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How important is the "better" school(17 Posts)
I'll try and keep it short. If we stay where we live now my 3 sons will go to an average school, recently but in RI but it is basically the worst school in a good area so meets national averages. We can move 10 mins up the road and get sons into a very good school, still state but one of the best in country. It will mean putting a fair bit on mortgage. It is affordable but not comfortable. Rather than mortgage being paid within ten, back to 20 snd double payments a month...but doable.
We can't decide what to do. We just want to give them a happy childhood (they are2,6,9)....but so torn as to what we should prioritise....any wise words are welcome!
Ignore the school for a minute.
How suitable is the house you currently live in for when the children get older? Is there space to play and do school work? If not would it be cheaper to extend? Think of when your eldest is 17, the next one 14, (same ages as mine currently are) is there space for them?
Re the school, a lot can happen. Possibly not as fast for your 9 year old who I am assuming is going into year 5 in September but definitely for the 6 and 2 year olds. We edged our bets, our sons could have gone into a feeder secondary which is rated good, but we moved to be inside the catchment of an outstanding secondary. But, we moved to a cheaper area, the local primary near to our new house was "satisfactory" took 2 years to go to good then another 4 years to become outstanding, but we kept our children in their original primary.
Could you afford a tutor to help with any subjects further down the line if you stay in your current house?
Projecting ahead you might want to look at university costs in terms of your parental contribution, if your children live away from home and if your joint income is £50k then your expected contribution is £3209 per year. If it is £62,210 or above then your contribution is £4776 per year. Given that you have 3 children and the ages they are you would be paying this out for years.
So in 9 years time this is what you could be shelling out. Does that change anything? It is just with you saying that it will be 20 years if you move house for the mortgage.
House now is more than big enough (except garden) but house in the "better" catchment will be smaller. Interesting to see £ re uni , we'd thought about this as a factor but not in terms of cold hard cash amounts.
I think it depends which sets for children are likely to be in. I went to what was outwardly a very poor school but was in top sets and my experience was good. Peers who were in the lower sets have very different memories of their schools days
My ds went to a poor secondary, but as pp mention, Was in top sets and got mostly A’s.
Personally I'd rate education as very important in a "good" childhood - not as important as having a secure and comfortable roof over your head, enough to eat, or reasonably happy/unstressed out parents, but more important than holidays, toys, expensive hobbies etc. Others might take a different view of course but I think getting a good education that fulfils your children's potential (nb not necessarily just getting top exam results, it might also be about pursuing creative or sporting talents) sets them up for life in a way that no amount of presents or days out does.
So in the way you describe it, buying the more expensive house sounds 'do-able', presumably making some sacrifices in terms of lifestyle, and requiring a long-term mortgage - but presumably with kids that age you are in your 30s or 40s, I think many people do expect to work and be paying a mortgage into at least their early 60s these days, assuming they are in reasonably good health, and you may be able to increase your income or overpay at some point in the next few decades anyway (especially once you are out of the expensive childcare years).
So in your shoes I probably would move, if (and its a big if) you are sure this school really is the best one for your kids. As others have said some schools which achieve a very high league table ranking actually aren't nice places to be or the best school for every child as an individual. I know yours are young so you won't fully know what they will need yet (and they may not all be the same!) but as a general idea I'd also look at what pastoral care and support the 'good' vs 'average' school provides, what their record is on bullying, parent interactions etc., what the facilities and provisions for music, drama, art, sport are and generally what other opportunities the two areas provide -I know you say only 10 mins away but would the houses be similar size, similar access to public transport and amenities?
I would also say that the relative status of 2 secondary schools can change dramatically in a few years. Where we live, when my DC1 was applying for year 7 places, we had 3 secondaries similar distances away. School A was by far the most popular and "the" school in the county. Virtually nobody from even a metre or two outside the catchment got in, and some years they couldn't even take all their in catchment applicants. School B was also pretty good but would have space for out of catchment kids every year, mainly because of the local population having a lot of retirees. School C was our catchment school and eas in special measures, nobody wanted it. We got a place at school B. Didn't even waste a preference on A. 4 years later when DC2 was applying , school B was in the ascendency and had overtaken A in both league tables etc and local popularity. C was still third, but improving. Another 3 years on, when DC3 was ready, B was very much at the top of the pike but with C champing at their heels and now oversubscribed. A now has loads of places, with many of their catchment kids applying for B - a huge change in a decade. We very, very nearly bought a house in that catchment when DC1 was 2 years old. I am relieved we didn't now. Things can, and do, change, even when the status quo has existed fir a long time.
I realise that doesn't really help, as you can't know the future, but what I would say is that not making the move now is not necessarily a disaster.
When you look at your local secondary what is the progress 8 score? How many low attainers/middle attainers/high attainers are there making up the cohort? What does Ofsted say about staff and managment? Safety of pupils?
Logistically what will the new commute to the old primary school be like, would your 2 year old get on a sibling policy or is there a catchment issue? Or would you try to move them? How much does this add in petrol costs?
Doubling your monthly payments on your mortgage could instead go toward tutors should your children need it. As children get older they cost more too. Ds2 is 14 and already in adult clothing and size 9 shoes. School dinners cost more too. As does your weekly food bill.
The university bit is the eye opener, we will be paying it for 6 years as we have a 3 year gap. Yours will be longer due to having 3 children. If one child does a 4 year course you will be paying double so potentially £8k in a year.
How much belt tightening would you be doing if you move? So if you needed a new boiler or a new car, would you have the money? I know everyone will say holidays are a luxury rather than a right, but they are important for adults to de-stress.
There is a lot to think about.
I live in a grammar school county and the grammars are all outstanding. Always have been since the dawn of Ofsted. One suspects always will be. There are other schools that hsve yo-yoed in and out of RI or failing and always will. Catchment, lack of quality staff, heads moving on before the job is finished and quality is embedded etc. These schools just don’t give you confidence that they will ever remain good. They improve and then sink again.
Therefore look at the track record. Is the good school always good? What’s the Head like and do they inspire confidence? If the better school is always considered top drawer by most, I would move. Make double sure you are in catchment though.
Children needing tutors just eats into the time they could be engaged in sport or other hobbies or clubs or even seeing friends. Never a first choice in my opinion. Better school and more time for other things makes more sense.
I would go for the outstanding school but that is always my top priority when buying a house even before children. Houses in outstanding catchments always sell even in a recession. What makes the school outstanding? Are those reasons important to your childten, are any of them sporty, or struggling and would get value out of support which you get in a better school.
How long ago did the outstanding school get that ofsted grading. For some schools it's been over a decade and not necessarily the case any more
I would prioritise home, finances and quality of life over moving from a satisfactory to a good school area. Yes, schooling is important, so if you were talking about a terrible school I'd be urging you to move, but from your OP that's not the situation at all. I'd stay put and keep a financial cushion there tutors, holidays, uni fees and other unseen costs. Big kids can be expensive - particularly when you've got three.
Depends on the stability of the school. If it could slip in a few years.
Here, schools stay the same no matter what.
Getting my boys into a good school was extremely important to me.
In fact I was talking to Ds1 about how happy he had been at his school, now he's finished. That made me so happy.
There is no “satisfactory” grade from Ofsted now. RI is the old just about “satisfactory”, it’s good or outstanding above RI.
Very many high quality secondary schools will remain good or better. They don’t dip. Ones in good areas and can “select” are most likely to maintain their grade. Behaviour of dc, poor teaching and poor progress of dc are often the reasons why schools get RI but some schools are able to avoid all these issues.
Or indeed that parents have enough money to “select” the better school thereby keeping the school with a better chance of remaining good or better. Parents effectively “buy in”.
If you genuinely love your current home, don’t increase your debt for a ‘better’ school. State school reputations can change rapidly.
Kids need to be in schools that meet their needs but they also need happy and stable family lives where parents are able to keep financial pressures in their control to a minimum.
Re academic outcomes at secondary - a previous poster rightly pointed out looking at school performance by prior attainment of pupils and the progress they make. Does the school do well by the children according to their potential for academic success? What wider skills do they pick up along the way?
Are you and hubby able and confident to support with school projects and homework? Unless there are language or time pressure barriers I personally don’t think you need tutors to support child’s learning in secondary school up to GCSE. I would possibly consider before A-level because that is the more high stakes transition if young person is going to university.
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