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Experience of School Coaches and Impact on Co-Curricular?

(23 Posts)
Yookytooky Mon 22-Feb-21 11:05:22

Hi, we are lucky enough to have secured places for our DC at a number of selective academic independent schools at 11+ for this Sept.

The one we love the most is about a 15-20min drive from our house but it's unlikely we will be able to drive there and back twice a day every day so we will be reliant on the school coach. We have checked the timetables and it will take approx 1hr each way on the coach given the extra stops it will make on the way so 2 hours travelling time each day!

One key reason (in addition to academics) we are choosing this school is for our DC to increase and develop their love of certain co-curricular activities which will involve some after-school sessions. This will mean getting home on those late days after 6:30pm having set off at 7:30am in the morning. This feels like a very long day especially given there will be increasing amounts of homework to do as DC gets older and also means DC won't be able to keep up existing afterschool activities local to home.

The school does genuinely seem to offer something that the other schools closer to us do not - a nurturing, supportive environment with excellent academics and co-curricular. We have other options closer to home with only slightly lower academics. By closer, I mean a 15min drive away though on a route that coincides with our work location so more convenient. Those schools feel as though they have more pressured environments and are a bit more hot-housey. They do though offer great facilities and co-curricular opportunities.

Ultimately we would like our DC to be happy at a school that is right for them in terms of environment and opportunities but balanced in terms of their quality of life.

We would love to hear from someone with experience of DC travelling for an hour by coach to school and the impact this may have had on them generally but particularly in relation to their wellbeing, ability to participate in co-curricular activities and their academic performance overall.

Thanks in advance!

OP’s posts: |
AnotherNewt Mon 22-Feb-21 11:11:07

They'll make bus friends.

And they'll get the chance to do their homework on the bus.

Or just doze and zone out.

It's a guaranteed seat in a comfy coach, not wrestling with public transport, not requiring you to be a taxi, no walking in the wet.

PresentingPercy Mon 22-Feb-21 11:20:15

I wanted exactly the same for my DDs but we chose for them to board. Lots of people in this predicament do weekly boarding for exactly the reasons you state. I think travelling for an hour each way is too much if you expect them to do prep and a lot of extra clubs etc. My DDs were busy. They joined a lot of activities at school and thrived but not coming home was a massive bonus. They just relaxed with friends.

I think you actually know your DC will be ultra tired. I assume you will be travelling to collect DC on the after school long days? Having said that, day girls stayed until quite late at DDs boarding school but they did prep at school if they wished. So it was just going home to bed. If you pick up DC it will not be 2 hours every day either. I am assuming this is a school bus and not a standard service bus.

You ight also find DC is not so keen on doing lots of extra activities after school if it means struggling with prep and late evenings. The day girls noticably did less and less as time went by. Most of the day girls were not travelling for an hour either. I think you know what your DC will be able to manage. However after school activities are so much easier to manage when closer to home.

PresentingPercy Mon 22-Feb-21 11:21:10

My DDs would never ever do prep on a bus! It would not be up to the standard required.

Yookytooky Mon 22-Feb-21 11:31:53

Thanks for your responses!

The coach is a school-run coach so not public transport thankfully in that it drops at the school door. Although the school is single-sex, the coach is shared with the partner school so the coach is effectively co-ed, not sure what the impact of that may be for 2 hrs a day as single-sex is a key consideration for us.

The coach stop is rather conveniently located a few minutes walk from our house so no problem with DC getting there and back without us picking them up.

This convenience of the coach stop adds to the sense that surely it would be fine to do the commute? Lots of DC seem to commute to school given the number of school coach routes we've seen advertised at virtual open days. Are we being too precious about our DC or will they get used to it like lots of other children do?

(We are separately looking at boarding at 13+. It will provide a back-up if we do go for this school and the commute is too much. If this current school offered boarding, we would go for weekly boarding in a heartbeat.)

OP’s posts: |
Yookytooky Mon 22-Feb-21 11:33:19

I agree on the prep and wouldn't expect anything of value to be done on the coach apart from perhaps reading fiction. I would see the journey home as wind-down time and not expect any attempt at prep.

OP’s posts: |
siz99 Mon 22-Feb-21 12:18:26

I can't add anything helpful but we are contemplating a similar bus journey for our ds. It does feel like a big jump to go from walking a few minutes to primary to a long bus journey. I know he will grow into it and this will be a minor issue in Y9, say, but it will be a big adjustment for the first year or 2.

I'm wondering other's experience when first starting Y7. I am able to drive ds the first week (or maybe longer) to shorten the commute and ease into new school before adding in the bus. I'm wondering if this is helpful or if he should hop on the bus from day 1?

PresentingPercy Mon 22-Feb-21 12:54:54

Surely a key consideration is if the coaches run after evening activitie? In most schools they do not. They have a set timetable.

Long bus journeys are not liked by schools either. Could you not drop him off and then go to work? Does schoolhave breakfasts available? Some schools will not allow more than 45 minutes. I took DD in the car for 35-40 minutes to prep. Traffic enured it was 40! Should have been 25 tops! I feel relying on a school bus and expecting after school activities to dovetail is expecting too much.

I think you are wrong about co-ed too. Single sex is perfectly acceptable as a trade off for an easier life for DC.

PresentingPercy Mon 22-Feb-21 12:56:00

Why not look for weekly boarding from 13 plus? DC will be older and more self-reliant. No long journeys and everything on site at school. No bainer for me.

Swimmum1206 Mon 22-Feb-21 12:58:49

DS in Y10 uses the school coach and door to door it's just over an hour journey.

The coach stop is around 20 minutes from our house then around 30-40 minutes on the coach depending on traffic. After the first few days in Y7, we found the journey didn't really affect him much and he is still able to continue with his after school activities.

Last minute test revision tends to be done on the journey and he seems to have "coach friends" as well as his "class/subject friends"!

When I see any of the kids when I drop him at the stop, they all tend to be plugged into their earphones or phoning their friends at earlier stops to see how long the coach will be!!

The only downside tends to be when he has late practices and we have to drive to the school to collect him.

afromom Mon 22-Feb-21 13:03:56

I was going to echo PresentingPercy. DS did a lot of extra curricular activities after school and the buses from his school didn't stay to accommodate that. On those days the kids had to either pay for public transport, or parents had to pick them up.
If that's a key consideration, I would check if the bus will still operate, as otherwise you could end up picking them up everyday anyway, and still paying full price for the bus.

An hour is a long journey for an 11 year old, but plenty do it. I had friends who travelled that sort of time and they did used to be tired in the first couple of terms, but soon got used to it. Just consider the commute, with lots of after-school activities and a sharp increase in homework. Some kids are fine with this, others will struggle to concentrate and fit all in.

Skatingpark97 Mon 22-Feb-21 13:15:07

@Yookytooky , it would help if you could mention the schools or area in U.K. If it's Hampton/LEH it's fine to travel for 1 hour each way and do homework on the bus - this is normal. Although Hampton has virtually no co-circular after school as most ds use the school bus system.

iVampire Mon 22-Feb-21 13:16:03

My DS did this

a) late coaches fit after school activities, it’s a very joined young system
b) yes homework does get done on the bus (it’s not a bus like a TfL bus, it’s a coach with plenty of space to work effectively)
c) started using it in yr7 and within less than a fortnight it was as if he’d been doing it all his life

Other good thing was that if the bus got held up in traffic (jams because of prangs, burst water main etc) then although your DC is still marked late, there is no sanction because the school considered the timely running of their coach service to be their responsibility. Home responsibility for bus boys is for getting DC to the bus stop on time

Yookytooky Mon 22-Feb-21 14:10:23

Thanks for all the helpful comments.

The school provides late coaches to accommodate afterschool activities hence the 6:30pm arrival time at home (don't mean to drip feed but didn't realise that some schools don't offer this!). A 'normal' school day would mean getting home at 5:30pm.

There may be some confusion re the co-ed thing, all our DC are in single sex as that is our preference. The coach in question is shared between the brother/sister schools so both boys and girls use it but drop off to each of the single-sex schools.

Wasn't aware that there could be sufficient space for homework on the coach - perhaps they do have a lot of space, especially if they are towards the end of the line.

OP’s posts: |
Yookytooky Mon 22-Feb-21 14:16:42


Why not look for weekly boarding from 13 plus? DC will be older and more self-reliant. No long journeys and everything on site at school. No bainer for me.

@PresentingPercy this idea seems very attractive but having just been through the 11+ chaos, don't know if we can face more exams so soon plus our DC worked so hard for these places, uprooting after 2 years feels like an enormously disruptive thing to do.

We had been doing virtual open days for boarding schools in the last month while awaiting 11+ results and almost falling in love with several schools. As DC has done really well, I feel like it's unfair to go through it all again and that we should have planned for 13+ boarding a long time ago rather than shoehorning it into our plans now.

OP’s posts: |
museumum Mon 22-Feb-21 14:20:03

I did this as a child and it was fine but it gave me a life-long hatred of commuting. I would never ever live outside the city now unless permanently wfh, I have to be in walking and cycling distance of work and my dc's school(s) as I just feel commuting is such a waste of life.

VeronicaVanHoopen Mon 22-Feb-21 14:20:50

I have a Y8 And a Y10. One of them has been getting a daily 45 minutes each way school coach since Y5. They get tired but they also get used to it pretty quickly!

Its worth it for us as the school suits both of them so well.

PresentingPercy Mon 22-Feb-21 15:47:57

I can see giving up what you have does not seem worthwhile. However I assume DC has not sat pre tests so you might be in difficulty for some 13 plus schools anyway. If you are happy with the bus timetable then that's fine. It is not really late anyway. I wouldnot have wanted my DDs to do it, but we knew we wanted boarding from 11, so planned for that.

Jalfrezi Mon 22-Feb-21 16:26:26

My DS has had a 45min/1hr commute to school (traffic depending) for the last 5 years. It's tiring at first but he soon got used to it and he actively prefers it, even turning down an offer when occasionally I could drop him instead. It's turned into a real social time for him - almost like a party bus and has made friends outside classes and year groups. The mornings tend to be quieter with ear pods in a chill out time/ extra snooze before school but definitely lots of fun and banter coming home. However, coaches go after all activities and prep is also done at school so even though he's home late, it's relaxation time only. I don't know if he could cope so well if he still had to get books out after such a long day.
Not sure about doing homework on the journey though 🤔?? Surely nothing written would work but reading/revision maybe.

dawmatt Tue 23-Feb-21 08:55:21

Have you considered public transport?

ittakes2 Tue 23-Feb-21 10:51:37

I have twins - one goes to the local grammar which is a 10min walk away and can leave home at 8.30am and get to school on time - is back by 3.50pm. While his twin could have gone to the local grammar but choose a grammar a bus ride away. Unfort this didn't work out so she is now in a private school a lot further away. A normal day is a 7.30am bus getting home around 5.15/20pm - plus she has so much more homework than him. So her day is literally hours and hours longer than his. But she likes her school - does not regret going to the local grammar. Although we do a bit. Because her twin has so many local friends while she is quite isolated.
Its a tricky one - if you were comparing to a school in walking distance I would say go with that for the point of few of making local friends. But if you are deciding between two privates and the one a bit further away than I would choose the school you like best. My friend's daughter goes to a school where she leaves at 7.30pm and gets home at 7.30pm but she loves the school. Finding a school they love is the most important thing.

PresentingPercy Tue 23-Feb-21 12:58:43

If you get home at 7.30 and still need to eat and do prep it’s a very very long day.

thereinmadnesslies Tue 23-Feb-21 13:10:06

I did a 1hr each way coach journey for secondary school in the 1990s. I wouldn’t chose it for my children tbh. The long days were exhausting and it was almost impossible to keep up with non-school activities. Also even if there is a late coach, there will be sports fixtures, school plays and trips etc that fall outside of the coach times so you need to think about how to cover those journeys.

Also - the coach itself was hideous. The coach service took kids from 4 private schools, 2 boys schools and 2 girls schools. I witnessed or experienced numerous incidents of bullying, sexual harassment, sexual assault, racist incidents, smoking, drugs, possessions deliberately set on fire or soaked in water, boys cutting girls hair or clothes. There were several bus crashes, and the late bus would regularly forgot to turn up leaving pupils stranded. There was little chance of doing homework on the way home because my school was last to be collected and there was never enough seats, even though it was a private school service not a public bus.

Can you not move nearer; or arrange work so you can cover the journeys by car?

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