The school application

It's that time of year when mums and dad's across the land are traipsing round primary schools and agonising over the order in which to put their choices down on the school application. This year it is our turn. Our biggest little man (who currently wants to be a Doctor!), will be heading off to school next September ((sobs)) and so it has been us doing the traipsing, having the discussions and dealing with the disappointment when we discovered that the school that our garden backs onto is the worst that we viewed out of the lot of them! 

When we moved into our house, knowing that there was a school a few mere steps from our front door was just perfect. It has a 'good' Ofsted rating and even though there were some parts of the report that weren't so good, overall we thought it looked like a really lovely school. 

How wrong could we be? 

Now I know that no school is perfect (except maybe that one that is just a bit too far away from us that not only achieved 'outstanding' but had the Ofsted inspector gushing over his keyboard about what a fabulous school it is!), but in this one particular school there were several things that happened on our 15 minute show round (also the quickest we had) that had us questioning whether we even wanted to put it on our list of choices.

First up, a child in the PE lesson vomited. This kind of thing is expected in a school but the reaction from the teachers was like it had never happened before and they had no idea of what to do in this situation! Being more worried about the mess rather than the poor girl that had just chucked up her entire lunch, it was the other half who came to the rescue by dashing in there with our baby wipes and helping to get her cleaned up. And then he heard one of the staff say, "it must have been the pie". I mean what's wrong with the pie? Did she just eat too much or are the catering services that bad that the staff have seen this all too often!

Next up was the two teachers that we heard shouting. I can't imagine dealing with a class of 30 children but not once in any of the other schools did I hear a teacher shouting at the pupils. Like really shouting! And then, the one that shouted in the PE lesson (because I think a pupil was being mean to the girl who vommed), stormed out and past me huffing and puffing like a child!

Elsewhere, the children in the classrooms didn't seem to be overly under control by the teachers and the outdoor area was seriously lacking in having anything other than a few bikes where the other schools had lovely under cover outdoor spaces with home corners, art corners and play areas – all so that the reception children could do what they do inside, outside, and thus getting fresh air and escape from such a new setting. I mean, in this school, we didn't even go outside because it was 'too windy'. 

So yes, to say we were gutted with the outcome of this visit was a bit of an understatement. 

There are lots of schools around our area but it seems the very closest ones are all underperforming, with pretty bad Ofsted reports. I know that Ofsted aren't the be all and end all but they do give some indication as to whether your child is going to be safe and whether they are actually going to learn. For this reason, we visited schools in the other direction, where Ofsted rated them good and where we pretty much agreed with their decisions. 

When it came to coming up with our choices and the order we would put them in, there was a lot of discussions about what we preferred, what the journey would be like and how easy it would be for the other half who doesn't drive. Ideally, we don't want a school that we have to drive to and so top of our list is the one that is roughly a 20 minute walk. I think that this is do-able as the other two closest schools (that we don't want) are 15 minutes walk away so there isn't really much difference. This school also has a bike and scooter parking area which means that Zach could ride there and back which would then take less time. It is also easy to drive to (slightly less easy to actually park) and is easy for the other half to get to as it's not far from the train station. 

Second and third on our list are both a car journey away (bus trip for the other half). Not ideal but lovely schools. One is slightly lovelier than the other and I really liked the headteacher. It is however the furthest of all four. Despite this, it's going in second place. The other one is much smaller and whilst very nice, it didn't give me the same feeling as my top two so is in third position.

We scrutinised over whether to put the one behind our house down. I spoke to people on Facebook and I spoke to my sister who is a mum and teacher. Together, we decided that because we are highly likely to get a place there, and therefore have a school that is close rather than being given one that is in the next town or further afield; we would put it as our last choice. Bottom of the list.  

And so we have our four choices. 

I have filled in the online application and saved it. I haven't yet sent it off because there is still a part of me that has a niggle about the top two choices and whether they are in the right order. I really like them both. I like the headteachers equally. I like the facilities, the classrooms, the outsides equally. One is a walk away and one is a drive away. The big thing though is that the further one has a breakfast and after school club whereas the other only has after school and it's a sports one rather than a general one. And in all probability, as much as I would love to think that my blog will take me to being able to work from home, it's highly unlikely and therefore I am likely to be in employment somewhere. And so we will need some form of wraparound care for Zach. This however is too much for my brain because I start to think how on earth do we get him to and from school and how on earth do we then also get Oscar to wherever he will be! 

For now, I will keep the application as it is while I still consider those top two choices. I really do hope that we get into one of those two schools. Once I click on that submit button, it's going to be a long old wait until April. Or maybe not…the months are flying by now I have two children keeping me busy! 

 

 

 

46 Comments

  1. November 25, 2016 / 8:32 pm

    Oh eek! We went through something very similar with my eldest. We thought she was going to end up in a school we hated so much I didn't even put it on the list. We have ended up driving her to school but it was our first choice and I feel so lucky that we got it. The way I look at it is that you can't undo a bad experience, so even if you change their school when you realise it's not suited to them, they'll always have that first impression of school being a bad place. We are right to put ourselves under so much pressure over this decision I think. I do hope you get a school you're all happy with, such a difficult time. 
    Nat.x

  2. November 28, 2016 / 12:41 am

    We didn't have that many schools to choose from and I am fairly happy with our choices now. Good luck with it all x

  3. November 29, 2016 / 6:17 am

    Always trust your instincts when it comes to who will care for your kids. As a daycare provider, I always wanted parents who trusted me and if they didn't, I wanted them to find someone they did. #TwinklyTuesday

  4. November 29, 2016 / 6:42 am

    Bloody hell, I bet you're glad you didnt go off ofsted alone!! We're lucky we moved house mid way through year 1 and got our first choice which is 5 mins walk away. The other two local ones although not bad schools as such are in grottier areas (i sound a snob) and I'd worry about the influences she would have had there. Thanks for hosting #twinklytuesday 

  5. November 29, 2016 / 6:49 am

    I'm still a year away from this decision making, and then the hoping and waiting. I hope you get the best choice for your kiddo. #twinklytuesday

  6. November 29, 2016 / 7:39 am

    Such a big decision and so hard to grasp it all in one visit. I'd be temped to revisit your closest and see if ther day you went was just a one off. After sending mine to a school that was an hours walk (our second closest) primary and a 10 minute drive and then secondary a half hour drive (second closest again) I can now say as we are back and forth with them all upto 5 times a day with clubs and activities whilst still needing to manage working I would have sent them to the closest ones where they could catch the school bus. Infqact in the time my kids have been at school the ofstead has all spun round and the schools I was avoiding are performing better than the ones we chose. Such a tough one, at the end of the day you will go with your heart for peace of mind that you are doing the best you can for your children. I hope you get what you want. #TwinklyTuesday

  7. November 29, 2016 / 7:42 am

    Oh my word that sounds awful! I haven't even considered that the school near us might be horrible, I've always just assumed that's where he'll go, wth a gew niggling worries about what to do if he doesn't get a spot there. What if it is awful though. I don't have to worry until next year though. Good luck with your decision over the order. #TwinklyTuesday 

  8. November 29, 2016 / 8:09 am

    What an awful first impression of the school…it would definitely have put me off too! I am a year away from having to go through the school application process, and am dreading it to be honest, you just don't know what the best decision is. Good luck, and I hope you get your first choice x #TwinklyTuesday

  9. November 29, 2016 / 11:07 am

    Oh it's a nightmare isn't it? Sam is at a preschool at the moment at the school that I want him to go to. It is 5 minutes away from us but we are not in catchment. It is a wonderful school so I am keeping my fingers firmly crossed! #twinklytuesday xx

  10. November 29, 2016 / 11:12 am

    I don't envy you the decision! We don't have a choice up here, you are in the catchment for one school and thats the one you go to – end of discussion! #twinklytuesday

  11. Janine
    November 29, 2016 / 11:45 am

    Reading your post has made me realise just how lucky we are. My sons school is literally just a stones throw away, it takes less than five minutes to do the school run with 2 kids in tow and when I went to visit it last year I just knew it would be perfect for my son who has additional needs and I was right. He is so happy there and thriving. So sorry to her you haven't been as lucky. Fingers crossed you get your first choice of school and thanks for hosting #Twinklytuesdays 🙂

  12. November 29, 2016 / 11:46 am

    It's a big and tough decission to make, since there are so many factors involved, you just cannot seem to know how it will work out for you and your kids. I guess, we decide based on your research, instinct, reputation of the school. Bust most importanly, I think it's up to us, parents to present school in a proper way to their kids in order for them to accept it, like it and not complain too much;))about it. No school is perfect.

    #TwinklyTuesday

  13. November 29, 2016 / 12:14 pm

    Gosh I am sure you will get so much advice in these comments that it may confuse you. Number on ealwasy go with your gut, as a mum I truly believe we know what feels right. If there is a reason you haven't sent it off is it beacsue you really want to swap one and two?  All I know was when I visted the school where Aspen now goes I had the best feeling and it scared me so much if she didn't get in. She is now 7 yaers down the track and I ahve 2 others now in that school, it was and still is the best decison we could have made. It just felt right! When she started we lived a 15 minte drive away, then a year later we moved to the country, but I just couldn't tak eher out of thats school, so I drove 45 minutes to get her there, so that's 45 minutes back home, 3 hours driving a day. Last year we found it hard becasue with 3 kids in school and playdates and parties we were driving hours and hours each day, even on weekneds. So 15 to 20 minutes is a breeze. We now live 3 minutes from the school as we are in a new house now, and yes it is easier being closer, but I would never scarifice a great school for distance. Knowing my children are nurtured is number one. It is hard to leave or children and trust that others have their best interests at heart, to me that feeling that my child is safe and loved is the most important on my shool crietra because no child thrives being yelled at, and no child thrives if they don't feel specail and loved. Children learn best when they feel safe and they pick up if we are not happy or we don't have faith in their school. I hope this helps and doesn't confuse you more.

     

    If I can leave you with one more thing it would be, when you lay in bed and you think about the schools late at night which one makes you smie in your hearrt? #TwinklyTuesday 

  14. November 29, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    Am dreading the school application process! I think it should be sponsored by Blossom Hill and all parents receive a case load before having to face the whole debacle! #twinklytuesday 

  15. November 29, 2016 / 1:55 pm

    Ooh it sounds really tricky and what a shame you had such a negative experience at the school closest to you. We were so lucky that the school we are  in catchment for and can walk to in 10 mins is lovely. It is 'good' too but we love their attitude to the children as so caring as well as focused on learning… So our decision was easy in comparison. Hope you make a decision you happy with as you're right, no school is perfect and hopefully Zach will flourish at either of your school choices xx

  16. November 29, 2016 / 2:04 pm

    It's such a tough choice, and one that i imagine is difficult to get right.  Hope you get sorted soon!

     

    #TwinklyTuesday

  17. November 29, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Ah I haven't had this. We have one 5 mins away with a good reputation and my neighbours kids love it…that's or top choice and in catchment. Sounds like hard work for you hun.Hope Zach gets the top choice and thanks for hosting xx

  18. November 29, 2016 / 3:32 pm

    The thing is, Ofsted reports only show a snapshot of the day – it can be very easy to pull everything out of the bag on the day but it doesn't necessarily show the true feeling of the school.  I've always told people to look around schools and see how they feel – it will tell you everything! #twinklytuesday

  19. Helen
    November 29, 2016 / 4:02 pm

    It must be such a tricky decision deciding on which school to send your little one to – it's such a big part of their life! Just trust your instinct and cross your fingers – I really hope it all works out 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

    Helen x

     

    http://www.treasureeverymoment.co.uk/

  20. Adventures of Mummy and Me
    November 29, 2016 / 4:10 pm

    Oh wow, I'm not looking forward to this challenge! We've just finalised nursery details and that seemed to take forever to make a decision! Hope you managed to get the one you want in the end! #TwinklyTuesday

  21. November 29, 2016 / 5:30 pm

    Horrible isn't it?! I did mine earlier on in the year. I was certain on the top choice but the others were hard. I'm hoping it won't matter and he will get into the top one – not only does it work closely with his nursery but it's right next door to my parents and it's on my way to and from work. A two minute drive from home. Only another 4 months to wait until we find out! Good luck! #twinklytuesday

  22. November 29, 2016 / 8:50 pm

    Ugh it is such a hard decision isn't it. My advice from going through this a few years ago is to go with your gut. Our nearest school has been 'Outstanding' for as long as anyone can remember but I dind't like it at all. Our 'good' school is perfect for Ava and she is thriving and so happy. That's what is important at the end of the day. And also having wrap around care makes life so much easier, I don't know what I'd do without it! Now just please don't forget to submit it!! That would be so awful x #TwinklyTuesday

    Schedule

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:20 pm

      Haha I won’t forget!! That’s really interesting about the outstanding one! It’s a bit like the plush brand new nursery we visited- I didn’t like it- it was just too perfect and looked like they’d be scared to get it dirty!! x

  23. November 29, 2016 / 8:58 pm

    I have lots of time to think about schools. Already see it can be a big issue but I hope you will sort it out

     

    #TwinklyTuesday

  24. November 29, 2016 / 9:04 pm

    That must have been a tough decision. We didn't go and look around schools – I wasn't sure that was something you could do to be honest! We picked the school next to my daughter's pre-school, which is also the one that we are in the catchment area for. It has a good ofsted rating, plus as my nephews also go there it was the only practical option as my Dad picks up all the kids a couple of days a week so they really need to be at the same school! I think we made the right choice, as it is a nice school, though the headteacher is a bit too relaxed about bullying, which I have had to call them out on before. Kids spend so much time at school, its important they are somewhere that they – and you – feel comfortable. 

  25. November 29, 2016 / 9:43 pm

    Wow what a good job you went to look round! We didnt look round for Meggy as Eva had only just started this time, and so it was a given she would be going there too. Plus we can see the school from our doorstep, I always say it would have to be a bad school to warrant us going anywhere else! Im still in denial that Im going through this process again, and the same again next year when I apply for Harry! #TwinklyTuesday

  26. November 29, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Oh gosh, I totally feel for you and dread the day in two years when I will have to do the same. It's actually really nice to hear that you weren't at all impressed with the nearest and most convenient ption as I have a feeling we'll be feeling the same and I already feel like I'm being silly for even considering other options. 

    I really really hope you get your first option!! #TwinklyTuesday

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:24 pm

      Thank you! I’m still so gutted by it…I mean it’s just a few steps away! I always joked that I could throw his lunch over the school gate from our garden!! xx

  27. November 29, 2016 / 10:32 pm

    That sounds like such a rubbish scenario! You do all you can when you pick a house, but who really knows what the school will be like when your little one goes. Hope you get the right result for you #twinklytuesday

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:22 pm

      Thank you! I’m still gutted about our nearest school! x

  28. Petite Words
    November 30, 2016 / 11:43 am

    Oh gosh it must be such a hard choice, I can't imagine. It's so important for children to mix with other children, but the majority of schools would leave me worried and doubtful… I'm thinking for the future even about home tutoring. #twinklytuesday 

    • December 2, 2016 / 12:09 pm

      I think over time that home schooling will become a much more popular option! I can’t do it myself, a) because I know I couldn’t do as well as a school teacher could and b) because I’ll need to work! x

  29. November 30, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    I'm dreading this! Schools in our area are not the best (both ours are now knocked down as they were that good)

    hubby keeps saying we'd have moved town by then but I'm worrying if we don't the impact it will have on Ben's education.

    i don't envy you! #twinklytuesday

    • December 2, 2016 / 12:06 pm

      Gah it’s just awful isn’t it?! When you know that they’re not good. I so hope we get our first or second choice! x

  30. November 30, 2016 / 8:53 pm

    Oooh good luck! It's such a big decsion, isn't it. I think you're right that you have to go with your gut instinct and not necessarily on the Ofsted report. My daughter's school is rated "good" for KS1 but only "satisfactory" for KS2. However, we love the school, and people in the area rate it as a good school. Plus, there is time for them to sort out KS2 before she gets there.

     

    My brothers and I all went to a primary school that was so bad, it was rated "special measures", but we all enjoyed school there and went on to get university degrees, so it's not all about the rating 🙂 #TwinklyTuesday

    • December 2, 2016 / 11:55 am

      Completely agree. The problem with the other schools that are requires improvement is that the report specifically mentions safety and bad teaching!! That’s why I just can’t put them down! It’s definitely a gut thing – just like his nursery was! x

  31. December 1, 2016 / 5:21 pm

    Eek I'm dreading when this time comes. I can imagine it isn't an easy decision to make! Good luck 🙂 ox #TwinklyTuesday

    • December 2, 2016 / 11:49 am

      I didn’t think it would be this hard. It wouldn’t have been if the nearest school had impressed us!! x

  32. December 2, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    I've got this all to come so am intrigued what you have to go through and the worry over making the right decision. #TwinklyTuesday

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:15 pm

      I didn’t think it would be this stressful!! x

  33. Lady Nym
    December 5, 2016 / 1:08 pm

    It's such a big stress and responsibility, isn't it?  I agonised over the whole thing, not helped by the fact we moved after applications had gone in so I then had to do it all over again in the new area and wait for extra spaces to open up at the school we wanted.

    Good luck!  Try not to worry too much (easier said than done).  Even if it ends up a complete disaster (not likely) then you can always transfer to a different school.  Not ideal but it's there as an option.

    #TwinklyTuesday

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:12 pm

      That’s exactly what my sister said about transferring if it’s a disaster! I do need to get my application submitted hehe!! xx

  34. December 5, 2016 / 7:03 pm

    Oh dear, what an experience at the school on your doorstep! We went for what we thought was best for BB which is 4 miles each way so a walk & a bus trip for me. Not ideal but it's worth the sacrifice #twinklytuesday

    • December 10, 2016 / 10:05 pm

      That is so interesting to read that you chose one so far away. Has really made me think about my options!!! xx

  35. September 16, 2017 / 3:50 am

    Thanks for sharing your post. this is very goods

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