Big vs small primary school

(18 Posts)
workingonitagain Thu 25-Jun-15 21:28:17

Could you tell me pros and cons of choosing a big 1200 pupils vs a small 350. We are currently in a small one and very happy but was wondering if there is any cons or purely what you prefer?

Edna1969 Thu 25-Jun-15 21:33:47

We are in a micro school then (112 pupils). I'd have thought 350 was fairly usual for primary.

In DDs school everyone knows everyone. It is like a large family with all year groups mixing with each other. All teachers know all the children too which is a huge pluse as it makes transitions easy and there is nowhere for children to hide. Each is pushed and stretched to achieve.

Cons are lack of money and so resources and spending need to be carefully considered. Also limited friendship choices and it can be claustrophobic.

However we wouldn't swap. Girls are very happy and doing well.

Earthbound Thu 25-Jun-15 21:46:48

Having recently moved from a village and a small school (100 pupils) to a town and a large school (600 pupils) there are pros and cons to both.

Small school:
- Family feel
- Everyone knows you and your child. If you ring the secretary to ask something she knows exactly who you and your children are.
- But can be claustrophobic
- Fewer opportunities to form social groups. If there are only 5 girls in your year group and you fall out it's a big drama.
- More limited resources, tighter budget

Big school
- Your child is one of 100s. The Head probably doesn't know much about your child let alone your name.
- Larger schools can still have a community feel.
- More opportunities to make friends and change friendship groups.
- more resources, larger budget

There are benefits and downsides to both. I loved the family feel of DDs old school and her new setting has been a bit of a shock to the system! But she is thriving. She loves having more children to play with.

Sirzy Thu 25-Jun-15 21:49:28

I don't think 350 is small at all. A lot of schools are only 1 form entry which would give them about 210 pupils so I would class anything less than that as small.

You have to go from what you think of the schools but my gut would be the smaller school.

Earthbound Thu 25-Jun-15 21:56:10

Just curious - why would you consider moving away from a school you are happy with if no distance issues etc?

EightFiftySix Thu 25-Jun-15 21:58:16

We have 48 pupils at our school. It's brilliant. The kids are confident, friendly, well mannered and their needs are met so well and so individually by a fabulous staff team. I can't imagine how my DC would cope in a huge school of 350!

Earthbound has it right, there are pros and cons. What are your DC like? What do they thrive on? What works best for the family?

teacherwith2kids Thu 25-Jun-15 22:02:35

Even 350 is larger than average. I believe that a 1 class per year school - so 210 pupils - is closest to the average size for the country as a whole. Certainly Ofsted refers to all 2 form entry schools locally as 'larger than average' and the 1 form schools as 'average-sized'.

For my money, 2 form entry - around 420 if full - is ideal. Opportunities for mixing up classes if they aren't working out, enough people for a really good sports team or two per year, statistically a good chance of similar-ability pupils, but still small enough for every pupil to be known by name to pretty much every member of staff.

I have taught in schools of sizes from 26 in the whole school to 96 per year group - and to my mind the 60 per year group size would be my ideal.

MirandaWest Thu 25-Jun-15 22:44:39

I'd call 350 quite big and 1200 massive. I like DCs 250 ish sized school.

Mopmay Thu 25-Jun-15 23:03:58

We love our 720 pupil school - 90 per year inc nursery. The opportunities and resources are amazing. It's one huge community and the head still seems to know every pupil by name !

HelenF350 Fri 26-Jun-15 04:09:27

350 pupils is not a small school, my primary had 35 pupils at its peak! I think you get much more personal attention at a smaller school and would keep my children there if I could.

Athenaviolet Fri 26-Jun-15 05:52:42

I'd count 350 as big!

There is a primary school nearby that has 800 but I thought that was very exceptional.

Bigger schools are better for

-extra specialist teachers eg art, music pe
-more parent volunteers for things like after school clubs
-enough pupils for music ensembles/performances
-enough pupils for proper sports competitions/teams
-big choice of friends

Smaller schools are better for

-easier/safer parking drop off
-smaller class sizes (but may have more composites)
-more mixed age learning
-not running out of food at lunchtime
-more space in playground
-getting through on the phone

cathpip Fri 26-Jun-15 05:57:21

I choose a big school over a small school for my ds, but then we are talking 90 pupils as opposed to 52! smile

Mopmay Fri 26-Jun-15 08:05:30

Round us we have four schools with 90 per year and two with 60. So 450-750 is normal. It's urban so parking isn't as bad as you think as 90-95% walk - catchments are less than half a mile. All have busy breakfast and after school clubs too so not everyone is there at same time!

Mopmay Fri 26-Jun-15 08:06:39

They are have several playgrounds too or seperate areas and staggered times so not that many out at once

Toffeelatteplease Fri 26-Jun-15 10:18:45

I think most of the advantages listed as being attributed to a big or small school are actually about whether it is a good or bad school.

DC go to a 3 entry primary school.

I feel like the head knows most if not all the pupils and certainly will take a personal interest in a child. Both the head and deputy head will make the time to talk to a child or if a child needs to talk to them. Deputy head teacher and head teacher awards are highly sought over, the child gets to go and show off their work. Both the head and deputy head have the time for this.

The school secretary definitely knows all the children by name and I get through on the phone every time. (She actually recognising my voice,

The school still has a family nurturing feel. It also has a very inclusive feel. Kinda "We are big enough to take everyone and still be able to tackle what you throw at us".

Social fall out in small schools is horrific. There is too few children to spend some time with others or move to a different lunch table or all the other discreet ways DC's school have off dealing with such fall outs.

Small schools do not have the monopoly on space in playgrounds. Our big school playgrounds are fantastic. There's a big playground and a large field and also smaller playgrounds aswell, (some are for the younger years, some are just if you want a smaller space). There's very big scale play equipment. Some playtimes are staggered, some allow all the kids to mingle.

Some disavantages as I see them:

Drop on and parking around the school can be very Bad, (although from what I have seen this happens in all sizes of schools depending on location) It is ok if you drop off early (the playground is open significantly earlier then actual drop off times) and our school has multiple entrances that helps a little.

The sheer noise. Even with well behaved children the noise created by a whole year of children moving is significant. If you have a child sensitive to noise that can be a problem (although the children in DC's seem totally blasé that some children ear defenders, which imo says a lot for the ethos the school).

I'm not convinced by the supposed advantages of smaller schools.
I'm a big fan of the right school with the right leadership. I'm genuinely unconvinced size comes into it.

Mopmay Fri 26-Jun-15 16:42:36

Toffee my experience mirrors yours in many ways. Our head and deputy are awesome. My kids adore them. The office know everyone etc Hugely inclusive due to diversity. The DC seem oblivious to the noise and hustle and bustle and love the size of the community

HaplessHousewife Fri 26-Jun-15 18:19:49

I can only speak from the big point of view and my experience is pretty much the same as Toffee and Mop. My DD, and in September DS, go to a six form entry school so 540 just in the infants.

I think it's fantastic, they do a really good job of making the children all feel included.

Just from a budgetary point of view (it's an academy so has more control), every infant class has a full time TA and the heads of year don't teach a class as of this year so they move around taking intervention groups etc.

They also have a SN unit in the infants with sensory room and special playground etc.

But, you think parking is bad with a three class entry!!! I walk apart from one pick up a week but you have to park at 2.20 for a 3.00 finish to be guaranteed a place near the school.

workingonitagain Mon 29-Jun-15 20:34:42

Thank you all we have moved away about 20 min drive from school and on waiting list both no 1 to a big and also small ish school so that's why i asked. I love that everyone knows everyone where we are now but i have not looked on the large school yet. Might be surprising tho based on all these opinion smile thanks again

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