Imminently I am going to need to choose a primary school for my DS. It's great that due to the new DoE rules for adopted children that I can choose any school and get priority, but that's also adding pressure to choose the 'right' school out of about 20 primary schools within a 1.5 mile radius.
I am gathering info about school open days and making a list of things I want to know. Here's what I have so far:
Is the school environment calm (DS gets anxious and overwhelmed) What is their knowledge/experience of any adoption related issues. What is their knowledge/experience about ASD (as some of DS behaviours when anxious manifest in the same way as mild autism) How do they go about transitioning new children into the school. How do they go about transitioning children into subsequent years.
Does anyone have any advice on what else I need to be looking for/asking that I haven't even considered?
No experience of ASD but the biggest issue for me was school size. I went for the smalelst school available and haven't regretted it. Adopteion related issues IME aren;t that relevant we have several adopted children in our very small school and every one of them has differnt issues/behaviours that need addressing!
Keeping reception in a segregated playground for the whole of the year was a big plus for me as wasinfant and junior in same school building as no additional transition needed at 7yrs
Do they have an understanding of some areas of the curriculum which may require careful handling for LAC/adopted children - eg. certain family topics, family trees, baby photos, WW2 evacuation or reading 'Goodnight Mr Tom' in class including the abuse etc. I've heard/read adoptive parents say their school asked pupils to do homework on eg. what a baby needs from it's parents to grow and be happy, write a diary of an evacuated child about how they're feeling having to leave all their family and go stay with another one and other sorts of idiotic tasks to set when you have an LAC/adopted child in the class
If you go on the AUK forum (but hurry they're about to launch the new forums and the old topics are all about to vanish into the void!) and search for 'Curriculum Hotspots' you'll get a great thread on the resources board which lists potential problem areas and how they might be handled
For me, pastoral care would be a VERY high priority, as would a calm and friendly environment. Experience with ASD definitely an important consideration.
What's discipline like at the school? What methods, reward or punishment systems etc do they use? How will your DS do with those?
Do you know any parents of children at the schools, if so ask them how well they feel the school communicates with parents and includes them. It would be very important to me that the school are good at keeping you in the loop. Also ask them about the schools handling of issues, bullying, and anything else.
Thanks Kewcumber. All the schools are the same size except one that is only in infants school with a smaller intake each year. I ruled this out as there would be a an extra transition at 7 to a junior school at a completely different site, but thinking about it it will probably abe all the same children who would transition at the same time so that one might be worth taking a look at.
Wow Lilka thanks for that info. A friend mentioned that they all seem to do the family tree thing but i had no idea about those other things! I will update my list
DS's first topic in reception involved bringing in a baby photo and making a memory box of his first few years. This was about a week after I'd asked his new (very good) teacher to warn me if there was any family/birth/genetics type stuff on its way.
I was able to rehearse him about what he was going to say (they all stood in front of the class and talked about what was in their memory box) - otherwise teacher would have had an interesting time trying to manage discussion of foreign orphanages which DS at the time was quite happy to talk about to anyone who asked!