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Choosing a school

Boardgamemums October 13, 2021 14:37

Our LO has been with us 8 months and we are already being thrown into primary school choices. We have 6 good schools in our area, all fairly similar. We have narrowed it down to 2. Do we go with:

Option 1 - is just 5 minutes walk away, has a "no shame" discipline policy that focuses first on "making it right" and then on "consequence mapping", has a SENCO that did her masters dissertation on trauma and attachment in education and was able to give several examples of how theory was being applied in the school. She had also read adoption friendly school books and seemed amenable to the idea of a key adult being assigned to DS as an attachment figure. But this school has a poor ofsted report (2017) and outcomes below national average.

Option 2 - 25 mins walk away, discipline policy is "positive discipline", but when reading it this comes across as a huge emphasis on praise, with sanctions for backup. SENCO has had some attachment training but not as able to give examples of how this is currently applied, PP money ringfenced for the specific child. This school has an outstanding ofsted report (2017) and continually performs above national average.

Both offer nurture groups and have good additional support in terms of support/mentors.

DS struggles with shame, praise and emotional regulation and attachment still very new and scary for him. OH is worried that option 1 has a good SENCO but that is only 1 person and what if she leaves.

This seems like such a big decision, I keep having to remind myself we are lucky and that both of these are good options. It is just a case of what do we prioritise.

Safia October 13, 2021 18:56

Personally I’d go for the first one. 5 mins away is perfect for a primary school and means you are in the heart of the school community and probably living locally to so many people. The SENCO sounds brilliant - yes she is just one person but in a role where she should have a lot of influence on the school ethos and training. Shame free discipline policy also sounds really positive and important for children where shame is a likely factor. No idea what consequence mapping is but I presume it’s the opposite from knee jerk menu of punishments? I know below national average doesn’t sound good but maybe it’s a reflection of welcoming a more diverse intake? That would be my thinking anyway and we did go for a school 5 mins away which was great for the kids and whenever we went to the local park there were always people we knew from school and we always had people to walk home with too

chestnuttree October 13, 2021 19:00

Why does option 1 underperform? What does the Ofsted report say? Is it poor leadership, poor teaching or do they have a different intake than option 2 (eg. less tutoring, etc)? I don't think I would be too concerned about the SENCO leaving, because the school will not unlearn what she has brought in the minute she leaves. Their approach to discipline sounds good and she won't be the only one who knows about attachment in that school.

If your child struggles with praise and shame, then option 2 does not really sound like an option. It is great that they ringfence the funding for the particular child, how do they actually use it?

Miatiger October 15, 2021 23:45

In our experience. The most important thing is how well trained and knowledgeable the class teacher is. They will have the day to day interaction with your child. You can have a great SENCO but it’s how that learning gets passed down. Attachment knowledge is key.In addition, ring fenced funding is essential as many schools pool funding across a number of children. If you can get a school to commit to a dedicated attachment figure that also is a big plus. Avoid any public shaming behaviour policies .I.e use of rainbows, stars on walls or names on boards. They need to understand how to create boundaries with a child who has attachment difficulties.

Serrakunda27 October 17, 2021 12:00

Firstly I wouldnt attach too much weight to an ofsted reports from 2017, the schools may well have changed considerably, particularly thr underperforming one.

secondly, the SENCO, and class teachers are working in an ethos which is set by the head teacher. You can have the most amazing SEnco and class teacher, but if they dont have the support of the head they are severely hampered. So in that sense the Senco is not just one person.

I’d go with the first school, and did similar with my son.


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