My own education was hugely important to me. I was someone who, as a child, enjoyed school and learning. I was educated in Leicestershire, attending a local primary school, then another school next door for 11-14, before moving onto a local Grammar School.
Whilst I loved school, I was also aware that it was not the same experience for everyone. As the daughter of two heads of departments in inner city schools in Leicester, I saw first-hand the issues my parents faced in teaching reluctant learners, or children the system had failed. I also witnessed the stress and uncertainty caused by a lack of strong and effective leadership. My parents made me promise them that I would never become a teacher because they felt the system was broken.
When I became a parent myself, I felt a huge responsibility to choose ‘the best’ school for my children. I feel incredibly lucky to say that I found that school locally to us and all my children have so far enjoyed their schooling the bulk of the time.
Choosing a school for your children can feel like a huge responsibility, especially if you are moving areas and don’t have much local knowledge. Processes can differ from area to area; catchment areas may or may not be a thing, depending where you are moving to; and some schools just might not be right for some children. It really is a lot to think about. What about if you are moving countries? That can be even more overwhelming. If you are trying to ‘convert’ grades to other countries, credential evaluation organizations can help.
With that in mind I’ve put together a list of a few things you can do, to make the most informed decision possible.
- Make a list – get on google, and locate all the schools within a reasonable commute from your house
- Do they have a website? Most schools these days have a website. Check out the websites and try to get a feel for the school.
- Read the inspection reports – Most school websites will have a link to a copy of their latest inspection report, if not just google it and you will be able to download a copy.
- Research admission processes in the area – It pays to know what the systems are locally, so, for example just google school admissions in Leicester to get you up to speed on the local processes
- Make a short list – From your online research, make a short list of schools to visit with your child
- Get a feel for the schools – A visit can tell you a lot about a school and talking to staff and students can tell you even more
- Make a pros and cons list – Sit down with your child and make a pros and cons list of all the schools you’ve visited, dismiss any you didn’t like and narrow down your list, trying to put them in order
- Application – now you need to follow the application and admissions process and hope for the best
- Appeals – If you don’t get your first choice, you can appeal. This process may differ from area to area, so look online or ask someone for guidance around this if needed.
School applications can be a minefield but as parents we want our children to be happy. Happy children generally do better in school, so this is one of those times to support them as fiercely as possible.
Good luck parents!