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Going to visit primary schools - what questions should we be asking?

(16 Posts)
bugsymalone Mon 29-Sep-08 21:42:52

I've thought of a load myself but I'm hoping for some insight from some cunning been there done that primary school experienced mumsnetters? Thanks!

Littlefish Mon 29-Sep-08 21:57:26

We asked about the school's flexibility over part time/full time in Reception.

We asked about their music and sport provision.

We asked about the ways in which they encourage positive relationships between older and younger children in the school.

We asked about lunchtimes and how they were organised to ensure they were sociable occasions.

We asked about the opportunities for problem solving, open ended thinking and independent research.

We did not ask about SATs results or giften and talented.

We have probably marked ourselves out as PITA parents already grin

Littlefish Mon 29-Sep-08 21:58:18


madrose Mon 29-Sep-08 22:01:00

going to watch this thread, love the questions by LF.

LittleB Mon 29-Sep-08 22:02:32

I also asked about extra curricular activities, swimming/forest school etc.
Breakfast club and after school clubs(relevant to me for childcare)
How many are they expecting to intake, do they think they'll be oversubscribed.
Induction processes/open evenings etc
Cooked lunches
Outdoor play.
Its a hard decisions isn't it!

bugsymalone Tue 30-Sep-08 16:43:23

Thanks everybody you've been a great help! All this 'choice' over schools is a mixed blessing. So much easier for our mums who just pushed us through the school gates of the nearest primary school when the time came! Just hoping that DH and I will have a 'this is the one' moment at one of the schools we're going to see, and then DS gets a place.

Any more advice still v. welcome.

What did you wish you'd asked before the first term?

bodiddly Wed 01-Oct-08 09:22:54

hi bugsbymalone ... I was just about to start a thread like this myself! What sort of questions have you got already? I've made my first appointment this friday and haven't had a chance to give it too much thought as yet!

janinlondon Wed 01-Oct-08 09:38:29

Where do the children go to secondary after they leave this school? Amazing how many people don't seem to realize they are going to have to go through all of this again in seven years and a bit of thought at this stage might save a lot of heartache later! smile

CookieMonster2 Wed 01-Oct-08 13:32:33

Good idea to ask which secondary schools they go to. At some primary schools they all just move to the same secondary school whereas at others they go to several different ones. This would be important if you think your children might go to a different secondary school and you don't want them to feel as though they are being taken away from their friends.

I would also ask what they actually do at the out of school clubs. I asked at our local primary school and they do all kinds of activities e.g. dressing up and do their best to make it feel different to lessons. I have a friend whose daughter goes to a very expensive private school and they put them in front of a DVD at the breakfast club, and don't allow them to take their breakfast with them or provide anything.

MollyCherry Wed 01-Oct-08 22:47:38

Hi bugsy - we're doing this at the mo. I saw 2 schools last week, and found I had a better idea of questions afterwards as could compare them, so went back to see one of them today, and seeing the other again next week, plus a 3rd one tomorrow.
Am still finding it very hard to call though. Our catchment school is great but DD's best friend from nursery is going to the next nearest school, and feel sad they will not be together as it took ages for my DD to settle at nursery not knowing anyone - still can't make that the basis of our decision I guess...

Best of luck with your search!

MollieO Wed 01-Oct-08 23:11:22

Two questions I started asking after my first school visit was 1) what opinion do you have of my ds's nursery and 2) what is your view on taking the 11+. First question because the fact that my ds was at a Montessori nursery in the village filled the head teacher with horror "we have problems with children from there" - meaning she didn't like them being able to read and write well when they started school. Second question because although our county is comprehensive only we are on the border of another county that does have selective education. Some primary schools in the village support taking the 11+ but this (our catchment school)head teacher was completely against any selection of any kind.

Neither of these questions were ones I would have thought of asking but actually became key ones on other school visits. Mainly because by dismissing both I felt this head was dismissing my ds's past and future all in one go!

I hated looking round schools. I still don't understand why there is such a need to do it. My parents chose the nearest one to where we lived for primary and threatened me with private school if I failed what was then the 12+ (failing to realise that was an incentive!).

bugsymalone Thu 02-Oct-08 15:31:55

Well I was going to ask about after school clubs of course but also about class sizes, how they encourage their pupils to enjoy school and find something they enjoy. what help do they offer children who are struggling and those that are exceling at school? How do they teach the children to read, That kind of thing really. The question about which secondary schools they are linked to is a good one.

bodiddly Thu 02-Oct-08 21:45:01

did you take a list of questions with you or just ask as you thought of things?

MollyCherry Thu 02-Oct-08 22:39:27

Call me sad but I took a loooong list with me. Really helped though - saw the last school today and have finally made our minds up!!! smile

TooTicky Thu 02-Oct-08 22:41:37

Meet the reception teacher and observe the class a little if you can - a good teacher makes SO much difference.

By good I mean kind, fair, nice to be around. The atmosphere in a classroom is very telling.

Littlefish Sat 04-Oct-08 07:19:08

I agree with TooTicky that it's important to see the school "in action". However, I also think its important to bear in mind that the Reception Teacher is just one in a long line of teachers!

As it happens, I didn't particularly like the Reception teacher at the school where my dd will probably go. Nothing personal, I jsut found her a little stand-offish and formal. However, I've heard through the local grapevine that she's an excellent teacher. The fact that there is one teacher with whom I didn't click, would not put me off sending my dd there.

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