EHCP’s in Hampshire – Part 1

Please take everything that I’ve posted about EHCP’s with the caveat that my comments are based only on MY experience, I’m not an expert and some of my comments may be out of date now as I did all of this in Sept 2021 to July 2022. 

I was successful at securing an EHCP in 2022 with zero help from my child’s primary school. This was not easy!

DO NOT LISTEN TO ANY Headteacher, Deputy Head Teacher, SENCO or teacher that tells you that your child doesn’t “meet the criteria” for an EHCP. It’s bullcrap. The reason they tell you this is because the school will have to fund the first £6K of each EHCP, each year. They do not have the funds for this, hence the gaslighting.

You will notice that for any child that it is obvious they need an EHCP, and will cost the school a lot of money to support that child, they will be given an EHCP. However, if your child needs minimal support in school or not enough to warrant that their needs are “obvious” then the school will tell you that your child is just “fine” and will cope without an EHCP.

It’s absolute rubbish.

DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM or trust them like I did.

As IPSEA says:

“When should a local authority carry out an EHC needs assessment?

If a local authority (“LA”) is requested to carry out an EHC needs assessment by a parent, young person, school or college, they must consider:

whether the child or young person has or may have special educational needs (“SEN”); and

whether they may need special educational provision to be made through an EHC plan.

If the answer to both of these questions is yes, they must carry out an EHC needs assessment.

This test is set out in the law (section 36(8) of the Children and Families Act 2014). This means these are the only questions the LA should be asking when considering whether or not to carry out an EHC needs assessment.”

However, if you don’t have any formal diagnoses it is very, very hard to get to the assessment stage. As depressing as it is, the more diagnoses that you have, the more likely your child will get an EHCP.

I have gathered a LOT of really helpful resources about EHCP’s over the last few years, especially if you have a child that it’s not obvious in school that they need an EHCP, and I am happy to share them with you. Just email me at and I will send them when I have a moment.

That’s all folks!!

I thought that when the time came, I’d be really sad about sending this post out.

But I’m not.

I actually feel a HUGE sense of relief and that a weight has been lifted, which tells me that I’m right to trust my instincts on this.

I didn’t want to end on a post like mornings but I’ve never been very good at “Endings” and you often don’t get to choose how things end.

Only when.


I’ve served local Mum’s and their children via NorthHantsMum for 8 years.

Served by providing a free service and served by doing my time.

(Yes, it has felt a bit like a prison sentence for at least a year but I didn’t want to feel like I was failing all of the new Mum’s who, in the current climate, will need the support of something like NorthHantsMum even more than ever before.)

I’m no longer the idealistic new Mum who started NorthHantsMum on 22nd June 2011 and wanted to do something good with what she’d learnt.

Someone who thought she could leave the world a little bit better than before.


NorthHantsMum has grown WAY beyond what I ever, ever anticipated. It’s kind of like my second baby.

I’ve poured a LOT of my heart and soul into it over the past 8 years and I’m very proud of what we’ve done on NHM.

I feel like it’s been such a positive thing, despite the negativity that’s been thrown at me in the past 6 months.

We’ve done loads of good things together, had loads of amazing opportunities.

Not just me but many of you and your children have also benefited.

And for that I will always be very proud.

Thank you

So many thank you’s, I honestly don’t know where to start. It’s hard to remember who to thank when you’ve been running something for 8 years!!! I know I will miss some and for that I sincerely apologise.

(Oh yes, I know this list of thank you’s is almost as long as the LONGEST Oscar winning speech <blush>, but it’s my blog and I’ll write what I like! Hahahaha).

Firstly thank you to My Beloved, Mr NHM, who has put up with me running NHM for the past 8 years, often at the detriment of our time together. He’s put up with me moan about him on a public platform, been given a pseudonym he never asked for and had some of his life shared for public consumption (via the “Weekly Things to do” posts. Remember them?!). He’s patiently listened to me talk about NHM for so long and given me so much “black and white” advice and I love him so very much for that. There is no way I could have carried on for so long without his love and support.

Thank you to Miss NHM for being the inspiration for NorthHantsMum. She continues to challenge me in soooo many ways (I naively thought parenting her would get easier as she got older. It hasn’t <faceplant>!) and, despite how much of a strong willed pain in the arse she can be at times (I often wonder where she gets it from. Sigh), I am infinitely honoured and privileged to be her Mum. I have no idea how she has coped with what she has been through in her short life already. She has so much courage and her willingness to forgive inspires me continually. She has SUCH a big heart and already wants to do so many good things in the world. I am SO extremely proud of her and the person she’s becoming. I love her more than I ever thought I could.

Thank you to ALL of the volunteers who have given up their time and energy to help me out. I seriously think there are about 300 of you!

All of the Mum’s who have written up NHM Reviews for the benefit of others. All of the Mum’s who have helped out in the background with things like formatting posts, administering groups and tagging me in posts. All of the Mum’s who tested the “new” wordpress website in 2015. All of the Mum’s who wrote a NHM Reader Experience post so they could share what they had learnt for the benefit of other Mum’s.

I literally couldn’t have kept NHM going without your help. There are so many of you I don’t want to name anyone in case I miss someone out. You know who you are and I will be forever grateful for all of your support.

I would especially like to thank those Mum’s who worked REALLY hard in the background to help me out, especially Juliet whose wise words have kept me sane during the past several years, Shona for her sense of humour and for telling me like it is and to Wendy for covering my arse FAR too many times to mention in the past 8 years! At least I now know that the clocks “Spring Foward” in Spring! Hahahaha. I know I never said thank you enough, but hopefully you know how grateful I am for your support and help. If you ever want a Reference, you know where I am ;-).

Thank you to all of those amazing Mum’s that I have met through NHM who have become some of my most treasured friends. You know who you are and my life would be infinitely worse off without you. Thank you for your wise words, your passion for NHM, your true friendship and for letting me hug you too much <blush>!

Thank you to Tina, Andy and Abi for your wordpress expertise and for stopping me from having a heart attack every time the site crashed in the past 8 years! I am so grateful to you for so frequently going out of your way use your technical skills to help me when I was panicking that new Mum’s wouldn’t be able to find the breastfeeding support schedule.

Thank you to all of the Mum’s who came along to a NHM Networking meeting over the past 5 years. Seeing small businesses grow and the impact that this has had on local Mum’s and their families has been a true highlight of my life.

Thank you to everyone who ever came to a NHM Expo or a NHM Meet Up, as a seller, buyer or attendee and thank you to everyone who helped me with setting up, planning, cleaning up and promoting. They were bloody hard work but I’m glad I did them.

Thank you to all of the local businesses who have given up their time, service or products for free to help out NHM Readers.

Thank you to all of the small business owners who have actively supported me on my NHM journey with Guest Posts, offers of their time and services and words of encouragement. All of you are doing such great things to try to make the world a better place whilst providing an income for your self and your families. I will be forever in awe of you as running a small business is really hard!!

Thank you to all of the Mum’s who bought their children along to events. I have seen so many of these children grow up, many from when they were teeny babies, and it’s been such a privilege to be a tiny part of their journey.

Thank you to everyone who came along to the cinema with me, via the NHM Cinema club. Although I still haven’t quite gotten over how awful “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was even with Elton John doing a chicken dance! Hahahaha.

Thank you to everyone who ever listened to me rant about how much I hate Facebook. The amount of time and energy I have wasted on this platform in the past 8 years cannot be calculated (it was so bloody MUCH) and thank you to anyone who has ever had to listen to me rage about how crap it is!!! :-D. I am REALLY looking forward to having a break from social media!

You might think this strange but I am very grateful to the Mum’s who posted negative comments on the baby clinic post.  Had it not been for your outrage and negative comments on me sharing my opinion,  I don’t think I would have stopped to think about why I was still running NorthHantsMum.  Thank you also to the local business owner who accused me of killing her husband and taking food out of her children’s mouths earlier this year because I had shared a post from a competitor of hers (Please don’t ask me who it was because I won’t tell you). I really, really, sincerely appreciate your feedback as you helped making my decision so much easier. (That’s honestly not sarcastic, I am very grateful).

Thank you to everyone who sponsored me for my Sky Dive in 2015, all of those wonderful, wonderful people who helped to fund raise for the “Sitting with Jane” bench in 2017 (I might actually have the time to go sit on it now, as it’s been at least 18 months since the last time! <faceplant>) and everyone who helped to raise funds for local community charities via NHM.

Thank you to all of the people who have recommended NHM to other Mum’s and Dad’s by word of mouth, sharing about NHM with their friends or by sharing leaflets. Your passion about what we’ve done on NorthHantsMum has sometimes been overwhelming and I will always be very grateful to you!

Thank you to everyone who has gone out of their way to comment, email, tweet or PM me in the past 8 years. Your support has been phenomenal and I will be forever grateful.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has ever read NorthHantsMum. Whether it was one post or since the beginning, I am so grateful.

So grateful.

That’s all folks! 

My priority is my family, my marriage and my husband and daughter. I’m looking forward to being able to put ALL of my energies into them.

I no longer have any energy left to support anyone else other than those priorities.

As one of the trusted women in my life said “there’s no more “me” to go round”.

Since making the decision two weeks ago, to close NorthHantsMum, I’ve realised that I’ve been toying with the idea of stopping NHM for at least a year but didn’t want to let anyone down.

Didn’t want any new Mum’s to miss out on what NHM has been able to offer our local Community for the past 8 years.

Didn’t want to feel I’d set an expectation that people assumed would always be available.

Ever since the Children’s centres closed in 2016 the amount of support requests coming my way has dramatically increased and many of them were waaayyy beyond what I ever expected to be dealing with.

If I’m really honest with myself I haven’t been feeling it since Miss NHM’s Coeliac diagnosis in May 2017. That was a curveball we didn’t see coming and we are still struggling with the fall out.

As Mum’s we are raising the next generation, which is the MOST important job of all. Which also means it’s the hardest job of all.

As I said earlier this morning, Motherhood is the HARDEST job in the world (Fatherhood is the 2nd hardest job in the world ;-)) and I do believe that in the current climate it’s getting harder.

I know that as NorthHantsMum Readers, we are all just trying to do our best for our children, regardless of our circumstances and I would love to continue to support you on that journey.

But it’s time to hang up my wordpress login.

Time to clear the way for some new blood to step in and take up the reigns.

NorthHantsMum was always about pregnant Mum’s, babies and young children up to the age of 6 years old.

Miss NHM is 8.5 years old and I’m so far removed from babies and toddlers now that I’m not the right person to be running something like NorthHantsMum anymore.

What happens next will remain for the next year at least and I will continue paying the hosting costs each month. Once I get less than 10 hits a day I will close the site down.

I will keep the “Louise NHM Smith” profile active for the time being but I don’t expect to post to it anymore and I won’t be doing any more anonymous NHM Reader questions or sharing any items that would be relevant to local parents. You will still be able to message me if you think there might be something that I can urgently help with, but I won’t be sharing anything with the NHM Community, so you will only get my insights when I check my fb inbox ;-).

Most Facebook groups that haven’t been active in the past 6 months have already been deleted.

I will keep the following groups active for the time being but will probably archive them after June 2020:

NorthHantsMum Publicity for Local Businesses: Support local Businesses!!!

NorthHantsMum: Mums running Small Businesses

NHM Part Time Jobs

NHM Pregnancy in Basingstoke and North Hampshire (Due 2019)

NHM Allergy/Coeliac Disease Parents

Basingstoke 2019 Year R (NorthHantsMum)

NHM Basingstoke Homeschooling Networking

All of the other groups will be archived at Christmas 2019, so if, for example, you want to save any recipes from the “NHM Family Meal ” group, please do it ASAP.

Keep on being Awesome Mum’s! 

If I’ve learnt anything over the past 8 years it’s that my mental energy is finite.

And it’s time to put ALL of my energy back into my family, especially my daughter who inspired me to start NorthHantsMum.

I’m excited.

Excited about what the future is going to bring.

I’m excited to see what happens next, which tells me that I am definitely doing the right thing for my mental health and my family.

I’m looking forward to taking some time out.

I’m looking forward to having an awesome summer and not having to worry about September or Christmas on NorthHantsMum for the first time EVER since my daughter was born in 2011.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens with the new space I will have in my life.

I wish you and your children all the very best of luck in ALL of your future endeavours and I will be forever grateful for your support.

I love this quote from Jim Rohn which sums it up for me perfectly: “Here’s part of the drama then. I go with you, for when we all leave here and the lights are out and the place is dark, I go with you, because you are taking my notes and hopefully some of the spirit, some of the stuff I had besides just the notes, so I go with all of you. But here’s the big drama. All of you go with me. See that’s so unbelievable. So, as I leave here, I promise not to leave you behind. I will take you with me in my thoughts and in my heart.”

Thank you for reading. It’s been a blast!!!


Thank you very much to everyone who commented on the “Health Visitor Baby Clinic Drop-In” cancellation post!

Thank you very much to everyone who commented on “Louise nhm Smith” on the “Health Visitor Baby Clinic Drop-In” cancellation post.

I felt very passionately about this issue, having had so many Mum’s contact me in the past several years asking for mine and the NHM Communities support.

If we can do something to raise the visibility of the issues that Mum’s will face without being able to Drop-In to the weigh-in’s then that is nothing but a good thing.

This was NEVER my intention when I first set up NHM, that I would be filling a gap to try to raise awareness of some very big issues that are facing the local Mum community.

However, there were a couple of comments on the Health Visitor Baby Clinic post towards a paragraph that I wrote, which I would like to address.

The Ladies who wrote those comments may not like what I’ve written below and that’s absolutely fine.

And actually, I don’t need to explain myself to those Mums.

I did not mock or disrespect anyone else’s views or the choices that they have made and there was no judgement in what I wrote.

If those Mum’s who commented felt that their choices were being judged, the only people who were judging them was them. Not me.

This is what I wrote:


30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds. Depending on your perspective you can see this as a positive thing but I believe that institutionalising 3 year olds and taking them away from their Mothers at such a young age, for so long, is going to have nothing but a negative impact.’

In the meantime:

  1. Yes, I passionately believe that, in an ideal world, babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum’s than anyone else.
  2. I don’t agree with the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds
  3. I believe that nurseries and pre-schools are Institutions
  4. I believe that children start school far too early in this country
  5. I believe that it’s none of my business the choices that you have made for your children and likewise it’s none of your business the choices that I made for my child
  6. I passionately believe that being a Mum is the HARDEST job in the world (and being a Dad is the 2nd hardest job in the world!)
  7. I believe we are all trying to do the best we can for our children, regardless of our circumstances
  8. I believe that you and I can have differing opinions and agree to disagree

The problem with making statements like the ones above is that people will always do their best to try to pull them apart.

And that’s fine.

That’s their choice.

I’ve been writing NHM long enough to know that if you are brave enough to put your head above the parapet and share an opinion, there will be at least one person who doesn’t agree.

But there will be many people who do agree and THOSE are the people I have written NHM for.

Let me unpack those statements above a little more, to explain why I’ve written them.

  1. I passionately believe that, in an ideal world, babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum’s than anyone else.

For Millions and millions and millions of years, Mum’s have been the primary carer for their babies and young children. That’s a fact. It is what it is.

I know that society is changing.

I know that in many instances we don’t feel we have any choice but to put our children into childcare and to have someone else look after them.

We have mortgages to pay and lives to pay for and we want the best for our children which, these days, comes with a hefty price tag.

We enjoy our jobs and we want to be a good role model for our children.

I also understand that this statement is a huge steaming pile of hypocracy given that Mr NHM and I put Miss NHM into nursery when she was 5 months old when I returned to work.

But that doesn’t change my belief.

And is one of the reasons why I’ve run NorthHantsMum for all of these years.

  1. I don’t agree with the 30 hours free childcare for three and four year olds

Looking at the big picture, I believe that 30 hours free childcare is far, far too much.

I say that as someone who used to pay more than £1000 a month for her child to be in nursery, so the free hours would have been BEYOND helpful!

The main reason is the number of Mum’s that I’ve spoken too who feel they are now being pushed into the workforce, by financial needs, as soon as their children turn three years old.

They categorically don’t want to go back to work.

They want their children to remain at home with them but they no longer have that luxury (and these days, unless you’re minted, it is a luxury!) with the offer of 30 free childcare hours on the table.

I do feel that 15 hours of free childcare is the right amount for 4 year olds, four half days a week, because socialisation before they join the institution that is school can be so beneficial to them.

But no, when I look at the bigger picture, I don’t agree with the 30 hours of free childcare.

Even though I know how much those hours help many, many, many of you and how they would have financially HUGELY helped my family.

  1. I do believe that nurseries and pre-schools are Institutions

Wikipedia does a much better job of explaining it than I can:

When our children start nursery and/or pre-school they must adapt to the routine of that nursery or pre-school.

There are fixed times for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Key Workers are shared between multiple children.

Each “classroom” contains a great number of children.

Miss NHM loved going to Pre-school when she was 4 years old (when she was at nursery she couldn’t tell me if she loved it or not) but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t attending an Institution.

4. I believe that children start school far too early in this country

I don’t believe that YR is a good thing and I believe that children are far too little to start school at 4/5 years old.

5. I do believe that it’s none of my business the choices that you have made for your children and likewise it’s none of your business the choices that I made for my child.

I put Miss NHM into a nursery when she was 5 months old. It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make and it almost broke me.

At the time, I didn’t feel like I had a choice. I’m the main earner in our family and I spent many years working hard in my career to get to a senior role before I met Mr NHM and Miss NHM was born.

I fell pregnant when I was working for a company that was 98% male and they had absolutely no consideration for my pregnancy or when Miss NHM was born. When I left on maternity leave I was told in no uncertain terms that if I didn’t return within 6 months, the job I’d worked so hard to have, would be given to someone else. (In 2011 if you didn’t return to work within 6 months the company you worked for was allowed to give you an “equivalent” role, which meant they would phase you out).

I’d heard the horror stories of how hard it was to return to the workforce once you’d left to have a family and I didn’t want to have to start my career all over again when I returned to the workforce.

Putting Miss NHM into nursery when she was 5 months old was, along with breastfeeding, the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

The first time I picked her up from nursery and she was smelled of someone else….

But I made my choices, in discussion with Mr NHM, and I’ve made peace with them.

I’m not happy about them and I felt, and still feel, that I was trapped by my circumstances, like so many of us are.

And yet I STILL passionately believe that babies and young children should spend more time with their Mum than anyone else.

6. I passionately believe that being a Mum is the HARDEST job in the world

Whatever we do is wrong.

We are judged by others and we judge ourselves.

We judge ourselves more harshly than anyone else.

We never know if we are getting it “right” until our children are grown up.

This post puts it far more eloquently than I can:

7. I believe we are all trying to do the best we can for our children

Whatever our decisions and our choices I know that ALL NHM Readers are just trying to do the best for their families and their children, whatever their circumstances.

8. I believe that you and I are allowed to have different opinions

We are incredibly privileged to live in a Democracy where we are able to voice our opinions.

I apologise if my paragraph upset you in any way.

If you’ve been following NorthHantsMum for a while, you will know that I do my very best to use NHM as a positive force and it is NEVER my intention to upset people, especially Mum’s.

However, if that one paragraph that was embedded in a post that was about something else entirely, hit a nerve, your negative comments actually say more about how you feel than they do about what I believe.

Who cares what I believe and write about?

The only people who should really care are me, Miss NHM and Mr NHM.

Everyone else has a choice to read what I’ve written.

Ultimately, if you don’t like what I write, please don’t read it.

But I’m taking that decision out of your hands anyway.

Don’t miss out on future posts like this – you can receive updates directly to your inbox by email by adding your email address to the box on the top right of this page and hitting subscribe. You can also follow NorthHantsMum on TwitterFacebook ProfileLinkedIn and Feedly. I hope to see you there!

Failing Families: Health Visitor Clinic Closures

It’s been 8 years since I started NorthHantsMum in June 2011.

I’ve seen a lot of changes during that time. Unfortunately many of those changes have negatively impacted local families, especially Mums with babies and small children and families with SEN children.

Yesterday I saw that the Health Visitor clinic schedule has been changed again so that now the Drop In’s are only Monday at The Ridgeway Centre and Friday at the Discovery Centre. The others are by appointment only.

Many of the clinics that have been running for at least 8 years (I know because I used them) have now been cancelled, such as Christchurch Chineham, Overton, Hatch Warren, Whitchurch and Bramley.

I understand that we are living in times of “austerity” but why is it that families, especially Mums and young children, are targeted with any cuts first?

What you can do!!!

If, like me, you are pissed off/ fed up  (I don’t swear on NHM but I feel it’s appropriate in this instance!) with the way local families are being repeatedly let down then this is what you can do:

Specifically email ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut.


Please cc. me in any emails that you send (

  1. Email the head of Southern Health:
  2. Email Maria Miller:
  3. Email your local councillor. You can find your local councillor here by using your postcode:

(You can copy and paste all of the emails from here:;; Specifically tweet ALL of the three people below and say why it matters to you that the Health Visitor clinics have been cut:

  1. Tweet the head of Southern Health:
  2. Tweet Maria Miller:
  3. Tweet your local councillors

The remaining clinics also have feedback forms, so please complete these as well. Please make sure you add comments as to why it matters to you that the clinics have been cut as the way these things work is that individual letters/emails count more than group ones.

What to write about

You could write about how disappointed you are that so many clinics have been discontinued because they were so important to you when your baby was born as they were somewhere for you to go for support.

You could write about how annoyed you are that funding cuts are impacting new Mums and thus putting them at more risk of post natal depression.

You could write about how angry you are that new Mums and future new Mums are being failed by the services that are supposed to be in place to support them.

You could also write something similar to this which I’ve been sent by another local Mum: “in recent years in our area parents have lost specialised breastfeeding support when grant funding was not extended and have had closures of Children’s Centres (11 remain out of 64 in Hampshire I think). To say that support for parents has been decimated is an understatement. I understand that money is tight but the latest blow will affect those parents who are only just coping and in turn these women and children will need to access more services via their GPs for example or as mental health referrals. I consider these additional closures will knock on to the health and well being of ordinary families and will cost the whole system more in the long run. We were promised more Health Visitors in the call for action – instead it seems we have fewer with just a skeleton service remaining. I worry for those families who in the past would have got early support from a trusted Health Visitor – who now will go under the radar. If a GP visit costs around £45, a hospital overnight stay more like £500 and a child taken in to care around £50K per annum… we can see how cutting services for families to the bare minimum will soon knock on to these other budgets. We are calling for a joined up approach to services in the county.”

You can obviously write whatever you would like but please put why it matters to you that the Health Visitor Clinics have been cut.

On Social Media you could use the hashtag #FailingFamilies.

Summary of Closures

If you have a bit more time and feel like you really want to “go to town” on how local families are being let down, then please see my summary of closures and cancellations in the past 4 years….



(There is now direct evidence of how children’s centres saved the NHS millions of pounds: Thank you to Danielle for sharing with me).


  • 30 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4 year olds, meaning many Mums are being forced back into working much earlier than they would want too.


  • Closing of Little Play Town in Nov 2018
  • Manydown Family Fun Closed
  • Absolute Karting Basingstoke Closed
  • JJ’s (softplay) Closed
  • Beenham Wolf Sanctury Closed
  • Reduction of funding for school buses – August 2018
  • Removal of school buses for children with disabilities – August 2018
  • National Playday at Eastrop cancelled in 2018. This was a free day for children that had been running for years in Eastrop but now runs in a few of the local community centres instead. It’s not the same. At all.
  • Reduction in funding for the newborn courses at the remaining Children’s Centre, Westside – 2018
  • Cancellation of the EHCP process in Nov 2018 for SEN parents
  • Closing of ParentVoice and switching to Red Rose:
  • Changes to Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support in Hampshire


  • Kids N Action Softplay Closed
(If there is anything that I have missed off this list, please let me know).

Impact of these changes

All of these changes are impacting many, many local families.

Even more so with the increase in housing of an extra 10,000 houses to be built in the local area by end of 2020, so more families are moving to the area but services are being reduced that don’t support existing families, let alone new families.

As I said above, I understand that we live in times of “austerity” but it’s very, very worrying and I try not to dwell too much on the impact these changes will have on my 8 year old daughter, her generation and future generations.

I try my best to be positive and upbeat on NHM but I think we need to try to do something to ensure that at least the Health Visitor clinics are better represented. Any help you can give with this will be greatly appreciated. If we ALL send the emails, the impact the NorthHantsMum Community could have would be huge!

Comments from other Mum’s

who have put it far more eloquently than I have!

Sarah: Sadly it Seems like this government would rather waste money hosting a £40million trump visit and push through brexit at any cost rather than look after it’s vulnerable citizens. After brexit more services like this will be cut as we will all be poorer – Apparently it’s “the will of the people”. Genevieve: As well as writing letters, you may also wish to comment on Maria’s Twitter and Facebook accounts (or here – she’s very good at attending awards, not so good at helping people!).

Eleanor: Prevention is better than cure … health visitor clinics are so useful to local people in their own communities. Mums don’t think ‘oh I’m struggling, I know I’ll book a health visitor clinic’ they just keep struggling, until something breaks or nothing happens but just struggle. I’m so sad to see the Bramley clinic cancelled. The stay and play sessions were so valuable to me. Sadly the funding is ridiculously short I presume. I’ll defiantly be emailing as you suggested. Taking away support for parents is only ever going to cause problems for parents and children in the future. Even if it’s the subtle kind of problems that don’t translate into hospital admissions etc.

Elisa: The unfortunate truth is that they are down on 5 full time health visitors for Southern Health. The reason they are not able to recruit is that most of their time is spent dealing with safe guarding issues. The role of the health visitor has sadly changed and nobody wants to do the type of work they are doing now. Add to this, the fact that the remaining staff are over worked and stressed, it’s not an environment anyone else wants to join. So as desperately sad as it is about the decreasing availability of them, writing to anyone will sadly make no difference. The jobs are available but sadly nobody wants them ☹️.

Emma: When I had my first I could walk around to chiltern school and see a HV every other Tuesday. He was regularly weighed and as a first time mum I could ask all my questions. Fast forward 4 years and I had a prem baby. Zero support. I was told I’d have more contact because he was premature- I didn’t. When I went for weigh ins the HV’s didn’t all understand how to record his weight!! You have to plot it twice for actual and corrected. The library was the easiest one to get to but queues were horrendous and then you felt rushed because you could feel the strain. Needless to say I stopped going. It was too much effort with two children and with my baby being so little. I can’t believe they’ve reduced this even further. If I was a first time mum now I’d be very worried.

Wendy: Emma, such similar story, my first was weighed once a fortnight at first, then once a month in the Popley 5 drop in that was walking distance for all of Popley, Oakridge and South View. Then they moved it to Popley Fields for my second, no longer walking distance, not at a time that was convenient for nursery/school run. He got weighed about 4 times. He had eczema and allergies but going to the drop in meant missing out on other things or struggling with the car park, so we didn’t bother. Parking charges, town being busy, all things that would have put me off going to the library. I can only imagine what it’s like for those using public transport.

Angela: It’s thoroughly saddening to see such valuable support (emotional to individuals and economic to the wider public health system) being stripped away. I hope people remember this feeling of hopelessness during the next general election and vote for a party that is going to help the public. (I’m really sorry to make this political, but in the words of a great 90s rock band “everything’s political”. We have the power to choose a government that won’t strip the first line of support from us.)

Charlotte: It’s so sad. I used to work on a HV team and the work they do really cannot be underestimated. Yes, you can still see a HV without a clinic but as mentioned above, the clinic is such a convenient and quick way to see them, without having to book an appointment. Some parents don’t have to confidence to book an appointment, or they aren’t sure if they are wasting someone’s time (they never are wasting anyone’s time). I think the cutting down of these clinics alongside the closure of the children’s centres we really come back to bite the Government in a few years when there are increased social issues and late diagnosis of problems that could have been resolved with early intervention ?.

Mary: To be a HV, you have to be a qualified nurse. They can’t find nurses because they cut the support for people to train. Lots of nurses stop nursing because its not compatible with being a parent unless you are lucky enough to work in a day service. Nurses, however, aren’t paid enough so free childcare is vital to contribute towards the cos. It’s more problematic that childcare support doesn’t start until age 3 so working parents have to struggle through age 1 and 2 first – or not work and then have to pay to reregister or train for their jobs. It’s all connected.

Nicole: I got my almost 3 month old weighed yesterday at Discovery Centre and I was shocked at how much it had changed since I took my first there in 2016. There was a queue out of the door to get in, and then you now weigh your baby and record it in your red book yourself. I didn’t need any support from the HV on this visit, but I’m not a healthcare professional and it would have been nice to just have them oversee it and my baby’s progress. To be honest I won’t be attending again. I feel sorry for the HVs because they look so stretched when you see them trying to get around the room, but most of them were extremely friendly and pleasant, and even found me a seat to feed the baby before I left.

It’s Miss NHM’s 8th Birthday today!!

Wow, she’s 8 already!!!!

It’s true when they say that the days are long but the years are short! lol. It seems like only yesterday that the picture above was taken on the day she was born.

Despite being THE most strong willed little girl and bloody hard to parent sometimes (aren’t all children at some point! lol) she is absolutely the light of my life.

As cheesy and cliched as it is, she’s brought so much joy to my heart.

NorthHantsMum wouldn’t even exist without her!!

Although now she’s 8 that does also mean that the NorthHantsMum blog is nearly eight years old.

I NEVER expected that! I honestly thought I’d end up stopping when she got to 6 or 7 years old but it seems I can’t stop as people have an expectation and it’s too big a part of my life to stop now.

NorthHantsMum was always meant to be for pregnant Mum’s and parents of babies and young children aged 6 and under but it’s gone WAY beyond that now so I don’t feel too bad about continuing.

We’ve decided not to have a birthday party for Miss NHM this year because we’ve got lots of very exciting events planned throughout the year so instead we are going out to one of our favourite restaurants for dinner tonight.

I’m very grateful that Mr NHM has been so helpful with getting everything sorted when my car broke down on Friday which meant I couldn’t get half the stuff I needed too. It never rains but it pours!!

Miss NHM was very excited that Mr NHM was home this morning and we opened all of her presents as a family together and had birthday cake for breakfast! She seemed very happy with her presents this morning although last night she told me she didn’t want to be 8 as that meant she was nearly a grumpy teenager and she doesn’t want to be a grumpy teenager! I agreed with her! lol.

Although I got in trouble for not having a birthday badge ready for her so had to make something up at 7.45am, literally just before we left for school. “Creativity” isn’t one of my strong points, let alone before 8am on a week day (the joys of parenting! lol), but she was happy with her “make shift” badge and has now gone off to school with a bag of gluten free sweets for her peers.

Happy 8th Birthday to my amazing, smart, beautiful, fantastic little girl who is the inspiration and drive for everything I do!

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New Year Resolutions: My word for 2019…

I honestly didn’t think I was going to write this post for 2019. Miss NHM and I were sick over Christmas with a nasty cold/virus that completely wiped us out and meant that most of Christmas was spent in PJ’s, coughing lots! 

Mr NHM also decided this was the Christmas he would teach Miss NHM how to play “StarDew Valley” on the computer so they have both been hidden away in the study for most of the week. Which annoyingly means I can’t get to my PC to write anything as it’s in the same room. I have GOT to invest in a laptop during 2019!  

Today I’ve “advised” them I need the study so they need to amuse themselves somewhere else. Miss NHM keeps popping in and saying that Mr NHM has done something or other to annoy her, but I’m hoping they will leave me alone for at least another hour so I can also finish my 2019 MindMap which I’m sort of working on at the same time. 

Annyyyywaaayyy, even though I didn’t think I would get to write this post for 2019 I chose my word for the year about 3 months ago. Or rather it felt like it chose me as I didn’t think about it too much or fret about the choice of word like I have done in the past few years. 

2018 was very tough for many people

Many people have said to me that 2018 was the worst year of their lives. Not even “one” of the worst years, but the worst. 

I’m very lucky to say that although 2018 was tough in places it definitely wasn’t the worst year of my life. We had some amazing family times including our first trip abroad since Miss NHM’s diagnosis which was a phenomenal holiday.  

Miss NHM is getting better and better which has been a huge blessing and relief. Both Mr NHM and I are very happy in our jobs and life feels like it’s calming down, so we can actually enjoy it after the last several years of constant stress!

So I am a bit perplexed with the word that I have chosen for 2019. Or did it choose me? lol. 

My words for the last few years have been:

  • 2010 – contradiction
  • 2011 – motherhood
  • 2012 – adjustment
  • 2013 – exceptional (not always positive!!)
  • 2014 – Me
  • 2015 – Inspiring the year really lived up to this!
  • 2016: health Oh the irony of choosing this word. I have learnt my lesson and try to choose VEEERRRYYY carefully now!!!!
  • 2017: joy and it was filled with much joy but also incredibly tough at the same time.
  • 2018: breathe there was a LOT of that going on throughout the year! lol. 

My word for 2019

I know from past experience that you need to be VERY careful with choosing a word. As I said above it feels like my word for this year has already been chosen for me. Looking at this word now, 3 months after I decided what it would be, I feel excited by it. I’m excited to see what 2019 will bring. 

My word for 2019 is going to be “free”. 


Part of me was very apprehensive when I realised that this was the word that I would choose for 2019. But looking at it now I’m actually really keen to see how this pans out in 2019. 

I’m wondering if this means that I’m going to be free of the past and free of the limitations that I have previously put on myself. Free of those limiting mindsets that we all have. Free to have some more adventures. Free to choose what I want to happen in my life. Free to have fun and explore the world again, post diagnosis. 

Starting 2019

For the first time in a LONG time I feel calm and peaceful about the following year. I feel like I’ve learnt many, many lessons in the past few years and now it’s all coming together.

As I’ve said before on the blog, I don’t believe in all that “new year/new you” crap, but I do believe that the beginning of a new year is a chance to re-assess and decide what’s working and what’s not. I’ve already made several decisions about what I will continue doing in 2019 and what I will stop doing. 

NorthHantsMum in 2019

NorthHantsMum now reaches far beyond me. There is a whole team of us working in the background. It’s been exciting to see how the blog has impacted these lovely volunteers and also to see how NHM has developed further in 2018. 

I don’t know what 2019 is going to bring for me, NorthHantsMum and the NorthHantsMum Community but I am excited to see how 2019 pans out for all of us. 

As always, thank you for all of your support. I know that we are very, very, very lucky to have such an amazing community of readers supporting myself and the team on NorthHantsMum. Thank you especially to the AWESOME team of volunteers who now help out on NHM.

I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful 2019 where you have lots and lots of FREE moments :-D. 

Happy New Year!


My Experience: Coeliac Disease, 18 months after diagnosis

I know several of you have commented that my personal posts have been quite negative for the past few years. This isn’t exactly a positive post either, so please stop reading if that’s not your bag.

Coeliac Disease – 18 months after diagnosis

I’ve already blogged before about how I find the run up to Christmas to be really tough.

This year it’s feeling tougher than ever before.

Miss NHM was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease at the end of May 2017 when she was 6 years old, and whilst she’s doing really well I am struggling with it.

At this time of year EVERYTHING involves food.

There is the school disco with hot dogs, crisps, drinks and sweets. The Brownie end of year party with pizzas, cake and sweets, the class Christmas party with party food, making biscuits to tie in with this terms subject, the fundraising cake sale, the Christmas lunch, Christmas play dates at other peoples houses, the end of term party…

It ALL involves food. Oh and squash of course because she can’t have Robinson’s squash as it has barley in it so we have to double check what she drinks too.

Miss NHM is actually really good at checking things herself but she’s only 7 years old and she can’t be expected to check everything, although she is getting really good at asking if something is gluten free or not.

I have to check Every. Single. Thing. that she eats or drinks.

At this time of year it is utterly draining and relentless.

Coeliac Disease is a lifelong auto-immune disease for which there is currently no cure, that is triggered by eating gluten. I’ve mentioned before about how cross contamination is a really big issue when you are a Coeliac. It’s awesome that gluten free food is becoming more widely available but having to explain to people, and remembering to explain to people, the risk of contamination, that one single crumb will mean that Miss NHM is sick for a month, is exhausting.

It takes Miss NHM about a month to get over being poisoned. It affects her health, her emotional well being, her studies, her sleep. It affects everything.

It’s getting to the point where I have to say to some people in our lives that every time they poison (gluten) her they increase her risk of stomach cancer in later life. Which is so frustrating when Mr NHM and I work so very hard to ensure that she isn’t poisoned.

Recently Miss NHM was poisoned (glutoned) by a member of our extended family, even though I provided all of her food for the visit. As a result of Miss NHM’s immune system being compromised by being poisoned, she then caught a stomach bug which has taken her much longer than a “normal” child to get over. She’s very pale and very exhausted, not least because gluten free carbs don’t have the same amount of energy in as “normal” carbs. We are hoping that she recovers in time for Christmas.

We now literally have no one we can trust to look after Miss NHM that can look after her properly. I have some wonderful close friends who have offered so that Mr NHM and I can have a break but Miss NHM suffers from anxiety at being left with others because of everything that has happened too her and my lovely friends already have enough to deal with in their own families.

When I went public about Miss NHM’s Coeliac Disease earlier this year, another Coeliac parent commented that this disease really shows you who your real friends are. This is so very true for us. We’ve noticed that we don’t get invited to as many things as we used to. This might be because we are getting old and miserable (facepalm) but I also think it’s because people are just too scared in case they poison Miss NHM. Which I totally understand it’s just hard to cope with sometimes.

Having said that we have often been overwhelmed by how understanding and supportive people can be. Many of our friends have been wonderful about it. Other parents, who we have never met before, have gone out of their way to organise food and birthday cakes and birthday parties, to ensure Miss NHM doesn’t feel different or miss out. This has restored my faith in humanity on a number of recent occasions.

There are more good things. Miss NHM doesn’t know any different because this is really all that she’s known. She also suffered with “brain fog” pre-diagnosis so there are huge gaps in her memory from when she was younger. She is so good when she’s offered things that have gluten in, particularly by children at school who hand out home made goodies on their birthday, and will always give them to her teacher.

Her school have been absolutely amazing, soooooo much better than The Prison. Her class recently went on a school outing and the teacher went to the same place a week before, to scope it out and ensure that Miss NHM wouldn’t be poisoned. Her teacher has also ensured that all of the ingredients for their recent class baking were gluten free. The Brownie Ladies have also been absolutely fantastic. There are lots of activities which involve food at the Brownies but they always review every item with me in advance and I’m not expected to go and get alternatives for them.

It’s just tough at this time of year. Christmas seems to be ALL about food. It’s great that we can get more gluten free alternatives than we could even at Christmas last year but it’s making people aware of the risk of cross contamination which is the real challenge and explaining just how serious it is.

At the moment, the beginning of December, I am literally living for the 21st December, when Miss NHM breaks up for the Christmas holidays and Mr NHM and I have two weeks off work. We get to relax and know that we don’t have to constantly check all food and drink. We are hoping to brave it to the two local restaurants that we feel safe that Miss NHM won’t be poisoned at (both are accredited restaurants with Coeliac UK). We won’t be seeing any family this year because it’s just not worth the drama or stress of Miss NHM being sick for ANOTHER month.

So yeah, this isn’t a positive post but this is my life at the moment. NHM is a blog that’s supposed to be a bit about my experience of being a Mum and this is my current reality.

I know that come January we can heave a sigh of relief that we got through it and we won’t  have to really worry about food until July when the end of the academic year starts. And we have much to be thankful for, not least that it normally takes 12-13 years to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease and Miss NHM was diagnosed in under 3 years.

If you are struggling at the moment, for whatever reason, just know you are not alone.

Thanks for reading to the end ;-).

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My Experience: The end of Y2

You may have noticed that I’ve been going on and on and on about our experience of moving Miss NHM to a new school so I thought it was time to write something about my experience of Y2.

Four days into September 2017 term we removed Miss NHM from her old school.

The school pastoral team were arrogant enough to do completely the opposite of the comprehensive care plan that myself, Miss NHM’s paediatrician and Miss NHM’s GP put together over the summer and made Miss NHM sicker during her first week back at school. I have since found out that it was illegal for them to do this, based on the Department for Educations “Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions” comprehensive document.

Needless to say that was the icing on the cake after two years of despicable treatment of my daughter.

It was an incredibly stressful time. During that week that Miss NHM started her new school my car broke, the washing machine gave up the ghost, my Mother had what the professionals thought was a mini-stroke and it was the Sitting with Jane Bench auction at which the Teaching Assistant, who had been subjecting abuse at Miss NHM for months, was also at.

(When I reflect on that time, I still wonder how I didn’t end up in the nut house!)

We decided on the Friday evening that Miss NHM would never be going back to her old school.

On the Monday morning I rang round all of the local schools and was beyond delighted to find that one of my favourite schools had one space left for her (I’d already visited a few in June and July in anticipation of her old school still being beyond sh*t).

We were so, so, SO lucky and I thank our lucky stars every day that she’s now at the school she is at.

They have been….FANTASTIC!! I literally couldn’t ask for a better school. ALL of the staff are so lovely and compassionate. It’s such a brilliant school and Miss NHM has THRIVED  since she started in September 2017.

Seeing her get better over the past year as a result of just over a year of the Gluten free diet and seeing her in such a safe and happy environment has made my heart sing on a number of occasions.

She’s made some wonderful friends and she really has grown into a healthy and more confident child.

Her anxiety when she started at her new school was through the roof and I was extremely concerned about the impact of moving her to a new school but we realised we didn’t have any choice and despite her anxiety and Coeliac Disease she has completely flourished at her new school and I am eternally grateful to all of the staff at the new school who have helped with this.

Now that she isn’t in pain all of the time her reading has gone off the charts! I’m having to go to the library to borrow books for her as she’s read everything at home and for her year in school! (did you know that you can now borrow 30 books at a time on a children’s library card? Thanks Su for the heads-up!)

Her maths is still behind because she missed most of YR and a lot of Y1 as she was so poorly but she’s getting up to speed quickly.

She has lots of friends in her year and is WAY more chatty that she used to be (double edged sword) probably because she isn’t in pain now. It’s been wonderful to see that she’s been in a year where the children are all down to earth and, apart from one child, there has been no bitchiness or nastiness.

Even the school Mum’s are all lovely. Yes, there are a few cliquey’s but nowhere near as many nasty Mum’s (there were lots and lots of lovely Mum’s there too!! Just in case my friends from there are reading! <facepalm>) as there were at the old school.

With hindsight we probably should have moved Miss NHM to another school earlier but we were struggling with getting her well again and that was our focus. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and when it happens when the time is right.

I’m thankful that we moved her AFTER her diagnosis so that her “unexplained” sickness didn’t carry with her and I’m beyond grateful that the “new” school have been so fantastic.

Based on my experience, if your gut is telling you that your child isn’t happy in their current school have a look around at other local schools and go and visit them. Literally everyone I know who has moved their child to another school has found it a very positive experience for the child in question.

I’m really looking forward to Y3 and seeing how Miss NHM continues to bloom, to become more healthy and overcome her anxiety and thrive. Thank you to those of you who have supported us along this journey so far! I’m very, very thankful for all of you!!!

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I’m now on holiday until the 4th of September 2018! WHOOOP!!!!

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I’m going to (properly) take the summer off from NHM this year.

This means that I won’t be posting daily on although I will still have “recur” post working which means that historical posts will be re-published to NorthHantsMum FB Page every afternoon, around 4pm.

I also have a backlog of posts that I’ve promised to publish so will get to those at some point next week, but I won’t be “accepting” any new posts on NHM for the rest of the summer.

I need a break! 

I am still happy to take anonymous questions on “Louise NHM Smith” over the summer and I will continue to share posts from others that are useful for the NorthHantsMum Community.

However, I will be out of the country from Friday 17th August until Tuesday 4th September so will be doing NOTHING on NHM then.

I will still be working on my “day job” during the summer but I plan to spend more time with Miss NHM and to dramatically reduce the amount of stress that I normally have to deal with during the academic year.

It definitely feels like the last few years are catching up with me and I desperately need a “proper” break.

September Emails

I am quite worried about being bombarded with emails in early September, so if you already know about class changes, etc, please email them to me now and the NHM team and we will work on them in the background.

If you plan to send me emails about class schedule changes, etc, please note that it may take me a few weeks to get through them when I get back from holidays.

Please also ensure that what you send me can just be copied and pasted into the Class list as I don’t have time to format stuff anymore.

If you have any questions at any point, please don’t hesitate to get in touch but apologies if I don’t come back to you quickly.

I’m really, really, reeeeaaaalllllyyyy looking forward to a bit of a break!!! I hope you have an AWESOME summer too!

As always thank you for your amazing support!


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Questions I would ask if Miss NHM was starting YR now

I’ve learnt a few things during the last three years, since Miss NHM started school.

We’ve changed school in that time and we’ve experienced two very different schools as a result.

These are the questions or the things I would be thinking about if Miss NHM were to start school all over again.

As I’ve said here before, I’m very aware that I only have experience of two schools so please take this with a pinch of salt.

You don’t have to agree with me and that’s fine. These are just my ramblings, as a parent, on what I would be asking or considering if Miss NHM was to go back and start school again.

Oh and apologies to any teachers or teaching assistants who read NHM and take offence to any of this. I think that the majority of you do a PHENOMENAL job under very difficult conditions and I’m very thankful for all of your efforts.

Visiting Schools/Questions to Ask

“What are your objectives for the school?”

“What do you want the children to get out of their time from school?”

If you are visiting lots of schools I would recommend seeing if you can get some time with the head. They are top of the food chain at the school and as everything flows down from them it would be important for me to understand what their “ethos” is for the school.

I would ask them about what their objectives are for the school and what they expect the children to get out of school. If they don’t mention the word “fun” at least twice during that conversation I wouldn’t even be considering that school.

If all the head or the teachers talk about is education and maths and english that would be a red light. For me, infants school (in fact all school) needs to be not just about education but also about the welfare ofeach child and how the school would support that.

I believe that there needs to be a fun element in school. Children should not be expected to sit at their desk all day long, especially not in YR.

I would also be VERY reticent if that head teacher came across as very cold and didn’t share anything about their thoughts or feelings. This will reflect throughout the school.

Length of service of the teaching staff

“How long has the head teacher been at the school?”

At Miss NHM’s first school the head teacher changed during the summer holidays just before she started YR. Parents were not informed and I only found out about this by accident. It was handled appallingly by the school and things changed dramatically from when we originally saw the school to when Miss NHM started school. To the point that we didn’t even know when Miss NHM would be starting school until a month before. This should have been an early warning sign to me.

Also, it was clear that the head teacher had no idea what they were doing and this reflected in Miss NHM’s experience of YR.

“How long have the teachers in YR been at that school? ”

This is really important. It’s very interesting to note that often when a new head starts, a lot of the existing staff leave within 6 months, so you will essentially be starting with a brand new staff team.

School Visits

We were given a tour of one school by a parent governor. I wouldn’t attend this tour again. They did not give us a clear picture of the school and we only found this out once Miss NHM started at that school.

I also attended another school visit that was led by children who attended that school. This was a DREADFUL way of seeing a school because it wasn’t possible to ask questions as we went round because the children were unable to answer them. Or maybe that was the idea…

Visit during the school day

As I’ve said before I would also ensure that my visits were during the day time whilst the existing children were in the school. This is VERY enlightening. If the children are all sitting well behaved behind desks, that wouldn’t sit well with me after everything we have experienced.

In YR children should be free to roam. Their focus should be on play activities. I would stand in the YR rooms and turn around slowly and take in the environment. Are the rooms free flowing? Are there mostly toys and sensory items available for the children to play with? Are several of these outside? These are the kinds of things I would be considering as a parent.

School Uniform

“What’s the policy on school uniform?”

Are the school really, really strict on school uniform? This speaks volumes to me if they are strict about uniform in infants school.

Particularly if they demand that the children wear logo’d T-shirts. The stress that we went through because Miss NHM wouldn’t wear logo’d T-shirts because they scratched, is still firmly etched in my mind.

“Extra” classes

“Does the school allow for any other “classes” during the school day?”

I know of some schools that have extra classes during the school day that parents can pay for. Things like sports, music and art, the stuff that the government doesn’t deem important enough to be included in the school curriculum on a regular basis.

If the school doesn’t allow external providers into the school, to me, this indicates the philosophy of the school.

Forest School

“Does the school have any provision for forest school.”

I know of several local schools that have forest school and I’m GUTTED that Miss NHM missed out on this at her school as they mainly do it for the YR and Y1’s in her current school and her old school didn’t have forest school at all.

The children turn up in casual clothes and spend the day outside. The fact that some schools recognise how important it is for young children to be outside would be important to me.

Holidays during term time

“What’s the school policy on taking a child out of school during term time?”

This was my “killer” question when we were going round to view schools before Miss NHM started YR.

All the schools will say the same. It’s illegal, the children will miss out on their education and become illiterate, stupid and will fail at life, you’ll get fined, blah, blah, blah. However, it’s not WHAT they say it’s the WAY that they say it. One head teacher of a school we visited literally tried to rip my head off after I’d asked her that question.

Her response made me think very long and hard about whether I would want my child in a school where the head felt it was appropriate to behave like that with a very reasonable question from a parent who was new to the schooling system.

Failing YR

“How does a child fail YR at this school?”

If a teacher or head teacher balks at the word “fail” then that’s what I would be looking for. If I got a long spiel about how children fail YR for whatever reasons, I would NOT be sending my child to that school.

Time outside

“How often are the children allowed to play on the school field?”

Does the school even have a school field and if they do are the children allowed to play on it or is it “just for show”. I would also want to know about break times and the times that children are allowed outside.

For example, if it’s a heatwave are children still allowed outside to play in the shade during their break times or do they need to remain in the sweltering heat in the classroom?

Additional Needs Children

“How are children with additional needs treated at this school?”

Even if I didn’t have a child with additional needs this would now be a key question for me.

Having seen the IMMORAL and inhumane way that Miss NHM was treated at her old school and having heard that several other children with additional needs have now been removed by their parents from that school, I would want to know exactly what the school was doing to support children with additional needs.

Even if my child didn’t have additional needs I would want to meet the SENCO and the ELSA of the school so I knew who these people were and I got to see how sympathetic and understanding they were.

You never know if your child is suddenly going to need extra support, like we did, and knowing these people in advance and what their “ethos” is would be important to me.

Reception Staff

Having experienced two school receptions I know EXACTLY what I would be looking for.

If the receptionist on the front desk is rude, dismissive or patronising, this speaks volumes about the school.

They will potentially be the first person that you speak too or meet. If they can’t be civil or understanding of a new parent who has no idea what is going on, I wouldn’t want my child at that school.

If the reception staff are bubbly and happy and very willing to give you advice if you are a new parent then this is what I would be looking for.

Sports Day

“What happens on Sports Day?”

This is a bit of a random one but having experienced two very different Sports days at two different schools I would want someone to explain to me what happens on sports day.

If there is no mention of Mum’s races, Dad’s races, toddler races or teacher races this would raise a red flag for me.

For me, Sports days should be a really lovely family affair and if parents and families aren’t invited to take part and it’s just about rigidly following the “structure” of the schools Sports Day, I would be concerned.

Primary Schools vs. Infants Schools

“Is the school a Primary or an Infants school?”

In my naivety before Miss NHM started school I was adamant that she went to an Infants school because I thought it would be better for her to be with children roughly the same age as her and that she would be with lots of her peers.

However, now that we’ve been through two schools I would ALWAYS opt for a Primary school, for many reasons.

Primary schools are normally smaller schools with smaller years, so instead of 3 or 4 classes of 30 children in YR you have 1 or 2 classes of 30 children for each year in a Primary school.

Younger children are also mixing with other children a lot older than them and I have only seen good things come from this. Miss NHM is in awe of the children in Y6 and is always trying to emulate her favourites.

Also, if your child is in Infants school you then have all of the anxiety and stress when they move from Infants to Juniors. I have several friends at Miss NHM’s old school who are living this reality and it looks like it’s quite stressful. Not knowing what the new junior school will be like can be very worrying (they often operate independently of the infants school), as well as stressful wondering about how things “step up” in Y3.

Go with your gut

Most importantly, I would trust my instincts. I wouldn’t let Mr NHM do some of the school visits on his own because I was busy working and trying to look after Miss NHM whilst she was still an un-diagnosed Coeliac. I would want both of us to go and see ALL of our local schools either together or independently during school time.

I wouldn’t just follow the system and think that the school that’s closest to us has got to be a “good” school because aren’t all schools “good”? (No, they aren’t).

I would trust my parenting instincts and if a school didn’t feel right for whatever reason, even if I couldn’t verbalise it, I wouldn’t send Miss NHM there.

When you go into a school and you speak to the staff and the children you will just “know” which school is right for your child.

I hope this hasn’t been too stressful to read for new parents who are due to join the schooling system soon.

Hopefully it’s given you some things to think about that I had never considered when Miss NHM started school. (I wish I had had the benefit of reading this post when she was 3 years old!)

Good luck!

What would you add to these questions?

Feedback from NHM Readers on this post:

Alison: “Some interesting points although I was rather shocked to find out that the school closest to you might be the only one you got even if you didn’t chose it.” 

Leanne: “Lots to think about although your bit about infant/junior schools I would say is unnecessarily worrying for parents who live where there is only a choice of separate schools and no primaries. There are also some enormous primaries! I’ve taught in both and I don’t think the type of school has been a significant factor in children’s happiness.

Also-no teacher or parent races at sports day would not raise a red flag. For every parent that enjoys that sort of thing, there is one that dreads it and hates the thought of letting their child down. Also, the more races there are, the longer the children are sat doing nothing which is especially not great during this hot weather!

I totally agree with listening to see if the HT talks about more than just English and Maths.”

Lucy: I’d add that your child isn’t legally required to be in school at all. It’s your choice how and where your child is educated.”

Leanne: “Oh and it is worth knowing that you can take your child out of school legally until the term after they turn 5 (when they then have to be in education). So if your child is 5 in May, for example, you can take them on holiday any time during their Reception Year but if they are 5 in November you only can for that first term.”

Lizzie: “Couple of things I would like to add. Firstly, your child is not compulsory school age until the term after they turn 5 so it is your right to choose how much they attend until then. Also, if your child is born 1st April – 31st August you can apply to decelerate them and start them at school a year later at age 5. You can ask for them to start in reception.”

Lizzie: “In regard to forest School – I am a forest School and outdoor learning teacher. If you really want forest school make sure it isn’t just one class that get the opportunity, look for a school that continues the provision throughout the school every year to get the most from it. Also, don’t get hung up on forest school itself. There’s schools out there that don’t have actual forest school sessions but outdoor learning and is embedded across the curriculum throughout the school. If a school values outdoor learning they will be telling you about it before you ask.”

Other questions to ask suggested by NHM Readers

Good Afternoon Everyone! I’m putting together a post with questions to ask and things to look out for when visiting Infants/Primary schools. I’ve had some great suggestions in the YR 2018 group but thought I’d ask the whole of the NHM Community if they have any suggestions? TIA 

Charlotte: “Ofsted report, exam results, behaviour management, teaching method as in topic based etc, class sizes, mixed year classes or years on own”

Mary: “Ask about toilets and the dignity of children when using them.”

Lisa: “Mainly go with gut feeling but also look at how happy/polite/well presented the kids are, how much homework do they get in each year, after-school clubs, staff turnover, parent involvement (trips etc), friendliness of staff particularly office staff, how often parents get feedback (i.e reports/parents eve)….”

Victoria: “You can ask all the questions in the world but you will ‘just know’ when you’ve found the right one for your child. When forming questions think about your child’s needs, current ‘academic’ interest, emotional maturity and then base your questions on that. In some way generic questions about OFSTED, sat results are not really going to give you the answers you need!”

Hannah: “Look for how the staff interact & engage with the children. I’d want to know more than anything else that staff would be able to build a positive relationship with my child (no matter how difficult they were being) so they would feel safe and happy… only then will the learning etc take place.”

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