No doubt you will have 101 questions that you want to ask When Choosing A School for your child.
I’m hoping that some of these will help in your journey to choosing a school.
How do they settle children if they get upset or seem unhappy?
Your child is still quite young when they start school, maybe barely 4 or 5 at the most, so you want to know that they’ll be OK if they fall over in the playground or get lost between the dinner hall and their classroom. Are they kept separate from the older kids in the playground in the first few weeks? It’s a while away now but once their first day arrives you’ll really want peace of mind that they’re going to be OK.
What’s the child-to-teacher ratio?
While there are government standards on this (no class should have more than 30 children) you might find some schools differ slightly, especially among the older children, in terms of how many teaching assistants, if the school is lucky enough to have them. You might be swayed towards one school if it turns out they have more adults per class as the pupils get older.
Is there before and after school clubs?
If you’re a working mum, you may need to think about childcare arrangements. Whereas nurseries often run from 8am to 6pm, school hours are more like 8.50am to 3.30pm – that’s a massive difference. Consider looking at other options such as local childminders which maybe more flexible.
Does the school provide lunch – and if so, what’s it like?
Every child in the first three years of school is currently entitled to a free school meal – but what kind of food can they expect? And what happens after that? Do you need to provide a packed lunch? This can take some time to get used to so the sooner you know the sooner you can get your head around it. If they do need to bring lunch with them, what can and CAN’T they have? Check out How To Make A Healthy Packed Lunch Box
Is there an open-door policy?
As a parent you will want to know if it is possible to come into the school and meet with my child’s teacher or the head teacher at fairly short notice if you have any concerns or issues? It’s really important for a parent to feel there will be someone on hand to talk to if you have any worries about how your child’s doing.
What is their policy on bullying?
Depending on your own views about discipline, the way one school deals with bullies might sway you with you more than another. And while it’s not something any parent wants to have to deal with – knowing your child’s school’s views on it and yours are similar, can only be a positive thing.
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How long have the staff been working here?
It might make you happy to hear that Mrs Smith has been teaching at the school for 30 years. Seems like good signs of stability, right? On the other hand, perhaps you’re more one for innovation, in which case this news might make you wonder if the teaching is a bit old-fashioned – either way, could be worth knowing.
Is there a recent parent survey you can look at?
Not all schools, carry out parent surveys to find out how parents think they’re doing and to look at what they can do better. If you ask and they do have a recent one, there’s no harm in asking if you can have a look at it.
How do you support high or low achievers?
Most children are, by definition, in the ‘average’ bracket when it comes to education. But if you are concerned that your child might have learning difficulties – or perhaps they seem exceptionally bright – it might be worth asking if they put on extra classes for these children or offer alternative teaching.
Other stuff to look out for
As well as asking plenty of questions and gauging the general vibe of the school, be sure to look out for those little signs that could well indicate this is a productive, happy and creative school.
- If you go during class time, do the children look happy and engaged?
- Are there displays of artworks and recent school trips on the wall?
- Does it look (generally) tidy and fairly well presented?
- Do the teachers you see look happy and relaxed or are they rushing around looking more than a little stressed?
Is there anything else you can think of asking when choosing a school? Let me know in the comments below.
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