What to ask on a nursery or school visit
First impressions for schools and nurseries
Is the school warm and bright? Is children’s artwork displayed proudly?
Do the children seem happy and confident?
Are the teachers relaxed and approachable?
Are the resources (toys, books, games) well looked after?
Do you like the headmistress/headmaster?
Does it feel right to you? Don’t underestimate your instincts.
What is their settling-in policy? Are parents encouraged to stay with their child, or encouraged
to separate? Are you happy with their policy?
Do they place importance on learning through play?
Can parents drop in at any time or do you have to have an appointment?
What happens if your child (or other children) is ill?
How do they deal with intolerances, allergies and whims?
What is their policy with biting? – make sure you are on the same page about this.
How are lessons structured? What is the typical daily routine?
Lunch – when your child starts to do full days at nursery, do they provide lunch or do you? Ask
how they monitor what children eat, and how they communicate this to parents. It is
important that you know what your child has actually eaten that day!
How does the school encourage good behaviour, and discourage bad? What system do they
use (star charts, traffic lights)?
What is their policy on potty training? Do they need to be potty trained when they start? What
Sleeping: are children allowed to have siestas in the day?
How do teachers communicate with parents about their child’s day? Is this verbal or written?
How can parents get involved with the school? Are you encouraged to do so?
Additional thoughts for prep schools:
What is the headmistress/headmaster’s vision for the school? What do they place most importance on?
What vision do they have for their pupils?
If you like the head, ask how long they are going to be staying there for!
Ask the head what they perceive the strengths and weaknesses of the school to be.
Ask the teachers and children what they think of the head!
If entrance is by assessment – what do they look for in their prospective students?
How many children speak English as an additional language, and how do they support these
How does the school monitor progress, and how do they communicate this to parents?
What is the homework policy? Do children do this at school, or do they bring it home every night?
How are the children grouped in class - are they in sets, streamed, mixed-ability or a mixture?
How do they push children at the top? Are their opportunities for gifted and talented children?
The bottom line: what is your gut reaction? Did you feel at home? Did you feel good about the school after the visit? Trust your instinct.