Good Infant Schools vs. Bad Infant Schools

Before I start this post, I need to make it VERY clear that this post is a bit tongue in cheek, is based on my experience of only 2 schools (and therefore cannot be taken too seriously) and is entirely from my (a parents) perspective…

Mr NHM and I moved Miss NHM to a new school 5 days into the start of the September 2017 academic year.

I won’t go into the details on NHM, for obvious reasons, but we now refer to Miss NHM’s old school as “The Prison” and I will continue to refer to it as such, regardless of feedback from anyone. The way they treated my daughter and my family was despicable.

Needless to say, I’ve learnt a LOT about what a “good” infants school is like and what a “bad” infants school is like.

Several points below aren’t based on my actual experience, they are based on what I have seen and heard from other parents and children.

Good Infant schools vs. Bad Infant schools

A good infants school will have large, naturally lit classrooms.

A bad infants school will have tiny classrooms, the same size as my kitchen, which will be expected to seat 32 children in and will be very, very dark with barely any natural light. (Top tip, if visiting a new school for your child, ALWAYS go during day light hours so you can see what the natural light will be like for your child when they are imprisoned in the classroom for 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.)

A good school will allow children to play on the field.

A bad school will have a field that is entirely for show and sports day. Children will NOT be allowed to play on it, for their own safety (!!!).

A good school will give a 5 year old in YR1 two pieces of homework a week and will realise that family time is more important than more work outside of school.

A bad school will give over 6 pieces of homework to a 5 year old in YR1 and when your child doesn’t do all of this homework they are punished.

A good school will give a child the chance to get off the “thundercloud” and the child will not be permanently punished.

A bad school will put the child on the “thundercloud” for the rest of the week and the child will miss the most exciting part of the school week, “golden time” if they don’t do ALL of their homework.

A good school will not have the “thundercloud”, “sun” or “rainbow”.

A bad school will use the “thundercloud” to inflict intimidation and fear into small children.

A good school will give children the opportunity to move around during their “free” time.

A bad school will play films during “golden time”.

A good school will send messages to parents about things like nits and harvest festival collections.

A bad school will send weekly emails about the attendance levels for each class, messages that if you park in the wrong place you will be arrested and about how several children are wearing the wrong coloured coat to school.

A good school will care more about the welfare of the children than children wearing EXACTLY the correct uniform, including the colour of socks and outdoor coat.

A bad school will NOT care about the welfare of the children and will only care that the children are wearing the CORRECT uniform and god forbid those who don’t have logo’d uniform.

A good school will have a variety of different classes including music and arts for all years.

A bad school will have only english, maths and science classes, with one class per term of “fun” stuff from YR2 onwards.

A good school will allow children to have their classes outside when the weather is over 28 degrees.

A bad school will force children to remain in a classroom that has no air conditioning when the weather is over 28 degrees, including no playtime or lunchtime play outside, because it is for their own safety as it’s too hot to be outside (!!!!!).

A good school will realise that children of infants school age require a rounded experience of life.

A bad school will only concentrate on attendance at school and will send you a “delightful” red letter each half term if your child’s attendance is below their requirements, regardless of whether your child has a serious medical condition which means they are more sick than “normal” children.

A good school will have extra classes after school like “forest school”,  which are run by teachers and are free to attend.

A bad school will only have classes after school that cost an absolute arm and a leg for your child to attend.

A good school will have guitar lessons, Spanish lessons and rock steady lessons which will all take place during the school day.

A bad school will have NOTHING other than lessons for children to attend during the school day.

A good school will bend over backwards to ensure that your child is treated the same as other children in their class, regardless of their situation.

A bad school will single out a child if they have any extra requirements or special needs that don’t fit in with the schools vision of a “normal” child.

A good school will care greatly about a child’s emotional wellbeing.

A bad school won’t give a rat’s fig about a child’s emotional well being and will actually do everything they can to ensure that the child conforms to their expectations of what small children should be like, regardless of that child’s situation.

A good school won’t focus on the costs associated with supporting children with extra needs.

A bad school will ONLY focus on the costs associated with supporting children with extra needs.

A good school will have lovely receptionists that are also Mum’s who TOTALLY get it.

A bad school will have very grumpy receptionists who raise their eyebrows and grumble at you, for example, when you forget to bring paperwork back in on time and then proceed to make you feel like it’s you that’s back in infants school when you return said paperwork late.

A good school will have lots of pictures of happy smiley children on their website.

A bad school will have only have a picture of the head teacher on their website.

A good school will allow children to bring in anything they like for “Show and Tell”.

A bad school will ONLY allow your child to bring in something for “Show and Tell” that is related to the subject they are studying at that exact moment and if they try to bring in something else to show their classmates it will be confiscated.

What would you add to this list?

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Applying for a reception place (Year R) for September 2018

If your child was born between 1 September 2013 and 31 August 2014, they will be eligible to start school in the school year beginning September 2018.

Below are some useful links and information for those in the Basingstoke area that we hope will help make the whole process a little less daunting. 

For more help and advice we have a Facebook group where you can ask questions and chat to other parents who are applying this year  –  Basingstoke 2018 YR R (NorthHantsMum). If you would like to join please email me at NorthHantsMum@gmail.com.

Applications are submitted via the Hampshire County Council website.  They have all the information you need about the process here – How to apply for a school place

This post may also be useful for you if you have a summer born child: Summer born children (those born between 1 April and 31 August)

Dates for Open days for Schools Admission Sept 2018

Below is a list of schools in Basingstoke & Deane and the dates for the open days they have planned.  Some schools may not be listed.  If no dates are listed or the open days have already happened please contact the school.  Please assume you need to book open days by phone.

School Dates
Bishopswood Nov 24th 9.15
Bramley  1st November,  9.30-11.30
Burnham Copse Oct 6th 9.30
Castle Hill Greenbank (Winklebury) & Rooksdown Oct 17th 13.15

Nov 15th 9.30 & 13.15

Nov 28th 9.30 & 13.15

Dec 6th 17.00

Chalk Ridge Open Days already completed
Chiltern
Cliddesden By appointment
Fairfields
Four Lanes Open Days already completed
Great Binfields Oct 12th am

Nov 7th & 29th pm

Hatch Warren Tours at 9.30 & 13.45

Oct 10th , 12th , 17th , 20th , 31st

Nov 1st , 7th , 8th , 13th , 17th , 21st , 22nd

Hook Nov 9th – 9.15
Kempshott Oct 16th 9.30 & 14.00

Oct 31st 14.00

Nov 14th 9.30 & 14.00

Nov 27th 9.30

Jan 9th 9.30 & 14.00

Kings Furlong Oct 6th 10.00

Oct 11th 14.00

Nov 2nd 10.00

Nov 17th 14.00

Limington House
Manor Field Oct 19th 19.00

Nov 14th 14.00

Dec 5th 11.00

Maple Ridge
Marnel Private appointment
Merton
Oakley Nov 13th or by Private appointment
Oakridge Nov 7th 9:30

Nov 14th 14.00

Nov 24th 9:30

Nov 29th 14.00

Jan 16th 9:30

Jan 18th 14.00

Old Basing 9.15 – Oct 18th Nov 24th
Overton
Park View 9.30 & 13.45 on Oct 18th,19th

Nov 2nd 18.00

Rucstall Nov 7th 9.00 & 13.00

Nov 9th 17.00

Nov 10th 9.00 & 13.00

Saxon Wood
Sherborne St John By appointment
Silchester Nov 7th & 15th
South View
St Anne’s
St Bede’s 9.15 – Nov 7th, 15th, 24th
St John’s 10.00 & 14.00 – Nov 2nd & 7th
St Mark’s Oct 12th – 10.00

Oct 18th – 10.00

Nov – 1st – 19.00

Nov 8th – 10.00

Nov 13th – 19.00

Nov 14th – 14.00

Nov 16th – 10.00

Tadley
The Priory By appointment
Whitchurch
Whitewater 19.30 – Oct 18th

9.30 – Nov 22nd, 29th, Dec 6th

Winklebury Oct 12th 9.15 & 19.00

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NHM Readers Recommend how to find out about primary school open days 2018

An NHM Reader recently sent the following message “I was wondering if you could post on the NHM page asking fellow NHM’s how to find out about primary school open days for kids starting September 2018? I’ve no idea so we’d like to visit a few and don’t want to miss out!”

Many thanks to the NHM Community for your replies, which are below.

A Facebook Group was also set up, the link to which can be found here: Basingstoke 2018 YR R (NorthHantsMum). Thank you so much to Wendy for setting this up. 

NHM Readers Recommend how to find out about primary school open days 2018

Louise Nhm Smith said “ I’m fairly sure that you have to check the individual websites of each school you are interested in. I might be wrong though…”

Louise Nhm Smith said “This link will be useful too: School Catchments

Rachael said “Yeah each school is different, their websites should tell you or call the school reception. It might be a little while before it goes on the websites”

Rebekah said “Usually the open days are October- Nov so check the school websites or ring the school mid September(give the school the chance to get back in the swing of things after the hols)”

Heidi said “If there is no open day information posted, make sure you contact the school directly to ask – our school does private tours, no open days…”

Leah said “Some schools only have open evenings & some only have open days & some only have private tours. I’d look on the websites of the schools you’re most interested in & if not on there call them up. I have 2 choices I’m putting down & know one of them anyway so don’t particularly need to attend open day. I’ll be calling or attending the other school open day but as it’s my local one it’s more than likely my son will go to that one. So scary they’ll be 4 and starting school next year!”

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My Experience: Reception Year (YR)

For those of you who have been following NHM for a while, you may have noticed that I haven’t posted ANYTHING about our experience of YR beyond December last year (December 2015).

There is a very valid reason for this. We had a DREADFUL experience of YR. I’m not going to go into details but needless to say it was an incredibly stressful school year and caused Mr NHM and I (and Miss NHM) an awful lot of anxiety and stress.

However, I am very pleased to report that Y1 is MUCH better than YR so far. Miss NHM has a lovely teacher, who at parents evening earlier this week said that she is a “happy, bright, chatty, confident little girl” and that they have “no issues with her whatsoever”. (this is quite a radical change from when we were told at parents evening in February that Miss NHM was likely to “fail” YR. How any child can fail ANYTHING at four years old is beyond me, but that’s a whole other post ;-)).

I’m of the general opinion that if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything, so apart from saying that we had an awful experience of YR, I’m not going to say anything else.

I’m just relieved that we can put that year behind us and that Y1 is going so well for Miss NHM so far! Long may that last!

Look out for my post on the first few weeks of Y1 soon!

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A Summary of NHM posts that will be useful for YR starters in Sept 2016

Below is a list of posts that might be useful to you if you have a little one starting school in September.

I haven’t written a post for a while about our experience of school. That’s because we haven’t had a particularly good experience with the school that Miss NHM is currently in.

I am trying to put together a post about this, but I am delighted to say that despite all of the issues that Mr NHM and I have with the school, Miss NHM still absolutely loves going to school.

A Summary of NHM posts that will be useful for YR starters in Sept 2016

Top Tip 21: Clarks Shoe Fitting Service – Online Appointment Booking!

It is ESSENTIAL to book any shoe fitting appointments in August because any shoe shop that sells children’s school shoes will be rammed. It’s enough of a stressful experience, without having to wait for an hour for a fitting!

Skoolkits in town does 10% off school uniform for a week in July, before the summer holidays start, so if you have the cash funds, buy all of your logo’d stuff then.

Also double check whether your new school has a second hand clothing sale. Ours does one on a regular basis and although I’m always at work when it is on, it’s on my list of things to check out at some point. You can save a fortune this way.

Will your “baby” start school in September 2015?

Starting School – did you know?

My experience: Starting school – three months before September start date

My experience: Starting School – the night before…

My Experience: Our first few weeks of school…

My Experience: Things I have learnt since Miss NHM started school…

My Experience: Our first three months of YR (Reception Year)

Cheaper School Uniform Campaign….

Homeschooling in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

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My Experience: Things I have learnt since Miss NHM started school…

The school run sucks but you get used to it. Sigh.

Not to buy more than one logo’d T-shirt or cardigan. Even though we had labelled everything in advance, Miss NHM lost a logo’d cardigan (£16!!!) in the first week of school, we think because the ironed on label fell off. Miss NHM also refuses to wear her logo’d T-shirts because the logo scratches on the inside.  So, next year she will be getting one logo’d cardigan and one T-shirt which she will only be allowed to wear for school photography day ;-).

That “Biff and Chip” books are soul destroying.

Stamping clothes is the ONLY way to go! I bought the stamp and pad from Stamptastic and they have been fantastic. No more needing to get the iron out, iron on labels falling off and it’s very easy to immediately stamp clothes as we get them. The stamp also works on plastic, socks, pants, books, etc and we’ve used it on a weekly basis since Miss NHM started school. I also bought the white pen which enabled me to label everything black, including Miss NHM’s shoes (which she actually hasn’t lost yet, shock, horror! :-D)

Attendance at school suddenly becomes this MASSIVE thing. We have literally had a letter home every week about this, including an attendance sheet. If the school spent the time on teaching children, that they are spending on these letters, I’d be more comfortable with it!

Your child will be “tested” within the first 6 weeks of starting YR. They will also be weighed and measured, but you can choose to opt out of this.

It’s worth buying school uniform online in June/July. We bought most of ours from Tu Sainsburys because I’ve been really impressed with their clothes previously. I managed to order everything we needed, in the right size, and have it delivered in to store. I also sneakily did it when they had their 25% off available. You can save a fortune on uniform doing it this way. We also bought the logo’d stuff from SkoolKit (how are we supposed to teach our children to spell!!!), which gets VERY busy in August. Skoolkit normally have 10% off during the last week of the July term, although you might have to queue for a while!

I also recommend if you can afford it, having an outfit for every day. Otherwise you will find yourself washing clothes at midnight one evening realising that you’ve run out of pinafores and white T-shirts. Yup, been there, done that :-D.

If your child needs a specific piece of clothing for the Christmas play (like black trousers and a black T-shirt) don’t leave it until a week before (yes, that’s a week before, not even a day before!) to get sorted because it’s a given that Amazon Prime will let you down and you will have to schlep through town on your lunch break to find a plain black t shirt and there won’t be any ANYWHERE and you will be pulled aside by the teacher a day before “dress rehearsal day” telling you that you MUST get the outfit sorted in time. (Obviously this didn’t happen to me ;-))

That schools no longer have school nurses and if you want to speak to the “school nurse” you have to ring a number at the hospital and someone will phone you back “hopefully within a week”!!!!??!?!

If your child goes to any sort of after school care straight from school, expect to lose at least two jumpers or cardigans each term (see above about logo’ cardigans and Tshirts).

Toilet humour suddenly becomes a big thing once your little one starts school. Miss NHM is obsessed with the word “bottom” and likes to use it all the time, including at the most inappropriate time, and then likes to laugh manically after she’s said the word. Sigh.

It’s called the school RUN for a reason 😉

Find out where the lost property box is as soon as you can.

It’s worth buying a water bottle which is pre-named or, like me, getting a selection of water bottles in for whenever your child loses theirs. We’ve gone through three already!!!

That every week there is something extra to do, from providing a white shirt to make a super hero’s cape, collecting for harvest festival, baking cakes for the school fayre, selling raffle tickets, non uniform day, and on and on and on it goes. It never ends.

If you are taking your child out of school for a medical appointment, you need to provide written proof of a letter to the school.

That every other day there will be a leaflet in your child’s book bag and God forbid you don’t read every single leaflet because even though the school sends email and texts you can guarantee that there will be a very important piece of information in small print on one of these letters and you will miss it and then be chastised by the teacher. Again.

That the unofficial parents Facebook group is a necessity!!! (Set one up if there isn’t one already set up and be sure to make it secret so the teachers can’t stalk you all on it :-D)

It’s best not to wake Miss NHM in the mornings but to either let her wake up by herself or let the cat into her room to wake her up for me :-D.

That delegating the PTA role to your husband is a stroke of genius! Even if everyone does bang on about him being the only man to have ever been on the PTA !! (How is this possible in the modern world that we live in? Are men not allowed to join the PTA or something?)

That you will literally LIVE for the half terms and school holidays and then half a day in to said holiday you will beg to go back to work for a rest!! :-D.

Another small piece of my soul died in mid December when I pulled out a piece of paper with a column of names from Miss NHM’s book bag, and realised it was a list of names for Christmas cards. 30 of them. Deep joy.

I’m glad I only have one child. I have absolutely no idea how anyone gets more than one child ready for school, including yourself, by 8.30am EVERY. SINGLE. WEEKDAY. MORNING.

That it’s easier to accept that your child is going to eat crap as part of the free school meals, rather than have to think up a packed lunch every day. Every time Miss NHM joyfully tells me what she’s had for pudding I shudder! :-D. However, despite the chocolate cake, ice cream, flapjacks and jelly, they have fruit at snack time which apparently makes it ok to have rubbish puddings!!?!?!??!

Despite all my comments above, Miss NHM absolutely loves going to school and gets quite upset at weekends when she can’t go. I try not to take it personally ;-).

What have you learnt if your little one started school in September?

Here are a few more tips which Mata added on the NorthHantsMum FB Page

This is what I’ve learned:

Uniforms: when my girl started a friend suggested to get 1 uniform per day. So I did that and she only needed 2 per week. When my son started I got him 3 uniforms – he could easily have 2 per day ;-). 

My kids’ school insists on logo jumpers/cardigans only. I write their name in marker pen. None got lost so far. Lots of gloves have gone missing though. I buy them in bulk in the spring.

Kids need to change for PE and back again. They have to manage themselves. If they can’t do buttons or laces, get them clothes without! Don’t be surprised if they come home wearing clothes back to front or inside out. My son is always amazed how can I know they had PE.

Check if kids get a mid-morning snack. They are entitled to free milk and fruit – but at my kids’ school they get them when they go home. What’s the point? How are they supposed to learn when they’re hungry?

They need to take a bottle of water, which is then kept out of reach. The kids pour it out at lunchtime to pretend they’ve drunk it.

Most children try to avoid using the school toilets.

The school book bags are not very sturdy. They’re not designed with water bottles in mind. If you get a sturdier bag for your child – or heaven forbid a backpack – the school will probably not like it, as they have microscopic drawers for storing bags.

Homework in primary school is optional. Repeat: *optional*. And it usually involves some craft work done by the parents, sometimes with the child’s ‘help’. Remember: it’s optional.

Attendance is more important than learning. More important than health. It seems the very survival of the universe depends on it. It should be 96%+. If your child has 95.9%, you will get an ‘amber warning’ letter. If it’s below 90%, the world will come to an end. If your child has a doctor’s appointment at 9.30, you’ll be expected to take them in for the morning register, then collect them right after. If they are ill, give them paracetamol and take them in. When it wears off, they’ll call you to pick up your poorly child (hopefully after the afternoon register, just to get in another attendance). If you take your child out for a week of term time holiday, they’ll end up illiterate. But if they miss the same number of days because of inset days that’s fine.

Children take teachers a lot more seriously than they take their parents.

Education is free – but they’re constantly asking for money for this or that. Or donations for fayres and bazaars, that you then need to attend and buy said donations to clutter your house.

On the positive side, most of the staff genuinely care about children. Many of them are themselves parents and may understand that the expectations in the curriculum are unrealistic. Many children form a good relationship with their teachers, make friends with other children and enjoy going to school. It’s not too bad :-). 

And a few more from Wendy

We haven’t had any comments about attendance. Here are my tips.

Turn your text notification off, you will get more from school than you do from PPI, none apply to you.

Boys clothes need washing every day (I bought 5 of everything).

The menu is the menu, there’s not a lot you can do so look it up now and get used to it.

The stamp isn’t suitable for all uniform so you will still need labels for some things.

Your child will pick the unhealthest food on the menu even though there is fruit and yoghurt available (it’s a HCC requirement, it is there no matter what they say).

Go to local toddler groups so you know some mums beforehand.

The school run requires every type of coat and shoe that is available.

You will get your school run clothing wrong about once a week.

Lots of parents flip out in early Nov as their child is doing too much/doing too little/not getting enough attention, it’s a control thing just nod and smile and all will be well by Dec.

No matter what the Huffington post or Cbeebies say there is no technique for getting information out of your child about their day.

And a few more from Sue

I’m so glad I bought 5 lots of uniform. There is no way K could have worn any item two days running and it means I don’t have a sudden panic mid-week that we have run out of something.

I need to remember to go through the menu with K before we leave the house. His favourite colour is green so invariably he will choose veggie option even if it’s something he won’t eat. By telling him the meal he can choose which one he wants and then I can tell him what colour to go for.

Never trust your child to put water bottle in their school bag themselves. We have had two leakages so far (luckily it was only water) meaning spreading books on a radiator overnight to dry.

Be careful what forms you fill out when LO starts. We inadvertently ended up on a list of children whose parents may struggle financially and K brought a voucher home for redeeming a bag of food. I was mortified and cross in equal measure and ended up having a chat with the school to confirm that whilst I understand the scheme, there are perhaps more deserving children than my son. It was something to do with him receiving free school meals (though all YS1 children receive them…) and a pupil premium form. In my defence I must have filled in about 10 forms and ended up slightly cross-eyed by the end!!

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My Experience: Our first few weeks of school…

I am very pleased to let you know that Miss NHM is really enjoying school. She is already coming home singing some of the songs she has learnt at school.

We haven’t had as many “meltdowns” as I was expecting although she is a total rat bag at the end of the day. It seems to be Monday and Tuesday when she’s at her worst, which I totally wasn’t expecting. I thought it would be Friday’s but maybe she’s just too exhausted by then to argue! lol.

We had a lot of tears during the first week. She only seems to cry when I drop her off though, she’s fine when Mr NHM drops her off.

I am finding the first few weeks quite difficult. Both Mr NHM and I are missing Miss NHM terribly. I am missing the luxury of being able to keep her home if we need a “rest” day. This is even more challenging as Mr NHM works shift so we only actually have two Saturdays and Sundays a month together as a family now.

Having said that, the second day after I dropped her off, I skipped home, feeling a sudden sense of freedom! lol. It’s very weird. Many conflicting emotions.

Dropping Off

As I said above, dropping off can be challenging at the beginning of the week. Miss NHM gets most upset if I drop her off. She’s not too bad if Mr NHM drops her off.

She’s very tired though and I’m sure that isn’t helping. I’ve specifically ensured that all our weekends in September and October are fairly low key, so she has some down time and time to recuperate from the shock of school.

Three weeks in I can also say that I’m SOOOOOO over getting up EVERY week day morning. Yes, I know this sounds really bad and quite spoilt but only another 10 more years to go. (She can get herself ready for school when she’s 14! lol).

Picking up

Some days pick up has been fine, others it’s been very challenging. I’m already learning that I need to arrive at school with a snack of some sort, just to keep Miss NHM going until we get home.

One thing I am finding hard is that we don’t find out ANYTHING other than what Miss NHM tells us. At nursery there was a chance to briefly chat and find out if there is anything we need to know. At school you don’t get that. I am desperately trying not to plug Miss NHM for information but it’s very weird not to know anything about what your child has done all day, especially when they are still so young!

I do get lots of cuddles when we get home though. She has said that she’s missing us dreadfully too and that’s been hard for all of us.

The Book Bag

Miss NHM has a book bag which contains her folder, a book and a guidance sheet which makes suggestions about what to talk to your child too about that book.

The books are supposed to last for roughly a week and although no one has told us what to do with the book, we make sure we read it every day.

The funniest thing happened on the Monday of Miss NHM’s second week. Before going into the classroom, she stopped her teacher and said “wait a minute please”, took out her book bag and put it in the “replenishment” box. She clearly felt she was ready for her next book! It made me chuckle!

Parent Mail

We get a lot of letters and forms in Miss NHM’s book bag at the end of the day but Parent Mail is the format that is used to communicate between parents and the school.

This is how we find out what the children have been working on in a newsletter each week. There is an App you can download to your phone and a website and you get an email every time there is a new notification.

It’s quite good to see that schools are moving into the technological age but Mr NHM still hasn’t got his parent mail working so he’s fed up with it all already!

Food

This is the one thing that I have been very disappointed with. I’ve been quite horrified by the food that’s on offer.

All children in Infants schools in the UK can have free meals at lunchtime. I spoke to a couple of other experienced Mum’s and they all said “DO IT” because it’s one less thing to worry about.

However, in her first week, Miss NHM has had pizza and for pudding ice cream, chocolate cake and biscuits!! In her second week she’s had jelly, sponge pudding and a chocolate muffin!

She takes much delight in telling us what she’s had for pudding on the way home. She doesn’t respond very well to sugar and I’m wondering if these puddings are actually exacerbating her tiredness.

The irony is, at the end of Miss NHM’s second week we had a letter come home saying that children in YR would be weighed and measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). It included a leaflet from Change4Life. It actually mentions about swapping sugar and eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. I did laugh out loud when I saw this letter and leaflet.

The even bigger irony is, if you read the letter about what you can and can’t include in a packed lunch (it’s very dictatorial, as expected) you can’t include anything with chocolate in! Yet they are giving chocolate puddings as part of the free meals!!!

Apparently the meals are supposed part of a healthy diet but I still have concerns. I get that children need more calories when they are at school because they are running around more, but the choices that are on offer are clearly not healthy at all! No wonder we are a nation of fattty’s!!

Labelling

I asked a question on NHM about what labelling system NHM Readers recommended and have a post half drafted about this which I will publish soon (when I get my act together!)

We have gone with a combination of iron on labels, the stamp from Stamptastic, and the “white pen” from Stamptastic.

Having said that, Miss NHM lost her expensive, logo’d cardigan on her second Monday, so it doesn’t matter how much you label things, they still get lost! I have already learnt that Miss NHM will only be wearing her remaining logo’d cardigan when it’s photo day at school! lol.

Only another five weeks till half term!

I am already “living” for half term. Thankfully we’ve all got the week days of half term off and are hopefully going away to the New Forest for a couple of days to rest and recuperate. Normally we have our “Summer holiday” around now and I am already desperate for a break! lol.

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My experience: Starting School – the night before…

Miss NHM starts school tomorrow morning. She’s only in for a half day, but I’m still completely in denial.

It feels like it’s the end. I can’t quite describe it.

I explained it earlier to Mr NHM, that it feels like I have a huge guillotine hanging above me and it’s about to chop my head off! (Yes, I am a touch dramatic, but if you’ve been reading NHM for a while, you will already know that :-D).

Settling in Sessions

We had four settling in sessions which were half an hour each. Which is perfect for us working parents…NOT!

Miss NHM was fine in her settling in sessions and I was pleased to see that she knows quite a few of the children in her class.

During the first two settling in sessions parents stayed in the same room with the children. Then for the last two settling in sessions the parents were asked to wait in another room. It was funny seeing all the little parent “cliques” that have already been formed.

Buying School Shoes

I was advised in early June to book for an appointment in August. We booked our appointment for the middle of August and they STILL only had one choice of shoe in Miss NHM’s size.

The appointment itself was fairly pain free. I got a text the day before reminding me of our slot and we were done in 20 minutes, even with the drama of them not having enough selection.

The Home Visit

Was fifteen minutes long and took 1.5 hours to tidy for!

It was a chance to ask the teachers any questions we had, for them to clarify anything with us and to confirm that we had everything ready (water bottle, PE kit, everything labeled, milk booked, etc).

We were also given a book for Miss NHM to read at home with some suggestions of things to talk about the book.

Labelling

We’ve been labelling for a while for nursery but this feels different. I recently put out a please on Facebook on “Louise nhm Smith” about which labels NHM Readers recommended and I will get that post up very soon with everyone’s suggestions.

I “delegated” the labelling of all items to Mr NHM (one of the perks of his military background!) and we still have a few more things to sort.

The Night Before

Everything is currently laid out on our bed and I’m convinced I’ve missed something.

I am still completely in denial. I haven’t even tried out Miss NHM’s uniform on her yet and we still haven’t labelled everything!

I feel really sad but am trying to be a bit excited for Miss NHM too. Tomorrow morning we will have a special breakfast at home, just the three of us, and then we will be as “up beat” as possible until after we have dropped Miss NHM off.

We will then run home and I will spend all day on mute on my conference calls, weeping into the conference unit and hoping that no one asks me anything. Sigh.

Someone described it to me a few months ago as being as traumatic as giving birth. I kind of get that. I had no idea it would be as traumatic as this. It feels like the end but I know it’s just another beginning.

I just hope that Miss NHM loves it and doesn’t lose the fantastic confidence that she has.

Good luck to everyone else whose little one’s start YR tomorrow and this week. You are all in my thoughts!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Starting School – did you know?

Thanks very much to “M” for providing today’s post.

Starting School – did you know?

Did you know that the Local Authority has to provide a full-time YR school place from September for every child who turns 4 between 1st September the previous year and 31st August that year? I bet you did.

But did you know your child does not have to start full time school aged 4? (see previous post on NHM)

Children reach compulsory school age (CSA) at the end of the term they turn 5 (31st December, 31st March, 31st August) and must be in full time education from the beginning of the next term (January, March/April – after Easter holidays, or September).

If both you and your child are ready to start full-time school in September – great.

If not, you have a few options:

Part-time attendance

Children can attend school part-time until CSA. The exact pattern of the attendance is to be discussed with the school. Schools have a specific code for marking agreed non-attendance for children below CSA – so the child’s / school’s attendance figures will not be negatively affected.

From personal experience: not all teachers, even head teachers, may know this. I was told by one deputy head that children are legally required to attend full time aged 4 – but she was wrong (the LA is legally required to provide the place, but families are not required to take it up). A few head teachers did not know how to mark a 4yo’s agreed non-attendance and were worried the school’s figures will be affected – this is not the case. Some head teachers also tend to scaremonger parents (holidays in term-time and fines for non-attendance) – not realising that there is a difference between CSA children and younger children.

Starting school later on (in the same academic year)

This is called deferred entry – children usually start in January or April. Again, this is to be discussed with the school, but they have no legal power to make the child start in September.

From personal experience: I was told by a head teacher: “We don’t do deferrals because we’re over-subscribed.” She was wrong – they have to hold the place. They may not like it, because of funding, but they cannot refuse.

Starting school in the next academic year

Children born between 1st April – 31st August (summer born children) reach CSA in September – a full year after the LA has to provide a school place. Depending on the child’s individual circumstances, they can start school aged 5 in YR or in Y1. If they start in YR aged 5, it is called ‘delayed’ or ‘decelerated’ entry. If parents want the child to start in YR aged 5, they have to seek approval from the school’s admission authority. If the school’s admission authority is the LA: if they approve, they will find a YR space; and if they don’t approve, they will find a Y1 space – however the school may not be local or preferred by the parents.

From personal experience: Many head teachers don’t know children can start YR aged 5, or do not support them to start YR, and Y1 places may not be available (especially if the school is over-subscribed).

School does not appeal at all?

Children have to receive full time education from CSA – but this does not have to be at a school.  Section 7 of the Education Act 1996 applies to England and Wales: “The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education …  either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” Parents can educate their children themselves, or put in place other arrangements.

If children don’t start school aged 4, they continue to be eligible for the government funded Early Education until they reach CSA (currently 15 hrs / week term time).

More information:

starting school in Hampshire (not only for summer borns):.

summer born children (flexible admission / starting YR at CSA):

education outside of school

Related Posts

Summer born children 

My experience: Starting School – Three months before September start date

Homeschooling in Basingstoke and North Hampshire

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My experience: Starting school – three months before September start date

It’s just under three months until Miss NHM starts school and I’m feeling quite despondent about the whole thing.

I’m desperately trying not to get stressed about it but the more I see and the more I read, the more worried I’m becoming.

I do my best to be as positive as I can on NorthHantsMum but I also pride myself on being honest and I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling like I do about my child starting school…

Receiving our confirmation email

We received our email confirmation of which school Miss NHM would be starting on April 16th 2015 at 6.40am.

Despite thinking I wasn’t too worried about it, I had very little sleep the night before, lots of nightmares and was up at 6am waiting for the email to arrive.

(Just as a side point, whoever put that email together at Hampshire County Council should be sacked! It was in four different font types, different colours, and very hard to read. I literally had to read it three times just to confirm which school Miss NHM had got into, because the structure was so bad!!!)

We were then told that we had to return proof of identify within two weeks. It was a good thing we weren’t on holiday because you had to confirm your child’s identity within those two weeks or you would lose your child’s place at school.

(I was shocked to see on the original form that you have to return to confirm your child’s identity, that you have to detail if there are any restraining orders against any people in your children’s life!!! Naive? Moi?)

When I went into the school during the following week, and took Miss NHM’s passport with me, I asked some standard questions about when Miss NHM would actually start school. The receptionist couldn’t answer these questions. (I have already established which receptionist is the rude and obnoxious one ;-)).

They couldn’t actually tell me as the date wouldn’t be confirmed until three months before she started school. Yes, three months before starting school. It’s a good thing that I had anticipated this and kept enough leave from work because otherwise we would have been in trouble. They hadn’t actually confirmed, by the end of April, when Year R would start school…

Parents introductory meetings

There were two parents meetings, one in May and one in June, that we were told in November that we HAD to attend as they were mandatory.

Shortly after receiving the email confirming which school Miss NHM was going too, we received a letter in the post saying that the date for the meeting was now completely different. When we were on holiday. A holiday that I specifically booked so that we could attend the original two dates. I was not best pleased.

It the turns out that everything we were told at the November meeting has changed. Even the start and end of the school day has changed. We now also have home visits which we were told in November weren’t going to take place.

So, we missed out introductory first meeting with the school last week.

I found out, through telling someone about how unimpressed I was so far, that the headmistress has changed. Nobody told us.

Confirmation of start date

I finally got confirmation of when Miss NHM would be starting school this week. (I feel so sorry for those working parents who haven’t saved enough holiday so they can cover the childcare of those first three weeks of school when children do half days or whatever system their school has devised.)

We got back from holiday and I went in to pick up our “welcome pack”. It wasn’t a welcome pack at all. It was an envelope filled with 27 forms that need to be signed in blood. Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but I’ve since seen other schools “welcome packs” and the difference is dramatic.

A friend of mine very kindly let me read her “welcome pack” and the difference was staggering. Her daughters pack even had a letter from the teacher to the new starter, which was a lovely touch.

No such pleasantries in our “welcome pack”.

The first form I read, about pick ups and drop offs from school was like some kind of dictatorship letter.

For example: “Should a child not be collected by an adult by 4.30pm, the school will contact Children’s Services for support”.

Marvellous. So, if I get stuck in traffic, trying to get back from work to pick up Miss NHM from school, and there is nothing I can do about it, the school is going to call children’s services on us. Fantastic.

Oh and did I mention that you “MUST (their bold and capital) notify the school in writing and the note must be handed to the class teacher at the start of the school day” for any changes to pick up’s. Any changes at all.

There is also a very officious “school accessibility” form where you have to note any difficulties that your child may have had or will have during school.

I spoke to nursery about this and was told that they had ALREADY spoken to the school! Are they even allowed to do this?

My concerns

I’m not stupid, I get that there are rules in place for a reason, to protect our children, but these draconian letters just make me feel even more worried.

Now that I’ve compared what we received with a friends “welcome pack” I’m even more worried.

I’ve spent many years avoiding the nanny state that we currently appear to be living in and it’s been a bit of a shock at the rules and regulations that are going to be “enforced” on my family in September.

I’m also very worried that Miss NHM is going to be “labeled” and I will be devastated if that happens.

She is a bright, strong willed little girl and the state seems to be encouraging us to raise independent and ambitious girls. If this is the case, then why do I feel like she’s just going to be a number in a class of 30, where her real educational and development needs aren’t considered because the teachers have too many forms to fill in and not enough time to teach the children.

Settling in sessions

We have our first settling in session next Tuesday and I’m going to be keeping a very close eye out to see what happens.

(Interestingly, this is one of four, half our introductory sessions where sibblings are unable to attend. Four half an hour sessions. Really? So I’ve technically got to take four half days off work for half an hour? I’ve been warned that schools are less than sympathetic to working parents, but really, half an hour? By the time we get there, we will be coming back home again!)

I am really hoping that over the next few months my mind is put at ease but at the moment, I’m worried. Very worried…

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