Choosing a school for your child

Thursday 7 October 2021

Choosing a school for your child.

Choosing a school for your child can be an anxious time for many, as you want to make the right choice which will result in your child being happy and achieving.  With the admissions criteria for previously looked after children allowing parents to look outside of their catchment area, it can cause some parents to feel overwhelmed. 

Start early.

It’s never too early to start to consider/research schools for your child.  Academic information such as Ofsted reports are obviously important, however looking for a nurturing and understanding environment in which your child can thrive is equally important. Parent/carer forums can also provide useful information and be a good starting point.

Request a visit

Contact the school and request a visit with the Designated Teacher, as they are responsible for promoting the educational achievement of previously looked-after pupils. If your child has additional needs then it would be beneficial to request a meeting with the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (S.E.N.C.O) Share your child’s needs with them and discuss how can they best support them.

Before visiting, make a priority list of what is really important to you and your child.  By completing this with your child they will feel included and their opinions valued. Policies, academic results and class sizes are all important but what might be important to your child may be different. They may want to know: how much space is there at break times? What choices do they have at lunch? Do they run after school clubs? On your list decide what your non-negotiables are and work from there. Once you have a really clear idea of what it is you want, it will make it easier to compare options or decide if a school really is the right one for your child.

When viewing a school, think about how does it feel? Are there welcoming, enthused staff, displays with lovely examples of the children’s valued work?

Pupil Premium Plus

When having discussions with the Designated teacher ask how they spend the Pupil Premium Plus.  They may answer by saying they put it towards extra staff in classrooms/use it for intervention groups/spend it on training specific to the needs of vulnerable children. They may suggest they are open to discussions with parents on how the money may be best spent. One thing to be aware of, though: while schools are entitled to use PP plus money as they think best, they’re also required to produce data to prove that they’re raising the attainment of the children who attract this funding and they’re required to make this information available on their websites.

Ask about the school’s behaviour and homework policy.

Two areas which may be important to discuss is what is the schools behaviour policy and do they work on the theory that ‘one size fits all’ and what is the policy on homework. Lately some schools are changing their behaviour policies to what is known as emotional regulation policies, which demonstrates a good understanding that all behaviour is a form of communication. Regarding homework, some children find it difficult to complete homework at home as they can view school is the only place that they have to complete such work.  Some schools understand this and run homework clubs in order to take any pressures away from home-life.

 Health and wellbeing

Another potential area to discuss is how the school supports children’s mental health and well-being.  This has become increasingly important since the impact of the pandemic on children’s lives. Some schools have introduced Forest schools or interventions such as the Thrive approach which all help children with their well-being.

Transition is a really important element as you want your child to settle in the school successfully. Ask the school how they help with this, do they have enhanced transition where there is several opportunities to view the school?

For further support with choosing a school, please click here or contact our Education support advisor Leanne Albeson at Adoption Tees Valley.