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Which school for DD?

(16 Posts)
BrightandEarly Tue 19-Apr-16 12:32:10

I realise we are incredibly lucky to have this choice.

DD has an August birthday, is quite bright and confident outwardly, but also quite anxious at the same time. Which would be best?

School A
- Academically selective, and academically high achieving, private pre-prep
- 18 in a class, lots of individual attention
- Majority of pupils are boys
- 20 minute drive in rush hour traffic
- Would need to sit 7+

School B
- Ofsted outstanding state primary
- One form entry
- Tiny catchment which we are in, meaning all friends would be local
- Very nurturing, but anecdotal feedback from others is not as academically stretching as it could be

Entry to good (private or state) secondary school is very competitive locally so she'll need to be well prepared for that.

There's a school C which we prefer to both of these but she didn't get a place there (entry by ballot) and is on the waiting list.

So which is best? My gut feeling us school B plus tutoring as required. But it's hard to decline school A's place as it is sought after and she did very well to get in.

redskytonight Tue 19-Apr-16 12:48:07

Start at the state primary and see how she gets on.
Do you have options to switch to Option A later if you change our mind?

noramum Tue 19-Apr-16 12:49:08

I drove DD one year to nursery, 20 minutes in rush hour and hated it after 1 month. We didn't really have a choice but I was very glad that after that year I can now walk her to school.

If I can I would always try to get a local school.

Secondary schools can change so much in 7 years, what is now a sought after can go down quickly. I would not necessarily choose on this basis. Also, state schools, apart from Grammar, do not do exams, do they?

Also a child develops, what she may show now academically may not continue in 2-3 years time. If she doesn't make the 7+, how are the chances to get her into a good state primary?

I would be also cautious with one small class with a large gender imbalance. You would need to make sure she gets after school activities to find friends if the school friends are not working.

uhoh1973 Tue 19-Apr-16 12:55:13

Go for the local school. Being able to walk to school and make friends locally will make a big difference to both your lives.

20mins driving to school, 20 mins back twice a day is 80 mins every day 5 days a week... In those 40mins she is in the car you could be doing extra reading etc at home?

If you dont get on well at the local school you can always swop later to the private school?

bojorojo Tue 19-Apr-16 13:05:19

I think you should go to where you fit in. If you were sure about your catchment school, why did you bother to apply to the independent school? If you really wanted local, what made you think you wanted to drive for 4 x 20 minutes each day plus the parking and hanging around? Most people I know wanted their local outstanding school but a few have the money for private and their families have always gone private. They would never have gone local because it was not what people like them did. Which camp are you in?

Regarding a school with mostly boys, are there enough girls for friends? Are there enough activities for your DD? What is playtime like? If you do not like the idea of exams at 7, and you think this would worry her, then go local. If you want to massage your ego, go private.

BrightandEarly Tue 19-Apr-16 15:58:22

Hmm bojo I'm not sure I agree with you that you're necessarily one or the other type of person. We are not British (if that makes a difference) and have no private school history. We are interested principally in where DD will be happiest whilst also getting a good education (like most parents I'm sure!) and can see the advantages of having local friends, but also of having a smaller class / more challenging curriculum. So we are genuinely undecided which is why we applied for both.

If I'm honest the thing that's putting me off school A the most is the small number of girls. DD is quite a girly girl with lots of female friends at nursery so it is a consideration for us.

Thanks all for your advice.

bojorojo Tue 19-Apr-16 19:13:37

I think lots of people do know where they are happiest. Where they fit in. Maybe it is a British thing. I accept you are genuinely unsure but you did apply to an independent school knowing the pitfalls and the distance from home. I know families who have travelled longer than this to get to the prep school they want. It took me 30-35 mins each way. Although not for reception. I think you just have to weigh up the pros and cons and see which feels best. For what it is worth, I think local at 5-7 then think again if you need to. As you think your DD has done well, this is highly likely to sway your decision. It makes you feel good. It is a pot of gold that is dangling in front of you. I have been in that position and it is hard to resist.

Chilver Tue 19-Apr-16 19:19:54

I'd go local and supplement with tutors if needed. Local will provide an overall happier school, friend, home life balance.

smellyboot Wed 20-Apr-16 09:05:56

B B B every time. If there is only for example 6 girls in a class and she doesn't like them she is stuck. Boy dominant classes can be hard for teachers too. The commute will be tough. The advantages of a door step school are huge. Friends local, walk there, play after school, walk to school with friends later, pop round to see friends, parents helping each other out, after schoo stuff is easy to get to and from... Endless. Education is not just about exam results

NotCitrus Wed 20-Apr-16 09:12:47

B. Small children learn where they are happy and from their friends. If she's reallybored academically then reconsider in 2 years, but the teachers should be ableto stretch her.

TeenAndTween Wed 20-Apr-16 09:20:23

B for infants.
Reconsider for juniors/7+ when you see how B has gone.

BrightandEarly Wed 20-Apr-16 14:35:11

Thanks everyone, great advice. There certainly are a lot of benefits with having a local school.

I've tried calling A to get a feel for boy/girl split this year, but they say it's too early and their list is still moving around a lot.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 20-Apr-16 15:52:39

Are you running the risk of having to pay a terms fees at the private school as the summer term has started?

BrightandEarly Wed 20-Apr-16 18:58:49

Hmm we haven't received any further requests for payment, and the T&C don't specify this. Expect we've lost the deposit though.

stealthsquiggle Wed 20-Apr-16 19:06:02

I would hazard a guess that A know damned well what the balance is and are trying not to lose a precious girl by fobbing you off.

B. Without question (and FWIW my DC are in a private prep) Friendships are more important than anything in terms of happiness at this age and local friends are a lot easier to make. Academic achievement can be sorted later.

TeenAndTween Wed 20-Apr-16 21:36:38

Bright You won't have had request for payment (which will be due probably on or before the first day of September term).

However, what do the T&C say about giving notice to leave? I would be amazed if they don't mention it at all. From what I gather, most private schools require a term's notice, normally notified before the first day of the preceding term.

This then counts for the starting term too, i.e. give notice by the first day of the summer term if you are due to start in the autumn term.

You should check this, however note that 1 term's fees wasted is still better than 9 spent unnecessarily.

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