School allocations - wait list place offered but now we aren't sure, help!

(46 Posts)
christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 10:39:14

I’m looking for some opinions please as we are currently at a loss!

Apologies for the super long post, but I’m also trying to get this all straight in my head along with not missing anything out!

We are currently trying to decide between 2 schools for our son. We have just been offered our first choice school (we were on the wait list) so now need to make a decision. Mentally, we had accepted our offered school, which was our second choice.

We have visited both, done the pro con lists etc. Our head says one school but heart says the other.

One school means a 15 minute drive each way, twice a day. Relatively small school, village location, approx 90 pupils. All our sons current friends will be going to this school. We don’t live where this school is. Change of head teacher coming in September. This was our first choice school. He is currently at the pre school here 2 days a week. Lovely community feel, but I do worry about it possibly being a tad clicky. Average results in terms of maths, reading etc. We love the much smaller class sizes, and feel he may receive more support here. He is very bright, but can be very shy and quiet, and has also had speech & language therapy. He still has some issues and is still under a SAL therapist. They don’t appear as good at parent communication compared to the other school.

The other means a 10 minute walk each way, and is still fairly small compared to others in our area , around 140 pupils total, and in town. Our child won’t know anyone there. We live in the town where this school is. This was our second choice school, but the one we were offered. I worry about this school appearing very clicky. Ofstead rated outstanding. Much better results in maths, reading etc (well above average) . Year sizes are around 20, but increase as they join classes together (years 1,2 & 3 are split between 2 classes, which pupils move around in depending on their individual levels in different areas) . I’ve heard about them putting a lot of pressure on the children for sats, but that was from someone who was there a few years ago, I’m not sure now. Reception class also has Pre school within it, but only on mornings. They appear very good at parent communication & involvement, and lots of inclusive events. School is Roman Catholic. We are not!

Both are great schools. Our head is saying to go with the school that is walking distance In tow. It’s still a relatively small school, and at this age, our son will make new friends, and can still stay in touch with the friends he has already made. But our heart is saying the other school. Both offer similar after school activities. And both had a lovely feel. When we visited, I nit picked about the town school as I was certain I wanted him to go to the village school.

Our son is definitely a quieter type of little boy, who prefers playing with girls rather than boys at Pre school, however there is most definitely an imbalance between girls & boys at Pre school at the moment (approx 4 boys on the days he goes vs 10 girls).

I should add that we have another son who is 18 months old. The town school which we can walk to is more appealing with him in tow, rather than having to drive daily (along with the added cost of driving). Siblings are accepted first at the local school, whereas the village take catchment first before siblings.

Town school is a great feeder to the local grammar school.

We don’t need holiday / wrap around care as I’m a SAHM.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m hoping to gain from this post. It’s helped me to put it down like this, but I suppose I’d quite like an outsiders opinion from people who don’t actually know either school.

My gut isn’t telling me either way.

If you have got to the end of this, thanks so much for reading!

OP’s posts: |
sirfredfredgeorge Sun 19-May-19 10:58:33

Always walk to school unless there's a big reason not to, I can't see any big reason.

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 11:06:49

Thanks @sirfredfredgeorge - having never been in this situation before, it’s good to get an opinion from someone who has!

The walking to school is the thing that’s swaying me most at the moment, if anything because it’s so much better for all of us health wise!

OP’s posts: |
RandomMess Sun 19-May-19 11:07:02

At pre school they rarely have "life long" friends, so discount existing friendships out of equation as they are 4 not 14.

Village school sounds too small, small pool of pupils to be friends with, you aren't local so more hassle than everyone else to make the effort with in terms of spending time outside of school.

Walking far far far better, bigger pool of potential friends, possible local friendships which makes life easier. School has better results currently.

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 11:12:08

Thanks @RandomMess , that’s really helpful. We don’t have any experience of this or friendship groups from that age as both my husband and I moved around when we were younger.

I think our head is ruling our hearts and it sounds like that is sensible! I think it’s the rose tinted spectacles that are pulling at my heart!

OP’s posts: |
Reasontobelieve Sun 19-May-19 11:13:22

If the nearer School ranks siblings over catchment, it is the better choice given that you have a younger child. If lots of news families move into the catchment area of the village School by the time that you apply fo4 you4 younger child, you could miss out on a place. Unfortunately I have read/heard about this happening over and over again.

AnonymousMugwumpery Sun 19-May-19 11:18:23

Town school. Village school will be under immense pressure to merge/federate/join a MAT. Those small classes may also be under threat because of finances. Query the SENCo provision is like in such a small school? Very small numbers of children to play with - fallings out can become bigger news. Closer and easier to walk - and you are very sensible to consider chances of getting a sibling in. A new headteacher at the village school could mean all sorts of change.

Only thing that would make me hesitate is the RC element as you say you are not. Do you know what they teach and the ethos of the school, and are you ok with that? There are people on here often complaining about faith schools and if it's going to be a problem for you with this particular school, best to realise it now.

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christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 11:26:53

@AnonymousMugwumpery thanks for your reply and great points on both schools.

The RC element of the school runs through everything. It’s a complaint I’ve heard from a small number of people that it really does run through everything.

However, for me, that doesn’t concern me. My husband on the other hand is the opposite, but is happy to go with it. Essentially, if we find it too much, we know that the village school would take him if we chose to move schools.

My bias though is whilst I am not RC, I did attend this school from age 8.

They appear to be a very inclusive school in terms of the faith, and due to it being a faith school they have a say in who is offered a place at the school. Faith comes high up in the criteria list. Although I feel it shows they are inclusive the fact that we have been offered a place when the wait list is huge for this school, and we tick none of the boxes for getting in , we are simply in the box of ‘other children’ ! Our catchment school is actually the school next door to this one (but it is HUGE to us, approx 200 pupils just in the infants) .

OP’s posts: |
christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 11:28:20

@Reasontobelieve such a great point, there is actually plans to build houses in the village, so they would end up with bigger classes, and less chance of our other son getting in.

We do hope to eventually move to the village, but that could be a very long way off, as in a good few years, not just a couple of years.

OP’s posts: |
AnonymousMugwumpery Sun 19-May-19 11:59:54

If you went to the school, be sure you are looking at it as it is today, not as you remember it when you were there.

Also - the fact that you were offered a place may well mean that there are a relatively high number of non-Catholics in the school but that doesn't make it inclusive, it simply means there are not enough practising Catholics applying to fill it on their own. That waiting list is simply people further down the admissions criteria than you were, not proof that they are deliberately trying to get a mix of children (unless, of course, that is what the criteria say).

Getthepetwet Sun 19-May-19 12:08:59

We've had a similar dilemma with our DD and school choices for sept. We were offered her first choice (close, small, village school) but all her friends will be going to the bigger (further away, not walkable) school her current preschool is affiliated with and I now feel bad we've chosen the other school. The main deciding factor for us, and the only reason I haven't changed to the other school is the walk Vs drive. I keep having to remind ourselves we've chosen this school for the nice walk we'll be able to do each day rather than the hell of the school run via car we're currently doing to preschool. I think it's so important to be able to walk to/from school if that is an option. Not saying we will 100% walk to and from school everyday, but I'd hate to not have this option there.

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 12:15:06

@AnonymousMugwumpery that’s an interesting way to look at it. They are very big on promoting they are a fully inclusive school, however I do wonder if that means they just aren’t enough practicing catholic’s there / applying.

Its completely changed since I was there (I left almost 25 years ago) and it felt very different . I never experienced the early years there though as I was 8 when I started.

At the moment, I’m at the place of the walking to school is massively winning over the driving. But there is still something holding us back.

OP’s posts: |
christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 12:17:48

@Getthepetwet it’s such a hard decision. I feel selfish making a big deal about the walking vs driving, but it’s a huge commitment to make for the next 10 years (with 2 children hopefully going) .

I just keep reminding myself that over the 6 week summer holidays, he will be away from his pre school, his friends and will be starting a fresh in September. I almost feel it may be slightly easier to adapt to a whole new school rather than one joined onto his preschool as I know how much he doesn’t want to leave his pre school!

OP’s posts: |
user1498854363 Sun 19-May-19 12:24:22

Op, school friends come and go as often people move schools in early years/primary, being within walking distance makes it easier to do play dates, make local friends, join clubs etc.
Walking to school makes you part of the community.
You may be one of those families who change school in future. Don’t stress too much, it’s not a decision stuck in stone, you can always change your mind, esp if you move. Primary should be fun, engaging and get good basics of learning.

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 12:31:56

Thanks @user1498854363 , that’s another way to look at it!

OP’s posts: |
thisisthetime Sun 19-May-19 12:35:55

Walk to the town school. He will feel part of the community as well if he attends a local school and it will be more convenient for play dates, clubs with friends, school events outside school time etc. My dd attends our local school which we walk to and went with about 5 of her friends from the adjoining preschool. She rarely plays with any of them now and has made new friends who were at different nurseries and preschool. I would definitely not choose a school based on friendships at this age.

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 12:40:54

Thanks @thisisthetime , great to hear.

OP’s posts: |
PatriciaHolm Sun 19-May-19 12:54:32

Town school. Walkable, bigger pool of friends, great results.

I would be very worried about the financial viability of a school with only 90 pupils especially if they aren't amalgamating classes to get 30 in a class. They just can't have the funding to perpetuate small classes sizes. (Speaking as a primary school governor!)

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 13:06:12

@PatriciaHolm Thank you - I think that will be our decision.

It’s actually slightly less, around 82 at present, but I’ve also just found out there are a lot of y6s leaving and not as many coming into reception, so that number will go down again. The total class size averages 20 pupils (give or take a few, reception class is smaller around 15), with 4 classes in total.

I’ve just found myself in tears over not choosing the village school, my heart still loves this school, and I’ve devastated he won’t be going, but I know the school in walking distance is the right choice.

OP’s posts: |
Sonicknuckles Sun 19-May-19 13:20:07

As a person who's 2nd child has not got a place at the same school as their elder sibling because of the catchment before sibling rule, I would go with your local school.

Sonicknuckles Sun 19-May-19 13:21:06

As a person who's 2nd child has not got a place at the same school as their elder sibling because of the catchment before sibling rule, I would go with your local school.

scubaprincess Sun 19-May-19 13:41:59

Tough one. We had a similar decision. Head says local (walkable) school, big (4 class intake) so lots of opportunity, but heart said drivable (10mins each wait), small village type school (1 class intake). We went heart as my aim is for DD to be as happy as possible which I think the smaller school will achieve. Go heart as your head can over think things!

christmasgeek Sun 19-May-19 16:27:29

Throwing a curveball in there @scubaprincess !

OP’s posts: |
Taswama Sun 19-May-19 16:39:42

Definitely agree with going for the school you can walk to. Going to the same school as the neighbour’s kids is invaluable when one child has an after school club and the other doesn’t or one child (or you) is /are ill and so you have options to share the journey.
The R/C school has to take some non R/C children, it’s the law. It’s to stop the situation where kids can’t go to the school on their street because they are the wrong religion. They recently tried to overturn this law and the Humanists successfully campaigned against it. You will be able to opt your dc out of some elements of it eg trips to church and catechism but obviously it will be part of the culture there. Most state schools are CofE anyway so God is present to some degree.

ArnoldBee Sun 19-May-19 16:52:16

As far as your child's friends are concerned don't worry about it. Most of my son's class had been together at nursery but by the third week of reception you wouldn't have known as they all mixed in.

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