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What is the most important thing(s) to look for in a primary school?

(31 Posts)
OuchBollocks Wed 01-Nov-17 16:15:05

We are looking at schools for DD and have a few apparently decent options around us. Obviously each one has their pros and cons. Just wondering what other people's must haves and deal breakers are?

sirfredfredgeorge Wed 01-Nov-17 16:35:27

The shortest possible travel distance.

OuchBollocks Wed 01-Nov-17 16:55:49

smile we are choosing mainly between one 5 minutes on foot and one 8 minutes on foot, 12 minutes a day won't be a problem.

MiaowTheCat Wed 01-Nov-17 17:32:17

Where you see your child "fitting"... I got it wrong with DD1 - picked the most local school and she never fitted there well. After most of a pretty crap year I looked around for other places - and got shown around one school that had a space in the right year group... and I cried leaving the school as I just 100% could see her there straight away.

(Ironically we probably wouldn't have got in in the standard Reception admission round for her that intake so it all worked out for the best really - they were down on numbers for DD2's intake so she got in as well and the school is bloody amazing)

Catalufa Wed 01-Nov-17 17:37:52

Personally I wouldn’t go for a very small school (eg one with mixed year classes) or a very large school. My DC’s school is approx 220 which feels perfect to me. I agree with Miaow that the ‘feel’ of a school can be a good indicator.

Also worth considering secondary admissions. Are they feeders for different secondary schools?

Lowdoorinthewal1 Wed 01-Nov-17 17:42:38

Whether the teachers seem happy. Happy teachers are well supported, good teachers who stay in their jobs.

irvineoneohone Wed 01-Nov-17 19:46:04

Lowdoorinthewal1, I think it's quite difficult to see from parents' pov, since they act like they are at open days etc, aren't they? How can new parents to be able to determine if the teachers are genuinely happy or they are just faking it for the sake of it ?

For me, same as sirfred, nearest is the easiest.

Gazelda Wed 01-Nov-17 19:51:12

Plenty of outdoor space, that the children are encouraged to use.
Happy teachers.
A ‘hands-on’ head teacher who is visible and accessible to the children, not one who rules from the comfort of their office.

OldWitch00 Wed 01-Nov-17 19:57:27

All things being equal; food and bathrooms...

GreatWhites Wed 01-Nov-17 19:57:31

First of all- are you likely to get in?

(see the thread in AIBU about siblings taking up all spaces)

whoareyou123 Wed 01-Nov-17 20:02:29

Irvine not that we did but checking the school web site should give you information about the churn of teachers, whether they run lunchtime clubs, etc. Might give an indication of how happy they are.

irvineoneohone Wed 01-Nov-17 20:14:36

Umm, tbh, ime, it's very difficult to see. Who I thought were great teachers for my ds left school, and I don't know why. They went above and beyond for him. They were very passionate and encouraging.
Now all the teachers(mostly new) seems to be very happy and smiling. But no one seems to be doing what they did, and I am not happy, and ds is ok, but can see the difference in teacher's enthusiasm. So, happy teachers does not always equal to great school.

sirfredfredgeorge Wed 01-Nov-17 20:22:24

Obviously with 5 and 8 then as you say it doesn't really matter so much - but with such an option isn't it more obvious and something significant that makes the decision. Our closest two schools are a single form entry religious school and a two form entry non-religious, and if they were the other way around (2 and 4 minutes away) I would've actually walked further to the two form and the non-religious aspect, but would I have walked 15 minutes for those things? Would've been a different question.

So is there not something obvious and significant difference between the two - religion being the most obvious - when schools are that close together?

whoareyou123 Wed 01-Nov-17 20:24:17

Happy teachers may not equate to a great school, but I am pretty certain that unhappy teachers will never equate to a great school.

OuchBollocks Wed 01-Nov-17 20:42:49

One is an older CofE school. Decent SATs, apparently very nurturing, works very hard at community stuff. The other is a new-ish non religious school, amazing SATs and extra curriculars, local reputation for being very strict, and there was nothing at all about SEN etc during the school open morning (DD has complicated speech/language issues). I don't mind a religious school, we're RC and I went to Catholic schools. Both have good outdoor space. Haven't been to the other school's open day yet, just pondering after this morning.

Bringmewineandcake Wed 01-Nov-17 20:48:24

How your dd reacts during the open days. Mine loved one school in particular - it was the third we had visited. We also preferred the feel and layout of the school. Luckily she got in as it was a low intake year and she is loving it.

OuchBollocks Wed 01-Nov-17 20:48:27

Oh and both schools are quite large for primary schools with 2 form entry and feed into the same secondary schools as far as I'm aware. Neither is especially ethnically diverse due to the area we live in.

Catalufa Wed 01-Nov-17 20:59:34

If your DD has speech and language issues it sounds like the ‘nurturing’ school might be right for her?

irvineoneohone Wed 01-Nov-17 21:25:57

If your dc have specific needs, I wouldn't just go for "apparently".
It's better to speak to school and find out what each school actually do/willing to do in daily school life to help her. Amazing SATs does not always equates to good teaching either. They maybe simply focusing on sats practice in upper ks2.

MiaowTheCat Thu 02-Nov-17 07:50:21

DD2 has a speech delay and also toileting issues (she's got chronic constipation with all the joy that that brings juggling poo times and laxatives). Big factors with her were that we went for the smaller more nurturing infants school with toilets in all the classrooms (minimise excuses for her to avoid going) and they do have a very heavy speech and language focus. Her speech has come on brilliantly since September (it's still immature but it's not unclear now like it used to be) and she's a complete bloody chatterbox now - I now have two of them that never bloody shut up!

tarheelbaby Thu 02-Nov-17 08:06:40

Irvineoneohone has your answer. If your DD has issues/needs, you need to go for a personal visit to each school. Meet as many teachers as you can and also the SENCO and talk specifically about what the school can do for your DD. Do you know parents at either school? If so, talk to them about their experiences.

I also agree that SATs results are not the most important thing.

And another vote for 2 or 3 form entry. Don't be swayed by that 'small school' line. As my DDs move through our tiny, one form entry (not always full!), I see that a 2 or 3 form entry makes many things easier, including (especially?!) staffing, in a school. Now that DD is in yr6 there are only 10 girls in her year! She is friends with most of them but has no 'best' friend.

MyOtherProfile Thu 02-Nov-17 08:08:45

Definitely make an appointment to go speak to them about SEN and look for evidence. Don't just take what they say. And do some research online 're their SEN.

2014newme Thu 02-Nov-17 08:30:50

Admission criteria
After school /breakfast club care
Travel time to get there
HT and their leadership style
Results
Ofsted

Fulltimemummy85 Thu 02-Nov-17 16:06:32

My child has speech and language difficulties. She goes to a small school who are very nurturing, she's the sort of child who may get overlooked in a large school. We didn't send her to the local school I drive 10 mins a day it's worth it. I also think it's important to send a child to the nicest area, parents generally value education more and kids are better behave.

Norestformrz Thu 02-Nov-17 18:59:51

What is the most important things you want in a primary school? Look for that/those.

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