Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Selecting a school

Today we had the news that we had been expecting. Seren did not get into our first choice of school.

It is sort of ok, in Wales children can start school, at those with nurseries, from the term after they turn 3.

We could not apply before we moved here, and from what we've found out in the run up to applying and what we've found out today it wouldn't have made any difference.

We popped into the school when we first moved here. It really is a wonderful school, I started having a really good conversation with the lady in the office, it transpired she was the Head (You know that moment when you're rapidly replaying everything you've said in case you've said something wrong to an authority figure?)- but yes, they take a hands on approach- reflective of its excellent reputation and grade 1 reports.
The Head was honest, there was no chance of us getting a place for the Easter intake, they were full from September and they still had the December intake to consider.
I phoned the Council and despite the same message submitting an application anyway. The application asked for three choices so I selected the two nearest schools for the other two choices.

Today we've found out that other people nearby have not got a place at the school. I don't think it is worth getting upset, the intake is simply full.

Since submitting the application we have done more research and we are left scratching our heads.
Notwithstanding the excellent reputation and grades for the primary school, the feeder secondary schools are not great.

There is another primary school (by chance our second choice) which is in the catchment and has an excellent secondary feeder, the secondary school is not in our catchment. So should we choose this primary school which is 15mins away, we do so in the knowledge that it has a great feeder school.

Or go with the excellent primary school, a 5minute walk away, and risk which secondary school the children attend. (Just to say, because this is the discussion we've had with friends, I can't see the feeder schools locally improving, they haven't in as many years.)

So, the letter came this morning. Seren has not got into our first choice. The second choice doesn't have nursery provision (duh!) so Seren can't go there, and we have been offered a place at our third choice.

Having had the day to reflect, I dont' think there is any point accepting the third choice. Like our second choice it is a 15minute drive. I had only written it on the form because I had to put three choices down. Seren is in playschool three mornings a week, and can be till September. I can submit another application for September. We are better sticking with an either/ or, rather than complicating things with this third choice which in itself provides little benefit.

But then the question is, if we go with our original first choice, do we think about taking her out when she reaches reception class and applying for our second (good feeder) choice.
And what is really the benefit of this approach.

It's odd, I have had discussions with friends about faith schools (I went to a CofW primary school and a Catholic college), and by our choice, we don't want our children to attend a faith school (there aren't any 'locally') and then we reach the realms of discussing private schools.

This is where the conversation becomes divisive. I had a colleague say, a little jokingly (?), "If you sent your child to a private school I'd never speak to you again.". I appreciate their passion, it's great when you have good schools locally, and yes, I will invest in my child and support their learning outside of school hours, but how can I risk my child's future by not getting them the best opportunities. I want my child to have choice, and be confident that the subjects they enjoy they can thrive in. I don't want a bad school experience to put them off before they've even had chance to try.

The reality is however, we have three children, two the same age and one 22 months older. Reality check-  have you seen the cost of private education, and with two children in the same year- you're having a laugh.

So, after said reality check:

Is it excellent first choice, questionable feeder. Trying for the September start.
Or does the great second choice, with its journey time, and great feeder, become our first choice. And if this is the choice, do we wait till Seren is 4 to apply.
And if we go with the second choice, we will be doing school runs till they are 16, the feeder school is 30mins away, outside of catchment, so our own transport arrangements.

How come we've got these problems which are months and years away to deal with, when it's difficult enough dealing with the here and now!?!

1 comment:

  1. We're in a similar situation... having an OH that works in a private school we're in the fortunate position that, as long as I'm back in work full time, we could afford for them to attend private school at secondary level (the school gives an education allowance to the daughters of staff, because sons of staff get to go to the school for 25% of the full fees)... Good primary schools are few and far between here, all are completely over subscribed, really long waiting lists and no means of housing an extra class, even though the need is there for 3 class intake.
    We were fortunate enough to get all three girls into the pre-school we wanted, but I'm hoping and praying for a similar result with primary applications. If we were living full time in our house in Wales we'd have no problem getting them in to the local school, as numbers are so low in the valleys that they're taking them as soon as they turn 3... but, as you say, the secondary schools are rubbish - I think, if we stay where we are for the forseeable future, we're planning on them attending a local primary until they get to about 7 (middle school age), then trying to get them into a private prep school, to prepare them for secondary... Its a mine field, made more difficult with multiples!


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