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Can't decide between two primaries (Catholic vs C of E)

(17 Posts)
SunnyUpNorth Mon 15-Dec-14 22:25:50

Dd is due to start reception next September and I need to submit the application form soon but am going back and forwards between two schools and really can't decide which to put first. I'm having trouble weighing up which factors carry the most weight. They are both about the same distance from us and both have a 'good' ofsted rating.

School A
She goes to preschool there now, v happy there and most of her friends will continue to reception at that school. Lovely families and I've made some lovely friends there too. 30 intake which would probably suit DD as she can get overwhelmed by large numbers of people. It is also Catholic and I am Catholic and would prefer her to have a catholic education if possible. I don't feel I am enough of a theologian to educate her myself in that sense.

We were really underwhelmed when we viewed the school. I adore the preschool but didn't get a 'feel' for the school. The building is run down and cluttered, totally full to capacity. I know a couple of families who've moved their children to private school recently from there as they didn't feel they were reaching full capacity.

School B
Really lovely school, great building and facilities. KS1 is in a separate new building and although there is a 60 in take it didn't feel like that the way they had it laid out. Really liked the head teacher, staff seemed really engaging. Pupils seemed really polite and confident. Is also a feeder school for a good local high school that would be our fall back secondary school.

Cons: would mean moving her, would mean starting all over again with us making a new network (we moved when she was 1 so feel like I've done the making mum friends thing so many times now but that is a selfish point I know), and it is C of E and I don't really know how that would affect her being Catholic. Would it be confusing?

I feel like B is the better school but A has all the intangible benefits.

Additionally I would like ds to go to the preschool where dd goes now and she talks about them being together next year etc.

We are near a grammar school area so would aim for that with secondary. So we may move her anyway in Juniors to one of the local prep schools. But I think we would be more likely to need to move her if she went to school A than school B as B seems more academic. So potentially we would have to disrupt her anyway and would it be better to do it sooner rather than later?

This may all be in vain as I'm not sure we would definitely get in to school B (due to being quite staunchly C of E so we would be last priority on distance) but almost certain she would get in to school A.

Any thoughts to help me in my muddle?!

Also if anyone is Catholic and sent their child to a c of e school I'd be really interested to know how you found it. Thanks.

2cats2many Tue 16-Dec-14 07:26:32

In my experience, nursery friendships don't really matter when it comes to reception. All bets are off and the children make new friendship groups, lots of new children enter the school, etc. So I wouldn't let that concern inform your choice.

Re: the Catholic education issue, you have to decide how important that is for you. Most churches run Sunday schools and 1st holy communion classes are open to children who don't go to the school attached to the church.

You need to open yourself up to what your gut is telling you and go with it.

Seeline Tue 16-Dec-14 07:53:14

they both run on a Christian ethos. I don't think it is up to school to educate children on faith matters - that it was Church and family is for. If you feel that one school would provide a better education for your child in a better environment, I think you have answered your question.
The admission criteria are an issue. Do you not get higher priority as church goers of another denomination? CoE schools aren't normally quite so restrictive as Catholic ones. It has a bigger intake - check the admission figures from last year to see whether you have a chance of getting in on distance.
If you put it first on your form and you don't get it, you would still be considered for the catholic school (if you put that next) assuming you meet the entrance criteria for that one. Catholic schools round here are very strict, requiring very young baptisms, weekly attendance at Mass and additional involvement in Church life etc

Iwantacampervan Tue 16-Dec-14 08:14:20

I have catholic friends who sent their children to the village (non faith) primary school - any catholic teaching (first holy communion etc) was done through their churches.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 16-Dec-14 09:03:35

Thanks for your replies.

Their results appear to be roughy the same. C of E school currently slightly higher but a couple of years ago was slightly lower than the Catholic school. So perhaps it was just the nicer environment vs the clutter of the Catholic school that gives the impression of it being better. There were loads of good projects up on the walls in the c of e which visually demonstrates what they do etc.

Based on faith it would be easier for us to get in to the Catholic school as all we have to do it provide a baptism cert. For the C of E we would need to get the form signed by our parish priest which he won't do as he will only support Catholic children going to Catholic school. So although I could write a covering letter explaining that we do attend church I am not sure if that would be enough. On distance alone I think we would be slightly too far. But then if it is a lower application year we could be ok. I think last year around 66 people applied for 60 places.

Our local Catholic Church isn't great and the priest doesn't give much support to children attending non Catholic schools re first holy communion etc. I have a very devout Catholic family and went to a strict catholic school and I would definitely say I got most of my Catholic education from school rather than home. I know the c of e school would have similar values and Christian teachings but I worry she would miss out on preparing for her first holy communion with friends.

I don't even know how important the early years are. She is bright and currently very eager to learn and do well so I think she is probably the kind of child that would do well wherever she is. But I fear those are the kids that tend to get overlooked at the Catholic school as they are coasting along doing fine but not reaching potential.

Will try to talk to a few more parents at the Catholic school and see if I can be reassured on the education side of things.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Floggingmolly Tue 16-Dec-14 09:08:30

It depends on what the Secondaries are like. Basically, if you feel you'll need the Catholic ones as extra choices, you won't have a chance unless your child has been educated throughout primary at a Catholic school.
Something to think about we had to

APlaceInTheWinter Tue 16-Dec-14 09:24:37

Does your DP have an opinion on it? Did he get the same feeling about the new school?

We faced a similar issue when choosing schools for DS (except both schools were RC) ie school A, he had attended nursery there, the school facilities were poorer, the classes were smaller. School B had much better facilities but only two other DCs from nursery were planning on attending it. We started in school A and then, for a variety of personal reasons moved to school B.

Having had both experiences, we've found that the better facilities and better curriculum have made a massive difference. DS is thriving. And even though there are not the long-standing friendship groups from nursery, he has settled in easily. I must admit I sometimes have a pang for the little friends he left behind and for the group of mums as they were lovely blush but neither of those concerns have affected DS.

From the RC/C of E perspective - my friend was C of E and attended an RC school and didn't find it confusing or isolating. There are a lot of similarities between the religions.

lollystick Tue 16-Dec-14 09:39:42

I teach in a RC school & without doubt would say in my experience - the education & learning side is the top priority with the religious ethos taught through lessons, assemblies, behavior towards one another & collective worship. I wouldn't write off all RC schools as God botherers.

Also to add that some schools do the Sacramental programme through school as there are no catechists in the church so your child may well miss out depending on how the church & school work with it.

Good luck with whatever you decide.

SunnyUpNorth Tue 16-Dec-14 18:52:40

Thanks all, some things to think about.

My DH doesn't really mind which she goes to. He did prefer the C of E school, plus he is not Catholic so doesn't have that factor to consider. But he is leaving it up to me. He didn't go to great schools but still did very well so he doesn't see education as being massively important. As long as the school isn't terrible he thinks she will be fine.

I've just been reading the thread on single form vs multi form entry and that has given me even more things to think about!

noramum Tue 16-Dec-14 19:14:43

DD went to an Infant school knowing one other child out if the total 60. It never bothered her. We still see her nursery friends as we parents became friends as well and share days out, sleepovers and get togethers.

My friend has a child at a CoE and is catholic. The girl goes to Sunday school and they prepare her for Holy Communion but she will take it back in Ireland with her mum's family instead of her parish church. I think the mum mentioned a problem with her priest as well as he wasn't supporting her because she is now in a CoE school but it would have been quite difficult getting her into the RC school anyway so it is a bit of nonsense.

bearwithspecs Tue 16-Dec-14 20:49:33

What is the out of school and extra curricular like? There is no way my sport mad DD would have the same opportunities in a one form school - loads of team stuff plus gym, several choirs etc

SunnyUpNorth Tue 16-Dec-14 22:20:08

Good point Bear, I don't know actually. How would I find that out?

bearwithspecs Tue 16-Dec-14 23:01:52

Ask at the school. They should have a full list. We have about 10 -12 sports teams, cookery clubs, bands, 3 choirs, string group etc The big plus of larger schools is that DC will find friends like them across different classes in their year. Takes away a lot of clique issues as they have wide pool to hang out with. Wrap round may be better at bigger school as bigger numbers too

mummytime Tue 16-Dec-14 23:22:35

Lots of Catholic children go to C of E schools around here. They also get into the Catholic secondary (unlike non-Catholics), but some choose the community Comps over it anyway.

I would be looking for a good church, some people here used to go to the local monastery.

Can you get any other Priest at the Church to sign?

My one other warning is from the distant past, but my first BF's mother got preached against for moving her kids from the Catholic school to the C of E one in their town.

ChlorinePerfume Wed 17-Dec-14 08:02:44

If you are aiming for grammar I would not opt for either tbh. In our area faith primaries tend to feed on to faith secondaries. External 11+ testing is often more stressful than 11+ testing in their own school.

LL12 Wed 17-Dec-14 12:13:09

My DD went to a local catholic school as we are catholic and we like many many others there removed our DD as it was an terrible school.
She now goes to a CofE school which is wonderful, being catholic makes no difference as most CofE school here are ordinary catchment schools for a large section of the town so it's where you like not what faith you are.

LL12 Wed 17-Dec-14 12:13:53

Sorry, meant to say, where you live not where you like

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