Ask to see the admission policies for your preferred schools.
Reading is one of the most important things children learn in primary school. Find out how it is taught - whether the teacher hears pupils read, and how often, or whether it is always left to classroom assistants. Find out what provision there is for both slow and advanced readers.
Local parents are great sources of information. Ask for honest feedback and recommendations. They can tell you about the standard of teaching, how bullying is dealt with, what school meals are like if they are provided.
Visit the school. Seeing a class in action is the best way of gauging what the teaching is like, and whether there is a happy, purposeful atmosphere. Little things can make a difference: for example whether the children's work is displayed on the walls.
Try and see the headteacher. Ask about their ambitions and vision for the school and the children.
Check the Ofsted reports for recent years. Schools now get a day's notice about inspections instead of several weeks or months, with the idea that this will make them reflect more on how the school runs from day to day.
Find out what extracurricular activities the school offers. They show how much effort teachers are willing to invest in their pupils.
Research which secondary schools your school feeds into, and what proportion of pupils get into their chosen secondary school.
Look at outdoor space. If there isn't much, find out if the children can use a local park or sports ground.
Class sizes may be quite large so see what provision there is for extra help. How qualified are the classroom assistants?
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