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Starting school checklist

Most parents will have to choose a school for their child at some stage. Choosing a school for your child is a big decision, as it is essential that the school you decide on can meet your child's special educational needs. You will need to visit all the schools your child can go to, so plan these visits in advance.

It is important that your child is fully involved in any decision you make. If you visit a school which you think might be appropriate, try to arrange a second visit with your child and ask them what they like or don't like about it. Your child needs to be happy and comfortable in a school if they are to make progress with their education.

The following is a checklist of the questions to ask when you visit a school. The questions in the checklist are for guidance only. You can adapt the questions to gather the information you need, but try and ask the same questions when you visit each school. This will help you to compare between the schools in your area - public, Catholic or Independent.

After each visit it is also helpful to make a list of the advantages and disadvantages of each school. This is best done within a day of the visit, and before you visit another school. The questions in the checklist focus on the facilities and staff available at a school. It may be helpful to note down the attitude and friendliness of the staff. There is space at the end to include your own comments and any comments your child makes.

Information to collect before visiting a school

This part of the checklist focuses on the information you may want to gather before visiting any school. You can ask contact the school and ask them to send you their information pack or school prospectus. You may be able to download this information from the school website.

Also ask if the school has an open day that you can attend. This is useful for a first visit. It is also worth making a second visit during a normal school day, so check with the school what kind of day you will be visiting on.

General information

  Asked for Received
Information pack/ Prospectus    
Annual report to parents    
Religious policy    
Behaviour policy    
Bullying policy    
Communication policy (This will probably only be available from schools with units or specialist schools for deaf children)    
Name of Principal:
Name of school:
Fax number:
Name of the school's special educational needs coordinator    

If you need an interpreter for your visit to the school, discuss this with them before you go so that the school can make arrangements.
Information to collect when you visit a school
General information
Number of children at the school  
Number of children in the class your child will join  
Number of children identified as having special educational needs  
Are there other deaf children in the school?  
Number of support staff and the qualifications they have.  
What deaf awareness training have staff received?  
What is the cost of a place in the mainstream school for my child?  
How often are parent days or evenings?  
How often do parents receive written reports?  
How does the school communicate with parents on day-to-day matters?  
What after-school care is available?  
What sports are on offer?  
What support is offered at sports events and at after-school care?  
Does the school have outings?  
What support will be given to my child on outings?  
How will my child be included in all school activities, including any after-school activities?  
Facilities and environment
Have any of the classrooms been adapted for deaf children?  
Are there any carpets and curtains in classrooms?  
Are any of the ceilings very high?  
Is there treatment to the surfaces of walls and ceilings to reduce echoing?  
Is there good lighting?  
How are deaf children included in assemblies and how are classes arranged for assemblies?  
Is there a loop system or sound field system for assemblies and are speakers advised on how to use FM systems?  
How many computers are there and how many pupils share each computer?  
Does the school have any specialisations, such as technology or languages?  
How often will hearing aids, cochlear implants processors and FM systems be checked?  
Who will be responsible for checking hearing aids, cochlear implants and FM systems?  
What training do staff receive on available technology?  


Are the following available?
  Tick if "Yes" In which areas of the school?
Teletext or digital television    
DVD player    
Interactive whiteboard    
Soundfield system    
Fire alarm with a visual warning, such as flashing lights or a pager system?    


Social and emotional support
Will other students have any deaf awareness training?  
Do staff supervising at playtime have any sign language qualifications or deaf awareness skills?  
How is bullying monitored on a day-to-day basis?  
What arrangements can be made for my child to meet confidentially with a mentor or counsellor?  
Full integration in a mainstream school
What training do mainstream staff receive on the needs of deaf children?  
How often do mainstream staff receive training?  
What training will mainstream staff receive on the specific needs of my child?  
Have mainstreamed staff received any deaf awareness training?  
If mainstream staff have received deaf awareness training, when will it be updated, how often, and who gives the training?  
What level of support will my child receive when they are mainstream classes and who will provide this support?  
Are pupils asked how they would like to be supported or is the support the same for every deaf student?  
Are there other deaf students or adults in the school? If not, will my child meet deaf pupils or adults regularly?  
What results have previous deaf students attained?  
Where have past deaf students moved on to (TAFE, university or work)?  
Units and specialist schools for deaf children
What communication approach does the school or unit follow?  
My child's home language is not English. What can the school do to provide full information?  
How many deaf children is the school or unit funded for?  
How many deaf children are there at present?  
How many teachers are there in the unit?  
Are all the teachers qualified teachers of the deaf?  
How many support assistants are there?  
What percentage of time will be spent in the unit and how is this decided?  
What percentage of time will be spent in mainstream classes and how is it decided?  
What size group will my child be in when in the unit?  
What size group will my child be in when in the mainstream class?  
Is training in sign language offered to parents and, if so, how often?  
What level of deaf awareness training do teachers and support staff have?  
We need interpreters. Who would interpret for parents' evenings and the annual review of my child's statement and who is responsible for organising this?  
What is the cost of a place in the unit or specialist school placement?  
Advantages of school

Disadvantages of school

What we liked and didn't like about the school and staff


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Information supplied by The National Deaf Children's Society. Reproduced with permission.
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Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is not intended as a substitute for independent professional advice.

05-Apr-2022 1:26 PM (AEST)