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Brand new school with only reception class, any experiences?

(16 Posts)
Angelhairscruff Tue 02-Dec-14 22:03:17

I am applying for schools for my dd at the moment and one of the options is a brand new free school, which is attached to an excellent C of E school local to me. The new school will open in sept 2015 with 2 reception classes, and will add two more reception classes each year until it is a full school. If my dd gets into this school next year, she will be in the first reception class and therefore will be the oldest in the school all the way through until she goes to secondary school. I have no doubt that the school will be very good and it will be run by the same headmaster as the school it is linked to, but I have to admit having reservations about there being no older children at the school. Will my daughter miss out on something if she has no older,peers at all throughout her entire primary education? If anyone out there has any experience of having a child in this situation I would be very grateful to hear opinions. Tia. I am not going to be able to respond very quickly to any messages but am hopeful to hear some experiences.

admission Tue 02-Dec-14 22:37:33

No personal experience of the situation as a parent but this is quite often the way that new schools are populated with pupils. If they try and open all year groups at once, it tends to be a very bumpy experience with uneven year groups and usually a few years of admission problems as siblings get into the school because of siblings higher up the school and other pupils who are locally fail to get allocated a place.
Although it might seem strange it is definitely the better and more organised way of opening a new school.

catkind Tue 02-Dec-14 23:47:40

My son is at a school like this, in the top year (Yr 1). There are positives and negatives so far. On the whole we're very happy at the moment, may consider moving him at junior age if the breadth of opportunities isn't emerging.

Positives
- any opportunities that come up, clubs, special events, competitions - they'll be first in line right from the start, no "Yr 2+ only".
- no scary playground full of big children.
- no being rushed through the lunch hall in Reception so the rest of the school can come in.
- I feel DS class have remained relatively innocent for longer having very few older siblings and no older children in the playground.
- parents have really taken ownership, very active PSA doing amazing things
- we and our children really get to shape how the school develops
- all staff are newly recruited and keen

Negatives
- as you say, no older children to look up to
- no opportunities to be a small part of a big thing, they'll always have to take the lead
- maybe less variety of clubs (on the other hand all after school clubs there are are open to them)
- all staff are new to the school and learning the ropes each year. They don't get to know who their teacher will be next year.
- some things feel a bit experimental
- they don't have the build up of resources that would come from having had an established PSA for a few years
- they don't have resources for older children that the more advanced ones could use, e.g. they appear to be a bit short of higher level reading books.
- they don't have the option of teaching more advanced children with a higher year (that could be an advantage though, they have to differentiate properly!)

Angelhairscruff Wed 03-Dec-14 07:40:53

Thanks for the responses, really helpful. I can see that there could be many positives but My main concern really is that dd would have a big shock at being the youngest all of a sudden when she got to secondary school, and whether that would cause any problems. Really interested to hear any other experiences.

catkind Wed 03-Dec-14 21:12:17

Well I think that's a shock to all of them! but know what you mean.

No direct experience there yet obviously. I feel for my DS he'll be more able to cope with the being the youngest experience at 11 than he would have been at 4. He was a very timid toddler and preschooler but is gaining in confidence as he grows up. When we found out DS was going to be at this school (no choice here) we asked around and a friend of a friend's child and their classmates had actually been very confident going into secondary in that situation. They felt the extra confidence from 7 years of being the oldest was more than enough to buoy them through one year of being the youngest.

I'm interested to hear other experiences too.

Essexmum69 Thu 04-Dec-14 19:20:04

No experience because I decided against a new school for DC3 in exactly that situation. In our case, being a September birthday he trully would have been the eldest child for 7 years, and having two significantly older siblings was used to mixing with older children. Whilst the facilities were new and we were now this schools catchment so other local choldren would go there, I was concerned re opportunities for sports teams and musical groups as these take time and several year groups to really get going. Fortunately for us DD had a year left at our old catchment school so I was able to get him a place there. However many friends with FBs went there and were very happy. If you are likely to want to be involved with PTA or Governors it is an opportunity to be in from the start.

simbacatlivesagain Thu 04-Dec-14 21:48:27

You may well find that after opening they open the additional year groups if there is a local place demand. Once the build has been done then many new schools open additional cohorts.

Angelhairscruff Fri 05-Dec-14 06:59:02

Thanks all. The school is going to be the sister school to an excellent local one so I hope they will share resources. There aren't any plans at the moment to open other years but that's an interesting point.

bearwithspecs Sat 06-Dec-14 07:43:33

You are local to me obviously and lots of people are having the same dilema. My 2 are in one of the large local 3 form primaries and love it. I steered away from the existing CofE as way too small for us .. I would look at threads about small schools too. I am a huge supporter of the new school, but have to admit I wanted the whole large school experience for mine

bearwithspecs Sat 06-Dec-14 07:54:38

I would recommend doing the tours of the other 3-4 schools local and see how you feel about how the DC benefit. In some schools the DC mix a lot and in others they don't too. In ours, due to size there are different playgrounds, split lunch times, sports split by key stage etc

bearwithspecs Sat 06-Dec-14 07:57:09

I forgot to add at least you can put it as a 2nd or 3rd choice and be happy in the knowledge that will would get a place and the teaching will be great etc grin

Angelhairscruff Sat 06-Dec-14 09:10:19

Thanks Bear

bearwithspecs Sat 06-Dec-14 23:36:17

I am sure many more people must have experienced this - hope more come along soon

Theas18 Sun 07-Dec-14 13:23:05

I dunno..

I can only really see the disadvantages as my 3 are/ were always " old" for their years, especially the youngest.

No one to look up to, to stretch you. No year 6 buddy to help you settle in, no choirs, bands, orchestra to join as a junior member - playing the easy part and gaining skills so you can then lead others. No footy team to play the same part. No one you know from school as your brownie sixer etc.

Only dd2 still at school (yr 11) but her real friends are 6th formers. DS was the same - his mates were the year above.

Academically how will it work? The school won't be fully resourced will it? So where do the free readers get their books if they can't pop off to the appropriate year group book boxes - ok not so much reception, but by year 2 some will need some year 6 books to read.

I guess it's a very gentle start for those young for their years or haven't been to nursery etc but that's about it.

A new secondary near here will take year 7 and 6 th form in sept. I see similar issues arising.

catkind Sun 07-Dec-14 14:34:52

Theas, I assume they let any free readers choose from the library. They have chapter books and stuff, other children can borrow them to read with their parents. I know DS' friend has been reading library books since reception, not sure if he's officially a free reader or nominally on a level too, reading levels are Not Spoken Of.

Our school have a choir, drawn from Yr 1. They're going to sing in an inter-school performance later in the year. How many through primaries would Yr 1 children get that sort of opportunity? There are definitely positives to being the oldest.

bearwithspecs Sun 07-Dec-14 17:24:19

If I was faced with the same dilema, I wouldn't worry about resources at all as the sister school is only a mile away. If I didn't work FT , I would have less qualms as I would be able to do lots of the extra activities after school at 3.30 to give the DC broader experience. In this specific area OP is in, there is every activity known to child going on.

I however work FT so that means after school clubs and activities at school - of which their are loads as our school is big. My 2DC both have friends in the years above them. There must be 60-70 DC in after school etc There are several choirs and bands. We have things like a girls footy team, which is a big plus for us - not sure a small school can cater for this.

Worth thinking about the broader aspects of school life ?

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