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Comparing two primary schools help!(40 Posts)
Ok I'm choosing between 2 schools for DS for next September, please help me decide!
School A - middle class catchment area, religious (we are not), above average results but not as good as school B. Very convenient location (250m away), great breakfast club provision, lovely grounds, but feels a bit too serious, headteacher didn't talk much about the kids, not much diversity, only 1 TA per class, sometimes none. Really patronising handout given at the end.
School b - more disadvantaged area, more diversity, really friendly teachers, really friendly approachable head, relaxed teaching style (years R, 1 and 2 dont sit at desks in the traditional style), better results than school A, 2 TAs per class BUT less convenient (short drive or long walk), not great breakfast and after school provision, not great grounds (no proper school field) although they do still go to green areas and have access to them.
Help!!! My heart says B but my head says A
The second one
And I do tend to go with my heart but my heart is invariably right
I went with my heart and I honestly think I made the wrong choice. Not that it will be with you but I think I was sold a complete dud and natural changes like retirement of certain specialist teachers that weren't replaced haven't helped.
There are things I never thought I'd consider if I was looking at a school now, like senco provision (honestly even if your dc don't need senco involvement it's a good way of showing how a school treats it's pupils) and time spent with access to the outside to play (DDs school only has 40 minutes full stop, DSs 85 minutes depending on how long you take to eat your lunch - the drop in time has had quite a negative impact).
At the end of the day though, you need to go with what you think will be best for your DC.
Me too purpleme. I know most people would love to get into school A (it has a 0.3m catchment) but it just doesn't feel welcoming. DS is such a sensitive little thing. But convenience is important too. Argh! Thanks for your response.
Thanks OhLook, school B is far better for SEN kids and has a high proportion of SEN kids that go there. School A is notoriously bad for that. My DS is showing no signs of needing that kind of help at the moment but you never know.
Hadn't thought about time time spent outside at all, need to look into that, thanks!
I don't hear anything positive about A other than the 250m - how far is B?
For A the morning and after school club is really good. Starts at 7.30 and you can book 24 hours in advance. Lovely grounds too.
School B is 1 mile away (I realise I sound lazy now but 1 mile is quite far to me with a 4 year old)
I would go for school A, on the grounds that it is nearby and has good before and after school care (if you need to use these).
B with bells on
You can find solutions for the school run and for wraparound care
I would do the school run by bike (either a cargo bike or a tagalong bike) unless the weather was very bad in which case I'd be lazy and go by car.
Or get a childminder to do wraparound care including drop offs and pick ups
Well - do you need wrap around care ? As that could be a game changer if you do.
I was going to say it is invaluable to be able to walk to school live near school so was edging towards school A, but since you've said school B is only a mile away, then that argument is removed, as a mile is easily walkable and all friends will be local.
Can I suggest ask for a tour of A whilst school is open . My ds’s old primary head doesn’t come across as very friendly . She really doesn’t suffer fools.
However she is one part of the school . The school is very well run and has a real community feel about it.
That said a mile really isn’t far. Our catchment was that far either. We drove that far most days in reception but by year one walked.
If you can't decide because they're both good: Choose the nearest.
Having friends in the neighbouring streets makes after school play dates easier, you feel part of the community, your kids still have local friends even when they go off to Secondary, you get to know the other parents because you see each other more, your kids have a feeling of independence because they can walk to/from school as they get to the end of primary instead of being picked up... etc etc.
A. For wrap around care, location.
Teachers come and go.
Agree about going round when open, open days are very fake. Ask around - actual feedback! No formal learning in b sounds a bit faddy (I’m a teacher) good for some kids - but might be very boring / not challenging for brighter kids or mini ‘geeks’ .
@sittingonthefloor that's an interesting point thanks. DS is definitely bright, it's hard to tell at the moment how academic he will be as he is a typical stubborn 3 year old and refuses to listen about how to hold his pen etc but by age 6 he might enjoy something more settled and structured (I probably did as a child). I did find the chaos a bit much and he might too. I might have just fallen for the whole 'new approach to learning' thing.
School B does have an amazing feel to it though, I think its because the head has brought its results from below average to well above average (and ofsted satisfactory to outstanding) in 6 years and she glows with enthusiasm and so do the teachers, some or which have been there for 15-18 years.
Also DS is very sensitive and quite reserved so the lovely teachers and good pastoral care and 'cozy feel' was somewhere I could imagine him settling.
In terms of wrap around care, school B does have wrap around care but it starts at 8 which would mean I had to change my work hours slightly or use a CM and you have to book for the whole year as it is so oversubscribed. School A starts at 7.30 and you can just book a couple of days before which is ideal for me as DH has weeks of no work or working from home where he can do pick up and drop off.
@dilkhush good point about having friends on the same road and community etc. I think the vast majority of kids in the catchment of school A would choose it.
I do also have a bit of an concern that school A will be full of wealthy kids as there are lots of million pound + houses in the catchment, whereas we are in a little flat, whereas school B is the total opposite and a real mixed bag of children. That could he a silly thing to worry about though.
Thanks for all your tips it's so so helpful to talk it through.
If there is a waiting list for the wrap around school club you might not get a place, is this something you could cope with practically?
School B as you know it's the better school for your child. Find a Childminder that exclusively drops off there that you can drop off at 7.30 for. Wrap around care sorted.
You will likely need to book Childminder now as spaces for under 5s are harder to get (as many only take full time)
Can you find some parents at both schools to speak to? Our local secondary school is lauded and houses in the catchment attract a high premium. But no parent I speak to has a good word to say about it. It might have excellent results and be top of the county league tables, but pastoral care is woeful, students move schools due to unaddressed bullying, and the behaviour policy swings from non-existent to punitive but ineffective.
Also be careful about choosing based on something that can change. The wraparound care can change at any time as the cohort and needs change. I doubt it's being run as a charity. Leadership changes but it takes a while for that to change the ethos of the school. Obviously location can't change.
I'm very surprised about the number of people who have said A, tbh.
My main priority is my son's wellbeing and that's why I'd choose school B without hesitation. It sounds as if he'd be happier there.
@snuggybuggy - no we would have to get a childminder. I will need a childminder anyway as we have a baby due in Feb who will need a CM from Feb 2020. I was thinking of finding one that can take the baby and do drop off/pick up, but finding a good CM that has 2 spaces is another thing to worry about!
DS's current CM is amazing but is moving away by then and she didnt do school pick ups drop offs anyway as she found it disruptive.
Can I also add . While school wrap around can be useful a cm May well take your children on inset days or holidays .
We use a Childminder after school 2 day as well...she feeds them... . It means they are fed when I pick them up so can take them to swimming and other after school things without having to run around. It also allows me space to do a food shop in peace and work later one day.