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Calling all primary teachers, experienced advise please. Most important aspects for primary education? Considering changing my childrens school.

(16 Posts)
threecurrantbuns Mon 19-Nov-12 20:52:27

Desperate for advice, as i am so torn as what to do.

Currently my daughters go to our village school. My eldest is a young six (June birthday) and in yr2. She is highly motivated by activity based learning and thrives when doing sport or physical activity.

My second daughter started reception in Sept. Overall she is enjoying it esp the learning to read and write, but she is quite a sensitive little girl, very caring and maternal but doesnt like to stand out too much. She has already been upset and asked not to go to school on occasion because she has nobody to play with at playtime.

PROS (Or what i consider to be) of current school.

It is small (45 children)

It is literally a 5minute walk from our front door, we never have to go in the car. We all enjoy walking to school.

Morals and values are installed to a high standard and shine thorugh in the children.

The numbers are small so i would imagine it is hard for the children to get lost.

Acedemic achievment is high.

A high percentage of the children that go to the school live in the village so school friendships link into out of school socialising.

In the foundation/yr1 stage they get to go on weekly welly walks, forest school, bear hunts etc.

The numbers are small. Therefore they only have three classrooms, with mixed age/ability groups. When my first daughter started there were only around 32 children so this didnt seem an issue, as there were high pupil to staff ratios, but now numbers have increased, staffing has stayed the same. In a way friendships can be harder to form (for my youngest this maybe the case as she is not so confident and i worry she will struggle to find her place)

Due to increasing numbers at the lower end of the school my daughter has been moved along to the second class sooner than they would have previously done and now does no play related learning but 'works hard all day'

I feel homework can be quite long and challenging for my eldest.

Due to the size of the school, facilities are minimal. They have a school field but do vertually nothing in the way of sport and PE is basic due to numbers for team sport and lack of facilities. Extra curricular activities are very minimal.

I worry that it may be hard to teach mixed age groups efficiently within one classroom with one teacher.

So, in surrounding villages close (10min drive) by there are a couple of very good school, in terms of acedemic success and Ofsted results, but what actually is drawing me to them is there huge amount of facilities for sport and one in particular seems to focus on individuality. These two schools in mind have higher numbers of around 150 but, i believe a classroom per age group. They would also offer a huge amount of sporting, rugby, tennis, gymnastics, dance....

This, i know would suit my first dd down to the ground. I also have to bare in mind a have tow younger children that will both be starting school withing the next 4yrs so ideally i need them to all be at the same school.

So what is the most important????? ...i feel they could gain alot from the bigger schools but also lose other things i feel are important like being able to walk, firends within our village, community etc

picturesinthefirelight Mon 19-Nov-12 20:58:24

I personally think that finding a school that suits your children is most important (says she who drives her children 7 miles each day to school). One if the reasons we liked their school is the amount of extra curricular available. There is far too much sport for arty dd but still lots of other stuff

GingersarealwaysToms Mon 19-Nov-12 21:08:51

The small school sounds incredibly cosy but all those mixed age groups mean a heavier work load for the staff, which means with the best will in the world, they might not be able to give as much attention as they would like. On the other hand, it will probably suit your youngest beautifully but maybe the larger schools would suit your eldest.

Have you looked around these 2 other schools? I think, like buying a house, you get a feel for a school and know within 5 minutes whether or not you like it. Ask yourself whether they make you feel welcome in the reception area, whether you like the Head and the rest of the staff, what are the classrooms like? Are the displays fresh and interesting, and so on. How do the children behave moving around the school? Trust your instincts rather than league tables and so on.

threecurrantbuns Mon 19-Nov-12 21:33:40

Thank you, the school here in our village has jsut had ofsted in and they were complimentary...but i cant help but have my doubts at the moment. I'm kicking myself a little for not looking elsewhere originally as i felt small number would be a positive intially, but eldest just thrives where sport is involved and i know there are many important factors to education but i feel she could really do well with sporting oppotunities but she doesnt have them where she is.

I have an appt to look round one of the other school Wednesday and i am going to ring the other tomorrow.

It is a huge decision to change schools so i want to make sure its right and that i'm not jumping the gun. I would love some teachers advice on what they feel is most important at this stage.

threecurrantbuns Mon 19-Nov-12 22:18:49


LaBelleDameSansPatience Mon 19-Nov-12 22:36:24

Surely there are local clubs where she could do sports? We are in a very rural area but could drive at the weekend to rugby and gymnastics and to swimming, gymnastics and tennis during the week.

threecurrantbuns Mon 19-Nov-12 23:34:47

There are local sports but we to live rurally but i dd1 whom is 6 is the oldest of four my youngest being 6mth.

It is quite difficult to do after school activities with all of them in tow esp as i cant drop off because of the travelling.
Also she is still ready for bed a 7pm and has homework which i was really struggling to fit in when she was doing gymnastics after school. The other factor is fanacially we cant afford alot of the activites which are usually subsidised when they are after school clubs, like at the schools i have been looking at.

At the moment she does Dance on a saturday am and swims on a sunday. But i know she would love some of the team sports, also my dc3 seems to be following in the same footsteps as dd1 so im sure he will need more sporting oppotunities aswell if they are provided by school then anything we can fit in/afford in addition would be a bonus.

Her school so bring in the premier sports club once a week after school but as the ages group in so varied and numbers partaking are small it is still hard to get a 'team'

I suppose all children are different and will grow up interested and excelling in different things, but i really think dd1 would excell physically if given the oppotunity so it seems a shame for her to not have the oppotunites. I feel she needs more balance. Whereas dd2 will prob take it or leave it and quite happily sit reading/writing for hours.

threecurrantbuns Tue 20-Nov-12 09:36:17

Bumping for any morning advise smile

threecurrantbuns Tue 20-Nov-12 09:37:51

bumping for morning advise smile

EllenJaneisstillnotmyname Tue 20-Nov-12 09:40:29

Be aware that in a one form entry school (ie no mixed age groups) there is often much less play based learning from Y1.

threecurrantbuns Wed 21-Nov-12 21:52:57

Feeling more confused after viewing one of the other schools. There is no doubt the equipment and extra curricular stuff is Way beyond what my childrens current school has. BUT how much does that matter taking into consideration the 'big' increase in numbers.

I was also led to believe there isnt a future for small schools!?? due to lack of funding, amoung other reasons.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 15:12:03


RosemaryandThyme Sat 24-Nov-12 19:05:31

Hi - few thoughts on the schools in other villages:

1 - the drive, watch out if your rural and it is at all hilly, for us several journy's have been horrendus due to ice, localised flooding and snow / darkness.

2 - sports and after school activities - again watch out, you could find yourself hanging out in the car while when you've collected child 2 but child one / three / four has an activity and there isn't enough time to get home and get back again to collect the one from the activity.
This is a total slog for and baby, as a toddler thay can often nod-off which might be good, might be awful if it disturbs bedtime and also of course hanging around is deadly dull for parents.

3 - 150 doesn't make for a big primary school, it is still smallish so you might be surprised at the lack of expertise, if your expecting specailist sports coaching for example it is more likely to be a regular teacher.

4 - educationally there is s lot to be said for mixed age teaching, montissori in particular saw a huge bonus to peer learning that only comes from mixed age groups, both in terms of younger ones learning from older ones and of older ones reinforcing and clarifying their knowledge through explaining it to someone else. Whilst all classrooms have some peer learning obviously same age children are less likely to have the same impact.

5 - your oldest likes sports, if child is highly driven and competitive it can be hideous to have both sports lessons and school in the same facility, obviously it depends on temperment but in general highly competitive types will swing emotionally depending on how they are suceeding. A bad gym /dance/footie competition can herald several days of low school commitment, better to compartmentalise it by having sports with different people in a different venue.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 21:10:16

Thank you...all good points.

They are all things that could become problematic although they are possibilities of lift shares sometimes.

I'm also considering how these current school will effect secondary choices. At the moment the school in the other village is a feeder for the best secondary education, but maybe that is thinking too far ahead.

cece Sat 24-Nov-12 21:18:35

Secondary school considerations would be a big factor for me. If it is a named feeder school for the admission criteria for your choice of secondary then move her now.

fourlittleangels Sat 24-Nov-12 21:52:34

I'm assuming it's a main feeder it's a village in the same county and the county only has two secondary schools, the one I like as on now ( schools can change) has strong links with the primary as the children go there to do extra curricular activities etc.

Atm we are slap bang, in distance, between two counties but have a postcode for the less preferred one, although the children who has moved up previously have had the choice of which direction

But if our current primary joins together to form an academy (rumours) with the postcode county I think it may reduce our chances of going to the cross county secondary..esp as it is extremely popular due to huge success rates.

So hard to base decision with out 'facts'

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