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Primary School(16 Posts)
If I was looking at primary schools what would you consider to be the most important factors - beyond Ofsted....
If state primary school - likelihood of getting in.
(and Ofsted would be way down the list of other criteria).
likelihood of getting in
Proximity to house
Availability of wrap around care if needed
For me it was:
How formal the learning in reception/ KS1 was (I don’t agree with an overly formal approach in early years)
The building itself (two we looked round were cramped old Victorian buildings with small playgrounds, the one we chose was a 60s build where all the classrooms opened onto the outside and there were big fields)
Their approach to differential learning – how they were teaching to the level of every child so that each child reached their potential
Within the Ofsted report I would look at quality of teaching.
I would also look at the sats results and go into details as how children with SEN are progressing, that's often an indicator of how good a school is at dealing with children who have learning difficulties, and if the progress is good then I'd say the teaching is good.
Proximity, easy to get there (visit at pick up time to see how many people drive, if it's complete chaos...), after school clubs, visit the school to get a feel for it. Speak to parents if you know any.
Message withdrawn at poster's request.
What is your position in the admission criteria is the main one, no point in loving a school you aren't able to get in.
Decent pastoral care and a warm feeling. Are the children interacting with the teacher/head or just putting their head down when the head comes in? Are displays showing a variety of skills or is it just creme de la creme? Outside classroom learning, forest school, outdoor classroom, trips and visitors.
Wraparound care can be important but we live in an area with decent coverage of childminder so it wasn't a necessary point in our list.
After the practicalities of "will we get a place" we went for the warm fuzzy feeling we got when looking around the school & believing that our son would fit in well
Gut feelings and if they have the sort of resources you'd like to take advantage of. Ofsted reports don't actually rate very highly for me. We chose a small friendly and warm village school over a larger school with better Ofsted reports. Small schools tend to do poorer because each child's scores are more heavily weighted when there's only 8 of them per class so can drag the test scores for the whole school down. In our case, the pastoral care, etc. was wonderful, but they scored worse in terms of testing, which would be expected for such a tiny school.
But really it was about gut feeling and about the opportunities they offered. Everyone was so friendly and the kids all seemed really happy when we visited (and they genuinely are). They have forest school as a big part of the curriculum, which was really important to us, and lots of outdoor space. They're also really embedded in the local community and the kids get lots of opportunities for being part of the village community and that was important to us too. But mostly it was just on instinct. We're really happy with our choice.
What the EYFS and KS1 provision is like (not too formal) and whether staff seem happy. I don't have school-age children but am pregnant with DC1 and I'm a primary school teacher in a very, very unhappy school. I see daily how much the children suffer from the low staff morale, overworked teachers and poor and unpleasant management. Sadly this seems to be becoming more and more widespread across the UK, thanks to our education system and the pressures from above.
Ofsted report is bottom of my list. In fact I have put one in special measures above an outstanding one due to the happy feel of the place, the amount of community involvement, the diversity, the commute to get there, the amount of arts they do, the pastoral care... ofsted find them lacking in Maths and English results, but I can support in that area at home and english is a second language for a large proportion of the kids so it's unsuprising. I am not interested in a sats factory school for DS.
Whether or not you will get in and gut reaction!
-Whether or not we'll get ds in, and their sibling policy.
- The head teacher. How long have they been there? What are they like? What is their general ethos?
- The school itself, the facilities etc
- Clubs, trips, opportunities
I looked around 4 schools when chosen for ds (he's going in September ), one was a faith school (which put me off completely ), one we were unlikely to get in (not impossible but very unlikely )and the two nearest to us. The 2 nearest to us are chalk and cheese, one large with a 75 a year in take the other small. We've gone with the large one because the facilities are amazing and the head impressed me so much.
Will you get in. Do you like it. Is it close. Is it fun for the kids and inspire them to learn?
Did my children and I have a good feeling about the school. That's it.