In this guest blog, Tabitha Smith, Head Teacher at Moss Hey Primary School in Bramhall offers her top tips for choosing a primary school.
It is ‘that time of year’ when decisions have to be made about which primary school to send your child to. It’s a big decision; with just one child, it is a seven year relationship with the school, and with siblings following through families can be linked to a school for many years.
So what should you be looking for? Here are a few top tips that might help guide you. (In no particular order!)
1. First of all, schools are wonderful places where your child will thrive. For parents who don’t know about the education system, the whole process can seem a little daunting. There is much in the news about changes, but this does not swerve school leaders and governors from focusing on the core purpose; to provide a great education within a happy environment.
2. We are so lucky in Stockport that our primary schools are great. Stockport Local Authority is one of the highest performing local authorities in the country. Schools are offered a lot of support and the level of collaboration between schools is high. So whichever school you decide upon, you can be confident that it is a good school.
3. Do have a look at websites. The care and attention to detail, the photos to bring learning to life can give an insight into the school.
4. ‘Word on the street’ is definitely worth listening to. Talk to parents and children who already attend the school as they will give you a very honest option on the quality of leadership and management, and the quality of teaching.
5. If possible, visit a couple of schools so that you can make comparative judgements, and see how the same questions are answered in different settings.
6. Visiting the school during the school day also gives you an insight into the normal workings of a school. Are the children engaged, smiley? What is the atmosphere like….the ‘feel’ as you enter the school.
7. Don’t hold too much sway by Ofsted reports. Some schools have not been inspected for so long that many things will have changed; new Head Teachers, new class teachers, new curriculum, new assessment arrangements. Even schools with a ‘poor’ Ofsted rating will have a strong plan of action, with high levels of determination from the leadership team and governors to get things right.
8. When going round a school, ask questions! Focus on areas that are important to you; how do you support a high achieving child? How do you support a child who is struggling? What is the transition from nursery to school like? How can our family get involved in the school? What is your behaviour system like? What is sport and music like? How does school communicate with home?
9. Remember, your child will be happy and content, and therefore learn well and thrive if you are happy and content! There needs to be a high level of mutual trust and respect. You need to be confident that you will be listened to, but also acknowledge that the school does need families to support it. It really is a two way process.
10. Don’t miss the application deadline! It is not done on a first come first served basis, but if you miss the January deadline you could be offered any school in any area of Stockport. Also, don’t put just one school down on the list. You don’t have to name 6 schools, but do name a minimum of 3. Once the application window closes in January, you then don’t hear anything for quite a few months.
I hope some of this is of use to you when making your decision. As I said at the start, schools are wonderful places and however nervous you might be feeling about the whole process, starting school is really exciting; the beginning of a new chapter to be embraced positively!
Stockport Mumbler would like to thank Tabitha for providing this excellent guest blog. The application closing date for reception places next September is 15th January 2017. For more information about applying for a primary school place, please click here to visit Stockport Council’s school admissions page.