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What Qs should I ask at open day of prospective local primary school?

(12 Posts)
Shitemum Wed 13-Aug-08 19:38:49


Shitemum Wed 13-Aug-08 22:19:44

Have never had to choose a school - what should I ask/look out for on visit to possible schools?

Shitemum Wed 13-Aug-08 22:32:58


TwoWindyDays Fri 15-Aug-08 12:33:33

Ask questions that will give you an insight into the feel of the school, like do they have a buddy system in the playground, what afterschool activities do they have atm, do they go on trips, swimming, what was last years school play, were all the children involved, do they do cooking, how many teaching assistants do they have, which phonic system do they teach (eg Ruth Meakin) and do they teach French or music? I meant to ask all these things and just walked around smiling and nodding You can tell if you like it often from the atmosphere and the children.

AMumInScotland Fri 15-Aug-08 13:36:20

If there are practical things which you think will affect your choice - eg after and before school clubs, provision for sport or music, policy about lunches etc, then ask about these. Other than that, you can generally get a feel for what the place and people are like just by chatting and looking round - if you can picture your child settling in well, then that is usually a good indicator.

sweetie66 Fri 15-Aug-08 13:38:24

Hi Shitemum, like you I knew nothing about the school process. I asked what the staff turnover was (DH thought I was mad) but felt this showed staff commitment to the school, that they were happy there and also continuity for the children. Would have put me off if a lot had left in a year. I also asked about the discipline procedure as wanted to know how they dealt with bullying etc. Also asked the trained teacher ratio in each class as well as the teaching assistant number. Oh and the latest ofstead report results as the ones on line are always a year out of date. So wanted to know if same headmaster etc. Would also make sure you see all the school and classes not just the one your child is going into. In one school we were refused and it made me think they had something to hide. Can you tell DD is PFB???

Clary Sun 17-Aug-08 00:42:33

sweetie actually Ofsted that is online will be the most recent one - schools are not inspected every year.

Our school for example has one posted online from Sept 2005 - yes it is the most recent one.

That's a good qu about staff turnover. I would also ask about playground facilities, outside activities and visits by outside agencies (plays, music etc) and also look at the school - is there lots of work on the walls? Do the kids you see seem happy and polite?

The vibe and atmosphere of a school is much more important than a set of SATs imo.

mylittlemonsters Sun 17-Aug-08 00:48:58

I think it is useful to know how many people they have to turn down. It may just be a London thing but I know loads of people who are really worried about getting thier kids in to the Primary even though they are in the catchment.

Also ask about the ethos of the school what in a nutshell are they aiming to do with the kids - what outcome are they trying to attain. I asked this of one school and it tripped off the junior heads tongue. He was really clear that his aim was to support the development of high self esteem and confidence - primarily, the academics were important but not the be all and end all.

You could ask ratios of english as first language etc and whether the demographics are reflective of the area. Some appear not to be which is a bit wierd.

Are they planning any major changes in the next year - buidlings, grants from local authority. How active and successful is the PTA - usually a good sign if positive.

Clary Sun 17-Aug-08 01:21:46

mlm I wonder if they will tell you how may they refuse?

Also they may not know in advance - DS2 (just finished reception) is in a tiny year, only just over half the possible intake of 80, but the year that starts in Sept is full and had 20 on the waiting list.

That's pretty unusual for us tho (like, not in the last 5 years; this seems to be a bumper year in lots of places for some reason).

Good point about PTA. How much have they raised, what sort of activities do their stage?

Shitemum Sun 17-Aug-08 17:33:22

thanks all - lots of good ideas here!

MrsMattie Sun 17-Aug-08 17:39:57

You can usually get the sort of figures mentioned here - how many places available, how many people apply etc - from your LEA website.

I would ask about class sizes and whether they boost their child-adult ratio with teaching assistants or parent helpers.

ReallyTired Mon 18-Aug-08 19:11:32

How do they teach reading, ie what reading scheme? Do they use phonics or mixed methods? How often do they hear children read.

How much play/ formal teaching do they children get?

Do they teach joined up writing from the start or first teach print, or letters with tails to make joining up easier?

What are their policies about bullying/
How do they support SEN or gifted and talented children?

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