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Primary, pros and cons of school size

(56 Posts)
jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 21:41:40

We will be choosing a primary this year for the first time and are probably going to have the option of either a small (68) school or a larger school (205). We can see the benefit of the small school it's in our village and walkable but are worried that's a very small pool for friendships etc. the larger school is also pretty close and ofsteds both good. Any experience / advice would be good. Thanks

OddBoots Mon 24-Feb-14 21:44:23

Is that 205 over the whole of the primary age? That's still a small school. 68 seems really tiny, fewer than 10 a year! It might be lovely when they are tiny but it would be rather stifling in Y4+ and a big shock when going up to secondary.

PatriciaHolm Mon 24-Feb-14 21:49:09

68 seems way too small in my eyes, as you say far too small a friendship group. 205 is still a small school by English standards.

itsahen Mon 24-Feb-14 21:55:58

I too think 200 is small !

ThatBloodyWoman Mon 24-Feb-14 22:00:11

I would, and did, go for the small but walkable school.

Good for friendships outside school -Brownies etc.

I think a small school is nurturing while still young.

My only concern is the shock to the system when they enter a far larger secondary.

CandyKate Mon 24-Feb-14 22:00:37

I think that you cant underestimate how much difference it makes to be able to walk the school run. I think that would make up for any concerns over class size. Also, isnt having a small class size good?! Also having friends to play with in the same village and bé able to walk to friends' houses etc.

jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 22:04:45

Thanks you are echoing our concerns, yes it's about 10 per year, 13 last year! 200 is the biggest around! think we will try to speak to some families already there, there are lots of sibling groups too. TBW, good idea re brownies / cubs.

DoneWithStruggling Mon 24-Feb-14 22:05:09

We've been in a 1 class per year school and a 2 class per year school. All things being equal, I think 2 classes per year is ideal - not too massive, but enough pupils to run afterschool clubs, ability groups across the year when useful, enough boys/girls to have sports teams without pressure on non-sporty types to have to participate. Two classes per year are also useful because they can move children about to split up problematic relationships and/or siblings and also to encourage new friendships. A small friendship pool can be hard for "quirky" children to find like-minded friends, and in very small schools you can have skewed male/female balance which is more marked than in a larger school.

However, our current 1 class per year school is much better than the old school and we are all much happier, so school population is not the main criteria for us.

ThatBloodyWoman Mon 24-Feb-14 22:07:32

My dd2 was in a massively gender imbalanced year.

It was surprisingly uncomplicated tbh.

IHeartKingThistle Mon 24-Feb-14 22:09:34

My DC go to a primary of nearly 400 and it doesn't seem too big! Lots of staff/clubs, and more importantly they have lots of friends to choose from. If DD 'falls out' with a friend for a while, or if someone's horrible to her, she can go and play with someone else. Bigger problems could mean a child can move classes, something not possible in a single form entry school.

In contrast, I went to a tiny school of 62. There were 4 girls in my year group, we came 1st 2nd 3rd 4th in everything, in the same order, for 7 years (I was 2nd!). I felt very safe there but I never knew how to choose friends who were right for me because I had no choice. Fallings out were horrendous. I had nothing in common with my 'best friend' but didn't realise it until secondary!

jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 22:09:36

Thanks Candy the points you raise are also the ones we think are good, pre school is in the village and its great being able to walk. Agree small could be good but we are just a bit concerned about it being so small, in one year group there are only two girls, not that boys and girls don't play together but it's little things like that that have set us thinking!

jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 22:12:57

Sorry cross post but all helpful, we are hoping to make some visits to each school to get a better feel so that might swing it.

AbbyR1973 Mon 24-Feb-14 22:15:34

My DS's go to a small village school with approx 90 pupils. It is an amazing place.
There is no way on earth I would consider swapping them to the nearer 60 pupil intake or 45 pupil intake schools.
The benefits are these
1) in our school reception were on their own with pre-school in from 9-11am every day. There are 13 in a year group. There was a teacher plus an HLTA plus various other classroom assistants and parent helpers. This means LOTS of one to one attention.
2) although each individual year group is small the children have friends across other year groups. DS's in year R and year1 come home talking about their friends in year 6. The bigger children actually look out for the younger children. I remember DS1 going a bit wobbly when I was racing off to work one morning and 1 of the older children spotted it straight away and made a fuss of him, telling him what a big boy he was.
3) we still get big school benefits eg wrap around care- breakfast club from 0730 am if required running through until tea time club ending 6pm, plus daily after school clubs including various sports, activities, cooking, art, choir etc (I'm not sure if all schools are this fortunate.)
4) As there are not vast numbers of parents, parents are very welcome in the school. I can pop in and chat to a teacher, I drop DS2 directly into the reception classroom. I can go to the school's sharing assembly every week if I want to (not that I can with work) not just for a class assembly once a term.
5) because there are not vast numbers of children and parents, everybody if very friendly. I know the parents of all the other children in DS1 and 2's classes. They smile and say good morning as we pass and dropping off time. It's not cliquey, at parties parents tend to wait, have a coffee and chat together while the children play.
The only downside I can see is how to ensure the nurturing continues into secondary school, but I've a few years to work on that!!

jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 22:17:54

Abby thanks that's a very helpful post, lots for us to think about

JodieGarberJacob Mon 24-Feb-14 22:20:11

It's probably divided into 3 classes, ks1 and and 2 ks2 classes, it wouldn't have the budget for 6 classes of 10+. I would go for the 200+ school. More friends and a bigger pool of expertise,

jackierussell Mon 24-Feb-14 22:21:13

JGJ I think that is the division, thanks

TheRaniOfYawn Mon 24-Feb-14 22:22:24

The school that Abby describes sounds very similar in many ways to the school my children go to with an intake of 45 pupils per year. A friend's children go to a v small village school and they all seem very happy with it. I'd visit the schools and decide based on that.

Martorana Mon 24-Feb-14 22:32:52

All other things being equal- go for bigger. Better friendship pool, more teachers, wider range of clubs, a chance to "hide" sometimes if you want to..sooo many reasons!

itsahen Mon 24-Feb-14 22:42:43

I love our school of 650 but only because my DCs love it so much and the opportunities they get. I know others who love tiny schools (total 40-80) and treat school as a place just to educate, which really works. All the other stuff is provided by sports clubs, cubs/brownies, music lessons etc etc The kids only go 25 hours term time only and parents sort all the rest. Food for thought ?

JodieGarberJacob Tue 25-Feb-14 07:54:22

Of course the other thing is about the small school, if you don't like the teacher you could be stuck with him or her for four years!

Nocomet Tue 25-Feb-14 08:10:51

Walking wins regardless of school size unless you need childcare and only the larger school has it.

School clubs are ok, but thy are often limited numbers and short duration, they really aren't a substitute for proper external extracurricular things.

Martorana Tue 25-Feb-14 08:51:16

"Walking wins regardless of school size unless you need childcare and only the larger school has it."

Don't agree, sorry. Particularly if it's a tiny school. Imagine not having enough girls for a netball team........Imagine falling out with the other two boys in your year......

NynaevesSister Tue 25-Feb-14 09:55:45

All things being equal I would go for the school that is the closest. We didn't because the larger, further away school had more to offer and that tipped the balance.

thonah Tue 25-Feb-14 12:57:48

At age 4 a small school sounds lovely, but by the time they are in year 5/6 it can really curtail their opportunities. I would visit both schools, consider the logisitcs, and their outside school friendships, then make your decision. One of my friends has 2 boys at a small school, whereas mine are at a much bigger 2 class intake school. Both are our respective local village schools. We compare notes and I know she'd like hers to have a bigger pool of friends particularly, and more peers working at a similar level, but on balance she wouldn't want them to go to other than the village school.

Adikia Tue 25-Feb-14 15:54:52

DD is at a very small school (14 in her year) DS has 90 in his year, opportunities wise DD gets more as there's less competition for places in sports clubs/choir but sports teams are mixed so reception play netball with year 1 and 2 to make up the number.

School plays at the small school mean everyone gets a reasonable size part, as they don't have to find 90 parts, which is nice but the performances are better at DS's school as they have enough children to audition for the choir and stuff.

DD gets more individual teacher attention in lessons but DSs school has fantastic TA's, they have a similar % pass the 11+ and getting good SATs results each year so in terms of education I'm not sure the class size makes much difference although DSs school are much better at working with different abilities as there are enough children to have sets (red, blue and yellow, they are never told which is top or bottom).

The big difference to me is friendships, at DS's bigger school you'd just go play with a different group of you fell out with someone, where as DD's class seems to have split into 2 distinct groups so a small argument suddenly becomes a big deal, but she goes to Rainbows so has other friends out of school.

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