Wednesday, 13 November 2013

School Searching

       It is a scary time for many parents as they decide where their little ones should go to school!

I am one of the many parents currently on the great school search for our first child. She is barely three years old, but I am already having to think about where she will spend 7 important years on her journey into education. This is not something I must take on lightly, it feels like a huge decision, one which some parents may take for granted, but this is where my daughter will start to learn to do mathematics, explore science and begin to read.......scary!!

The first thing I had to do was find out just how the local schools were welcoming parents for reception class next year. Some do open days, some had special evenings and others you had to ring for an appointment. My husband and I then booked in our slots and began to look for the "Big 3" which would make our shortlist. We are only in the catchment for one of these schools and I am fairly limited because I do not drive, meaning the school should ideally be within 20 minutes walking distance.

Those were my personal preferences, but the next thing was to see how the school fared educationally. We were impressed with two "Good" schools and one "Outstanding" within our area from Ofsted inspections. The Outstanding school had so much to offer.......up to date equipment, allotments, huge playing areas and huge classrooms. The headteacher was passionate about learning too.....fantastic! So, you would think we placed our first choice as here. No. The downside for us was the school was just TOO big for our little one. It had 4 classrooms for reception, holding 120 children, who were offered the chance once a day to choose which of the four rooms they wanted to be in. This, for our daughter, just would not work as she is not that out going. I even saw one child wondering around, not too sure as to what she was doing.

This just goes to show that it is important to really look at the schools and go in and speak to the staff and head teacher. It is not just about how the children will do academically there, but also about the feel of the school and how it would suit your child as a person. I know the choice we have made (if we are lucky enough to get our first choice) suits her personality where it is a smaller school, with a real community feel about it. I felt cosy when we visited, rather than bombarded with percentages and brand new IT suites.

My husband and I discussed what our choice lacked when compared to the others, and decided that even if a school does not have everything, it doesn't mean our daughter would miss out. We as parents hope to fill those small gaps where we can, making sure she still gets the opportunity to explore new technologies and materials that some schools just cannot offer.

So, if you are looking for a school for your child, make sure you take your time and make the decision which is right for your child. You do get until January to make your choices, so you have plenty of time to get to know the schools and what other parents think too. Good luck!!

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