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Benefits of teaching in a large vs small primary achool

(11 Posts)
Tillyscoutsmum Wed 30-Mar-16 14:18:29

Just looking for experiences/thoughts really.

I'm currently looking a jobs for September and have been to look around (and been invited for interview) at two very different schools. One is the largest primary in the borough (4 form entry), the other is a small 1 form entry. The schools I trained and did my NQT year in have all been 2 form entry schools.

Does anyone have any thoughts on benefits or issues with larger or smaller than average schools?

icklekid Wed 30-Mar-16 14:23:08

I did my nqt year and following 7 years at a large 3 form entry. I loved it. There were fantastic strong teams so everything was shared eg. Planning/resources this meant I had access to high quality examples and learnt from other experienced and outstanding teachers. Friends in smaller schools had to do all their weekly English, maths and topic planning totally by themselves. I was very supported and only did a third of it. The school being so big almost ran as 3 separate schools with different playtimes/lunchtimes so ks1 6 classes was almost like a mini school.

ArmchairTraveller Wed 30-Mar-16 14:34:44

I've worked in very small and very large schools over the years.
I'd definitely go for the larger one as an NQT.
Having a team to work with, plan and assess with, share resources, more expertise available for everything across the board, larger groups of staff to mix with (it can be very tricky in a small school if you get on the wrong side of someone)
There's more scope with balancing needs, gender and personalities within a class too, so come the summer they'll have put thought into which child goes where and why. One form and they are stuck with each other for 7 years.
If you stay for a second year, on a small school you will often have a couple of curriculum responsibilities too, rather than the one you are best suited to and a team.
That said, I've loved some of the 100 pupil schools I've worked in, but I'm glad I wasn't an NQT there.

Tillyscoutsmum Wed 30-Mar-16 15:28:44

Thank you both smile
I'm nearly at the end of my NQT year in a 2 form entry but my year group partner is very....independent... and there hasn't been much in the way of sharing ideas or resources. It's been hard work but I suppose I've kind of got used to just doing my own thing. Sharing the workload somewhat is definitely appealing though!

phlebasconsidered Wed 30-Mar-16 18:33:39

I'm dissenting here and vouch for small. My NQT year was in a massive school, and despite that, I got only barely adequate support. Despite a large resources shared drive, they were not shared. Assessment stalked the halls and if people made great resources, they kept them for an assessment lesson / progress meeting.

My one form entry school knows that every resource shared is helpful. It supports our nqt excellently, above and beyond, because it needs to and they want to keep her. It is stressful having sole responsibility for a year group, but that's why small schools step up.

That said, even after nqt I like small. There is a definite team spirit, and I have found a more thorough knowledge of both key stages in all staff just because you all step up more. Plus in my old large three form entry primary, our meetings were in key stages. In my little school, I love the meetings. I genuinely love being able to track progress and issues in one meeting, and I can't tell you the amount of times I've been on playground duty and been able to inform the teacher of something because I knew about it, and knew the children, and it simply wasn't possible in my other school.

The downs are obvious. You ARE year 6. That said, small schools will bend over to help you. They need you.

Sometime it's hard not to have another fellow year teacher. Your planning is yours. But my team have shared with me their plans from when they did 6/5/4. I can reuse again more than you word think.

I like the ability to chat and manage in a small school. In my big school I got given a year group. In my small school, they play to my strength but also let me keep my 5/6 because I asked and they saw it would be good. It wouldn't be for everyone. Some teachers don't want to follow a class. For me it's been better.

And finally, it's all about the school. Get a feel. Get a look at the management. Gut feeling is real.

Minispringroll Wed 30-Mar-16 20:45:05

I'd agree with phlebasconsidered. Take a good look round the schools and decide based on that, whether you think you'd like it there. It depends on what type of person you are and where your preferences lie.
For my NQT year, I was in a six-form entry school. It was brilliant to have that support and I didn't have to worry about not knowing everything. I was part of a very strong and experienced team and this really helped me to develop my teaching skills. We had the opportunity to work together while it was still possible for me to do my own thing within that given structure.
A few years later, I moved to a one-form entry school. It was difficult and a bit odd at first, but I worked with my phase partner for some things and we had PPA together, so I could bounce ideas off of her.
Having then moved to a two-form entry school, I miss my independence. I miss being able to simply change planning on a whim, take longer or less time on something depending on the needs of my class, timetable something whacky because my class are into it, miss having the control over my year group. (I'm quite a control freak and I don't appreciate other people taking over and bossing me around in my classroom. I'm too old for this.)
I'll be moving to a new two-form entry school now, where my year partner is also a bit more of an independent spirit (and the ethos of the school matches my own much better). This should fit quite well, since I'm happy to share ideas with others, but I hate being made to teach in a particular way. I wouldn't require other people to teach the way I do, either. hmm

Tillyscoutsmum Thu 31-Mar-16 14:02:32

Thanks. I honestly like the look of both schools. The bigger one has been through an unsettled time (6 head teachers in 8 years and high staff turnover) but I know and like the head who's been in since last September (he was head on one of my placements) and I know he's in for the long haul. My only real issue with this one is that they don't "set" at all. I've never had experience of not setting for maths in upper ks2 and I'm a bit concerned about how that would work.
I have enjoyed the flexibility of planning on my own (my written plans only have to be minimal as a result) but there are definitely subjects where I'd benefit from some additional ideas and input from others smile
This is all obviously pie in the sky at the moment. I might well get offered neither of them!
Thanks for the input so far smile

Minispringroll Thu 31-Mar-16 21:46:30

My one-form entry school didn't set. My new two-form entry doesn't either. (Most schools in my previous work area have gone to mixed groups in line with the mastery approach.) Current one does set and I've been moved from top to bottom set. It drives me barmy. I'm good at it, but I miss teaching my more able ones. I prefer mixed. Although I might group them within the class, the groupings are a lot more fluid and I get to teach the full range. It also means my less able ones get challenged a lot more.
Hate setting for English.

Tillyscoutsmum Thu 31-Mar-16 21:59:12

I agree I've seen the benefits of mixing for English. I suppose I've only had experience of setting for maths (and have only taught "top" set so may be biased wink). I just worry about my ability to be able to differentiate effectively for such a wide range of abilities. It's just a lack of experience/confidence on my part thing I think confused

MiaowTheCat Fri 01-Apr-16 09:24:38

Personally I prefer working in smaller schools - just feel like you know more of the kids I guess, plus the number of places you've got to go through to hunt out whatever piece of equipment's gone walkies is limited.

However in terms of available facilities and the like - larger schools have advantages (one small school I worked in didn't even have a proper school hall which made winter PE interesting).

MsColouring Fri 01-Apr-16 09:28:53

Have worked in large schools but now work in a one form entry school. I have to do all the planning for my year group but I like that I can really tailor it to their needs and not have to try and fit in with what a parallel class are doing. I also like the fact that I know most of the children in the school and the family atmosphere.

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