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Dilemma - urgent help please

(9 Posts)
alltheworld Fri 09-Jan-15 19:51:24

My dd, Y2 goes to the local infants.. outstanding Ofsted. She is happy there, a few close friends, but is not at all stretched. She will transfer in Y3 to the linked Junior school which is Ofsted Good - having improved a lot under new inspirational head over past two years. Much that is good about the juniors, but it is clear both from Ofsted and parental grapevine that the keen learners are not stretched and are often bored.
I also have a ds due to start reception this Sept.
The infants and juniors are on sites 20 min walk away from each other - I don't have a car. No breakfast club or walking bus. So for the next three years, I would be walking my ds past his school for a further 20 mins, dropping dd at juniors and then walking 20 mins back to the infants.
Yes, parents can share this, but as a single working mum, I need to be able to rely on professional childcare and finding cms willing to cover the two sites drop offs and have spaces is very difficult. (and I am never having an au pair again - whole different story)

The dilemma arises because I went to visit a free school this week which is bilingual in French. It only started this year, so is growing and untested. I am a fluent French speaker and French has been a big part of my life. I would love my dc to speak French. The School also appears to be dynamic, and academic.

To be sure of getting ds in, I would need to transfer dd NOW before Jan 15 reception deadline (so ds gets a sibling place) - there are places in Y2, reception will be oversubscribed.

Dd spent half a day in the new school today and loved it.

However, the downsides are that it is a good 45 minutes away by bus, possibly less if I put the kids in breakfast club at 730am to miss the rushhour traffic. The head and staff and school are totally untested. the afterschool care onsite currently extends to 7pm but due to lack of demand is likely to go down to 6pm which doesn't help me much in my job.

So the kids will have a long schlep both ends of their day.

Grateful for any thoughts.

LLJ4 Fri 09-Jan-15 20:04:51

Bloody hell - rock v hard place.

I'd be less happy with the bilingual school, for several reasons. I am not sold on them ideologically so it would take a lot to go against that. Its newness would bother me - would it last or would I be moving DC again in a year or two? Can you be satisfied they will be rigorous enough, and fair enough, and kind enough, given that they aren't held to the same standards as LA schools? And the school day sounds by far too long for a 4yo with the additional commute.

I'd stay with what you know and like but make it better - find a CM if practical, keep pressure on the school re pushing able DD, etc.

Good luck. It's an awkward situation to be in.

alltheworld Fri 09-Jan-15 20:35:12

Thanks LLJ4

You have articulated some of my underlying concerns:

I am not politically a fan of free schools (though all schools in our area have been forced by the LEA to become academies).

The newness does bother me - the current school has been around nearly 100 years

And yes, it is a long day for the 4yo..

Oh and the school is on a temporary site for the next 18 months, although another has already been earmarked...

MilkThistle187 Fri 09-Jan-15 20:39:12

What did you think of the head and the staff at the free school? Having been at a few different schools over the years this is the crucial factor for me.

TheFirstOfHerName Fri 09-Jan-15 20:47:42

Infant school with 'outstanding' Ofsted report and linked junior school 1 mile away with 'good' Ofsted report? Infant and junior schools on separate sites are relatively rare; I'm starting to wonder if you are describing the schools my children went to (the younger two are still at the junior school).

Are they three form entry with a new head teachers at the infant school and a relatively new head teacher at the junior school? Pale blue uniform at the infant school and dark green uniform at the junior school?

I realise that statistically you are almost certainly talking about completely different schools, but in the unlikely situation that you are talking about the same schools, I can offer input because DS2 is highly able. The school brought in a secondary Maths teacher in Y6 for him and three others. One of the TAs used to be a secondary Science teacher and she taught him KS3 Science 1:1 from Y4 onwards.

DeWee Fri 09-Jan-15 22:45:50

My dc have been through a (non linked) infant and juniors much as you describe. When dd1 first went to juniors I didn't drive, and live 40 minutes away from the juniors, going past the infants 5 minutes away from my house.

I thought it was going to be terrible, and really dreaded it.
The reality has been nothing like that bad. Yes, we sometimes share lifts, yes, sometimes it's cold, wet, snowy and the walk isn't the best, but it hasn't been the complete hassle I thought-I did it for 6 years, including for 2 of those having a third school as well (though secondary so she got herself there) and for the last 4 of those we'd moved 10 minutes in the wrong direction too.

What I have noticed is that every January to September there are year 2 parents worrying how they'll manage the two schools. And by October the parents are saying how it isn't that bad and why were they worrying, and by January they're reassuring the next year 2's parents that they will manage fine.

You'd probably find the same, plus a lot of CMs do both schools because they take the children on at infant level and continue.

elfonshelf Sun 11-Jan-15 16:26:55

Just wanted to say that DD and I do a minimum 40 minute bus ride (often 50mins) each way to get to and from school (central London so traffic dire). It works really well for us - we do reading on the bus in the mornings and afternoons and it's nice to have time to just sit and chat.

If it was a drive I would say don't do it because that is more stressful for you and doesn't give you the opportunity to do reading, phonics practice etc that a bus does.

Next year we are moving out of London and we're switching to a 45 minute train journey. Friends think we are mad because they're used to popping round the corner to their children's schools but it's really pretty easy.

Obviously living outside London we'll have to make extra effort for parties etc in the holidays, but if you have a child in afterschool clubs etc then there never are opportunities for playdates afterschool so that isn't an issue.

We applied to a new bi-lingual school at the same time as Reception, but didn't get a place in the lottery.

alltheworld Sun 11-Jan-15 18:55:39

Many thanks all.. was having problems logging on from my mobile device.

Still very undecided and the form has to be in tomorrow - friends are saying the commute and the long day and the untriedness of the new school are serious disadvantages.

The current school is OK but just not inspirational or stretching... so it feels like a case of Devil you know...

pinkdelight Mon 12-Jan-15 09:20:01

I was with you on the free school up until the downsides then it swiftly became a hell no. 45min journey is one thing, but buses throw a whole other unpredictable element into the mix. People on these boards regularly appeal against having to go to schools that involve long bus rides, I haven't often seen people move their DC to take on that journey. I appreciate that the school run is going to get more difficult any way with the split site, but your DD won't need you to walk with her all the time and, as you say, you can make arrangements with other parents to make things easier. Is it impossible to learn to drive within the next three years? I know it's not for everyone, but when I read these dilemmas it just seems like such a clear-cut solution.

But on the bigger issue, I'd stick with the 'okay' devil you know and talk to them about stretching your daughter if that becomes an issue. Good luck with the decision.

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