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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.

prosopon Fri 25-Jan-13 22:04:02

with snow all over the country at the moment - have you considered the impact of bad weather on this? At secondary school many students refuse to wear coats, even in snow. So they have a long journey, inadequately dressed. Then if they are sick/injured you have to go and collect them to get them home. With January exams disappearing at least you won't have as much problem getting them to school for exams when the buses stop running.

I would not recommend it if you have a choice.

newgirl Fri 25-Jan-13 17:18:29

Im with arabhorse - have you ever done that sort of commute yourself? I did it for years and it is knackering. And if the weather, bad traffic etc is going to add to that its not great. If its the only option I am sure kids get on with it, but 20 hours a week commuting is not ideal sad

sproingle Thu 17-Jan-13 22:25:56

My school was 2.5 miles away but I had to leave at 7.10 to ensure I got the 7.30 bus - later buses usually full by my stop and would drive straight past!!

phlebas Tue 15-Jan-13 14:53:25

& like pchick said dd has made lots of friends from the years above (she's the only y7 on her bus) - which has given her some kudos too wink

phlebas Tue 15-Jan-13 14:50:50

night's ... argh my eyes ... sorry blush

phlebas Tue 15-Jan-13 14:48:40

my dd also has a long commute - the school is 10 miles away. She leaves at 7:15 in the morning (8:45 start) and gets home just before 5 (3:15 finish), she gets the train & then the school bus. As it is a rural school the vast majority of children (85% I think they said) get the bus or train & bus in, her journey is one of the longer ones but not excessively so. They don't run many after school clubs but she has swimming training twice a month - on those days I pick her up from school.

She's managing fine - she has non-school evening activities twice a week which she has kept going & she usually spends one night a week at her grandparents' house (which is much closer to home). On night's she's at home she spends a couple of hours having dinner/playing with her siblings then an hour of homework or reading then bed at 9pm (she gets up at 6:30). Most homework is saved for the Sunday. Major change from before is that she watches no TV at all now (too busy) but reads even more (has a kindle for the commute).

She was apprehensive about it to start with - particularly having to change trains & we had a couple of teething problems with trains being late/cancelled, so I was always ready to rescue her to start with. She has a mobile & still texts me at every completed part of the trip.

jeee Tue 15-Jan-13 12:04:57

I see that it's years away.... and when your child is older you might feel a little less worried by it.

FWIW, my DD is at her second term of secondary school. She leaves home at about 7.00, and gets into school around 8.35. It is tiring for her, but she loves her school. She thinks the long journey is a sacrifice worth making for the school that she liked the most.

parakeet Mon 14-Jan-13 21:55:09

Hi Mhathain. Believe it or not, the move to secondary is still several years off - I just like to plan ahead.

I still haven't decided whether or not to move house to avoid the commute. I take your point about children being resilient if they have to be, but I would prefer them not to have to be.

mhathain Fri 28-Dec-12 09:32:24

I hope the commute has been going OK. I was very interested in this thread as I had a similar problem to think about but my DS was only 5yr old at the time. He has been commuting for 1hr - 1hr 10mins since Aug now and we put our house on the market to move closer to town, he was getting upset about the prospect of moving despite the journey, now 4 months on he has suggested we stay as he doesnt mind the journey at all, it may be as its all by car but the thing is, he has taught me that sometimes we puts doubts and worrys in our childrens minds and want to protect them from hardships but they are resilient. it gives him a chance to wind down from school on the way home, playing and chatting and if he has a playdate, we stay in town after school then go home. playdates are arranged so we takes turns having kids here or DS goes to town.

pchick Fri 17-Feb-12 11:51:35

WE live in a semi-rural area and journey time was a bit consideration for us. However, we have now discovered that my ds leaves at the same time as children travelling to schools alot nearer, and they soon get used to it. The ease of journey is often more important than distance. A longer journey requiring no changes, is easier than a shorter journey requiring changes. My DS loves the journey, and has met boys from other years as a result of it.

When you go to open evenings, talk to hte current pupils and see where they live. You'd probably be surprised. We were.

twoterrors Fri 17-Feb-12 08:20:14

I would bear in mind that as your child gets older, depending on how the school does things, they may be involved in rehearsals or activities that they organise themselves at the last minute. I think they gain a huge amount from the independence this gives them if they have a reasonable journey but can be unable to participate if they are locked into travel arrangements that suited them as an 11-year-old with very fixed schedules. With the younger ones, it can be easier to negotiate the maze of friendships and groups if they can be flexible. So no, I am sure you are not worrying unnecessarily. Equally, if you have no choice, you can probably make it work but may find that if your child wants to join in a lot, or makes friends who don't live nearby, life becomes very complicated and they don't get the chance to become independent.
I think I would start looking at the options for moving unless you love where you live. If you are closer to the school there is more chance you will feel connected both to the school and to your child's friends - even without formal events you will bump into people in shops and parks - this can be important at secondary school before they start talking about going on holiday with people you have never clapped eyes on, and it really helps to have a couple of families you can call on if the going gets tough ever.

FootballFriendSays Fri 17-Feb-12 07:59:45

Hi Parakeet. DS was facing a similar commute to school, for similar reasons. We decided to move so that at least he doesn't need to change buses. We are now on a direct bus to his school but it's only every 30 minutes so he leaves the house at 7.30 for an 8.30ish start. The commuting time isn't substantially shorter but we feel it's easier as it's just one bus and a short walk at either end.

parakeet Thu 16-Feb-12 21:26:06

Thanks for all these extra replies since I last checked. It is all food for thought. But I am probably leaning more towards going for it than not now.

I guess I am thinking there are options like biking it (possibly) and sharing lifts with other parents. Maybe mixing up all of the above, then it is not a mega-commute every single day.

PushyDad Mon 23-Jan-12 14:30:10

In the morning I drop my son at the stop for the school bus on my way to work. He has a 30min bus ride but he is dropped off at the school so there is no walking at the other end. In the evenings he walks the 20 minutes from the stop to the house.

We've been lucky in that it has been a relatively mild and dry winter so it hasn't been too punishing for him so far

Theas18 Sun 22-Jan-12 11:31:28

I dunno. We put a max 1hr door to door limit in our choice of schools AND the child had to be able to do the journey on their own from the start ( ok barring " training runs " etc).

They currently leave the house at 7.30 and are at school before 8.30 (10 min walk, bus, 5 mins the other end). You have build in flexibility for late/ missing buses etc as well.

Remember also - less relevant for year 7 but don't forget it- that after school activities will also be an issue- can you collect if they are there till 5 or so ? Will travelling alone ( in the dark in the winter) be safe at 12/13/14 yrs ? Out school tends to do lower school activities at lunch and paper school after school - however if ou are good enough to be " playing with the big kids" in orchestras rugby teams etc you could, as my 12yr old is now, be involved in late finishes quite young.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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 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

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.

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.

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?

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