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in catchment for worst state primary in the area - WWYD??

(91 Posts)
elephantsdung Thu 03-Jan-13 16:40:35

I haven't started a topic on here before so here goes (pls be gentle):

We live in a nice'ish house but have an estate behind us which also has the local primary school in the middle of it. This is obviously our closest primary school but also has the worst reputation and OFSTED report in the area. It has an above average no. of children who have free school meals and, 'whilst the majority are White British there are a large number of Travellers from Irish heritage' (Quoted from OFSTED report). Whilst I really don't want to offend anyone I am looking for some advice:
DS is nearly 3 so will be starting primary school in 2014, so I will need to apply this time next year. Originally I was set on moving but, having estimated moving costs this will cost us around £18-£20K to move to a similar house to the one we have now. We have also considered private school but this would make it really tight for us (and we have no.2 on the way)
This school has been closed down a few years ago and started again as it got so bad, the thing is all the other schools in the area are really good but I know there is a real push to send people to this school (as no-one wants to go?) so there's no guarantee we could get him into another school.
So my dilemma is - should we
a) stay where we are and fork out for private school (although we probably wouldn't be able to afford it for no.2 as well)
b) stay where we are and apply for all other schools except for this one and just keep fingers crossed
c) Fork out the money to move so we are close to a good school

RaspberryLemonPavlova Thu 03-Jan-13 22:31:18

If you do decide to move, I would echo prevous posters about looking to the future as well, and make sure you are in the catchment of a secondary school you are happy with.

marlboroughlts Fri 04-Jan-13 01:04:00

Have you thought about looking at the statistics from last year (ours are on the local council website) and seeing if there are any other schools where you're likely to get a place? I know several people round here have gone for a village school 8 miles away. It's a bit of a drive but they share lifts with other families.

Having said that we have a similar school near us. It was given a new head a few years ago (and closed and reopened under a new name). The SATs results have just come out and they've done really well. I think it takes a few years for the results to come through but maybe have a look at the school and see what action has been taken?

CloudsAndTrees Fri 04-Jan-13 01:28:48

You really really need to do more than read the OFSTED report. OFSTED are really not very good judges of a school, although they are capable of reporting on basic facts.

Look round the school, go for walks near the school around pick up time, walk past the playground at lunchtime.

If you are still sure that you don't like it, move.

GateGipsy Fri 04-Jan-13 07:22:27

Go look around, and there are some questions to ask that won't be covered in the ofsted report. Since it was reopened how much of the staff was replaced? Is it a new head teacher? What changes have they bought in?

My son's school has a high percentage of FSM, above average English as a second language, and higher than national average SEN. Its catchment takes in a local counsil estate and is in one of the wards in the borough with high levels of child poverty. It went from failing to outstanding thanks to an inspirational head teacher. It took a couple of years after he took over for the changes to happen, and I know that parents who sent their children to the school then felt really nervous about it especially as the changes weren't reflected in the ofsted report yet.

By the time their children were at year six the school was running at 100% level SATs, and had lots of other really positive aspects. It is now hugely oversubscribed.

All this is a long winded way of saying that you need to go look at the school and talk to other parents because this could be that 'holy grail' people talk about when talking about school admissions - the school no-one wants to go to at the moment so you get in, but is about to become the area's top rated school!

What I did when trying to decide was, in the local playground, go up and talk to parents with children in school uniform of the schools that we were considering.

Megan74 Fri 04-Jan-13 18:43:33

Go and see the school and then decide. Also look at where else you are likely to get a place based on previous years admissions - your council will have this info.

£20k moving is cheaper than private so I think moving is a no brainer if that is the only school you can get into and you don't like it.

sashh Sat 05-Jan-13 05:16:47

How would the school support your child? How would your child be in that school?

That is all you need to ask.

IME schools that have an intake of 'less desirables' have to work harder to get those children to the standard of the local child who has books at home, is read to and already knows how to count. They also, as others have said, are adept at dealing with diverse emmotional needs.

tricot39 Sat 05-Jan-13 08:04:24

By all means visit (you can make an appointment at any time) but also check out secondary options. If you might be happy at that stage then staying put might be a sensible option. If both primary and secondary options are troubling then make a move to resolve both. Good luck.

kerrygrey Sat 05-Jan-13 08:06:17

Don't know if this is relevant but my DSis chose a school for her YR son to start last September. She had a choice of 3, all Ofsted Outstanding and chose the one she thought most nurturing even tho' (or maybe because) it was in a 'rough' area. Her DS became very quiet at home, then bad-tempered. He is a self-contained child but eventually said he didn't want to go to school any more because he didn't like being punched, slapped and pushed in the mud. She spoke to the teacher, who said there were some 'difficult' children in the latest intake. Nothing changed. After a couple of weeks she spoke to the teacher again. In spite of assurances still nothing changed.
Just before the end of term she got him into another school about 2 miles away, again Ofsted Outstanding, but in a 'naicer' area. He's only done a couple of weeks there so it's early days but he seems so much happier. Next term will tell I suppose. She is just very lucky to live where there is no shortage of school places.

tiggytape Sat 05-Jan-13 10:13:26

kerry- being slapped, punched and pushed in the mud isn't something that just happens at 'rough' schools. Any school can have a 'difficult' intake - be that parents who think their children are angels and can do no wrong to lots of undiagnosed and unsupported additional needs (not uncommon in YR where diagnosis may not have been made so support isn't in place).

Any school can be effective or ineffective in dealing with bullying. In fact, more often than not 'naice' schools are more likely to be the ones to deny they have a problem and blame the child or the parents instead. They have their reputation to think of and won't admit there's anything wrong.

AChickenCalledKorma Sat 05-Jan-13 14:00:07

Just in response to kerry's comments, there is a child in DD2's class who has moved from the highly-desirable, Ofsted-outstanding school in a very naice area indeed, to our "rough" school, because she was being bullied in the playground at the "nice" school and the teachers were entirely unable to deal with it. Her mum is now evangelical about recommending the "rough" school (which she originally avoided like the plague).

Bullying and bad behaviour happens everywhere. It looks different among different groups of children, but it still happens. The key question is how well the school deal with it. Our "rough" school has a lot of children with behavioural problems, but the staff are very competent in dealing with it and absolutely intolerant of bullying. As far as I can tell, my children have never felt unsafe at school, despite the occasional hair-raising incident involving individual trouble-makers.

losingtrust Sat 05-Jan-13 14:12:08

A new head can change a school dramatically. My dd also attends a school with a lot of traveller children and whilst this may be construed as racist there are behavioural issues arising from some (not all) of these children and the language used is choice so the school needs to be able to deal with this. Personally I would check to see what has changed since school reopened and recent ofsted updates. Book an appointment with the head to discuss (ours is more than happy to do this). Apply to out of catchment schools as you may be in a low birth year.

RiversideMum Sat 05-Jan-13 18:49:50

Agree with what everyone says about visiting the school. Schools such as this are currently, and will continue to be given Govt policy, very "cash rich" and able to offer excellent opportunities to their children. There is a similar school in the town where I work which has made marvellous progress. With a good management team in place schools with "problems" can be transformed into wonderful places.

However, you need to balance this with the fact it's not possible to change what the extended families are like. The school I know is doing well, but regularly has to sanction parents for swearing/fighting/being drunk/being high/being in pyjamas on school grounds.

PS: I've also taught traveller children and found them all to be delightful and very respectful.

Good luck with your choice. It's a tough one.

seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 18:58:20

What is wrong with the school? I'm assuming that the presence of traveller children is not the reason you don't want your child to go there- what are the issues that bother you?

TheOriginalSteamingNit Sat 05-Jan-13 19:01:31

Go and see it. But do watch out for the Irish travellers, obviously hmm

seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 19:09:59

It's the spontaneous jigs that would worry me. And the tinkering, obviously.

bringbacksideburns Sat 05-Jan-13 19:14:12

What's the OFSTED rating?
I'd be inclined to go with the second option. Surely they can't force you to go to a school with a lousy reputation if you don't even put it on your list?

DeafLeopard Sat 05-Jan-13 19:46:54

bringback - no they can't force you, but if they offer a place that the parent does not take up they are not obliged to offer another school IIRC.

Blu Sun 06-Jan-13 17:07:51

Surely they can't force you to go to a school with a lousy reputation if you don't even put it on your list?

They can't FORCE you to, no, but the LA process is to offer you the school highest on your list of preferences which is able to offer you a place.

So if you put NO school which is likely to offer you a place on your list they then look for the nearest available school which has a place after all the other places are filled. That could be the school you have left off the list, or if that is full it could be an equally undesirable or even worse school at the far end of the LA.

Many people every year fall foul following advice like yours, Sideburns!

The schools have no idea where on the list a family have placed them, or how many schools are on your list. Each school makes it's offers according to it's own admission criteria. The LA then offers you the highest school making an offer on your list. If none of your preferred schools make you an offer the LA offers you a place oin any school which has one left. And if you turn it down it has no further obligation to you because they have fulfilled their obligation in offering a place.

Tgger Sun 06-Jan-13 17:16:24

I wouldn't decide to move before getting some more facts. Look at the stats on admissions on the council website. Depends on the area but sometimes you can get into schools further afield if they are not oversubscribed. Look at how far away the closest to school rule was and if you are that far away. Also look round the school and make your own judgement. Look round the other schools that you are thinking of moving closer to as well. A new head can make a huge difference and it's how well the school is run rather than the personnel per se.

NamingOfParts Sun 06-Jan-13 19:44:36

bringbacksideburns - not force as in come to your house and drag your children to the school but you get offered one place at one school and that is your lot. Moving house can also be a lottery. Surprise, surprise the schools with spaces are the less favoured ones with poor reputations. For both primary and secondary the only schools available to us were in special measures.

SPBInDisguise Sun 06-Jan-13 19:53:03

"Add message | Report | Message poster seeker Sat 05-Jan-13 19:09:59
It's the spontaneous jigs that would worry me. And the tinkering, obviously."

Please don't startle me with hilarity in the middle of a serious thread, I startled myself laughing!

FarrahFawcettsFlick Sun 06-Jan-13 19:55:11

Get an appointment with the HT. Ask for a breakdown and explination of the OFSTED report. Unfortunately the way the reports are devised, they have very narrow fields of questions and answers available. You could ask the HT how travellers and statemented children skew the results (if they even do). OFSTED is not the end all and be all.

pinkdelight Mon 07-Jan-13 09:16:59

We moved. Downsized but the area is nicer and the school is great so no regrets. Interestingly, the ofsted for the old catchment school was the same as the new one 'good'. But based on the old one's rep wee researched and looked around it twice and just couldn't bring ourselves to go with it. There was just this atmosphere of chaos and it was like the head was oblivious. When we looked around the new school,, it was completely different and we couldn't find any reason not to go with it. So we forked out the money to move and it was worth every penny.

Go and see the school. Be open minded. You'll know the answer.

JuliaScurr Mon 07-Jan-13 09:33:01

dd was a school refuser at 2 'naice' schools which couldn't cope with her anxiety. Changed to crap Ofsted school, she was cured of anxiety probs in a few months. About 35% of her year went on to grammar schools, some (inc dd) on FSM/SEN list. Value added is more important than raw results. That school was brilliant for special needs, which was great for individual kids but brought average grades down. Have a look, ask other parents, get Value added info

ArbitraryUsername Mon 07-Jan-13 10:01:42

I agree with those who suggest visiting the school and deciding for yourself whether it is an option for you. Don't just go by local reputation; the rumour mill is often wildly inaccurate. And, anyway, just because a school has been right for someone else's kids, it doesn't mean it's right for yours.

My DS1's experience of 4 different primary schools indicates that there is no necessary relationship between the affluence of catchment area and how well the school will support your child. He's been in hugely over-subscribed schools with very affluent catchments (both were dire actually, one dangerously so), a school with the most deprived catchment (going on FSM percentages) in the city in which we lived (which was great because of the commitment of the staff and the leadership of the HT) and one with a very mixed catchment that isn't popular locally (which has been brilliant for him, and has helped him to recover from the dangerously dire school, academically at least).

There's no way of knowing what a school will actually be like based on FSM percentages, local reputation or even ofsted ratings (the dangerously dire school DS1 attended has an 'outstanding' rating, presumably because the HT is very good at paperwork). You can only go on your impression of the school and HT when you visit it, and even then it's still a bit of a crap shoot.

DS2 will start school in September, so I've visited all the local first schools we can get in to. After doing so we've rejected the 'so middle class we've veered into parody' school that's closest to our house. It's incredibly popular but it just isn't right for DS2 (or my sanity). But it's hard to choose between the others because you really can't tell that much from a short visit. And you can't really tell whether a school that seems right for your 3 year old (who will just have turned 4 when he starts reception) will still be the right place for him when he's 8 (or 10 if you're looking at primary schools, or 16 if your choice of first school will almost inevitably determine where he sits his GCSEs due to the local feeder admissions system).

The whole schools choice thing is a cruel trick played on us by successive governments really.

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