Every parent wants the best for their children and choosing the right school is probably at the top of their wish list. It’s not just about the standard of education and where the school is on the league table that maters but other important issues such as location and all those added extras that make up a good all-round choice.
First of all, if you are a parent, try to take a long view. How your child starts off at school is not as important as where they are going to end up. Of course, it’s difficult to gauge all this but no one knows your child as well as you do. Keep this in mind as you go through the process of selection.
Go along to an open evening and check out what a school has to offer but don’t be a hundred per cent convinced by what you see in an event that has been specifically organised to impress you. If you like the school from this first impression then try to organise, if possible, to be shown around while pupils there. You’ll get a better feel for the school if you can see it in actual daily operation.
Many schools now operate open days rather than evenings so you can get a better feel for everything. Keep your eyes open and see how the kids are behaving. This will give you a general idea of the ethos of the school – look for how children wear their uniform and how they react to each other and to the teachers.
According to the Guardian, this is one of the major indicators when choosing a school that teachers with children always look for:
“Watch their interaction: is there mutual respect between teacher and pupil? Look at the way the students interact with one another. Are they enjoying themselves? Above all, do they seem to be proud of their school, are they proud to wear its uniform and to tell you about it?”
You can find out relevant information about any school online, including an Ofsted report to drill a bit deeper into how a school performs. It’s not simply about how many grades A and B they get but how they bring pupils on to achieve more.
It goes without saying that you should include your child in the decision process – there will be outlying considerations to take into account such as where their friends are going. After all, they are the one who is going to be attending this school every day during term time and you want them to be as happy as possible.
Another thing you may want to look at is what value added extras the school provides. For instance, an establishment that values better communication between pupils, teachers and parents will invest in new technology such as a school app which sends notifications and updates so that everyone is kept informed on a daily basis.
Obviously, you will have a limited choice with the number of schools in your catchment area and it usually comes down to a preference between 2 or 3 places at the most. As a parent you will want the best for your child and while you can do all the research and stats checking there is, visiting the school, meeting the teachers and seeing things in action will probably give you a gut instinct to which is best.