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Switching to private at year one - am i mad?

(65 Posts)
daisypad Mon 06-Jul-09 13:16:24

Hi - newby here but I love the site so this is my tentative first post....!

My dd is just finishing reception at a local infants school - she has been really happy there and it is a great school - outstanding ofsted etc, but the class sizes are 30 with quite a few tricky kids. She is bright and is desperate to read and write as much as possible but the staff aim to read one to one only once a week and even then they don't often manage it, she is also fairly quiet and i am a bit worried about her getting lost in the class and left to coast.

the local junior schools are all pretty rubbish so we were planning on moving her to private from year 3 but now are wondering whether it might be better to move her now on the basis that she will get more support over the next couple of years and also that it might be easier on her from a social point of view as the classes won't have bonded so much now compared to in two years time.

the only downside of the private school (other than cost!!) is that it is a 20 minute drive away rather than 5 minute walk we have at the moment...

am i mad? am i turning into a pushy mother expecting too much from this stage of school? Should i just leave her where she is and move her when all of her class move on? am i going to damage her by taking her away from her friends?

any thoughts welcome...i'm getting too caught up in this i think i may have lost perspective.....

bigchris Mon 06-Jul-09 13:20:01

are you able to go and read in class? sounds like they need a bit of help

ds only reads once a week in reception, he has learnt so much

i think proximity is important too, local friends when your child is older will be great

verygreenlawn Mon 06-Jul-09 13:27:46

Wow, you picked a tricky one for your first post!

Very difficult to assess without knowing all the circumstances - are you easily able to afford the extra couple of years? Does she already have a good network of friends?

I have no regrets about my dcs being privately educated from the start, but then on the other hand I'm a big believer in "if it ain't broke ...". Things could change between now and your planned move, and the junior schools may well improve. She also sounds happy at the moment and I would've thought that has to count for a great deal at this age.

I wouldn't worry about her making friends from year three, as this is often a natural time for a move anyway. We also have a 20 min drive to school and it's never been a problem for us, but then the dcs have lots of outside friends anyway.

Have you tried a sample day at the school you're looking at?

daisypad Mon 06-Jul-09 13:31:42

Hi bigchris it is tricky for me to get in as am at home with one year old and don't have any cover for him.

am also worried that she will end up leaving the friends she has now when she moves at year 3 anyway so when is it kindest to move..? i don't know enough about friend dynamics at 7 to say. At the moment they all seem to be split into boys vs girls but all the girls play together - no real best friends yet - when does that really kick in?


daisypad Mon 06-Jul-09 13:39:57

Hi verygreenlawn - thanks for message.

We can afford the extra years (obviously rather not!!) and are certain she will go at year 3 as the juniors really are rubbish - and it has always been our inclination to go private but wanted to give her a local start at this school as the reputation was so good (maybe i just expected too much of it).

She has had a sample day and seemed to enjoy it - the days are a bit longer (finish at 4)so she was exhausted and a bit confused by it all to be honest. She also has friends outside of school but am worried with the longer day we won't be able to fit in much time to see them as playdates will get tricky when she gets home at half four. How does it work for you with seeing outside friends? thanks

Greatfun Mon 06-Jul-09 13:42:04

If you were going to move her in year 3 anyway and can easily aford the fees I would move her. I assume the 20 minute journey would still have been an issue then so maybe makes little difference now.

Greatfun Mon 06-Jul-09 13:43:44

meant afford. I can spell honest smile

stillstanding Mon 06-Jul-09 13:46:23

I think if you already have reservations about the school and you will move her in year 3 anyway you should just go for it - trust your instincts!

verygreenlawn Mon 06-Jul-09 13:47:50

We don't do much after school to be honest, though the dcs have a couple of days of activities after school and tend to see outside friends there (eg ds2 goes to soccer tots and sees quite a few of his nursery friends there). We find everyone is a bit tired by the end of school to make playdates worthwhile, plus with three dcs you always feel you're arriving with a gang in tow! Other than that, it's weekends - parties etc. Though be warned that if you're 20 minutes away, you may be spending some time at the weekends ferrying her back and forth to parties!

I think the age you change depends lots on your dd's personality, I know ds1 took ages to settle into school full-stop, whereas ds2 could move anywhere and not be fazed by it.

Hope you get lots of good advice from others.

Greatfun Mon 06-Jul-09 13:49:47

Just a thought - you could ask the private school what they do about the areas you are concerned with. IE How often they do one to one reading.At least then you can weigh up the differences. My DCs are not school age yet but I wouldn't consider it to be pushy parenting to want your DD to read more especially as she is so keen to do so.

englishpatient Mon 06-Jul-09 14:18:35

Have read this thread with interest as we have a similar dilemma with DS, currently in yr 1 - we're thinking of moving him at the end of yr 2. I would say - are you sure the private school you are looking at is a good one? They aren't all good just because they are private (I visited one a few yrs ago for DD and it wasn't good at all!) - but then some are amazing.

2hot Mon 06-Jul-09 14:20:19

I did just that - moved ds after finishing reception at an 'outstanding' school for reasons similar to yours. I haven't regretted it in the slightest.

From an academic point of view, the ones who had been at private school from reception were already way ahead, despite ds having passed all the early learning goals. The longer they are at state schools, the more they have to catch up.

From a social point of view, new friends were made before it all got cliquey.

The only down-side (apart from having to pay of course!) is that there aren't many local friends, but I cultivate friendships with local children who go to other private schools and are in the same boat.

I would trust your instincts and go for it!

LadyMuck Mon 06-Jul-09 16:04:54

Some random comments:-

Hearing a child read once a week is pretty poor, and I would have thought that your existing school would be doing something different in Year 1 (where reading is pretty key). It might be worth seeing what they will do before moving?

4pm is a very late finish imo/e. Both dcs are at private school with the Year 1 day ending at 3 or 3.15 (though the schools do start at 8.15/8.35).

It is probably too close to the end of term, but you can always ask for a 2nd trial day. Ask to speak to the class rep (parent) who can give you an overview of the class, and where they live. Ds2 moved school during Year 1 and the class rep even organised outings to the park so that he could play with most of the class. And you will find that many of the private school parents aren't within walking distance, so you won't be the odd one out.

RenagadeMum Mon 06-Jul-09 16:12:51

I am really interested in this advice as well.
DD is at a state school which is registered as 'outstanding', and in many ways it is. But during a parents evening they happily told me my dd was 'so good they sometimes didnt notice her until midday'. I think it was meant to be reassuring but she seems overwhelmed by the 90 reception children and 30 in a class seems alot.

I don't really give a monkeys about her academically (I know that being well rounded is more important) but I wonder if being quiet she should go to a private school with smaller classes.

mumof2222222222222222boys Mon 06-Jul-09 16:24:53

It is a dilemma for so many. DS1 is due to start in a reasonably good school in Sept. We think he is pretty bright (that is his nursery's assessment not just ours) and he is also a September baby. I am concerned that he will be bored and not stretched (not trying to be pushing mum, but want him to be interested) and will miss the attention he clearly gets in nursery.

Well, we have decided to send him anyway, but keep an eye on progress. If it isn't working out well, we will do something about it. but fingers crossed it will be fine.

zeke Mon 06-Jul-09 19:27:27

My son is also in an outstanding state school with a class size of 30.

He reads with his teacher about once a fortnight and with classroom helpers (mums or other teachers) 1-2 x a week. He reads with me every single day though and I really do think that is the key at that age. I am more than happy with the amount of reading he does at school. My son certainly reads better than my 3 privately educated nieces and nephews at this age, not because he is brighter but because he has more 1-2-1 practise.

I really don't think you will 'damage' her by moving her away from her friends but I wouldn't be too keen on the 20 mins drive each side of the school day at that age. That adds up to 30 mins of extra time to do reading/other work with her in my book or 'just' play!

I don't think there is a right or wrong answer though tbh - I would just go with your 'gut' instinct. You can easily start her at the private school later but it would be much more difficult to swap her back!

daisypad Mon 06-Jul-09 19:36:38

Thanks so much for your responses, i can't tell you how much it helps to hear other viewpoints/experiences. I am loathed to talk to any local friends as the private thing I think can alientate people (as I found out from one friend whose reaction suprised me to say the least!!)

The private school have said that they read one on one at least 3 times a week, which has become such a big thing for me as I don't understand how they can progress through the stages if the teachers are only hearing them read once a week (and that really doesn't even happen). I also know that they stick with that expectation (at existing school) in year one too which makes me worry that dd will get bored. I have already had to push 4 times to go up a stage in her books and she still finds them easy.

2hot - you're comments about catching up were something i was worried about too - so good to hear someone else has been in the same boat.

But she is happy where she is so it seems crazy to move her

Thanks so much for your comments - any more advice very welcome too!

Hulababy Mon 06-Jul-09 19:38:08

Many schools only hear children read once a week. When I started working as a TA I was really quite shocked at this, esp as that is generally not one to one reading, but as part of a guided reading session with 4 or 5 other children. Some children get to do an additional one to one read with an elderly volunteer we have who comes in one afternon a week, and I try and get my 6 IEP children to read to me either individually or in pairs 1-3 times a week, depending on other committments.

Children are then encouraged by schools to read at home with parents. Many have some form of reading diary to record it. But this is not compulsary and often the children who need it most don't do it (IME).

I really don't think children in many schools are doing anywhere near enough reading in the first years of school. But I guess it generally comes down to restricted time and trying to fit everything in.

Hulababy Mon 06-Jul-09 19:42:28

daisypad - my DD is in an independent prep school, just finishing Y2.

Throughout school so far she has done individual reading with a teacher (or TA in Reception or a volunteer (i.e me!) /work experience person). They also do independent reading sessions often. They only read 1-4 pages or so, depepnding on book, each day but enough.

In Y1 and recepetion nightly reading is compulsary in that the book s sent home with a reading record and parents are asked to write where they gt up to and a comment. In Y2 the school book only comes home once a week, but children are expected to do some reading each day.

She goes into Y3 (juniors) next year and they do 2-3 individual reads to a teacher then and daily independent reading sessions.

hullygully Mon 06-Jul-09 19:43:46

I'd do it sooner rather than later (I did it later).

FluffyBunnyGoneBad Mon 06-Jul-09 19:47:30

I moved ds into a private school in year 1. He's very bright and the school he was at in reception were overwhelmed. It worked out quite well except for the fact that he'd spend the holidays with me as all his friends lived far away, the school holidays were longer so working's harder. Reading was listened to every day, homework was every day so they were worked hard, work was at the right level for him but this was not done all the way through the school. I moved him back into the state system in March half term, it was a big mistake as the gap between him and some of the other children is too wide. He's been bullied and called all sorts so it's looking likely he'll be going to another private school in September. He sits an assessment on Monday.

trickerg Mon 06-Jul-09 21:08:12

Hulababy, guided reading is much more focussed than individual reading, and, as you say, only takes place once a week. Each session has an objective for the children to concentrate on (e.g. punctuation, use of speech marks), and the teaching of reading takes place in these sessions. There is focussed discussion on such things as the meaning of the text, characterisation, presentation of the text, etc.

In guided reading sessions, children usually read the 'next' reading level from the one they take home.

In most schools, follow-up activities about the book will take place before children read the book with the teacher again.

Children gain a great deal from guided reading sessions, as they learn from each other as well as the teacher.

We do expect children to read at home with parents about 4x a week, but will try to pick up any at school who we feel aren't reading enough.

Hulababy Mon 06-Jul-09 21:12:07

trickerg - not sure I would completly agree with you re guided reading and individual reading, but I guess that depends on individual schools and how they do it. My experience (am a TA and also mum to a 7) is that individual reading in more intense and more beneficial - IME anyway. At DD's school they do the teaching f reading both through the one ot one reading and in whole class sessions. Where I work (Y1) there are no real follow up activities and the children read the same level books as they take home with them.

Doodle2u Mon 06-Jul-09 21:23:13

We're just about to make this leap in September. DS is 8 and DD is 6. Both did assessments before being offered their places two weeks ago.

The way I see it - it's good to have school friends and another set of 'home' friends. That way, in grief at school doesn't contaminate home friends and vice versa!

Reason for moving them - DS is bright and academic and would pretty much flower where ever we put him.

DD is like me - a lazy bugger who'll get away with blue-murder if she can and their current school, whilst really good, will be like a big, black hole for DD. She'll fall in to it and never be seen again grin

deste Mon 06-Jul-09 21:24:00

My children went to a private school and had a reading book home on the first day. I dont know how the teacher managed because they only did mornings for the first few weeks. My son who was older did not even have a TA in his class. They progressed really quickly and read every day to the teacher. I do suspect though that the reading was taught by the parents at home as they had to read every day for homework. Both of mine could read before they went to school, the youngest as she went to a private kindergarten. She did start again from scratch when she went to school because as I suspected she could read but really did not understand what she was reading.

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