I have spent a great deal of time and energy lately on trying to navigate the minefield that is Special Needs Schools. We are 90% certain that Sam won’t manage in mainstream school (even with support) come September, so we are currently viewing SEN schools for him, in the hope he can start Reception class next September.
In between all of that, I have been trying to decide on a school nursery for Syd. We have a Primary school literally behind our house. It’s a lovely school, has great exam results, fab Ofsted reports and the kids all sound happy in the playground. I went to view it for Sam and it was fabulous… BUT it’s a Roman Catholic school & we aren’t about to have Syd baptised and start attending Church to get her a school place. It was oversubscribed by 130% last year, and 95% of the pupils who got places were RC. Why am I so against a religious school? Firstly, we aren’t religious. I want my children to get to know children from all faiths. I don’t believe that will happen if they attend a RC school with such a strict intake policy. With this in mind, I have looked elsewhere.
Our next local Primary school is a brand new, modern, high tech school. It has 3 classes in each school year (that’s 90 children in each year)! It has brilliant facilities, but the layout is really open plan. When I viewed it, the staff (and pupils) in the nursery and Reception areas looked really frustrated at the lack of structure. It was like a huge, hyperactive birthday party! In one open plan zone, there were 90 reception kids running around with 3 teachers and a few classroom assistants watching them. Then through an open archway, there were 120 nursery kids doing the same (with around 8 staff supervising, from what I saw). It was CHAOS!
The rest of the school looked amazing. The older kids looked happy, the environment looked well thought out and the facilities were brilliant. It’s just a shame their early years areas let it down so much. Their recent exam results and ofsted reports weren’t great either. I have to make allowances for the fact the school has moved locations and accepted lots of new pupils and staff in the past 12 months, but they’ve underachieved for the past 5 years.
Tomorrow, I am viewing another local school. This one has had amazing Ofsted reports and great SATS results in recent years too. I am trying not to pin all my hopes on this one. It is the one which both hubby and I liked the sound of from their prospectus and website, so fingers crossed it lives up to our preconceptions tomorrow.
I can’t help but feel like I have become a bit obsessed with finding the right schools now. It’s taking over my life. I am viewing 2 schools this week and am hoping to visit 3 more in the coming weeks too. (Mostly for Sam, but still…!)
I am glad I have taken the time to view so many though, and managed to visit during the day so I can see the pupils and teachers in situ. I have found it helpful to see the schools “in action” rather than visiting when the teachers are free to big up the facilities and achievements, but skim over the imperfections.
If you’re about to embark on the search for your child’s School or Nursery, I’d definitely recommend you visit when lessons are on, read the prospectuses and websites so you have an idea of what you like/dislike and want from a school. Check out the Ofsted and exam results, but don’t base your decision solely on that, as a lot can change in a year.
Sam’s doing his nursery year at the Private Day Nursery he’s been attending since last September. Doesn’t he look smart in his uniform?
I think my main concern is that every single primary in Salford was oversubscribed last year, so chances are our first choice will be knocked back despite all this research.
Don’t forget… applications for September 2015 starts must be submitted
to your local council by January 15th at the latest, but you can submit
your choices now if you’ve already made your decision. I received a
letter last month telling me how to do it, but your local council
website will have instructions too.
So… were you this obsessed / picky / stressed out by choosing your child’s school?