Questions to ask at prospective schools...

Discussion in 'Toddler & Pre-School' started by jaybee, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. jaybee

    jaybee Mum to Tobias & Alexander

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    Tobias starts school in September 2014(seems ages away, but I know the time will go quick).
    Application starts in September and goes till January. However, the best schools around here get full very quickly, so I want his application in ASAP in September.

    Therefore we are starting to look at schools over the next couple of months.

    What questions should I be asking about the school? For some reason I am having a bit of a mind blank! :dohh:

    Thanks.
     
  2. aimee-lou

    aimee-lou Totally Outnumbered!!

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    I don't know. We don't get a choice - it's all done centrally and you're allocated a space at a school (you get 3 choices) which you then go to an induction day towards the end of the summer term. I'd love to have a bit more control tbh.

    I would probably ask about homework policy, outdoor play, reports and parental communication, and ask if the teaching staff will be changing/planned to change so you can meet his teachers.
     
  3. Rachel_C

    Rachel_C Well-Known Member

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    I'll be asking about discipline! I didn't think to ask that about nursery and got a nasty surprise when my 3 year old was put in time out because she was too worried about getting dirty hands and too shy to write her name on the whiteboard on her second day.
     
  4. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    What the others have said - also school applications aren't first come first served, they allocate places after the closing date.

    I asked about discipline, what they do to ensure the brighter children don't get bored, what they expected children to be able to do before starting.
     
  5. hattiehippo

    hattiehippo Well-Known Member

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    I would first double check how much of a choice you actually get and if there is one closing date for applicactions. I don't know where you are but in England all applications for state schools are handled centrally by the local authority and there Will be a set closing date after which places are allocated.

    We get 3 choices too I think and all applications have to be in by a date in January. After that we will find out Tom's place in April. Because of the high birthrate we Will prob only get our catchment school but luckily that's a good school.
     
  6. sweetlullaby

    sweetlullaby Well-Known Member

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    Discipline.
    Fee's/snack money/dinner money etc. It can become an expensive monthly cost when you add it all up!
    Their policies in general like bullying/healthy snack/child protection etc.
     
  7. aimee-lou

    aimee-lou Totally Outnumbered!!

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    Ahh yes food and eating arrangements - Earl will be taking packed lunches and I know that nowadays there are strict policies of what you can take etc.
     
  8. BabyJayne

    BabyJayne Me, DH, DD & pregnant

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    I'm not sure if you need it - but how about information on any after school clubs or breakfast clubs, just in case you need to make use of them?

    Madeline starts her 15 hours pre-school in September and we have her open day next week (we could apply for three schools, they could be anywhere in the borough and luckily we got into a really good one). We have to go through it all again next year for school places though.
     
  9. fairydust87

    fairydust87 Mummy & Noah <3

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    First and foremost check out their ofsted report. A good school and an 'outstanding' or 'good' score whereas a not so good school has a 'satisfactory' or 'poor'. That would be my first question then I would want to know the adult to child ratio, what their policy is for children with addidtional needs, bullying policy and the qualifications/experiance of the teachers/assistants. Ive been working in schools for 9 years so would have a good idea which Is a good or not so good school. Kind of dreading the time because all the schools round where I am live are going downhill.
    Good luck x
     
  10. jaybee

    jaybee Mum to Tobias & Alexander

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    I know that we get three choices, and there are five possible schools in the area. All pretty much as good as one another, but each quite different in how they teach.

    I know that 'officially' we have until jan to get options in, and then decisions are made. However, having spoken to a number of people, it is most recommended to get your choices in early!

    Thanks for the suggestions of things to look for.
     
  11. kanga

    kanga Mummy Wummy

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    I'd ask what they are doing about their areas for improvement as noted in their last ofsted report.
     
  12. Birdling

    Birdling Mummy to 2 boys

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    As a teacher, I would say that it's less about Ofsted reports and policies and more about visiting when the children are there and getting a feel for the atmosphere of the school. The most important thing is that your child will be happy there, and all schools are different, so an outstanding school may not necessarily be your first choice for your child if it doesn't 'feel' right for them.

    If you desperately want to ask technical questions, I would find out about the percentage of children with SEN, percentage free school meals, expectations of behaviour and how they cater for children at very different levels of attainment. It's a bit of a generalisation, but will give you an idea of the mix of children that your child would meet there.
     
  13. Gingerspice

    Gingerspice Well-Known Member

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    information such as how many have free school meals or have special requirements etc are often detailed in the ofsted reports. I know it says all that for our local school.
     
  14. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Why would you want to know how many children receive free school meals?
     
  15. Jchihuahua

    Jchihuahua Mummy to 3

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    I agree with every word in your first paragraph completely (I'm a teacher too) but I am not sure what difference it would make to prospective parents what % have free school meals or what % SEN.
     
  16. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Well Ruby will have free school meals for a few years, a school with high percentage of children like her is obviously best avoided ;)
     
  17. Jchihuahua

    Jchihuahua Mummy to 3

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    And also schools with higher percentage of free school meals actually get a lot more funding, called pupil premium so a school with a high % of free school meals is not a bad thing at all! My school has a very high % and with our pupil premium money we have made some great investments, like extra teachers for intervention work, that really benefit so many of the kids. Daisy will hopefully go to my school. The % of free school meals issue is not one I even considered or gave a second thought to!
     
  18. Mum2b_Claire

    Mum2b_Claire Mummy to Ruby & Scarlett!

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    Yes my stepmum is a headteacher and told me that about pupil premium! It'll save me making packed lunches so I might as well!
     
  19. mandarhino

    mandarhino Mum of 1

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    There's no need to get your application in early. The Local Authority won't look at them until after the deadline. The people who have told you that probably have older kids and aren't aware of the current process.

    Check out the schools you're actually likely to get into. It may not matter in your area, depending on how oversubscribed the schools are, but you might put down 3 schools that you don't actually have a chance of getting into due to distance, religion, etc.

    We're in London, so everything is oversubscribed, and many people lost out on a school place at a nearby school because they put down the schools they preferred as opposed to the ones they had a realistic chance of getting into based on distance.

    I'd check the outside space, after-school clubs, get a feel for the school but hanging about at pick up time. My husband was sold on our school after seeing people picking up their kids after school. Read the Ofsted report but don't dismiss schools on the Ofsted alone.
     
  20. Gingerspice

    Gingerspice Well-Known Member

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    I have no idea, just saying that it was available on the ofsted for info as a pp stated you may want to know those details. so if you did want to know those numbers then they are often written into the reports. And I never stated it was a bad thing - just simply the information was available.

    Having said that it just gives a picture as to whether that school has specialist facilities to any discibilities or specialist requirements etc and if you have a child with any extra issues it may help to know how many others are around. With higher numbers its possible they have very much more facilities and staff specifically geared to accommodate those requirements. Equally some parents may feel having high numbers means their child may get overlooked and not supported, but knowing those figures when visiting the school allows suitable questions to put at rest any concerns either way.

    Equally knowing the stats of number of children who have english as a second language will allow the same assessments to be made for those that are multilingual.

    Knowing a school has lots/very little % of children on free school meals is not really useful aside form knowing it is in perhaps a more wealthy area and so sets the bar as to what the norm may be expected for outgoings for school trips and uniform etc. Our local school has very low % of children for free meals, and as such they seem to reflect this in the uniform requirements. Children are meant to have specific coats and bags for the school and everything is branded with the name. There is a winter and summer uniform and kits for sports and gym - its a self perpetuating issue because if everybody is content to spend the money on those complete uniforms for summer/winter/sport/gym or lots of extra curricula activities then its assumed all are able and happy to spend that kind of money because it is available. It may help give an indication of the schools attitude to availability of money and as such their philosophy and requirements for things like uniform, especially because they may not get the funding due to a low number of children in that bracket.
     

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