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Schools dilemma,HEEEEeeeeeellllp..

(14 Posts)
hellymelly Tue 12-Jul-11 21:05:03

We are having a major problem deciding on a school for our dds. DD1 was in our local school,but in year one had big problems settling and she became more and more unhappy until she was like a different child.She lost all her previous confidence and became hyper anxious and miserable.We took her out at Christmas and have been home schooling.She took a few months to get back to something approaching her old self,but she is still less confident and more vulnerable than she was.We could continue to Home-ed,but I think she would enjoy school if her experience was different,she's always been very friendly and sociable and I can tell she missed being part of a group. We have a younger DD who could start with her,in reception.She hasn't been to school or nursery yet (she is 4).
We have narrowed it down to two schools, school A is good/outstanding,i really liked the head and the whole atmosphere of the school,but it is 25 minutes drive away. It also feeds into either an English medium high school which is reasonable,or a Welsh medium high school which is not so good.
School B is half the size of school A and is a kind and nurturing school,it is closer, about 10 minutes drive away, it is entirely welsh speaking and feeds into the really excellent "outstanding" welsh language high school. However the head is more of a sticking to the rules less flexible type of person,and so DD would have to start full time straight away,rather than being able to get her back in gradually and also DD2 would too have to be full time right away,which seems rather brutal,we've never had a babysitter even. We are at a loss which one to choose! All advice very gratefully taken on as my head is exploding...

Runoutofideas Tue 12-Jul-11 21:19:06

Are your children fluent Welsh speakers? If they use English at home I would definitely go for school A, if they generally speak Welsh maybe school B. School A sounds better to me for children who may need extra nurturing. The inflexibility of B would put me off, especially as your children may need time to adjust to school. Also if the language would be an extra issue for them then I think the whole concept of school B may seem very alien to the children.

skybluepearl Tue 12-Jul-11 22:36:14

School B. If she has had a hard time before you might find a more nurturing family like school more suitable to her needs. You could maybe start her full time but then take the odd day off if she is exhausted. ESW's wont be interested in non attendance unless it's under 80%. Also 10 mins is commutable - 25 each way is not. Thats a one hour and 40 min drive each day - so lots of time and petrol. Choosing the more local school means more after school playdates and living withing your community. I wouldn't wory about the language at all - do you speak English at home?

hellymelly Tue 12-Jul-11 22:39:10

They are not fluent in Welsh,but we live in a very welsh-speaking area and most children go to welsh speaking primaries. We really want both girls to be fluent and certainly they would be in either of the schools,although school A is streamed into English or welsh.( we would put her in the welsh stream). The high school thing is a real problem,as the one they would be expected to go to if they go to school A is nowhere near the standard of the other high school fed by school B.I also think the two hours in a car every day would be a bit of an issue,but school B ,although keen to support and help DD however they can,is totally inflexible about her or my younger one starting gradually ,and I'm worried going straight into full time might be a problem for her.

hellymelly Tue 12-Jul-11 22:44:44

skyblue i cross posted with you-we do speak english at home - I speak some welsh and use it when I can with the girls,but I'm nowhere near fluent,although I'm going back to classes. I agree with you on the distance, it is very far away for a school.It is the better school though,although only marginally if you look at the estyn reports.(like ofsted).The main pull was how open and friendly they were and how good the head was,also a boy from dds class who was taken out at the same time as her for the same reasons,is very happy there (he wouldn't be in her class there).the other school would be a completely acceptable alternative if only they seemed a bit more willing to factor in what she has been through (hard to convey here but was a horrible time for all of us).

shelscrape Tue 12-Jul-11 22:53:32

I think you need to ignore the seconday schools and just choose which primary is right for your children. A lot can change in a secondary school in 5 years or more, so don't use it as a deciding factor for choosing a primary school

hellymelly Tue 12-Jul-11 23:16:10

I had been thinking that five years is a while away,but our local Welsh high school has been "outstanding" for years and is unlikely to drop by much,it is a really good school. I suppose the other one might improve but it is a much less well rated school,I can't imagine it would get to the standard of the other one in five years,and it could get worse,whereas the other one is unlikely to change.Also the secondary school linked to school A is even further away. if we disregarded the secondary issue then I suppose it would boil down to flexibility over starting full time vs distance.

zipzap Wed 13-Jul-11 00:21:13

If you were to start at School B - what would they actually be able to do if you just did your own gradual start? They are hardly going to come to your house and drag them to school...

But just work out some guff to spin to the head about how completely exhausted they were after a full day in school and it was difficult to wake them up so you'll bring them in when they are ready after lunch and then another full day and then a morning in school and a dentist appointment in the afternoon or something so that for the first week or two you control it depending on how you think your dds are doing.

Head will probably not be very happy but she can't throw you out once they are at the school and if she is not happy to authorise their absences then she ends up with more unauthorised absences on her figures.

One thing I would say though - ds1 was in Y1 this year - and caught chickenpox the day before term started so missed the first 10 days of term. he's not the most confident little thing either and missing the first few days plus feeling self conscious about being different going back (late and scabby!) really affected how the whole year has gone.

That first week or two was really important in transitioning them from the play based reception to the more sit down and work attitude in Y1 - meant he didn't get it and went bang into lots of sitting down when he is really creative and twitchy and struggles to sit down for more than a few minutes, especially if he isn't interested in something. he struggles with reading but in Reception the teacher thought he was G&t - whereas his new teacher had him in the middle set (where he gets bored because he can breeze through it in moments). Some of it was due to his teacher's lack of empathy in getting him back in but he would have much preferred to be there with everyone else and not have anything to mark him out as different.

Is it worth taking a slightly different approach to this and see if over the school holidays you can find some play schemes or nurseries that would be prepared to take them for a few half days and then a few full days so they would be used to being with other kids (especially if any of them might be with kids from the new school you end up choosing) - then school won't be such a shock in the autumn!

savoycabbage Wed 13-Jul-11 00:35:47

I too would not be looking at the secondary schools yet as anything could happen between now and then.

I took my dd out of an 'outstanding' school after half a term. It was amazing when I picked it but after the summer holidays the head jumped ship taking the nursery teacher with her. We got a new head and a new teacher and they were both hopeless.

Then, we moved to Australia. We could have lived anywhere in the whole of Melbourne so decided to pick a good school and live there, which we did. A year and a half later the principle died suddenly and unexpectedly. sad

The school was plunged into turmoil for just over a year. We had no principle, then we borrowed one from a new school. We got a new one at the beginning of the year but she is not as amazing as the first one. In five months, the ethos of the school has changed and as a result teachers are leaving.

So the school we picked is nothing like the one we are in.

admission Wed 13-Jul-11 11:42:24

Hellymelly, be very careful about using the Estyn inspections as the only guide to the capability of the schools, I would use your own feelings about the schools at least as much as the inspections. The reason i say that is that Estyn inspections changed completely in Sept10 and if one is before and one is after they will have been inspected on completely different criteria. The new version will give much, much, less excellent verdicts than before, though the use of outstanding in the posts would suggest that both the reports are old style inspections.

You also need to get into Estyn speak terminology to discover what is really being said about the school. So for instance the phrase "kind and nurturing school" quite often comes with a but or a not so good comment after it! If you want to pm me with the school names and LA I will look through the estyn reports and tell you whether I think there is anything more you need to think about.

The one thing I would not be concerned about is your children's ability to pick up welsh and thrive in a welsh speaking school.

hellymelly Wed 13-Jul-11 21:56:40

Oh admission,thanks for that I will pm you.The estyn reports I'm looking at are all quite old.We didn't look at them at all until we had seen all the schools that seemed nearish and where they had places, so we did base our judgements on what we thought when we went in rather than the estyn.Interestingly though,the reports I read did pretty much echo what I thought already for the two we have shortlisted. The high school has a very good report but I'm basing my judgement more on knowing a lot of children who go there as several of my friends have children at the school. It would be a massive help to have an informed viewpoint though,so i will pm you the details.All the local primaries are welsh speaking and in many of them the numbers of children who speak welsh at home are quite small, the teachers don't feel that is an issue as it is true for about half of the class in each of the two primaries we are thinking about.DD was picking up welsh in reception,but she was part time. My brother speaks welsh to them and I do try and use it when I can,dd also has two hours most weeks with a friend's daughter who uses some welsh with her.

hellymelly Wed 13-Jul-11 21:57:16

Admission-how do I pm you as I can't click on your details?

threefeethighandrising Wed 13-Jul-11 22:38:56

"Admission-how do I pm you as I can't click on your details?"

Something's up with mumsnet tonight, some of the personal features are down while they try to fix it, I guess PM might be off right now because of this.

Earlier people were posting and their names were coming out as different posters! And they had the other person's threads in "threads I'm on".

A technical hitch or an attack because of the mumsnet publicity related to the NOTW story I wonder?

hellymelly Thu 14-Jul-11 22:11:29

Admission-still seem unable to pm you-but maybe my ineptitude?

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