DS is just 4 and will be starting school next September.
We live in the countryside and are fortunate that all the schools in the local villages are good. We still ahve middle school/high school and the local high school is well respected and achieves good academic, vocational and sporting results. I wouldn't be upset if DS wet to any of the primaries in the surrounding villages!
DS and I (and baby DD, DH works away) are off to look round the primary school just across the road tommorow. I have a friend with an older child there and she is happy with it. What should I ask, look out for etc?
Looking at the physical environment I would want to see displays of interesting looking work, a clean and stimulating environment - the reception class at our village school is bright and appealing (even though it's an old victorian building) with lots to look at etc.
Looking at the pupils I would want to see them focused and looking like they're enjoying what they do, with staff who are respectful and appear to have a good relationship with the children.
Often different people will have differing ideas of what is a good school, I would pick your first choice by which one feels right to you. On paper our school isn't the best in the area but it is the one that people seem to want if they come and visit. Simple things like it not being the secretary who shows people round but usually the headteacher - she exudes enthusiasm for teaching and for the well-being of the children. My two older boys have gone through the school and my youngest is in year 1 now and thriving there :D
Thanks Fuzzy, I like the idea of going with what "feels right". It's how I have always chosen houses and jobs (I was once offered 5 in a week!). I witnesesed lots of my friends agonising over tiny details for last years intake, which I really don't want to do. Will need to quantify it a bit though to tell DH about it later. He doesn't go in for this mumbo jumbo "feelings" business!
Agree that while you can agonise over Sats results and memorise the most recent Ofsted report, usually it's your instinct that matters. Do you warm to the staff? Do they seem competent and professional? Is the atmosphere warm and welcoming? Are the kids happy?