I went to have a look at a local primary school this week to see if it’s the one we want to sign our LO one up to, and also so that I could fulfill a lifelong ambition to completely embarrass myself by wearing the exact same dress as the school admin assistant.
Though some women worry about this, wearing the same outfit as someone else (and looking significantly worse in it) is not a faux pas that I’ve ever made before. Well, unless you count, ironically, primary school.
Anyway, I digress and haven’t even mentioned the dog that ran into the school.
After the dog had been shooed out, we were given a tour of the school, which is a spacious Edwardian building with high ceilings, a surprisingly open plan feel and swathes of greenery and outdoor space. I hadn’t realised just how big the school was and wonder how well LO will cope surrounded by about 60 contemporaries who will be divided into three forms.
The classrooms for the foundation children were divided into zones with an impressive teacher who ran through the curriculum in such an inspiring way that the dread I feel about my baby going to school has been replaced with positivity! It’s not such a big step up from nursery after all, and they’ll still be able to learn in a way that is centred on their needs and interests.
This is not the reason that I didn’t ask any questions at all on the tour. This was due to the fact that I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for in a school and also as everyone else asked very sensible questions. If only I had mentioned this to the lovely lady called Irene who tends to be on the next mat at yoga, I would have been ok.
She came up with the following list of questions that can help you with the all-important decision and her first bit of advice was to drive by the school first thing in the morning to see if there are children smoking and what the parents are like. She then advised asking to look in the pupils’ books to see what the work is like. “And make sure YOU choose the book so they don’t just show you the top child’s work”, she advises.
- Is there a PTA?
- What does the PTA do?
- How do you get onto the PTA?
- How involved are the children?
- Is there homework?
- how do you keep parents posted of their child’s progress?
- Does the PTA’s feedback get implemented?
- Are the children’s views taken on board?
- Can you give me an example of how this has worked?
- How do you deal with unruly children?
And her last bit of advice? Check out the toilets. They tell you a lot about a school.
If you’re as disorganised as me, you’ll find this booklet useful as it shows you the process.