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Experience of small schools

(17 Posts)
SEsofty Mon 10-Aug-15 13:28:53

Currently in the process of seriously thinking about moving for variety of reasons. Would require child moving school. Currently in outstanding three form entry school and doing really well.

Moving would require changing schools.

Most likely option is a very small school eg ten in a year group.

I have no idea about how that even works eg teaching mixed years so would be really grateful for experience of small school. Good and bad


CherylBerylMeryl Mon 10-Aug-15 15:36:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Millymollymama Mon 10-Aug-15 16:09:21

The finances of a state school would preclude teaching just 10 children in one class all the time. The budget is the same per child for 30 in a class or 10, so obviously 10 does not work. Do they not have this info on their web site?

Often tiny village schoools can have a teaching Head who is given time off for admin. So this, in effect, is a job share. I think teaching can be excellent in village schools that are small, but friendship groups, sport, music, drama and other collaborative teaching can be difficult. If your child is musical or sporty I would definitely think twice. My DD's state primary school ran various music groups, an orchestra and had very successful sports teams, plus outstanding drama and choirs . If you are happy to do all of this outside school or don't need it, then it does not really matter.

I know children can make friends with children outside their year group in small schools but these children do evenutally leave if they are older so you are back to your year group. In addition falling out with one or two chidren becomes a huge issue. Are there more girls or boys in the year group? This could leave your DC with very few possible friends. I always preferred a bigger school - more going on, bigger choice of friends and, luckily for us, team teaching giving access to the best teachers. Not just stuck with one trying to teach 2-3 year groups with a very wide range of attainment. Some very small schools do not always develop as well as they should and do not have new ideas because new staff are few and far between. They have lots of positive points too, but I think you have to know your child to know if the smallness is of value to you. Some people love the countryside around village schools, the fact you will probably know everyone, the family atmosphere etc. Would this outweigh any other issues?

Pestolavista Mon 10-Aug-15 16:14:53

I would strongly advise against it having had personal experience. The pool of potential friends is very small and both my children were variously bullied or lonely. On the plus side both my children now older teens, treat SN children of which there were a high number, as completely normal. That is the only positive aspect.
I also found the teachers that worked there on the whole were inadequate as the school could not afford to pay well qualified staff and at least three had mental breakdowns when we were there.
I also think very small schools are not likely to be financially viable and always under threat of closure.

spanieleyes Mon 10-Aug-15 17:24:22

Erm, SN children ARE completely normal!

lucyjordon Mon 10-Aug-15 17:30:22

Most of what millymollymama said. I think they can be v good at teaching children who are right in the middle of the learning ability spectrum but can struggle with children at either end of the spectrum. Your child will be in a split year class I.e. One class with one teacher but with children from two or three year groups in that class. We tried it but they couldn't stretch ds in maths and I think he found the small circle of friends quite stifling. He is now in a school with one and a half forms per year group, the difference is the classes are split according to ability instead of out of necessity like they were in the small school.

Inkymess Tue 11-Aug-15 08:00:13

There was an almost identical thread on here about three weeks ago - personally I wouldn't use a small school as I'm not a fan. Our school is an amazing 3 form

lovelyupnorth Wed 12-Aug-15 12:57:41

MY DD went through primary at a small school 15 pupil entry and loved it no real friendship issues and plenty to do with music, choir, sports etc. have gone in high school well ahead of someo of the larger schools, horses for courses.

littlejohnnydory Thu 13-Aug-15 12:52:07

Round here it is common to have just 10 in a single class. Other schools have mixed year groups.

I much prefer small schools, much more nurturing atmosphere in my experience, all the teachers know all the children very well and every child in the school knows each other. More opportunities for friends outside their year group.

The only disadvantage (potentially) is that if they don't get on with the others in their class, there isn't an alternative group.

spanieleyes Thu 13-Aug-15 13:36:26

That's the thing , surely. If it is "normal" in the area you live in to have small schools, then large schools are seen as "alien" and "unfriendly". If the reverse is true then small schools are seen as "claustrophobic" and "restrictive" It is all down to personal preference.
Personally I would hate to teach in a large school. My small school offers free instrument tuition for all of KS2, peripatetic tuition for those who wish to study further, sports competitions at least once a month against other schools, a wide range of after school clubs, county standard gymnastics, our own swimming pool etc. Academically we perform higher than the local "Outstanding " large school, our children achieve above national figures for level 5 and 6 ( despite having above average levels of FSM and SEN). And, for the poster who believes teachers in small schools are generally "inadequate" I can assure you, I'm not!! ( Oh, and as a small school we actually spend more per pupil on staffing than other schools in our local area, we can certainly afford to pay for well qualified staff!)

Enkopkaffetak Thu 13-Aug-15 18:36:30

Small schools get a hard time on MN imo. Our eldest 2 started in a 2form entry outstanding school. We moved ome when she did not get help with her dyslexia. To a private school with 10 students in year 1and 2 ds started there in year R6 boys. The school was AMAZING.
Year later we moves counties and all 4 ended up in a 15intake primary school "good " by Ofsted standards. Great school dealt well with dd2 dyslexia and aided ds to leave with 3level6.
For us the snaller schools have far outshone the bigger. IMO it is all aboit individual schools ht says a lot abput atmosphere and it can be good and bad ineither type school. Was.i to go back i would do it again

htm123 Thu 13-Aug-15 19:49:11

I love small schools! DS went to one. He had 12 children in his class and he loved it! We all meet regularly and keep in touch with those who returned overseas. His school delivered great teaching and pastoral care. We paid for the privilege.

spanieleyes Thu 13-Aug-15 19:50:51

I will have 16 in mine in September-and it's free!

holmessweetholmes Thu 13-Aug-15 20:31:24

We have experience of a not so good small school and an awesome small school.

The not so good small school had high staff turnover and falling numbers of pupils. It was threatened with closure because of lack of numbers, but managed to stay afloat. It wasn't a terrible school by any means but bright dd wasn't sufficiently challenged and there was little opportunity for extra-curriular activities.

The tiny village primary my dc attend now is everything you could want from a primary school. The combining of year groups works really well and the Head grabs every opportunity he can for the kids to do great stuff. Lots of individual attention for the kids, a fantastically supportive, nurturing atmosphere, challenging work etc etc.

IMO one of the factors in the success of little primaries is whether small is the norm for your area. We live in a rural area and almost all the primaries are tiny. Everyone sends their dc to their nearest village primary. This makes for pretty stable numbers and no competition from bigger primaries down the road.

hanahsaunt Thu 13-Aug-15 20:51:22

We moved to a little primary - max 72 - from big primaries (420 then 250). I can't fault it (or the others, though clearly there will be a niggly thing in each of them because nothing is perfect). They have 3 classes (reception/y1; year2/3 and year 4/5/6). However, they are responsive to the needs of the children and so class 2 had a couple of young y4s last year who just needed to be in that environment and nurtured before moving up after the summer. In each of the three schools all of my children have been in mixed year classes and all have thrived on it - I think it's a really positive way of teaching as children move up and down, across different subjects and it can be more reactive/response to the child as an individual learner.

Our current school is federated with another village school so they have a larger critical mass for sports etc. and they are together at least once a week for that sort of thing. They are also heavily involved in the county small school scheme for music, sport, dance etc as they are intensely aware of the potential to miss out by virtue of being small and probably end up with more as a result! It has been a good move (so far).

The teaching staff are great smile.

Leeds2 Fri 14-Aug-15 14:58:40

My concern, as others have commented, would be friendship issues. Especially if I had, say, a daughter and there were only two or three girls in the class.

I would also be concerned that the school wouldn't have sports matches against other schools (which my DD loved at primary), or enough children to form things such as choirs and orchestras.

Would also concern me that my DC would feel a bit claustrophobic going from a three form entry to just 10 in the year.

I would like the small classes, although would worry that 10 might just be a bit too small.

itsnothingoriginal Fri 14-Aug-15 15:23:11

From our experience of a small school (10-12 in a year group)

Upsides -
- All the kids at our small primary know each other and from a pastoral point of view this is a real bonus. Having worked as a regular volunteer, the kids at our school seem genuinely happy!
- The teachers know your child very well - especially as they generally teach the year group for at least two years if not for longer.

Downsides -
-Definitely friendship groups and a limited pool from which your child can choose to make friends! There are 4 girls in DDs year and this has caused issues although this could of course be true of a larger school!
- My DD has SN and she has had the polar opposite experience from what Pestolavista said above. I think it compounds her feelings of being different as there are no other children with her (fairly common) disability in the school. Again, this could vary a great deal from school to school! The teachers also have very little experience of SN and this has been the most negative aspect of small schools for us.

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