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Secondary choice - concerned about long-ish commute and need advice.

(52 Posts)
cingolimama Thu 17-Sep-15 11:52:38

Deciding between two state schools. The one I (and DD) prefer is an outstanding state CofE school, and I really feel it's the right place for her, for lots of reasons: single sex (not a huge issue for me, but still a preference), very high standards of achievement for a comp and great academic programme, terrific opportunities for music, art and drama, which DD loves. My one reservation about the school is the commute to central London, which would be about 45minutes. That's a huge chunk out of her day - where would she fit in homework, music practice, relaxing, spending time with friends and family etc?

The alternative is a good (it's actually very good, but not outstanding) school around the corner. Part of me (selfishly?) thinks I'd see more of her if she went to that school, and she wouldn't have the stress of a commute.

Any direct experiences and/or thoughts from parents would be SO appreciated. Am I over-thinking this?

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 12:23:00

You have very valid concerns. We are 3 weeks in to senior school life - commute has gone from a walking 5 mins to 40 mins on foot/tube, longer days (12 hours due to extra curricular stuff on top from school) and then fitting in homework.

What's been compromised so far is the music practice that used to be mornings (only 25 mins piano but it helped), now eaten up by the earlier commute and daily violin...lucky if it comes out at weekend. And she accepted a music scholarship so this is clearly not acceptable. The rest of the week has swimming, ballet, sports training and matches and then...the ridiculous number of clubs she seems to have signed herself up to, for good measure.

However, DD seems to be taking it all in her stride - and thinks she can still fulfil all she does to a reasonable standard.

This is truly not a boast, as I am embarrassed to say her doing homework last 2 nights to 10.30pm had my head hanging in shame. But, I am hoping for a natural fall out by her to cull what ever needs to give, as she is hugely driven, hates submitting poor homework and is desperately trying to overcome her scattiness. Or things will balance out as she learns to multi task. She's already doing some of the work at school to make more time elsewhere.

On the positive, what I do see, even though it's physically less of her, is such a positive change. In 3 weeks she has turned into a young girl that loves all things school related, really enjoying the new friendship groups and happily finds a familiar face on the trains across all ages (and schools) to chat away with. It's brought about a new confidence that she was ready for.

I do have days of envy for the local guys that didn't move school, but on balance, unless I hear homework is adversely effected or she starts getting sick, this is her. All children are different...

Seeline Thu 17-Sep-15 12:25:43

I think the main issue is the actual journey ie will she get the bus/train from close to your house and stay on it until close to school, or is there a long walk either end, or does she have to change once or twice etc. Will the journey time change if she has to be in school early for any reason, or stay late for a club etc?
45 mins in itself isn't an issue, as long as it is straight forward and reliably the same each time.
Complicated journeys can be very tiring for the new Y7s, on top of all the other changes.

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 12:31:03

Therefore I would recommend to with the one you think she will still love in 5/7 years time to enable her to fulfil what she loves to do. Of course she'll do well in either by how you've described the schools. If she sounds concerned now about the travelling (build in the plan b/c for travel disaster days...they will be there) and see how she feels.

Is the 45 mins is pretty straightforward or fraught with problems...this would be a consideration too...

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 12:31:40

sorry - typing on phone....not great for grammar!

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 12:32:12

x post with seeline

TranquilityofSolitude Thu 17-Sep-15 12:36:23

Something else to factor in is social life. My DDs went to school 45 mins from home by car, and although it worked fine in the week we could often find ourselves driving them back again on Saturday to meet up with friends and doing the drive again on Sunday to pick up from a sleepover. It may be easier in London of course.

slicedfinger Thu 17-Sep-15 12:39:46

DD has decided against an outstanding sixth form college because it will take her an hour to get there. The alternative is a school just round the corner with a new sixth form. Her thinking is that the extra 2 hours a day, so ten hours a week, she could be studying, exercising, or even watching TV. All better options than sitting on a bus for half and hour then a 30 minute walk. I think she has made the right call, even though, since she want to do medicine, good results are essential.

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 12:45:05

She sounds very sensible slicedfinger. The jury's out on what we have done for now, as I am feeling nervous of the travel impact until we see things settle and know what has been compromised too far. And we've not hit winter yet and that's a really downer on travel!

traviata Thu 17-Sep-15 12:49:59

I think Seeline talks a lot of sense. My DC have a 40 minute journey, but it's a single suburban bus which passes the end of the road, and is full of kids going to the same place - not stressful really.

what if she was returning later after clubs? how would the journey be then? would any other kids be doing it at the same time?

homebythesea Thu 17-Sep-15 12:54:15

You've got to bear in mind that schoolmates may be travelling into the far away school from 45 mins away in the opposite direction. What happens for weekend socialising, sleepovers etc then? Honestly I would go with the local school where all her friends will be bearer and she can continue with activities etc. it's my one great regret for my own DC's that we did not opt for a local school.

teacherwith2kids Thu 17-Sep-15 12:54:18


Just a question, because it isn't how it works round here - are you sure it is even possible that you would get a space in the first school? Is it over-subscribed, and are you high up in the over-subscription criteria?

Round here, no outstanding non-selective comprehensive has pupils commuting more than about a mile, because all have 'distance related' over-subscription criteria so children living further away simply don't get in.

FWIW, DS and DD both passed for selective schools in the next town, which would have added about 30-45 minutes at the beginning and end of each school day. For DD in particular - who dances 10-15 hours a week after school - we debated the question very carefully, and came to the conclusion that the local school + the ability to keep doing the activity she loves (and is very good at) would give better balance to her life than further away school + travel squeezing out some of her dance.

OldBeanbagz Thu 17-Sep-15 12:58:23

ealingwestmum in my experience the Y7s tend to sign up to a lot of extra curricular activities because there's so much on offer that's new to them. By the end of the first term, it's often tailed off to the ones they actually want to do long term. My DD was just the same in Y7 (she's now Y9).

Personally OP, i'd go for the school that you and your DD prefer. Is the 45min journey a maximum or minimum? You need to stress that she has to keep on top of homework. I try to drum into my DC that it's best to do it as soon as they get it though we did have a 11pm finish on Monday!

teacherwith2kids Thu 17-Sep-15 12:58:44

I also think there is a difference between '45 minutes that can be done at any time' - allowing flexibility for clubs before and after school etc - and 'there is a single school bus that you have to catch every day, and have to be collected if there is a late rehearsal etc'. It is the latter that i know parents (not DCs) have sometimes found stressful after choosing a more distant school - they hadn't factored in having to go to collect children 1 or 2 evenings a week.

ealingwestmum Thu 17-Sep-15 13:04:42

That's reassuring, thank you OldBeanbagz

TeenAndTween Thu 17-Sep-15 13:15:04

Other things to consider
- parents evenings
- school shows
- weekend revision sessions in y11
- travelling in just for a 1hr exam in y11
- coming home after a club in January when there's snow and transport is delayed

WiryElevator Thu 17-Sep-15 13:22:40

You're not overthinking it at all.

I would go with the best school, especially if she can get public transport that is flexible. DS loves the flex of the train, and the independence he has with it, allowing him to easily come back later if he's done an after school club and stop off for sweets.

Have you tried the journey out with her? Will she be travelling with any others she knows? Remember she's only an ickle Y7 for one year. And I don't think you should plan which school to go to for 6+ years based on it perhaps snowing and the inconvenience of you attending not very regular school events.

Check out the homework if you're worried. The further away school DS goes to has way less homework than the closer one....

yeOldeTrout Thu 17-Sep-15 13:31:09

DC are doing 45 minutes each way, that's what it takes to have any choice in the country. Plus a 6.25 hour school day. Seems fine to me.

I rejected a school for DD that had:
8 hour of scheduled at-school time (8am-4pm)
1 hour+ commute each way
A promise of 1 hour of homework most nights.

They actually punished girls who didn't read enough. Funny how their girls didn't have enough time to read. I see their pupils doing homework on the bus/train, though.

Chchchchangeabout Thu 17-Sep-15 13:38:08

I had a similar commute when at secondary school, and used to do my homework on the bus in the mornings...

mummytime Thu 17-Sep-15 13:46:38

45 minutes doesn't seem too bad for me. My DC have about that to walk to their school - but the more complicated the journey the more contingency needed. What alternative routes are there (for tube strikes etc.)?

In London I wouldn't think snow is a major factor - it can be on more rural routes near me (but then bad snow tends to mean no school - because it's not that frequent).
Other factors to consider are where her friends will live and parents evenings.

WhoreGasm Thu 17-Sep-15 17:39:03

Our DCs have a 50 minute commute, twice a day, because we live in a rural area and the bus tootles around lots of villages before depositing them outside the school (which is actually only 7 miles away).

It took them a few days to acclimatise. And they were tired. Plus they have quite a few activities in the evenings.

The trick is to be very organised. Very organised. So, they get home at 4.45. The grab a quick snack, change out of uniform, then it's heads down and crack on with homework (usually 1.5 hrs a night).

We eat dinner at about 6.15ish. Then if they have an activity we head out for that. They're usually home for about 8.30pm, and then have an hour to shower and relax before bedtime.

If they don't have an activity, they might pop over to a friend's house after dinner (luckily they have quite a few friends who live in same village) for a couple of hours. Or have a friend come here, which seems much more common. We always seem to have troupes of girls disappearing upstairs in a thump of Ugg boots and a swish of long hair, before reappearing to make cups of tea and raid the biscuit tin hmm

But I still like everyone to be gone by 8.30pm so DDs get that hour's downtime to shower and relax.

Mintyy Thu 17-Sep-15 17:42:44

Gosh, how can you be within catchment for a hugely oversubcribed London state school if the commute is 45 minutes? Extraordinary.

Investmentspaidout Thu 17-Sep-15 17:46:29

DH attended school in London and it was just over an hours commute each way. He said it was miserable not having local friends.

SquirmOfEels Thu 17-Sep-15 17:50:28

If you're thinking of the school I'm thinking of, they changed their criteria last year and the admissions footprint shrank enormously. Unless a specialist place or a sibling place, you have to live much closer to the school than a 45 minute journey these days.

Worth a punt, though, if it's your and your DD's genuine preference.

Stillwishihadabs Thu 17-Sep-15 19:19:42

I went to school in London, once you have your oyster card you can visit mates all over London

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