When the time comes to start looking into schools for your child, you may feel a little overwhelmed, even if its not your first time. It’s certainly a daunting experience because it’s such a big decision that will pave the way for your child’s future. The best thing you can do is consider your family’s main priorities and try and find a school that ticks all of your boxes. I have teamed up with an international school in North London to offer some advice on how to choose the best school for your child.
Think About Your Requirements
It’s important for you to chat, as a family, about what your main concerns are when choosing a school for your child, because once you have figured that out, it will be easier to narrow down your search. Here are some things to ask yourselves:
- Are you looking for an independent or state school?
- Would you like to send your child to a single-sex or a co-educational school?
- Would you like your child to attend a school that some of their friends are attending?
- Does your child have any special educational needs that need to be catered to?
- Would you like the school to be within walking distance of your home? On a suitable bus route? On route to your work?
- Does your child have a keen interest in any particular extra-curricular activities that you’d like them to be able to pursue?
These are just a few things to think about to get you started but should certainly help you rule out some definite nos. There’s nothing wrong with getting your child involved in this conversation, not only so that you can consider their opinions but also so that they feel less intimidated by the process.
Check the League Tables
This is often the first port of call for parents who are looking for good schools because they provide valuable information on how well the school is doing in the area, compared to competitors. Schools are essentially judged on the academic performance of their students, but it’s worth taking league tables with a pinch of salt because they don’t take into account things like socio-economic contexts. What’s more, exam results don’t paint the full picture of how a child is performing. So, while it’s worth checking the league tables, perhaps don’t base your final decision on them.
Nowadays, most schools have decent enough websites that will give you plenty of information regarding things like their aims and ethos, their curriculum, previous exam results and their pastoral care policies. Rule out any options that don’t fulfil your requirements, as there’s no point wasting your time on those.
Consider Recent Inspection Reports
Inspection reports are a strong indicator of the quality of education that a school provides. They help establishments strive for improvement and teachers usually acknowledge the feedback in order to ensure their students are receiving the best possible learning experience.
Attend Open Events
Most schools will have open events that you can attend, which will allow you to take a look around, hear speeches from the headteacher and other staff and ask any questions you may have. In light of the global pandemic, many schools are now offering virtual open events, which may be more convenient if you have a busy schedule.
Talk to Friends and Family
While the decision ultimately comes down to you, there’s nothing wrong with seeking advice from friends and family who might have already experienced the process of selecting a school for their child. Support from your loved ones will certainly ease some of the stress, but remember that you know your child better than anyone, so you don’t necessarily have to take on their advice.
Above all, be sure that your decision is a joint one with your child, so that they are happy with the outcome and can settle into their new school more easily.