School preferences dilemma! Infant vs Primary ?(9 Posts)
Wondering if any of you wise mums netters can give me some thoughts on what schools to put down for our DS (first child starting school!). There are three schools near us that, based on last years intake, we'd have a good choice of getting into. I can't decide what order to put them in.
Pro: Outstanding infant school, loads of open space, nurturing feel, really liked it.
Cons: Tricky drop-off/pick-up (driving distance), he wouldn't know anyone, and unlikely to get a place at the junior school nearby (distance and church criteria) so would likely get a less great school for juniors/secondary.
Lowest chance of the three of getting a place.
Pro: Town centre infant school, liked it (but didn't love it), well regarded, convenient for drop off/pick up (walkable),
Cons: Didn't have such a warm feel about it, no grassed outdoor space (but use town green and town allotment so good community involvement), and again the same junior/secondary issue.
Highest chance of the three to get a place (nearest school)
Pro: Catholic primary, official feeder into an Outstanding secondary school, he would have friends in all years, excellent reputation.
Cons: It is VERY catholic and I am not religious but DH is - though I'm OK with it for DS I'm not entirely comfortable myself, also one class per year so small peer group to mix with, classrooms quite small and outdoor space not brilliant, also trick drop off/pick up (would have to drive).
Good chance of getting a place but no way guaranteed (we meet the faith requirements and are relatively close, but was hugely oversubscribed last year).
School C is the most sensible option but I'd feel happier with him at a smaller infant school at the moment. Though I may regret it when we have to apply for junior/secondary schools, and we wouldn't have that problem with School C.
Current thinking is order them School A (liked best but least likely to get a place), School B (primary with good chance of a place) then B (liked and high chance of getting a place).
Id be grateful of any thoughts from anyone who has been through the process! In fact, just writing it down has helped .
Being walkable is a huge plus - no getting stuck in traffic, easy to go to / pick up from play dates.
IME, small is over-rated. More chance of finding a good friend in a year of 60 than one of 30, and it means they can re-jig the classes to avoid any particularly bad combinations which just isn't an option in a 1FE school.
Also, where do the kids from the infant schools go for juniors? Around here, there are linked junior schools and so they just flow through to those, so it's predictable. Is that not the case for you?
School B for me on what you've written - mainly because of how much of an advantage it is to be able to walk to and from school, and all the support and friendship potential that comes with it.
I wish people had advised me to look ahead more at secondary school options when I had a 3/4 year old. All of those primary schools seem like they would do a good job but I would think about positioning yourself for your first choice secondary school (bearing in mind schools can change over 7 years, although where I live they haven't really). Does choosing school B seriously damage your chances of getting into the Catholic secondary school (if that's your preference?). All that being said you can't put a price on a short walk to school and back every day versus a car journey in my opinion.
I was in a similar place last year - choice between an infant school feeding into the primary at Y3 and the primary from the start.
While I'd have loved the smaller school - in the end I went for the primary to know that that was it, school choices done for the next few years and we weren't going to have to do another transition in a few years time. Larger school but DD1 has absolutely thrived there - she seems to benefit from the larger peer group (and when her sister goes there they won't be in a composite class - DD1 has a very forceful personality)
Still don't like the head though - but the teaching staff are fab.
If you have a second/more DCs, you may want them all in the same school, so on that basis the primary would get my vote. Otherwise you will be dropping at 2 schools once DC1 hits Y3.
Round here they're mostly infant/juniors and I don't like it.
You know why when your dc comes home in their first term in year R and says "when I go to <juniors>..." It's unsettling for them.
Added to (for us) the juniors is not formally linked, so there's usually a few who don't get in, and is 20 minutes walk away which makes things interesting.
My DC went to small infants and then larger juniors. It has worked out very well for them- they had the nurturing benefits of the smaller infants when they were younger and a larger, and therefore more well resourced junior school with more opportunities once they were older. Interestingly, their juniors see lots of movement into the school in y5 and y6 from children who'd previously gone to smaller schools,that worked well when they were younger but not so well when they were older.
I agree that if you have more than 1 DC, then having them in separate schools is a PITA - but if they are schools where there are a large number of families in this situation the school should allow for it (staggering drop off/collection) and you will find others to share things like school run. With your choices I'd be going for school B - the local/community feel school would be the deciding point!
Do you have more children? Because consider that you might be lugging your little one along with you on the school runs (except if they're in childcare). If it is 'just' 20 minutes in the car one way, it still adds up to 1h20min in the car every day. Plus when you arrive at school for pick-up you have to get them out of the car (even if they have just fallen asleep) - can make for grumpy toddlers!
Walkable is a huge factor. And IMO I'd choose the school that is right for you/your child now. Don't put up with something you don't really like because you hope it will lead to something great later - you'd just be setting yourself up for huge disappointment if it turns out that the 'later' thing isn't that great at all.
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