All parents want to choose the ‘right’ school for their children. But, with such a huge variety of options to consider, and with such high emotional - not to mention financial - stakes involved, how do parents decide which is the ‘right’ one? And with school gate and dinner party gossip making the decision even harder, no wonder so many parents find picking the right school a challenging, stressful task.
Here are some quick tips on picking the right school for your child.
Decide on your school search area. National, regional or local? Consider transport links. It must also fit with both family and work commitments and logistics.
Decide on your criteria. State or independent? If independent, what is your budget? Full or weekly boarding or day? Single-sex or co-ed? What are the academic strengths and interests of your child? Do they need any additional support? What are their sporting/extra-curricular interests?
Draw up a list of schools within your search area which meet your criteria. Review their websites/inspection reports etc. Seek independent advice or attend a school fair to talk to the schools face-to-face. Most importantly, try not to allow personal experience, family tradition or gossip to colour your judgement. All schools go through good and bad phases and all schools change. You need to be considering what might be right for your child over the next few years, based on up-to-date information, not outdated information or hearsay.
Make a short-list of no more than 4 schools. Visit each school (whether on a private visit or Open Day) to get the ‘feel’ of each one as you will not get this critical information from any prospectus or website. This is not just about facilities. You should also get a sense of the atmosphere, culture, and educational philosophy of the Head, and staff-pupil relationships. Also check that the curriculum (eg IB versus A-Level) supports your child’s strengths and interests, as well as their future career ambitions. Take along a list of things you need to ask while you are there. Don’t be afraid to ask awkward questions.
Discuss the pros and cons of each school after your visits. There may be a couple of front-runners that you feel need a second visit. Remember gut feeling is usually the right one.
Stick to your decision and don’t allow further school gate and dinner party banter to confuse or change your mind later.
How can we help with picking the right school?
Our education consultants have years of experience helping families with picking the right school. We also have close relationships with many independent schools in the UK so understand how to help find the best school for your child. To get started with us today please contact our team.