Choosing the right primary school is a really important decision and one that will have a real impact on the next 6 years or so of your child/ren's lives. If possible visit and make your own judgement. So what should you look for? The thoughts below may be helpful.
- Inspection reports: they do provide an independent judgement of a school. It is worth remembering that they are snapshot summaries and could be quite a few years old. It might be worth considering whether there have been significant changes in school leadership since any inspection.
- Attainment data: this will be on the school website. However it is unlikely to tell you anything about the school in the current academic year.
- Welcome: as a visitor what kind of welcome do you get? Does the school know you about your visit? Is it clear who is scheduled to show you round the school?
- School building and environment: does it look well maintained?
- Atmosphere: hard to measure but do both adults and children look purposeful? Does it feel like a good place to learn, play and work?
- Leadership: are the leaders positive about their school? Can they tell you about the school’s strengths and areas for improvement? Do they seem confident?
- Provision for sports and arts: what opportunities does the school provide for children both during the school day and outside?
- After school clubs: does the school provide any?
- Before and After School provision: if this is important for you it is worth finding out if places are guaranteed, as well as the cost. Who runs the provision?
- Openness: hard to gauge on a visit but do you think you would be able to share concerns and would school leaders do anything about them?
- Do I want my child/ren to spend next 7 years or so at this school? Do you think the school will keep your child/ren safe? Will the school provide them with excellent teaching and learning?
Selecting the right school for your child is one of the most important decisions that you will have taken in your child’s life. In conclusion- rely on your instinct- you will know when you have found the right school.