Choosing a school
We are at that time of the year when decisions need to be made about which school to send your child. Choosing a school whether it is primary or secondarycan be one of the most important decisions you take for them so you need to try to get it as right as possible.
Where to start
Once upon a time there would be no decision to make. Children went to their local school. They would walk as the distance would not need transport. They would build a group of friends who were available during holidays and at week-ends. When it came time to go to university, they would all go off into the blue yonder knowing that they had that strong base at home when they needed it.
Unfortunately this rose coloured picture may not be the case now. The local school may be full or may not have a good reputation which means you may have to embark on the activity of choosing a school.
Visit the school formally
- Take in the surroundings including the reception area and the welcome from the ‘front of house’ staff.
- Notice the displays as you walk round. Are they well maintained and celebrate student’s work?
- What is the reaction of students and staff as you go around?
- Ask about the pastoral programme. This may not be as formal in a primary school but you still need to know how your little button is going to be cared for.
- Do they run a full programme of after school clubs?
- Check on the standards in terms of SATs or GCSE results
Visit the school informally
You can often find out a great deal about a school from the end of school routine.
- Do the students leave in an orderly way?
- Are the exit arrangements safe for all students, not just those who are being met?
- If it is a primary school, what sort of discussions do parents hold while they are waiting for their children?
- How do the students appear as they leave school? Have they had a good day or are they pleased to be out of there
- Ask in a local shop or business what they know of the school.
It may not be possible to visit all of the choices available so you will need to look at school websites. Click through and see what information they give. There is a statutory agenda for what school be included in a school website so a comparison should be possible.
If you are looking at league tables (and let’s face it you do want your child to learn and be successful ) make sure you look at the trends. Results for a one off year are not helpful but if you track the trend you can see if the school is improving or in decline.
Ask the customer!
Do make sure you talk to your child about the decision you make when choosing a school for them. It maybe that there is little choice but if you are making one do include them and let them know your reasons. Of course you will soon know if they are happy and that is THE most important factor.
Parents – are you in the process of choosing a school?
Schools – how do you entice parents?