Am I mad to be considering this?(89 Posts)
Sending DS to a school just over 5 miles away (about 10/15 minutes drive but he would have to get a coach unless I manage to learn to drive within the next 12 or so months) purely because they have much smaller class sizes and all the local schools are very oversubscribed so always have the full 30 in a class.
how will he see his school friends if they all live far away and you don't drive?
Have you visited the local schools, to see how they handle the full classes? Personally, I wouldn't drive that far just for a smaller class, because the school run is astonishingly tedious and well-managed large classes seem OK IMO. But if you have actual concerns about the local schools' ability to cope, that's different.
yes you are mad to do this based on class sizes alone.
Why does this school have smaller classes - do other people not want to go there? I would want a school nearer to home - I cannot believe the number of times i am up at my DCs school - not just school run, but meetings, concerts, sports mornings etc all during school time, as well as after school clubs etc. I live about 20min walk/ 5min drive away - much further than that and some days I would seriously consider taking a packed lunch and spending the day there!!
It's a in a little village so (I think) that's why the class sizes are much smaller.
Have you asked how many adult helpers there are in each class? My ds started in a class of 3O, but there was a teacher and 3 adult helpers, so he was actually better off than at a smaller school with fewer helpers. If you see what I mean.
I don't think small classes are necessarily beneficial. Children have a wider group of friends in larger classes, with 'back up' friends on the days when best friend decides not to be best friend! I would check that there are no other reasons for small classes - OFSTED report etc.
The ofsed report from December had all 1s and 2s.
I think you would be mad to do it without being able to drive. What if your child is ill and needs picking up from school. How would you get there to pick them up. Then there are the after school clubs etc..would there be transport for the days you need a later pick up. How would you get there for sports days and other dos?
If transport were not a problem I would look at all the pros and cons of this school vs other schools. The only school with less than 30 in a class near me has very poor academic results..so they do not fill their classes. However some village schools are able to have classes of 20 in which case the school you are thinking of might be very good. I think for the first few years of school in particular it is nice for the DCs to have local friends and to be able to walk to school. If the schools nearer you are full maybe they are very good despite the larger classes
30 kids in a class doesn't equal crappy teaching.
plus what happywomble says
That is too far away for me - I like the walk to school (most of the time!) with my kids, and having kids on our street that go to school, popping in and out for impromtu play dates, etc etc.
There aren't any children on our street his age so that would be irrelevant anyway.
If he was ill I would get a taxi same for concerts, sports day etc. Or if any family wanted to attend aswell they would give me a lift.
I have started learning to drive so if I have not passed by the time he starts reception I would expect to have passed sometime during that school year so transport wouldn't be an issue for very long but I think possibly the coach would be more sociable than me driving him in.
I think you have made up your mind about this - but I do think it would be a big mistake to decide on class sizes alone. Have you been round all the schools and had a look?
We drove 5 miles to nursery and I was so glad when DS moved to the local school. We spent weekends driving to birthday parties miles away. I also missed out on all the quick coffees and social goings on. DS never had anyone round to play, now someone comes most weeks.
You might also want to consider what is going to happen in the next few years. It seems to me that a school that is only 2/3rds full is a likely victim for these cuts they keep warning are coming our way.
Why not start off at a local school and if it doesn't work out swap to the further school? If there are 30 pupil classes locally, a swap the other way probably isn't going to be easy.
I would never choose a school 5 miles away myself for all kinds of reasons (see other posts on this thread like hana and seeline). Especially if I didn't drive (nightmare).
What are the local schools actually like - apart from having 30 in a class which, while not ideal, can be OK if well staffed?
I agree with CarGirl. Our son (reception) is in a class of 30 and we chose this over a local private school with a class size of just 6 - because it [IMO] was a better school.
Unless this school really is better in lots of other ways I thinking driving all that way, twice a day + parties + playdates is really making things difficult for no reason.
From experience having just moved my dd from a school with a class size of 18 (y1/y2) with one teacher and two SEN TA's to a school only half a mile closer with thirty children per class I would say look carefully.
My dd's teacher was very poor but the numbers in the class meant that there was only a top group and a bottom group those at the top weren't stretched enough because the range was immense and those at the bottom didn't progress because their range was immense too.
That coupled with the fact you were lumbered with the one poor teacher for two years meant that it could have a far greater detrimental effect on our child's education.
We opted to move Lucy as did two more from the top and from what I can see it is far more suited to Lucy's needs. Better facilities, a broader curricculum, breakfast and after school club, more friends to mix with, more enrichment activities etc
I have a car and so distance isn't an issue in fact wouldn't consider the primary in our village but definitely wouldn't sign up for a school five miles away without my own transport.
I also wouldn't be worrying about a class of 30. DD started in September in a class of 30 (and another reception class of 30 also) with a lovely teacher and 3 great teaching assistants. They have 5 groups for different work which means they get the attention they need whilst also having lots of friends to play with in and out of school.
The other thing that would worry me was sending a 4/5 year old on a coach by themselves. Maybe it would be fine, but it's not something I would feel totally happy with.
5 miles isn't that far. I know people who travel a similar distance to primary schools and it hasn't been a problem for them.
From a practical point of view it would be silly to do so on that basis alone. Even supposing you can afford the coach and taxis (and many may not be willingot hang around or pick you up later), he and you will feel remote from the other children/families if you can't socialise freely as they are more likely to live very locally. Also opportunities to do sports etc can be more limited in a small school. Most children cope perfectly well in a class of up to 30. If you do pass and you feel he isn't coping at that pint, then you consider moving him.
Is there a school bus? Is that what you mean by coach?
5 miles isn't far if you have a car or a direct bus route but 5 miles is quite a distance if you live in a small village like mine. Here it would mean 3 bus changes if I didn't drive.
Small classes also mean a very small friendship group.
Yes, I think you're mad to be doing it based on class sizes alone.
Do you have other concerns about your local schools?
If the other school is a village school with small classes, I can guarantee they will have big budget issues which means that resources will be scarce and there may well be fewer teaching assistants.
I teach in a school which has poor resources, and it's a real struggle at times.
I also think that whenever possible, children should go to their local school so that they can socialise with their peers outside school.
You wouldn't get funding for a school bus unless there were no places at your local school. As far as I know, you don't get funding if you have chosen to send your child to a school further than 3 miles away.
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