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Please tell me lovely things about your deprived primary

(45 Posts)
mollysmum82 Thu 02-Aug-12 20:17:24

Deprived is the ofsted word and isn't a term I'd like to use really but 5 of my local friends have moved out the area recently to avoid sending their kids to our local school. Some of them have openly said its because they think our area is dodgy. I must admit I panicked a bit as I'm not from the area and looked into moving/private instead. But financially it's not really an option. So I looked round our local school and I actually really really liked it. The staff were friendly and warm, the head seemed clued up and the kids seemed happy. So I think I'm going to go for it. I'm just a little scared I'm going against the grain and I'm worried I'm missing something since everyone else is moving away. So I guess I'm looking for a bit of reassurance, people who's kids are thriving and happy in a school others avoid. Thank you!

I take it that you mean the intake is from a deprived area? Our school is too. I can't say loads of lovely things about it because I am not too convinced myself at the moment, DD goes into year 1 in September.

There is a lot of talk about having high expectations for all the children, but actually it is a load of hot air and I know that some of the SMT feel that many of the children/families are no-hopers sad

OTOH it is nice to not be pressured into giving lots of money to the school - because the area is deprived with high rates of free school meals, the school gets extra funding, and because so many parents couldn't afford it, school rarely asks for money for activities.

But, the results are generally not good and I do wonder if DD would be better off in a different school with genuinely high expectations of it's pupils.

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 02-Aug-12 21:23:28

My children go to a school that people avoid because it serves a deprived area. My eldest is about to go into Year 6, so we've been there a while. And yes, both our children are absolutely thriving.

The Head is well-loved, knows her job, insists on great performance from the staff, but somehow manages to maintain a family atmosphere. It's a highly inclusive place - every child's progress is closely-monitored so they all do "well", regardless of their starting points. Which means that the many children with special needs (and there are loads) make good progress - and so do the very able children. DD1 is very able indeed and I have never felt that the school fails to cater for her ... which seems to be different from the experience of some people in other schools which look better on paper.

We have never felt the need to teach the children at home to make up for any shortcomings at school. Again, unlike friends at more popular schools who complain that their schools are relying on parents to fill the gaps in what they do at school.

The staff are really dedicated and totally go the extra mile in terms of extra-curricular clubs etc. There is a very "rich" curriculum (lots of school trips, special weeks - e.g. science week, arts week etc where they have exciting activities and visiting artists etc)

But that's our school. Yours may or may not be good. But you won't know till you've tried. If your gut reaction is that it seems OK, ignore the crowd and give it a chance. That's what we did six years ago and it turned out to be a good call.

auntpetunia Thu 02-Aug-12 22:08:54

the school I work in is classed by the government as being in an area of the highest deprivation offically something like 80% of our kids live below the breadline and suffer huge deprivation.. that 's the government/ofsted's view. In reality we do have a high % of free school meals, but we then get funding to match that so more money. The government is always giving money to schools in deprived areas to provide more after school clubs and facilities for the kids. but our kids do really well they start below or on level with contemporaries in reception and go on to do really well, we had a number of kids get level 6 this year in their sats.

If you are happy to live there and your kids have friends I wouldn't worry, I know a number of families who left our school a couple of years ago when we got only a satisfactory ofsted who are now on the waiting list to get their younger child back into the school as the grass isn't always greener.

MurderOfProse Thu 02-Aug-12 22:25:28

I live in an officially classed as deprived area, plus over half the pupils at DC1's school do not have English as their first language. Like you, I was somewhat apprehensive when she started in reception last year.

But it's been fine! She's made great progress (understatement, although some of that is down to her own determination outside of school too), made loads of friends and is very popular, and has LOVED her first year at school. Her teacher was lovely as were the other teachers I met.

I got to know some of the other parents at the school - the first time in seven years of living here that I got to know anyone locally - and aside from the usual grumbles you could hear about in any school, everyone is very pleased with the school. And I've made loads of great friends too! I feel much more part of the community.

We're planning on moving very soon and I am actually now worried that whatever school she ends up in a theoretically much "nicer" area may not be as good as this school and I will really miss my new friends..

AllDirections Thu 02-Aug-12 22:28:15

DD3 (5) attends a school where the intake is mostly from a deprived area.

It's a lovely little C of E school with just one class in each year and I'm more than happy with everything about the school. I fully expect DD3 to achieve just as much as her sisters did at a different school.

Sidge Thu 02-Aug-12 22:36:05

My DDs 2 and 3 go to a school very much like the one Achickencalledkorma writes about.

We live in a fairly deprived area. Many children are eligible for free school meals, there is a lack of home support and the school staff really go that extra mile for the children.

There seems to be lots of funding for the school, helped by the high numbers of children with SEN and statements. It's such a kind, inclusive, caring school that many parents select it on their statement for their SEN child - we chose it for DD2 (complex special needs) and happily sent DD3 there based on our good experience of the school.

SATS results aren't fabulous but there is lots of value added.

For me, the school is all that I want in a primary - kind, caring, supportive. The staff know all the children and their needs, and really do offer more than just an education.

MrsShrek3 Thu 02-Aug-12 22:40:54

I work in a school in an area considered deprived, with a high percentage of fsm and huge numbers of sen, many children haven't read a book / been read to before they start school, and in reception and nursery, speech and lang can be poor. It's the most awesome school I've ever been to and a privilege to work in. The atmosphere is very caring and nurturing, and the progress the children make is nothing short of outstanding. The staff are fantastic. Ofsted rate it as "good" but I've seriously considered taking my own dc out of the top-performing school in the authority to go to the one I work in instead as it is so much nicer smile As others say, because of the percentage of fsm and the area, we get more money, pupil premium etc and staffing and resourcing are good.

AChickenCalledKorma Thu 02-Aug-12 22:45:41

Also ask yourself - what is the real reason why other people have moved away. Is it because they actually have evidence that there is anything wrong with their school? Or is it because they don't think the parents in the playground are "their type"?

In our school playground, you will find every conceivable social background, educational level, age, race and family structure. People either regard that as being a positive thing or run a mile to be with their "own kind". It's all a bit snobbish tribal and has very little to do with education or their children's happiness.

MrsShrek3 Thu 02-Aug-12 22:48:45

spot on, Chicken. And ditto to your second paragraph, sums ours up perfectly too.

insanityscratching Fri 03-Aug-12 09:04:34

I travel to take my dd to a school out of catchment in a deprived area through choice because the school is quite simply brilliant. Ok some of the parents are a little scary but it's a hugely inclusive school with children of all abilities and backgrounds and word has got out. So numbers increased by over 100 in the first two years it was open and its being extended starting this summer.
Facilities are great, there is an ICT suite, a dance and drama studio, an ampitheatre, outdoor sports facilities, breakfast and after school clubs, lots of after school activities, they buy in specialist teachers for French, Art and Music and what sold it for me was the high numbers of staff (7 people work regularly in dd's yr3/4 class).It's a very nurturing school pastoral care is outstanding, I'd never wish for dd to go to our village primary where it seems to me like children are processed like boxes through the "system" to get the necessary SATs results.

auntpetunia Fri 03-Aug-12 10:27:08

Chicken your playground sounds like ours.

auntevil Fri 03-Aug-12 11:42:21

We live in one of the gov's deprived areas. The school takes in all comers. It is a real melting pot.
I have found that many other nationalities, regardless of income, take the education of their children very seriously, and understand the importance of parental support.
Loved the comment about some of the parents are a little scary (oh yes!) - but economic status and a desire to give your child every benefit of a good education are not necessarily linked.
so OP, deprived area intake, good school - my kids love it and I've never heard them say 'I don't want to go to school'

amck5700 Fri 03-Aug-12 11:47:05

My kids have gone all the way (one going to high school and one now in P7)through a school that traditionally serves a deprived estate and also now serves a relatively "new bulld" estate. When people first moved into the estate a fair number sent their chilldren to a school that was seen to have a "better" catchment. However the local school is smaller has a much better leadership and punches well above it's weight academically. As others have said, they get better funding and have better staffing numbers. Then both schools were assessed and the local school got a far better report. Strangely then more people started using the school and the pupil mix is much more even in the lower primary classes. Now the school has had to erect a portacabin for next year as they don't have space for all the catchment kids - looks like it will need to be rebuilt/expanded soon as they expect aroung 50 kids each year instead of the 30 they have room for (the school only has 8 classrooms).

Despite some serious bullying issues with my elder son (instigated by "nice" kids) I still think it is good school and my boys have done really well there - the parent council is very commited and raised £25k over 2 years for playground improvements too.

AChickenCalledKorma Fri 03-Aug-12 16:44:56

The playground thing is quite depressing. We've had a family arrive in the area during the last term, who came to look around the school and were extremely enthusiastic about it. They met the Head, liked the set-up and registered their children.

And then in the first week after the children started they transferred to another school. Why? Nothing whatsoever to do with the children's experience. The mum took fright at the "rough" parents in the playground and went begging to another headteacher to take them.

Some of those "rough" looking parents are the most caring and supportive people I know. Some of them have had a rough deal in life. And some of them (gasp) have tattoos grin. But it doesn't make them bad people. It really cheeses me off that people make such sweeping judgements.

(And the school the children have gone to performs less well in terms of value added, so the chances are that they will not do as well in the "nice" school as they would have at ours. Go figure.)

seeker Fri 03-Aug-12 16:52:37

What are the SATs results like? You need to look at the level the children come in at and the level they leave at. That way you can see whether they make good progress. That's the most important thing- if the children who'v hqd q rough start make expected, or better than expected progress then probably your child will too.

mollysmum82 Fri 03-Aug-12 22:08:55

Thanks everyone that makes me feel a lot better. I think it is snobbery on the part of some of the people who moved away, when I asked one of them she said 'you just have to look at what comes to the door at kicking out time!' saying that though I can't be too critical as I've obviously been apprehensive myself and we all just want the best for our kids.

It's great to hear your kids are doing well, thanks again.

CecilyP Sat 04-Aug-12 10:10:22

DS went to a school in a simlarly deprived area which might not have been my choice if I had had

a) a car
b) greater local knowledge
c) mumsnet (which obviously didn't exist then).

Was it a fantastic school? No! But it was a warm and caring school where DS learned all the things I would have expected him to learn in primary school with, by mumsnet standards, remarkably little input from me. And in those days, I don't think there was extra funding for such schools, certainly no TAs and that kind of thing. DS made some nice friends and had no problems there. Conversely, a friend had to remove his DD from the school that serves the most affluent part of our town because she was being bullied and the school did nothing about it.

I am not sure you can set too much store by KS2 result. If all the more aspirational families avoid the school, results will be poorer than average but that doesn't mean that some able children don't do extremely well. Also attendance tends to be poorer in deprived areas, so there are children who could do much better if they turned up more regularly - not that the effects your child.

DS is now grown and I hadn't really given it much thought until I discovered mumsnet and wondered if I should have sent him somewhere more up-market. However, we driving past recently, when he announced, 'that's a good school'. I asked why it was a good school and he said, 'the playground'. Yes, one of the advantages of this school was, for a town school, the amount of open space which, as well as the normal playground, had a full size football pitch and still plenty room to spare. OTOH, the small church school that some people choose to avoid this one has a playground the size of postage stamp which DS would have hated.

smee Sat 04-Aug-12 14:26:56

Can't add much to what others have said, but thought it worth saying look at the mix teachers as you go round. If you think about it, teachers who choose to teach in a trickier school are either there because nobody else will have them/ no-one else wants to teach there, or because they're ambitious, hugely driven and dedicated. DS's school has 50% male teachers, lots of teachers who've retrained, so did previous careers and then chose to teach, equally lots of newly qualified ambitious young teachers, all of whom have gallons of energy and enthusiasm. They genuinely work their socks off, have a laugh with one another and the kids and it's a great atmosphere for children to learn in. I love our school, but a lot of people won't touch it. DS has fantastic friends, and so far has had amazing teachers too.

messtins Sun 05-Aug-12 15:18:32

We made this decision a year ago and are very happy with our choice so far, though we did agonise over it at the time. We have 2 local primary schools with a pretty good chance of getting into whichever we put as first choice as we are close to both. One is the "nice middle class white school" which all our friends have chosen and which in the local area is considered to be great, but when we enquired we could only look round on one specific open evening, they made no effort really to persuade us to choose it and they are heavily criticised by OFSTED for failing to stretch bright pupils and for "teaching to the test" to get good SATS. The other is a school with a high proportion of deprivation/free school meals/SEN and kids of every colour and culture of the rainbow. My husband has been a governor there since before our kids were born. Totally different atmosphere when I went to look round - on a normal day we got to see everything that was going on and were shown round by the headmaster (no special treatment he does this for everyone). I was very impressed with how they deal with a widely varying intake in terms of ability and starting point, the head teacher knew every kid by name and they all seemed happy and motivated. I was mainly worried that DS might end up mates with the kid of the local drug dealer, but so far fears are unfounded.
They've been brilliant at stretching DS who was reading before he went to school - he can go up a year group for some lessons without it being an issue and is in yr 1 extension groups for some subjects. He's made lots of friends and settled in really well. It's been a real eye opener for all of us into different races and colours and family backgrounds (few awkward questions about the kid with two dads) but he's taken it all in his stride.
We've since found that staff from our school are mentoring staff of the "good" school to bring their EYFS up to scratch....
I'd take notice of OFSTED but go more on your impression of the school. Local opinion moves at the pace of long-dead dinosaur and is not necessarily valid.

Elibean Sun 05-Aug-12 18:06:53

Another positive story here. The dds' school had a high percentage of 'deprived' families (ie free school lunches) and EAL kids, when dd1 started. Its changed a fair bit since then, but at the time I had many, many raised eyebrows from local people who had never set foot in the place - they just went on outdated, or plain wrong, reputation.

We visited the 'approved of' local primary, two independent primaries, and loved our local 'rough' primary ten times more than any of them - the Head showed us around, happy excited children rushed up to her to tell her what they were learning that day, kids spoke to dh and me in confident, respectful ways about what they were doing, the staff were warm and clearly knew the children well.

The statistics show slightly lower than average L5 English at KS2, but way over national averages on value added - on all subjects. Remember that in smaller classes (which our school has, in KS2, due to it's old reputation - whereas Foundation is utterly flooded these days) one or two SEN kids, or a newcomer with no English, is going to skew the stats so the significance is distorted.

Against the grain is always a bit scary (for me) but so much more exciting wink - good for you!

BeckyBendyLegs Sun 05-Aug-12 18:30:16

My DSs go to a 'deprived' area school. We moved house end August 2007 and we had no choice for DS1 who was due to start reception at the time. The receptionist at the 'good' school in this neighbourhood laughed down the phone when I rang up asking if they had space. So I went along to the 'deprived' school and they were lovely and welcoming. The school seemed so warm and friendly, the staff seemed lovely, there were pictures everywhere and I just had such a good feeling from the school. DS1 is now in Year 4 (soon to start) and DS2 in Year 2 and DS3 will start the nursery in January. I am very happy with the school. I don't even know what the SATS scores are, I do know that the staff are dedicated and do a brilliant job.

My DSs are very happy and thriving. DS1 is on the gifted and talented register for maths. DS2 was on it for literacy for a while. They are happy, which is the most important thing to me.

BeckyBendyLegs Sun 05-Aug-12 18:32:04

PS It sounds like you got a good gut feeling from the school. I say go with your gut feeling. I did.

mam29 Sun 05-Aug-12 23:14:55

I went to the nearest best performing school to my house
the one everyone raved about.

the had showed us round
talked to small group of parents said we would be very fortunate if our child gained a place there and we had to put as 1st choice to stand any chance.

then went we got showed round we were not allowed to speak to staff or pupils as would disrupt lessons

was really horrible feel.

the school in deprived area had the best open day.
the year 6 gave us a tour.
head and staff seemed freindly.

we opted for closer school in end, not the posh popular one but wouldent have been too gutted to get the deprived one.

areyoutheregoditsmemargaret Mon 06-Aug-12 12:15:14

Mine are at a school exactly like the one you decribe. It's very good - and since my dcs have started there, it's gone hugely upmarket as more and more middle-class parents have seen people like me wink at the school gates and decided to give it the benefit of the doubt. If you liked it, it will work for you. Well done for having the courage of yr convictions

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