I just signed up to this forum (hello everyone!!)
(I'm sorry if this is sacriligious on a GS forum- all I'm trying to say is they are both great schools)
You are allowed to discuss pros & cons here - feel free.
So now we're wondering - for a soon to be teenage DD would it be better to go local and be at a school where her friends live nearby, or is the 10 mile (plus) bus journey a tolerable demand to make of her? Also, I'm wondering from parents who already have kids in a GS, do you find you're constantly crossing the county to take DCs to see their friends as the catchment is so vast and people live so far away?
The first part only you and your daughter can answer. The second part - well, while we live within walking distance of our DD's school, their friends are fairly well distributed between local walking distance, the villages in the district and smaller market towns. None seem to be > 12 miles from school although there are children in their year who come much further. However, the same applies at all the local comps - they all have buses delivering pupils.
And if DD took part in after school activities at Ribston, do parents tend to organise car pools etc to share lift giving with others in the same area, or what tends to happen?
For my DD's school that happens, in the same way as it does for the County Music Groups (GYWO/GYO). Unless you're antisocial - which we can be on occassion:sometimes it's nice just to use the car journey to chat to your own children without interruption of iPad/phone/laptop/TV/cooking dinner...
Also another question about the CAF - if we put Balcarras first and Ribston second, are we jeopardising our chance of Ribston if Balcarras stick closely to the catchment area boundaries, or does Ribston just become our effective first choice as we, in that scenario, would not be eligible for Balcarras?
If you can't be offered your first choice, the second choice will automatically become your 'effective first choice' with the same weight as if you had actually put it first. It's actually quite a good system that seems to work in the vast majority of cases.