Monday, 18 November 2013

Which school? Choices choices!

We moved into our house in January 2012 when toddler penguin was nearly 2 years old.  We chose this house because it was close to a very good cute little school in our local village.

Nearly 2 years later we are in the process of applying for a school and turns out this perfect little school is just an infant school and only goes up to the ages of 7 years old.  The feeder school that the majority of their students go to doesn't have a great reputation at the moment.  Even though baby penguin and toddler penguin will be at the same infant school at the same time, I'd like them to both go to the same school, you know for the photos on the wall ;) Baby penguin will start infant school when toddler penguin starts junior school in 2017....scary!

I have always had it in my head that the school run would be done on foot.  Since I hate never being able to find a parking space and if I have to park miles away and walk I'd have to get the buggy in and out the car.  The schools in our area do not have catchment areas but are generally done with special needs or looked after children first, then siblings then they go by distance.

Below is a sketch of our house and the location of our nearest schools. The purple dot is the junior school that schools 1 and 2 feed to.  School 3 is a combined infant and junior school.

So here are the facts. 
1. I do not live in Iceland as per the is purely an example!

2. School 1 is a 15 minute walk.  There is no parking at this school. On the walk home there is a library and some ducks we can go and feed.  This school is for ages 4-7. We would then have to apply for a place where the purple dot it. I'm not at all happy with this school at present though it has recently been taken over. School 1 we viewed two years ago when we were looking at their nursery.  I can't remember loads about it but I remember thinking it was a really good school.  It does have an outstanding ofsted report and I know a few mums whose kids go there and they are really happy.  They do however organise their classes with a mixed age so that children at the same ‘level of learning’ (as opposed to their actual age) are taught appropriately.  There is a risk that baby penguin would not get in at this school as they won't both be there at the time of her entrance to the school.  Toddler penguin will have moved on. Also silly bad point is that they have a red uniform.  We have red hair and I hated my red uniform at school!

3. School 2 is a 7 minute drive or a 30 minute walk.  This school is also for ages 4-7. And as above we would then have to apply for a place at the purple dot. There is a lovely park halfway home.  We could walk or drive there.  School 2 is under going refurbishment with what looks like will be a great new hall.  It is also of outstanding ofsted. The outdoor play area for the first few years of learning is huge and I know toddler penguin would love this.  However would he ever want to go indoors and do practical learning.  I know the first few years children are encouraged to learn through play but in my opinion they should get used to getting their nose stuck in the books! ;)  They also have a swimming pool!

4.  School 3 is an oversubscribed (in fact they all are) infant and junior school (ages 4-11).  It is a 35 minute walk or a 10 minute drive.   I walked out of this school tour feeling warm and fuzzy.  It just felt right. The others I thought were great schools.  They have the paperwork to prove it, yet this school with just a good ofsted report just felt right to me.  On the plus side both kids wouldn't have to change when they turn 8.  On the down side its a very long walk and I would feel like driving every day.  Especially there in the morning.  In the summer we could walk home but there are no parks to visit on the way.  Though as mentioned above I could easily drive us to the one near school 2.

I mentioned above that I wasn't happy with the feeder junior school that the kids would go to when they turn 8.  My husband and I have come up with an alternative solution for this.  We go private.  There is a lovely co-ed private school near us which if I were to take on more work (I'm a childminder) I could pay the fees.  However there would be an overlap of them both going there and we would have to pay double fees for a year.  It could be done.....if I worked full time and papa penguin did a bit of overtime here and there and got a nice bonus!

I can't believe how difficult this decision is. 

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