How long/far are you willing to travel for a good school?

(33 Posts)
SkiYesPlease Wed 12-Jun-13 15:24:08

Just wondering how far people are willing to travel for the right school? We live in a rural location with the nearest state/faith primary 15mins drive away and the nearest prep school 20mins drive away. Other larger preps are 35-45mins drive away.

brainexplosion Wed 12-Jun-13 15:28:27

I would travel A LONG way if necessary, having got it wrong once!!!! I want to get it right for my kids.

My round trip takes around 80mins from home back to home in the mornings.
Thats dropping 2 dc at 2 different schools.

Just bear in mind the fuel costs!

SkiYesPlease Wed 12-Jun-13 17:42:24

Thanks for your reply brain, how old are your kids and do you find it difficult to keep them entertained during such a long commute?

Marmitelover55 Wed 12-Jun-13 18:48:46

I used to have a 60 mile round trip to school and back and TBH I felt it was a bit far. My parents enrolled me into a school 30 miles thinking that they would sell our house quickly, but it took 3 years in the end. It was a long train journey with 15 minute walks at either end. It meant that I didn't really get involved in extra curricular activities, and couldn't have friends round very easily.

My dd1 is in year 6 at the moment, going into year 7 in September. I am so pleased that she will only have a 20 minute walk to her school (which thankfully is outstanding). We are very lucky.

BackforGood Wed 12-Jun-13 19:01:00

It would have to be a real dire option for me to travel any length of time at all. I think the walk to and from school is such an important part of the day. It would take a LOT for me to even consider a school I can't walk to. (This was taken into account when house buying).

SkiYesPlease Wed 12-Jun-13 20:04:11

backforgood a school within walking distance would be lovely but unfortunately we are rural and the old village school no longer exists. A 15min drive is the closest school to us, walking is out of the question. Moving house is also out of the question. So my debate is do I go for the closest school or the best school?

I agree with backforgood, but I am in Scotland where people almost always go to their nearest school, so a commute to school sounds bizarre to me. However, taking your geographical location into account, I'd go for the one that your DC would get transport provided to, if possible. A lot happens during the trip to school (I mean social arrangements etc), so if they could get a school bus, that would be best.

brainexplosion Wed 12-Jun-13 21:37:29

Well, each to their own.

Ski - our driving routine is.....
20-30mins to school 1, drop ds off,
10mins to school 2, drop dd off
15-30mins home.

The rest of the time is used for taking dd to class room, locating items lost by dd, checking music lesson time with dd, apologising for lack of reading/homework done by dd....(get the picture??) and queuing to get out of the school car parks.

dc are 11 and 8, and tbh the journeys have never been troublesome. We chat about their days or ds does last minute cramming for tests on the way there. Coming home is quicker as less traffic, and they genuinely love their schools so have plenty to talk about.

It works very well for us, but the petrol costs are fairly high.

We have a local village primary, that they both attended to start with, but we ended up leaving and doing the driving.
We have a local secondary school 2.5 miles away and the kids go on the school bus which I'm sure is very sociable, but also very rowdy I've heard.

But dc would much rather enjoy school and do the travelling.

Hope that helps a bit.

HabbaDabbaDoo Wed 12-Jun-13 22:20:08

Not quite the same thing but DC's school is a 30min school bus ride away.

RussiansOnTheSpree Wed 12-Jun-13 22:25:07

It's about a 60 mile round trip to Dd1s school and back. She goes on the school bus, the whole journey, door to door, takes about 1.25 hours, give or take 5 minutes. She loves the bus journey. It gives her and her iPod time to work on their relationship. It's a fabulous school - one of the top superselectives in the country - and it's well worth it. I have never really thought the journey was too long since that's about how long it would take me to get to school on the bus when I was a kid in London (I used to walk home, that took more like 40 minutes going at a fair clip, because I walked the direct route and the bus went all round the houses, there was a bizarre bus principle in the part of London in which I grew up which sent all the buses through the centre of the borough and out again on arterial roads rather than using sensible B roads to get to places where schools were ).

Triumphoveradversity Wed 12-Jun-13 23:31:41

DS goes to bog standard comp almost across the road, appears fine. Unless there are major problems such as bullying he will remain there. DH can tutor him in all sciences and maths beyond A level as he is an academic so lucky in that respect.

SkiYesPlease Thu 13-Jun-13 06:44:56

Thanks for your responses, I really appreciate it. I had considered the school bus route but given we are looking at primary level I would prefer to drive lo myself with the view to using the bus when lo is a bit older.

Your responses have confirmed that I would be wrong to dismiss those schools further afield without more investigation/visit. If its the right school then the long drive would be acceptable. Similarly, we will also look at the closer schools as these may be more suited to lo and make decision based on this.

If anyone else has a long journey for school drop-off/pick up I would love to hear about it.

mummytime Thu 13-Jun-13 06:54:01

The advantage of the closer school is that if it is over a certain distance (2 miles for under 8's) there will be free transport.

Personally: I went to the closest Primary but also the one my Mother wanted me to; I then went to the closest secondary BUT not the one I was "in catchment for", I would have been quite willing to have travelled further to two even "better" secondaries. A friend travelled 1 + hour by tube to school every day, for what is now a very selective private school.

My children have gone to the nearest Infants and its follow on Primary, but I choose to live here for the schools. They have gone to the 4th nearest secondary. But one is transferring from there to another school which will involve a 50 minute train journey and a walk/cycle ride at each end (at least 1 1/2 hrs each way).

Sparklingbrook Thu 13-Jun-13 07:05:57

DS1 is at Secondary 12 miles away, I drive him 6 miles to the bus stop and the coach does the final 6. It costs us £547 a year for the bus. So worth it because he is at the right school for him which is the most important thing.

At Primary level we got him into a small village school 6 miles away. You do get used to doing whatever journey is necessary, but if you are driving them yourself for an hour each end of the day that is a large chunk of the day. Consider what the journey would be like in bad weather, snow, ice etc.

marialuisa Thu 13-Jun-13 09:09:56

If you are rural and money isn't a particular worry I would suggest looking at all your options and then deciding. DD does approx an hour door-to-door (has done since Y3) using the bus but due to volume of traffic rather than distance. There are closer options but they are just not as good for DD so she travels. I grew up in a rural area so the travelling seems normal to me which is probably why we considered the school in the first place.

iseenodust Thu 13-Jun-13 09:24:00

We live in a village and no schools are in walking distance. We went for catchment primary for which there was transport available. Proved to be the wrong choice of school for DS. (The transport wasn't great either. A minibus full of primary kids with no adult other than the miserable old driver. Older kids opened the rear door one day.)

In Sept he will go to a school which is 40 mins drive away in commuter hour but we are planning to move closer and on to the school bus route so he can use that at secondary age.

hardboiled Thu 13-Jun-13 14:45:52

Is the state/faith primary good enough? It has the shortest drive and you can save fees for secondary...

When looking at distances, think of after school activities, play dates, friends (lots of birthday parties)...etc.

DS got into a superselective grammar 15 miles away (bus, train, bus then walk) and never in our dreams did we think of accepting the place without moving closer! I wouldn't even do that commute to work myself. It's exhausting.

SkiYesPlease Thu 13-Jun-13 18:32:50

Hi hardboiled to answer your first question both the state primary and local faith school are ofsted rated good, they're are on opposite sides of the same road so no difference in distance. The faith school was rated outstanding until recently but got downgraded to good due to pace/level of work, not giving sufficient instructions on how to improve and mathematics attainment isn't as high as reading and writing. The local prep is pretty small (60kids) which puts me off and the larger preps are 35-45mins drive away but are excellent.

anniejane100 Sun 16-Jun-13 08:41:02

SkiYesPlease, this is a question on my mind a lot at the moment! DD is currently at a wonderful nursery 15 mins drive from home and on my way to work, with a minor diversion.

Our options are this: leave her there til she's 4, then send her (hopefully but not guaranteed, as we have a Satisfactory school in our own village) to an Outstanding primary in the next village from ours, drop off on my way to work.

Or, subject to her being selected and we don't know if she will be, send her at 3 to the nursery of a top-ten indie in our nearest city. That would mean a 1hr10 round trip 4 days p/w initially, then 5 days week once she's in Reception.

DH went to the same indie and loved it, we looked around the nursery/ pre-prep and were blown away. Head is amazing! The cost is an issue but we could manage it, really torn at the mo. DD won't be assessed for the indie nursery til January so we have time to think about it. The local option feels so easy although the school is due an Ofsted soon, but I have heard good things from current parents so it will probably remain Outstanding.

The indie nursery/ pre-prep feeds into a prep/ upper that us hugely in demand and very selective. I know there us no guarantee that kids who start in nursery will go all through but it's more likely than not, I think.

So travel time is part of my concern, definitely, amongst a lit if other stuff!

LIZS Sun 16-Jun-13 08:55:31

We originally lived 25 mins away from school and it was a big chunk of the day taken up driving too and fro , a lot but just about manageable for a 4yo, and also significant cost over the course of a week/term/year. The main issues would be extra curricular activities, sports' matches and parent events such as Parent's evenings and socials and the fact that their/your friends may live a similar distance the opposite way, which makes playdates logistically difficult during the week and extra travel at weekends.

Eastpoint Sun 16-Jun-13 09:17:07

When they are tiny I think you want as close as possible, from the start of KS2 a greater distance is easier. When you have to go & watch plays in the morning, sports days etc its a real pain if you can't go home in between drop off & the activity. I used to feel v sad when I'd driven 30 mins through traffic to pick up my dd and someone would ask her to tea - I'd invariably have to say no to spontaneous play dates which was a great shame. The closer to school the easier to do all the extra-curricular activities which take place at senior school.

poppydoppy Sun 16-Jun-13 09:30:01

The further the school the further the friends will live. My school is a 30 min drive, I spend 4 hours in the car collecting and dropping off children. At the weekends I spend my time dropping them off at parties or friends houses up to an hour away. There next school will be local to where I live.

tallulah Sun 16-Jun-13 10:46:26

Ours started off at the same local primary. When DD went to secondary it was 17 miles away, so a good 30-40 mins drive. DS2 transferred to the Junior of the secondary, and a couple of years later we moved DS3 to a state primary about 22 miles away (nearer to the other 2 schools).

DH did the school run which went

16 miles to drop off DS2 for 8.30 ish
across the road and up the hill to drop off DD
back down the hill and up the dual carriageway to drop off DS3 for 9am.

Then pick up DS3 at 3.40pm
Back for DS2 at 4pm
Back over for DD
Home by about 5pm

It cost a small fortune in fuel, and the car had to be serviced once a month because it was racking up so many miles shock (there was a shorter road-route from one school to the other but at rush hour it was gridlocked, so we went 6 miles in the wrong direction to turn round and get on the right carriageway, twice a day).

But we didn't have any problems with friends/ playdates and they all had a good social life. The only one who missed out was DS2 who stayed at the first primary then transferred to a secondary he could walk to in about 30 mins. He was happy because he walked with friends.

SkiYesPlease Mon 17-Jun-13 07:54:06

Wow, that's for all the responses. It's very reassuring to hear that i'm not the only one in this dilemma. How old is your lo anniejane?

I'm swaying towards one of the larger pre-pre/preps after doing a practice drive at the weekend. It was exactly 30mins door to door along quiet country roads, we also think that a school bus may be able to collect halfway when a bit older. The facilities look amazing, ISI report looks very good.

If we started at the local primary/faith, at what stage would we transfer from state to private and would this be hugely disruptive? This is a big worry for me. Would it be better to start as you mean to go on?

We'll go and have a look around a few schools both state and indie in the autumn and decide from there I think.

SkiYesPlease Mon 17-Jun-13 08:03:32

Your school run sounds like a full time job Tallulah! We are ttc at the moment so will also have to consider the possibility of also travelling with a smaller child in toe.

Agh! Too many factors and the pressure to get in right first time is blowing my mind at the moment. What would you choose:
1. State (good) or faith (was outstanding now good) primary both 15mins away then transfer to large prep 30mins away?

2. Start at larger pre-prep/prep (excellent) 30mins away and stay there until 13?

3. Start at smaller pre-prep/prep (20mins away) which is good and transfer to the larger prep?

I know I've only provided limited info but i'd really appreciate your input based on the above facts. TIA

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