Starting full-time school is an exciting and wonderful time for every child. When choosing a school, you are looking for the very best environment to nurture your child’s important first steps, launching them on a journey of discovery which will lay the foundations for their life. As we all know, no two children are the same and so finding the right school for your child is a significant and personal choice and one we all want to get right. Here are my 10 top tips to consider as you visit the schools on your list, to help you choose the right one for you and your child:
1. Arrange to visit the school on a normal school day – this is the best time to assess the real atmosphere of the school, meet teachers and children as you tour
and gain a picture of how your child will fit in and develop in their care.
2. Ask to meet the Head – the Head sets the ethos for the school and so it is vital that you understand and are excited by their view of education.
3. What is the atmosphere? Do the children look happy, engaged in activities and excited by what they are doing? Is this a place where you can envisage your
child being well-cared for, challenged and stimulated and where your child will develop in confidence and self-esteem as well as academically.
4. How are children catered for through the school curriculum? Is there a focus on developing the ‘whole child’ in addition to academic achievement through
thebreadth of the timetable? This is a key time for your child to develop a love of learning so a vibrant and stimulating curriculum is vital.
5. Does the school have good facilities indoor and out such as sport, P.E, music and drama facilities? Are the facilities well-maintained, safe and looked after?
Do the noticeboards and displays suggest a stimulating and busy school?
6. What are the class sizes? How do the teachers structure the classes to challenge and support different abilities, ensuring that each child’s individual
needsare targeted? Are there teaching assistants working in the classes?
7. How is the day structured and what extra-curricular activities are available? Will this school provide a breadth of opportunities that will engage and develop
your child – for example, individual music lessons, choir, sports activities, art and craft clubs etc?
8. How does the school report back to parents? Do they have frequent parent meetings in addition to reports? Do they have an open-door policy to enable you
to ask questions and find out information day-to-day?
9. Communications – is the school welcoming to parents and does is communicate with them clearly and regularly. Parents are so important in a child’s
education, good schools will be effective communicators, so parents can be fully informed about their child’s progress and well-being.
10.Research! This is important – research the schools you are visiting. Look at the Ofsted or ISI report and, if possible, talk to other parents. Often the best
information about schools comes from other parents with children already at school.