Primary admissions, it's crunch time. Help me decide.

(20 Posts)
Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 13:26:28

We are lucky to be in an area in London with 6 good local undersubscribed schools. Meaning we are very lucky to have choice.

We have an October born boy (with another October born boy to follow in his foot steps in 2 yrs)

We've narrowed our top 2 to:

A) A 30 intake C of E school, Ofsted good with amazing results this year (top 3% in the country). Quite a formal set up. Very quiet and studious (even in reception and yr1). Not reflective of the local area diversity wise. 6min walk. We're atheist but went to C of E (me) & Catholic (DH) primaries ourselves. The religious aspect puts off DH but not me.

B) A 60 intake community school. Average but improving results under a new head. 12 minute walk. More play based ethos. Less formal, less testing. A happy school.

DS1 liked both but has a preference for B because he has a friend already there and his closest nursery friend will likely go there. DS1 will likely be fine wherever, he's sociable and bright.

Do we go for the bigger, more fun school or are we stupid to miss the opportunity of the small school with amazing results?

Arghhhh. (I appreciate our privilege to have such great choices!)

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sirfredfredgeorge Wed 09-Jan-19 14:09:13

I would be astonished if the academic results are anything but an absolute reflection of the ethos - any parent who has a great belief in the importance of academic excellence in primary school will choose school A, and they will also do lots of academic things with their children including tutoring/outside support for a child who doesn't meet the schools demands, and likely also push a child to achieve at 100%, prep for tests etc.

Whereas any parent who doesn't think academic performance in primary school is as important, will choose school B, and be perfectly happy if the child decides to cruise.

For me, the larger and more varied school is such a massive difference there's no reason not to choose that (although 12minutes is quite a long way) but your attitude to academic performance at primary and your attitude to peers do matter a lot in these situations.

Remember also to find exactly how religious an individual school is, if it's relevant to you (and it sounds like it is with your DH), there's huge variety in that.

MMmomDD Wed 09-Jan-19 14:11:21

I’d go for a closer school with amazing results. There will be enough playtime there just as well.

Don’t let the school being quiet on that one day when you visited them - don’t let that leave an impression that it’s always like that. No school is always that way. Kids are kids everywhere.

Both of these schools will have similar amount of testing, if anything - state school will have more as it’s the NC requirement and they’ll need to submit all the required tests to Ofsted.

I think a small school is a good place to start in primary. And as a fall child - you boy will have an easy transition to the school life.

Hersetta427 Wed 09-Jan-19 14:26:31

Is there religious criteria which you need to conform with to get a place at the CofE school - like church attendance for 2 yrs etc as where we live, you wouldn't get a place at a Church school without fitting the religious criteria.

Zinnia Wed 09-Jan-19 14:33:39

B. In a similar position when we were choosing for DD1 (now Y6), we went for the bigger, less pressured and more diverse school and I’m very glad we did. Several of our friends chose the smaller church school and now 7 years later our DCs will all be going to the same secondary schools.

There are plenty of benefits to a bigger school; bigger budgets, more teaching and support staff, potentially better extra-curricular. Not to mention a wider friendship group. It was also really important to us that our kids mixed with children from all backgrounds.

Ultimately though, happiness was the most important thing; the church school in our area is also markedly monocultural and overwhelmingly middle-class in intake; how much of their very good SATS results is down to that, and how much due to relentless teaching to the test for the whole of Y6 is hard to say. It’s also a lot more socially pressured for the parents and cliquey for both parents and kids. Your local school may well be nothing like that of course but it’s not uncommon in this type of school in London, unfortunately.

Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 14:35:07

Thanks all.

I was academic and went to an outstanding grammar, I'm trying not to let that cloud my option too much and want to prioritise happiness and a love of learning and not focus too much on academic achievement. We' do plenty of enrichment stuff outside of school/nursery.

Yes, there are religious criteria but we live in a very secular area and would have got into the C of E school 2 out of the last 3 years on distance.

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Zinnia Wed 09-Jan-19 14:44:43

Forgive the double-posting but I do want to take issue with one comment above; academic performance is very, very important to us and to my DDs' friends' parents at our school. However DH and I don't think SATS are the be-all and end-all for this and like you Redinthefacegirl would rather our DDs enjoyed learning at primary school than came under huge pressure at age 10/11. There's enough of that at secondary, when it does actually matter.

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HopeGarden Wed 09-Jan-19 15:21:05

Yes, there are religious criteria but we live in a very secular area and would have got into the C of E school 2 out of the last 3 years on distance.

Thing is, if DC1 gets into the C of E school, you still have DC2 to consider.

Where do siblings come on the oversubscription criteria? The nearest religious school to me places siblings who don’t meet the religious criteria below all children who do meet the religious criteria.

If this school has similar oversubscription criteria, and if your DC2 wouldn’t meet the religious criteria, then I’d be wary of making the religious school the top choice. Just in case there’s a bumper crop of religious children in 2 years time.

Babymamamama Wed 09-Jan-19 15:24:45

I would go for B due to favouring non secular education. In fact I made almost the exact same choice myself OP and my DC doing great in the bigger school which has larger grounds and many more opportunities for clubs and groups to join.

admission Wed 09-Jan-19 15:55:00

Put it this way, all things being equal, the school that is nearest is always going to get my vote as it will be less hassle coming and going to the nearer school.

Loraline Wed 09-Jan-19 15:59:53

Sorry, but this really made me laugh:

although 12minutes is quite a long way

Especially in Central London grin

Anyway we faced a similar choice and went for the B equivalent. Suits DS as the school has loads of outdoor space which the more academic school didn't and which can be hard to find in London

Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 16:15:48

This is really helpful. I know my family will push for school A so don't want to ask their opinion.

Siblings come before religion so DS2 would be fine if we get DS1 into school A. Accept, although I think DS1 would like school A, DS2 is more typically "boy" and i think a more play based ethos would suit him better (a bit like guess work at 2grin).

12 minute is definitely not far for us, in fact school B is a nicer walk, next to a park and nature walk so great for a post school leg stretch on light evenings. It's one of its draws.

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Jsku Wed 09-Jan-19 16:30:09

You can’t go wrong with either of those schools, but i’d not assume that school A doesn’t achieve better results because they are some old style grim hothouse.

Have you spoken to any people in your area that have kids in both schools? I dont think one can judge any school just by reports and one visit - to me a visit is like a Polaroid snapshot. One moment in time.

Equally - I think each child deserves their own consideration. So - for me one chooses the school best for that specific child. Not his sibling that follows in a few years.

Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 16:47:36

I know 1 school A parent who likes it, but they did agree it is more formal. One thing said on the visit disturbed me a bit, in yr6 kids get taken out of class with the deputy head for sats prep. Felt a bit hot housey.

The school B parents we know are very happy, esp with the new headteacher. The results are improving.

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sirfredfredgeorge Wed 09-Jan-19 16:48:48

Loraline If you have a 6 minute option, 12 minutes really is a long way, the advantages of being 30seconds from the school are amazing! Obviously it's all relative of course, if you're in a less city environment 12 minutes may well be nice and near, it's certainly not too far.

Zinnia I was saying academic excellence in primary school as opposed to academic performance - ie it's about what parents perceive the value of 100% on the SATs etc. to be. Exactly your point about how it's much more relevant in secondary school, however I there are parents who believe that primary school performance matters, they're withdrawing the kids from clubs so they can practice, they're tutoring for tests as opposed to need to learn etc.

Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 17:07:04

I understood what you meant sirfred a school with excellent results will attract parents who value and push for that. Aiding ongoing academic results.

Zinnia I agree with your ethos.

Funnily enough the parents I know going for school B are far more educated than school A. Small sample size. The area around school B is getting quite gentrified.

Thanks again everyone. It's helped me clarify my thoughts.

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HeadsDownThumbsUpEveryone Wed 09-Jan-19 17:20:57

Why on earth would you choose school A? Your little boy is 4 years old he doesn't need a school which thinks formal education is more important than learning through play. The whole of the EYFS is supposed to be play based and many schools continue this into Year 1.

I would choose school B in a heartbeat. 60 per year isn't exactly huge, but it does mean friendship issues are more easily resolved. With just 30 in a year they will be stuck with the same 29 children until year 6 unless some move. Personally school A sounds like all they care about is the results, not the little people attending their school.

Redinthefacegirl Wed 09-Jan-19 17:26:18

My head was turned by the great results! School A was nice but I do think that school B is the right choice for us and DS1. Luckily it's also where he wants to gosmile.

This has been really constructive

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MargotsFlounceyBlouse Wed 09-Jan-19 17:35:03

In my opinion the most important things in a primary are safety, and your child enjoying the school experience. Being enthusiastic and happy to go to school sets them up well for secondary when the demands will be greater. On that basis I'd go for the happy school.

Academically it's a tricky one... If you're pitching at selective schools or grammars down the line the more academic approach will pay dividends if your child is middle of the pack but if you have a smarty then they'll thrive in any decent school.

Zinnia Wed 09-Jan-19 17:47:28

Apologies sirfred I read your initial post slightly on the hoof and realised after I'd posted that my comment came over more shirty than intended!

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