Going to school outside the village(23 Posts)
DH and I have fallen in love with a house in a small (pop 250) village 8 miles out of the city we currently live in.
Most of the cons that people say about village life are either not an issue here (its on a touristy, coastal bus route so hourly buses, 24 hr garage 2 minutes drive away for milk and bread emergencies etc) or we feel that we can live with.
The one thing I cant get past however is the small village school. Its 3 classes, currently 80+. I am a teacher myself at a very large school and always said I wanted my kids to go to a big school.
I am trying to be more open minded about the village school as I think a good school, with good facilities and proactive staff, is what it is no matter the size. But I also keep going back to the fact that in 5 minutes 1 direction or 15 minutes in another there are bigger villages with large (2 form entry+) schools.
So, my question is when DD does eventually go to school (not for another couple of years) will going to school outside of the village be a real and viable option? Yes I will need to consider how she will get there etc etc but I mean more in terms of being the odd one out in the village and/or the odd one out at school.
I want to feel that we will have genuine choice when it comes to choosing the right place for DD. Before anyone asks, both large schools are currently under subscribed. Of course this may change.
It doesnt help that the school is opposite the house! So its not as if we could just hide from that part of village life.
It sounds as if you would get a place in the other schools, but if I were you I would certainly go for the local school. It would be so much better for your daughter in terms of socialising with friends, after school activities, and just the sheer convenience, I also think there are some distinct advantages to small schools, especially in terms of pastoral care.
If you want your dd to never be able to have school friends over for tea or have school friends she can play out with then go for it.
I was bussed out for most of my school life, I loved the 3 years where I could walk to school.
Thank you both. These are definitely concerns and I think are the things that make the other schools not a real option.
Does anyone have any opinions on small schools in general?
Smaller schools may surprise you. Ours is a small village one and is rated very very highly. As was one in the last village I lived in. People used to bring their children from nearby towns.
By coincidence the school I could walk to had less than 100 students, I went to two other primaries that were both 2 form entry.
I actually think I had more friends at the smaller school because we were all in one building where at the other school the infants and juniors were separate buildings.
There was a recent thread on composite classes and both teachers and parents were in favour of them.
I went to a very small primary and an enermous secondary. I prefer small schools. My DC's aged 4-13 go to the same rural school, it has 250 students aged 2-18. So it is really tiny. The school community is great and friendships are formed across age groups. Small class sizes are a massive advantage too. I grew up in London so it's nothing like my experience and so much better.
I loved my small village school.
I hated that i lived outside the village and couldn't easily have friends over, couldn't walk to school, didn't have friends from school in my brownie group etc. It made me feel like i missed out on a lot of social activities that were talked about in school.
For me I'd want to be fully involved in village life and going to the school where i live would be a big part of that.
I loved my small village school. My dh went to a school in a different village to the one he lived in and it made him feel isolated in the village and he hasn't stayed in touch with his school friends
I went to a school in the local town rather than our local village school, and then went to secondary school in an even further away town, both of which made making friends an issue. I was also forced by my parents to do a lot of the travelling alone since my mother didn't want to pick up both myself and my younger brother (even though we were at school in the same town by this point), so I was often walking down dark country lanes alone, and more than once got followed home by strangers.
That says more about my parents than anything, but I would definitely say that for primary school, especially if you have more than one child, then sending them to the village school that you have already said a lot of positive things about is a great idea. Let them have all that joy you had from a big school when they're old enough to make the most of it, and have all the perks of having a school on your doorstep while you can!
I have to say, small schools will always feel like a better choice to me, because I think they get to know the children better as whole, and can tailor learning to their needs better because of that.
Most private schools market themselves on the fact they're small, with small class sizes, it's thought of as a huge bonus.
I went to small village schools, some of the best state schools in the country.
My DS will also attend a small village school, he's only 2 but is already friends with half a dozen children he will go to school with. It's a very supportive atmosphere.
I would choose a small school over a larger one every time, when we lived in town we were in the catchment for the best state primary in town but the though of him being one of 70 4 year olds in one intake was very off putting.
The village school should be an attraction. It hugely builds community, which is one of the factors (markers?) in child wellbeing and success.
Mixed year groups worked really well before the incredibly structured curriculum we have now. I'm not sure how they'd manage the synthetic phonics element, for example.
You don't have to decide yet.
My two DC's went to a small village school and thrived there. DS1 was rather shy and it was a distinct advantage for him specially. They were really known as individuals by their teachers, as they might not have been in a larger school and both did well academically.
Wow lots of responses thank you so much everyone.
Those who went/sent their children to small primaries and then average/large secondaries, how did you find this transition?
Did you feel you had to do anything to prevent your children from being too sheltered? I grew up in a 99% white British middle class type place and went to a 'naive' secondary. My dh grew up in a city and went a much more metropolitan school. I hope my children can grow up with a less naive world view than I had.
As a teacher myself I sincerely hope 'their teachers knew them' can be said about all schools! I would be very upset if I felt parents thought I didn't tailor my teaching to my children's needs. But I do take the point that a small schools means everyone - office staff, lunch staff, tas - know your child.
One concern would be small friendship pool but I deal with friendship issues all the time and we have 70 odd to choose from!
My only other specific to small schools is having the same teacher 2 or even 3 years in a row. But I do genuinely believe terrible teachers are less and less common nowadays. Although I would say that
Sorry that should be naice secondary with naive world view. I can see why my autocorrect was confused!
I sent dd to a big primary for exactly the same concerns as you. Friends with dc at smaller schools, including private, have had concerns over the small classes and small pool of potential friends. I'm delighted with our decision. Dd has made friends locally as kids do anyway. Bigger school has more resources and better capability for differentiating and grouping.
Small school pros: all staff know all the children well and issues are very rarely missed, walking distance to school, other parents know your kids and keep an eye on them out and about.
Small school cons: the village mentality of living in each other's pockets and being concerned with each others' lives , the risk of there being a not-so-good teacher covering a year or two or your dc's school life.
You asked about moving from small primary to small secondary, OP? My eldest went from small primary to small secondary, was bullied by two boys who managed to get the whole year group and some kids from other year groups in on the name calling etc, so there was no escaping it in or out of school, since 'trends' spread fast in a small secondary
with no real grasp on behaviour . So we moved him to a bigger secondary where he could blend in and be 'one of the crowd' and it was much better. At that age, a mature 12 yr old, he was happy to handle the situation of meeting tons of new people and starting new friendships.
The worry of having a small pool of friends is a total gamble, I agree. I think it depends on the luck of the draw - i.e. what children join the school with your dc. My eldest wasn't that lucky (moving house/school in yr 5 probably didn't help) and made one good friend who unfortunately became his bully at secondary (interestingly, a pattern which I have heard has happened a few times to children from this small primary: moving up together to 'big school' with all its pecking orders and they turn on 'the old' to impress 'the new', maybe?). My second dc moved up to primary with a lot of his preschool friends and so far (touch wood!) they are a solid group of friends still and remain loyal and kind to each other.
Wellies yes, a lot of my concerns fit in the 'that could happen anywhere' box.
Equally I know it isn't fair to say small schools have a lack of resources (wealthy ptas often mean iPads and play equipment). I have known average sized schools with tiny classrooms and very limited outdoor space. Hence the trying to be open minded!
It will probably be fine either way. We didn't have the option (without hypocrisy, church) of our village school for our DD. She had friends at her school, and also neighbouring kids. In some ways, having friends you're not at school with isn't a bad thing. It probably depends somewhat on the character of your child, and it takes that bit more effort to do playdates with schoolfriends.
Being in the school is one of the easiest ways to integrate the family into the community really so it would have to be a bad one to want to put the kids elsewhere.
In retrospect, although we really didn't have any choice about it, sending DD to the other school was almost certainly better for her for various reasons, but I'd have benefitted from more local connections. But of course that's never a parent's priority.
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