Choosing schools

(8 Posts)
flossymuldoon Tue 03-Sep-13 16:30:50

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?

Kewcumber Tue 03-Sep-13 17:50:15

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

Lilka Tue 03-Sep-13 19:02:05

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.

flossymuldoon Wed 04-Sep-13 11:35:49

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 grin

TeenAndTween Thu 05-Sep-13 14:30:36

To add to lilka's list: We got caught by timelines & autobiographies in y5. Also list sex ed / genetics stuff eg who do you look like.

I would ask whether they generally have children from difficult backgrounds, ie not just one child once, but is it common for them. They are more likely to be geared up for it.

Do they have staff trained as ELSAs (Emotional literacy support)

Do they have quiet places that children can go to if they struggle with playtimes (e.g. our school runs a lunch club)

If DS needed a more flexible start than their standard one, how would they feel about it.

What is their behavious policy (red boards, sad clouds, superstars etc)

Generally a flexible school that doesn't say 'thems the rules' but that is willing to adapt to individual needs.

Andro Fri 06-Sep-13 22:56:28

Ask about how they handle bullying, as much as you shouldn't need the information my DD has had some difficulties (pounced on by the school and handles brilliantly

Kewcumber Fri 06-Sep-13 23:17:32

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!

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 07-Sep-13 10:43:47

I would concentrate on the pastoral support given to the children. If this is good, this will go a long way to avoiding or resolving any problems that may emerge

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