Choosing your child’s senior school can be an incredibly stressful experience but a little forward thinking can help the process immensely.
- What should you be looking for when you go to visit schools?
- How important are Ofsted reports?
- Is my child in the right catchment area?
- Will they need to take an entrance exam?
- What do we need to do to ensure that we make the right decision?
These are just a few of the questions that tend to fly around parent’s heads!
We are regularly asked what we think that you should look for in a senior school and so have come up with the following checklist!
1. Visit Schools where possible
There is no better way to get a feel for a school than through visiting it. Most schools have open days / opening evenings. These events will help you get a sense of the values and key focus areas of the school.
Don’t spend all of your time talking to the Head teachers. You will learn far more from the pupils and if you get chance to talk to them one on one, you will get a more realistic view of school life.
Do take the time to interact with the teaching staff. This will enable you to ascertain how enthusiastic and passionate they are about what they do. Great teachers are enthusiastic, dynamic and interested in what they do. These traits result in pupils being inspired and increasing their engagement at school.
A quick drive by after school will also enable you to see how children behave outside of school!!
If your gut tells you that the school isn’t suited to your child, look for alternative options.
2. Talk to other parents
Don’t become absorbed by what your child’s friend’s parents have in mind for their child. As easy as it is to be guided by the masses, each child is different and may be suited to an entirely different school.
Do talk to people that you know about the senior school that their children already go to. Their opinions do count and they will also be able to give you a more honest view of what is good and not so good. You may have to filter out a few opinions but if you don’t hear a bad word about a particular school, then it is obviously a good sign!
3. Think about your child’s interests
Don’t become consumed by league tables and assume that school is all about academic success. If you find a school that will support the extra-curricular interests of your child as well as their academic aspirations, then your child is much more likely to settle both academically and pastorally.
Do check out the key stats on the schools that you are interested in via the government website.
4. Think about your lifestyle
Don’t forget that all school commitments will have to suit your family. Will work commitments work with the school schedule and are there any weekend commitments? (Saturday school in the norm in many independent schools)
Do think about the length of the school journey and whether it will have an impact on your logistics.
5. Entry Criteria
Don’t assume that the process of getting your child into your preferred school will be straightforward
Do ensure that you are familiar with the entry criteria. And the key dates involved. If you choose a selective school, find out as much as you can about the entry examination process. If your child will be expected to sit any type of exam such as the 11+, Common Entrance or individual school entrance exam, they are likely to need to do extra preparation as they may be tested on topics that are not covered by the KS1 and KS2 curriculum. We recommend that pupils start the preparation process as early as possible to ensure that they have the competence as confidence to deal with the future schools process.