I live in an area where there are many schools close by. I discovered when applying for a reception place that I lived 50 yards further away from the school that I expected my daughters to go to (and where the eldest was at nursery) than my nearest school that I had never heard of and never seen as it is in the middle of a council estate, tucked behind an adult education centre away from any other reason to head that way.
We got a place there, I went to visit, it seemed small and friendly, The children were all behaving! The stories I then heard about the school were then frightening. We went there anyway, a few of the other parents in that situation decided to go down the private route. Within a week my daughter was loving it, at the end of the term we had to make a decision as to whether we wanted to stay on the waiting list for the other school. My daughter said that she was happier at the new school so that's where we stayed. For certain, she had a mixed bag of children in her class, but, that has grown her into a very tolerant and accepting child. Ironically she is at her local secondary school and back with some of her nursery friends and I am delighted that she is more than able to keep up with them and is doing really well at school. Although I thought that she was always doing well, it was nice that it was confirmed that really going to the more popular/successful/ outstanding school may not have made a difference! My other daughter is coming up to that age too and is also doing well! I became a governor in order to support the school and help them address the challenges, the I have recently given that up as my youngest is in hospital long term, but, any help that I can give them I will continue to do so!