Our tips will help you and your family prepare for a visit to your child's new school.
1. Make a note of the questions you want to ask
It's a good idea to sit down before the visit and think carefully about the questions you would like to ask. You may want to write these down so you don't forget them. The questions will depend on your child, but you may want to know about:
- school staff
- teaching and support
- children at the school
- specialist support for children with complex learning disabilities
- specialist equipment
- out of school activities
- transport to and from the school
2. Talk about your child and their needs
Don't forget the staff at the school will also want to know about your child, for example,what nursery or schools they have been to, what type of special educational needs they have and what you are looking for in a school.
I came to the parent partnership service to get them to take me around the schools.
3. Get support for the visit
You may also want to take someone with you for support during the visit, such as a partner, friend or relative. If you do not have anyone to go with you, but you would like some support, you can speak to the parent partnership service,. They can help you put together your questions and contact you afterwards to see how the visit went.
4. Take a good look around
Make sure you have a good look around during your visit, and ask to see the buildings and the playground. See if you can get a feel of the school, its general atmosphere and whether it feels positive and welcoming. Try to imagine your child in these surroundings – you need to feel comfortable that they will fit in and have their needs met. You also need to feel confident about the attitude and skills of the staff, and how flexible they will be when working with your child. You should also check how well-equipped the school is, for example, how many computers there are, or whether there are facilities such as a changing table available.
5. Ask for a prospectus
A prospectus is a booklet that contains information about a school and the courses and opportunities it provides for its pupils. Most schools will have a prospectus or some written information for parents which you can take home and look at after your visit.
We are lucky that he now has two wonderful learning support assistants, a form teacher and head teacher who all work with us to ensure he has a meaningful education and that every opportunity is given to him.
6. Talk to a parent of a child already at the school
This will give you a chance to find out about someone else's experiences of the school, any problems they have had and how happy they are with the education their child is receiving. This is particularly useful if they have a child with a learning disability or similar needs to your son or daughter. You could also ask to speak to a parent governor from the school to discuss your situation.
7. Think carefully about your decision
After you have visited a school you will need some time to think about all the information you have received before deciding if it is right for your child or whether you need to visit any other schools. You may want to talk this through with someone else, for example a friend, advocate or professional.