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So which is better - infant school or primary school?

(25 Posts)
ellesabe Wed 19-Oct-11 20:52:29

In the not-too-distant future I will be applying for my daughter's place in nursery school and our two nearest are in a primary school and an infant school.

Bearing in mind that she may then continue at whichever school we choose, I'd love to hear if anyone has any thoughts on which would be better for her.

I am a teacher so obviously realise the other factors that need to be considered when choosing a school. I'm just interested in hearing about the experiences that other mums have had of infant vs. primary schools.

cece Wed 19-Oct-11 20:53:40

Has the infant school got an attached junior school or an obvious junior school that they all go to afterwards?

cece Wed 19-Oct-11 20:54:24

And if it does does it have a sibling rule for admissions for subsequent children you have?

ReadyforaHoliday Wed 19-Oct-11 20:58:13

I've taught in both. If I'd have had the choice for my ds, it would have been Primary. A big one. Every separate infant junior set up I've worked in hate each other! And the infants children join the juniors very immature. Better continuity in a primary.
However, all schools are different. I've taught in a few schools in the same county but it is a snapshot and not necessarily a common picture.
Visit all your options and choose whatever school suits your dc - the infant/primary issue should come way down you list of criteria.

Fraidylady Wed 19-Oct-11 21:16:37

Primary. Just because of the age-range, they have a better range of resources (e.g. Y3 can dip into Y1 resources; Y2 can dip into Y4 resources).
An infant school, because of funding constraints, will be unable to have this flexibility.

IndigoBell Wed 19-Oct-11 21:38:26

We've moved from a primary to an infant and junior school on the same site - and I'd recommend an infant school.

ellesabe Wed 19-Oct-11 21:43:49

I'm interested to know why inigobell...

DiscoDaisy Wed 19-Oct-11 21:44:48

Mine go to an infants followed by a junior on a different site. The children go enmasse (sp.) every year and it is guaranteed that if you get your child into the infants then they will get a place at the juniors.
The two schools work very closely together. The start and finish times are organised round each other and the inset days are the same for both schools.
Every year the yr3 teachers go to the infant school quite often to meet the yr2 children and the infants hand out a few different issues of the junior schools newsletters as well so the parents can get a feel for the junior school.

seeker Wed 19-Oct-11 21:47:53

Depends on the child. My dd was quite shy and fragile, so the warm fuzziness of an infant school suited her perfectly. However, ds was ready to take on the world from birth and a big bustling primary school was the best place for him.

meeliesmum Wed 19-Oct-11 21:51:24

speaking as someone whose dd is currently suffering the transistion I would NOT reccomend separate schools. It has been avery traumatic experience, not helped by the two schools obvious contempt for each other.

IndigoBell Wed 19-Oct-11 21:52:27

I like the way you can have different behaviour expectations and different everything between the infants and juniors.

(In one parents go into the classroom, in the other they don't etc)

There's this 'step' where they're expected to be more grown up and independent, that we didn't get at the primary school.

The Y2s get to be the 'big' children, which is good for them. They don't get scared by Y6s.

They don't have assemblies which are trying to be appropriate for R - Y6.

The whole school is totally focussed on the needs of KS1 or KS2 - which I think are a bit different.

Also the infant is 3 form entry, and the primary was 1 form entry, and I'm (now) strongly in favour of a 3 form entry, because the teachers work in teams, and they have more TAs and resources etc......

thisisyesterday Wed 19-Oct-11 21:54:08

i think it just depends on the child and the schools tbh

i know that my friend wishes that they had a primary rather than infants/juniors because her little girl is finding it really stressful changing school, and then of course again to go onto secondary.
we also have another infant school close by which feeds into the smae junior school as another local infant school. this means that places there are not guaranteed and every year a lot of people find they have to move their kids to a junior school quite far away, and away from their friends...

I only have direct experience of primaries. the first one ds1 was at was really nice, very small community feel. 2 separate playgrounds so the smaller ones had their own play area
he is now at an even smaller montessori primary which we absolujtely LOVE.

so i would say go and have a look around. find out if the infants has an attached junior school and how likely it is she'll get a place there.
but mostly just get a feel for what each school is like and what the teachers/head is like and go for the one your instinct tells you to!

CointreauVersial Wed 19-Oct-11 22:03:56

Mine went to an Infant School, then joined a straight-through primary at Year 3 (the primary took in 30-odd children at Year 3 from various Infant schools in the area and the move was smooth and managed well).

But the Preschool was joined to the Infant School, so they only had one "change" of school IYSWIM.

I didn't choose the school because it was an Infant school, I chose it mainly because it was a fantastic school - caring, nurturing, fun and stretching the bright ones. It had loads of facilities (e.g. swimming pool), a supportive and affluent PTA and was Ofsted rated Outstanding. All my DCs came out of it full of confidence, having spent Year 2 as "kings of the castle".

There are some Infant schools I wouldn't have chosen, particularly the very tiny ones, as I don't think they have the same breadth or facilities. But I agree with the earlier poster - it's all about the school, and the age range is not the highest criteria.

workshy Wed 19-Oct-11 22:48:55

I can't speak highly enough of my DDs primary

they dip in and out of each year group if the child will benefit from the resouce of another year group

the whole school does guided reading at the same time and are all in ability groups that have a mixture of ages so that the more able can read at the right level and those that need more support can be in a group that then builds their confidence

their assemblies until this year were key stage 1 and 2, they have now changed to upper school(year 4-6) lower school (1-3) and foundation (nuresery and reception)

I have friends that have had children in infants and at 7 had to split from their friends and were sent to different schools which is alot to deal with at that age

Clary Wed 19-Oct-11 23:17:52

My DC go to inf and juniors; they are next door on the same site and the children go from one to the other. They seem to get on really well.

I preferred it for lots of reasons - the lovely cosy nurturing infant school (and super infant head) would not be the same if it was a primary. Junior school is like big school, more independence expected and got.

When they move to seocndary, they have already moved up so it's not so scary.

Also in yr 2 the infants are "big" as indigobell said and ours got to do all kinds of things, eg DS2 in yr 2 was in recorder concert, dance show, choir concert that if he was just in yr 2 in a primary probably wouldn't have happened.

Also no scary 11yos on playground to frighten little just 4yo DS1.

Actually wot indgo said! YY re size of school - 80 in a year at their school which would make a very big primary - but I really like the big year group.

redskyatnight Thu 20-Oct-11 10:00:10

DD goes to an infants and DS has just moved into Y3 at a juniors (unconnected). Although the primary options in our area were all oversubscribed so we didn't really have a choice I really like the infants/junior option.

At infants the children seem to get a lot of pastoral care, but because the school only goes to Y2 the older children get lots of opporutnities to take on ersponsiblities (e.g. play leader, eco monitors) that they wouldnt' get till Y6 in a primary.

The junior school as a definite "change" seems to really be a step up in terms of encouraging the children to be independent, treating them as older children etc. The junior is much larger as well - 4 classes per year, which feels like the step to secondary will be much easier. Compared to a primary it feels like a "younger version of senior school" rather than an "older version of infants school".

I've also found because they've not had to cover the whole range, in fact both schools have better age appropriate facilities than a primary might have.

crazymum53 Thu 20-Oct-11 11:06:15

Firstly bear in mind that having a place in a nursery attached to a school does not guarantee you a place at that school - the admissions are totally separate.
The main problem with infant/junior vs primary is the transition from Y2/3. There are statistics and educational research that show the transition is usually smoother in primary schools.
Many LEAs are moving away from paired separate infant/junior schools and amalgamating to primary schools for this reason. However this is only possible when schools are on the same site.
My dds primary school was one of these schools that amalgamated and is now a primary school. However there are still some features of the 2 schools present e.g. separate playgrounds for KS1 and KS2, assemblies divided between KS1, KS2 and whole-school (once a week) so the school caters well for both age-groups.

letsblowthistacostand Thu 20-Oct-11 12:44:42

Mine are at an infants' school--neither has moved up to juniors yet but the 2 schools work closely with each other and parents who have children in the juniors seem very happy with it.

I like that the school has a small, family feel even though it's 3-form entry and they had to increase the nursery size this year too. I like that they can concentrate on the early years and KS1, the nursery isn't as separate as it might be in a primary.

You should really go and look at the schools, you might like one better than the other and I don't think it matters much, a good school will meet children's needs whether it's an infant or primary.

CointreauVersial Thu 20-Oct-11 13:31:24

Crazymum, you're right, the Infant school admission was independent of the adjoining Preschool. But in our case attending the Preschool gave you priority in the admissions criteria (Church School), and around 80% of the children at the Preschool did indeed move to the Infant school, which shared the same facilities, so it wasn't much of a stressful move into Reception.

Our area is also moving towards straight-through Primaries, so children currently at the Infant school my DCs attended now have very little choice where they go in Y3. So it is well worth bearing in mind the options for Y3 when you are looking at where to start school - the Infant School may be lovely, but what about the follow-on?

mummytime Thu 20-Oct-11 14:06:34

Mine have gone to seperate, although they have federated, and now merged but on seperate sites. They have always liaised (even when the two heads were polite but didn't like each other). The older ones always watched the little ones nativity, the little ones went up for some special days.
Now its even more so, so they share some teachers. From reception children visit the other site, they do joint assemblies (in Church and in the countryside in summer).
I like the fact that the Infant school has a fabulous Deputy who knows this age group really well, and the office staff are much more tolerant of accidents etc. Also the toilets are little child sized. It is also good to see the year 2s have a chance to be the "big kids" which helps them grow up a lot.
Staff do swap from school to school too, which helps. The head used to cycle between the two, and spends part of his week based at each site.
However some kids do join from other infant schools in year 3, so there is a lot done for induction, but it must be more of a culture shock for them (the school goes from 2 forms to 3).

noramum Thu 20-Oct-11 14:56:23

DD goes to a small (190 pupil) infant with attached Junior. There is a lot of interaction and Y2 is often seen at the Junior and Y3 is guest at the Infant. We chose this over the primary one because DD just turned 4 in July and the big primaries were just too much for us.

Saying that we also had the choice of an Infant school with 4 entry classes. While it had a nice feeling, it would have been the same problem, being too big for us.

A nice primary with just 1 entry class was unfortunately out of our area. If it would have been closer it would have been also a good choice.

Therefore my verdict: look at each school separately and trust your instincts. I am not a fan of separate Infant/Junior without any interaction.

Bunnyjo Fri 21-Oct-11 20:27:08

Alas, I don't think there is a 'one size fits all' answer... Originally, our first preference was for an infant school (with junior next door) - the gentle nutruring nature appealed to us as our DD is an August baby. She was allocated our second preference school which was a full primary and, although I liked the school and atmosphere, it didn't seem to have the same gentle, nurturing environment that the infant school did...

As it was, we actually moved during the summer and had to change schools completely. We opted for our local village school, which has a total of 47 pupils spread over 3 classes and, to be honest, I cannot sing its praises highly enough - the school has a low pupil to staff ratio (11 pupils in DD's class with 1 teacher and 1 TA) and it is the most caring, nurturing environment I could have hoped for.

As you're a teacher, I don't want to teach you to 'suck eggs' so to speak, but visit the schools you are considering. Also, consider whether the infant and junior school have close links and whether the admissions policy gives priority to children whose siblings are in the attached junior school (important if you are considering/ already have more than one child). Lastly, consider a local village school - you may find, like me, it offers the best environment for your child.

ProperLush Sat 22-Oct-11 21:50:06

My DSs did Inf/juniors til DS1 started Y6 and DS2 Y4 (moved into catchment for the desired secondary, giving DS1 the chance to form some local friendships)- they were moved to the local R-Y6 primary.

Their previous Inf/jun schools were linked, on the same site, adjoining playgrounds, one feeding the other, but with different Heads, uniform (Juniors had shirt and tie!) and ethos, to a certain extent.

Now, bearing strictly in mind we entered the 'Primary' system with older 'junior' aged DCs, I'd say the Inf/Jun system won hands down.

- the transition gave them a great opportunity to see 'change' in action. This transition was very well managed and, tbh, the DCs couldn't wait to be 'the older kids' (bear in mind the juniors was only perhaps 10-12 kids more than infants had been). I believe this has been a huge help towards DS1 entering a 1400 secondary (now Y8)
- suddenly there were different, slightly more rigid 'rules' to follow. More lessons were spent sitting in rows, and sitting still rather than the infants' 'round table' approach. It was instilled in the DCs that now things were a bit different, and my honest belief is that none of them struggled at all
- Playgrounds set up for the needs of 7-11 year olds.
- Rules set up for the needs of 7-11 year olds (with a strong and respected School Council)
- The uniform was more formal!

The problem with Primary?
- Assemblies and school rules aimed at the lowest common denominator, being YRs!- DS2 (10), who is young for his age, describes many as being 'infantile'.
-The need for the older kids to always accede to the younger ones (and, dare I say, the school's firm belief that if there has ever been a tussle between an 'infant' and a 'junior', the junior must be to blame...) hmm
- No sense of having made any transition whatsoever (to the extent that this school mixes classrooms so DS2's Y6 classroom adjoins that of a Y1 and a Y2).
- Half the library is full of Miffy books
- Trivial but annoying- a whole school 'scooter ban' because of the number of 4 year olds, unattended by by-standing parents, shooting down the hilly footpath outside the school and colliding with others... The 11 year olds were NOT impressed.
-The sheer size of the place. Both had a 60 DC entry but that made the previous Inf/Jun 180/240 whereas this primary is 420!

psammyad Wed 26-Oct-11 11:23:40

I can relate to some of the problems ProperLush has identified with all-through Primary Schools - specifically the ones relating to an infantile environment for 11 year olds.

Where I grew up, the state schools were "First" schools (5-8), "Middle" (9-12) and "Upper" (13-18) - and in couple of years of Primary School I felt DD would have been much better served by a 9-12 Middle School type environment - it felt as if (socially at least, though Middle Schools used to have a broader curriculum as well) she was really treading water waiting for Secondary School.

It hadn't occurred to me that an Infant / Junior split might help with that, but from what ProperLush says, it sounds like it might.

ProperLush Wed 26-Oct-11 13:22:12

I think the First/Middle/Upper split would be absolutely ideal. It would be much better at providing focussed, developmentally appropriate curricula matched against physical development: early childhood, late childhood, pre-into-puberty.

Win win.

Except for the need to provide 3 schools where currently there are two! And the need to rejig the NC around it! So it isn't going to happen, sadly. I believe those areas like Dorset which might still retain it are 'on notice', too.

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