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Visiting infant schools - what to look for?

(5 Posts)
scrappydappydoo Mon 15-Jun-09 14:56:58

We thought we'd get a head start and look around some infant schools for dd1 who is due to start in sept 2010. We have an appointment for the nearest one next friday. All the primary schools in area have good ofsteds but I want to know what kind of things to look out for on a visit. Should we take dd? (she is due to be at playgroup that day)..
Any advice appreciated!

Seeline Mon 15-Jun-09 16:10:50

I wouldn't take dd unless you have to - if she's anything like my 2 were at that age you won't be able to give the visit your full attention. I think the most important thing about a visit is your gut reaction to the school - how does it feel. Look at the children are they interested/enthusiastic or just bored. Is there childrens work up on the walls - what is that like? Obviously if you are being shown about by a memeber of staff, ask as many questions as you need. Have a good look out for facilities - IT equipment, sports facilities, outdoor play space. I'm a great believer in having a 'walk' past a school at lunch time and going home time - tell you alot about the children and their general behaviour. One last thing when I was going through this with my 2, I asked my MIL for advice (a retired teacher) - her tip - check the loos are clean!! Good Luck.

janinlondon Mon 15-Jun-09 16:19:47

Do they have any sort of open day? Summer fair? If so, that's a great time to take DD with you. And you will learn a lot about the ethos of the school at something like that.

Summersoon Mon 15-Jun-09 17:14:35

Watch and listen very, very carefully to the headmaster or headmistress and follow your gut feeling. Are you comfortable talking to this person? How is he/she responding to parents' question at the Open Day? Any sign of any bristling at all? Could you visualize yourself having a conversation with him or her in the event that your DC does not perform up to expectations or there is any other problem (may it never happen to you)?
The head is hugely important to a school, with a massive influence on the whole ethos, including staff morale.
We once made a very bad mistake because we didn't listen to our gut feeling.
If you feel umcomfortable, try and speak to other people with children at the school (bearing in mind that not all schools suit all children). Go back a second time if you can, whether or not you feel uncomfortable and if it still doesn't feel right, walk away.
Also, if you are looking at the independent sector, try the Good Schools Guide.

scrappydappydoo Mon 15-Jun-09 17:53:19

Great idea to go summer fetes. Thanks
Summersoon - thats good advice although the school we think dd will go to is getting a new head in September so it'll be difficult to see - might have to re-visit before we put application in..

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