Local school or school with friends?

(18 Posts)
mvmvmvmv Mon 30-Nov-20 09:00:34

Hi

My child will be school age in the next couple of years. We are starting to think about which school to register him from.

In our village there is a small school, about 3 mins walk from our house. There is a large school in the neighbouring village, which would be around 25 mins walk or 5 mins by car. Both schools feed into the same secondary.

The smaller school would be more convenient for us, but his close friends are going to the larger school. My child is very very social and loves his friends so I do worry about separating them.

We are hoping to move house to close to the large school at some point but cannot find any houses we like in that village so it may not happen.

I'm really torn between what to do and I wondered if anyone has any pearls of wisdom? Or if you faced a similar choice, which did you go for and how did it work out?

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pastandpresent Mon 30-Nov-20 09:15:28

Children's friendship is very fluid. As they get older, they tend to choose friends with their own will and not because parents are friends like they did when they were smaller.
So I would choose the school not because all his friends atm are going there, but because the school will be good fit for your child.
Small school and big school has both pros and cons.

LondonGirl83 Mon 30-Nov-20 09:34:01

Having friends already can make the transition to a new setting like reception easier but if you have a confident social child I wouldn't worry about it. At this age, most children make new friends very easily. Just see what happens with your house move and then decide closer to the time.

RedskyAtnight Mon 30-Nov-20 09:39:31

Friendships are really fluid at this age. Chances are he's made friends with "whoever was there" and if he can do that, then he will be totally fine making new friend in Reception. Having people he knows with him in Reception will help for about 3 weeks, but after that it really won't matter. Plus, you can keep in touch with his old friends and that way he has even more friends (and friends who don't go to your school are invaluable in other ways).

So I'd make the choice on the school, and take friends out of the equation.

Houseofflu Mon 30-Nov-20 11:54:08

It's too early to have close friends at this age, especially for sociable kids. He will have a new best friend after the first day in a new school.

Creepertime Mon 30-Nov-20 12:45:50

I would also choose on the school. My friends children who went to the same school as other friends have tended to stick just with the friends from before school rather than make a big group of friends so it can have its draw backs.

mvmvmvmv Mon 30-Nov-20 13:02:37

Thank you, that's been useful to hear. I'll see if I can find out more about each school to try to work out what might suit him best.

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RedskyAtnight Mon 30-Nov-20 13:13:18

Just realised you say that your child will be school age in the next couple of years. So they are only 2 (or just 3) now? There are no guarantees he will even have the same friends he has now by the time you come round to applying for, never mind starting at a school, so you definitely shouldn't make this a consideration!

admission Mon 30-Nov-20 13:53:27

For me there are two considerations that you need to consider. The first is just the admission process. Is either school full with a waiting list because that may well colour your judgement on which school to put down as first preference. I am guessing that the larger school may be the more popular and therefore with a walk of 25 minutes you are not guaranteed to be offered a place.
The second point is a long term view. Whilst both schools feed into the same secondary school, it is quite common to find in large secondary schools that the pupils from the larger primary schools find the transition far easier than those from a small school.
Also in considering a very small primary school you do need to consider how much of a broad education they may get. Will the relative lack of funding in the small school lead to a narrowing of the opportunities a pupil may have in a larger school.

mvmvmvmv Mon 30-Nov-20 19:13:12

These are very good points. Thank you.

The smaller school is tiny and so it has composite classes. I have no idea if the opportunities differ between the two schools, I'd have assumed all state schools give the same opportunities? Apologies if I'm being a bit naive here, this is my eldest child so I'm very unsure of how it all works!! My own state school primary education was fairly lacking in all sports, music, art etc and I suppose I'm just assuming schools round here are still the same now.

What sort of opportunities could differ by schools? Are you thinking languages, sports, art and music? I wasn't expecting either school to do much in these areas, I was expecting to need to provide those sorts of opportunities myself with private lessons and clubs to be honest.

We can't afford a private school but could afford for some private tuition and some classes/clubs after school and at weekends.

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RedskyAtnight Mon 30-Nov-20 19:37:36

Put bluntly, schools are given money per pupil. So a bigger school has more money. That means, for example, that they have more money to spend on resources e.g. books for a school library. A bigger school is more likely to (for example) have specialist teachers in things like MFL or music.

Things like sports teams, choirs and music groups are harder to organise with a smaller pupil base. Though, as you say, you can seek out these opportunities out of school.

admission Mon 30-Nov-20 20:23:18

Schools are expected to have a broad and balanced curriculum and is one of the key points that any Ofsted inspection will be looking at. There is a legal expectation that primary schools will teach a foreign language now and any school not doing music in some form will struggle to convince Ofsted that their curriculum is broad.
As Redskytonight says the bigger the primary school the more funding they get and it can be used across the whole school, whereas small schools will always be struggling with the finances.
I would suggest that you look at the websites for the two schools and look to see what the schools are saying about what they can offer. Hopefully sometime this next year, you will be able to visit the schools, which is always going to be the best way of deciding which school is best for your child.

Stepintochristmas Mon 30-Nov-20 20:32:27

Based on what you have said your son is only 2 years old. The friendships that 2 year olds have are far more to do with how much their parents like eachother than how much the kids actually like eachother.

Both schools are extremely close. You should chose whichever is the better school, regardless of who is going there. Look at the performance measures on gov.uk.

mvmvmvmv Mon 30-Nov-20 20:38:30

Neither of the schools are shown on that website sad

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APurpleSquirrel Mon 30-Nov-20 21:03:55

I had this exact dilemma with DD who had two best friends from nursery. They were going to a larger village primary with a single class intake but it was a long way from us, we also had our catchment school which just didn't feel right when we visited & a tiny village school. For various reasons we choose the tiny school & it is a very small school with only 51 pupils total & composite classes.

DD did struggle at first to make friends but that settled after a few weeks. She now has her school friends & her friends from before which she sees weekly at gymnastics & for social meet ups (when not in lockdown obviously).

To give you an alternative view on small schools - yes resources may not be as evident, for example huge libraries or IT suites, but a good school will deal with this. For example, as there are fewer students every child gets a chance to participate in team sports as the numbers are needed, so no picking just the best. If the school wants to go out for a school outing they can hire 1 coach & take the whole school. Our PTA pay for a whole school outing every summer. The children learn to form friendships & relationships across the age ranges, rather than in narrow year groups. Your child will have greater teacher continuity as they won't change every year. The school community will be smaller & hopefully more close-knit. If your child is excelling, they can be positioned more with the year group above & work at a higher level, if they need more support they can work with younger children & get greater support. The child-teacher/TA ratio is higher - eg DD has a class of 18 (YR, Y1 & Y2) & has one teacher & 2 TAs everyday.
These are just some of the good things about small schools - there are more, but don't judge it before you visit it (if possible). If you have any concerns talk to the head.

Stepintochristmas Tue 01-Dec-20 07:03:42

@mvmvmvmv the schools will be on gov.uk

https://www.gov.uk/school-performance-tables

Just search for you postcode and it will show you the schools in order, closest first. All state funded schools will appear on this website.

mvmvmvmv Tue 01-Dec-20 20:19:53

Ah looks like it is just for English schools, there are different websites for the other countries in the UK

Thanks tho - have managed to find the equivalent website and found the schools on there. Unfortunately there isn't much detail and neither have been inspected for a few years.

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PresentingPercy Wed 02-Dec-20 10:43:37

There will be noticeable differences between schools with 50 pupils and those with 420 (60 x 7 year groups). Sport will be very different because a larger school should have better standards due to sheer numbers and actual teams. It may well have school musical ensembles and an orchestra. It could well have better facilities and a broader curriculum.

When choosing a school, look at the head’s newsletters to parents. They are on line. They say what’s going on. They give you a good flavour of a school. Small can be lovely for a couple of years and restricting after that. Particularly with tiny friendship groups. A close friend might move away and then fewer dc are left for friendships. However do consider where you can actually get a place so look at admission rules and data. You have time to look. Does either school run a nursery class? I would look at this too.

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