14 January 2017

Feeling anxious about the primary school application now...

So it is time to send off the primary school applications. We have been racking our brains with the question: Are we making the right decision? 

I'm from a completely different cultural background. In my home country, the school you go to is the one you live closest to. If you do not have any special needs, it is as simple as that. It is a bit different at secondary school and college ages, where you might choose to apply to a specialist school if you are that way inclined. I for example went to a special performing arts college, because I did music. 

But here in UK the school choices seem so important. So many people get swept into it, and sometimes I feel like people think that whatever primary school you go to will determine how well you do in later life. In London especially it can get crazy. I hear all the time of streets that appreciate in value because they happen to fall into a catchment area of an outstanding school. Outstanding schools are like property gold dust, sprinkled by the fairy Ofsted-mothers...  



mum and daughter looking at each other in winter sun


So now we have been racked with thoughts about which school we send our little four year old princess to. We have seen three schools, and they are all in their own way good. In fact, as according to Ofsted they are all "good". 

There is the one that my husband had originally pegged as "The One". It is traditionally the school all parents in the local area aspire to, the school that always has been good. It is next to a big park the teachers use for some lessons. When you walk up there from our house, you walk through a our local park, over a road (with pedestrian lights) a few blocks of suburbian houses, and there you go. And we thought it would be easy for our daughter to walk there on her own when she is bigger.    

Then there is the school which is also good, but a bit further away. My husband figured that would be a good back-up choice. When we went to view it, I liked it, but I wasn't in awe. It was big and felt a bit like a rabbit-warren with many many small rooms. We would have to take her there, as it is a bit too far and a bit too busy traffic wise to let your kid travel to alone. Then again, I loved that they had music lessons and other additional activities. We both consider those performing and creative activities to be really important.  

And then there is the school she goes to nursery in. This school has traditionally been the crummy school in our area. It has had it's chequered past. It is now and has been for about five years rated as good, but the many locals still remember its past. The school has put in a lot of effort in improving, and parents from the school tell me the change is marked. For us the biggest positive of this school is that our daughter has made very strong friends in the nursery, and most of these friends will attend this school. She knows the school area, it won't be new and scary for her. And I liked that the school is slightly smaller than the other too, with 90 kids in her year group, instead of 120. 

But there are some serious downsides. The school is close-by to a big road. The local area isn't exactly nice, and some of the crossings can be difficult even for an adult. It is somewhat likely that we will always do the school drop-off with her, although thankfully the school is very close to our home. 

mum and child sitting on beach rocks in winter


So what do we choose? Friends? Future independence? Fancy music lessons?

What really clinched the deal for us though is when my husband had a little chat with our daughter. 

He asked her would she like to go to a new school and make new friends, or stay in the same school with her best friend Bethany. 

And she said: "Hmmm, I think Bethany". 

So now the school we have selected for her as her first choice, is the last school. The school she has friends in. The school she knows. I know from experience how stressful it is to jump from one place to another. I did that three times during my primary school years. And if we can avoid that I rather would. 

And of course. The decision might be just made for us by the whatever randomised features finally end up deciding which kid goes where. We have five choices we have added, of which the last one I've never even heard of. And I am really hoping she gets to stay with her friends. 


What did you think when choosing a primary school for your children?





26 comments:

  1. It is such a difficult decision I remember too well deciding and truthfully you never really know what is right do you? Once they start there are things you didn't realise and ways in which they change which means you think differently. But as with all things parenting we can only make choices we are happy with now x

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    1. That's very true - I mean I think we have chosen the best one for her with the information we have now. It is tough though isn't it to make these big decisions for them!

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  2. I've lived in both Spain and Malta, much like you were used to as a child, you go to your local school - in our case unless you pay for it and even then it doesn't guarantee you a school you'll actually turn out to like. I think even when my daughter was much younger and we lived in the UK she had a choice of 2 schools in the catchment area, both good, she chose to go to the one attached to her nursery with her friends and it was the best choice for her. I'm sure it will be for your little one too, she'll love being with her best friend and in familiar surroundings.

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    1. That sounds reassuring, and I'm glad it worked out well for your daughter :) We were really sold on the fact that so many of her friends would be joining the school, and hopefully those friendships will last. And I hope that will make school more fun and enjoyable!

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  3. It sounds like a tricky decision but one that has to be right for u. #ordinarymoments

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    1. Yes, a lot of thought went into this one, but you can never be sure can you! And you just want to do the best you can :)

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  4. It's such a tricky decision isn't it? We have chosen our local school for our son as he goes to the pre-school and enjoys it. We really hope his friends will move up to Reception with him in September as he's made some lovely friends. Time will tell but I'm sure we've made the right choice #TheOrdinaryMoments

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    1. Yeah that's the thing, you can't be totally sure which kid ends up where as here anyway they say they can't guarantee places even if you attend the nursery. And of course some parents might choose other schools. I hope it goes well for your son and at least some friends will join him in Reception :)

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  5. It's such a big thing. Luckily I have an older son so this time found it's been an easier decision. Just hoping it all works out for September! #theordinarymoments

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    1. Ah good luck for you guys too, I hope it works out for you in autumn!

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  6. I am registering my little girl for school tomorrow. We don't have the same steps you have in England. We register at the primary school in the catchment area and only have to do anything if we want one outwith. I am happy with mine as my boys are there, so I don't have this. It does sound very stressful, but I think you have made the right decision. Big hugs xx #ordinarymoments

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    1. That's the thing, here you have to apply as many schools are oversubscribed and you hear these horror stories of kids who don't get placed anywhere... That's London for you. It does sound a lot nicer where you are!

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  7. I'm from the US, so I have the same past experience with primary education. The choice for us is especially difficult because my daughter is attending nursery at a private school (I work in the nursery and get a nice discount). Not only did we need to decide on our primary school ranking, but we also have to decide if we even send her to a state school at this point. Like your daughter, she likes it where she is. But it is an expense we don't necessarily need, and sending her there means I have to remain in my job for at least 7 more years. It's a difficult choice.

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    1. Yeah that is really difficult for you... I know we couldn't afford private school fees and it is for such a long time as well. Not that there are any private schools near us, we would have to drive a fair bit. It is a tought choice for you guys, and I hope your daughter will enjoy it whichever school you will choose for her!

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  8. It is a hard decision. I sometimes think our whole education system would be much fairer if we didn't have the choice. BUT wherever your little girl goes, she will do well, because she has parents who listen to her and who try to make the best choices for her. That goes so much further than any school choice. xxx

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    1. Thank you, that's so right. I do think at primary school stage it is a lot about parents. Kids with helpful parents will do well in any school. I hope she will enjoy her school!

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  9. I always went to my closest school as a child and that is what we based our children's school choice on - I really wanted one we could walk to. But, having said that, if it was failing in the Ofsted reports I probably would have looked further afield. I am sure wherever you choose and wherever she ends up going she will flourish x

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    1. Yes that's true - we were lucky in the sense that all schools near us are good, and there is a few outstanding ones a short car ride away. Walking to school is certainly appealing when I have to go to work afterwards the school run!

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  10. It is such a hard decision, we had all this a couple of years ago with my eldest and it was so difficult, we ended up not getting in a school we wanted and had to reapply, then didn't get in to that one, it was all such a nightmare. In the end she got a place at a little village school a few miles away and she is the happiest she could be. I think these things, however stressful, happen for a reason and wherever she ends up she will be happy. x

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    1. I actually remember reading that post! But I am glad that the school she did end up in was a good school for her anyway. I'm glad to hear she has settled in well :) It must have been really stressful for you at the time though!

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  11. Choosing a school is such a big decision....It was years ago when I chose my girls school. We went with the closest one which happened to be the best in our area. Phew x

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    1. That was lucky for you guys! Easy choice then :)

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  12. Mita lahemmas koulunaloitus tulee, sita enemmin ikavöin suomalaista jarjestelmaa...tyttö on ollu 2 v. ns. esikoulussa kauempana kotoamme ja nyt vikan vuoden kodin lahella olevan koulun yhteydessa, jossa on tarkoitus jatkaa ekalla luokalla ensi syksyna. Taalla mennaan kodin lahella olevaan kouluun jos mennaan valtion kouluun mutta yksityinen tarjonta onkin sitten jo toinen juttu, asian lahestyessa mieleeni tulee jatkuvasti uusia vaihtoehtoja ja en ole enaa yhtaan varma mistaan. Huh, I feel you!

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    1. Joo sama - kyllä tää näitten ikäisten koulunkäyntin tuntuu ihan hullulta. Vaikka käytännössä uskon että paljoltihan se on samanlaista kuin Suomen esikoulu ja tarha siihen kuuden ikään saakka... Tyttöni on kyllä tosi paljon tykännyt koulusta. Täälläkin on noita yksityisiä vaikka kuinka paljon, tosin ovat niin kalliita etteivät meille sovi.

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  13. I found this emotional too. My son started school last September so I've only recently been through it. It's tough. In the end, we didn't get our first choice anyway. Its a frustrating system and I too have blogged about it. I hope you get your first choice and she settles well.

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    1. It is really emotional, and tough. I am sorry to hear you didn't get your first choice but I hope it worked out for you in the end. I can imagine it would be a shock when you begin somewhere you weren't that keen.

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