Primary school places were allocated on Monday and I sincerely hope that you got the place that you were hoping for, but if you didn’t, please don’t panic!
If you were allocated your local catchment school and you didn’t want it then consider booking another school visit before you appeal (you can find contact details for all Crawley primary schools here). This may help you alleviate any concerns and you may decide that your local school is actually right for your child. Furthermore, the chances are that other children that live close by will also go to the same school, allowing you to get to know your neighbours and local community, which is actually a really valuable aspect of primary school.
If you decide that your allocated school really isn’t the right one for your child then you can begin the appeal process via the West Sussex County Council website here. (By law, if you are refused a place at your preferred school, you have the right to appeal against that decision to an independent panel).
If you are happy with your school place allocation and you want to find out more about your school, then I would recommend joining the “New Starters” Facebook group (or setting one up if there isn’t one already). People have been sharing which school their little one got into in the Crawley Mumbler Chat Group, so some of the new starter groups are available in the comments (it’s the pinned post in the group).
It can feel a bit awkward getting involved at the beginning. Unfortunately there’s no easy way to do it. You just have to take a deep breath, post a message on the Facebook new starters group, plaster a big smile on your face when you enter the playground and try to chat to as many other parents as you can.
If there isn’t a meet up arranged for new starters during the summer holidays then I’d suggest that you arrange one. It doesn’t have to be complex or expensive – you could just arrange to meet in a park with a picnic. Again it may feel a bit forced and like you are the new kid yourself having to make friends with the other parents, however it is worth the effort for your child (and you!) to know some familiar faces before the big day, and it will make those first few days at big school so much easier.
Whilst some of you will have children who are ready and desperate to start school already, some of you may be concerned about how to get your 4 or 5 year old “school ready”.
Lucy Patrick is a ex-primary school headteacher and owner of North Kirklees Mumbler. In this guest blog she tells you about how you can support your child in the months prior to September as the start of their Reception year approaches.
“Independence, Independence, Independence”
Children are so able. They have skills and abilities that amaze us on a daily basis. Their resourcefulness and creativity far exceeds that of adults and their ability to problem solve is simply incredible.
So why, despite all this, can the majority of children not put on their own shoes and coats by the time they begin school?
My opinion? Because we don’t let them. We don’t expect them too and, dare I say it, we don’t realise that they can.
I was in the library recently leading a craft session with some mask making. My instinct as a teacher is always to look for the learning taking place in any activity, so, as usual I stood back and observed for a short while. Many of the children were happily scribbling and cutting out their masks to various degrees of accuracy. Alternately, one child had a beautifully -made mask, cut out perfectly and ready on a stick for her to wear as she left the library; her mum had done the lot. That little girl had been given no chance to practise holding scissors, choose colours or use some fine motor movements by carefully colouring inside the lines; a wasted opportunity. I hope that I can convince you here that one of the best ways you can prepare your child for school is actually by doing less for them.
For children starting school, one of the key factors in readiness is their level of independence. If you bring up your child to make choices and think critically this will have hugely positive impact on their learning from a young age. They will be able to access the school learning environment well, choose appropriate resources and overcome barriers without the need for adult intervention.
Over the coming months, slow down! Find time to:
- Begin a before-bedtime routine of packing a bag (with, not for your child) for the next day. Doing this now forms a habit which will reap reward when school starts, making mornings less pressured. Encourage your child to make decisions about what should be added by talking about where you will be going, what kind of weather is expected etc. It won’t be long before they will be doing this with minimum intervention.
- Guide them to choose their clothes for the next day and lay them out on the floor, ready for them to attempt to put on in the morning. Let them dress as much as they can instead of dressing them yourself. It is entirely possible for a four year old to completely dress themselves if they have done from a young age.
- Insist that they help tidy away after playing with their toys. There is much valuable learning to be had in terms of sorting, plus you are teaching them to look after and respect their environment. A significant amount of time is spent on establishing routines in a Reception Class at the beginning of the academic year and tidying up is a key part of this.
- Ask them to set the table and help clear away at mealtimes. Let them pour their own drink.
- Give them thinking time after you have asked them a question. This will help develop them as critical thinkers. Answering your own question before giving them chance to will not. It’s surprising how many people seem to talk on behalf of their children.
Making just a few extra minutes every day to support your child in one of these ways will almost certainly have positive impact in a short space of time and increase their level of independence, and independent children make strong learners. Fact.