How to choose your child’s first school during Coronavirus
It’s the time of year when many parents of nursery-aged children start to think about which schools they are going to apply to for September 2021. Every school comes with their own unique offer and characteristics, just like your child. So how do you make the decision about which school to choose and how do you do it this year, when many schools are not able to conduct their usual tours and open days?
This year more than ever, research is critical. A great way to start is to ask your child’s nursery or child minder which schools they recommend. They’ve often built relationships with schools and families over the years and can give you some useful insights. If you’re not sure which schools are in your area, you can use the North Yorkshire Admissions website to find a list of schools.
Follow this up by reading the school websites. Many schools are not able to give face-to-face tours this year and have put virtual tours on their websites. Take some time to go through the pages on the website to get a good flavour of the school – look out for the curriculum, the ethos and values page and anything else that is especially important to you such as sports, outdoor facilities, before and after school care arrangements or special educational needs provision.
A lot of schools are now using social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) which show what goes on in the school day to day. If you find accounts for schools you are interested in, follow them for a couple of months to get a feel for the type of work and activities that go on in the school.
2. Visit if you can…
This is so hard this year but do try to go visit the school if they are doing tours. If you can’t make an appointment to visit the school, the next best thing can be to go for a walk past the school. Sometimes it can be useful to do this at pick-up or drop-off time then you can see the school in full flow, see it busy and alive with children and families. For more details on local Primary School Open Days see Mumbler’s latest blog.
3. Friends and Family Reviews
Do you have a friend with children in the schools you are interested in? Do you trust their opinion? Do they value the same things you do? Getting first-hand advice from families at the schools you’re interested in will help you decide if they’re the school for you and your child.
Do the values of the school match your own? School’s must publish their ethos and values statement on the website. This is often overlooked but it is actually really important to your choice because everything the school does should be built on those values. Look at the behaviour policy on the website – does it reflect your own parenting values and what you want for your child?
Every school will have its own curriculum built around the National Curriculum. This is the minimum that schools must teach but most schools will enhance and enrich the National Curriculum with learning they believe is vital for their pupils. At Coppice Valley, the development of the whole child, expanding horizons and wellbeing are a core part of our curriculum. We teach our children to be resilient, perseverant, kind and thoughtful. We learn about mental and physical health. We teach about diversity, equality and how to be a good citizen of the world. We build in key experiences into our curriculum, called “The Coppice 50”, to inspire our pupils and introduce them to a wide range of activities from theatre trips, camp-outs, star-gazing and public speaking to first aid skills and getting involved in local politics. Try to find out if the curriculum of the school meets your expectations as a parent or will suit the needs of your child.
6. Your Child
Will this school be the right place for your child? Perhaps your child is quiet and reserved or outgoing and boisterous? Will the school setting and atmosphere match your child’s personality? For many, outdoor space and a commitment to learning outside is vital. For others, a strong technology offer or libraries and a reading culture is essential for their child. If your child has special needs, does the school have the resources your child needs?
Having done all your research and visits, if you can, take some time to reflect. Where can you see your child, and yourself, feeling happy, safe and valued? Choosing your child’s school may seem overwhelming during these difficult times but try not worry too much. Ultimately, you are the expert on your child and if you’ve done your homework, you won’t go wrong. To apply for your school place, use the North Yorkshire Admissions site and remember to have your admission completed by 15th January 2021. Good Luck!
Written by Emma Meadus – Head Teacher at Coppice Valley Primary School.
Call 01423 563760 for a tour of the school with the Head Teacher for September 2021 places.