Many of us wish we knew how they did things in other schools, but never get a chance to see for ourselves, as setting cover is so difficult and unpopular. Parental leave can be a great opportunity to get inside other schools and ask some questions, and in our experience many schools are very welcoming.
Read about Madeleine’s experiences of visiting Oasis Academy Southbank (not included in her blog is her visit to Surrey Square Primary School); Dawn Stow’s career-changing volunteering in a local secondary school (scroll down!), and Emma Sheppard’s visit to The Acorn School Open Morning.
Here are some things to think about when planning a school visit:
- Start with who you know – think about friends or colleagues who have something good to say about their school and ask them if they can host you for a visit.
- Will the school be happy for you to bring your baby with you? Many are, and have members of staff familiar with, or enthused by The MTPT Project cause – just channel your WomenEd 10% braver and ask!
- Be different – try to visit a different setting to yours – primary/secondary/further education/SEN school/pupil referral unit or other alternative setting…
- Babybjorn or buggy? Think about how you will get around the school when you’re there – MaternityTeacher recommends a baby carrier wherever possible.
- Know what you want – ask to meet with leaders responsible for your areas of interest, and to observe classes. Consider staying for lunch and chatting to students or staff more informally.
- Keep up the contact – can you make lasting connections with this school that you can bring back with you when you return to work?
- Start times – as we all know, schools start mighty early. If the idea of getting out of the house before 8am fills you with dread (it did me), ask to come in for break time.
- You don’t have to stay the whole day! Schooling with baby can be tiring so take it easy and plan time to rest afterwards.
- Would you like to get to know a school a bit more intimately? Consider volunteering regularly.