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Really struggling over primary school preferences...

(17 Posts)
bettybyebye Tue 03-Jan-17 15:04:54

Hello, the deadline for primary school admissions is nearly here and I am going round in circles trying to decide the order of preferences, so hoping for some input from other parents who have done this before or are currently in the process. Which of these two schools would you put first?

School A - 0.3m away, ofsted outstanding, the local school that everyone wants to get in to, recently changed to an academy, one form intake. DH's preferred choice. Tecnically we are not in catchment, although since it has become an academy I think they just go on distance rather than catchment area. If he were to go here DS would need to go to after school club 4 days a week. I think it's unlikely we will get a place here as it is so oversubscribed. If he did I would be concerned about DD getting a place in 2 years time, even with sibling priority.

School B - a faith school, 1.3miles away, ofsted good. DS fulfils all faith criteria and would almost certainly get a place here. Couldn't walk to school due to distance. If DS went here he would only need after school club 2 days a week as my dsis and dad would do the other pick ups (already picking up nephew). 2 form intake but a max of 50 per year, so only 25 per class. KS2 is mixed year groups. No concerns about DD getting in here in the future. My preferred school of all we visited. DH would prefer not to use a faith school but accepts that this school is the second best (in his opinion!) of all 5 schools we visited.

Which would you put as choice 1?? We have an option for school 3 but don't think it will be needed.

Thanks if you read this far. Would really appreciate any thoughts or input!

Ilovecaindingle Tue 03-Jan-17 15:08:29

School B is a similar situation to us. Works well tho parking at the school is a pain - no designated school parking just a mad random mount the church pathway. Mixed classes works OK and my 3 settled well mid term transfer.

ShowOfHands Tue 03-Jan-17 15:13:08

Oooh it's tough. We picked an undersubscribed school (16 applications for 30 places). A few years later, it has 70 applications for 30 places and even with sibling priority, dc2 didn't get in. Things change. I don't know how you make the decision.

I suspect you'll make it work with either. I'd pick B if it were my choice.

AllPizzasGreatAndSmall Tue 03-Jan-17 15:19:03

I think the faith thing is something you need to look at. You say your husband would rather not, but do you actively want him to be educated in a faith school - that's quite an important issue to discuss.

bettybyebye Tue 03-Jan-17 15:43:47

Yes I am more than happy for him to be educated in a faith school (disclaimer is I actually went to this school myself). Although DH is not particularly religious he knows I and my family am and was happy to get married in our church, have the dc baptised there etc. This school doesn't hugely push the faith element (lots of non faith children attend) but I like the overall Christian and caring ethos of the school.

Showofhands - that is my worst nightmare! How did you make it work?

I have just spoken to the LA and they have confirmed that school A no longer has a catchment so will just go on distance - this works in our favour as we are actually closer than lots of previously "in catchment" addresses.

Any thoughts of 2 form intake vs 1 form intake? Or closer vs car journey?

If we want to get a place at school A we would have to put it as preference 1. If we put school B as preference 2 it is still highly possible/probable that he will end up there if school A is oversubscribed...

smellyboot Tue 03-Jan-17 17:07:07

Make sure you understand the equal preference system. Your logic is faulted that to get A you would have to put it first. Your pref only comes into play if you are eligible for a place at both. ONLY then is it looked at.
ie if you qualify for both the LA computer will look which was pref 1 for you.
I would always opt for v close and 2 form.

MrsJamin Tue 03-Jan-17 17:11:31

You don't need to worry about likelihood to get in, you're not placing a bet where you'll get a place. What's your actual preference? The only minus I can see of A is the worry that you won't get your second child in? Look at the past statistics of where the last child got in and whether siblings ever do not get in. Your local authority can provide these and may have even included them in the info pack.

smellyboot Tue 03-Jan-17 17:20:04

Yes if its an academy and no longer has LA catchment it may also have a sibling rule in your advantage?

DixieWishbone Tue 03-Jan-17 17:23:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BackforGood Tue 03-Jan-17 17:37:13

I would choose 2 form entry over one, if all else were equal, but the biggest pull for me would be the closeness of school one.
You might not think so now, but over 7 years of Primary school x 3dc, I have been forever grateful that we were near to the school on so many occasions I can't begin to list them all - it really does make a positive difference.....
a few (of many) examples......
Car in for MOT
Car been written off by someone driving in to i
Car just no starting
I had an unexpected op and wasn't able to move off settee for a few days - people passing just collected and delivered child to school
Younger child ill and at home tucked up on settee - friend collects and drops schoolchild as is passing anyway
Child gets to Yr4/5/6 (depending on them, and on your confidence) and wants to walk home on their own
One child needs collecting at end of school, other stays for a practice / club - and you are to-ing and fro-ing, hardly worth it if you have to drive

The advantage of a little bit of fresh air and exercise before and after school is immense
Plus, you get to know other families who live near, and help each other out (see above)

smellyboot Tue 03-Jan-17 18:05:24

I totally agree with backforgood. 150%

bettybyebye Tue 03-Jan-17 19:00:18

Thanks all, very useful.

Yes have visited both schools and really liked both. DS also came to both and loved both.

MrsJamin I think my problem is I don't have an actual preference. I think I prefer the fact that school B is two form entry, but is that outweighed by school A being closer?

DS is November born so old in the year, and used to doing 4 full days at nursery so I don't think he would struggle with after school club 4x/week. He is quite an extrovert with a lively personality which makes me think the larger school might be best. But then school A is a feeder school for our local high school which we want him to go to as I like the idea of him having friends that live in the area.

Smellyboot - probably didn't explain myself very well, what I mean is that we will almost definitely get a place at school B, so if we put that as preference 1 he will end up there rather than school A (there are 7 over subscription criteria, DS is criteria 3, all previous years they have gone down to criteria 7). So in our case it's really close location, or 2 form entry...which would you go for??

smellyboot Tue 03-Jan-17 19:25:11

Thats a huge dilema for me. Close is amazing and a god send in so many ways. I love that every time we go out locally the DC see friends around within 1/4 mile. But I wouldnt change our 3 form for 1 form in a million years. So many advantages to a bigger mix of kids. My DD is a not a stereotypical girl so we wanted a larger pool of potential friends and the chnace to mix it up. Extra resources too normally. Bigger everything. Wider range of teachers; mine have various during any week.
1 form can be every claustrophobic by yr 6. All the 1 form DC I know do loads of extracurrilcur outside of school and often in different places to oversome it and widen circle of friends.

MrsJamin Tue 03-Jan-17 20:12:48

Wow I'd never choose a 3 form entry, they are just huge. My children go to schools with fewer than 100 children in, and they love knowing everyone's name, pupils and all the teachers. They have lots of trips,outside visitors,clubs to join, they don't miss out on variety. I can't imagine being so tiny and seeing dozens of faces that you don't know every day, it would add to the stress of a school day. I realise that it's not normally a choice but I wanted to redress the balance of arguments!

smellyboot Tue 03-Jan-17 20:27:41

3 form entry schools are organised very differently to small schools and are the norm in our area. Almost all have had to expand to accommodate more children etc. We have lots of playgrounds and in effect e.g. the reception children only mix mainly with reception as they have their own corridor, entrance and outdoor classrooms. The max children in any playground at any time is either 90 or 180 - if two years are out at the same time. The older children have their own section of the school with specilist teaching in things like music and sports.
I am always however amazed at how the head knows very childs name and my KS1 DC seem to know so many children in all years. Its great for all the extra resources. Its a myth that quiet children get lost in big schools as each class is still only up to 30

BigWeald Tue 03-Jan-17 21:31:11

For us, 1.3m is within our limits of 'walkable' - depends on the route though. Our 1.3m route is actually more walkable than the 0.9m route to a closer school.

How recent is the Ofsted outstanding? They can be very old and basically meaningless e.g. if there has been a change of head teacher since.

For us, walking distance was top priority. We chose a school from the 'good enough' options in walking distance over the school we loved but would have involved a drive.

Personally I think in most cases, how many forms entry there are does not play a huge role. You make it work, either way. If your child starts to find it stifling in a small school you look for out-of-school options. It your child is overwhelmed/overlooked in a big school, then you deal with that as and when it arises.
In your case I'd ask questions regarding the 50 intake in the larger school. How do the mixed classes work? How do they finance having only 25 per class in 6 of 13 (?) classes? (Having fewer children means having less money, so money has to be saved elsewhere e.g. by cutting music provision, having fewer TAs, or some such). Does the larger school actually have more resources (due to being larger) or do they have less (due to smaller classes)? Unless you know this/are able to find it out, I'd disregard it as a factor as you don't really know if it is an advantage or disadvantage.
Why do they have an intake of 25 per class? Is it because the classrooms are so small that they cannot fit any extra children in?

My intuition from your OP is that you like school B for nostalgia reasons and DH likes school A because of the shiny Ofsted 'outstanding'. Either way I fear there is a good chance you'll end up disappointed!

From a pragmatic perspective, you are weighing up the convenience of nearness with the convenience of family help. I think I'd focus on that. And if you still feel undecided, think about the secondary schools they feed into - not just their reputations, but also their practicalities.

CactusFred Tue 03-Jan-17 23:00:41

I'd go with the nearest one as first choice and with the other school as second and a school you liked you'll be happy either way.

I wouldn't worry about your second child as that only comes into play later.

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