How to Choose a Primary or Prep School
Early Year’s education builds a vital foundation for a child’s future success, both in and outside of school. At Long Close School, Slough’s only independent school for children aged 2-16 years, our pupils learn the skills of reading, writing and maths, as well as how to explore, socialise, be creative and gain an understanding about the world around them.
With the COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacting the progress of our youngest children (Read the Juniper Education Report Feb 2021 here), choosing the right school for your child has never been more important. So, what should parents be thinking about or looking into during these unusual times to ensure they have the best start?
Mrs Carpenter, our Head of Early Years and Reception, has a few top tips to help make a hard decision a little easier.
Do Your Research
Looking for the right school can be overwhelming from website searching, listening to other parents, reading inspection reports and looking at academic results. Whereas no school should be judged entirely on their results, it is a great place to start to see the academic achievement of the children, especially if a school publishes their results in comparison to National Averages. Here are Long Close School’s results.
Have a look also at a school’s Aims and Ethos before getting in touch with the school. Does it match what you hope for your child? When contacting the school, listen to answers carefully to see if it matches what they write on their website; click here to read Long Close School’s.
At Long Close School, our vibrant community, with its small class sizes and excellent teaching, encourages each child to develop a love of learning, achieve their full potential and nurtures their wellbeing. A combination of our broad and rich curriculum, excellence in Digital literacy and online education, comprehensive enrichment programme and specialist teaching, ensures our provision builds a strong foundation for your child’s Senior School years.
How has the School Managed Lockdown Learning and How Will They Catch Up?
How a school transitioned to remote learning can tell a lot about the school’s vision and ability to adapt to changing circumstances. Look also at the provision that was offered to support the children’s wellbeing and enrichment activities provided beyond the curriculum.
At Long Close School, all pupils in Year 3 and above receive their own laptop for schoolwork. This creates a seamless transition for pupils during all circumstances.
One of our Prep School parents commented: “Despite having to teach remotely, the teachers continue to challenge students and keep them busy throughout the lessons. We are very pleased with the quality of the lessons, both face to face and online, and how the teachers are able to identify my child’s development needs, helping him to work through his improvement areas.”
At Long Close School, lockdown did not slow down pupil progress in their learning. We did not see it as a barrier but as an opportunity to be creative with our teaching. From day one, we embraced the digital world of teaching and ensured that our pupils followed the full curriculum, including specialist lessons in Science, Creativity, PE, Spanish, Music and Computer Science, as well as Mathematics and English. Pupils were also invited to participate in online enrichment activities and enter School, local and National competitions to deepen their understanding of a subject.
On our return to school, individual assessments and personalised learning plans ensure that our pupils still achieve their full potential, and meet or exceed age related progress, skills and expectations.
At the end of Spring Term 1, 94% of our Year 5 children were working at or above their expected level in English and Maths.
The wellbeing of our pupils and families is a top priority at Long Close School as a happy child is a successful learner. During lockdown, pupils started each day with a relaxed and informal form time with their friends and teacher and were also invited for weekly wellbeing check-ins. Parents were invited to regular online coffee mornings with our Heads of School to maintain contact with the school and other parents. Our Prep and Senior children also enjoyed “Virtual Playground and Hangout Sessions”. Supervised by teachers, these sessions were purely for fun and connection to ensure pupils continued to see their friends and maintain friendships.
Another of our Prep School parents commented: “My son’s teacher has been committed to providing quality teaching during the lockdown, providing full lessons and timely feedback. She is always available for questions and answers them promptly. “
Meet the Headteacher and Head of School
A good headteacher will see meeting with parents as a vital part of the decision-making process and will meet with every parent and pupil. They will be able to communicate the vision and fundamental principles of their school and love to celebrate the school’s achievements.
At Long Close School, all parents are offered the opportunity to meet with the Headteacher prior to accepting a place at the School. Our Heads of School (Early Years, Prep and Senior) are also available to meet either virtually or face-to-face for questions.
How do they deliver the curriculum?
In Reception classes, children are involved in developing the themes and subjects for their curriculum through our child-led approach. As children learn about subjects they are genuinely interested in, they are more engaged and retain their learning. This style of teaching also creates confidence in children and a genuine love of learning. To read more about our incredible child-led approach, read this article written by our Head of Early Years, Mrs Carpenter.
When children move from Reception into Year 1, they are confident learners who are well equipped to start the Prep School curriculum of length and breadth, with a continued emphasis on creativity, questioning and independent thinking. The 11+ curriculum is also embedded from Year 1.
Do they offer “specialist teaching”?
Early Years teachers are wonderful at bringing learning to life but imagine if your child had specialist teachers in PE, Music, Dance and Forest School from their first day. This specialist teaching accelerates learning and enables children to exceed in their Early Learning Goals. At Long Close School, all pupils in Reception have access to specialist subjects in a wide range of areas so they can explore all their talents and connect with the global and creative world around them.
Is outdoor learning important?
Outdoor learning is vital for children to both encourage an active lifestyle and to develop their communication and problem-solving skills. It enables them to make sense of the world and develop an understanding of how things work. Ask how much time your child will get to explore the outdoor world? Is it an all-weather area? What do they learn? Watch our Forest School video here.
At Long Close School not only do all Prep School children enjoy time to play outside in our generous outdoor play area, but Reception children also enjoy weekly Forest School classes in our purpose-built Forest School classroom, using natural resources to supplement learning in Mathematics, Science or English. So, whatever the weather, our children can be found outside jumping, skipping, digging for minibeasts, building dens, making music, reading or sitting and listening to stories!
As your child progresses into the higher years, they will also have opportunities to participate at team and wellbeing building courses at Cognita’s Active Learning Group’s Outward-Bound Centre at Cuffley. Read more details here.
Does the school inspire a love of reading?
Long Close School is extremely proud to be the only independent school in the UK to obtain Read Write Inc. Model School status. Reading is a vital part of the foundation of learning and a main enabler to a successful education. Reading underpins every subject and successful learners will be excited to read. They will want to share stories, poems and rhymes, creating a rich language base and developing their communication skills.
At Long Close School our small class sizes allow us to spend quality time with every child daily, listening to them read and encouraging them to explore different texts and develop comprehension skills. This time allows us to develop a deeper understanding of their individual needs so we can support and stretch each individual learner. Our successful reading programme has meant that by the end of Reception, our pupils consistently exceed the national average. Read our latest attainment results here.
Does the school provide clubs and wraparound care to fit your family’s needs?
Whilst not the be all and end all, for many parents who commute or work long hours, breakfast and wrap around care is a vital part of the package. Look at what a school offers and the flexibility of the offering. Ask what they will be doing during that time and what meals will be provided? Are there any afterschool clubs where they can develop new skills, explore and socialise?
At Long Close School, the school day extends well beyond the first and last lessons of the day with wraparound provision offered from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. You can find children happily playing indoor or outdoor games, drawing and chatting with friends. Breakfast and afternoon snacks are provided, depending on the provision booked, to help our busy working parents.
Does the School promote healthy eating?
School meals have been in the media spotlight over the last few years, so make sure that your schools have a holistic view of healthy eating and talk to the children openly about the importance of making healthy choices, encouraging the confidence to try new things and develop excellent table manners.
At Long Close School we are lucky to have Thomas Franks as our in-house caterers. They pride themselves on freshly cooked, nutritious food, procured from local suppliers. We offer a variety of meat and vegetarian options for lunch, with fruit, yogurt, or low sugar cakes for dessert.
Can you see yourself as part of the community?
A big part of school life is about making friends – for your child and yourself. Do you see your family as part of the community? Does the school encourage parental involvement? What opportunities are there for you to get involved in the school?
At Long Close School, our small close-knit inclusive community ensures that all our pupils and parents feel welcome. Parents are invited into the School to see their children’s work at the Prep Open Afternoons and to learn more about how they can support their child’s learning journey during parent workshops, Meet the Teacher evenings and parents’ evenings. Parents are also invited to attend craft mornings, productions, concerts or to talk to the children about their lives.
Lockdown may have made holding events more challenging however, we have embraced the digital world and it has not stopped these events from happening with Talent shows, Coffee Mornings, Early Years Workshops all taking place virtually.
The right Early Years education allows the building of a bright future for your child. Lockdown or no lockdown this education should still be of high quality, seamless into a digital world and most important of all it should allow your child to continue in their development.
We regularly hold open days and taster sessions, so if you would like to learn more about our Reception Early Years provision, please register your interest by completing our online form here or call our Admissions Manager on 01753 520095.
To read more about the advantages of a private education, please read this article here.
If you would like to tour our Reception and Prep School, please register your interest by clicking here and our Admissions Manager, Jane Gee, will contact you to arrange a suitable date and time. Alternatively, you can call 01753 520095.
We are holding a Virtual Information Morning on Wednesday 21 April at 10:00am specifically for parents who would like to discover more about Reception classes and our Prep School. To find out more and book your space, click this link.
Alternatively, we are holding a Virtual Open Morning for parents on Friday 7 May at 10:00am for parents who are interested in all areas of our school: Early Years, Prep and our top-performing, non-selective Senior School.
Read more about our Prep School click here.