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should I be concerned about a one-and-a-quarter-hour commute to secondary school?

(40 Posts)
parakeet Tue 17-Jan-12 13:38:12

The school we are most likely to get into involves a half-hour bus journey, which, together with the walk at either end, and the fact that the buses don't run very regularly, entails leaving home at 7.10 (to get to school before 8.30). There's a one-hour journey home too.

This seems horrendous to me, making the school day ever so long, and it will still be dark when she leaves in the morning. We don't live in a remote village, we're just unlucky with the distribution of schools in our area. I realise that some people put up with this to get to a private school, but this is just to get to our nearest state secondary.

The alternative is to move house, which I would be prepared to do if necessary. But am I worrying over nothing? Could people whose children have a similar commute give me feedback over how this affects them? Thanks so much.

teaandthorazine Tue 17-Jan-12 13:51:27

IMO it's too long, but I'm sure others will disagree!

I'm currently embroiled in a similar 'discussion' (hemhem) with ds's dad who thinks it's reasonable to expect an 11-year old to do an 60-mile round trip every day for school. My argument is not so much the travelling itself but the impact on tiredness, ability to then do an hour or more of homework once home, impact on friendships, after-school clubs etc. It's way too much.

I would move if it's an option.

suburbandream Tue 17-Jan-12 13:57:08

Well, it's not ideal but if it's the nearest school I don't see what you can do about it, and presumably others will be in the same boat. My school commute was about the same when I went to secondary and TBH you just get on with it. We all used to do our homework on the bus home (or sometimes on the bus in the mornings grin) and once your DC makes friends who are going the same way it won't seem so bad - you know how teenagers can chat endlessly about nothing. Maybe they'll get a mate who gets a lift in and has a spare space in the car??

parakeet Tue 17-Jan-12 14:09:52

In theory I could give lifts myself, although not every day because I work part-time. But I just don't want to! I see secondary school as a time when they should be becoming more independent and to keep doing the school run for extra seven years does not appeal.

There are other options - cycling would probably take only half an hour, but I worry about the safety. I know, I know! But still.

OhThisIsJustGrape Tue 17-Jan-12 14:10:13

My secondary school was 20 miles away. I used to leave the house, walk a mile into town to bus stop. Bus left at 7.15am and used to get into the city at about 8am. I then had another mile long walk to school.

I used to return home about 5.15pm, I loved the independence, used to sometimes catch a later bus home if I wanted to hang out with friends after school.

That said, the school I went to wasn't the usual local high school so had no friends where I actually lived. My whole social life was 20 miles away so my friends would come and meet me at the bus station in the morning and we would walk to school together etc.

I never found it tiring, it was just the way life was. I guess I was out of the house from 6.50am-5.15pm but it set me up for life as I'm still a morning person and up at sparrow-fart each day now smile

BackforGood Tue 17-Jan-12 23:40:17

I think that's an early start, and it impacts when they want to stay after school for things. My dd1 leaves home at 7.30, but that's because she collects various friends on the way, and they chat and walk together - I still try to fetch her (when work allows) if she's stayed for something after school that her walking buddies haven't though.
However, it doesn't look as if you have a choice! (I was assuming you were going to ask if it was worth it for a better school!). It may be that once she starts, you'll find there are other parents who might also be able to do a couple of journeys, even if it's on an informal lift sharing basis, and she doesn't have to do all the journey herself.
<wonders even if you could negotiate a "bulk buying" rate for a taxi between 3 or 4, at least for the mornings?>

RaspberryLemonPavlova Wed 18-Jan-12 12:42:49

My DC s is about 45 minutes door to door, for a school 10 miles away, but in our case this was my/their choice as it is not our catchment school.

It is a rural school and has one of the largest catchments in the country. There are children in school who do that kind of commute so it is considered normal. One of DDs friends has to get 2 buses, I would hate to have to think of my Y7 DD doing that.

The biggest problem is after school activities, I still have to collect my DCs 2 or 3 times a week.

nlondondad Fri 20-Jan-12 14:35:01

I had an hour and a half commute to secondary school from the village I lived in.


bruffin Fri 20-Jan-12 16:05:09

My DCs have an hours commute. DD actually gets an earlier train than she needs and leaves the house at 7.15 and gets home at 4.30. DS leaves at 7.50 and gets the same train home.
It has never been a problem at all even when they stay late for after school activities.

eaglewings Fri 20-Jan-12 16:11:12

It's OK, kids have 70 minutes each way. They got used to it. Chance to do homework and catch up with friends

CecilyP Fri 20-Jan-12 20:34:07

Is it 15 mins walk to bus stop, 30 mins on bus, 15 mins walk other end and leave home 15 mins early just to be on the safe side? That seems long to me. I have heard of children being able to do homework on the train, but it is far more difficult on a bus.

Is there no alternative? Is there any way of combining your commute to work with DD's commute to school? Could you drive her to the bus stop in the mornings and at least shave 10 minutes off the journey? Are there other families living locally, with children at the same school to make lift sharing a possiblity?

FozzieMK Sat 21-Jan-12 14:11:53

Here in Milton Keynes hundreds of children go to either Bedford or Aylesbury to senior school. My daughters leave the house at 7am to get to the bus stop. The bus leaves at 7.15am. This seems to be 'normal' timings for all of these children and the majority of them seem to cope very well. I have known a few that couldn't cope with the travelling and have moved schools, but they are in the minority.

Lara2 Sat 21-Jan-12 15:39:34

I left home at 7am, had a 2 hour journey to school and the same in the evening. Did this from Y7 to upper 6th form. It was fine - half the journey was on public bus half on a school bus. It made me very aware that time and getting up in the morning mattered and there was always the weekend to sleep in and veg!

thetasigmamum Sat 21-Jan-12 18:04:35

teandthorazine My DD1 has a 60 mile round trip every day. It's fine. She loves her school, she enjoys the school bus journey, she doesn't like getting up early every day but she says it's worth it.

Jux Sat 21-Jan-12 18:14:29

DD had this sort of journey at first. It is too long. She left home at about the same time yours would be leaving, and didn't get home until nearly 6 (problems with connections between bus and train, fine in the morning but hell in the

every other child from here going to that school was taken in by car, so she was alone, and would have waited for nearly an hour on an almost deserted train platform in the middle of nowhere, where the office was often closed....

Year 7 is stressful and pressured enough. Take her in until she's got used to it. See what other kids are doing. See if you can arrange for a group to travel together, set up a school run among other parents.

ragged Sat 21-Jan-12 18:34:49

How long would cycling take?
I wonder if you checked Sustrans if you could find a reasonably safe route.
Could they do homework on the bus?

mathanxiety Sat 21-Jan-12 20:44:53

There was no local secondary where I lived in Ireland (still isn't) and every teenager from my suburb had to take either bus, train or car elsewhere. It was too far to take a bike and the journey involved a motorway under construction for a few years. I got a lift in the morning mostly but coming home was a pita as buses were usually full of oaps getting home from their trips to the city before rush hour when they had to pay. Missing the bus or having one or more go past full could mean a long old wait, and if you were still waiting after 5 pm (school got out at 4) you had to pay a premium fare. Some of my fellow students took a bus that came by once an hour to a suburb in the next county, more than twice as far as I was going. It was the only bus available. CIE service back on those days was terrible, but the conductors on that particular route did their best to squeeze the students on board, usually with much tutting from the old ladies occupying their free seats..

I envied students who could just walk home and hated class detentions after school that had a disproportionately punitive impact on students who had a bus to catch at 4. The long trip added stress. However there was also a good deal of camaraderie among the students at the bus stop, and the feeling of independence was priceless. It was never possible to get any homework done on the bus. People I knew who went on the train to the other side of the city were able to get some done, theoretically anyway.

Having said all of that, the people most likely to be late were of course those living closest to the school. Having the long commute meant being organised and using your time better, not to mention the added physical fitness from carrying a bag of books from the bus stop to school or home. I don't see it as a negative overall.

Needmoresleep Sat 21-Jan-12 20:58:46

Could you ask the school if many come from your area. This will affect the probably of shared school runs or friends to share the journey with.

DD has 40 mins each way which she finds manageable but boring. Factors which we took into account were:
1. How safe the journey was? The most logical alternatives involved her changing buses on her own in grottier bits of South London. Not something I would want to do myself, so felt unable to impose this on an 11 year old.
2. Whether she would have friends share the journey. It makes it a lot nicer.
3. How reliable the journey was and how frequent the bus/train or tube. What is the possible variation of journey time due to traffic. What happens if you miss the bus.
4. Would she get a seat. Luckily DD commutes from central London out, as commuting in would be far worse. Or have to wait for long periods at a bus stop without a shelter?
5. Is your child likely to read a book or do homework. One of DDs friends has a much longer journey, but gets through about 5 books a week.
6. How much before or after school activity is there. Even though DD can still get the tube, I end up wanting to get her home, fed and in bed so often pick her up if she is staying late.

bruffin Sat 21-Jan-12 20:59:37

I went to school in field in the 70s and we had the same old ladies on the bus maths. They were far worse behaved than we were trying to get on the bus at the wrong time and queue jumping

mathanxiety Sat 21-Jan-12 21:20:46

We must have had the same old ladies Bruffin. Expert at flocking to the door and shoving their way on even before the other passengers could get off. CIE drivers never opened the second door for exiting in case standing passengers in the doorwell or their bags fell out so it was mayhem at the front, and Irish bus passengers never got the hang of queueing so it was every man for himself even at the best of times.

bruffin Sat 21-Jan-12 22:00:26

We didn't have doors, still old routemasters and conductors.

LynetteScavo Sat 21-Jan-12 22:08:12

DS1 sits on the bus (a crappy double decker- it used to be a nice coach, before he started at the school angry) for an hour/13 miles. He leaves the house at 7.30am and returns at 4.30pm. It's not the nearest school, and it's not independent, but I think it's the most appropriate school for him. He isn't bothered by the journey at all. Some of the DC on the bus have already been on it for 30 mins by the time he gets on.

aliportico Sun 22-Jan-12 01:37:29

My dd also leaves the house at 7.10am - she and dp walk into town (about 15 minutes - if he's getting a different train for some reason, she will jump on a bus, but often goes out a little earlier if she is, as the 7-8 miniute frequency bus isn't as reliable as walking!). She ges on her bus out of town at 7.30 and it takes 35 mintues or so, and she's in school around 8.15. For an 8.40am start. I do wish the bus times were a bit different!

Finishes school at 3 and is home at 4.

I showed her your post, and she said that she finds her journey fine. It's not our catchment school, in fact it's on the other side of town completely, but there are a reasonable amount of kids from her school on her bus morning and afternoon. It's a bit bumpy for doing homework, but she finds it handy for test revision smile Otherwise reads or just relaxes and listens to music. I think she quite likes the wander back through town in the afternoon - can do some browsing/shopping, and sometimes I meet her for a drink.

wordfactory Sun 22-Jan-12 08:09:34

DD hasan hour's commute involving one car journey and a bus. She leaves the house at 7.15.

I was very worried that it would be too much and made it clear that we would change schools if it proved so...but it has been fine. She jumps out of bed at 6.30, is always waiting by the door by 7.10. She makes sure she's in bed by 9pm at the lastest.

Yes, she gets knackered but I think it helps that this was her choice, not mine.

arabhorsesarethebest Sun 22-Jan-12 11:21:00

I commute to work for at least an hour sometimes up to an hour and three quarters if the traffic is bad. I do it because I earn a good salary getting to this particular job. But I hate every minute of it sometimes it add three hours onto my day and when I get in I just want to sit down and do nothing. I wouldn't want to inflict it on a child.

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