Choosing a good school is one of the most important decisions you will make for your kids. To have the best chance of getting your baby into the primary or secondary school of your choice, you must apply well in advance.
We all want to give our children the best opportunities that are available, but it pays to remember that whatever school we choose, or however limited our options are by finances, convenience or locality, the greatest influence on the final outcome will be the home and family. If the cost of an elite education includes severely stressed parents who are run off their feet trying to earn enough to cover school fees, your little one is probably going to feel too stressed himself to benefit.
Start shopping for schools long before your child is due to start school. You can find out about schools and what they offer by contacting individual schools and asking for a prospectus or handbook. You can also get a ‘feel’ for schools by attending Open Days and talking to teachers and families. Try to find out why they feel the way they do.
Planning and preparing
The process of choosing a school for your child can seem daunting, but starting your preparation and planning early can help you to make a well informed choice.
Remember that all parents need to make an application – even if your child’s current primary or nursery school is linked to the school you want them to go to next, you won’t be considered for a place unless you apply.
Making an early start will mean that you’ll be less likely to miss key deadlines.
Focus on the Four Fit Factors
- What Your Child Learns
- How Your Child Learns
- Social Issues
- Practical Matters
Compile a checklist of features which are important to you and your child. Then think about the questions you need to ask to gain the information you need. You may want to include:
The School’s aims and philosophies. A school needs to have a clear sense of purpose and should have its aims documented. Ask for a copy of the school charter.
- How does it match your expectations?
- What values are implied?
- Are they based on particular religious beliefs
- Ask how the school works to achieve its aims.
- Is there a commitment to educate each student completely?
Good School Checklist
- Is there a sense of purpose, challenge and achievement?
- Do the children and the teachers seem happy?
- Is there a balanced, comprehensive curriculum?
- Are the children learning how to learn?
- Is there a genuine warmth between pupils and teachers?
- Does the school cater for children’s individual differences?
- What specialist staff – librarian, physical education, music, art computer teachers – does the school have?
- How are parents involved in the school?
- Are the school grounds neat and safe? Is playground equipment adequate and well maintained?
- Do classrooms offer an inviting environment? Is there a sense of beauty and order? Is children’s work displayed with pride?
7 Things You Need to Know About a School
- In Preschool, the Relationship Between Teacher and Student Is Key
- The Early Years: Words, Words, Words
- Math Cannot Be an Afterthought
- Don’t Focus Too Much on Standardized-Test Scores
- There Is No Excuse for a School Day with No Recess
- Teachers Matter — Even More than You Think
- It’s Not All in the Name