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I feel quite detatched from my DD's primary school because it is not our catchment school and we have to drive in everyday. Is it normal to feel this way?

(27 Posts)
CanvasBags Mon 05-Oct-09 14:34:28

Through no choice of my own, my DD attends a school a few miles away. We moved house when she was going into Year 1, so we had to select the best school that had a place for her.

It's a fairly good school and we are all very happy with it. But I live right on the doorstep of a very similar school, which was full up when we moved. I can't help feeling like it would have been easier to break into a new community if my DD was attending that very local school.

Whilst I now know enough mums at DD's school - one year later - to have a chat to, I feel detatched from that school and community due to it's location. I live in a very large urban area so there are probably a dozen schools within a 2 mile radius of our house, so that means catchment areas are relatively small and close-knit. The school DD is at is in an area where people have grown up and remained - it's not an incomer-type area at all. I am somewhat an oddity!

DD is far too senstivie to consider moving her to a different school and I certainly would not consider it just to please me (though I do dislike having to travel by car every day)! But I wonder if I feel this way because we don't live close to the school or whether this is still a by-product of starting at a school in Year 1 instead of the beginning of Reception.

CanvasBags Mon 05-Oct-09 14:36:03

sh*t - I know detached is spelt without a second t hmm

Elk Mon 05-Oct-09 15:01:47

Is there a parents or friends group at the school? This is one way of getting more involved. I am not good at starting conversations with people I don't know but as a rep for the parents assoc. I have to. This also gives me a role at school functions, as I will be helping with the food or behind a stall.

Does your dd have a friend she likes to play with as this was one of the first ways I got to meet other mums as they normally came with their child the first time they came over to play.

fircone Mon 05-Oct-09 17:07:11

Bit of both, I should say. I've been there!

We moved to a new area and ds changed schools in year 1. It took ages for him to find friends as the children seem to bond quite quickly into groups from reception, and the mums even more so!

Furthermore if the school is in quite a tightly-knit community it is difficult to break in.

You could do as Elk says, and try to get more involved with the school such as helping out in some way, PA etc, or if the situation is really untenable you could try to transfer your dd into the juniors, at year 3. There is often a bit of movement around this time and a place may come up at your nearer school.

I do understand, however, that you don't want to unsettle your dd if she is all right where she is. It might be a case of better the devil you know.

Blu Mon 05-Oct-09 17:19:54

We moved to be on the doorstep of DS's school when he was in Yr 1 and contact with other families did increase a lot - and not driving to school improved the quality of our lives so much! It was so easy just to walk round the corner.

If moving is not possible for you, be brazen. Invite a cou[ple of kids for tea or a party on a Saturday, ones with parents you know know each other and sem to get on, and say 'and please feel free to bring the familiy for drinks and nibbles when you pick them up'.

I find that working f/t is the biggest barrier to being in and amongst the other families connected with the school, but if you stick you neck out and offer lifts from after school clubs, or weekend play invitations, it can still be done.

sarah293 Mon 05-Oct-09 17:27:17

Message withdrawn

CanvasBags Tue 13-Oct-09 13:01:11

I just realised I did not come back to this read. Thank you to those who responded.

DD has a best friend and I do chat to her mother and have had the little girl over to play and for tea. She has other friends she plays with but none that she has wanted to have over.

I went on the school trip last summer and to keep my CRB up to date, will try to go in next week (and sometimes thereafter) to help out at school. That could help.

I can't move DD as she is a sensitive little thing and I think it would be bad for her. I have a second DD who starts in reception next September. Perhaps that will be a good time to be brazen and muscle in with the other new Reception class mums.

The catchment parents are very close knit, but there are other children who come from out of catchment (not nearly as far as me!) who might be standing alone come the day their child starts in Reception.

AtheneNoctua Tue 13-Oct-09 16:09:06

We have a similar situation but it is of my own making. We don't live in the LEA but we do go to the church and I jumped through every hoop I could find to ensure their entry to this school. We live by far the furthest away. DD complains about it becaue no one else has to take the bus, they all live next to the school, "Mummy whe can we move to xxx????" But, it's a better school than the one down the road where kids in our neighborhood go to school. I don't regret the decision. But I was thinking just yesterday that if I could pay for private school this wouldn't be an issue because everyone would live far away and DD wouldn't feel like the odd one out.

Fennel Tue 13-Oct-09 17:06:40

We were in this position for a similar reason, moved and had to pick a school, then bought a house and it was a drive away from new house with local school

We did move the dds, a second time in 6 months, but we gave them the choice, they were 6 and 5 at the time and they were keen to move a second time to the local school. I think they found it hard driving past the local school, with all the children playing outside after school, and driving away from the school they were at. We didn't feel part of either community.

it worked for us in that the dds settled in to their 3rd school and we immediately did become part of our local community, I don't think that would have happened in the same way while the dds were at school elsewhere. and we particularly hated the car driving, other people don't always mind that but I can't stand spending much time in a car.

My son didnt get into the school he went to nursery at and we have to drive to my second choice every day. It's a fab school, but very 'clicky' - my daughters went there years ago but nothing has changed as far as the parents are concerned. No-one speaks to me, no matter how much I try to start a conversation. Thankfully, though, ds has made friends and has been to a couple of parties since the start of term - and that's what counts smile.

The way I look at it, his education is what's most important. His eldest sister has just started university after excellent A level grades - she got the grounding for this where he is now smile. Stick with it.

CanvasBags Tue 13-Oct-09 19:34:45

I think it would be an easier decision if one school were better than the other but they happen to be comparable in terms of results and reputation.

But, with DD2 starting school next September, I have to admit that I would put her into our neaer school and move DD1 if she were the type who could handle the move. I have tried to sell the idea to her at times, but this suggestion is met with horror.

It's hard to accept that this is what my life entails for the next 8 years - driving a child to school. I feel like we miss out on becoming part of a network of parents that can share the picking up of children from parties/Rainbows/gymnastics etc...

I'm having to resist the urge to look at the local school in lieu of DD2's starting Reception next year. I would hope that I would find something off-putting about it but it could backfire and I could come away thinking it is more wonderful than DD1's current school.

Maybe I just should be grateful DD1 is in a good enough school and is happy and doing well. I do so hate being in that car though.... This is the turmoil that goes on in my head daily!

paranoid2 Tue 13-Oct-09 19:59:53

I moved my Dt's last year to a school nearer to us. We moved them because Dt2 has learning issues and we moved him to a special unit attached to a mainstream school. We had to decide at the time whether to move Dt1 to the MS part of the school so that they could be at the same school and we didnt have the complications of having 2 fairly young children at different schools. We were lucky in that the school that we moved them to is closer than the other school. DT1 is also very sensitive and resisted the move big time. We managed to get him to say he would give it a go for a few weeks and then it would be his decision as to what he wanted to do.We didnt intend to give him this choice but because he was so distraught it seemed the only way for him to agree. We tried to convince him that it would be better for him to be at a local school as he could do more after school activities,and have more friends over to play.
Anyway he went and within a short period of time he volunteered to stay for another few weeks and it went from there. He is now very happy and settled. At the time I thought it was short term pain for a longer term gain. I know the situation is a bit different as I guess you feel that you are contemplating the move for purely selfish reasons whereas I had the excuse of wanting to keep the boys together for their sakes, but there really are benefits to living close to the school for both children and parents and the ones that I quoted at the time to DT1 did turn out to be the ones that he is enjoying now.

paranoid2 Tue 13-Oct-09 20:02:10

BTW I dont think you are contemplating moving your DD for purely selfish reasons, its just from your post you seemed to imply that you thought you were

CanvasBags Tue 13-Oct-09 20:23:47

I think that in the long run, if I moved DD1, she would be fine and would experience the benefits too. But, for her, I think that long run would be at least a year and maybe longer. And I fear that she would not trust that we would never move her again. We already moved her at the end of Reception and she was distraught about that. <<<sigh>>>

Paranoid2 - it sounds like you did the best thing. If DD2 does not get a place at DD1s school, then I would have to consider moving DD1 but based on past years, the criteria of 'siblings out of catchment' will very likely get her in.

secondchoice Tue 13-Oct-09 20:45:21

I actually came on to post about a situation that, although not the same as yours, has many similarities.
(I have namechanged as don't want to make myself identifiable in RL.)

DD1 started reception 6 weeks ago in our second choice school - it is too far to walk so I have to drive every day. I hate driving. I have had to overcome a driving phobia that meant I didn't drive AT ALL for 15 years in order to do this. So far I have lost 4lbs with the worry/stress of it all (not as good as it sounds as if I carry on like this I will be under 7 stone by Christmas!).
We live 19 houses away from our first choice school. We are on the waiting list and I am hoping beyond hope that a place comes up.

I have decided that if we are offered a place I will move DD1. There is nothing wrong with her current school, she's happy there. She will not want to move I am sure but I am prepared to put up with the emotional fall-out of uprooting her for what in essence are my own selfish reasons because ultimately it will be worth it. Like you, I have another DD due to start school in Sept 2011 - that's 8 years of school runs so am taking a long term view.

I guess what I'm saying is is that imo it IS ok to move your DD if that is what YOU want - if you think the long term (i.e. over the next 8 years) advantages of being able to walk to school merit it I would move her. Have you got her on the waiting list at the closer school? If you applied for your DD2 would she get in? Your DD1 would be a sibling then and most likely go to the top of the waiting list.

Your last post really struck a chord with me, as that is how I feel, just so, so sad about the situation.

I think other people have given lots of suggestions as to how you can become more involved in the life of your dd's current school I just wanted you to know that I don't necessarily think it's selfish to think about how you feel in all this.

BEAUTlFUL Tue 13-Oct-09 20:52:58

God, just move her. She'll have her little sister with her, she'll adore it.

[Was moved schools 5 times in total by selfish parents emoticon]

secondchoice Tue 13-Oct-09 20:56:00

Sorry, cross-posted with you.
I guess that if you really cannot move your dd then other people's suggestions about getting more involved in school life really are the only way to dispel that outsider feeling.

In my situation I have deliberately held back slightly from getting too involved in the school as am determined to move DD1 whenever I can. However, I can see that this has only compounded things as in the normal run of things I would have been more than happy to help/volunteer etc.

Kitsilano Tue 13-Oct-09 21:01:56

I agree - move her! I had to change schools every 1-3 years until I was 12 because of my dad's job - it isn't the end of the world. Plus I have just chosen a very local school for my DD instead of a selective academic one that she was offered a place at that was a few miles a way. Proximity was a big reason for my decision. Not just convenience for me but I also think it will be much nicer for my DDs to feel part of the local community, have local friends whose houses they can pop round to etc.

Kitsilano Tue 13-Oct-09 21:02:46

I agree - move her! I had to change schools every 1-3 years until I was 12 because of my dad's job - it isn't the end of the world. Plus I have just chosen a very local school for my DD instead of a selective academic one that she was offered a place at that was a few miles a way. Proximity was a big reason for my decision. Not just convenience for me but I also think it will be much nicer for my DDs to feel part of the local community, have local friends whose houses they can pop round to etc.

paranoid2 Tue 13-Oct-09 23:30:16

The long run for us has been the best part of a year(from November to June). Not a year of misery but a year of Dt1 still not being able to say that his new school was the best school and still talking about his old friends. His new school moved into a brand new building a few months after the Dts moved but Dt1 said that new buildings didnt count and that it was friends that mattered.
HOWEVER through all that he was still regarded as having settled down really well and had made lots of friends. His down moments were few (although I felt really guilty when he had them). We turned the final corner at the end of last term when he was really excited about his new teacher for this year and the friends in his class and for the first time he started to say that his new school was the best one. I have no doubt now that I made the right decision, The first school that the Dt's went to was also outside our catchment area and not a school that many living outside the area went to. We originally selected it because of small class sizes , my boys were young and premature but I never felt part of the place, whereas now I feel somehow at home. Its small things like going to the local shops and the boys see someone from school, they really enjoy that, feeling part of a community. They dont know thats what they feel but it is in a chils way

SomeGuy Wed 14-Oct-09 01:10:44

> But I was thinking just yesterday that if I could pay for private school this wouldn't be an issue because everyone would live far away and DD wouldn't feel like the odd one out.

I'm not sure that that's true. If you're going to go to private school, it's still better to live close to the school.

AtheneNoctua Wed 14-Oct-09 10:44:18

I believe that private schools tend to have students from further away since catchment is a criteria for entry.

I don't really understand why so many people find it so important to go to a school next door. I want my kids to get the best education possible. And if driving/bussing 5 miles is what it takes, it seems a small price to pay for a better education.

Fennel Wed 14-Oct-09 11:38:00

There are several reasons we strongly prefer local schools. we prefer not to drive for environmental reasons so walking or cycling distance is important to us.

And I have been amazed, since having children, at how locally they think, my children really do seem to be thriving on living in a strong little community, walking to their local school, picking up their friends on the way, able to walk home alone from the age of 7 or 8. It gives them a confidence and a freedom and a sense of belonging that I can see is really valuable to them.

not trying to make the OP feel guilty though if she sticks with the current school, we found our similar choice terribly difficult to make and if my children had been reluctant to move again we'd probably have stuck with the 6 or 9 years of driving to school. it's not an easy choice. but moving worked for us.

CanvasBags Wed 14-Oct-09 14:30:05

I appreciate everyone's viewpoint.

I really should say DD1 is an anxious little girl, rather than sensitive. Sensitive makes her sound like a precious little flower. She gets anxious very easily when starting at new clubs and in new situations. If she has the easy-going nature of my second DD, I would suck up the pain of the move but I do think it could be very bad for her confidence and security if I were to move DD1.

Everything is still up in the air, as we haven't sold our old house 200 miles away and so are still renting here. But it is clear we'll eventually buy a house near to where we live now and we're not keen to buy in the area where DD1 goes to school because we're in the vicinity of a great secondary school here.

I'm thinking that my other option is to move DD2 when she goes into Year 3. DD1 will be in Year 6, so we'd just have to deal with one year of them being in separate schools. By then of course I might feel settled with the school and not want to move DD2!

Athene - I would definitely put education over distance if my local school were dire. But, like Fennel, it is very much a part of me to want to walk or cycle to school and not spend so much time using the car. When DD1 started Reception I chose the local school and did not consider any other schools (which nursery friends seemed to think were better) because the one close to us was fine. I think I'll go and see the local school at least, maybe it will help me make up my mind one way or another.

Thanks for humouring me and letting me hash this out so publicly!

hormonalmum Wed 14-Oct-09 22:05:10

I've only skimmed the thread, but is it possible to drive in and park a five minute walk away and walk the last bit in the hope of meeting / chatting other mums / children?

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