I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.

Choosing A Primary School: A Teacher’s Guide For Parents

Let’s explore what makes a great primary school. It’s important to note that it isn’t just what the Ofsted reports say. While the inspectorate places a great emphasis on data progression in maths and literacy, children are much more than mere figures in these subjects. A school that is deemed "outstanding" solely based on results in these areas may not offer a well-rounded and enriching curriculum that brings out the best in every child. Therefore, it’s essential to look beyond the "outstanding" label and consider whether the school provides a balanced and diverse learning experience.

While SATs may seem like the ultimate measure of a child’s chances in life and a reflection of the school’s quality, most teachers would disagree. SATs only reflect a small fraction of what children learn, and their importance is often overemphasized, especially in comparison to subjects such as music, PE, and art.

One crucial factor in determining whether a primary school is right for your child is whether they will be happy there. Every school has a unique ambiance, and if it doesn’t feel right to you, it probably isn’t right for your child. Check whether the school provides additional assets such as an art studio or a playground that fosters creativity. There needs to be a balance between curriculum-based learning and other activities that children enjoy to stay engaged.

When you visit the school, always try to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the receptionist. It’s an excellent opportunity to gauge the school’s atmosphere and staff’s mannerisms. Don’t be afraid to ask the headteacher pertinent questions, but make sure you don’t overwhelm her with too many. Take in the environment and see whether there are any restrictions on where you can go during the tour. It’s essential to observe the surroundings to determine if it meets the conducive learning environment criteria.

The lobby is an excellent place to pick up small cues to determine how the school operates. If you see children running around and there are no staff members to monitor their activities, it suggests a lax approach towards discipline. On the other hand, if the children are engaged in worthwhile activities, it hints that the school encourages a responsible attitude.

Lastly, the classroom is where the magic happens. It’s a great place to see how the curriculum is taught and how children interact with their learning environment. Observe whether the classroom flows naturally, and there is no clutter or outdated materials lying about. The teacher should exude confidence and demonstrate an astute decision-making ability while making sure his or her colleagues feel confident in their individual roles.

In conclusion, when looking for a primary school for your child, consider whether the school focuses on fostering a balanced and diverse learning experience, maintains a conducive learning environment, provides opportunities for creative learning, and offers engaging extracurricular activities.

As an observer visiting a primary school, it’s important to keep in mind that teachers may be on their best behavior, but it’s best not to take it personally if they don’t seem to notice you. With so much on their plate, it’s understandable. However, pay attention to their stress levels as a healthy working relationship between school staff is usually evident when everyone makes an effort to greet each other in a friendly manner.

If you notice staff greeting one another, be impressed. Ask about their duration at the school, as this could be a sign of major changes and unpopular decisions that caused staff to leave. It’s important to recognize how this impacts school morale, and ultimately student performance.

When interacting with students, it’s important to refrain from asking if they like school since most students will likely respond with a resounding "yes." Instead, ask about their writing target. Even students with differing abilities have writing targets. Their reactions to this question can tell a lot about how well the school’s writing policy is working out.

In the end, most primary schools are welcoming environments that exude positive energy, making it challenging to choose one. If you’re not feeling that vibe, however, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. As a primary school teacher in the southwest of England, I understand the importance of finding the right school for you.


  • emmetthouse

    Emmett House is a 29 yo school teacher and blogger who is passionate about education. He has a vast amount of experience in the field and is always eager to share his insights with others. Emmett is a dedicated teacher who truly cares about his students' success. He is also an expert on using technology in the classroom, and is always looking for new ways to engage his students.

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