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Please help me decide as I just can't

(39 Posts)
sciencetutor Sun 26-May-13 22:40:37

Hi everyone, I'd really appreciate any help in making the schools decision. I'm having a pretty stressful time at the moment so I'm finding it really hard to gather my thoughts. My mum passed away a couple of months ago and I'm trying to look after my younger brother who isn't coping well and has been arrested twice. my aunty is going through chemo so I'm trying to be available to help her at weekends and I've got a new baby and my pnd has come back with a vengeance. So I guess I'm really scared I'm going to make a stupid decision on the primary school front for my 4 year old dd. she starts preschool in September and I'd really like her to attend one where she'll go up to primary with friends so we need to decide by next week. Dh says its completely my decision and doesn't really want to discuss it. I'm a sahm so he says I have more time than him to do the research but I'm teaching every evening so I find it hard to get the research done.

It's really concerning me as dd is so shy and clingy and to be honest I'm terrified about leaving her. As a child myself I had to change primary 4 times and I have such a low self esteem so I really want to get things right first time for dd.

Anyway, we have no chance if getting into our catchment school (60 places, 45 on waiting list, some of which sibling in catchment!) but we do have a good chance of getting into 4 other schools on faith grounds.

Would anyone be willing to look at my choices and help me decide? Thanks so much.

scaevola Thu 06-Jun-13 11:37:58

If it is important to you that DD moves from pre-school to reception with friends, you need to see if there is priority given to attending that pre-school in the entrance criteria. If there isn't (and it's not common, though it is permissible as a criteria) then you have no guarantee that she will secure an onwards place.

Do remember you will need to apply again for reception (wherever she goes).

rubyextravagance Thu 06-Jun-13 11:22:00

When somebody writes about their impressions of schools it generally reflects that they already think about the school as they have carefully selected information / impressions that present a particular view to the reader.

Your use more positive statements about school 1. Your only negative statement relates to the area, not directly to the school.
I suggest subconsciously you prefer school 1, whether that's based on certain evidence on a gut feeling.

I would suggest you look at previous ofsted reports for this outstanding school. What is the lowest rating it has ever had? As it is due for a new ofsted inspection soon under the new system it may very well lose its outstanding status, however, if it has never been less than good under any previous head it will most likely stay good / outstanding due to good governers and teachers. Also, a school that is performing well in a deprived area despite changes of management is either: selecting only the best pupils (not from the local area), or is generally a very good school with high standards.
At the end of the day ofsted are more about looking at paperwork and curriculums. If the sats results are good and the children look happy and are polite in and generally out of school (your children will be socialising with these kids and may learn habits form them), if the school looks clean, and the teaching staff engage with you and them, it's probably a safe bet.

Your second preferred choice seems to be school 3, but you are worried about the strictness of the head. If the head is strict this can be a good thing as it means they aren't letting anyone be lax, pushing teachers and making sure kids are well behaved (i.e clear rule setting). If it means they are handing out detentions to young children or making them stand in the corner, or if they are overruling parents decisions about their children, this is very damaging to young children's self esteem and yours and is probably not a good school to send your children to.

The lack of decision making arises from analysis paralysis in which there is always another factor to analyse that counters the last. I have been here. It's horrible. But there will never be a maximum or best decision, it's a try and see decision. I feel when choosing a school it is always better to hedge your bets and choose the one that satisfies as many needs as possible but also has the fewest what if's / risks, rather than taking one that has any uncertainties about it.

sciencetutor Tue 28-May-13 22:53:27

Hi boddingtons, thanks very much for your post. In fascinated to hear you were thinking of the same school! Where did you move to in the end? Would school 1's area have put you off at all? Yeah the dashboard thing is interesting. I don't mind the low results at ks1 as its less pressure when the children are so young. But the big gap between disadvantaged children could be a worry if other children are allowed to coast/slip through the net.

sciencetutor Tue 28-May-13 22:47:43

Thanks again everyone for talking this through with me.

sciencetutor Tue 28-May-13 22:42:48

I've definitely got little chance of getting into my local school - the last few years you've had to live within 0.3 miles of the school and we're over 0.5 (according to the LA). We also know one of the governors who said there was no point putting our name down for the nursery as there's no way we'd get in. I'm resigned to that now anyway so it's definitely between the 4 I've posted about. (But I will put my local school just in case they have an unusual year/bulge class).

sciencetutor Tue 28-May-13 22:36:45

Hi everyone. Yeah sorry I was a bit tired when posting the first time, I meant to say dd is turning 4 (in September) so it'll definitely be this year she'll do preschool and 2014 school.

beautifulgirls Tue 28-May-13 20:01:40

When is she 4, or is she already 4? As already mentioned by a previous poster if she is already 4 she should be starting in reception in September, not in preschool. If she turns 4 on or after Sept 1st then you are looking at preschool.

boddingtons Tue 28-May-13 13:09:48

Hi OP, if you go to the Ofsted dashboard here and type school 1's postcode in, if it's the school I think it is (which is the one I would have hoped to get DD into if we hadn't moved) then the KS1 results are in the bottom two quintiles whilst the KS2 results are in the top two quintiles. Also the KS1 'narrowing the gap' data shows that the disadvantaged children are doing better than the rest of the children.

If you want this school for the pastoral care and the good secondary school options then I wouldn't let any Ofsted data bother you. However, if part of wanting the school is the excellent results (for Nottingham anyway!) and the outstanding Ofsted then I would probably dig a little further and ask the school how they would explain the data.

exoticfruits Mon 27-May-13 19:33:54

on an online review he said to parents if your not happy there's plenty more to take your place, teachers look stressed

How arrogant! I bet the teachers are stressed-he will be hell to work for and probably says the same to staff!

exoticfruits Mon 27-May-13 19:31:20

I can't see why you wouldn't get the catchment area school.
School 1 sounds the nicest.
I wouldn't send a child to a school where the head won't meet the parents-however good. I would insist that he met me and if he refused I would rule it out. It is preposterous behaviour and parents shouldn't let him get away with it!

Clary Mon 27-May-13 19:14:29

Yes I agree, why are you so sure you won't get into catchment school? Very very unusual IME for siblings in catchment not to get into a school (who is there ahead of them??).

I would certainly put it down if you like it, especially as I assume you can walk to it.

Otherwise I agree with others, school 1 sounds the nicest. But it's really about feel when you went there, how much you liekd the head etc.

YY is yr DD actually 4? If so she starts reception in Sept?

Soapysuds64 Mon 27-May-13 18:23:22

I looked at a (private and boarding) school where the kids were expected to stand up when an adult entered the room. It made the teachers seem less approachable, more likely to ignore children's concerns. Such formality in a school setting really put me off. School 1, if you can't find anything you can reasonably walk to.

boddingtons Mon 27-May-13 17:31:33

Hi OP I don't think you've understood the admissions process properly if you think you have no chance of getting into your catchment school. There is no way on earth that all 60 places at your catchment school have been taken by siblings in catchment.

Admission categories in Nottingham are:

1 looked after children
2 siblings in catchment
3 other children in catchment
4 siblings out of catchment
5 out of catchment children in the nursery
6 other out of catchment children

This year there have been lots more cases of children in category 4 not getting into schools their brothers and sisters attend but it is still pretty rare to not get a place in category 3.

I think I know which school is your school 1 and I noticed something interesting in the SATs. I will have a look and post again later.

Galena Mon 27-May-13 16:48:59

If she's 4 now, won't she be starting school in Sept, not preschool?

I'd avoid the head-not-meeting-parents school, but apart from that I'd go by how the school felt, how welcoming and happy.

chartreuse Mon 27-May-13 11:30:12

I my experience a good head is what makes a school. If the head was not approachable I would stike the school off my list. Next I would go with my gut instinct about the 'feel' and atmosphere. If the children seem happy, that's a great sign. Unhappy children can't thrive.

I am looking at new schools for my dd, we are moving house. Having had 2 other dc through the primary system, I am far less concerned with Ofstead than my gut insincts.

TeenAndTween Mon 27-May-13 11:27:29

I would go for the pre-school that is easiest in terms of times and access, provided you like it. Lots of people do that so she won't necessarily move up with friends wherever. Plus to be honest at that age children make / lose friends very easily and although it may seem nice now I don't think it should be a deal breaker for you.

Then worry about the actual school later when you've got less on your plate. You will need to check church rules for the catholic / CofE schools especially as you have started going to DH's church. Just because you are at a preschool does not guarantee a place at the school, if you don't meet the criteria as well as other children.

Also, don't rule out catchment school just because it is over subscribed this year. Perhaps there were loads of siblings, but there may not be when it's your turn.

Children at 3 are often clingy and shy, that's where pre-school comes in! It helps them to mix. But try not to let your concerns project on to her as it won't help her.

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 11:25:28

conorsrockers - thank you every so much for your kind words and for your advice, I really appreciate it.

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 11:24:36

Thanks Lougle. Yes school 1 did seem the most compassionate.

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 11:23:46

Seeker - thanks for your advice. Yes the Head never meeting the parents did bother me a bit. The catholic secondaries in Nottingham have made a commitment to place every baptised child from the feeder primary into the linked secondary...but I guess that could change?

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 11:21:45

WhereMyMilk - yeah I keep thinking I should listen to the brilliant reputation school 3 has (from word of mouth and parent view) I think there's just that little niggle about the Head being a bit aloof. But I guess DD wouldn't have much contact with him? I totally agree with you on the space front with school 2. But it does have a park next to it which we could go to on the way home (unlike school 2) and it does seem good from a security point of view...and of course its linked to the best secondary...arrgh I'm going round in circles again!

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 11:18:33

Smartiepants79 - thanks so much for your posts, they've really helped. I did feel most relaxed and welcome at school 1. And DD was mesmorised by the buzzy atmosphere walking round. If I could only get past my concerns over the area it would be perfect. But I keep hearing about the neighbourhood being controlled by gangs and shootings and it really panics me. Although its only a 40 minute walk I could never envisage letting DD walk there on her own. School 4 seemed very calm too and the Head made us feel very welcome. It was the polar opposite of school 1, very posh area and children standing up when the Head entered the room (it reminded me of a private school with this an the facilities...but free)

Smartiepants79 Mon 27-May-13 09:08:39

Have you visited with your DD? This is a good idea if it can be done.
Don't be blinded by equipment, facilities and ofsted reports.
I'd right off school 3 straight away due to the head being up his own arse.
As you seem to have so many choices I would try and whittle it down to just 2 and then take your DD and DH if you can get him there.
See how they both feel about them. How do they interact with your DD.
Any school worth looking at would be pleased to show you round and listen to concerns and questions.
They should understand how important it is to get it right.

sciencetutor Mon 27-May-13 07:33:59

Aw thanks so much everyone for your replies so far, it's really great to talk this through.

sciencetutor Sun 26-May-13 23:19:13

Oh and school 4 has a linked village hall preschool which seems lovely. Right, I'll be quiet now!

conorsrockers Sun 26-May-13 23:18:29

You have got a lot on your plate - I hope it all calms down a little for you soon so you can collect your thoughts. From your post it sounds like you preferred school 1 out of the 3. I would go with your gut feeling - and don't put too much importance on Ofsted reports or SATS results, I don't think they give an accurate picture of what the school can do for your child. If you feel comfortable with the school, so will your DC - the rest will come naturally.
Do go and see your GP about your PND - if you can get help, take it. Us women are very good at carrying the world on our shoulders, but sometimes you need to put yourself first.

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