15 Things To Consider When Selecting A Primary School

Sep 25, 2019

It’s that time of year again when parents will be thinking about finding a primary school for their child.

I’m in that boat. The thing is, it’s so much easier the second time around. Less stressful. Less pressure.

I don’t have to look into which schools I can apply to. I don’t have to arrange visits to see if I like them. I don’t have to consider which three I would actually want my son to go to. Instead, I just logged on and selected the same school that his sister goes to. Obviously, I selected a second and third choice. Just in case!

But this got me thinking. What did I look for when we submitted our application for our first child? Would I use the same ones?

Here’s my list of 15 things to consider if you need to select a primary school to apply to

1. Headteacher

For me, I was looking for a Headteacher who was clearly in charge. Someone who my children would look up to. Someone who my children would feel comfortable approaching. The Headteacher is like a conductor of an orchestra. A good one creates a wonderful piece of music. A bad one just creates noise.

2. Happy children

They say, if you want to know the truth then ask a child. So as far as I’m concerned seeing happy children in the school speaks volumes. If the children are happy then the school must be an enjoyable place to learn.

3. Teachers

It’s amazing how influential a child’s teacher can be. My daughter still talks about her reception teacher even though she’s now in Year 2. I think she’ll remember her even when she’s an adult. I just wanted to get a good sense of what the teaching staff was like and that they would be genuinely interested in my children’s wellbeing as well as their education. 

4. Outdoor space

Outdoor space is really important. Children need space to play outside. Have a run about after sitting down for long periods of time. Personally, I wasn’t bothered about whether there was green space. I think this is because at my primary school we didn’t have any green space. I just wanted to know there was adequate outdoor space. 

5. School Dinners

I loved school dinners. And so my kiddies were definitely going to be having school dinners. I wanted to be sure that the food they would be getting during the day was good quality and that there would be a variety. Apparently, the mac n cheese is very good at my daughter’s school.

6. Wall displays 

Looking at the wall displays tells you a lot about the variety of what the children are learning and also whether the school is proud of displaying the children’s work. Now when I go into school, I’m always impressed with what I see. So much better than when I was in school.

7. Reception area

To start with, I was very focused on just the reception area. The reason being that this was now and also I wanted to know that my daughter would have a good first experience of school. 

Would there be a separate reception area for break time? After all, there’s a big difference between a five year old and an eleven year old. But actually, that was short sighted of me. Reception is just the first year. That’s why it’s important to consider the whole school.

8. Cleanliness of school

It’s simple. Is the school clean? Yes, this should be a given but you never know. 

9. Wraparound care

This is so important for working parents. I needed to know that I had options for breakfast and after school club. Otherwise, I would have look at alternatives like a childminder.

10. Ease of drop off and pick up 

To be honest with you, the easiest way to pick up children is if you can walk to school. 

During peak times, most school roads are very busy. So, it’s just being aware of the situation and the potential chaos that might ensue during drop off and pick up.

11. Subjects taught

I wanted to know not only the actual subjects but also the range of topics that were taught. In comparison to when I went to school, the topics are far more interesting. 

12. After school activities

I wanted to know what extracurricular activities were offered. School shouldn’t be all about the academics but getting involved in other activities. I also think that if a school is willing to offer more services then it demonstrates their commitment to its pupils.

13. School reputation in the public

This is an interesting one. When it comes to this time of year, it feels like everyone is talking about schools. Well, it does when that’s your focus. So it’s quite easy to gain a general idea as to which schools are well thought of. Whether it’s parents, past parents or neighbours.

14. Results

There are lots of stats that you can look at. There’s the Ofsted report. There are exam results. I didn’t look at these thoroughly as for me other things were more important and I knew that the schools I was looking at were good.

15. Gut feeling

At the end of the day, go with your gut feeling. It’s usually right. To be honest, I went for practicalities when I completed my form the first time around. We were allocated our third choice. It’s an awesome school and our daughter is really happy there. On reflection, I would have probably put it first if I knew then what I know now.

That’s ’15 things to consider when selecting a primary school?’ according to Mummy on a Break. 

Have you made your decision?


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