Choosing the right school can be daunting and probably one of your most important decisions as a parent. We ask education expert, Arabella Davies, to condense her 15 years of experience into some key pointers
Start by browsing school websites. These are incredibly informative and can give you a real feel for the school.
Think about what is important to you and your children. Consider carefully their individual interests and passions. Do you wish for your children to be day pupils or boarders? Also, what about the location of your chosen school?
Don’t overload yourselves with too many school visits. You can always add to your list as time goes on.
Although private tours can be more intimate, I feel you get a much bigger picture from an open day.
Identifying energetic and passionate teachers is key. They can fire up imagination and make learning fun.
Don’t be afraid to challenge the school on their selection process. What exactly is it that they look for in their prospective pupils? More often than not these assessments are in place to ensure that your child is the right fit.
Ask questions to existing parents at your target schools. Don’t listen to those families who have no connection to the schools you are interested in but seem to have rather a strong (often inaccurate) opinion.
Ask them if they had one complaint about the school what would it be? It’s amazing what insight you will gain, from there aren’t enough spaces in the car park, to the Head is terrible!
For day schools – I encourage if/when possible, a drive-past at drop-off and especially at pick-up, to see the types of children (and staff) coming and going. More importantly observe how they behave and their appearance at the beginning and end of each day.
For boarding schools – Look carefully at all the people responsible for your child day and night. If you are looking at full boarding, enquire as to how many children really do stay in at weekends as well as what activities they provide.
Look to see if the children appear genuinely happy and don’t be afraid to ask your tour-guides plenty of questions including what they like the most or least about their school.
Keep the admissions team on your side. Be organised and allow plenty of time for registration – they are much more willing to help if you stick to their deadlines!
Arabella Davies runs the bespoke education solutions & school planning consultancy Their Best Years and she can be contacted via her website theirbestyears.com
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