Tiny school or large school?

(107 Posts)
IsThisYourSanderling Fri 03-May-19 19:06:00

I'm trying to make a decision about whee to send my DS for school. He's only 2.5 but applying for nursery now, which is attached to one of the schools, which is why I'm thinking about it now.

Large school has 220 pupils, 30 ish per class and growing. Doesn't differentiate by ability within classes. Is a short walk from my house, across a lovely park.

Tiny school has only 33 pupils, divided into two mixed-age classrooms. Children a given work according to ability, as there's no need to keep groups of children at the same level, the numbers being so small. It's a 12 minutes drive away, no traffic. Very rural.

DS himself is very shy with other adults and kids, a little socially delayed, behind with gross motor stuff, but advanced academically. I feel like he might get lost in a big class, and hide his light under a bushel a bit. But is the small school too small?

Anyone have any thoughts? Are there major drawbacks to very small schools? I went to a lovely small village school myself, but it had seventy kids, not thirty.

OP’s posts: |
IsThisYourSanderling Fri 03-May-19 19:07:40

Forgive typos blush Breastfeeding DD and thumb typing, etc...

OP’s posts: |
sleepismysuperpower1 Fri 03-May-19 19:08:51

I think based on what you said about your ds, i would go for the small school. He will get individual attention from the teachers, be able to make friends easily etc, and if he is above the standard for his age thn they will give him harder work. all the best x

YouBumder Fri 03-May-19 19:11:46

It depends on the child. Even your large school isn’t that large though. My kids went to a larger primary school, the eldest coped great but I have just had to move the ASD youngest to a smaller school (albeit about 4 x the size of your small one) as he wasn’t coping with the noise in the big school.

YouBumder Fri 03-May-19 19:12:59

And I’m sorry OP, I’m only ribbing but I’m chuckling a bit at him being “advanced academically”. He’s 2!

RedSkyLastNight Fri 03-May-19 19:14:09

Are these both primary (I.e. Reception to Year 6)? If so, 220 isn't a large school, it's one class in each year group! Most people would consider that to be small!

I think 33 children is too small for a school. I would be surprised if the school is economically viable long term. Plus, while your young child might find it small and nurturing, they might also find it very claustrophobic as they get older and struggle to make likeminded friends. I imagine the school also wont have sports teams or things like choirs and orchestras due to its size. With the bigger school being a close walk rather than a drive, it's also likely that going to that school will mean you are more part of the local community, have local friends etc

SillyBub Fri 03-May-19 19:14:12

I came on here to tell you all the advantages of DCs large primary school. But there's 840 at their school. Not sure my point will stand grin

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Theworldisfullofgs Fri 03-May-19 19:16:19

I really really wouldn't go for the small school.
They will be financially precarious. This has all sorts of issues including teaching time.
It also massively limits friendship choices. If you dont get on with someone you are really limited.
And in the far off distant future he will go from a truly tiny primary to a very big secondary.

KneelJustKneel Fri 03-May-19 19:17:49

33 is too small.

Your "large" school isnt large!? How many classes in a year? Of course they will differentiate within the class - they have to!

TeenTimesTwo Fri 03-May-19 19:19:21

220 is not a large primary. It is a one form entry. It is easily small enough for the teachers to know all the pupils. I bet they do differentiate between pupils. If they didn't then they would be eg holding back children who can read or count on entry. they will have ways to extend the more able and support the less able. What they might not do is put them on 'ability tables' which I believe some studies show aren't the best way of doing things.

33 is ridiculously small. Very small choice of friends, difficulty providing extra curricular activities, sports teams etc. Also financially precarious.

If you are in England, then Infants have class size restriction of 30.

Your child will change a lot from 2.5 to 4, and again from 4 to 11. the cute tiny school you are looking at for your toddler could become massively limiting by the time they are 8 or 9.

TeenTimesTwo Fri 03-May-19 19:20:45

x-post with everyone else saying the same stuff. grin

OddBoots Fri 03-May-19 19:21:27

Both of those schools sound like small schools to me, the primaries around here are 3 form entry (so up to 90 pupils per year) as a minimum.

Teddyreddy Fri 03-May-19 19:25:46

My nieces go to a very small school with mixed age classes. They make friends across different year groups so in some ways it gives them a broader experience than a bigger school where everyone is the same age. Small schools aren't necessarily less financially viable, it can depend on things like how much teaching the head teacher does - you can look into their finances here schools-financial-benchmarking.service.gov.uk/ if you are concerned.

Could you get in contact with both schools and see if either will let you for a visit? I found actually looking at schools much more useful for helping me work out which suited DC better?

Janleverton Fri 03-May-19 19:27:26

I think the larger school would be better. More money, more opportunity for there to be a mix of kids and to potentially find his ‘tribe.’ Smaller school May mean that possibility of smaller friendship group or less potential kids to gel with. Ds1 was socially awkward and also very bright. The school he went to have 2fe of 30 so larger than your large school. He found a good group of about 6 like minded kids, the school were able to differentiate within class as well as by sending him off for reading with year 4 guided reading groups when he was in year 1 for example. He liked to stay relatively anonymous and under the radar, but this never translated into the school teachers not being aware of what he was capable of and providing challenge. He was also able to access some help with the social side of things at his own pace with an excellent senco. His individual strengths were played upon hugely, he had space and enough groups within the class to go for it with the things he was interested in but without having to draw attention to himself

My fear with a school of 33 kids in total:

No anonymity
Small potential friendship group. What if he just doesn’t like or click with the others in his class or, indeed, the teacher (we had one year where the teachers - job share- were pretty crap and didn’t seem to like him) - several years of being with the same folk.
School funding - more limited resources in a small school
Having to drive to school and to see friends

grasspigeons Fri 03-May-19 19:28:24

Id pick the bigger of the two. More money, more friends, more teaching staff bring breadth and different skills - still small enough to know everynes name.

Janleverton Fri 03-May-19 19:29:02

X posted with all the same points!

redhotchill Fri 03-May-19 19:34:24

Bigger school (almost) every time

Lindtnotlint Fri 03-May-19 19:39:00

33 is truly mini. The other one is a nice small school size!

WindsweptEgret Fri 03-May-19 19:45:20

I'd pick the average sized school, 200 kids is not large!

If he isn't so good socially I might worry about a small school with few children his age as possible friends. A school a short walk away would be also easier for meeting up with, or having a friend over after school. With 30 children in a class, there will be likely to be other children at a similar ability level to him, so I wouldn't worry about that.

You also need to think about when he is in year 6 and about to make the transition to secondary. Being one of a handful of year sixes in a class with younger children may mean he will be socially 'young' for his age, and then having to transition from a school of 30 to a school of 600 plus students.

IsThisYourSanderling Fri 03-May-19 19:50:35

Ooh thanks all, did not expect the consensus to rest with the bigger school, tbh!

A couple of points:

The larger school is about to grow hugely because a massive housing development has just been completed in the village, all family homes, all feeding to the same school. Many class sizes are already nudging the maximum legally allowed. The school will be adding more classes apparently, and bulking out those with any space at all. Concerns me a bit - I think small classes would better suit DS, but he just won't get that at this school.

The school has stated that it doesn't differentiate by ability - and a good few of my friends with older kids have mentioned their frustration with this, independently of each other. They've complained to the school and got nowhere. These aren't hugely pushy parents either. They just didn't like their kids bring home the same easy work week after week, bored stiff with it, when they were capable of much more,

Yes, OK, I'm guilty of calling my two year old 'advanced academically', sorry MN grin I just meant that while for gross motor things he's behind (can't jump, won't go near ride ons, etc etc), he's pretty ahead with numbers and letters. Not sure how to phrase that without sounding silly, but I'm just trying to describe him.

In a class of 30 that doesn't differentiate much, a shy, able child might be at a bit of a disadvantage, I think?

I take the points about friendship groups etc. I always enjoyed the feeling of belonging I got from my small school, but I appreciate 30 is super small.

We're in Scotland btw.

OP’s posts: |
amy1008 Fri 03-May-19 19:53:28

I'd go for the big one.
33 is way to small. And I think putting a shy kid in a school this small won't help him in the long term.

IsThisYourSanderling Fri 03-May-19 19:56:20

To add, it's probable that DS is hyperlexic but not severely. Not autistic, but not exactly neurotypical either. I thought mixed age classes would suit for that reason too, as for schoolwork he might be more with the slightly older kids, but socially could benefit from younger kids being around. Idk, just a thought.

OP’s posts: |
unexpectedthird Fri 03-May-19 20:03:25

Which is your catchment school? In Scotland you'll be expected to send them there regardless of nursery provision.

You can put in a placing request but there's no guarantee.

I teach in a tiny school and my own DCs attend a larger school like the one you're thinking about due to catchment.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Tiny schools can feel like being part of a family group which is both lovely and not like any family. Staff can teach each child at their individual level and they all get a chance to try most things. We enter heaps of sports stuff and all the kids get a go rather than at my DCs school where the best team is selected.

However, my dc do well in a larger environment too. They enjoy not being part of a multi composite. They are sufficiently challenged and making good progress. They are also able to work at their own level.

I know my pupils' parents very well, I have regular contact with all of them and they are a big part of the way the school is shaped.

I barely know my DCs' teachers. We have official contact and that's it, which is grand because there's no need for more than that at present but I am far less connected with them.

KneelJustKneel Fri 03-May-19 20:27:21

What loooks attractive when you have a 2 year old entering p1 may not look attractive when you have a bright 10 year old with only 4 or 5 peers.

Sirzy Fri 03-May-19 20:30:23

Having taught in a very small village school I would never send a child to one if I had another option. Socially it makes things very difficult and it’s very Hard for a teacher to plan for such a range of ability

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