It’s time to start deciding which secondary school will suit your child best and schedule a few open evenings. You’ve probably got an idea of which schools you plan to look around, but there are a few key pointers to look for beyond the impressive science experiments!
It’s that time of year when secondary schools freshen up their display boards, pick out their best-behaved children and prepare for open evenings.
Here at Boomerang Education, we have put together a few top tips to help you and your child make the right decision and what to look for.
1. Make the most of quizzing the pupils who show you around
Asking pupils can be revealing, here are a few key questions to ask:
- If they are taught in mixed-ability classes – in all subjects, in some?
- Are there setting arrangements in the core subjects?
- What extra-curricular activities are available?
2. Behind the scenes
Schools will want to showcase any newly refurbished buildings or brand-new blocks. But you can get beyond this by asking to have a tour with pupils and asking them to show you behind the scenes and quiz them on everything while you go.
3. Bring your child to the open evening
Open evenings are not to be missed by your child, the opportunity to visit the school is invaluable. So, go along with your child and gauge their reaction on whether this is an environment in which they’ll thrive.
There will be a lot for your child to take in, so let the visit sink in and see all the secondary school options before having a conversation about what they thought.
Fundamentally it’s about finding the right match for your child.
4. Headteacher’s speech
Listening to the Headteacher’s speech will give you a good feel for the school if you’ve got a good Headteacher everything will flow from their strong leadership. Hearing their vision for the school and gauging if that person will drive the school forward, will give you a good feel for whether it is the right environment for your child.
Make sure he or she is talking about progress and outcomes but equally listen to what else the school offers in terms of sports and the arts. Is the school taking a whole-child approach or is it more focused on the academic achievement?
What strategies have they got to ensure that children learn and achieve well and how do they make their lessons inspiring, engaging and improve progress? Does the speech cover what are they doing with those youngsters who are underachieving, if not ask he or she to explain?
5. The teachers
It’s those inspiring lessons that will have the most impact on your child, good leadership is key but it’s the day-to-day in the classroom experience that will be a key influencer to your child’s future.
Have a chat to the staff on the open evening, are they approachable and do they look and behave professionally?
Parents could legitimately ask about recruitment and retention; how many vacancies are covered by temporary staff and supply teachers?
6. Visit the secondary school again
It’s worth having a look round on a regular school day, going back when the pupils are going from class to class and moving around the school will give you a good and realistic feel for the school.
7. Don’t forget to apply on time
Deadline dates for places in September 2019 are:
England – 31 October 2018
Wales – 30 November 2018
Northern Ireland – February 2019
Scotland – local authorities must advertise places six months before the start of term
Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/schools-admissions