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Is this school run too long? (N London / Herts) Opinions please!

(95 Posts)
nightsky010 Thu 05-Nov-15 06:59:41

I'm trying to find a new Prep school for DC age 7 (young 7) and I'd like advice on if these journeys would be too long or horrible or if they sound ok? OH thinks journey time is a rally big deal, I don't think it is so much.

Both in London / Herts area, schools finish at between 3:50 and 4:30, plus clubs on some days after that.

OPTION 1 (amazing school):
07:05 Leave house and walk to train station.
07:18 Catch train in opposite direction to the rush hour.
07:36 Train arrives, catch taxi from station taxi rank to school - a journey of 1.4 miles through a town centre. No idea how long this takes in rush hour.
Arrive at school before 08:00 sometime??

OPTION 2 (Less good school):
07:30 Leave house, walk 7 mins to tube station,
07:40 ish A 13 min tube journey in rush hour (3-4 stops)
07:55 ish A 10-15 min walk to school
8:10 Arrive at school

Thanks!

angelpuffs Thu 05-Nov-15 07:07:10

Option 2 is clearly better journey than option 1. The problem is have with option 1 is the train THEN the taxi- if traffic was a nightmare for the 1.4 miles through the town, or if there were never enough taxis etc it would cause a lot of stress. If there is just one form of transport plus walking either end its considerably less stressful as you are in control!
But it depends how great the school in option 1 is. If it's really amazing, it might be worth it- especially if you're not trying to juggle other DCs as well.

AnyoneButAndre Thu 05-Nov-15 07:08:00

You need to do a dummy run of the taxi option at the appropriate time of day. You'll never be able to have an informed opinion otherwise. Do North London preps really start at 8am? I guess it makes life easier if you're going on to work afterwards.

yomellamoHelly Thu 05-Nov-15 07:09:38

Can you not walk the 1.4 miles? Get a scooter for your dc?

merrymouse Thu 05-Nov-15 07:10:43

How are you going to do the return journey to the station with option 1?

RitaConnors Thu 05-Nov-15 07:14:57

Neither are ideal but the first one sounds hellish. I think your dh us right. Journey time is important. It will change your family life. It's no good going to a brilliant school if you start every day racing round shouting 'get your shoes on! I don't know where they are! What do you mean you might have left them at gymnastics?' I may be projecting slightly here!'grin

And getting out of the house every day so early will mean it will be harder to do things after school as he will need to go to bed early. It will also be more difficult for him to have friends over after school.

You need to do the journey with your DS for sure. Tomorrow would be a good time if you are going out for bonfire night tonight!

Jinglebells99 Thu 05-Nov-15 07:16:06

i was going to suggest walking the 1.4 miles in the first scenario as that would only take half an hour and would negate the impact of traffic. Depends how your child is with walking, and you would still arrive shortly after 8 am.

Seriouslyffs Thu 05-Nov-15 07:17:50

Both options sound unsustainably awful. Sorry. I'd start again looking at more local options.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Nov-15 07:20:29

How would you get home in Option 2?

How would you feel about him doing either option on his own when he gets a bit older- I presume you won't be going with him when he's 11?

Is the cost of 4 taxi rides a day an issue?

Will you ever have to go back to school in the evening for events? Is that an issue?

What happens if you're ill, or break your leg, or have another baby?

EdithWeston Thu 05-Nov-15 07:20:48

How frequent are the trains? If the one you are aiming for doesn't turn up, how long until the next? How do you get there if the trains aren't running at all?

You need to do a couple of practice runs on each route at the times you'll be doing them.

Walking 1.4 miles is going to take at least 30 minutes (more if lots of major roads to cross) but might be more predictable than finding a taxi and then getting through traffic.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Nov-15 07:22:11

Sorry- how are you going to get home in option 1?

Kangenchunga Thu 05-Nov-15 07:25:25

omg whatever sort of time would you have to get up to be leaving the house at 7am?

nightsky010 Thu 05-Nov-15 09:38:07

To clarify, unfortunately there aren't any other schools we can choose for a variety of factors (including SEN for HF Autism), so it really has to be one of those. (Except for boarding option as mentioned below.)

I think I was a bit unclear on times. The schools both start at 8:30am, but drop off would need to be at 8 and 8:10 respectively in order to get to work on time afterwards.

Option 1: (amazing Hertfordshire School)
- The school is totally perfect except for the travel and...
- The dreaded SATURDAY SCHOOL! (8:30-12:30). Saturday matches I imagine would be only very occasional for my DC who is utterly crap at sport.
- DH absolutely refuses to contemplate DC walking or scooting the 1.4miles as he thinks it will make DC too tired. The bus would take too long. Ideally I would try to get a regular booking with a mini cab firm to ease the stress of finding a cab. Same for the return journey in the evening- a regularly booked cab, with luck!
- if we missed a train the next one is 20- 30 mins later, so DC would still just be in time for school.
- if there were planned engineering works cancelling all trains (very unlikely as it's such a major commuter route in the other direction) then DC would board at the school the night before. If the trains were cancelled last minute we would be pretty screwed! There might be another train route, but if not then it is a 20 mile / 50 minute taxi journey (we don't drive!)
- We would be leaving the school at 4:30 each day, until Year 6 when it changes to 5:30.
- The school does have flexi boarding, but I don't anticipate being able to afford very much. Maybe a night every few weeks as a social thing? Absolute maximum a night a week if we are very lucky.
- I think evening events would be limited to parents evenings, which is doable.
- i have not idea what older kids are like, but as DC has ASD I always assumed he would have someone travelling with him until at least 13yo.

Option 2 (The last resort N London school)
- the school is about 0.65 mile from a tube station in north London. We'd be living 3-4 tube stops away, so really it's just a short walk from the house to the tube followed by the 15 min walk from tube to school, but the tube will be heaving. There will be a bus, but that'll be 50 mins for what's actually a very short journey due to the traffic.
- in theory doing the whole thing by taxi could be a possibility, but I'm naturally frugal / not that flush and don't like the idea of getting taxis unless I have to.

DC loves routines and is pretty good in the morning (I think??) so currently he insists on making his own breakfast and will do bathroom and dressing independently in 45 mins from the time he gets up. If I made breakfast I think we'd have it down to 35 mins. Is that pretty reasonable???

Clearly the second school has a significantly better journey, but the school is far less good and I'd much prefer to use the first, but I just wanted to see if I'd be totally crazy to do it?!

THIRD OPTION:
There's a very good boarding school a couple of hours from London right by his grandparents house which he could attend (boarding 2-3 nights, at theirs 2 nights, one of which would be with me then back to London with us for weekends) but I worry that he is too young for that much boarding so I'd prefer to avoid that option. Does anyone think I should be reconsidering it?

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 09:49:25

How would your child be cared for from e.g. 8 - 8.30am at school 1? Is there a specific before-school / breakfast club to attend? 30 minutes in a cold, dark, empty playground after an hour of travelling would be very nasty.

Although I do suspect that the taxi journey through the town centre might actually eat up most of the 7.36 - 8.30 hour ... especially since you, or whoever accompanies him, will then have to do exactly the same thing in reverse....

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 09:54:04

Tbh it's not the journey itself, it is the 'gaps' between steps that would worry me - get up very early, rush, rush, rush, then 30 minutes before school even starts.

Maybe I've missed something - why is boarding at school 3 possible financially but not at school 1? Are the fees very different?

What are your local state schools like??

futureme Thu 05-Nov-15 10:02:20

I think both sound pretty hellish, especially for a child with additional needs. Have you seen what support you would get in a local state school? You would save a lot of stress each day if that were possible.

teacherwith2kids Thu 05-Nov-15 10:08:46

I would say that unless these are specialist SEN private schools, SEN provision may well be better in the state sector. Where has your DS been at school up till now?

nightsky010 Thu 05-Nov-15 10:18:39

For option 1, yes, there is a breakfast club which I'd be happy with. I'd not leave him otherwise :-) there are quite a few boarders, so he would join in with them and the other kids doing breakfast club.

Yes, the taxi journey through the town centre doesn't sound great. I think really I need to try it out. It may be the case that the town is heaving and it's hell, or maybe the town is fairly quiet of there will be a longer route which will be quicker. The time taken after dropping him off is not very critical as work are somewhat flexible, but I worry more about DCs long journey.

I agree that it's the gaps between each more of transport that are the biggest pain. If it was just sitting in the car for 45 mins I'd not think it was too bad.

I think a trial run next week is in order!

TeacherWith2Kids
Yes, the fees at the schools are very different.
Option 2 is the cheapest by about £800 a term and will have very cheap transport (£6 a day I think).
Option 1 school as a day pupil is the same price as the Option 3 school with 3 nights of boarding, I suspect because Option 1 school has a primarily Londonish catchment whereas Option 3 doesnt really draw pupils from London much.

Perhaps I actually need to sit down and calculate the cost of transport including the taxis etc. And see how it works out. Am looking up taxi rates for Herts.

The schools are not specialist SEN schools, just Preps which sound very accommodating. Up until now DC has been at a Pre-Prep. DC is not stellar academically but is doing fine. Tbh I've not considered state because I'd always planned for DC going to a Public school at 13+, though obviously I'm not set on that if it turns out to be wrong for him. Also, the state system scares me! I worry that I'd spend a fortune moving into a good catchment and then not get offered the school anyway and have to go to a terrible one instead. It seems so much easier to apply to private ones!

NicoleWatterson Thu 05-Nov-15 10:25:59

My ds is 7. I couldn't imagine him being up, ready and out the house at 7.05!!
Mine (and his friends) quite often have melt downs on

NicoleWatterson Thu 05-Nov-15 10:30:34

Oh silly phone!
They have melt downs on the way home as they are just so tired.
Some of them do a lot of after school stuff (some school arranged some out of e.g beavers) with that sort of travel your totally discounting any of that.
I think your DH is right, at this age commute (or lack of!) is hugely important

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Nov-15 10:32:04

"Also, the state system scares me!" Gosh- you do realise that some of the people you are asking for advice might be.........^state school parents???????^

Fugghetaboutit Thu 05-Nov-15 10:32:47

Both sound awful tbh.

BertrandRussell Thu 05-Nov-15 10:35:42

One last thing. Bear in mind that if the schools you are considering are not specialist SEN schools, your child is only there for as long as the school want him there. If the issues he has had up to now get more problematic, or if he starts to look as if CE will not be an option, they can- and some ^ will^ ask him to leave. You need to do a lot more research than saying they "sound very accommodating"

TurnOffTheTv Thu 05-Nov-15 10:35:47

Option 1, although an amazing school, sounds hellish
So a 7yo will need to be up at 6.30 at the latest to leave house at 7.05.

School finishes at 4.30pm, so another cab, train ride, walk home, back for 5.30/6pm?

Can you imagine doing this in winter? He will be dark when he leaves and when he returns, no time to play out etc. He will be hungry and exhausted by the time he gets home.
Plus the cost of everything, rush hour traffic a cab could cost £10 each way, which is £400 a month before you even start on train fares.

jazzandh Thu 05-Nov-15 10:43:50

I think option 1 is doable if you can knock out the taxi.

If you can walk or scoot 1.4 miles (and it may be less if not on the road) it really wouldn't take too long.

Prep schools thrive on loads of outdoor games, my elder son does at least an hour of games every day and breaks on top so 20 minute walk/ride is unlikely to exhaust him unduly.

If he is an early bird (both of mine are wide awake by 6am) then getting out by just after 7am is quite achievable as well.

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