Commute to StPaul school -impact on homework/tiredness(62 Posts)
I would like to ask a moment of your time for your thoughts. My son has currently offers from Winchester, StPaul and Eton for entry in 2015. I am Italian, and the thought of boarding does not appeal much (yes- i'm a hen mum) StPaul would add a 2 hours commute on public transport (we live in Dulwich, so no school bus from here) to what I expect will be a pressing academic schedule.
Does anyone have experience with how their son coped? Or has decided against considering it heavy for a 13 yr old?
We have our entire life ahead to commute....
I would imagine that there are plenty of boys with longer journeys to St Paul's. Which might not feel like much consolation, but I don't think anyone would consider that commute unreasonable.
I wouldn't . Also consider the impact on extra curricular activities especially in winter. Is it too late to consider closer schools such as Dulwich College, Alleyns or even Whitgift or Trinity? What made you apply for boarding if that doesn't suit you all ?
Are you estimating 2 hours each way to St Paul's or 2 hours in total per day?
If it's 2 hours each way from Dulwich, to me that would be an absolute NO. Even at 1 hour commute each way, I'd seriously think whether it's necessary - to me the difference between St Paul's and Dulwich College is far too negligible to make an hour's commute necessary. I would think seriously about sitting him for DC in Yr 8 Jan exams if you really want day. Commuting is a major pain (I did 1 1/2 hours each way to school from rural area into town and it made for very limited clubs, social life etc).
We have just made a choice from Eton, Winchester, Westminster and gone with Eton (we were able to dismiss Westminster pretty rapidly whereas the two full boarding options both seemed like the perfect choice ... except there were two for confusion). Part of the reason we ended up with Eton was ease of train journeys there (Putney-Eton = 30 mins direct) and the possibility of meeting for tea, DS1 coming home for Sunday lunch/birthdays etc ... we felt he'd get the benefits of full boarding with more chance to keep family events up too compared with Winchester.
We didn't sit him for Kings or St Paul's as they never seemed like a good fit for him. However DS2 is now in Yr 5 and we're debating schools again. DS2 is keen on day schools. Despite living in Putney, St Paul's is two bus journeys from us and takes 45-50 mins. To me this is a huge negative. It would have to be a great deal better than Kings (10 mins bus, or 15 mins bike) to warrant the difference in commute.
At some point you must have thought that you wanted him to board as you've ended up with two boarding choices and only one day. What's changed?
If you really do feel more pro-day now and don't want a commute, you have within easy reach Whitgift, Trinity, Alleyns (happy with co-ed?), Dulwich College, City of London, all of whom I think test for 13+ for your son's year in January (registrations must be due soon?). Guess you could check them all out?!?
What does your son think? Does he want full boarding?
One hour each way to St Paul's is pretty typical and boys who are keen to go there don't seem to mind it. One good thing is the long lunch break which means almost all activities happen during the day and there is little happening before or after school. The flexi-boarding can also be helpful - we lived an hour away and my DS occasionally slept at school if he had eg a play or concert and didn't want to travel home late at night. But at rising 13 I happen to believe ultimately this needs to be your DS' choice.
What's the journey actually like?
Do you have one of those slightly bizarre bus routes that wends its way round bits of South London you've barely heard of, but actuall goes more or less point to point? Or would he have to change between 2 or 3 rammed commuter routes?
Given that many children at public schools are being steered towards careers like medicine, politics and law where you often have a very poor work/life balance (particularly in the early stages) I don't think it's unreasonable to start getting them used to a life where they'll spend most of their time outside school from Monday to Friday commuting and doing homework.
Thank you all for your prompt answers and comments
Just to give an answer on why we prestested for boarding schools in year 6, my husband said that my son could grow up to like the option, and that in the course of two years I might change my opinion somewhat (which is true, it has gone from a no-no to a maybe - I particularly liked the ethos at Winchester - but I do not like the full board!). But it is not a full blown embrace of boarding on my part, hence the question about StPaul. Is it fair to put him through such a commute just because I'm the only one in the family not keen on boarding? I'm still thinking to work out what is best for him, and trying not to let my preconceptions get in the way of taking a decision. So, thanks again for giving me your grain of salt.
DS current school separates in year 8 the classes according to CE/day school exams. So, although day schools exams (Alleyns, DC) are possible for a boy in a CE class, they are not advised by the school. I would also not like to hold on to the CE offers until I hear back on the results of the day schools in February, I don't feel it is nice to children who are in the waiting lists. (although if I look around it looks like "in love, war, and senior school entry anything is allowed" - which is a by-product of this crazy system)
Another one wondering whether it's 2 hours each way or 2 hours total (i.e. 1 hour each way).
DS does 1 hour each way, including a walk across town between buses in the middle. It's not a problem. I wouldn't even consider it for 2 hours each way - he'd be out of the house before 6.30am and not home until after 6pm.
is eh still on course to achieve the relevant CE scores for all those options ? forget everyone else and enter him for at least one local day school. 3 years is a long time for things to have changed - or not - and they usually over offer on pre-tests expecting a drop out . Time is now very short , if not possibly too late, for 13+ registration but at least you might have that choice. Does your ds want to commute or board ? Do you have other dc to consider ?
_duration of commute-
Sorry if I have been unclear
Commute would be at least 1.15 hrs each way (which I rounded down to 2) on busy commuter routes and several changes (eg train to Victoria, District to Hammersmith then bus down to Lonsdale; or train to Peckam Rye, then Overground to Clapham Junction, then train to Barnes than bus)
It does sound very complicated - are you sure there are no SPS buses from Dulwich that would be Point-2-Point? There are many from many locations.
One of the good things about SPS is that the lunch period is long do that clubs and sports can take place then, rather than after school, precisely so that boys can get the P2P buses home.
If you live in Dulwich, I would think the no-brainer option is to apply to Dulwich College and save the commute. Why add extra complication?
We love SPS, and our DC have been very happy there, but we live in Barnes. If we had lived in Dulwich would have chosen Dulwich College, and in Wimbledon would have chosen KCS...
You can walk down from Hammersmith tube, can't you? Train and tube and a bit of a walk at either end doesn't seem that complicated.
We used to live in your area for years and if we were still there we pile have very seriously considered it and my DS might have commuted to SPS. He would have taken the train to Victoria and then caught the train to Hammersmith and walked to SPS. In my day you could access the school of the tow path that entrance is now locked but I think there's a gate at the side so you don't have to walk down Lonsdale Road. You exit Hammersmith off the back end of the train walk past Hammersmith odeon and over the bridge. I was brought up in West London and had lots of friends at SPS many commuted that kind of journey one way even 35 years ago.
I know both SPS and DC well I don't agree with TRL SPS is not like DC in any shape or form.
My DS is at Win Coll we turned down SPS because we wanted full boarding, I take it your DS is happy to board, your DS is growing up fast in a few years he will have left home and gone to university if he's happy to full board then IMO you should let him go.
Duck mama, NO school is worth 1.5hrs commuting each and every day. Your boy is obviously bright and academically minded if he is offered places at such selective schools and will do best closer to home (if taking the day school option).
Commuting that long each and every day is stressful and annoying for anyone - I can't imagine choosing to do it unless there was really no other option!
And @minifingers! Well said!!
I think you should either send him to board or move house. Commuting across London, on and off various trains/tubes/buses is no fun, especially for a child. And at busy times like Christmas shopping periods it will take him even longer. He'll have a hectic enough homework schedule as it is, plus sports fixtures and clubs etc. It's not really fair, is it? You might think you are 'giving him the best' but you'll be making his day to day life a misery in the process.
Some things are character building and other things are just mean and inconsiderate.
Threads like these make me worry about Mumsnet. All three of my children managed to achieve excellent GCSE/A Level results at the local comp. They all got into top universities to read Medicine. Why would anyone put their child through such a commute? What exactly is the benefit? They will not gain from the social side if they spend 2/3 hours on public transport every day. Just seems mad to even consider this commute, if a child is bright enough they will get A/A* wherever.
My daughter commutes to school each day about an hour each way. The difference being that she is driven by her dad there & back each day.
It is hard, she has to get up early each morning & doesn't get home until 7.30pm each night so homework is squeezed in on the car journey when possible or she normally has about 20 mins spare before registration.
She eats her tea at school with the boarders which makes life a little easier & gives her some social time.
But what does she gain over the local school? Exhaustion and an inability to focus on homework, doesn't make sense to me.
It's a specialist school agggghast. There are only 4 like it in the UK
It does seems a long commute but I understand why parents do it and it also seems to be more common in London. I'm not in London and sent to mine not to my catchement school but to a faith school which was the other side of town. Even that was sometimes a pain when they had to stay after school for matches or wanted to help at open evening or parent evenings
A daily commute from Dulwich to Barnes is crazy. Dulwich College is a fantastic school, as is Alleyn's.
The CE/day school exam split sounds ridiculous and you shouldn't allow it to influence your choice in the way you describe.
What makes you think SPS is so great? Don't forget it's under investigation by the Charity Commission in relation to its "approach to safeguarding": https://www.gov.uk/government/news/charity-commission-announces-investigation-into-st-pauls-school.
"Threads like these make me worry about Mumsnet."
Yes - really, fuck knows.
But 'fantastic' and 'outstanding' won't be enough for some.
It's got to be 'considerably more fantastic and outstanding than yaow'.
You know - elite.
Local is best. I speak from experience. The commute and distance from friends made my school life almost a complete misery. I got round it by spending lots of time staying at friends' homes and larking about on the tube
You also need to think about tube, train or bus strikes. Plus if you are doing both train and tube there is double the chance of things going wrong.
Also play rehersals, Saturday matches, parents evenings, and friends who live on the other side of the school from you.
The journey will affect you as well. It depends how happy you are being a teenage taxi service.
Could you rent out your home and rent in Barnes for the 5 years? You would all have better quality of life.
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