Don't know which school to go for (long and self indulgent)

(18 Posts)
ChoicesChoicesChoices Fri 07-Mar-14 11:05:26

I'm in the really lucky position of having two very good primary schools nearby. School A is a 3 min walk away school B is a 15 min walk away.

Basically I really like school A but dh likes school B and I just don't know which to go for.

School A - old building, excellent local reputation. Performs well in sats (95% level 4+) but also has a good reputation for caring for the whole child. I know a couple of the staff there already.
The school is an older building and in all honesty it looks a bit shabby when compared with school b. Has an odd intake - takes on 35 kids and splits the years up a bit so the oldest go into year 1 class while the rest go into reception.
You can only get I to this school if you live on the doorstep.

School B - newer school with a brand new extension. Intake is two classes of 60. The displays around the school are amazing to look at. The IT equipment is exceptional - the playground / playing field is better too.

The school has a reputation locally as being pushy (they got 100% on level 4+ for their sats in reading, writing and maths). They do have a reputation for being target driven and less interested in developing the whole child iykwim. Quite a few parents locally have been quoted as saying I would be happy sending dc to any school except school b.

The parents at school B are generally very well to do and half the intake will be going to a private school for secondary school. Some of the parents are apparently quite pushy. However there is a new head at school B so possibly the culture will change and be a little more nurturing.

So which to go for, the comforting but a bit tatty school or the target driven pretty shiny new one?

meditrina Fri 07-Mar-14 11:33:22

Presumably this is for applications this autumn?

Do you now families who will be starting at either school in September? Their insights might help you decide.

ChoicesChoicesChoices Fri 07-Mar-14 11:38:04

Yes it's for applications this autumn. Don't really know anyone with slightly older kids.

Huitre Fri 07-Mar-14 11:41:18

I'd ask on Mumsnet Local if I were you. There will be someone who knows both schools. However, in your shoes I'd go for comforting and tatty. Also, have you actually visited both? That's really important - it can change your whole view of a school. I think atmosphere is easily gauged when you go and look round, and can be v different from what you expect.

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 07-Mar-14 11:47:57

What is your child like? The school has to suit the child!

QuiteQuietly Fri 07-Mar-14 12:11:09

Who is going to be doing the school runs? DH does the school runs here, so my liking a school on the other side of town counts for a bit less IYSWIM.

I would go for A from your description, but since you prefer that one, it's not an unbiased report!

MillyMollyMama Fri 07-Mar-14 12:22:43

I would absolutely hate a school that separated out the older ones for the class above whilst mine was languishing in the class below still doing the early years curriculum.

Also level 4 is not much of a gauge these days. If people are pushy they want levels 5 and some 6. If many go private, they obviously will want better SATs results and I would look at the level 5s attained by both schools as this is far more informative. I would look at where your child fits into the first school's split class but I would definitely want school B, assuming it is 60 in total, 2 classes of 30. Their class arrangements sound fairer, there are more opportunities for sport etc and I doubt if you would not find it nurturing. Most primary schools are but children do not require continual nurturing by a school anyway when they are older. You will always find parents "big up " the school they have chosen and do not really know much about other schools. They would never admit to choosing the wrong school, would they?

Have a good look around and decide which is best for your children and don't rely on level 4 attainment or other people's opinions.

cece Fri 07-Mar-14 12:34:51

I like the sound of school A best. The mixing of the classes is a non issue for me.

However, I think you should absolutely go and look around both schools. It is amazing how well you get a feel for a school that way. Choose the school that suits your child best.

CecilyP Fri 07-Mar-14 12:43:27

There isn't really a right or wrong answer. Have another look at the schools and see if there are things that enable you to decide better. Try to have a look at both younger and older classes. Why does your DH particularly want school B? Your DD might think it odd to bypass the school next door to go to one so far away (from a 5-year-olds point of view). Does she have any particular friends at pre-school or as neighbours, and what are they doing? If school B is in such a well to do area, you might find that not only do many children go private for secondary but a fair number may leave at 8 to go private.

noramum Fri 07-Mar-14 13:59:48

Check with school B how much they rely on parental work at home. We saw one school how had homework from Reception Day 1, spellings, maths, writing and reading each week. During the talk at one open day the only points the head praised were academically success.

Not surprisingly most parents are either well-to-do one-earner family or have a nanny after school to do this.

We choose a small Infant, old building, small playground, old library. But the whole approach to teaching is good due to the attitude of the staff. Yes, they do lots of fundraising and got the funds for a new computer suite but they out lots of time on pastoral care, outdoor learning and engaging the children to start to love learning without pressure.

See both schools, don't just look at the paper. While opinions of other parents are good, it is your child which is going. See how children react when a teacher comes in, see how the classroom and corridors are, what kind of displays are shown? What is the school doing apart from classroom learning?

MillyMollyMama Fri 07-Mar-14 16:13:37

My local state infant school set work from day 1 as described above. Very few nannies around here! We were a mixed bunch of parents and no-one thought it strange or looked for another school. The school was totally brilliant, so why would we? My child loved doing her "homework" and at no time felt any pressure. This is an adult perception and few 5 year olds seem unhappy about practicing writing, reading, doing maths or practicing the recorder. They love learning! I loved her being so excited about her learning and I think parents should be involved. It is not a chore to be avoided and all schools expect parental involvement. It is a pleasure to do it!

mummy1973 Fri 07-Mar-14 16:25:00

Go and have a chat with both heads. You'll soon get a view about what they deem important and that will influence the whole school. Also ask for a look round whilst the school is in action.
As a pp said think about what your child is like and what will suit them.
You may also need to keep in mind that you might not get your first choice and may get your second choice!

ChoicesChoicesChoices Fri 07-Mar-14 16:26:15

quite biased, moi - actually you are right this is a biased account. smile it's less biased than my dh's account would be dw has picked the wrong school how do I make her see she's wrong

horatia she seems fairly bright (but everyone thinks their child is bright) she is quite shy though, takes a bit of time to warm up to a new situation. In preschool she is a dream preschooler, gets on with her activities, plays well with other kids never makes a fuss (she saves that for me smile).
I worry she would get a bit negected in a school that just focuses on results as she would just get on with her work.

milly interestingly school a has better numbers for 5+ than school b. It makes me wonder if school B is solely focused on getting the kids through the 4+

We have been round both schools and I prefer cosy school A and dh prefers super neat school b.
In school A we went at 3.30pm on a Friday afternoon just as the kids were finishing for the day. The kids seems relaxed and confident. In school b the kids didn't say much but it was in the middle of class time so not a fair comparison.

dd is a January born so wouldn't be one of the ones moved up a year in school A but we have a ds (4 months) and he almost certainly would be moved up a year so he would effectively miss his reception year.

Not really sure who will do the pick up and drop offs. Probably mixed but 75% of the time it will be me.

noramum Fri 07-Mar-14 18:08:08

Milly - I don't mind homework, DD gets it as well and there is nothing wrong, quite the opposite I support homework.

But this school set learning targets, if a child got to the target in the target time it got a price. It was all about getting levels at a faster pace and I think homework is about practising what has been done in class not learning ahead so the parent are the afternoon-teacher to make the school look better and get children ready for 7+ and 11+.

lljkk Fri 07-Mar-14 20:08:35

School A sounds a bit claustrophobic to me, being so small. But the proximity would probably win out. And I like the whole child approach.

3 minutes really is very very handy!!

Karoleann Fri 07-Mar-14 21:42:17

I'd go for b, from experience, the mixed class only works if your child is the younger of the year. So if its a mixed year 1/2 class the year 1's benefit.
I think pushy parents are also good as they usually ensure a higher average in the year, so the TA will be concentrating on fewer struggling parents and the teacher can teach to this higher average.
If you have a boys having a big playing field is good too.

Karoleann Fri 07-Mar-14 21:42:46

Sorry that should read fewer struggling pupils!

ChoicesChoicesChoices Fri 07-Mar-14 22:14:33

karol school b does have a reputation for not serving struggling / less able kids well (someone told me kids with special needs aren't provided for and they feel pressured to leave the school to one better able to provide for them).
This leaves a pretty unpleasant taste in my mouth but someone (ex teacher) said its harsh but it benefits your child as its easier for the teacher to teach.

Also what if the pushy parents / pushy culture is too much for some kids?

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