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School A has good grades & is 20mins walk or School B, worse grades & 2mins away

(51 Posts)
truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 10:15:31

Tha't s my dilemma. I have just looked at the grades for School A and for level 4 they are between 90 and 100%, and an average of 80% for level 5. School A is 20/25 mins walking briskly from my house.

School B's grades are a bit worse: between 80 and 90% for level 4 and an average of 30 & 40% for level 5. But the school is on my doorstep.

On paper school A is better, more socially diverse, better facilities and a very good Ofsted report.

School B's Ofsted report is good.
What do you think? Does it matter? Should I go for the school on my doorstep?

StarryStarryNight Tue 25-Sep-07 10:23:37

I had that dilemma. I chose the school furthest away, as it was an RC Faith school with good results and shining ofsted reports. This means that my son has no friends in our neighbour hood, any playdates are a palaver to organize, many wont come "all the way up here" to pick up their kids after, and they all meet up at the playground near the school, while I have to rush home to get DS2 from nursery, cook tea etc. My sons school friends also meets up at sunday school, and other activities organized by the Church, but this Church is outside my parish. I sometimes go though, to ensure he feels included. He wants to be an altar boy.

The good points. I feel on the level with all the parents, my son is thriving. He is happy in class, he has made friends (but that has been hard work), is doing well academically.

It is a hard choice!

frogs Tue 25-Sep-07 10:23:45

80% level 5 means that the school almost certainly has a very high proportion of bright children from pushy-ish middle-class families. If you have a child who is likely to be at the brighter end of the spectrum he/she would probably like this; a child who is struggling might find it all a bit much. You can stake your mortgage that a large proportion of these kids are being tutored. 30%-40% Level 5 is also respectable, but would suggest that the school has a more mixed intake, or less pushy parents.

Neither statistic really tells you about the actual quality of the teaching in the school, it's more about the demographic of the parents. Both sound like good schools. Go check them out, talk to the parents, hang around the gates at 9am/3pm and get a feel for what's going on, and then make a decision based on what you feel most comfortable with.

Would you get into the further school anyway? 25 mins is quite a long walk for a school run, but not impossible.

RubberDuck Tue 25-Sep-07 10:26:13

Visit both - which atmosphere do you like the best? We went with closest which happened to be best in terms of ofstead but also fantastic atmosphere, but our second choice was surprisingly a car journey away past other alternative schools, just coming out of special measures but a really lovely school atmosphere and great headmistress. Really wouldn't have been gutted if ds1 had gone there if we couldn't get in to first choice.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 10:46:44

Yes, we would get in as it is a religious school.

In terms of playdates lots of families that live close to me send their kids to the school that is further away, so that wouldn't be a problem.

Ds is quite a square child, I suspect he would enjoy the atmosphere of a high achieving school, but it might be less tiring for everybody if he went to the school close by. And I cannot bear pushy parents!

I think the intake of School A is probably 30% pushy racially mixed middle class, another 30 % is also a racially mixed working class who want to do well for their kids, and the rest is a bunch of kids whose parents couldn't care less about education.

School B's parents are white & black working class who care about the education of their kids, a tiny percentage is white middle class and I would say 40% is a mixed bunch of parents who swear left, right and centre at the school gate.

seeker Tue 25-Sep-07 10:57:05

Nearest. I am amazed at 80% level 5 - is that 80% of the children get 3 level 5s. or do 80% of the children get a level 5? Whichever way, then I can't believe that a properly socially diverse school would have results like that without putting the children under HUGE amounts of pressure and spending most of years 5 and 6 practising like mad. School b sounds much more much more realistic. And the proximity thing is a HUGE deal at this age - I spend soo much time in the car because we live 5 miles away from school!

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 10:59:02

i will quickly check the grades in case I got the wrong end of hte stick.

frogs Tue 25-Sep-07 10:59:27

Is School A a Catholic school in an urban setting? Sounds very like my older dc's schools.

FWIW, ds is now at his 2nd school of this type (recent house move) and loves it. He is a very straightforward little boy, happy to do what he's told and enjoys a structured environment, so it really works for him. It's a 20-min walk up a steep hill, btw.

Dd2 is in the nursery at a very middle-class non-church school five mins from our house. It has a very different atmosphere from either of the church schools my older two were in -- much more liberal, creative, laid-back and nurturing. Dd2 is a little wild card, a bit of a free spirit and not one to fit in for the sake of it, which the school seem completely fine with in a way that my older dd's Catholic primary was not, causing endless problems. So we may well leave dd2 at the non-church school for the rest of primary rather than move her to the church school with ds, although the jury is still out. I would really miss the religious input, though -- that is very strong in Catholic schools, so you need to decide how you feel about that aspect.

The equation is slightly different in our case, as the Catholic school is less white middle-class and slightly less high-achieving, but the mix of factors is similar. There is no single good answer -- it depends on your priorities and your child's personality and abilities.

Hulababy Tue 25-Sep-07 11:01:04

Don't make the decision just based on OFSTED and SATs. Visit both schools and see how they feel. Instinct is a great way of helping you decide IMO.

From what you say School A seems to have other things going for it as well though, and the only issue is the distance. 20 minute walk is fine. DD's school is about 4 mile drive and playdates have never been a problem - infact we have 3 this week!

NAB3 Tue 25-Sep-07 11:01:16

School A

frogs Tue 25-Sep-07 11:04:26

Agree that 80% Level 5 is unusually high.

Just checked, and dd2's school (the v. v. middle-class high-achieving school with outstanding Ofsted) seems to average 50-60% of kids getting L5 in English and Maths, while ds's school (the more mixed Catholic one with good Ofsted) gets 30% to Level 5.

None of these figures tell you where your child will be happiest, though.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:10:33

Ok I misread slightly the grades: School A is:
- about 60% level 5 English
- about 60% level 5 Maths
- about 80% level 5 Science

School B:
- about 30% level 5 English
- about 30% level 5 Maths
- about 60% level 5 Science

I think ds will like both schools, I certainly would personally make more friends at School A, more things in common with the mums, but that is not a priority.

Ds seems to find everything very easy, letters, numbers, writing, etc, but maybe that doesn't mean he is particularly bright, maybe School A would be better, would he be stretched more? My fear is that he finds school boring as he gets older, as me and dh did.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:12:41

I wouldn' t drive by the way, we would walk which is fine on a nice sunny day, but on a rainy day, pushing the baby in the pram..... Dh and I are lazy and like to have it easy in the am. smile

Hulababy Tue 25-Sep-07 11:13:18

Have you visited yet?

On paper I would prefer school A.

OrmIrian Tue 25-Sep-07 11:13:55

You need to visit.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:18:38

Yes, i have seen both schools! I just need to know where ds will be happy and I have no idea at this stage.

Hulababy Tue 25-Sep-07 11:19:42

What does your gut instinct tell you?

SSSandy2 Tue 25-Sep-07 11:23:46

personally I think 30 minutes walk is nothing for a decent school. I'd be happy if I only had to go that far instead of travelling right across town

Zazette Tue 25-Sep-07 11:25:12

A school that is very focused on getting good SATs results might actually be the one that's boring for a bright kid. SATs don't really (aren't designed to, in fact) test whether children are being intellectually stimulated and challenged. They test whether they have been effectively trained in a narrow range of competences.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:25:30

School A! But then I think I am being pushy, and that he will do well and be happy at School B. Surely children are children.....
Also I think of all those stressfull mornings......(stressfull for me and dh, not him, even though our stress might rub off on him).

StarryStarryNight Tue 25-Sep-07 11:26:34

I see that school B has a much lower score on Maths and English than school A. Do you know if many of the students speak English as a second language in school B? Are they bilingual? This may account for the slightly lower grades at this level, but unless the children are foreign nationals without knowledge of English prior to starting school, I would not be so worried about this. A multi ethnic environment is good, but not necessarily so if the pupils dont speak English.

As far as I know, you need to understand a language well to be able to understand abstract thought, and to learn in this language. (Which is why we started encouraging my sons English above our native languages from the age of 3)

Many of the children in my sons class are bilingual, the second languages are French, Italian, Spanish, Maltese, etc.

I am probably going to get flamed for this, but do you know whether the multicultural mix is of bilingual children or children not speaking English? It would just mean that the pace would have to be slower, not necessarily that the teaching is any worse, or the children less bright.

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:27:12

Ah! Zazette that is an interestig point of view, hadn't thought of this, dh and I were not schooled in the UK, so it's all a bit of a mystery.

seeker Tue 25-Sep-07 11:29:31

My thoughts, for what it's worth is that they both sound good. If they get a significant group to level 5 they are doing well byt he children and if your ds is bright then he will achieve because the structures aare obviously in place to achieve. I would start at the other end - what is the Reception teacher like? Do they do tons of playing? Do they have plenty of outside time? Is there lots of NEW art work up on the walls?
Oh and I would also check what the KS1 results are like - which school is adding more value? There is a school near me which is always trumpetting about its sats results but owing to a complicated quirk of catchment it has a very very middle class intake, a very low level of free school meals and a Head who is very clever at making sure it stays that way. It would be shameful if they didn't have brilliant SATS but in terms of value added my ds's school, which has a much more 'mixed' intake actually does better.
It's all very complicated!

truffaut Tue 25-Sep-07 11:30:12

MOstly bilingual I think.

seeker Tue 25-Sep-07 11:32:16

Thread hijack - are you in MAlta StarryStarryNight? If so, where? I grew up in malta many many years ago!

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