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Choosing your child’s school – what to consider?

Posted on 31 July 2012

Of course you want your child to be happy and healthy – you also want to give them the best education available. So how do you decide?  It is really important to be ahead of the game and understand what’s out there and what will work for you and your family.  Decisions about state, state selective or private schools should be considered early on.

Knowing  the different types of schools that are available is imperative.  Many schools have specialisms, some are religious, some are local community schools.  What schools are in your local area?  Would you consider sending your child to a private school?

Think about the pastoral needs of your child - some children will thrive in more educational demanding schools, whilst others some will respond better in a more nurturing environments.  Would they suit a single sexed school or a co-educational school?  Are you looking for a school that offers GCSEs and A Levels, or do you want a school that will offer the International Baccalaureate (IB)?

Once you have decided the type of school that suits your child, you need to create a shortlist.  Use the internet, research websites and brochures, Ofsted results and league table positions.

Next step is visiting the schools.  First impressions are key and you should always listen to your instincts; no-one knows your child better than you do.  A good school will listen to its pupils and have a strong conviction about its educational purpose and the importance of helping all pupils to succeed.  You should be able to see examples of its approach and ethos in all areas of the school – in the pupils, the displays and what the teachers say, how they behave and their attitude.

Once you have decided on which schools are appropriate for your child’s education, you must then consider a very important question – will your child get in?  If a school is not oversubscribed, then the answer will probably be yes.  However, this is often not the case and there is no point choosing a school if you have no chance of success.  The key to success is meeting a school’s admissions criteria.

To find out the admissions criteria for any school you can speak to the relevant local authority admissions team or you can look at the school’s website.  Admissions criteria can be based on a number of factors – for example aptitude, religion, sibling attendance or geography.  Most schools will have a number of admissions criteria which are ranked – it’s important to check what these are.

For private and state selective schools, much of your child’s success will depend on their ability to pass an academic test. For the private sector, this will include an interview as well.  There are two thing that will help you; firstly find out how clever your child is and secondly how clever do they need to be to get into certain schools.

Never assume that because your child is in the top group in the class for maths and English, that they will automatically be good enough to get into your chosen school.  They may be top of their class, but

how does their class compare to others?  To find this out ask your child’s teacher for the national curriculum teacher assessment level for your child in maths, English writing and English reading.  You can use this score to identify where your child compares with the national average and to find out what level your chosen school requires for entry.

Getting your child into the right school is not easy.  It is worth taking the time and steps required to understand the system in order to work out what school will be best for them. Good luck!



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