Choosing a Secondary School: even more questions to ask!

The choice of your child’s secondary school is arguably one of the most important decisions you will have to make on their behalf. Success at school can bring great rewards in adulthood. There is a common consensus that ‘doing well’ at school usually results in ‘doing well’ in life, and every parent wants their child to have a bright future. Many of us are scarred by memories of diffi cult times at school ourselves and want our children to avoid similar experiences. Some parents regret their their own lack of academic achievement and do not want their children to make the same mistakes.

Parents sometimes take drastic steps to access their preferred school, such as spending more on a new house in a school’s catchment area than private education would have cost them; or children travel distances to school further than their parents would tolerate for their own commute.

But these steps are often ill-advised. For example, parents might choose a school because of a reputation that could well be years out of date. A school which suits one child might not be right for another. Children are individual and unique, as are schools, and their needs should be matched to what a school can offer.”

Here are some top tips for choosing a secondary school: Talking about previous Ofsted reports with a school, especially neutral or negative ones, can provide a good indicator of how the school takes on criticism, actively listens, and puts plans in place to strive for better.

Think about how the size of the school will suit your child. Smaller schools may be able to provide continuous one-to-one support to a child, while bigger schools could have a better community spirit and group learning. Weigh up all the pros and cons and see what you think.

Keep track of all the key diary dates, including specific c school open evenings. Going to all open evenings can really help with your application.

Ask what extra-curricular activities are offered at the school. Out of school activities are a good indicator of the enjoyment and experiences available to students of the school.

Check out if the facilities are well maintained. Most classrooms will look spotless during an open evening, so look beyond the obvious teaching areas. The library, lunch hall and toilets are good indicators of how a school is maintained.

Lastly, ask your child what they think of the school. Though it may not wise to give your child final authority of the chosen school, it is still a great idea to ask for your child’s opinion and find out which they felt the most comfortable in and why.

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