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Is a prep year group of 15 too small?

(32 Posts)
Mumtogremlins Fri 08-Mar-13 23:45:53


I'm thinking of sending my DS to a small prep school - it only has 12-15 children per year group. I'm worried he might not make many friends due to the lack of children but are there any other disadvantages or advantages to a small school?
As far as I'm aware the school is stable and has been around for a long time so not too worried about it closing due to low numbers. Each year group is full or nearly full

chocoluvva Sat 09-Mar-13 00:45:48

Sounds like an ideal number. IME children are more likely to make good quality friendships in a smaller class and he'll get more attention from his teacher.

Zavi Sat 09-Mar-13 01:00:34

You're right to be concerned about the small class sizes because it will diminish your DC's potential pool of friends. Especially if it's mixed sex and there is only a single year group.

For instance if it's mixed, then there will (probably) only be 7-8 other boys in the class. He probably won't "click" with some of them, say 1-2. Then there will be ones that he gets on with but whose parents you don't get on with (!) so you're down to around 5-6 other boys really. Which is a small pool of school friends at that age.

The other problem with small class sizes is teams. Will their be enough boys to make up a sports team? Will your DS be forced to "make up the numbers" if bodies are needed to make up a team - even if he doesn't like then sport?

Otherwise small class sizes are supposed to facilitate learning more than a class size of 30. But check whether the teacher has an assistant or not. If not, that reduces the supposed benefit of the smaller class size somewhat.

Mutteroo Sat 09-Mar-13 03:32:51

If the school is a charity, look it up on the charities commission website. This will give you a clearer idea of the financial situation. If a privately owned school, you can look on the companies house website by looking up the owner/s &/or businesses they run.

As for the class sizes of 12-15? Wonderful! Yes it will reduce your child's friendship potential, however this may suit your child's personality? We declined a school because the class sizes were too small (7 per year with a total of 15 in KS1). It was a new school at the time & its still going so other parents were obviously not put off as we were. I certainly wouldn't had minded a class size of 12-15.

As long as the school is stable (being an old school means nothing), then I don't see that you have much to worry about.

Timetoask Sat 09-Mar-13 05:05:22

A class size of 12-15 is lovely for good learning and if all goes well friendships will blossom, however, this friendship situation is tricky and depends so much on the child's personality.
In my ds's school they have class sizes of about 15 but there are three classes per year. This works well because there are more children to play with at break time.

nooka Sat 09-Mar-13 05:19:47

I'd not wish to send my child to a school with such a small number of children. My dd's year is small and she has had serious friendship issues because as they've got older the girls have all got far too much history with each other, lots of cliques and fallings out. It's been quite painful to watch, especially when you can't say 'well don't be friends with/spend time with x' because there just isn't any choice. I can't wait until she goes to secondary with a much much larger year group.

Laura4041 Sat 09-Mar-13 05:57:00

Assuming the school is stable I would be delighted with a class this size! Children don't only have friends from their year. My youngest is in yrR with a class size of 31 yet often spends playtime involved in playing with children from yr1 or yr2.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 09-Mar-13 06:01:03

12 - 15 is fine. They will have children in other year groups to play with as well.

PopMusic Sat 09-Mar-13 10:17:41

There are only 10 children in my DS's reception class and it's one form entry. There are three adults in the classroom (teacher/TA/1-2-1 TA for one child). The school spends a lot of effort nurturing their friendships and teaching them to look after one another. It suits DS really well precisely because the numbers are small and it's all very calm. His progress has also been remarkable.

The small pool of friends is something that concerned me but actually it has turned out quite nicely. I think if if he was a DD instead of a DS I would be more worried because of the dynamics of girls' friendships. At the end of the day, would the school suit your DS?

difficultpickle Sat 09-Mar-13 10:31:41

Depends on the boy/girl split. We live near a school like that but if ds had gone there he would have been the only boy in his year. Makes it impossible to play team sports.

Inclusionist Sat 09-Mar-13 14:54:03

Second Mutteroo's advice to look up the school's finances. I decided against a school that otherwise seemed great because of the financial info I found on it. My sister has had the experience of her children's school closing at short notice and it was horrible.

chocoluvva Sat 09-Mar-13 15:15:20

IME of doing supply teaching in lots of different primary schools the small schools usually have a very good sense of community and the older children look out for the younger ones.
The teachers are able to get to know the children very well, which facilitates good teaching and the children often have more input in deciding what they will study/practise.

While there's an element of the children themselves being a resource for ideas, team members, parts in the annual school 'production'etc there are so many ways of linking with other schools now eg, video conferencing, glow etc.

Mumtogremlins Sat 09-Mar-13 17:12:42

Thanks for your responses. It is privately owned so I will try and find out a bit more about its finances.
My DS is quite shy and takes time to make close friends, although most children like him and want to be friends. He's a bit geeky so it worries me he will struggle to find like minded friends. He does like to play with children from other years so it may not be a problem
There are teaching assistants in the classroom but not sure if full time. The school does seem lovely and family orientated but opportunities to do activities are limited and the curriculum isn't as wide as larger prep schools
He has a place at a larger prep school, which is more expensive so I'm trying to decide if more opportunities and friends are worth the extra. They are both nice schools

chocoluvva Sat 09-Mar-13 18:08:02

There's a limit to how many close friends you can have though. I really don't think a smaller pool of potential friends is likely to be a problem.

Hope he has a lovely start to his formal education smile

Inclusionist Sat 09-Mar-13 18:11:21

Ooh, I love a school hunt. Is it too outing to name them?

dixiechick1975 Sat 09-Mar-13 18:21:59

DD's school is one class entry - there are 17 in her yr 2 class.

Agree that children seem to play with older and younger aswell as their class - very much a family type atmosphere. I personally like this for DD - just like different age siblings would play together.

She also seems to play with boys more than her friends at bigger schools.

Team wise a positive spin on it is year 3/4 get to take part in competitive sports that other bigger schools only enter year 5/6 for. They seem to do very well despite the younger ones taking part.

Knowsabitabouteducation Sat 09-Mar-13 20:46:19

One of the really good things about a small school is that all the children have to get involved in everything. They are on the sports teams, in the choir, in the play, on the quiz team. They can't hide.

We recently moved our DD from a small school to a much larger one. She is the kind of girl who likes to be invisible. She used to do everything at her small school (she fell in with the expectation rather than being forced). At her current school, they have auditions and try-outs for everything, so she does nothing.

A large school can have lots of fancy facilities and opportunities, but they mean nothing if your child doesn't use them or get involved. But you are still paying for them.

bangwhizz Sat 09-Mar-13 22:00:03

My DD2 is in a year group of 7 including only 2 other girls.Luckily they got on well but it's a bit claustrophobic

Mumtogremlins Sat 09-Mar-13 23:17:03

I would be moving him in year 4 so friendships will already be established which could make it harder for him
One school is in Woking and the other in Camberley. The Woking one is closer and larger but more expensive.

Inclusionist Sun 10-Mar-13 08:35:43

You have the choice of an awful lot of prep schools in that area. Have you considered them all?

chocoluvva Sun 10-Mar-13 10:35:15

It's so tricky isn't it? Closer is obviously better isn't it? Is the other school far?

seeker Sun 10-Mar-13 10:40:02

Too small. Especially if it's mixed.. Honestly.

I think 20 is about the right number.

Inclusionist Sun 10-Mar-13 11:41:11

I think if I lived down there (I am a bit further north) I would go for Hall Grove. Good things seem to be said about Hoe Bridge on here too.

I wouldn't trust the finances at the little school. I've just read about another prep school in the area closing this year (Langley Manor). I've gone for a really big prep (Lambrook) and two of the factors in my choice were that, with so many kids, it must be a) possible for DS to find peers and b) a finacially secure set up.

DS's class will still have <18 kids in it, there will just be several classes.

teacherwith2kids Sun 10-Mar-13 12:09:53

I'd be with Inclusionist - a big school but with small classes. So plenty of children for a football / rugby / hockey team but a smaller number within the classroom. Enough money for really good facilities, but a small number of children in the class using the facilities at any one time.

15 of 1 gender not so bad, but if mixed, definitely too small.

Mumtogremlins Sun 10-Mar-13 13:55:48

That kind of makes me more keen on the Woking school then - 2 classes of about 18 I think (mixed). The small school is also mixed which probably won't leave as many friend opportunities. The small one also only goes up to 11, the other to 13. Not sure whether its best to move to secondary at 11 or 13 - but that's a whole new problem!

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