Choosing a nursery or a pre-prep school for your child can be a nerve-wracking time. Entry requirements at ages 3 or 4 years old can vary considerably. Nearly every school will now require some form of assessment before they will offer your child a place.
We asked the experts at The Independent Schools Show to share their top tips to take into consideration when choosing a school or nursery, and this is what they had to say…
Register your child early
As most nursery schools are small, it’s advisable to register your child as early as possible if you want to be on top of the waiting list.
But don’t be disheartened if you don’t get your first choice straight away. Stay in contact with the school, as a lot can change in the year between offers being made and the dates when nursery starts.
All nurseries differ in their entry requirements, timings and approach. Some nurseries, like prep schools, will only have a September intake; others will have January and September intakes; some even termly intakes. At this early age, a few months can make a huge difference in a child’s development.
Entry requirements can vary from a written report from a nursery, to a mini-assessment day complete with an individual chat and observation as part of a group. The more academic the school, the more likely they are to test each applicant.
Schools aren’t expecting your child to be reading, writing and doing long division aged three. Rather, they are looking for children that enjoy learning, retain knowledge, show signs of being confident and independent and can carry out instruction.
To learn more and speak directly to 200+ nurseries and schools, visit the Independent Schools Show on 10th & 11th November in Battersea Evolution. The Show provides you with a unique opportunity to review the plans you are making for your child’s education bringing together the country’s leading heads, schools, education and childcare experts to answers all your questions.
Questions to ask when choosing a nursery or pre-prep
Each family will have their own priorities, but over the years we have built up a list of the basic questions that parents usually ask. It’s now quite a long list, but many parents use these questions as a checklist to help them focus their search.
- Where are you located? How far is this from home? How will we get there?
- What is the size of the nursery/school?
- Is this a standalone Pre-Prep school or nursery or is it part of a larger Prep or Prep & Senior School?
- What is the staff to child ratio?
- What are the hours? How does the day work?
- What are the fees?
- Where is the school located? How far is this from home? How will we get there? Which schools do you feed (ie where do children go next)?
- What is the catchment area of the school? (where will you child’s friends live?)
- What are the hours? How does the day work? Do you offer after and before school care?
- What are the fees?
- When was the school founded?
- Do you have outdoor space?
- Are the interior spaces warm and inviting?
- Is there a good mixture of traditional and contemporary equipment?
- Please tell me about the food. Do you provide lunch?
- What are the class sizes?
- What curriculum do you follow and how do you make the days varied?
- How do you monitor each child’s progress?
- How do you provide parents with information about progress?
- Which schools do you feed?
- Who runs the nursery? What are their qualifications?
- What are the staff qualifications? How long do they remain at the nursery?
- What learning difficulties can you cope with?
- What is the settling-in process?
- How do you promote well-being and happiness?
- What happens if my child is unwell or injured?
- When should I register? When would I find out if my child has a place?
- Will I have a choice of morning or afternoon slots?
- Are there assessments, when are they and how are they conducted?
For FREE tickets and more information visit www.schoolsshow.co.uk.