The next milestone in your child’s development as they progress from the Pre-School setting to Reception class, or from Infants to Juniors, is an exciting time. Choosing the right school with a nurturing environment is so important in supporting your little one in becoming a happy and engaged learner.
Reasons for choosing a school vary from family to family but there are some key areas worth thinking about when making your choice. It is important to remember that finding a primary school place that’s the right fit for your family goes beyond Ofsted reports or ISI reports, therefore it can be useful to compile a checklist for choosing a school that is based on your personal expectations and needs.
What suits your child?
Small class sizes enable your child to make a smooth transition into a new school environment. With fewer pupils per class, teachers have the time to get to know each child as an individual and can better support their progress and wellbeing.
Settling in time will help your child adjust to the structure of classroom learning. At The Elms, exciting activities both inside and outside the classroom during the first few weeks of term allow pupils to make friends and form relationships with teachers naturally. A fun introduction to school gives children the confidence they need to get started on their school journey.
For children with specific passions or talents, choose a school that is well equipped and experienced at helping pupils flourish in these areas, whether that is through an excellent music provision, quality sports coaching or inspiring academic teachers.
A Broad Curriculum
Do your research on the curriculum and teaching methods that are employed throughout the whole school journey. During Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2, a balance between academic learning and opportunities outside the academic can allow your child to discover new interests and develop essential life skills. A varied curriculum creates well-rounded individuals. Drama and Art aid creativity and self-expression, while PE encourages an active lifestyle.
Private schools like The Elms are not confined by the National Curriculum, preferring to see its content as a starting point for children. Teachers have the flexibility to go further and tailor their subjects to the needs and interests of the children they teach.
Find out as much as you can about the teachers at the school. What level of experience do they have? Are they a specialist in their subject area? Specialist teachers are an integral part of The Elms’ curriculum with specialist teaching enhancing Music, Sport, Drama, Modern Foreign Languages, Art, Design & Technology and ICT. This allows children to experience the highest level of teaching in these subject areas.
Site and Facilities
Children need space to grow. In addition to the school playgrounds, find out what other additional outside activities are offered to pupils, such as Forest School, sport and outdoor learning. A love of the outdoors provides so many opportunities for children to learn and flourish. It is so important for children to get out of the classroom regularly both for healthy habits, wellbeing and for enjoyment.
We are very fortunate at The Elms to sit within a 45 acre campus which includes a dedicated woodland space for Forest Schools; delivered as part of our core curriculum in Pre-School and beyond. Some schools provide weekly swimming lessons, at The Elms our onsite swimming pool provides the opportunity for weekly lessons from age 6. Our sports provision is also vast with sports coaching and activities far beyond the PE curriculum.
Before and After School
The balance of work and childcare can be a stretch for busy families. If this sounds relatable, the provision of before and after school care is an important factor when comparing primary school places. At The Elms, wrap-around care is an ideal option for working parents. The breakfast club starts from 7.30am or morning care from 8am, there is also after school care between the hours of 3.15pm and 6.00pm where pupils can take part in enjoyable, supervised activities with their friends. An extensive after school club programme, available from Reception, provides opportunities for children to discover new hobbies.
Primary school admissions processes for state schools and private schools are different. At The Elms, we welcome registrations for primary school places all year round, though we encourage you to apply for a school place as early as possible to ensure availability.
The best way to get a true feel for a school is to visit in person either at an Open Day or by arranging a personal tour. When exploring schools, make sure you tour all areas, see lessons in action and speak with pupils and staff, to experience school-life in full. Unfortunately, in these unprecedented times, school visits are not possible, therefore decision making is harder. Ask the schools you are interested in if they have a school video or virtual tour that you can view. Utilising online conferencing facilities with the Admissions team and teaching staff could also give you a better feel for the school ethos and community.