Private from year one.(38 Posts)
Dd is currently in state reception and we are looking at moving her to begin year one.
We have looked at two schools.
One is girls boarding/day school. There are a few boys in Early years....and now in sixth form. Beautiful site.... has dance and equestrian facilities. Swimming pool and a wonderful reputation. Under 200 pupils in total. Pupils stay on same site throughout their stay. About 15 min car journey from home.
Year 1/2 combined is only 12 children.
School two is co ed....originally a boarding school for boy choristers. Larger classes of around 14.
Seems to have a good energy lots going on. Lovely setting although from year 4 classes are split into subjects....they move around a central based site in local town. A friend moved her dc from here due to bullying.
Any thoughts on girls only setting?
Can a class of 12 be a bad move?
Dd is a bright button ....intelligent and average so far with extra help needed with reading and writing. Although at 5 I have no concerns about this at all.
Dp had boarding education I was state so would welcome any help or opinions at all.
Both schools roughly same cost.
Any thoughts would be welcomed.
I would have serious reservations about a Year 1/2 combined class of 12. I am assuming it is the only class for those year groups? If so, I would worry about the financial viability of the school. Also, 200 pupils from Reception to Sixth Form is incredibly small too - I would be concerned that the older children might not get the range of GCSE/A Level choices that a larger school would provide, or not have enough pupils to form sports teams, orchestras etc.
I prefer co ed up to Year 6, so would personally choose the second school anyway. Would still be concerned that classes of 14 are a bit small. The moving around for different subjects wouldn't bother me - my DD did this from Year 3 and took it in her stride. I would though be concerned if they had to switch to different buildings frequently, just because so much of the day can be wasted.
Thanks Leeds. I am concerned that the class size is extremely small. The classes seem to increase in senior quite significantly.
One school has been there over 100 years the other significantly longer....both with good reputations so hopefully will stand the test of time.
Dd is doing a trial day this week so will hopefully get more of a feel.
Personally I think they both sound a bit small, especially the first one.
Second school - classes of 14 - is that just 14 per year or maybe 3 classes of 14? If the former then sounds too small to have a good enough friendship range in my opinion.
I would have serious concerns that in the current climate a school with 200 pupils can survive. At least 500 for reception to year 13 is really what is needed to be viable.
Also very small numbers for offering a variety of GCSE and A-Level subjects I know you are a long way from that.
Thanks for your responses. They certainly mirror my concerns. I don't want to put her into an setting that doesn't feel right.
Why are you moving her to a new school? Is there a concern with current setting?
How many classes per year in the coed? If 14 per class, possibly only 7 girls per class, probably fewer if the school was boys only until recently. That is a small friendship pool, particularly if only 1 class per year.
Also, how recently did the chorister school start taking girls? I would be wondering about the knock on effect on the girls-only school if the chorister school is drawing upon its demographic. The girls school does not sound particularly strong from your description, but both sound rather small.
She is in a nice reception class with 31 children. The school has recently announced cutting another three TA's. There have been a few incidences lately which have made us consider.
Dp is keen and his own dm is an old girl at the girls school.
At the chorister school girls were introduced in 1976 so it is very established as co ed. There are twice the amount of pupils there as the girls school....the classes in the early years are very small there.
I'm inclined to agree to be honest. These points concern me.
Thanks for your views
My friends dd attended a similar size school, had also been there donkeys years and was a local institution, it unfortunately closed with a terms notice. 200 children from reception to sixth form would sound alarm bells to me. Can the school offer the breadth of education they would wish to with so few pupils.
Size: like others I'd dismiss school one, it's too small. You say school two is about twice the size of school one, but does it also go all through to age 18? If so, that still sounds a bit small to me, both from the point of view of having enough choice of friends and from the point of view of whether they can realistically offer a good choice of subjects and activities. If it's a prep school, that's about the size of the one our DS is in and it's perfect. (In fact, would it happen to be a prep school attached to a famous chapel, that likes purple? If so I use to live near there and have heard many positive reports.)
Bullying: I'd want to take seriously. Any school can have one incident of bullying that, despite good handling, ends up with the best course for the child concerned being to leave. However, it could be a sign that they didn't handle it well. I'd want to see the written bullying policy and ask them about it. I'd probably say I was asking because I knew someone who'd removed a child because of bullying, and see what they said. Plus points for "I know who you must mean" (i.e., because it's rare), minus points for any confidence-breaking information about that case!
Are there really no other schools you could be considering?
I too would have really serious reservations about school one. Personally I think that children need far more peers than that. If you only have six children in your year (remembering that in Y2 she'd lose the current y2 to the next class up, so they aren't constant) you only have five possible friends. That's not many, especially if, say , the two other girls in your year are best mates.
Although small classes are great, I'd want a year group of 20+, so school 2 still seems small, but far more viable.
The bullying - it would depend when the child was moved. Recently, or 5 years ago, etc?
When dd started at her current junior school, there were only 8 girls in her year. It was just too small a pool to form friendships in - the girls did everything together all of the time whether they liked each other or not and there were a lot of tensions. By Yr 6 there were 25 girls and that was much better.
Definitely avoid the small one. I know no decent selective good academic private primary with that type of class set up.
If the schools go to 11+ then get a list of numbers of children who went to which private secondaries after. If they go up to age 18 find out how many go to Oxbridge and good RG universities and pick on that basis.
I'd also find out what the procedure is for going up to the senior school. It's all very well if they have great results at a-level and fab uni entry, but if they aggressively weed out the lower performers then it's not such an amazing reflection on the teaching!
Malsis school, which was lovely but small, closed recently. "The decline in pupil numbers in recent years has put at risk the financial sustainability of Malsis School." Bradford Girls Grammar became a free school for similar reasons. So yes, I agree with others, the first option is a risky one. Also agree that friendships in such small classes can be tricky.
Also you need enough bright children in a class to bump ideas off each other. i think at secondary level 20 - 25 tends to be ideal as you';l have some very quiet ones who never say a word (one of my son's teachers said he might as well have been doing the course by correspondence course for all the talking he did in class (none)) and others who are always piping up. If you only have a few in a class you don't get the right balance.
I am wondering if you are jumping out of the frying pan into the fire? Is it so bad where you are?
My DD went to a girls only prep school (although pre prep took boys) and there were over 400 in the school. I rather dislike through schools. 4-18 just seems too chlostrophobic . Children get into a school bubble and it seems too limited in terms of opportunities, especially in a small school. Going into a larger prep school with plenty going on is the best bet. 14 in a class is smallish for co-ed. We had 18 at girls only - 3 classes. This size ensures good sport, lots of children working at the same level as your child, and plenty of after school activities and music etc.
Girls go to senior girls' boarding schools at 11, co-ed at 13. Around me, plenty went to prep schools at year 3, not year 1. This didn't stop them getting into the boarding schools of their choice.
I really think you have to dismiss the issue of where your DP's mother went to school! It's a decidedly unhelpful factor.
Whichever school you choose I'd be very wary of assuming your child will be there till 18. Choose for now, for what will best suit her for the next 3 or four years. Reassess when she's perhaps 7 or 8 - by then she'll be showing you what sort of school she needs to fulfill her potential.
Would you want to be in the same institution for 13 years?
Thank you so much for all your replies, I've found them really helpful.
Both schools are non selective 3-18
I certainly have taken onboard the 'same institution' for 13 years comment and agree with the classes being so small and I agree you need more than a handful of children in a class to achieve an upbeat atmosphere....paramount in development.
The incident of bullying was recent and friends dc has now moved to school 1. As she understands there were more cases of bullying which seemed to occur when classes were split in year four to subjects....out of one classroom environment. She believes the school didn't deal with issues and her dd loves new school and has been there 6 months.
I am objective though and realise that bullying can happen anywhere and it's how it's dealt with that I'm concerned about. Thank you for the notes on what to ask about.
We visit school two again in the morning and dd has trial day at school one next week.
Dd current school is certainly not bad. It has a good Ofsted and Seems a friendly place. I may get flamed for this but we are tiring a little of teachers spelling mistakes which are happening almost weekly when she is correcting dd work. That said dd adores her and she works bloody hard. 3 more TA's going will be tough. The reception children read once a week one to one with their TA and its a struggle apparently to get all this done. HT has phoned us twice with dd being hit in the face by a boy in the class who is very lively and does cause a few issues. DP is getting very tired of all this and it does concern me a little.
Above all though the reasons are that we intended to send her to pre prep last year but due to circumstances it didn't happen.
Again if you have got this far thanks for all of your posts and any pointers I welcome gratefully ....being new to all of this.
On a final and light ....ish note It actually puts me off slightly that Mil went to the girls school....she's the scariest mother I've ever met!!
I think I know the schools you are talking about!
If I'm right, the first one is part of a network of schools that would not let it go under financially even if it had a bad run for a few years (i.e. they support each other monetarily when one is going through bad times) and it has at least one very generous benefactor. It had a very strong history and then a bad head that caused a decline in pupils numbers etc. It now has a new head in and all the problems are being/have been fixed and it's on the up again. Very good A-level results and I wouldn't have a problem sending my own daughters there.
I am actually think a class of 12 single sex is better than a class of 14 co-ed. This is because although in the early years many children play with boys and girls in my experience by about year 3 they split off into single sex groups for the most part. So the girls class may be smaller but it has 12 other girls. The class of 14 will only have at most 7 or 8 other girls.
Having said that, you have to choose the school that you think is best for your DD. I went to a through-school (3-18) and it was wonderful. I started in a reception class of three girls but by year 13 there were 60 of us, so much bigger than the schools you're looking at, that wouldn't be a problem for me. However, I would choose the school that is best for the next 4-6 years. You can always change for senior school.
What can your friend tell you about the comparison between the schools? Even though her view may be coloured by the bullying incident, did she enjoy having her DC the early years at school 2? Was the teaching good?
I am finding a school of size about 600 for 4-18 is too limited for GCSE and A level choices due to resourcing constraints. At 200 I'd be seriously worried about viability.
I went to an all girls school which went from Reception through to A levels. I would never consider sending my dad to either an all girls school, or one which went all the way through.
I was utterly and completely bored of the whole set up by time I'd done O'levels and begged to change schools. Unfortunately this didn't happen.
I found an all girls school to be horribly bitchy and left me totally unprepared for life in the "normal" world when men and women interact on a daily basis.
I have also taught in a private school with very small class sizes - the sort of size you're talking about. I found them stiflingly intense for both the children and the teacher. There simply wasn't a big enough social pool for most of the children, and parents got horribly over involved in any playground disagreements because they all knew each other too well.
Your poor dad being sent back to school littlefish.
. I don't think he would like it anymore that I did!
Thanks all for your views. All really helpful....dd has a trial day at each next week so will hopefully have a better idea following that.
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