going to see primary schools this week(13 Posts)
DD due to start school in September. we've missed all open days as just moved hence why looking so late. what should we be asking them and looking out for?
First thing to do is check the deadline day for applications. Secondly, see your catchment school first. There are lots of things to look for! What matters to you? Happy, busy children? Calm and purposeful atmosphere? Excellent Sats results? Small classes? Extra curricular clubs? Lots of children who seem like your child and somewhere you will fit in? A local school often ticks the boxes for having friends nearby. Don't worry about missing open days - seeing the school on a working day is best. Don't spend too much time seeing schools you will never get into. Ask your Local Authority which is your catchment school. They may be able to tell you what other schools take children from your area, and historically, whether many children get into these schools.
Just look, listen, observe. Watch the children. Look at how they behave and if they appear happy and engaged. Ask about wrap around care if needed. Ask about extra curricular. Look at admissions data and be realistic if you would get in!
Have a think about what matters to you, and what matters to your child.
For me, it was him being happy, inclusion, no snobbery, good progress being visible and I wasn't overly bothered about the ofsted grade. For ds, he wanted free playtime, a few friends but not too many, nice lunch and nice teachers
Almost impossible to judge "no snobbery" from a first visit on a working day! Is this realistic? If you like where you live, most people will be like you. Therefore most parents at a local school will be like you. I would try and avoid a school where there is a history of poor Ofsted reports. This means improvement is never sustained and often results in continual turmoil at the school with low morale and constant staff changes. Therefore Ofsted reports can be very relevant. A school that is consistently good is absolutely fine or one that has had a single blip to RI but has turned the problem around quickly and effectively without haemorrhaging staff is also worthy of serious consideration.
Also think about the long term, a school which is small and cosy for a DC at 4 can be cloying and lacking in variety at 11. Also transition from a one form primary to a large secondary can be huge whereas a four form primary with a middle school ethos where they move children about classrooms in the later years can really help prepare the DCs. Don't be fooled by nice buildings either. Whilst cold rooms don't help with learning, IME some of the shabbier looking schools have had the best focus on the children and their learning. Nice buildings and grounds are a bonus but a reason to overlook everything else. Good luck.
Meant 'not' a reason to overlook everything else.
thank you all so much for you input. really interesting Petts about the small school thing as our preferred school is a one form entry. it does have a very small catchment though so we may not get in there. we liked the small community feel but wondered if it would mean she wouldn't be as well prepared for secondary. didn't think about it being cloying.
such a difficult decision especially as they are all primaries so this will be her school for 7 years
Have a read of some of the threads about large v big schools. We are 3 form and love the variety and extra resources it brings. Kids have loads of friends across all classes. It never feels impersonal as it's well managed
thanks I will have a look. one dilemma we have is that the one form school is our closest school by a significant distance (less than 700 metres) the bigger school is 1700 metres away so a 20 min walk. as we've just moved here we don't know anyone in the immediate area and suppose we arw thinking DD is more likely to have more friends close by if we go for the closer smaller school. the larger school would prob be our preference if it were a bit closer. maybe that is the wrong way to look at it as the larger school is probably better in many respects.
You can always put large school as pref 1 and small as pref 2 and see what you get??? You may get pref 1 and if not, get the nearer one.
In our area a lot of people rent to get into the small church school then move away. Also as church attendance is compulsory for 2 years, it means that loads of people on doorstep don't even apply. It actually has DC from a much wider area who attended the correct church, than the big school!!!
Do check admissions distances and catchments if relevant for all your options carefully.
hi inkymeas thanks. yes have been pouring over admissions from previous years. we may well miss out on the smaller one by about 10 metres but obviously difficult to predict. we can have a third choice so will put down another school we saw which is undersubscribed and OK.
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