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What to look out for/questions to ask when visiting prospective primary school

(9 Posts)
RaisinsAndApple Fri 10-Feb-17 16:38:10

So I'm moving area with school aged children. One has some emotional and behavioural difficulties and is under CAMHS - which will continue in new area.

I've arranged to visit some local primaries - what should I be looking for, what questions should I be asking?

My thoughts are:
How friendly/approachable is head and how to other teachers react to them.
What emotional support they have - whether they have any specialist support staff for this (current school has several).
How are behavioural issues managed in class or out of class.
How bullying is tackled (have had some probs on both ends of bullying).
How polite/calm/happy kids seem around school.

One of the schools that I like on paper has got a new head and several new teachers this year. Don't know if this is a bad sign.

Any advice welcome. I'm planning to ask advice from current school prior to visits as well.

My preferred school will influence house buying choice. I have I get this right.
TIA

smellyboot Fri 10-Feb-17 18:23:10

I'd start with realistic chances of getting in. Unless you are in Scotland. Round here you would have to just look at schools with spaces as most are full.

RaisinsAndApple Fri 10-Feb-17 19:42:22

I am doing that smelly boot, I've checked out waiting lists for the years my DC are in and only looking at those I would have a chance with. But weirdly (imo) there's more actual choice of school, if you have a choice over where you are going to live, iyswim, so which school I prefer will have a massive influence over house choice. ''Tis a big decision on very many levels...
And of course I realise that I will have to start out with whichever school has space but I'd like to make an informed choice about which preference order to put schools in and whether to take up a waiting list place further down the line if I'm offered one. If that makes sense.
One of the schools I'm visiting has got places - so I need to know what to look for/ask to see if that is one that would suit my DC. If it was, it would save a lot of faff.

Lowdoorinthewal1 Fri 10-Feb-17 20:01:25

I would be really open and up front about the SEMH difficulties and be ready to read how they react very astutely.

Look for actual evidence of SEMH provision (ELSAs, Learning Mentors, KS1 and 2 nurture groups, plenty of space available for small group learning which is clearly actively used etc).

I also agree to all your listed points. Look the teachers, including the Head, in the eye- do they look happy and in control or jaded and slightly broken?

smellyboot Fri 10-Feb-17 20:04:00

Id say a new head and new teachers would be a good sign often. Fresh blood and desire to improve. I can't imagine HT move for an easier life often lol. I'd be following a lot of gut instinct about the culture and feel of a school as near us some are quite formal and some very creative and less formal. This shows in their approach to uniform, SATs etc . I prefer big schools, so that would be a big influence as more friendship options / specialist resources usually and I also prefer non faith schools.
Sport and music options are also of interest to me.
Id also look for the best option for your child who needs support as the others will no doubt be OK in any option!

RaisinsAndApple Fri 10-Feb-17 21:45:33

Ok, thank you both. I am basically prioritising the needy DC, as you suggest.

I also value music and creative stuff a lot - the school I'm leaning towards mentions proudly that all children get to learn the recorder... I learned the recorder, I thought it was a bit of a joke but then I did go on to learn 3 other instruments (out of school). Not at all sure it was because of the recorder lessons though.

RaisinsAndApple Fri 10-Feb-17 21:48:57

I'm thinking that a school with a higher than national average number of pupils with behavioural and/or emotional issues/needs may mean they are better set up to deal with them - or will it just mean that there will be lots of kids to negatively influence my very suggestible DC who tends to gravitate towards the naughty kids for friends?

But if the school gets good results (much higher than national average with good progress scores in all the key subjects) then surely they are managing those children and doing lots of things right?

SuperRainbows Fri 10-Feb-17 21:54:57

I would want to know their attitude towards SATS. I would hope they would stress that they don't put pupils under too much pressure.
Can you talk to any parents at the prospective schools? This would give a balanced view of things.

RaisinsAndApple Fri 10-Feb-17 22:06:00

Thank you, yes attitude to SATs is important. I have been recommended one of the schools in person but don't know any parents of the others.

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