Selecting your first choice of primary school in the Bristol Primary Schools Admissions Process is one of the most important choices that you will make in regards to your child’s education. However, it can be a tricky choice to make, particularly if you do not have first-hand knowledge of local schools.
I regularly feature interviews with mums about pre-schools that their children attend so as to provide information to local parents about pre-schools in and around Bishopston and help them make that important choice.
From today, I will be also featuring interviews from mums on the primary schools that their children attend with the same aim of helping other local parents make choices in regards to their children’s education.
Today’s post on Bishopston Mum features a local mum’s perspective on the new Dolphin Primary School which her daughter recently started attending.
The Dolphin School is a co-educational primary school for children aged 4-11 years. It’s catchment area covers parts of Bishopston, Redland, Cotham and Westbury Park. There is an emphasis on literacy and the school boasts that by the age of 7, children will read to this stage and possibly two years above.
I hope you find this mum’s answers useful.
What was your personal experience of the primary school admissions process? Was Dolphin your first choice of school?
I applied online for my daughter’s school place and found the process very straight forward. After much thought Dolphin was our first choice!
What qualities and advantages did you feel it had over other local primary schools?
I spent many sleepless nights thinking about primary schools and which was the best school for our daughter! I had anxieties about the Dolphin School being a new school and so lacking the history/place in the community of the other schools but once I went to the open evening and met the staff my mind was “put to rest”.
It also helped when I looked round the new Brunel Fields primary school, as I could see how wonderful it can be to be involved in a new school and how great it can feel so quickly.
I feel the Dolphin School offers many advantages for my daughter for example they use the secondary teachers from Colston’s Girls’, with the head of maths coming to teach them every week as well as music and sports teachers. They also have daily French lessons and it amazes me when my daughter counts to 10 and names fruits in French (her French is already rivalling my husband’s!).
The Dolphin School also has a policy that means every child has a hot school meal together. I think this is fantastic as it encourages them to try foods that they might not otherwise as well as the obvious benefit of a hot meal at lunchtime.
Finally as we both work we really needed a school to offer “wrap around care”. The Dolphin school has an on site breakfast and after school club which unlike other local schools has no waiting list! It is also targeted at 4/5/6 year olds (as these are the only pupils they have) so they are not currently being expected to mix with much older children.
What do you think of the school building and facilities?
The school is currently using a converted office building with the two reception classes downstairs and the single year one class upstairs. There is also a small hall where the children have lunch and some of their classes. There is a new build school planned for completion in 2015 which will be located behind the current school site.
The children also have access to the Colston’s Girls’ School facilities and they go there to use their tennis courts as well as to do a forest walk in the woods behind the school.
What do you think about the size of the school? (too big, too small?)
The school is a two form intake which I think is the perfect size. Currently it only has 90 pupils so is very small but this is lovely for our children who will grow with the school.
What are your experiences of the school’s staff?
The staff at the school are excellent, they are enthusiastic and approachable. I think that they feel as excited as us at the opportunity to create a new school.
What is your opinion re communication between the school and the parents?
We have received regular newsletters from the school as well as having a home/school book where the teacher writes important things about the class timetable and shares our daughter’s achievements and challenges with us.
How does Dolphin approach the settling-in process? Did your child start on half-days for example, and at what point do children start doing full days?
We loved the settling in process at the Dolphin school and were delighted at how quickly our daughter found her feet.
We had a “stay and play” session in the summer term as well as the staff visiting our daughter at her pre school. In the first week of term our daughter’s teacher and the teaching assistant came to visit us at home. We had completed a booklet with our daughter for them to run through/discuss at this visit.
Finally the Friday before the children started all 30 children from my daughter’s class came in for a 30 minute play session. The second week of term the children started in groups of two at 30 minute intervals through the day and then they were there full time!
What are your opinions on the settling-in process?
We loved this approach as it worked so well for our daughter, there was no confusion about whether she was going to school that day or not and no confusion as to how long she would be there for.
How has your child settled in?
We were anxious about how well she would settle as she had struggled both at nursery and at preschool but she did brilliantly, everyday after school in the first week her first words to me were “I love school”, I couldn’t have hoped for any more!
What are the school’s values?
The school shares the values of Colston’s Girls School but with a primary school slant! They are “Achievement, Aspiration, Responsibility and Community.”
Does your child have any “homework” / extra reading / tasks set by the teacher to do at home?
We have a word wallet with words/letters to learn every week. We also have a reading book (for her to read) and a library book (for us to read). She reads/discusses both of these books each week.
We have also just had her first “parents evening” where her teacher advised us on other areas we could be working on with her.
Anything else that you feel would be helpful for local parents to know who are currently going through the primary school admissions process?
I would encourage people to go and see the Dolphin School even if they are out of catchment. As we are a new school not all the children are currently from within the catchment area and so there is definitely an opportunity to get a place even if you think you might not!
I hope you found this post useful!