Choosing a school for your child is a massive responsibility and can cause a lot of stress for parents. There are so many considerations, such as location, facilities, inspection results and friendships.
To help you choose the right school for your child, I have collaborated with an independent school in Somerset to share the following advice…
Talk to your child
Start your search for the right school by talking to your child about what is important to them. Discuss possible options and listen to your child’s opinions and feelings about each school. After all, it is your child who will be spending most of their time there. One of the most important factors to your son or daughter is likely to be staying with their existing friends. They are less likely to care about which school has the best inspection results, so try to take this into consideration when making your decision.
Do your research
There may be several schools in your area that would be suitable for your child, so take your time to consider them all. Once you have made a shortlist, you can then start to research your most suitable schools. You can look up school league tables and Ofsted reports online and you can also learn about each school’s curriculum and values. Other important factors to research are class sizes and additional enrichment opportunities, such as language and music lessons. You may also wish to speak to other parents about their knowledge or experience with your shortlisted schools.
Look into travel
One vital consideration is the travel time from home to school. Can you walk to any of your chosen schools? If not, then you will need to consider whether transport by car is possible and cost effective. Some schools provide a shuttle bus, and some counties in England provide free bus services to schools, however this will depend on your location and your financial circumstances.
Plan your visit
The best way to choose the right school for your child is by visiting. If possible, try and arrange a tour of the school on a normal school day. This will give you a true insight into daily life at the school, as opposed to an open evening, which are normally held outside of school hours. When visiting prospective schools it is important to consider how welcoming they feel, how well the children interact with the teachers and how safe and clean the school grounds are.
Take a second look
If you are still undecided after your school visits, don’t be afraid to make a new shortlist and arrange to visit your favourites again. Sometimes a second look can highlight things that you may have missed the first time or you may have questions that you forgot to ask. Most schools will be happy to do this and want to support parents with their decision making. Taking time to re-visit a school will not only show that you have your child’s best interests at heart, but it will also allow your child to familiarise themselves with the school and the teachers.