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Acceptable journey to Primary School?

(14 Posts)
Butterfly0505 Tue 09-Feb-16 09:05:35

Hi there everyone, I'm new to Mumsnet and could really use some advice please. I'm not sure if I'm posting in the local Sevenoaks group, I'm not sure if I'm using the site correctly!

Basically my son is in Reception at Riverhead Infants School in Sevenoaks which is a really good school and he loves it, so moving schools is not an option. My partner and I want to buy our first home but Sevenoaks is so expensive. We are therefore looking to move to Tonbridge where we can afford a proper family home, but I'm worried this is too far to travel each day for school. I'm thinking 15-20 minutes by car but it could be longer as we haven't tried it in school drop-off rush hour. My partner works near Sevenoaks so it would be on his way to work, so we wouldn't have the issue of two round trips per day.

Any thoughts would be hugely appreciated! Thank you!

DrSeussRevived Tue 09-Feb-16 09:15:24

Try it in the rush hour first and also there may be no parking near the school at that time (assuming you currently walk) so that's worth checking too.

You are on general primary education not your local board but time ton get to school is a universal dilemma!

Do you have younger kids too?

Butterfly0505 Tue 09-Feb-16 10:49:28

Hi DrSeussRevived,

No we don't have any other children so we wouldn't have the issue of coordinating after-school clubs/play dates etc. Currently we drive to the school as my partner drops off our son and heads straight to work, so I know that parking is OK.

Do you think 15-20 minutes is too long? What do you think is the acceptable maximum?

Thank you so much for replying! smile

PippaHotamus Tue 09-Feb-16 10:58:19

Hi OP,

Welcome, and I hope you find some useful advice.

You will of course be able to keep the school place you have. 15 to 20 minutes doesn't sound bad at all, but do try it as DrSeuss suggests when the traffic is at its worst and see how that goes.

We moved 7 miles from our school last year and I thought I'd be up for the commute, but what would normally be a 20 to 30 minute journey was sometimes taking an hour or more, and we were leaving at 7.30 to get there for 8.30, and still arriving late some days.

It wasn't even the length of the journey but the sheer boredom of sitting in traffic for that long. It was exhausting for the children, too.

Coming back in the afternoon was fine though.

There may be an alternative route to try as well, for you - just experiment.

Lots of people we knew lived in villages about a 15 minute drive away and as the traffic was normally ok, they managed fine. It's just the route we used was very, very busy.

Butterfly0505 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:13:22

Thank you PippaHotamus,

I think we will try the route tomorrow morning, I really hope it goes OK!


dayslikethis Tue 09-Feb-16 11:17:25

It's a funny one because I really think it depends on what is the norm where you are, but my general view is you do what works best for your family and if you go into it with the right attitude it'll be ok.

Growing up I went to a primary school a 15-20min drive away (because of a house move) and it didn't bother me. It didn't bother my mum either because walking to the local school would have taken probably 20-25 mins so time-wise it was the same, it was just that it was in the car rather than walking.

As a parent myself I have had the full range of experiences. My DC have been in 4 different schools due to house moves and we have had everything from a 1min walk (where we are now) to a drive which could take anything from 15-40 min depending on traffic.

The long drive was when we lived in the States and it was fine - we learned pretty quickly that we had to just make sure we left early enough that in the mornings it only took 20-25mins max. In the afternoons it only took me 15 to get there, but about 20 to get home. We had the advantage of carpool however so I didn't have to park and walk them in - I just had to drop them off at the door and I had a 20 min window to get them in in the mornings - and that definitely helped. I was dreading it before we moved, but it was totally fine and it never bothered me. BUT - the culture where we were was to drive everywhere (there wasn't anywhere you could walk to actually!) and because my drive was on smaller roads and I was never on the freeway it didn't seem so bad to me. I think if I'd had to go on the freeway and sit in horrendous traffic it would have been worse - even if it hadn't actually taken any longer.

The worst one for us was when DS & DD1 were in a school which was only a few miles away. It was a drive which should only have taken 5 mins but often took at least 15. It was a PITA. It was stressful, parking was a nightmare and despite actually being quite close, I felt like the two years they were there I spent half my life in the car. (8.30am-9.15am every morning, 12.15pm-12.45pm every lunch time, and 2.30pm-3.30pm every afternoon)

I guess what I'm trying to say is the length of the drive is less important than the type of drive. Plus - if you're really happy with the school then that makes a big difference! One word of caution though - it IS hard to be the only one living "out of zone" - it's harder to arrange to have friends over after school and it's harder for friendships to really establish deeply in the older years when the kids are more independent.

PippaHotamus Tue 09-Feb-16 11:23:49

I agree that the parking is a big issue with my resentment of the school run - it's horrendous - I'm thinking of sending my last child to a totally different school, just because of the stress of parking.

Butterfly0505 Tue 09-Feb-16 11:32:33

Thanks dayslikethis,

We are really happy with the school, in fact its considered one of the best in the area, and the associated Junior School is in the top 1000 in the country. Our son is so happy there is doing really well, we are so lucky that he got a place there so we really don't want to lose it.

The journey would be a direct journey on a dual carriageway and the road is normally fine, but I will need to try it in rush hour. We're happy to drive him round to friends' houses/ after-school clubs too.

To be honest, at first I didn't really think too much about the playing after school thing because when I was a child, I wasn't allowed to play out on my own at that age, or indeed until I was maybe 9/10 years old. If I went to friends' houses my parents took me there. Once he's in secondary school, he will most likely be in a school in the same town as the house we like anyway.

Do you think it would significantly impact his social life to live 15-20 minutes form school?

Thank you smile

PippaHotamus Tue 09-Feb-16 11:34:32

I know you haven't asked me but no, I don't think it will impact on it at all smile

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 09-Feb-16 11:38:45

Funnily enough my SIL made exactly the same move about 18 months ago - Sevenoaks to Tonbridge. Her 2 eldest are in secondary so they sort themselves out. Her youngest was 9 when they moved and in year 4 (I think!). They decided to leave him in his primary school and it's been fine, they don't regret it at all. He starts secondary this September

dayslikethis Tue 09-Feb-16 11:58:32

I honestly don't know - it didn't affect me growing up, but I had two distinct groups of friends - school friends and then friends at home.

It didn't affect my DC when we were in the States, but I suspect that's because everyone drove.

It definitely did affect DS when he was in the school a few miles away. All the kids in our street went to a different school and didn't really mix with him, and all the kids in school with him lived just doors away from each other and played together all the time and he was definitely the odd one out.

Where we are now, the kids tend to live over a greater distance but almost all still walk to school. DS is now 11 and he and his pals very much do their own thing. The few children in his year group who live a driving distance away, rather than walking distance aren't left out at school, and still get birthday invites etc... but they do miss out on the kids just calling round for each other and the last minute requests to hang out after school at someone else's house. I never arrange playdates for him anymore - they all just arrange them themselves, and that is much harder for the ones who have to be driven somewhere. That could just be the situation where we are though

IHavemyownLighthouseyouknow Tue 09-Feb-16 12:00:09

We are in this position. The morning school run takes 15-20 mins on a good day and up to 40 on a bad day. We leave early just in case, and if we do have to sit in the car outside of school then we do some reading & have a cup of tea & a snack & just chat. I quite enjoy it now. It is on my way to work so I would be driving that route every day anyway.

The only issue I find is after school playdates as most of DS's friends live within 10 mins drive of school and their parents don't want to trek over to ours in the evenings to collect them. We tend to go to their houses in term time after school, and I make more of an effort to have his friends round at weekends or over the holidays in return.

Butterfly0505 Tue 09-Feb-16 12:09:07

Thank you so much to you all, all of your advice and experiences are really helping me!

LetThereBeCupcakes - that's such a coincidence that your SIL made the same move, and it has really made me feel better that it worked for them and they don't regret it! Thank you so much for sharing! smile

WhoKnowsWhereTheTimeG0es Tue 09-Feb-16 12:13:45

It might affect his social life, at my DC's school it's normal to start going back to each others houses without parents ftom year R. You might find that even though you are prepared to have a spare car sear to take a friend home with you, that friend's parents may not be able to pick them up later (maybe no car, rush hour, need to get siblings to activities etc). Also at ours most children end up doing extracurricular activities in the evenings and the fact that these are close to school means rhey are with friends, so you either end up traipsing back to the school area in the evenings or join things closer to home but accept that there will be clusters of children who know each other from local schools while your DS won't.

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