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Help me pick a school for DD - it's complicated and I'm going round in circles!!

(12 Posts)
IzzyWizzyletsgetbusy Thu 15-Oct-09 11:20:28

I have to submit DD's primary school application next week, and am starting to feel like I'm going mad trying to make a decision!

DS is already in Yr 1 at lovely local RC school, very happy there and doing well, so that will be our 1st choice (obviously!). However we are not RC and school is now so over-subscribed that DD is very very unlikely to get in sad

2nd choice will be our closest school (slightly closer than DS's school) but again this is really over-subscribed, and at 0.5 miles it is impossible to say whether DD will get in (certainly in DS's year, he would not have got a place).

So I'm having to think long and hard about our 3rd choice - it's between a very large primary school (3 classes per year) about a mile from us, or a smaller school in the next village (over 2 miles). We didn't even consider the big school for DS who was very shy at pre-school age, but I think DD - who's much more confident - would cope and it does have great resources, loads of extra-curricular clubs etc so I do see all the positives. Then again I'm worried about it being "too big" - DS's school is 1-form entry and has a lovely community family-type feel to it, so I find it hard to think of a school that's too big for the whole school to get together for assembly etc!

The smaller school is 1.5 classes per year, in a lovely village feeding into a great secondary school (so in time we might think about moving to said village and DD would carry on to secondary with her friends). If we end up moving DS, it might be a less drastic change for him. But it's further away - does this matter...?

Both schools are fairly similar in terms of SATs etc.

Anyone got any words of wisdom? In particular, re big/small schools and moving children from one to the other, or re local/not-so-local?

Thanks!

islandofsodor Thu 15-Oct-09 11:28:34

Will not your dd not get sibling priority at ds's school?

IzzyWizzyletsgetbusy Thu 15-Oct-09 12:28:22

Sadly not - it's an RC school and we're not Catholic, so stand behind all those who are. Didn't look like being a problem when DS got in (otherwise we wouldn't have applied for him to go there) but it's got much more over-subscribed in the last year or so, and the new parish priest and governors have changed the priority list to move non-Catholic siblings right down...

It's a bit of a nightmare to be honest.

doubleexpresso Thu 15-Oct-09 12:35:23

No real words of wisdom I'm afraid. It does sound like a real dilemma. Have you considered the practicalities ? Are there other families who live nearby who attend the other schools ? It may be sensible to sort out potential lift shares etc.

Seeline Thu 15-Oct-09 12:44:15

All I can say is both my DCs go to a 3 form intake primary, and although both are very different in character, both have ahd no problems settling in and are happy there. I think it does depend on how the school operates - ours works in year groups alot, although there is interaction between the years eg older children reading to the younger ones etc. Also the school was originally an infants and junior school, and although now in one building, it means there are separate play grounds for Y1+2, and Y3-6 (reception having their own area again), and also the use of 2 halls which separates out lunchtimes etc. I would say the benefits of having great resources, loads of TA support etc, is a great plus for larger schools. I also think, long term, there will be less of a shock when moving onto secondary school.

captainpig Thu 15-Oct-09 14:30:17

You need to think about whether you would be able to collect/drop off at two different schools.

Assuming you don't get 1st or 2nd choice, would you be able (or want) to move DS to the village school too (ie would they have room), or if you want to leave DS where he is whether the large primary for DD has a breakfast club or after school club to enable you to collect both children from separate schools. Or does your DS school have a breakfast/after school club?

IzzyWizzyletsgetbusy Thu 15-Oct-09 16:46:42

Dropping off and picking up from 2 different schools is far from ideal, and we couldn't keep it up long term - if a place didn't come up for dd at ds's school, I think he would have to change eventually.

DS's school doesn't have a before or after school club, so I'm making sure all our choices for dd do. The children from the larger school are picked up by minibus and taken to after school club, the village school has one next door. Both have breakfast clubs. Both should also have room for ds if (when!) we need it.

Doesn't really make things any clearer, does it?!

captainpig Thu 15-Oct-09 20:28:31

Have you been to visit both the 3 form entry and the village school?

Does the larger 3 form entry also feed into a good secondary?

IzzyWizzyletsgetbusy Fri 16-Oct-09 00:32:54

Been to visit both, liked them both - so did dd- just very different.

Seeline, good to hear some positives re big schools, i did really like the range and variety of sports, music etc on offer.

Captain pig- most children from large school go on to the nearby secondary, which is rubbish and to which we will not be applying. About a third go on to other local schools though.

nappyaddict Fri 16-Oct-09 00:40:52

I thought 11 December was an early deadline!! It's always been end of Feb round here for years.

captainpig Fri 16-Oct-09 18:49:18

OK, how about putting all 4 preferences down instead of 3. I did this when applying and put down 6 preferences (although luckily I did get my 1st preference). I got an email from the education department confirming that I could do this and all preferences would be considered, prior to me applying, although it had to be done on the written form with an additional sheet, and not online. Wonder whether your county would do this?

Fingers crossed you will get your 1st preference anyway.

In terms of which child you put on waiting lists and move, I would really consider which secondary the school feeds into, if you have feeder schools in you area (we don't, it's all done on catchment).

FritesMenthe Fri 16-Oct-09 19:03:40

Is it worth making an appointment to discuss your individual circumstances with the headteacher or the priest?

Can you justify your place at RC school by showing that, although not RC, you are involved in the school or church community?

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