Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Are We Here Already?

I went to view a primary school for My Girl this morning. The deadline for applications in North Somerset is 23rd October 09 (for admissions for next academic year) and I have to apply for three, in order of preference.

I’m viewing four schools, all of which are in close proximity (within 1600 metres) to where we live.

Two are Church of England schools, voluntary aided and small, with an intake of 30 children per year. The other two are community schools of no religious denomination with double the intake at 60 kids per year.

All have “Good” Ofsted reports – though one narrowly missed being classified “Outstanding.”

The outside playing/sport area is, I think, restricted in at least one of the primaries (we’re close to the town centre here) and outdoor activity is vital, especially to a child as active as My Girl.

Two of the schools do not have websites, which, in 2009, worries me.

Ofsted reports, proximity, technology, sport, size, religious instruction and, of course, the place she would probably be happiest: what else do I need to consider before I fill in that form? Most people say that you get a ‘feel’ for the environment and you instinctively know which school would suit your little darling.

What are your criteria for choosing a school for your child?


  1. We went with word of mouth, asking parents of kids at the various schools, before filling in the form. If the school had a sale. fete etc we went along to get a feel for the school too. We also went by gut, rather than ofsted, Having been a governer of one of our childrens schools, I have little faith in the Ofsted system or reports, there is alot of spin and use of words too. Hope that helps?? Or have I just thrown a cat amongst your already restless pigeons lol

  2. No, that's exactly the sort of feedback I'd hoped for, thanks

  3. As my namesake said, or rather referred to, do not take any notice of Ofsted. Ofsted was set up by the Tories and not only maintained but overfed by NuLabour. Even their original main man Chris Woodhead has criticised them.
    A discerning point about those that have no website in 2009.
    My advice would be ignore Ofsted, and avoid the two without a website. That gives you six weeks to track down other mums. Now you seem pretty focussed and dedicated. Best way to track them down is for you and Celeste to have an early morning walk to school gates of the two left, make discreet visual inspection of mums and kids, and chat to the mums.
    Job done x

  4. Good questions. Rosemary will be starting school next September as well, so we need to look into this. Not sure when the forms need to be filled in, but I know it's before Christmas.

    We have three schools within easy walking distance, one is the one where she goes to playgroup and has a tiny intake of 16 per year. We had assumed she'd go there, because it's really close, but apparently there are 10 siblings who will automatically get in, and there are 25 children who go to playgroup. Hmm.

    We had also been working on the assumption that small is better, but have since started to wonder about that (particularly after a friend of mine with older children has had some issues with her smaller school).

    So, we have to go and visit all the schools (and possibly some a little further - though we don't drive, so can't go too far) and try to work out what's best. The other two schools are a Catholic school (and my automatic thought is 'No way', because we are not religious at all) and a bigger school with an intake of 70 per year and two classes in each year.

    I'm interested in your points to compare and will need to make a list myself. (May well do a blog post about it myself, actually.) I can't believe it's time to think about this already!

  5. I must agree as well. I chose my school on proximity, word of mouth and gut feeling. I have some issues with the school, but my son is happy. I think proximity is hugely important, especially because it will mean your child gets to know a lot of people who live near.

  6. Thank you all so much for your responses, they really help. I think ...

    Timbone - It IS ok that I'm concerned by the lack of website, isn't it - thought I might be overreacting? Ta - and like Tim W you suggest talking to other parents - yes! Definitely.

    Tasha - I have been a bit obsessive about the size of class but now I'm not so sure. And yes, something in me aviods Catholic schools like the plague. Good luck with your search for a school, let's keep in touch about it.

    Mwa - true, she will want her friends nearby, as will I.

    Thanks again xxx