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Bad pre prep?

(12 Posts)
Heyduggie Wed 24-Jun-15 09:53:06

We have just started our dd at pre prep nursery to get her settled in for September. This school isn't one of the best prep schools but felt it was better than our low attaining local school, and felt the small class sizes would mean he gets individual attention. We have grammar school aspirations and felt the local school wouldn't give him the best start.

It's been a few weeks and I'm getting a very bad feeling about this school. First of all the nursery 'leader' who meets parents at the door avoids talking to us, avoids giving us feedback about how our dd is settling in or any information given is extremely vague. Like getting blood out of a stone. We felt as new parents they would reassure us abit and make us feel we've made the right decision (they could pretend at least?!) this is very different to how they were on the assessment day and visit day.

My dd has food allergies and upon looking in her lunch box last week we found another girl's lunch leftovers and worse they were food my dd is allergic too. We were told it was cos there's another dd with the same name. They were very apologetic but still couldn't provide a viable explanation. This makes me feel she is already getting lost in the crowd even if the class size is small. You would think as the new child they would make more effort? They boast about their pastoral care and this was a big reason for us wanting to send here here rather than class of 30

She's meant to have a keyworker. The nursery leader says it is her but she's always at the door greeting the other parents and ignoring us. Every morning dd and I are standing around waiting for someone to greet us, not only is she generally shy she is also new compared to the other kids who have been there over a year.

This is the forth week now and I asked one of the nursery staff how she's doing (vague response) so I asked to have a look at the progress folder, I was told there was nothing written in it yet but will be able to see it before half term

I also asked when dd will be getting homework as she keeps asking after seeing the other kids getting it I was told because she knew her phonics they didn't see the point giving her homework (I'm not dying for hw believe me it's more seeing the other kids take home work and parents being able to see what they're doing in class and how they're progressing). We receive a generic newsletter telling us what the kids have been doing but I want to know what my dd is doing, how she's settling in, making friends etc

On the whole I feel as dd is new we wanted them to make an effort with her and us and reassure us but feel we've been left to get on with it and find our own feet. I wanted her to start earlier (the school were even keener to get her started a term early) but I was worried the other kids entering reception would know each other so this was meant to help her familiarise and also get her to catch up with the other kids.

Please let me know what you think? Part of me wonders if I have high expectations and maybe the school as a whole is good (good ks1 sat results but could be down to the parents?) and the kindergarten is just abit rubbish?
The more I get this bad feeling the more the local state school seems attractive. I feel I have lost my trust in the staff at this school by their attitude.

sanam2010 Wed 24-Jun-15 11:31:09

your gut feel is probably right, this sounds terrible for a private pre-prep! I wouldn't pay a penny for this school.

Millymollymama Wed 24-Jun-15 14:44:14

A low attaining local school might get fantastic progress from the children though. Have you actually considered what progress they make instead of just focussing on outcomes? Did you actually look at your local school or assume private is better? I would visit the local school if you can and see if they have a place for September.

Why is your DD so late going into Nursery? It sounds as if she is now being expected to join in and catch up with other children who have been there a while and you expect the staff to do everything to make that happen immediately. That is a little unfair in my view. You seem to expect a lot more because it is private, but that is not always the case.

I can't say I ever had much feedback from nursery on a day to day basis but I was just happy my child let go of my hand and went off to play. I was not met and greeted by staff every day, but I was confident in their ability to run an effective nursery. I think you are expecting a bit much, if I am truly honest and I think this might be because you are late joining the cohort and you want immediate proof that joining late has not mattered and that she will catch up when others have been in the nursery for a year.

Schools assess about twice a term. You will soon get an end of year report so I would wait for that and make an appointment to see the head of the nursery if you are not happy. The report will say what your child can do and what she needs to do to improve. I didn't get continual information about settling in, but I would expect a member of staff to reassure you that she had settled and was happy. I guess, however, you know this already because you have not mentioned any behaviour problems. Why don't you ask your DD who she likes in the class. Many 4 year olds don't really make friends - they just play. Try and invite some children around for tea.

Regarding homework, I assume you mean reading. I am sure they will start her on a reading scheme in September. Did you not ask about reading before you started? Lots of nursery children are learning through play but you should establish with the school when she will go onto the reading scheme. You could read with her and get starter books if you cannot wait, but she is still only 4. I imagine the nursery is still working through the more than 50 judgements they have to make regarding her progress. I think you will be able to find out a lot more when her report arrives but if you are not confident, I would go and look at the local school.

redskybynight Wed 24-Jun-15 17:16:32

Make an appointment to speak to the nursery leader (when it's not drop off or pick up time and she doesn't have other distractions). Ask her how your DD is settling in and any other specific questions you may have. It stands out from your post that you've mentioned nothing about what DD thinks and what she is doing, it's all your perceptions from the outside.

And yes, the school may be totally different to the nursery.
And yes, it's likely that the school will get good KS1 results due to its intake.

Flower1984 Wed 24-Jun-15 17:32:27

My children have both attended pre prep nurseries. I always felt there were staff about to have a quick word with and they would usually say I me "oh he did so well yesterday " etc...

We also get termly parent consultations with key workers. We make an appointment then I've discussed their progress ..could you ask them if they have any parents meetings ??

I got a bit wobbly when my first started but she loved it once she settled in. I think you need to ask them for a chat to ease any concerns you have ? Good luck

Heyduggie Wed 24-Jun-15 20:52:14

Thanks everyone for the advice!
Sorry the only reason I didn't mention what my dd thinks is cos she is so vague, if I ask her what she played/sang/counted she'll just say "I played can't remember" and the more I ask the more she doesn't seem to want to let on what she's done, odd snippets here and there! What did u do today? She replies "I played" She doesn't seem unhappy but she doesn't seem happy either, she doesn't know any of the kids' names despite being there for four weeks

I don't think I'm expecting the nursery to get her on speed it's more I expect them to tell me if I need to do more work with her incase she falls behind but it doesn't seem to be the case anyway as keyworker says she doesn't see the point in giving her homework as she already knows her phonics. So I would expect them to give her words to decode? Rather than say oh she knows everything don't worry about it

she was previously at a day nursery where I was used to keyworkers telling me about her day I just thought in private there will be more time spent on that aspect because of the pastoral care side of it being a big thing at this school and yes as we are new I'd expect a bit more attention on us as we haven't gone through induction at the start of the year. When I applied for a place at this school I intended her to start at reception but the deputy head pushed us to have her to a short time in nursery, i went along with it as I thought she would be shown the way as such.

I think a meeting with nursery leader will be a good idea. I've read the ofsted for the local school and it says the progress they make end of school is low compared to their starting points but progress is good in eyfs. There are other schools near me which we didn't get but there result are much better, same demographic. It's not just the attainment it's also the fact my dd will only mix with kids of one background and I don't want that for my dd.

Heyduggie Wed 24-Jun-15 20:54:05


IsItStupid Wed 24-Jun-15 21:10:22

This doesn't sound like a school I'd pay for!

I would talk to parents of older children to see if the school section is better. But if not, go with your gut.

Is there another, better prep around?

Heyduggie Wed 24-Jun-15 21:34:52

Unfortunately this is the only one within reasonable distance. It's really frustrating as we'd planned to move to a better area but then dh decided he wanted to stay close to family, but when I looked at admissions distance for some of the good state schools I got my hopes up but then didn't get any of those schools. I really feel torn because I don't like the 'choices' available.

Good idea about asking parents of older kids. I just worry about other parents' motivations for sending their kids to private school may differ to mine so may not find faults with it.

IsItStupid Thu 25-Jun-15 12:17:23

That sounds really tough. Definitely ask older parents, you should be able to read between the lines of their answers and sift through information they give you.

And I hope that the meeting with the nursery leader goes well- she might be able to ease all your concerns.

Ultimately, however, if you really don't like the school you will to look at your other options.

So far, apart from staying, the options I see are:

- 'low attaining' state school
-long commute to distant prep
- moving house

Some of which seem quite drastic!

What does your DH think?

Are you just there for a couple more weeks before the summer holidays? Hopefully things improve or reception is better!

Cedar03 Thu 25-Jun-15 13:01:42

I would have expected feedback from her keyworker in the early days - just because it is part of settling in. My daughter went to a private day nursery - so different form of care - but her key worker or another member of the team always provided feedback at the end of the day about how she had been. And a member of staff was always there to greet the children and always took care with those who were shy/not too keen on coming in. I would have expected the same at a pre prep.

In fact my daughter's state primary school in reception always gave us the chance to meet the teacher - talk to her or to a TA - and they would have made sure that she wasn't eating anything that she was allergic to.

But will she moving into the next stage in September? In which case you need to look at how that is managed.

fleurdelacourt Thu 25-Jun-15 13:51:35

Interesting reactions here!

Thinking about my dc when they were in nursery at a pre-pre, there was never anyone greeting us - and I would never have expected that. We took them in and they got stuck into playing. If we wanted feedback, we asked for 5 minutes at the end of the session.

As for homework - honestly you will kick yourself in years to come. there really is no rush - if she knows her phonics then you can do bits of reading with her at home? if you would like the school to provide books for this then ask! I don't think any of our lot were given reading scheme books in nursery.

And agree with everyone else's questions? Why has she started so late in the year rather than as part of the main group in September/January? It may well be difficult to settle into the class because they are already an established group who know the routine of the school? If she's staying in nursery in September, then the problems will go away as another group is introduced to the school, and similarly in September if she goes up to reception, she'll be part of that and you'll be introduced to that at the same time as everyone else.

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