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Hastings Primary Schools - Honest Opinions Please!

(35 Posts)
hopperdee Fri 22-Jun-12 21:25:33

We're moving to Hastings in September and I'm looking at schools for my little girl who is in reception at the moment. We want to move nearer to our preferred schools and although I'm looking at Ofsted and visiting places, I'd like to know the reputations of/best/worst primaries in the area-according to parents.

I know it's just personal opinions but would help to add it to my other research!

Some of the ones I will be visiting are Blacklands, St Pauls, Christchurch, Dudley, St Leonards, West St Leonards, Castledown etc. Other recommendations/ones to avoid are welcome.

At the moment she's at a very small and friendly C of E school in South London, and is really happy there (we're not religious but it's our closest school).

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wedoNOTdomistyping Fri 22-Jun-12 21:37:56

Welcome to the area!

Firstly feel free to PM me. Dd1 is just finishing reception and I worked in a nursery so my opinions are from this perspective.

Christchurch, West SL and Castledown are a very firm no from me.

Blacklands has a great reputation but with 3 classes per year is one of the bigger primaries.

Dudley used to be thought of as very good but I believe it has gone downhill a bit although would be happy to be corrected as I have no direct links to the school.

I found St Pauls and St Leonards were my first choices. Like you we are not religious but found these schools small, warm and welcoming. We opted for St Leonards in the end as it only has 2 classes per year. Dd1 has had such a good reception year and she seemed to integrate into the wider school community within just a few weeks. The staff know every child and their achievements are celebrated by everyone. I also love them having special events on almost every week which breaks up the monotony of long terms. It's not very religious, they've only been to church once at Christmas.

Good luck with your search!

hopperdee Fri 22-Jun-12 22:24:23

Great, thanks for this. Can I just ask why the 3 you mentioned are a firm no from you? I was quite interested in 2 of them, but haven't seen them yet.

I was quite surprised that a lot of the schools in and around Hastings seem to have 3's or even 4's from Ofsted, not sure why? But that's another reason I wanted some real-life opinions.

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wedoNOTdomistyping Fri 22-Jun-12 22:36:39

I've seen the Ofsted thing mentioned before and I really not know what the answer is. But having worked in nurseries locally I would always look beyond the Ofsted reports. The inspection reports often don't reflect a Childs day to day reality of a setting or school.

Christchurch was just too religious for my family.

West St Leonards is reportedly very good for children with SEN. That wasn't an issue for us but when we visited on an open day it seemed chaotic with quite a few quiet children floating around unengaged and unnoticed. That would have been my dd so that was not an option. Interestingly I went to a playgroup this week and met 3 parents whose closest school was WSL. They had all chosen other schools and not put WSL as any of their preferences.

Castledown has had loads of problems, if you look on the local paper website it's probably in there. It's anecdotal but Hastings people I know do anything to avoid it, including sending their dc to village schools 15 miles away.

hopperdee Fri 22-Jun-12 22:54:54

This is all really interesting, thanks. It's a shame about Castledown as I quite like the West Hill area. I saw that West St L was meant to be really good for SEN, but this wouldn't really apply to us, so might not be ideal. Do you have any experience of Silverdale?

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wedoNOTdomistyping Sat 23-Jun-12 16:02:53

Silverdale is very popular, possibly due to being one of the only non-faith schools in that area. I wasn't keen as when we looked round it, again, seemed chaotic with lost looking children wandering around. But if you have more than one child BEWARE! It doesn't prioritise siblings as highly as other schools. 3 children at dd's nursery didn't get in despite having an older sibling there and as a result stayed on in nursery and on Silverdale's waiting list hoping for a space to come up. Nightmare scenario for their parents and very sad for the children who were so excited about school to have to stay on longer at nursery when all their friends left.

hopperdee Sun 24-Jun-12 22:29:11

Ok, going to try and see Silverdale but the sibling thing is a bit worrying.. I have two other little ones the think about! I'm getting quite a good picture of which schools seem to be favourites according to parents. Want to go and see Little Ridge as well as that seems like it might be a good one.

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swangirl Mon 25-Jun-12 10:43:47

I agree about Castledown being a bad school. Other Schools to be avoided are Hollington School and Robsack wood according to the Local paper. I have heard bad things about Little Ridge too.
My dd attends Christchurch and my DS1 attends the nursery there.I cannot speak highly enough of the school. Both my children have flourished there and are very happy. The school is quiet religious though which is a downside.The children attend church twice a year Christmas and at the end of the school year. I think they have also services in school at Advent , Easter and mothering Sunday.

hopperdee Mon 25-Jun-12 14:30:50

Thanks Swangirl. I just spoke to the council and the ONLY school with any spaces in the year we'll be going in is Hollington. By the sounds of things, there's no way I can see her going there. I do quite like the sound of Christ Church as it sounds quite similar to the school she's at here, so might be less of a leap. I guess that, once I've seen all the ones I'm interested in, I'll just have to put my favourite 3 down and hope for the best.

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wedoNOTdomistyping Mon 25-Jun-12 19:47:09

Oh dear that's not what you need. I wouldn't go for Hollington either. Fingers crossed another space opens up. Do you have to move this summer?

hopperdee Tue 26-Jun-12 21:39:43

We do have to move because of work and I'd rather she started at somewhere in September than halfway through the year so I'm hoping that there will be more movement in the ones that I like by then..

I have to tell you about my visit to Castledown today - I actually thought it seemed lovely. Two intelligent and enthusiastic girls from the school showed me around, children in the classes seemed happy and engaged, the building was modern and bright and it had a really friendly but productive atmosphere (and chickens!).

I sometimes get the impression that the schools with the best reputations make less of an effort. What you see can seem so different to the what you hear about a place. I should know after my next day of visits, which ones we'll be putting down/which area to head for. I'm slightly favouring St. Leonards area schools as they seem to be a bit more multicultural.

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CowsGoMoo Tue 26-Jun-12 23:29:10

Hi Hopperdee,

Welcome to Hastings!
Firstly, fingers crossed that a space opens up at the school you prefer as Hollington is not a school I'd like my children to attend. My son used to attend Little Ridge School on Little Ridge Avenue and initially I was very very happy with the school, the teachers and the head etc. Mr Gough was a marvellous head and had been at the school since it had started ad really worked for its good reputation. However he retired and the school imo went downhill quickly. the new head is a complete wet lettuce. No one could be told off, sports day was a non competitive day and every one won! but the straw that broke the camels back was the 2 years of bullying my son suffered there. I followed all the correct procedures, speaking to class teacher, head of year, head, governors, Lewes etc etc. my son was threatened with being strangled, was attacked with scissors, punched etc etc and all the head did was get the bully and my poor son to fill in happy face diaries. I discovered in the end that this childs mum was a member of staff and a school governor and the school chose to ignore my complaints. I withdrew my son just before the end of the Christmas term when he was in year 4. He didnt finish the year as my son was suffering, and the boy had threatened to bring in his dads fish knife and slice my sons throat open, when I asked the head if he would search the boy to ensure he hadn't brought such a weapon in, he replied that he wasn't allowed to search or touch him and therefore couldn't assure me my son would be safe. This twit of a head even rang me the day after I let him know by letter that I was removing my son to ask If my son could return to school as it was anti bullying week confused
I was only offered another sink school in Hastings that had been placed into special measures for him so we bit the bullet and placed him in a private school locally, where he has flourished. (he is now year 8)
I know you're not religious and this is a catholic school but have a look at St Mary Star of the Sea or Sacred Heart. They have excellent results and do take non catholics.

Ps My friend taught at Castledown sad she hated it
have a look at outlying villages too... Westfield,Catsfield and Sedlescombe have great schools.

Good luck

hopperdee Fri 29-Jun-12 15:18:08

Hi, sorry to hear you had so many problems. Think I've decided to discount schools that are as far out as that anyway - including village schools, would prefer more of a multicultural town feel if possible, which is what my little girl is used to.
Going to see St Mary Star of the Sea, Christ Church and Dudley next, so we'll see how they feel. It's been really interesting comparing schools and meeting teachers, everyone's been really friendly. I still think Castledown must be on the way up from what I saw! We have a local school here that used to have a terrible reputation and everyone is now fighting to get in there after it was turned around. Guess we'll have to wait and see.
Thanks for all the advice given, any more views welcome!

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wedoNOTdomistyping Thu 05-Jul-12 13:17:37

How are you getting on?

hopperdee Fri 06-Jul-12 22:18:18

Good thanks, I've got a much better idea of the ones that I want to go for now (not that any of them have official spaces yet..). Just working on getting somewhere to live as we can't officially apply until that's sorted. We'll just have to rent while we're selling this place. Prefer the schools and feel around St. Leonards/closer to town.

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space2012 Fri 21-Sep-12 20:25:52

Just to add to the mix, my daughter is at St Paul's school, in year 3 and I have nothing but praise for the school. It is a church school, I am not a believer, and I feel they only push the ethos of religion around kindness to each other, etc. It is a bigger school, and I like that, it has an enourmous playing field, lots of clubs and there is a great community feel. This years STATS results improved enourmously, I believe they came 2nd or 3rd in the town this year. I am a firm believer of supporting your local school. You will have a real mix in most of the schools in the area. For me, I like a real mix in schools, and cannot bear the yummy mummy brigade, who think their own school is great even though the Oftead is not so good. I think looking at the grade for management in the Ofsted reports will give you the best indication of the school, poor management will have a consequence on how the staff are. Good luck.

marykat2004 Fri 28-Sep-12 22:30:30

Hello, just joining this thread with interest as we are also thinking about moving down that way. We have booked to look at Christchurch, St Paul's and Robsack Wood. A friend of mine who nearly moved down favoured Robsack Wood because she is not religious. But that school looks far out of town and we don't drive. DD is currently in a fairly religious C of E school so I'm fine with that but won't do Catholic. I'm glad to hear good things about both Christchurch and St Paul's. We looked at a house very near Christchurch but a lot of people seem to say that is a bad area (but not as bad as Hollington).

When I phoned the schools the only one that was full was Blacklands (for year 3). But like another poster wrote, you can't apply until you have an address in the area. Both Christchurch and St Paul's staff were very friendly on the phone, much more so than DD's current school where everyone is quite snooty.

Thank you for the posts and good luck to all.

Ks248 Sat 29-Sep-12 22:00:13

Hello smile I was just looking for info on St Leonards C of E school and saw this thread, we recently moved to Hastings and are now on the ever long waiting list for reception class for numerous schools, we were offered Hollington... We learnt quickly we pulled up outside the school saw the barbed wire around the school and the local housing estate and left without attending our appointment. Today we were offered St Leonards and wondered if anyone could give us some advice? Our poor daughter really wants to go to school now... And it would be useful with work and stuff.

marykat2004 Sun 30-Sep-12 10:54:43

I've been doing quite a bit of research, Ks248, so I will share.. I've heard that Robsack Wood, St Pauls and Christchurch are good. Blacklands was good but full in the year we need. Silverdale had some good comments I read on Mumnset somewhere but bad Ofsted ratings. Castledown and Elphinstone are also meant to not be good, but I read about someone looking at Castledown and saying it had a nice atmosphere. A lot of people seem to be saying that you need to look at schools, not read Ofsted ratings. My friend's kid went to Dudley and is now at All Saints, and said that the children are happy there even though it has a really bad Ofsted report.

I'm really interested in St Leonards C of E school as I like the area and saw it from the outside. It has a '3' on Osfted but it looked nice and one of the estate agents said he went there and it was good (but he would say that, he's trying to tell houses).

Good luck!

wedoNOTdomistyping Sun 30-Sep-12 18:45:34

Ks248 I wrote on this thread a few months ago about my dd attending St Leonards CofE and that I was really happy with it.

She's in year 1 now and has been running into school. I'm so surprised as she always used to refuse to go to nursery. She just loves school now. I'm happy as the communication is good and there is a very caring ethos.

The school has quite a mix of families which I think is good. I've never encountered any bitchy parents in the playground either although maybe I've just been lucky. I've not got much time for the Ofsted rating really.

Marykat2004 Essenden Rd is my favourite road in the area, I love it!

Ks248 Mon 01-Oct-12 15:49:20

Thank you for both getting back to me smile we are going to look round the school tomorrow so fingers crossed! Relived that the council were able to offer us another school in the place of Hollington! Ofsted is so low in Hastings compared to where we used to live (Herstmonceux) so it has taken some getting used to!

Ks248 Fri 05-Oct-12 17:28:20

Yup she started school... It seemed lovely when we looked round, she has been there for two days.. And we are already questioning our options of whether we should take her out. She hates it we hate it sad

dotcommon Sun 07-Oct-12 08:06:51

Hi, we too are in the process of moving to hastings looking into primary places for my son, in reception . I know we cant even apply until we ve exchanged contracts , which will happen in a couple of weeks.

I knew that the school places situation wasnt great but didnt realise it was so difficult. The lady at the admissions. Office seemed more positive.

Does anyone know what sort of length wait its going to be to get our son into a half decent school?

dotcommon Sun 07-Oct-12 08:19:21

Also ks248, why do you think your daughters not taken to st leonards and what dont you like about it?

marykat2004 Mon 08-Oct-12 22:32:42

Yes, I, too, am interested in why she doesn't like the school, ks248.

As for schools being difficult to get a place, from what I have heard the better rated CofE schools have places. It's just if you have your mind set on a non-religious good school then your choices - and places - are limited. But I am talking about year 3, not reception. It seems harder everywhere at the beginning of school.

We are going to look at 5 schools on Friday: St Leonards CofE, Christchurch, St Paul's, All Saints and Robsack Wood. We have not decided on a house yet, still waiting for an offer on our current flat.

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