The signs have gone up at school and the children’s centre reminding parents of children who are starting school in September 2013 to apply for their reception class places – so what are our top tips for choosing a school?
- Find out which schools are in your local area – DirectGov have a find schools page which is very helpful!
- Consider individual school admissions criteria – usually factors like distance from the school, siblings, faith (if a faith school) and special educational needs to work out which schools are most appropriate for your family.
- Don’t rely on league tables and Ofsted reports – whilst these do give an indication of the school things change between Ofsted inspections and some schools that score highly in results tables have a strong emphasis on academics and homework from early on which might not be what you want for your child.
- Visit the schools on your shortlist and see what you think – try going to open days (some schools have sessions where the children can go along too) and arranging separate visits to see the school without children – think about your gut instincts about the school, do the children look happy? is the building tidy and clean?
- Ask questions about – staffing and class sizes (do they mix age groups? how and why?), extra support available (are there teaching assistants / classroom helpers – are parents encouraged to volunteer in the school?), the facilities available for sports, music and ICT and the extra-curricular activities throughout the school. You might also want to find out what before / after school (wraparound) care is offered.