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How do you approach a school for a potential child?

(13 Posts)
Bananaketchup Sat 18-May-13 12:51:30

Hi all,

I've posted this in adoption and got some really helpful replies, including advice to post here as well, please advise if you can:

I am at an early stage of a link for a nearly 5 year old, the LA are looking to place probably August/September time depending on various things, but would want her to start school in January to allow time for bonding. I have been told by SW to approach schools - there are two in my town. I am completely clueless in this area, so can anyone advise me on any of the following?

- Would a school even deal with me on the basis of making an enquiry about a child I am nowhere near having yet?

- Do I ring and ask to meet the head, or senco or who? And how much explanation of situation and likely needs would you give at this stage?

- What should I be looking for in a school? One of them is in spitting distance of my house which might be good for this LOs significant separation anxiety, but of course distance from home is far from everything, any good clues as to how a school are likely to cope with adoption related addition needs?

- The LO will be 5 in September, are all the reception class places allocated by this point in the year and where would that leave us if so?

Sorry it's long list, as I say I am completely ignorant of any processes re school places, all I have is a vague idea it's very fraught!

claraschu Sat 18-May-13 13:00:35

I have no experience of adoption, but I have looked at lots of schools for my 3 children.

I would definitely request a tour of both schools, without going into details of your situation ahead of time. When you are looking around and meeting school staff, I would answer questions, but would say that you ARE adopting over the summer (subject to final legal arrangements working out). You will get a good idea if you like the school, and if they are helpful and positive about your situation.

Good luck- how exciting.

tethersend Sat 18-May-13 19:57:12

Your child will automatically go to the top of the waiting list, as they will have priority in admissions, having previously been in care.

Will LO be in Y1 or 2?

I would apply for a place once LO is with you, and request to defer it- although they may refuse, in which case you can HE until the Jan and then reapply (you will have to HE until LO starts school anyway I believe). I would do this in case school is full or a place becomes available in the time between placement and January. As top priority in admissions, the place is likely to go to your LO.

I would call schools and ask to visit- once you have decided, you make an in-year application to your local authority, listing schools in order of preference.

And congratulations smile

tethersend Sat 18-May-13 19:59:46

I would request to speak with the Designated Teacher for LAC (every school must have one), who should be familiar with the type of issues you LO may face, and can speak to you about the approaches they may take.

freetrait Sat 18-May-13 23:09:52

Yes, you should phone schools to look round. They should be positive and helpful and then you can go from there. Good luck!

Saracen Sun 19-May-13 05:28:29

I have no experience of adoption, but I found that the very process of looking round schools helped to clarify my priorities. So I would suggest that even if there are only a few schools which you think are likely to be right for your child, you look around more as well, just as a way of helping you think things through.

As an example of what I mean, it was only after I had visited a school in which I saw confident friendly children come up and chat with me and their headteacher that I realised how depressing I had found the previous few schools where this didn't happen. In the other schools, children had scuttled off as we approached. Clearly they weren't expecting interactions with adults to be positive experiences.

There were various other things too, where when I saw it I thought, "Aha! this is important to me" or on the other hand "Other people care about this issue but it definitely doesn't matter much to me."

MrsShrek3 Sun 19-May-13 05:40:05

Tethers, also thought person with responsibility for LAC, and learning mentor if there is one. Get in touch with the schools directly (school office admin) to arrange look round.
5 in sept is reception in England. You will have to HE from her fifth birthday as has been said upthread.
Good luck, very exciting!!

Bananaketchup Sun 19-May-13 07:42:52

Thanks all, that's helpful - there's so much I don't know!

I didn't know I'd have to HE while she's not in school, I think I need to discuss that with the SWs and see what they can put in place to help me with that, since not starting school straight away is their idea - one which I fully agree with but if we need to HE I'll need some guidance.

I also didn't know there must be a designated teacher for LAC, I'm hoping they will have an idea of likely issues which might seem strange to staff not familiar with adoption additional needs.

It's a good point to look around a few schools and get a feel of atmosphere, I hadn't thought of that thank you - there are two schools in my town but others in nearby villages so I think I need to look around more than I'd thought to make a proper decision.

Thanks for your help, all this is new to me and I feel completely clueless!

prettydaisies Sun 19-May-13 08:53:28

You won't need to HE - it's only legal to start school the term after your fifth birthday, which would be January. I also think, in terms of admissions, that adopted children are excepted children, i.e. they will get a place even though the school is full.
However, you do need to look round some schools. This will give you an idea of what they are like as all schools are different.
Hope everything works out for you - scary and exciting at the same time.

claraschu Sun 19-May-13 09:03:48

HE at this (possibly at any) age just means that you do lots of interesting and fun things with your child. You do not have to sit and "teach" him or her, though reading and maths would probably be part of what you would naturally do together. Please don't be intimidated by the idea of HE.

tethersend Sun 19-May-13 09:58:55

Oops, sorry- didn't see that LO turns five in Sept... Yes, that makes a lot of difference, and there will be no need to HE.

And yes, adopted children are now excepted children, and the LA will direct a school to take them if necessary. I would still apply for the place as soon as LO comes to live with you, and then defer it so they can start in January.

Bananaketchup Sun 19-May-13 15:43:08

Hi all,

I've bitten the bullet and emailed the local schools asking for a visit and meeting with the head, and already had one reply! It feels very odd to be visiting a school for a child I haven't got and have never met, but exciting as well!

freetrait Sun 19-May-13 23:18:10

Well done! And good luck. Hope it goes well. Think about if you want to be able to walk to school and have v. local friends for LO. This was one of my criteria for Primary School and it's great having school so close.

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