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Is DH bu? Or am I guilty of reverse snobbery?

(97 Posts)
mollysmum82 Sun 09-Dec-12 14:39:00

Hi everyone. We're in the schools applications process and DH and I have very different ideas. I've got a young baby as well as DD and I think my pnd is making me more anxious than I need to be about all this sad

We have a good chance of getting into two schools (they're catholic and usually go into the 'baptised in other faiths' category)

School 1 is our 'catchment' catholic school. Its ofsted was outstanding, although dated (2007 and a new head has joined since then). It gets great results (94% level 4 and 34% level 5 at key stage 2). I looked round and I loved it, the staff seemed really friendly, the children seemed happy and engaged, the facilities were great, bright and cheerful, the Head seemed like she was a good leader but also made time to listen to our questions. Its linked to what's perceived to be the best secondary school in the area (and with it being catholic it actually guarantees entry to this secondary if you attend the primary). Its not too "pushy" on the catholic sense - it teaches all the morals but is very inclusive of the many children of other faiths who attend there. (Good for non-believer DH). We can walk to it too. So basically this would be my top choice, I love it. However (slightly snobby) DH is quite worried about the area its in. The houses around are all boarded up, there's loads of rubbish in the street and there are a couple of pubs next door with "unsavoury characters" (DHs words) hanging around outside during the day. Basically, DH would be a bit worried about us walking there. His other worry is it has high numbers of pupils with special needs and EAL - I personally see this as a positive as I have been enriched by friends of many cultures and walks of life myself (oh and my mum and sis in law would have been labeled as EAL) but DH worries a lot of time will be spent "bridging the gap" to help these pupils. The Head compounded his worries when she spoke passionately and at length about helping pupils with special needs and EAL (which is obviously wonderful) but when he asked her about gifted and talented pupils she just said "there is provision within lessons". Is he right to be worried, or do you think it is just snobbery/fear of the unknown?

School 2 is very different. It has an AMAZING reputation, everyone I know wants to get their kids in there. The ofsted parent opinion questionnaire was brilliant and the school have even paid for statistical surveys to show how happy the pupils are and how well they're doing academically. It gets the same great results as School 2...but its catchment is much more middle class and has less EAL and special needs pupils so I guess you would expect even higher results than school 1? I looked round twice, expecting to love it but I really didn't. None of the staff smiled at us and they seemed quite stressed out or even aloof. The Head teacher was supposed to take us round but he was too busy on both occasions. Other prospective parents have been let down by him not being there either in the past. He has a reputation of saying to parents "if you're not happy there's the door", but this could just be hearsay. Its just over 2 miles from our house, so not as easy to get to and it doesn't link to the best secondary. But it is in an area we spend a lot of time in (shopping, parks etc) and I do attend mass at the linked church so this would be a nice community feel for DCs. And like I say parents who's children go there seem to really love it. Whereas I don't know anyone who attends school 1.

I want to go for school 1 but am I right in going for a feeling rather than an established reputation/written and proven questionnaires etc? My local friends would think I was mad for considering school 1 over 2 because of the area its in. DH has left the decision up to me. Help!

Rudolphstolemycarrots Mon 10-Dec-12 23:23:57

I like the fact school 1 feeds into he best secondary

Jinsei Mon 10-Dec-12 23:32:11

School 1 - no contest!

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 10-Dec-12 23:40:09

I'd say school 1 - and that's from someone shoes children go to a private school

Dh has taught in a highly saught after state grammar school. It was situated in the middle if a very run down area but was a brilliant school.

Go with your instinct.

Picturesinthefirelight Mon 10-Dec-12 23:42:40

Saught! Where did that come from? Sought after.

misterwife Tue 11-Dec-12 01:17:07

Go for school 1, all the way - busy, aloof teachers really fuck me off.

The proportion of SEN/EAL kids is not an issue - in fact, your DH is being VU to raise it as one. The issue is the quality of teaching and learning.

JamieandtheMagiTorch Tue 11-Dec-12 05:42:32

I think your DH is being a snob.

And school 1 sounds better in all ways.

EvenIfYouSeeAPoppy Tue 11-Dec-12 07:26:10

I'd be going for school 1 too.
I think you're not so much being a reverse snob as your dh is being a straightforward one.

I was also a fence sitter until the no-bullying post. Every school has bullying, even if they deal with it quickly and well it happens. But it reminds me of an incident when my mum was on my school's PTC and asked if the school had a drug problem. Was told absolutely not, looked out of the window and saw some boys clearly taking drugs pointed this out and the head teacher was saying no, no boys there, can't see anything. Literally he was saying nothing to see there. If the staff are denying anything goes on that would be a massive red flag to me.

babybythesea Tue 11-Dec-12 08:09:11

One quick point with regards to the gifted and talented comment the HT made.
One of our local schools takes in a large number of kids who aren't at the national average in terms of their language ability, for whatever reason, when they start school.
The Ofsted report notes that, and they receive a lot of praise for working well with these children so that by the time they get to Year 2 they have brought many of them up to national average - clearly their work with this end of the spectrum is fantastic.
It then goes on to state that those children who are performing above average on arrival at school (I presume children who can already read a bit or whatever) are not stretched and as a result don't do nearly as well by the end of Year 2 as you would expect, given their capability on arrival.
It doesn't mention gifted and talented, just children of normal but above average ability. Reading between the lines, I think they have such a high intake of children who need extra support that much of their time is spent with these kids and those who can, to a certain extent, just get on with it without lots of help are left to do so.

We didn't choose this school - DD may not be G&T but she's reasonably able and I don't think it would have been right for her.

If this is an issue for school 1, then you may well find that it is mentioned in Ofsted somewhere - have a look through it for anything that looks as though it might be referring to this.

babybythesea Tue 11-Dec-12 08:11:13

What I was trying to get at is that you do't have to guess, necessarily, based on an off-the-cuff comment by the HT. There may well be evidence for you/your DH to go on. Or not.

deXavia Tue 11-Dec-12 08:15:57

If also say school 1 based on your description but I would be fascinated to see the same thread if your DH wrote it and gave his reversed summary of the pros and cons!!

TheLightPassenger Tue 11-Dec-12 08:29:15

school 1. but I wouldn't be too worried tbh by head not showing parents round etc with school 2. bear in mind that if the school gets great results despite a lot of pupils having SEN/EAL then sounds like the teaching is great. Also I wouldn't read much into head not wanting to speak at length about G & T - to be blunt, a lot of ambitious parents will ask about G &T provision, whose kids won't ultimately need it, whereas parents who ask about EAL provision/SEN provision are unlikely to be asking groundlessly!

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:16:03

Peaceandlovebunny, good point! The Head's PA in school 1 was lovely - she was friendly when I initially rang to ask to view the school and then on the day she went out of her way to photocopy catchment maps, give us prospectuses and answer any questions. There were too office ladies at school 2, a receptionist and a business administrator (who showed us round). The business administrator was actually really nice but the receptionist was a bit frosty! (You're going to all think I'm making this up now to argue my point...but honestly this is how it was!) The receptionist said a few times we would be very lucky to gain a place at the school as we were out of catchment, but when I questioned a bit further it turns out they usually take children who are baptised in other faiths (we are catholic) so go quite a bit past our criteria. She said we would need to put their school as first choice to stand any chance.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:37:00

MummytoKatie, Winkly, 3monkey, zzzz and babybythesea - yes, these are the concerns we have which is why its making the decision so difficult.

I do think DD is on the gifted and talented "spectrum" if that's the right word - I'll go into why I think this if you like but I don't want to sound like a twat!

Part of me thinks a school that caters for such a diversity of language and special needs would be flexible and passionate enough to deal with a gifted and talented pupil? But yes, it could be that I'm just a typical mum of a pfb and DD is just bright...in which case I'd hate her just to coast and be bored. But there's nothing to say she would coast at school 1 but not 2 - like I say the results are the same. Its just that niggling comment from the Head about "bringing all pupils up to the same level for equality". In some ways that sounds lovely but in other ways I guess children naturally have different "levels" in different areas and it should be more about bringing all children up to their potential? Maybe that's what she meant?

What you say about being the "different kid" is scary. I'm so sorry you were bullied for this Winkly and 3monkey sad

I had a similar experience as a kid. My parents were from a different area so my accent was more neutral than many of the children at my school and I too was bullied for being "posh" (which I wasn't, nor richer that's for sure). DD is shy, bright and has a soft accent too. But part of me thinks school 1 is so diverse that accent wouldn't matter? The school I went to was very white and english speaking - so difference in accent/class was the only real difference and therefore more obvious. But school 1 has such a range of cultures, faiths and needs that I imagine everyone is "different" so accent and class alone are less of an issue? Or does that sound really naive?

The only reason for sending DD to school 2 on these grounds would be for her to be with pupils "the same" as herself in culture, class and faith. Which kind of feels wrong. DH thinks this is the main positive though.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:49:57

hackmum, yes I totally agree about being near the school to have local friends.

School 2 takes from a wide area though, including many of my neighbours. So in this regard it could actually be better socially from a school 2 perspective (see everyone, I can be objective about this!) Plus, because of the area school 2 is in we tend to do our shopping there, go to the park there and attend the linked church there. Whereas the parks and shops near school 1 do have a "rough" feel to them, so we tend to avoid them (particularly at weekends with DH in tow ;) ) So we're more likely to bump into school 2 kids when out and about.

Another problem is what do I do if DD makes friends with someone who DH disapproves of at school 1 (obviously this could happen at any school, but he's much more likely to be concerned if DD goes to a playdate at a house in the "rough" area.")

I know I'm making him out to be a snob...but ultimately he does care about DD as much as I do and has her best interests at heart.

I think he thinks I'm letting my "socialist" principles cloud my judgement on what's best for DD.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:50:47

PS I'm one glass of wine down and postnatal so probably pissed... so sorry if I'm waffling and please be gentle smile

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 20:57:09

Emandlu, Turkey, Commander, Wilson, Lurked - yes the "we don't have bullying" thing did worry me at school 2. If the Head at school 2 had said that I would run a mile. But if I try to give the business administrator a chance, maybe she doesn't have dealings with bullying? Or maybe she thought that's what she was supposed to say?

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Dec-12 20:59:22

Do you know people locally to you who go to either school? I think it's really nice to go to a school where people live walking distance/ round the corner/ down the road from you. It's a lovely community feeling all walking to school at the same time and my kids have many VERY local friends (under 2 mins walk).

I would also go for the happier school. My Dsis had a school in mind for my DNiece and they were just checking out another school to put as option 2, but fell in love with it. She said it had such a happy atmosphere, so even though it is further away, she loved it. She also said it had better outside space.

Not sure about your children, but personally I think of you are very talented, these talents will be brought out in secondary school. I think it's more important to be in a school that deals well with children with potential issues.

MerryMarigold Tue 11-Dec-12 21:03:57

If you are postnatal, you do also have to think of your second child. He/ she may not be on the gifted/ talented spectrum and you may very much wish for school 1's attitude to children!

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:04:04

Lonecat, yes I thought that was odd too! Normally schools don't pay for sophisticated surveys to prove their schools are great, do they?

There was actually a pretty bad (alleged) bullying incident at school2 a couple of years ago which made the papers. Apparently a kid was physically injured (enough to have to go into hospital for scans later) but the teachers were so strict they made him sit and wait till the end of the school day, not believing him. When the parent went to see the Head he had a go at her about the kids uniform not being up to scratch!

But I have gleaned this information purely from the internet so it could be completely exaggerated.

My point was though, maybe they have done this statistical survey because they received such bad press for this?

Like I say, every parent who I've spoken to in RL seems to be really happy with school2, which is why I'm so worried about trusting my gut feeling with school 1.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:08:49

Merrymarigold, thanks for your post. You're right, I should be thinking of DS too. He's just been an all round happier, more chilled out baby so I'm less worried about him (I know this sounds ridiculous)

DD has always been clingy, shy, spirited, intelligent and downright difficult! She's also been quite poorly though which is why I think I've obsessed about every decision for her.

Oh goodness. I'm sharing. Should NEVER drink wine smile

FryOneFatChristmasTurkey Tue 11-Dec-12 21:17:44

mollysmum82 Actually, your latest post reinforces my feeling that school 1 would be better. Papers may exaggerate, but an incident like this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

Additionally all staff in a school are supposed to know their policies, so the business administrator should know about policies on bullying.

Blu Tue 11-Dec-12 21:19:21

School 1.

A school pays lots of money for a survey as a marketing tool, not for genuine consultation. And especially not in a school where the Head is even thought capable of saying anything like 'there's the door'. It sounds as if the school is trying to create a mc competitive frenzy and thus massage his intake.

The EAL thing is a complete red herring unless a large majority of the children all speak the same home language and use it amongst themselves in school. And IMO and IME you can tell a lot about a school and it's attitude to ALL children from it's support for children with SEN.

Being close to a school is a huge benefit.

mollysmum82 Tue 11-Dec-12 21:20:50

deXavia, that's an interesting question. I've just asked DH (bearing in mind he hasn't read ofsted/league tables etc and hasn't visited school 2)

School 1 his pros - same as some of mine - friendy, nice facilities, great feeding secondary school. His cons (his exact words so please don't think I'm saying this) - rough area, broken glass, rubbish on street, unsavoury characters hanging around so wouldn't want us walking there, area has known drug problem so possibly parents may too (and therefore wouldn't want DD there for playdates), he feels many people on benefits=low aspirations for themselves and therefore kids, therefore more bullying/behavioural problems in the school. High number of EAL/SEN would make DD fall behind as more attention would be given to these pupils.

School 2 his pros - nice area, he would be happy with us driving there. He thinks DD would have a bigger "bank" of friends to choose from as more children are like her (in other words he would approve more of their parents and therefore allow more playdates) His cons - more religious than school 1 (he's a non believer and school 2 takes all catholics/baptised in other christian faiths)

StinkyWicket Tue 11-Dec-12 21:24:38

I would go for school one as well. The school I have applied for my children to go to next year (they are in the pre-school this year) was under-subbed last year. Good OFSTED, but I have always been of the opinion that so long as the teachers seem nice, and they seem to be progressing (obviously something could change as they age) then I am happy with a 'Good'.

When I visited the school, the teachers were just lovely, the school so friendly - and having attended a couple of assemblies, the children are happy. Also it is convenient to get to!

For me anyway, the feel of the school was so so important.

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