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Looking round primary's for the first time

(10 Posts)
Olympicrock Wed 10-Oct-12 21:13:17

What should I be looking for? What kind of questions should I ask so I don't look like a complete numpty! DS will be starting reception in Sept 2013.

BlastOff Wed 10-Oct-12 21:15:37

I need to know the same so bumping! Sorry I've not got any advice though!

Olympicrock Wed 10-Oct-12 21:16:52

Looking round tomorrow and other than smiley children and clear safeguarding I don't have a clue!

StrawberrytallCAKE Wed 10-Oct-12 21:17:16

Watching with interest...

Olympicrock Wed 10-Oct-12 21:19:22

Could someone who knows something please come and join us!

Coffeeformeplease Wed 10-Oct-12 21:37:57

Normally year 6 children will show you round, and I would just ask them questions, they will be honest smile
I went round my youngest' prospective primary, after 8 years of previous ps experience (a different one). The state of the library, the way the children behave towards each other and the teachers, the way the teachers behave towards the children...everything gives an impression.

I looked out for evidence that brighter children will get extra stuff to do, and not be send to sort out the library.
If you're very keen, go check Ofsted reports, but imo they tend not to say very much about a school unless it's really bad.
Try to talk to other mums who have older children going to that particular school.

My daughter will go to this school, it's very local, very good and has huge grounds around it, which I absolutely loved.
In the meantime I enjoy one year without a school run!

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 21:56:29

hello, put htis on a thread a while ago, but can never do searches, so will try to remember.

First, you child is unique, so what is a good school for one is not necessarily good for another. Eg, quiet shy child might not like big bustling school. Confident outgoing child might not like tiny village school.
So this is what I looked for, and I have tried to show where it was specific to my dcs:

atmosphere: lively, interesting school, lots of artwork on the wall, and hanging form the ceiling, a certain buzz of business.
class sizes and teachers, is the school so oversubscribed that the classes are bursting at the seams (32 in junior class)
standards: what is their ofsted rating (not definitive, outstanding schools are not necessarily the best, but it gives you a start)
differentiation: how do they cope with different levels in the class. Our school confidently explains they have 5 levels that they work to so the whole breadth of children get taught properly
gifted and talented - do they have a policy, what do they do (would expect to hear about groups of some sort for the brightest - not at reception level, but later
OR (and/or) how do they manage special needs? (would expect to hear confident reply about how they manage inclusion of special needs children in class)
multi-cultural, multi social class school, good mix of real life society
what after school clubs do they have (ds needed football!)
What do they do about music? (this was for dd)
Is there a field (would not go to a school without proper field)
Are the buildings inviting, warm and in good repair?
Read work that is on display. is the written work good? Is it sloppy and poorly written?
If it is relevant for you, do they have breakfast club or after school clubs if you work?
Do you want to walk to school? (don't underestimate how nice it is to be round the corner, and not needing to drive to school)
Are there any male teachers (especially if you have ds)

Is there proper outside play area for early years? Sand and water play should be permanently available, as should ride on cars, play house etc
Is reception set up as play based room with messy area, imaginative play area (home corner) book corner etc

Not all of these are essential. You choose what you compromise on. I would compromise on after school clubs if education was good. We ended up with no male teachers (but male football coach) and pretty old buildings, but school is great.

Hope that Helps

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 21:58:57

forgot one:
attitude of staff you meet (friendly? smile and say hello?)
and children you meet (articulate? friendly? proud of their school?)

coffeeforme - I love schools where year 6 take you round. That in itself is a good sign, they trust the year 6 to be proud of their school

steppemum Wed 10-Oct-12 22:01:31

Make a list, take it with you and ask lots of questions. Sometimes I found the response was as important as the actual answer.

piprabbit Wed 10-Oct-12 22:04:20

Does the HT seem proud of the children, or proud of what the management team have achieved?

Does the HT know children by name.

Reception classrooms may well be noisy and seemingly chaotic (as there will be lots of activities happening at the same time), but take a moment to watch and listen. The sound should be a busy buzz of activity and the children should to be taking part purposefully in the activities they have chosen.

Do the children have wet weather gear and wellies in school - so they can play outside in all weathers.

Are there lots of displays of children's work? Is it presented with care and pride?

Are the walls of the classroom interesting to look at?

Are the older children you meet confident and polite?

What's your gut feeling?

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