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Which house and which school? Help!

(23 Posts)
mamatime Mon 19-Mar-18 19:09:18

Hi there - I would appreciate ANY advice please as we are going round in circles & need to offer on a house this week. We sold our last house due to noise and are now living in a pretty dismal rental in an area we don't like & need to move ASAP. This will be our third house purchase in five years and my Mum is living with us.

We've found two houses in the town we like.

1st House
- Catchment to one of the best primary schools in the country (it's a big school, & we've heard negative things such as it's just results driven, however we really like the look of it after visiting it)
- Big & modern (Mum could use utility as a little kitchen)
- BUT it's on a busy cut-through road, & there is construction going on all around the house (the road is bungalows being demolished and converted)
- Next door (1 metre away - walls practically touching) is waiting for planning permission to be demolished and rebuilt.

2nd House
- Village setting & much quieter
- Smaller, but also modern (sharing a kitchen with Mum)
- Small village school which is a OFSTED rated good school, but I don't think it will suit my LO as much as the bigger school.
- 13 houses might be built 100 metres away at end of garden, but neighbours think it won't happen (it's behind trees - so won't spoil view).

SO, the question is...Do we move to a noisy house on a road, with potential contraction to get our LO into a brilliant school? I don't like noise, but I'm willing to put up with it for the sake of our daughter's education. She is very bright and I think the opportunities / challenges would be much better there. OR do we move to the quieter house, send her to a small village school which I think is OK but felt quite chaotic and cramped (though has good results and happy pupils) and be a little bit more on top of each other in the house?

Sadly both are going to be temporary as no room to build an annexe for Mum. But we have to move and settle now, even if it's just for a year. This house hunting has to stop as the stress is affecting all of us! My OH feels like he's going to have a heart attack and my 3 1/2 year old hasn't started nursery yet as we're not able to settle.

Thanks for reading - sorry it's so long and thanks in advance for any help!

sirfredfredgeorge Mon 19-Mar-18 19:38:09

I think it would depend a lot on the road and the actual practicalities. For me though it would have to have huge problems to go against the benefit of larger school and a distinct kitchen for you mum.

mamatime Mon 19-Mar-18 19:46:59

Thanks for your reply. Can I ask why you think a larger school would be more beneficial than the smaller one? The large one has 720 pupils and the smaller one 240 (but in a very small building).

lolalotta Mon 19-Mar-18 20:44:32

My DDs go to a small village primary school with just over 200 pupils, we LOVE it. All the kids know each other, it's so friendly and has a real sense of community. They are thriving. How close is house one to big school? Is it close enough to be a sure thing? Some catchments areas get very tight, especially for oversubscribed schools.

Toomanycats99 Mon 19-Mar-18 20:48:18

My dd go to a primary that when the oldest started had around 220 pupils.

I really like it - headteacher knew who all the children were etc.

It's now nearly doubled in size and while it's still a nice school I still think it was better before.

In my mind though 240 is not that small.

StickStickStickStick Mon 19-Mar-18 20:50:00

If it's only a year I wouldn't do the cost of buying and just rent - smaller school definitely with all the upheaval.

If it was long term forever I'd look at the secondaries more than the primaries but possibly either.

If it's only a year the last thing you want to do is be surrounded by building noise...when you're escaping noise!?!??!

sirfredfredgeorge Mon 19-Mar-18 21:09:24

Small schools - lack of specialist teachers, lack of resources, lack of options in peers and teachers - if you don't get on with someone, you cannot avoid them, schools can't adjust the balance of classes. Much higher chance of being an outlier in subjects/skills, meaning even if schools awesome at differentiation there's still no peers to go with.

Of course "best school in the country" would put me right off, but not as much as the small school. Remember I was also talking about the separate kitchen for your mum as a big differentiator too.

mamatime Mon 19-Mar-18 21:33:45

Thanks all for your replies, I really appreciate it.

Renting again isn't an option as the rental market is so rubbish in the town we want to live ... the catchment area for house number 1 is very small - last year she wouldn't have got in. But they said that was very unusual, so we'd be hopeful she'd get next year.

I also like the idea of a small school for the reasons mentioned, however the building is so tiny for 240 pupils, I'd think by the later years they'd be feeling the size? Plus the other worry about the small school is that it backs on to a forest and they've had cases of lyme disease from tick bites. Would that worry anyone else? Or am I just over worrying now?!

Also, I was wondering in people's experience, how important is Primary eduction compared to say secondary? If you're choosing between two good schools, with good results then surely you can't go wrong? The bigger school did have better results in the higher achieving category, than the smaller school though .. if that means anything.

StickStickStickStick Mon 19-Mar-18 22:29:24

I'd avoid the best school in the country for a billion reasons - pressure on the kids, pushy parents buying to move there, pushy parents, overworked staff etc!

I don't see why you're panicking about the future if only there for a year or two or why you're willing to spend 10s of thousands moving just for a year.

BrendansDanceShoes Tue 20-Mar-18 12:34:15

For the sake of one year/18 months, either school will be fine. If you are having to move again soon, you need to think more about secondary in the long term than primary. I agree with Stick and would seriously consider renting. You will save £'000s which you may need to get the right secondary school catchment.

BubblesBuddy Tue 20-Mar-18 13:35:36

The right secondary is more important. The village school isn’t that small. It has one class per age group. I assume it has a space when you move?

I think your mother’s requirements should not affect the schooling of your child though. I wouldn’t live on a noisier road and 750 is considered a very large primary school. 240 is about average.

Also, progress, rather than attainment, is a key indicator of a successful school. A school of 240 will have teachers leading in maths and literacy. Larger schools don’t have a monopoly of better or more specialised teachers. They hardly exist in primary anyway. If you have a teacher with a maths A level, you have done well!

The smaller school will mean local friends. You may be able to integrate more quickly. Is the village in catchment for a decent secondary, or not? These ratings change too of course.

Madcats Tue 20-Mar-18 13:45:29

OP a few points for you to consider:

House 1 - what happens if 'catchment' school is oversubscribed? You can probably figure out where children have to go from the local authority admissions booklet for last year/asking the preferred school.
Would you be able to go private and sit on a waiting list/is there high pupil turnover.

House 1 - noise. Would the noise (at night) put you off? It sounds as if you are only really talking about 9-12 months of possible building work.

House 2 - are you cut out for rural life? Do you have local shops/pubs etc or would you be forever driving in the car? Would your DM thrive or feel lost.

House 2 - would you all be able to cope with living in a smaller place? We had a stream of children and parents cluttering up our kitchen/lounge most afternoons before children really started after school activities. Would your DM find this too much? What does your DH think/how do you think he feels.

What are the options for the next school? DD is a bulge year and many friends are appealing their secondary places.

I hope it works out for you.

mamatime Tue 20-Mar-18 18:10:38

Thanks so much for your replies, I know it's a long post, so I appreciate it!

Yes the catchment is a big worry, she wouldn't have got in to the large school from house number 1 this year, so it is a big risk. Though they said this was an unusual year, so we're hoping it'll be ok.

I'm having such a wobble over which school would be the best for her as they are SO different and I'm finding it tough to guess where she'll be more happy. I worry that she may get bored at the smaller school as her attention span is non-existent. How do you know if a primary school would suit your child?

The smaller school does seem much more friendly when we've phoned up to ask question, and the emphasis is on fun learning / more free range. However it did feel a little chaotic and I feel like she'd have more opportunities at the larger one, plus perhaps need more of a structure? She hasn't been to pre-school yet, which I hope won't disadvantage her, however she is fairly confident.

She would go to the same secondary from both schools.

The only compromise with the smaller place is that we'd all be sharing a kitchen, which we'd all rather not do. However my DH is so desperate for us to be happy, that he'd live anywhere. He does prefer house number 1, but is worried that if next door does get demolished and re-built, that I would find the whole experience very stressful, especially that we are trying for another baby.

QuiteLikely5 Tue 20-Mar-18 18:19:05

Is this Scotland op?

Sounds to me like you really prefer the big primary school

You would be crazy to buy though just through desperation

You could surely find a rental elsewhere

mamatime Tue 20-Mar-18 18:23:32

No England ... we are desperate sad My LO is picking up on the stress, we're spending all our time looking at houses, discussing houses. Mum guilt is off the scale. Rental market is terrible, and we're already living in an unsuitable rental.

NothingGoldCanStay Tue 20-Mar-18 18:31:27

My concern would be that if you are only staying for 1 year how easy would house 1 be to sell if there is construction work happening close by and next door. Rebuilding can take a long time.

fencote Tue 20-Mar-18 19:06:24

Seriously, I would rent in the town and wait for more houses to come on the market. Yes, it's not ideal but it's far better doing this than to buy out of desperation. It simply isn't worth the stamp duty, fees & moving costs x 2 within 2 years - that will be far more than the rent you might pay while you house hunt at leisure. We have rented for a minimum of 6 mths for every job relocation (before buying). You are also in a great position as flexible no chain buyers especially if you end up fighting off other people for a prime location property (like we did). We rented for 18mths before completing on our present home. The housing market is generally cooling down house price wise so I think renting in the next year or so will be in your advantage.

BubblesBuddy Tue 20-Mar-18 19:33:19

To be brutally honest, a big school won’t be any better for a child with a short attention span than a small school. There are still 30 in the class. The only difference would be the number of teaching assistants. Very few children are bored at school. They follow the curriculum and hopefully learn. This would be my focus rather than worrying about her lack of attention span - which you do need to work on to get her school-ready.

mamatime Tue 20-Mar-18 20:03:26

Thanks all ... it's so helpful to read your comments.

Fencote - how many times have you rented due to job relocation? Did you ever worry that the number of moves would disrupt / stress your children as that is a worry of mine with all this moving ... you are right about the housing market.

BubblesBuddy - do you think she's at a disadvantage because she hasn't attended pre-school? I'm not quite sure how to get her school ready. The larger school takes children out into smaller focus groups if they need it which appeals, as it makes the main class size of 30 smaller...

GU24Mum Tue 20-Mar-18 21:33:00

750 in a primary school is huge!!! Where we are, there are all sorts of sizes but two-form entry is pretty common and that's 420 at capacity. Some are now three-form (less common round here for through primaries than for Junior Schools) and they are 630 at capacity.

But regardless, if you are happy enough to send your child to either then I'd work out where you'd rather live. It sounds as though noise is an issue so perhaps House 2 is a better fit?

OlennasWimple Tue 20-Mar-18 21:36:55

Honestly, with the costs you would incur in buying and selling in less than two years you may as well rent somewhere decent and spend the money on private school fees

BubblesBuddy Wed 21-Mar-18 11:50:39

Yes, I do believe she is at a huge disadvantage if she has not attended pre school. They start to learn about taking turns, doing tasks such as making something which involves concentration, listening to instructions, not interrupting, playing cooperatively alongside other children, and all the social skills that make them ready to learn. Just playing at home rarely does the job as well. Was there no pre school available?

StickStickStickStick Wed 21-Mar-18 13:36:16

I would say school without preschool is a huge leap . Even if you can do a term it would be worth it.

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