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Small School Help!!

(14 Posts)
BeHappyBeHealthyAndGetWellSoon Tue 14-May-13 11:03:47

DD is in Yr 3 and very happy at her local small school which is a 2 minute walk away. I have every confidence in the school they have been brilliant. DS is due to start school in September. He is currently due to be the only child in reception. There are several children locally due to start school that DS is at nursery with but they have all decided to travel to the larger school.
DD's best friend is moving to a larger school from September, they will meet up again as they will go to the secondary school.
Am I mad to be continuing with our local school that we are more than happy with. I do have some concerns (obviously) but they don't seem to outweigh the fact that our local school is great AND I would be committing to driving the DC to school every day for years.

DS has his name down to start at Beavers and would do other groups to broaden his friendship group.

What would you do? The whole thing is keeping me awake at night so any advice or thoughts would be received most gratefully.

MadeOfStarDust Tue 14-May-13 11:51:39

Personally I would stay with the small school - if they think it is viable - I guess he will be taught alongside Y1??? Does not seem viable to have a teacher to himself.. and if he is a "go-getter" that will pull him along leaps and bounds learning wise AND emotionally....

He will get a head start.... as I did, as one of 3 in the reception intake of my was FAB

BeHappyBeHealthyAndGetWellSoon Tue 14-May-13 12:06:01

Madeofstardust, yes I'm guessing he will be in with yr 1&2
Normally Reception are on their own in a class of 15 max & the years 1&2, 3&4 and 5&6 are in together.

Which in a way is another worry - he will miss out on the lovely reception classroom (not big enough to take yrs 1&2) & the free play elements that offered. Aaargh it is so difficult. He is capable of fitting in, sociable and keen. He knows the school and current teachers well, we are in school every day with DD and they are all making a super fuss of him just at the moment.

Thank-you for your experience too - it does help - I keep telling myself that we would pay a fortune for the level of focus DS is going to have!

SavoyCabbage Tue 14-May-13 12:10:36

I would be concerned that even the best teacher in the world is going to have to pitch her lessons at the majority of the class. He's pretty much going to be joining a year one class.

vikinglights Tue 14-May-13 12:16:34

my dd1 is in a tiny school, the others will be starting there in due course. DD1 is one of 2 in her year and its been great, she's happy, we're happy and the personal attention is second to none

Bramshott Tue 14-May-13 12:23:08

Oh blimey - just 1 in Reception sad. Our school has a PAN of 15 but they've never had less than 10 starters.

What are the other schools around like in terms of space? Is there a good chance that if he started, and by Oct half term it wasn't working out, you'd be able to get him a place elsewhere?

I'd be tempted to try it, and see how it goes.

BeHappyBeHealthyAndGetWellSoon Tue 14-May-13 12:34:26

Thank-you all, I knew I'd find some good advice here smile

Bramshott, Yes 1 in Reception is heartbreaking - it is such a good school - next year's intake is looking much healthier already which is a bonus I guess.

There is scope to move him I think - there is another small school about 2 miles away which definitely has space, still only a few in reception & I really would have to move DD too as I can't have 2 children in 2 different places.

There are specific reasons why I can't march in right now & get answers on set up etc from the head which is complicating matters enormously.
As Savoy says how are they going to make sure he isn't overwhelmed by the work in a yr1/2 class - he'll only be 4 1/2 when he starts so significantly younger than the youngest of Yr1.

Viking you give me hope that your dd1 is happy in her school, are the other years similar sizes or is your DD's year particularly small?

I'm fairly decided on giving it a go (I think) and I do have confidence in the school that they will manage it well - really isn't stopping the sleepless nights about the situation though - which is what is making me question everything agiai I think sad

Startail Tue 14-May-13 12:44:16

I would give it a go.
Driving to school gets very wearing.
If your area is like ours, the birth rate is all over the place. This years reception is about 3, but I believe next year and the one after is bigger.

DC2's are generally more confident and sociable than DC1 and you'll probably find the spread of abilities in Y1 mean there is a wide range of differentiation already.

SanityClause Tue 14-May-13 12:47:05

Speak to the school.

As they are so small, they are probably used to this kind of situation, and will be able to tell you how they have managed it in the past.

Hopefully a bit of reassurance will help you sleep at night!

HamletsSister Tue 14-May-13 12:48:20

Our small school is tiny (20 in the whole school). My children have always been part of small year groups and there have been several one pupil year groups in the school. IMO it means pupils are treated as their ability and according to their needs, not by their age. This has meant mine have flourished, have friends across several year groups and feel a part of the small community. School class age is just an administrative decision. Some in years above and below will be very little different in age.

In Scotland, we have the option of a delayed start by a year. Is this an option for you if you are worried?

BeHappyBeHealthyAndGetWellSoon Tue 14-May-13 13:12:47

You are all making me feel better and more positive, Thank-youflowers

It's a very good point about them working to his ability. This is the only criticism I really have from DD's experience there, they seem to stick rigidly to year groups for groupings - despite a definite overlap. They seem to think that it would demoralise the older children hmm Hopefully DS can jolt them out of this mindset.

The school hasn't seen an intake of less than 5 in 20 years, in our area this is a low birth year. So they really would be starting their tactics with DS.

We're not in Scotland so delaying a year is not an option, I feel DS is ready for the challenge of school anyway so not an option that would be right for him even if it were possible iyswim.

I have talked to the school but because the head is leaving and they are restructuring in her wake they can't give me any specific answers about how they will deal with it, which is incredibly frustrating given the faith that DH & I are showing in the school. Not their fault really I guess but very bad timing!

vikinglights Tue 14-May-13 13:12:59

Viking you give me hope that your dd1 is happy in her school, are the other years similar sizes or is your DD's year particularly small?

If I remember correctly then
year 1-0
year 2-2
year 3-4
Yera 4-5
year 5-3
year 6-2
year 7-8

(we're not in the UK so no reception and year 7 is in primary)

there are 6 new starters next year, 5 the year after that

I echo what hamletsister says, children are very much seen as individuals not 'year groups' and have friends accross the age range

educator123 Tue 14-May-13 14:53:06

I am glad i have seen this as i have been in a very similar situation and found it soooo stressful.

Up until recently my children were at the local village school 5min walk from our front door. It has 40 in total in three mixed year classes. With a yearly admission number of 8 (although at times has been 10 when previous admission year before were very low (1/2) I love it for alot of the reasons mentioned -

all the teachers know all the children very well
they work in ability groups rather than age
they all play/look after each other across the age groups, whther you are boy/girl, 4 or11 they all get on very well.
The morals and values they install seem second to none ...
Its like a big family.
Wahtever they do, all the children get an oppotunity to take part

My concerns -

That there was always a class with three year groups and can be R1&2. Although this yr has been 4,5,6 (depends on numbers across the school)
DD1 went in as one of 5 (inc very close twins) and got extremely close to one other girl whom recently left she found that tough sad
Oppotunities to take part in sport was limited esp team sport (dd1 is very sporty)
Unfortunately there are a few affluent families in the village whom tend to use the school as a stop gap and then move their children on at 7 or yr5 therefore the children left behind can lose a huge chunk of their frienships.
Ds is due to start in2014 and i know he will be the only boy of 4 children going to the school and in some ways this doesnt bother me given the nature of the school and him being in a mixed class with some other boys, but i am also aware those boys will have had a yr or two to form their friendships already and ds very much enjoys boy company (maybe because he is out numvered with three sisters ;)) and i was concerned how this may effect his learning journey when put into groups etc.

So we decided to look at a nearby school which also has a very good - actually amazing reputation. But at the time it was half heartly as my heart lies with the local school and we didnt expect to get in either! To our surprise we did secure places for our first two dcs and then left ourselves in an extemely difficult situation of not know what to do as the chances of getting places again were slim (it was also the school
my dd1s best friend had lef tot go to)

The said school is a ten minute drive away and i single form entry of 25children per class - it feels HUGE to us and i have to say it is early days in terms of adjusting to the class sizes.

The dds are loving it though, there seems so much more flexiblity for learning and the difference in the reception class is quite big...much more foundation based unstructured! Its is a very very good school, i have no doubt and they are already getting some fantastic oppotunities but my heart still lies with our local small school and if i am honest and could turned back time, i wish we had never looked elsewhere - ignorance is bliss!
As now i am in the situation of really really missing the small school but also very aware of them probably being better off where they are...can you tell i am still in termoil!!!

Don't know if any of the above has helped but food for thought.

And i would take the walk over the drive anyday

BeHappyBeHealthyAndGetWellSoon Tue 14-May-13 21:51:27

Educator and Viking, thank you for your input. I think you have summed up why I like our small school so much.

I managed to have a chat with the reception teacher this afternoon, which has been really helpful. She was positive and full of ideas on how it could work, nothing can be agreed until the new head is in place, but I have confidence that Dd's needs will be very high in their organisation.

I need to stop worrying, there are no alternatives that I would be happy with smile

Thanks again to everyone for sharing your experience and advice smile

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