Worry and excitement ahead of National Offer Day for primary school starters
- Credit: Leanne Eaton
Parents across Suffolk and north Essex are just days away from finding out if their child has been offered a place at their chosen primary school.
National offer Day for primary schools - including those due to start in Reception from September, and those in Year 2 who are transferring to a junior school, is Friday, April 16, 2021.
With coronavirus restrictions in place for most of the past year, it hasn't been a typical year for families applying for school places.
Many families haven't been able to look around schools in person because of 'school bubbles' and social distancing requirements.
There has also been added worry for some parents, who feel as though their children will struggle to adjust to school life after spending more time at home, and less time in a preschool or nursery setting.
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Michaela Grognet, from Bury St Edmunds said: "My little boy Pacey is starting reception in September, he is very excited about it and I think he will love it.
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"I am hoping to receive that letter in the post soon."
Though many children are excited about starting reception, some parents are worried that their little one's will find the adjustment to school life difficult.
Leanne Eaton, whose daughter Nancy is due to start school in September, said: "I'm hoping we get the place we want for Nancy as she has a sibling at the school already.
"I'm more concerned about her starting full time when she has barely had a chance to get used to preschool."
Mrs Eaton, who lives in the Stowmarket area, added: "Social skills and interaction with other children has been non existent during Covid and my main concern is my child's confidence with their peers and their new teachers and teaching assistants."
Gemma Chapman, from Stowmarket, shared her concerns: "I have a child starting in September, virtual tours were available.
"Like most parents I think it is going to take more adjusting than it did for my first child.
"My second child hasn't been away from me that much or had as much social interaction with other children his own age."
What are schools doing to reassure parents?
Emma Churchman, headteacher at Martlesham Primary Academy said: "It was quite difficult welcoming families as we would usually do.
"We were lucky enough to organise some tours early on but limited them to one family at a time.
"When we went into lockdown we had to create virtual tours and also had one-to-one conversations with families on the telephone.
"This isn't as we would like it to be but the priority has been keeping everybody safe."
Miss Churchman is keen that the start of school in September goes as smoothly as possible for her new pupils, and is hoping to bring back face to face tours soon.
She added: "As restrictions are being lifted we can make sure the transition works really well for families, and they will get the time to know the school, and what the school is about once they have had their school confirmed."
Many schools across Suffolk and north Essex introduced virtual tours and also produced information booklets for children to look at when they realised they would not be able to visit their local schools before making a choice.
How did parents find the experience last year?
Sadie Wright, whose daughter started reception in 2020, praised Freeman Community Primary School in Stowupland for the way they settled in her daughter's class.
As well as staggering the start of the school year more than they usually would, teachers also visited the family in the garden for a socially distanced home visit before her daughter started school.
Mrs Wright said: "The teachers were absolutely amazing at settling the children in and making sure things went smoothly.
"As parents we weren't allowed in the building and the teachers weren't allowed to take the children off us.
"Because of social distancing children had to be able to say goodbye to us and walk in on their own."
What happens on primary school National Offer Day?
If you applied for a primary school place online you will receive an email on April 16 outlining which school your child has been offered.
You will also be able to login via an online portal.
Those parents that applied using a paper application form will receive their offer through the post after April, 16.
Join in with the parenting debate in the new Mumlife Suffolk Facebook group, which you can join here.