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What to look for in a Primary School Visit

Choosing the right primary school for your child is one of the hardest decisions for any family. At such a young age you are deciding the next 7 years of your child’s school life. Everybody has a different set of criteria in terms of what they are looking for in a school. However, most parents and grandparents want to ensure their child achieves the following:

  • Happiness
  • Academic Excellence
  • Creativity
  • Confidence
  • Resilience

and probably most importantly to instill a love of learning that leads to academic success.

There are several key things to look for when choosing the right primary school for your child:

  1. Open days/mornings are great but to get a true feel for the school, visit again during a normal school day. See the children in the classroom environment, do the pupils look happy and engaged in the lessons, are they working in teams, are they inquisitive? Observe a break time, are the children being kind and respectful, is there any bad behaviour and if so, is it dealt with both quickly and efficiently. Do they walk around school calmly and well behaved? Are they good ambassadors of their school? Do they wear the uniform with pride? Did you feel welcome when you first entered the school?
  2. Look at the displays, they can give a good indication of what the children are working on in class. Do the displays celebrate the pupils’ work and achievements, are they interactive?
  3. Ask questions, how does the school support high or low achievers, is there a parent / pupil survey which you can look at, where do children normally go to secondary school afterwards, is there morning and/or after school provision etc.
  4. Find out if the school offers extracurricular clubs. If a school has a wide variety of both lunchtime and after school clubs this can really add to a child’s school experience, and is a sign of committed and passionate teachers, who will want to go the extra mile to support your child’s educational journey.
  5. Study the schools’ website. Is there information on there about the school’s ethos and values? If so, do you agree with them? Read their latest OFSTED/ISI report. Does the school have regular newsletters, it may be useful to have a look through recent ones as this will give you an insight into daily school life, are the children’s achievements celebrated frequently? Check out the school calendar, is it filled with different trips and excursions? All these will enrich a child’s learning.

As well as considering the factors above, it is also important to trust your instincts when choosing the right primary school. Nothing beats the feel-good factor when you walk round somewhere. Primary schools can be a fantastic experience for both you and your family; great relationships, academic excellence, and a love of learning which will continue to grow.

The deadline for Primary School Applications for September 2020 is the 15th January 2020.

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The Benefits of Small Class Sizes

Your child is about to start their school journey, seven years at Primary and then onto the world of Secondary. Choosing which school for your child is an incredibly important decision and can seem daunting. There are many questions to ask including:

  • Will they receive an excellent education?
  • Will they be encouraged to be creative?
  • Will they learn resilience and how to get along with their peers?
  • Will they have fun?
  • Will they have opportunities to explore music and dance in extracurricular activities?
  • Will they be happy?

There are many areas to consider and compare when making the decision, one of these is the size of the classes.

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. The average class size for primary schools is 27.1 pupils. However, the 2017 Government figures revealed that there were over half a million primary school pupils in classes of 31-35 children. In addition, 39,088 primary children were in classes of 36 or more pupils, and of these, 16,571 children in classes with 40 or more pupils.

At Hopelands Preparatory School we keep our classes small – at an average of just 12 pupils per class. Being a small, happy primary school, we are dedicated in enabling all our children to achieve their full potential.

Here are 7 reasons why your child could benefit from smaller class sizes.

  1. More attention from the teacher

The fewer pupils there are in a class, the more time and attention the teacher can give each one. A teacher will have more opportunity to get to know their pupils, observe how they work and help them improve on their weaknesses. All our teachers get to know each child personally and make a positive contribution to their development. This is not so easy in larger classes as any specific weaknesses or lack of confidence can go unnoticed for a longer period.

  1. Better academic results

Research has been carried out that links smaller class sizes to achieving greater academic results. Here at Hopelands School we seek out the innate talents in each child and provide additional assistance and encouragement where needed. In the last 2 years we have had an average of 95% of our pupils go on to one of the many excellent local Grammar Schools. For a non-selective independent school, we believe that this says a great deal about the quality of our teaching and learning.

  1. Quieter classes

The more children in a class, the noisier it becomes. For some children this can be a real distraction and can lead to many disruptions of the lesson being taught. We believe a lesson should be focused on learning and ensuring the children understand what is being taught rather than becoming distracted.

  1. Pupil confidence

With smaller class sizes pupils feel more confident to put their hand up and ask questions. They feel more at ease contributing their own ideas and feel less intimidated if they do not understand something. This helps strengthen a teacher and pupil relationship and the pupil becomes more engaged in the learning. In larger class sizes, it is easier to ‘hide’ behind the other pupils which could lead to not being able to understand the lesson or they could become bored which can lead to disruptive behaviour.

  1. Social benefits

Being at school is not just about how well you achieve academically. It is also about learning positive social skills. At Hopelands School we work to build resilience, this is achieved through our secure environment which promotes positive attitudes in every child, so they feel able to take risks and become more confident. We also believe in respect; manners are very important to us and each child is taught to be respectful and courteous to each other and staff. All of this will translate positively into the workplace later in life.

  1. Tailored instruction

With larger class sizes it can be incredibly difficult for a teacher to keep all the pupils fully engaged as their range of abilities could be extreme. With smaller class sizes a teacher will be able to tailor the way they teach to suit the abilities of all the individuals in the class and not just those who need the most help. At Hopelands Preparatory School, when we identify an extra learning need, we have the facilities to break into smaller groups to be able to focus on a specific area.

  1. Being able to teach!

Behind every teacher sits a mountain of administration work. Lesson planning, marking work, sourcing educational events and numerous administration tasks. Being a teacher isn’t just about teaching. In larger class sizes, the actual teaching can become sidelined for all their other non-teaching tasks. The benefits of having a smaller class size enables the teacher to spend more time focused on doing the job they signed up for – being able to teach!

 

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Letter of appreciation from our 2017 leavers

Below is a letter from the 2017 leavers to our Sports teacher here at Hopelands

THANK YOU so, so, so much you are the most amazing teacher and you have taught me so well. I didn’t realise just how much of a brilliant teacher you were until I came here to my secondary school. None of the teachers are a spot on you, I hope you are proud of yourself. All three of us from Hopelands are getting involved in the sports teams and are in A team for netball, A / B team for hockey and have had an email about competing at an indoor athletics tournament. I am going to the Tewksbury Cross country event and that is from you doing all the cross country with us (those killer hills) has made me such a better runner! The running at our school you would be appalled at – we don’t do any!! But because of you, I have been inspired to run at weekends – all because of you! I would like to thank you on behalf of all of the 2017 leavers and hope you carry on being AMAZING and as inspirational as you are!!

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Reception school places – a nervous wait

It is nearly that time of year when thousands of children across the UK will find out which school they have been offered. Back in January Gloucestershire parents hastily added their application for first, second, third, fourth or even fifth choice for Gloucestershire primary schools. With many hoping to get their first or at least second choice others are worried that they may get their fifth choice. School places are very sought after with only 1 in 4 children getting their first choice of school in some areas in 2017.

So, what happens on Monday 16th April when you receive that email or letter to inform you where your child of 3 or 4 has been allocated for their primary school place? Will there be elation because you have been offered the school that you wanted or will you be distraught as you didn’t get your first or second choice but your third, fourth or even fifth and you didn’t really want them anyway, or even worst you didn’t get any of the choices you made. Don’t panic, it may feel like the end of the world to you, but it’s not, there are several options including:

  1. Accept the school you have been given – many people find that once their child starts school they realise it was the best school for them.
  2. Decline your place and ask to be reconsidered for another one of your choices.
  3. Decline your place and ask to be added to the waiting list for your preferred school.
  4. Accept your place but ask to still be considered for one of your preferred choices.
  5. Appeal to the council for your preferred choice and go through the appeal process which takes place in June or July 2018 – more information about appeals can be found here: https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/education-and-learning/school-admissions/information-on-admission-appeals/

When you are appealing remember there could be several people in the same position as you so it is key to think about the following:

  1. Consider the grounds upon which you want to appeal. Ensure your reasons are as strong as they can be, putting emphasis on the strongest argument first.
  2. Ensure you collate as much supporting evidence as you can to substantiate your appeal.
  3. Medical and Social Reasons which have arisen since the original application must be supported by evidence (e.g. doctor’s letter).
  4. Preparation is key, make sure you are fully aware of what you want to say to the panel and that everyone who is attending with you has the same idea.

All the options above are for the state system in Gloucestershire, have you ever considered an Independent school? Many parents are put off even looking at Independent schooling due to the perceived cost. However, many people fail to realise that there is a lot of support available for families who wish to consider Independent schooling for their children and the perceived cost is not always as much as you think. Hopelands Preparatory School in Stonehouse is exceptional value in comparison to many other Independent schools whilst still offering all the same added benefits. We also firmly believe that families should not be restricted by their financial circumstances and that a child’s attendance at the School should be an option for all and therefore the School offers a limited number of means tested assisted places, more information on our bursaries can be found here: https://hopelands.org.uk/hps/school-care-and-clubs/bursaries-and-public-benefits/.

Finally, we’d like to wish everyone the best of luck for Monday 16th April and hope you receive the school place you have been hoping for. If the result is not as you would have hoped we also want to reassure you that there are other options for you. As well as offering exceptional value at our small, happy school we are also dedicated to enabling each child to achieve their full potential. We create a nurturing, supportive environment that will enable all children to become resilient, confident young people. Our website www.Hopelands.org.uk has lots of information about our school including the Curriculum, History and Ethos, Pastoral and Enrichment and especially pertinent to new reception children information about the Early Years Foundation Stage.

Please do get in touch with us on 01453 822164 if you have any more questions or contact us to book an appointment at our Open Morning taking place on Friday 2nd March between 09:30am – 12noon.

 

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