs educationally so the children suffer. Just keep an eye on things. If your daughter is generally happy and making good progress then relax!

mumonahottinroof Wed 08-Jun-11 20:58:59

But btw keep your nerve the first couple of terms, if you're anything like me - and from your OP you sound like you could be me a few years ago - you will freak every time your dc comes home less than ecstatic and know it was all a mistake. You need a while for it to all settle down and clearly be able to perceive a school's strengths and weaknesses

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