Choosing the right school for your child: 8 top tips

For many parents, choosing a school for their child is one of the most important decisions they will ever make.  Here are 8 top tips to help:

1) Visit the school

Ideally, visit the school yourself. There is no substitute for breathing the air, stalking the classrooms and using your intuition. If this is not possible, and you are based abroad, or relocating, use an experienced independent education consultant with connections to your preferred schools, who will advocate for you. This person should be an education expert and ideally a parent themselves who has children in the same school system.

2) Speak to the teachers.

And don’t be afraid to ask probing questions: are they happy, do they like the head, do they feel supported in their work? Notice how the teachers interact with the children- are they warm and caring?

3) Speak to the children.

Many schools use current pupils to show you around. As above, ask relevant questions, especially about pastoral care.

4) Ask your child

The school is for them, after all. You may hanker after St Paul’s, but your child may be better suited to Bedales.

5) League Tables

League tables have their place, but do not rely on them. Many of the best schools refuse to partipicate in them anyway.

6) Word of mouth

Do not under-estimate the power of the parental grapevine. Schools can change remarkably quickly. News of a staff resignation, bullying or inadequate teaching travels likes wildfire through parental networks and well before any inspectorate or Ofsted gets a whiff. If you don’t know any parents at the school, use an independent education consultant whom you trust.

7) Don’t worry

Yes, choosing a school for your child can be challenging. But very few schools are truly terrible. And remember that….

8) Your decision is not set in stone

This simple fact takes the pressure off.
If your child is unhappy at your chosen school, you have the power to change this. There are some scenarios that you cannot plan for such as the other children in your child’s form group: they may be wonderful, but they may be little horrors. Make it clear to your child that any issues that arise can be resolved – and that in life, it is to ok to change a decision.

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