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viewing a school, what to ask.

(34 Posts)
mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 14:17:04

Hi, I'm going to go and look at our local primary school very soon. I want my daughter to come too, she's 3.5.
What questions should I be asking?
I know they use jolly phonics which is great because we are doing that at home. I really want to be involved in the school as much as possible. My daughter has a speech disorder but I'm hoping it won't be too much of a problem when she starts school. She is intelegent in every other way, and is very caring and thoughtful.
I would like the chance to talk to her future teacher and find out what help she could recieve.
Also, what sort of things should I look for in the school.
Thanks. smile

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 14:45:07

Anyone ?? blush

SqueakyPop Sun 07-Sep-08 15:11:50

What do you want to know?

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 15:23:20

What to ask that would say wether it was a good school and would suit my daughter.
I know roughly what I want to ask but just in case anyone had some good questions or tips.

desperatehousewifetoo Sun 07-Sep-08 16:05:01

I would probably want to ask questions about whether they have had any other pupils with similar speech difficulties, how they feel they would be able to support your dd in class, do they have close links with your dd's slt?

You could also ask about expectations the school have for homework, whether classes have teaching assistants.

What about access to IT equipment? I thin most schools have computers in each classroom these days though.

desperatehousewifetoo Sun 07-Sep-08 16:06:11

Classroom sizes?

Streaming? Do they still call it that?

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 18:24:11

Thanks everyone. smile I don't know what streaming is, but I can ask.
That's a good point to ask wether they'll have any other children with speech difficulties in her class.

UnquietDad Sun 07-Sep-08 18:25:53

Streaming is where they put them in groups according to ability. We had it when I was at primary school. A=top bods. B=next-best. C=strugglers. D=divvies.

LIZS Sun 07-Sep-08 18:26:32

streaming = teaching in ability groups
Attitude towards SATS at KS1 and 2.

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 18:36:54

Oh I see, I think I must have been in the D's grin

TotalChaos Sun 07-Sep-08 18:44:46

agree with DHT about the q's to ask re:speech disorder. probably would also ask whether the school currently has many other kids with speech problems, and whether TAs do any small group work to put into place exercises etc what SALT has suggested (and/or how they put in place what SALT recommends). Worth you speaking to Senco and even possibly headteacher too about how they support kids with language problems.

Moomin Sun 07-Sep-08 18:44:59

Also, don't underestimate the first impression you get of the school when you go into the entrance hall. Does it feel warm, bright and welcoming? What displays are up in the hall and around the corridors? What is the atmosphere as children move about the building. How do the children react to visitors? Are the staff smiley and friendly? How does the Head seem - and how do others react to him/her as you go around the school.

Gut instinct is a big factor when choosing schools, imo.

pointydog Sun 07-Sep-08 18:50:27

You mean setting.

newpup Sun 07-Sep-08 18:51:16

I would ask about how they will support your Dd's speech difficulties in class. How much support does the teacher get, ie. learning support assistants.

I would ask which reading schemes they use if any. Also, what is the schools attitude towards behaviour. Do they have positive recognition for children, ie, star charts, stickers in assembly. Are there lots of fantastic displays of children's work.

My DD's school has play leaders who work with the children at lunchtime, teaching them old fashioned games. I was impressed by the sight of skipping and hopscotch and stuck in the mud going on. Also they have a club at lunchtime for less confident children to pair up with other children and play together supervised by a teacher.

Do they have lunchtime or after school clubs, like gardening or sewing, football or chess. Does the school try to give children an all round education as opposed to just s.a.t.s 'training'.

The thing that impressed me was the older children we spoke to who gave us their opinions of the school. They were so positive and proud of their school.

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 19:16:08

My husbands niece and nephiew went there and they are lovely children, they work hard and seem to have a very positive attitude towards school.
I've been there once and it did seem quite homely, not too noisy and they had loads of paintings etc on display.

Hulababy Sun 07-Sep-08 19:28:22

Do take DD with you, and watch how the staff interact with her. This made a big difference in our opinion of schools when we did it.

Look at the walls - is it full of children's work? Is there a range of ability children's work up there (not just the best).

Go on a proper school day, not an Open Day. See the school in action. When you go in class what is happening? Are the children engaged? Do they look happy? Are they interested in their work?

I think you found out far more by looking and listening, than asking too mnay questions.

Waswondering Sun 07-Sep-08 19:37:41

I agree re first impressions.

Ds is about to start week 3 of P1 - he's my pfb so I'm very new to this whole thing and probably the least experienced on this thread!

When we went to visit the school last year, the head was lovely, really lovely, and answered all our questions patiently before giving us a guided tour of everything. Any time we were in the building in the 6m before ds started, if she saw him she went out of her way to come over and say hello (even crossing the playground) and dropping to his level saying "well pfb, this is exciting! how are you today?" type thing...

She also seems to know every child by name, which is impressive, and always smiles! So that was a good impression which stayed with us.

Another thing to ask about is playtime - is there a buddy system? Ds adores his buddy and introduced me last week - I came face to face with an extremely pleasant, confident and articulate P7 boy who told me how much he was enjoying playing with ds at breaktime.

I asked about discipline procedures too - what sanctions they would use. Music, trips, extra-curricular opportunities . . .

Good luck!

roisin Sun 07-Sep-08 19:39:47

I agree entirely with Hula about looking and listening. Questions will often just bring about the answers they think you want. For instance if you ask "What musical provision is there in school", no HT is going to say "Oh, I'm not really that interested in music, and tbh there isn't funding in the budget these days for music provision. So it's just done by regular class teachers, some of whom are tone deaf, and it's all a bit of a waste of time actually. They're supposed to have a music lesson once a week, but usually there's something more important going on and music just gets squeezed out. They probably only have 10 lessons in any one year."

IMO what you find out most from going round a school day (as Hula says on a regular day not an Open Day) is the 'feel' of the school, and also how you relate to the Head or Senior Teacher who is showing you round.

Look to see whether they know students individually and how they relate to staff and students.

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 19:47:47

waswondering- Wow your school sounds fantastic. I'd be over the moon with that.

rosin- That's a good point as my daughter loves music with a passion. Her nursery music teacher picked it up and says she has amazing pitch and rythem etc. She is going to start private music lessons soon anyway. I think maybe violin or piano. She loves listening to both. smile

desperatehousewifetoo Sun 07-Sep-08 19:49:32

I would also try to visit other schools if you can, if only as a comparison.

I found, once I had visited about 3 schools, I was able to see the differences and had more of an idea about what I liked (even though sometimes it is just about the 'feel' of a school).

Looking at the work on the walls is a very good idea. One friend of mine said that at a school she visited, it seemed to be only computer printouts on the wall and no creative stuff from the children.

mummyloveslucy Sun 07-Sep-08 19:55:08

Yes I'll do that.
I don't want to fall in love with a school outside catchment that she'll have no chance of getting in to though.
One school has a language unit, outside our catchment and in a rougher area but it might be worth a look.

Waswondering Sun 07-Sep-08 20:17:00

mll - I hope so! Only 2 weeks in, so it's all new and first impressions still . . .

Also, school has a well maintained website with their newsletters published to it - so I've been reading them for the last year to get a feel for the different activities/achievements etc.

lulu2 Sun 07-Sep-08 20:30:28

i went to look at 2 other primary schools before looking around the one we chose as our first choice. This gave me a comparison and was very helpful because the minute i walked into the school she started at last week i got a good feeling which i hadn't had from either of the others.
The happy atmosphere of the whole school was evident from the start, the pupils who showed me round were articulate and proud of their school and the staff were very welcoming and friendly.
I chose it above another school which had a better Ofsted report purely on my gut instinct.
After all that waffle my advise is follow your gut feeling and look around more than one school.

desperatehousewifetoo Mon 08-Sep-08 09:33:11

Does your slt think that your dd requires a langugae unit?

In my day, (makes me feel really old saying that), it was very very hard to get a place in a language unit, especially one out of borough. Is your dd going to be statemented?

TotalChaos Mon 08-Sep-08 11:26:04

agree with DHW. Language unit places tend to be very much in demand - so likely to be lots of hoops to jump through first. Ask Language unit or SALT department about what local procedures are for admission. In my city ed psych and senior SALT have to agree that a language unit placement is appropriate. The catchment issue isn't likely to be a problem with the language unit - as there are such limited numbers of them that they will take kids from all over your town and it's suburbs.

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