School Choice 2016(12 Posts)
DD currently at preschool (North West England) in a 3 form entry school which is very close (0.2 miles) and would be pretty much guaranteed to get in to, good catchment and good reputation. Lots of parents (who I respect the opinion of) with older children say the school is great and love it. However, I've had a different experience and am finding it hard to find anything good to say about it! Bad communication, things always forgotten eg important things not sent home, classroom areas aren't clean and well looked after (my standards are low too), not organised, not told about accidents, always chaos in classrooms and at home time, reception looks like chaos too, when I've visited, children were frequently wandering around out of seats in main part of school during lessons etc. All sounds petty but I just get a bad feeling about it. Went to visit another school (catchment not as affluent) and had a great feeling about it. Children were well behaved, classrooms were well kept, displays good, teachers friendly and welcoming, person showing us round had a great rapport with them all. Just felt like a lovely school. Other parents don't rate it (including ones who went there) but I can't seem to find out why. Should I go with the first school which comes highly recommended but against my gut feeling or buck the trend and go with the second school?! We could walk at a push but more likely need to drive to second school. Also concerned that DD would be uprooted in a school she knows and is settled in. Although she's not that happy when she gets home. She certainly hasn't blossomed while going there, she seems to have gone into her shell but still happy to attend. What should I do?!
I would go with your gut instinct. Parent are notoriously fickle when it comes to schools and many schools retain their "go-to" factor with parents for years after the reality has taken hold that standards are slipping. When it does slip, for instance when Ofsted come calling, you will then see the parents heading for the door of the next "in-school", which may well be the one that you think a lot of.
If the distance is manageable and you believe that your daughter would thrive there and have friends then go for it, with one proviso. If you have other younger siblings just remember that there could be a problem getting a place if the school suddenly becomes popular.
Thanks admission, I had the same thoughts as you and they are due an Ofsted inspection soon. Hopefully another visit to my preferred school will help me decide
I would also say go with your gut. Out of interest is the school you prefer also 3-form entry?
Your initial reaction is probably the right one. Never discount the fact that many "respected" parents have never experienced a different school, have out of date information and never, ever, would admit they were wrong!!! Also, they may like the chaotic nature of the school. I frequently think posters on this site describe reception classes as badly run playgroups that are nothing like the reception classes I know! I think engaged, happy children who are clearly learning, is what you want to see. I value an orderly atmosphere too. Just make absolutely certain you will get into the 2nd school should you choose it. Make sure you know how the admission works as it is not your nearest school.
Check admissions data very carefully and check you would get in the school you like. Our very popular 3 form school often has children moving about on their own - off to do tasks, go to music lessons, do project work etc Even in reception they take it in turns to take the register to the office as soon as they are settled in. Don't expect children to be sat still in early years. Ours do a lot of group work and choosing of activities they move between. Our school could look slightly chaotic but it develops very independent learners and get very high results for individual child progress. I would also ask specific questions about your concerns. Living so close to your school has huge advantages
Thanks all, the one I like is also 3 form entry louisejxxx
Inkymess, I know that classrooms are busy places but having observed since Sept, there's never a time when things look under control. The children out of their seats were year 3s who were hanging around the coat pegs unnoticed ie not doing a job. However, there was a class doing a hands on activity and group work which loooked great fun, I'm glad they're not sitting down in quiet all day because that wouldn't be great either. I think it's just an overall feeling I get from loads of niggly little things that've happened. Finding it really tough!
Uum simply hanging round coat pegs doesn't sound great mid day unless they were waiting to be collected for an activity etc. our school is a constant hive of movement and activity but it's obvious there is a purpose to what the DC are doing. I am in school quite often due to other stuff. We looked at one massively popular school at hated it ( way too formal ) - it's has to be what suits you overall
Orderly does not mean sitting at desks! It means actively engaged and participating in what the child/group has been asked to do. Very few reception children are sitting at desks all day (!) but I think I like classes where the teacher is in control. Reception children in our school went to the "reading cottage" to get their next reading books, moved into different areas of the hen and chickens classroom for different aspects of learning (60 children managed this effectively), got ready for pe, did water experiments, started recorder lessons - but it was never chaotic. It was orderly though.
So DD protested she didn't want to leave after seeing the school we like again! I loved it again too but was told by the head that the school attracts children with challenging behaviour and they have lots of looked after children. Do I go for the disorganised school with a good reputation and children from the same socioeconomic group or the school I like that's orderly and have a good gut feeling about but may not have children nearby to make friends with?
What interesting comments from the head! My preference would generally be a very local school with varied socio economic backgrounds for DC. You choice is a bit either or! Sounds like the school you love is great and you would regret it if you didn't go there.
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