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Please cast your vote, totally confused about what school to choose.

18 replies

Chandra · 06/06/2007 10:31

I have thought so much about this that I have done my head in and got myself in a state of deep undecision... which school would you choose.

School 1:

-Excellent Ofsted report, everything has a grade 1 (outstanding), the only thing to improve mentioned in the report is that some small children have to understand why they need to wash their hands.

  • Excellent policy to deal with food allergies (DS has plenty of them including peanut allergy). more than 10 members of staff trained in Epipen use, a very knowledgeable and proactive cook, and an absolute zero tolerance of nut products in the school (I have seem them throw a good fuss after an almond was found in the perimeters)

  • Very multicultural. A large number of expat's children.

  • Small groups with plenty of personalised attention (each class has a teacher, an assistant and a student teacher)

  • Long drive to it (30 mins aprox)
  • Only covers up to Year 2.
  • DS has been attending it for a year but doesn't seem to have totally settled in it (he is a bit shy and says that there are "too many children" in it. But... is such a small school!)
  • Not exactly the best of customer service from office staff. Communication is a bit of a mine land.

    School 2.
  • Good Ofsted report. Grade 2 (good)in almost everything but attendance and some deficiencies in writing.
  • Nearest to our house (across the street) which make it a more sociable option in terms of having little friends around. Although... DS is not exactly an outgoing friendly child anyway
    -It's free

  • Twice as many pupils per class and less than a third of the staff.
  • There's no such a thing as an allergy policy, they would do their best but, considering the size of the school, it wouldn't be fair of me to expect them to be as "precise" on keeping DS safe as in the other school.
  • We have no guarantee whatsoever that DS is going to be better/more freindly in this school. Or that we are going to feel better about it than about the other.

    So the question is, almost perfect school a long way away, or average-I-don't-know-much about-this-school-or-how-my-child-will-be-in-it across the street?
OP posts:
Chandra · 06/06/2007 10:32

Forgot to say, DS is to start reception in September, hence my wondering about it at this point.

OP posts:
Saggarmakersbottomknocker · 06/06/2007 10:44

My thoughts would be..

How important is the allergy stuff - are you going to be worried all day everyday about him at school 2?

Where do they go after Yr2 at school 1. Are you happy with it?

Ofsted reports are all very well but a change in staff can make a whole load of difference. The school my dd went too has gone from good when she left to special measures in 2 short years.

If you chose school 2 would you be moving ds1 - will that be good for him?

Communication is an issue in many schools.

Saggarmakersbottomknocker · 06/06/2007 10:45


Chandra · 06/06/2007 10:52

the allergy stuff is very important, DS is so sensitive to peanuts he doesn't need to eat them to react to them, skin contact is enough.

Children from School 1 move into a very good private school which is near to them (and far to us! we certainly have better private schools nearer to us than that). I also thought of moving DS to School 2 after year 2, when he would be more prepared to take better care of his alergies than he is now and do not need so much personalised attention.

The "thing" we like most about School 2 was the headteacher, but he may retire in a few years time and I do really wonder if the school will continue to be as good once he is gone.

DS is not good coping with changes, but he has not totally settled in the other school, it all feels like a gamble, changing him to hope he feel better but not sure if things will get worse.

OP posts:
frances5 · 06/06/2007 11:23

Is it hard affording private education. Is the money an issue? Also do you need childare?

There is a a little girl in my son's class with a severe nut allergy. She goes home for lunch.

I like walking to school and I probably choose school 2. However you need to go on your gut feeling.

slalomsuki · 06/06/2007 11:30

Is there no way you can get both in to the same school private or otherwise. In one years time you are going to have to look again for DS and so it may be opportune to look for a longer term solution now

jennifersofia · 06/06/2007 12:19

I would go for 2. I think you can't underestimate having the child go to a school that is close enough for easy socializing. It took my dd quite a while to settle in, and that has been helped by being able to have regular-ish play dates with different children. Obviously you can still do this with school 1, but the distance means it would have to be more formal and pre-arranged, and more difficult for a quick visit, which is sometimes all little children can handle at the end of the school day.
Also with school 1 you will have to move him anyway at Y2, which would be quite unsettling for him.
Re: allergies - we have several children in our 2 form entry school who have severe allergies. There are plenty of staff trained with epipen, including class teacher and TA's and there is always one in whichever room the child is in, as well as one in the office in case it is needed in playtime. I know one of the children brings a packed lunch everyday, so there is no issue with school dinner. It can be done, it is just a matter of head/school staff having a good understanding of the seriousness of the issue.

WK007 · 06/06/2007 12:25

Would personally go for 1, mainly because of allergy help, the small groups and that if ds hasn't totally settled in a small school, surely he won't be likely to settle in a move to a bigger school any better?

But moving to 2 after yr 2 could be a good idea, depending on ds

katelyle · 06/06/2007 12:40

I would go for the nearest. I've done the driving to school every day thing (because we live in the back of the beyond, not because we chose a school a long way away) and if I had to do it over again I think I wouldn't have moved the where we are now, even though we love it. It means that I have to be involved in everything dd and ds do - even though dd is 11, I still have to drive her and pick her up from practically every social event or after school club. She has really lost out on the freedom that she would have had if we lived nearer. And remember that your children might not finish at the same time if one of them stays behind for chior or something, so there'll be a lot of waiting around. I'm always having to cadge coffee from people while I wait for one or the other of mine. And there's the weekends too - Oh don't start me! Chuck them over the wall of the school across the road!

Chandra · 06/06/2007 13:31

Frances, money is not an issue but I work and having DS eating lunch at home may mean for me to stop working, which brings the other issue... School 1's good wraparound care it is an added point.

DS has taken lunchs to school for a few years so having this cook who cares so much about help him to feel "normal" during lunch time is a huge bonus point, DS is so happy to be allowed to join in and it has brough the added bonus of saving us from spending sunday cooking everything he will be eating during the week (he is also allergic to wheat, dairy, egg, nuts, and some fruits so sandwiches and most average cold lunch foods are out of the question, his food has to be warmed up anyway)

Considering how he withdrawns when he is in big groups and the allergy thing ....what would be better, to leave him in this "protected" environment until year 2 and then move him into School B, or, move him now and see what happens? Would he have a lots of problems in adapting? would we miss the oportunity to establish links with other children's families forever?

OP posts:
Quattrocento · 06/06/2007 13:36

Chandra - can't advise on the school but your last post suggested some anxiety about assimilation if your DS were to enter School 2 later.

My DC have both had new children entering their classes every year since the age of 4. After about a week they get assimilated and it's as though they had been there from the start. Children make friends quickly.

Chandra · 06/06/2007 17:27

Thanks Quattrocento, I really needed to hear that!

This thread has helped me a lot to put things in perspective. Thank you

Poll not yet closed though...

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SparklePrincess · 06/06/2007 19:04

I would send him to the local school but make damn sure that everyone was aware of the seriousness of his allergy.
Ive heard of schools becoming "nut free" before in response to this kind of allergy.
It does the kids no harm to go without nut containing foods while they are at school.

PrincessPeaNips · 06/06/2007 19:20

stay in school 1 and move him to school 2 after year 2 when (a) he is more able to deal with his allergies (b) he is more able to sassimilate and (c) you know whether it is still good or going downhill or uphill.

proximity of school 2 is great but I think if he has been slow to assimilate so far, moving him at all, and to a bigger school at that, especially when it has nothing else to recommend it over the other one, probably isn't the right move.

also I agree with quattrocento - my dd has had new people in her class every year and they assimilate v quickly - n fact everyone wants to be their friend because they are new and interesting.

islandofsodor · 06/06/2007 20:24

I'd go for school 1. The difference in attitude between zero tolerance and no such thing as an allergy policy speaks volumes to me. A school that cares about that one issue is going to care about anything to do with the well being of its pupils.

School 1 sounds great to be honest.

Chandra · 07/06/2007 01:08

Thank you all, score is 4 to 5 so far with School 2 at the lead.

This thread has greatly helped me to put things in perspective, and has also make me wonder if the reason at the center of the decision is that I would like the convenience of having the school across the road.

We visited school 2 first and DH and I both came out thinking that something had not really clicked. Both agreed that the headteacher was great but were not so sure about the rest.

While.... We couldn't stop smiling during the 1.5 hrs the visit to School 1 lasted, it just went from good, to better, to perfect. We have heard it was very good but was much better than what we expected.

Although... I might well be biased, school one is a Montessori which is a method I know well, as I attended a montessori primary. While I am a bit unaware of what to expect from a traditional primary school. Sigh*

OP posts:
lljkk · 08/06/2007 18:34

I would vote for School 2 as I wouldn't want to be committed to driving min. 2 hours every day (plus having to find a parking place every day, further to go if child is ill, that much more driving for playdates and parties, less convenient to attend school events, etc.). It would wear me out.

But I know people who do that kind of driving daily and don't seem to mind.

Chandra · 08/06/2007 20:42

More on the topic.

Have received letters from both schools...

School 1's to let us know that after a much thought process which involves matching children personality to those of the teachers, and deciding whether to keep friend groups together or separate them according to what suits the children better, DS has been assigned to X class, and could we arrange to bring him on X day to have a taster session with all his new little classmates and teachers in preparation for the start of reception next term.

School 2's friendly letter asked to attend a meeting to meet all the staff and pick up an information pack, but didn't acknowledge our request for a delayed admision we asked for based on DS's allergies issue. DS was meant to start in January or September 2008 but because of this now he is meant to start this September!. He is soooo not ready to start this September in the big school!(2) and me neither, although I understand they will keep nuts out of their kitchen I'm freaking out at the thought of an unsupecting child bringing a Snickers bar to school.

I think I will be going to school 2 meeting just to ask them, if they have a waiting list, to release the place for another child.

I guess that next time school 1 asks for suggestions to increase awareness of environmental issues, I will suggest to introduce a car sharing scheme.

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