Deciding on the right school for your family can be as daunting as it is exciting. The right choice can help your child, build skills, meet new friends and shape future success.
There will most likely be many options available and lots of factors to consider to ensure the chosen school meets your needs – some of which you may have stronger feelings about than others. But where is a good place to start?
School websites should be your first port of call. From there, open days are a great opportunity to pick the brains of the staff, get a feel for the space and delve further into the details of the school. You can also look at reviews online, just be wary that these can often saturated with silly comments made by dissenting pupils! For this reason, we would recommend taking them with a pinch of salt. Don’t forget, you can call for more information, or if you want a second visit most schools should be accommodating of this.
Here are some factors you might want to consider.
No matter how amazing a school is, if it isn’t easy to travel to and from this inconvenience can really start to grate. Early in the school-seeking process, it’s worth looking at how close you live from the schools and the school buses they offer. Can you walk to school? Is it on your way to work? If you need to drop off early, do they have a breakfast club?
Depending on the age of your child and your working situation, you may be interested in the wraparound care that the school provides in mornings and afternoons.
Once you’ve established the school is in your range, consider the quality and diversity of the school’s curriculum. Other than the core subjects, check if the school offers any specialised or niche subjects or special enrichment opportunities. For example Oasis students are offered the full Oasis entitlement during their time with us. Look for opportunities for enrichment that cater to specific interests or talents. These could either fuel a pre-existing passion or be the catalyst for one.
In addition to this consider how personal development is treated alongside the core curriculum. Does the school have a clear programme for helping your child grow up into a well-rounded, confident person?
A school's teaching faculty plays a crucial role in shaping students' learning experiences.
A teacher can have all the knowledge in the world, but if they are not passionate about teaching their subject and working with children, their knowledge won’t transmit well in a classroom. Meeting the teachers and school staff is the best way to gauge whether their demeanour is encouraging and indicative of a productive and fun classroom. School open evenings are a great way to do this. Especially if you are interested in hearing from the leaders of the school.
Every parent wants their child to succeed and do well, that’s why outcomes are important to consider. All schools must publish their academic outcomes on their websites, and you can check comparison data on the government website. Remember though that the pandemic had a big impact on formalised exams so the data at the moment isn’t going to paint you the full picture of the school. This is another thing to talk about with school leaders if you visit the school – what is their progress like? What do they aim for? How do they support children who are struggling? What do outcomes look like for SEND?
Facilities and Resources:
While academic programs and good teaching are essential, a school's infrastructure and resources are equally important. Look for well-equipped classrooms, libraries, science labs, sports facilities, and student support hubs. These resources contribute to a holistic education and enhance personal growth.
Another aspect to consider is the surrounding area. You/ your child will be spending a huge chunk of time at school, so you’ll want it to be situated in an area that feels safe and pleasant. It’s always worthwhile to get a lay of the land and establish if it feels like an inviting environment to learn in and explore.
Additionally, it could be worth looking into any natural resources that could enhance learning or sports opportunities. Find out from the school how they use the local area to enrich their educational offer.
School can be one of the most enjoyable times of somebody’s life. However, it can also, at times, be a stressful and potentially anxious place.
It can be reassuring to know that a school is mindful of young people’s mental health and has systems in place to ensure that your child maintains a healthy and positive headspace throughout their academic career. This awareness also helps, in many cases, to cultivate a ‘family feel’ and collective sense of positivity, wellbeing and the feeling that everybody is included and pulling together in the right direction.
We wish you the best of luck in the search for your child’s school, and warmly invite you to find out more about what we can offer.