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Choosing a primary school

13 replies

RhinosAreFatUnicorns · 24/05/2014 19:01

So although it feels a long way away, DD will be starting primary school next September, and we will be applying at the end of the year. I am planning on arranging visits with our two local schools, both of which are good schools. One is closer to home, but both are within a mile of home.

I wondered whether anyone had any advice as to what particular areas I should ask about when visiting. I had thought about covering sensitive issues homework (family trees etc), lines of communication, parent involvement, whether they have had adopted children within school previously, use of pupil premium plus.

Any other ideas?

TIA :)

OP posts:
FamiliesShareGerms · 24/05/2014 19:38

I'd ask about their previous experience of LAC and adopted children specifically. I think smallish rather than huge would be better, size wise (1-2 form entry).

But most of all I think you need to have a feeling whether this is a school you'd be comfortable dealing with.

Have you spoken to your LA about admissions outside the normal process? Might be an idea to start that off, get the form sent through etc

mrsballack · 24/05/2014 19:42

I'm glad you asked this as little man will be starting next September too. We have one close school and two a bit further away, one of which is rated outstanding. Sadly the closest one is also the biggest so I'm not sure it'll be the best fit although one of my beavers who is in long term foster care is thriving there. I guess we'll just have to go along and see how we feel about them.

namechangesforthehardstuff · 24/05/2014 20:00

I think asking about their philosophy of behaviour management will tell you a lot. Do they just go straight for naughty step/time out?

Are they willing to let you tell them what your child needs or do they know best?

fasparent · 24/05/2014 20:01

Scroll down Adoption Topics " Great news schools admissions" was released this week you will have priority choice of schools in any area.
Also will be entitled too Pupil premium plus £1900 a year for extra school support for duration of child's education.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns · 24/05/2014 20:01

Thanks both - Think my OP might have been confusing. It will be sept 2015, so we will be within normal admissions.

Both are similar size, one Ofsted rated good (my old school so I have a bit of a pull towards it) and the other outstanding. I think gut feel will have a lot to do with it.

OP posts:
HappySunflower · 24/05/2014 21:16

I'm in exactly the same position-my daughter will start Sept 2015 too!

I've narrowed it down to two schools, my first choice is further away than second choice- only a five minute drive so not too far.
So far, it stands out to me in terms of: pastoral care, small class sizes, and on site before and after school care that is run by TAs ( am a single, part time working parent so will need both a few days a week)
I'm going to open days for prospective parents in the Autumn term and want to find out more about: how they use PPP, what experience the staff have in attachment, and how what their ethos to support adopted children through transitions would be. I'm aware of one local school that mixes up classes every school year. That approach definitely wouldn't be something in my daughter's best interests so I want to find out how classes are organised and arranged too, and how often they use supply teachers.

Kewcumber · 24/05/2014 21:50

ASk about behaviour policy - most schools behaviour policy revolves around time out/exclusion which has become a bit of a problem for us this year. I haven't been able to convince the school to ease back on teh negative cycle and have instead shrugged and said - OK time out it is but it will escalate the situation. It did.

Also our school has plenty of experience of adopted children but still seem reluctant to accept that adoption whilst still very young (ie under 2) leaves any issues.

They have only recently accepted this with DS because the play therapist told them so. Apparently my view doesn;t count!

Anyway if they are similar sizes I'd go for the one you like the feel of best when you visit.

Kewcumber · 24/05/2014 21:51

small class size would be a BIG plus to me. DS would do so much better in a smaller class.

MerryInthechelseahotel · 24/05/2014 22:19

What has really helped my ds is not only small classes but he has been with his friends from play group, through nursery and now in primary one (Scotland). There isn't a choice of primary in our small town. He feels very safe largely due to everything being very familiar.

I agree about asking about discipline. I went to a wonderful talk a couple of weeks ago by a woman with a background in teaching suggesting all schools have "safe places" that children can hide in when they get overwhelmed at school.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns · 25/05/2014 08:24

Thanks all. We are lucky in that as we are in a village, she will have friends from nursery going to both schools, so will know people either way. We have been to events/activities at both so she is familiar with them to some extent.

Thanks for all the advice - really helpful :)

OP posts:
beatingwings · 25/05/2014 08:33

Do be careful with schools that have small class sizes. There is always a chance that there will be composite classes in such a school. Our village school has gone from small class sizes to only four classes in total.

RhinosAreFatUnicorns · 25/05/2014 09:24

That was a concern with one of the schools as two of the classes were together, however that isn't the case any longer. It isn't a small village, hence the two schools. The faith school is highly sought after within all the surrounding villages and I have been told that 2015 will be a big intake apparently.

OP posts:
UnderTheNameOfSanders · 25/05/2014 19:03

Are they willing to adapt their behaviour management policies if it seems not to be working on a child?

Do they have ELSAs (Emotional Literacy Support Assistants)

Will they be willing to discuss with you how the PPP money can best be spent.

Do they 'get' that your child may have extra needs.

Are they willing to listen about curriculum hotspots.

Is it easy for you to 'access' the class teacher (e.g. ours are available at start and end of every day, in some other school you need to go via the front office).

My ADD2 has just had an out of character major blip at school. Caused I think by her emotional and physical immaturity compared with her peers. I have been really impressed by the HTs (non-punitive) approach to getting things sorted to keep her and other children safe, and towards seeing what additional support / intervention can be done. Educationally the school is only so-so, but I chose it for its pastoral care and I have confidence it is the best for DD2.

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