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What is important in a primary school?

(18 Posts)
BarneyBoots Tue 27-Feb-07 12:08:36

Right: I'm down to two schools (nursery year intake). Namechange since it's sooo obvious who I am (talking of nothing but this to Rl friends)

In the blue corner, where Dd has her name currently, school 2 min from our house. Always oversubscribed, best league table ranking locally (strong on 3Rs).

In the red corner - substantially less glossy, 15 min walk from our house. Seems like all the people I get on with locally are sending/ have sent their kids there inc. poss childminder for us. Ready made social circle. Speak really highly of how supportive the school is (good at developing emotional intelligence, teaches conflict resolution etc.). Nursery and reception substantially taught together. All round impression of less academic but warmer. They'd be able to fit me in if I was keen and acted fast.

So - given that this school is likely to be 'my life' for the next decade as I sahm put my kids through it - what sounds better?

portonovo Tue 27-Feb-07 12:54:39

I normally like the idea of the closer the better, but I have to say I like the sound of no. 2 more. Warmer, supportive, praised by current/past parents. Sounds great. Still local enough for you to be part of the local community.

Less glowing reports/league table results don't always tell the full picture. My children's primary school gets very mixed results (has a very mixed intake!), but children of all types and abilities seem to thrive there.

You don't mention any gut feeling or positive things about the atmosphere at no.1 - only the high ranking in league tables.

julienetmum Tue 27-Feb-07 12:57:34

Dd is at a private school which doesn;t do SATS so no league tables.

What swung it for us was the atmosphere. Children are polite, helpful and open doors for you. Teachers seem genuinly caring from the nursery nurses through to the head.

Lots and lots of music, drama, sport and a wide all round curriculum designed to develop any interest/abilities.

OrmIrian Tue 27-Feb-07 12:59:03

No 2 I would say.

FluffyMummy123 Tue 27-Feb-07 12:59:43

Message withdrawn

cremolafoam Tue 27-Feb-07 13:01:15

an approachable head teacher(useful in times of conflict)
good mix of kids from a variety of backgrounds
good pastoral care policy
good healthy eating policy
plenty of outdoor space
secure environment
close to home

would be my list if i had to choose again

JustUsTwo Tue 27-Feb-07 13:14:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

OrmIrian Tue 27-Feb-07 13:19:21

"When I went to the second the Head introduced me to teachers as he showed me round (who all seemed nice and approachable) and he spoke to several children en route, calling most of them by name"

That sounds like our school. 300+ kids and he genuinely seems to know them all. Even my DS#1 - a lowly yr4 at the time - was singled out by the head and given some free tickets to see Somerset play cricket because he somehow knew that DH played it! I think that is very important. Kids all love him and feel that they matter to him.

julienetmum Tue 27-Feb-07 14:08:30

Totally agree JustUsTwo

I went to look round a school with a view to hiring its facilities at weekends. the head spojke to several children by name. it was a hot day and as she went round she started to pick out several children to come with her for a dose of piriton.

I had to take my then 2 year old dd with me, she immediatley took a fluffy dog from a box of cuddly toys for her to play with and told me, thats for the little ones who get upset.

She told me her aim was to educate the "whole child"

I so wish I lived near to that school.

RosaLuxembourg Tue 27-Feb-07 15:35:26

Definitely IMO it comes down to touring both schools and listening to your instincts. The school that FEELS right IS right IMO.

BarneyBoots Tue 27-Feb-07 17:13:07

The more academic one - has glorious playgrounds... the other one seemed to be built with planks balanced on step-stools!

LucyJu Tue 27-Feb-07 17:22:38

I suspect the first school is over subscribed precisely because of its position in league tables. Not saying there is anything wrong with it, simply that lots of parents seem to base their decisions on such things (that, and the Ofsted report, which can often be out of date).

sanae Tue 27-Feb-07 17:28:50

I'd stay with the one nearby - you and DC are likely to make good friends there anyway so "social" side of it to me wouldn't swing it. Also, in the end, we all want our children to do the basic 3Rs well, they can then go onto do anything they want.If the school is oversubscribed then it is probably a good all round school, socially as well as academically, and probably well led. Also being able to walk to school is wonderful. Stick with the nearby one unless you really did get uneasy vibes about it.

BarneyBoots Tue 27-Feb-07 18:39:00

Thanks for all the replies.

I've most definitely and certainly decided to....

hawww! Still changing my mind (wish dh could have taken time off work to look too!). But got lots of new angles to think about.

MorocconOil Tue 27-Feb-07 18:54:40

I agree with Sanae. There is something very special about being able to walk to school. Apart from the benefits to the environment and the message that gives to children, you get such a feeling of camaraderie walking to and from school 4 times a day. It feels like your children are learning about being part of a wider community, and gaining important life skills.

fryalot Tue 27-Feb-07 19:00:38

I think it's important that the school is nearby so the kids can socialise together outside school hours (don't think now, think in a few years when you can let them out on their own for a bit), and don't worry about the social side from your point of view, because you will make friends if you decide choice 1. HOWEVER, I totally agree that the school should feel right and the schools where head teachers know every child by name are where I would want mine to go to.

portonovo Wed 28-Feb-07 09:41:16

But both schools mentioned are walkable - the furthest away was only 15 mins walk from her house!

So whichever she chooses she will have that special time walking and local friends and being part of the community.

gegs73 Wed 28-Feb-07 10:39:12

I would pick the 2 min walk school as it has the best league table ranking and sounds like it has a better academic reputation from what you have said. Also it is closer.

You probably feel more positive about the red school as you know alot of people/friends who send their children there. However if you knew more people sending their children to the blue school you would probably feel the same about that one and it has better league table ranking. On this basis that is the one I would choose.

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