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What questions shall I ask when I go for a look round a prospective primary school?

(10 Posts)
gingerbear Wed 11-May-05 17:25:31

I know it has been asked before, but I have spent the last three hours trawling the archives and can't find anything.

What sort of things should I be asking to get a good feel for the school?

DD is currently at a private nursery. (2x half days) She is 3 in June, so in Sept can swap to a local school nursery if we want her to.
Part of me wants her to stay where she is now, and part of me wants to get her into the school where she will continue into reception.
I have arranged visits to two local schools, both are below average on the ofsted results, but both are well thought of locally.

Mud Wed 11-May-05 18:07:27

previous thread

mancmum Wed 11-May-05 18:22:35

I would not overly worry about OFSTED and sats when checking out schools... the one my DS is at is fabulous but the reports never reflect the reality... how can they when it is based on fairly brief visists... my concerns for my kids at primary are that they are taught more "soft skills" than a heavy academic sylabbus.. obviuously I want the reading and writing but think working on sharing, confidence,team work, compassion, art music, culture etc is just as important and my DSs school has heavy focus on that... think you need to work out what is important for you and your DD and base your questions round that...

roisin Wed 11-May-05 18:28:32

I'm not sure about specific questions: clever questions generally get clever answers imo, and most Heads will have heard it all before, and will tell you what they think you want to hear.

But definitely go with your gut feeling about the school. 3.5 yrs ago we went to look round a school, and I was stunned from the moment we walked through the door. The place looked and smelt nice (even the toilets!), the displays were eye-catching, the children held the doors open without being prompted, and greeted people in the corridors, the Head (who showed us round) clearly knew every child individually (in a school of nearly 500), and I mean "knew", knew a lot about them, not just their name, and spoke to them individually, the atmosphere in the classrooms was calm and focused but fun, ...

I could go on and on. My boys have been at the school for nearly 3 years now, and I've seen a lot more of the school from the inside as well as out. My first impressions from that day of the Head and the school have been entirely justified.

Oh, just in case it's not clear from that, IMO the Head is crucial in a primary school. If you think you're not on the same wavelength, then you probably aren't, and for me this would be a much greater contraindicator than SATs results.

amylou Wed 11-May-05 19:30:54

make sure you are invited into the classrooms to have a look.. I was once taken round a school and not shown any classrooms and was only allowed to briefly peer in through the windows.. That gave me the impression that they were trying to hide something and didnt seem too inviting.. hence my daughter went to another school.

toria77 Wed 11-May-05 19:40:34

AGREE WITH ALL ABOVE - results don't matter so much as the school ethos- are the staff happy bacause happy staff will treat children well- look after them and teach to a higher standard. Look at the way the staff seem with each other and the children and ask mums / dads extra od children going there.

gingerbear Wed 11-May-05 21:39:13

thanks for your replies.
I don't want to go in with a sheet of neatly typed queations, but I want to think about what is important. I don't want DD 'hothoused' academically at 3 or even 4 or 5, that other activities such as art music and sport are accessible and a caring atmosphere is important to me (is that what is meant by pastoral care??)
I also need to know that the toilets are clean and that she will have the assistance she needs. (I can still remember the dreadful toilets at my first school!!)

tiffini Wed 11-May-05 21:54:32

questions i intend to ask in july (parent open evening)

security (playground supervision)
i will want to see a copy of a typical weeks lunch menu.
how many to a classroom & and how many teaching assistants in each class.
will i be informed if my child is struggling in a certain area.
will i be informed of what they are being taught each term.
does the school suffer with many problems of bullying, and how is it dealt with.

that is all i can think of at the moment but there is more, i should write them down before i forget.

tatt Thu 12-May-05 06:55:49

great questions tiffini. I'd suggest observing how the teachers interact with the children. We moved house to avoid one school where the deputy head was rude to the children - bit extreme but there were other issues. Are there any clubs after school? Teachers willing to give up time to run clubs are possibly more committed. If your child has any medical need how will they deal with it - that is a big issue for us (sigh).

Christie Thu 12-May-05 16:16:15

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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