Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, choosing a school that’s right for your child and your family as a whole can be quite an overwhelming experience. There’s certainly a lot to consider and knowing it’s a decision that can affect the type of person your child grows up to be is rather daunting. However, with plenty of research and consideration about what it is you’re actually looking for, you should be able to make the right decision. Here are some tips from a prep school in the UK.
Consider Your Main Concerns
Chat as a family and consider your key priorities. In other words, what’s important to you in terms of what you’d like the school to offer. Here are some things you should ask yourselves:
- Would you like to send your child to an independent school or a public school? The fees can become quite expensive at independent schools, so is this something you will be able to keep up with long term?
- Would you like to send your child to a single-sex school or a co-educational school? There are pros and cons for each, so be sure to do some research before you make a final decision.
- Does your child have any learning difficulties or a language that the school needs to cater to?
- Does the school need to be in walking distance from your home, or perhaps on route to your office? Alternatively, does it need to be on a suitable bus route?
- Would you like to send your child to a school where some of their friends or relatives are going to be/are already attending?
- Is your child passionate about a particular hobby that you’d like the school to accommodate?
- Do you require before and after school care to fit in with your career requirements?
Once you know what it is you’re actually looking for, it should become easier for you to rule out certain schools in the catchment area and come up with a shortlist. This will require plenty of research, and most schools have decent enough websites that should allow you to gather up plenty of information. Here are some of the things you should look out for when researching:
- Where does the school place in current league tables?
- What do some of the previous inspection reports tell you about the quality of education?
- Do you agree with the main aims and ethos of the school? Are their values in-line with your own?
- What pastoral care policies are in place to protect your child’s welfare?
- What do you think of the curriculum?
- Are there plenty of extra-curricular activities on offer for your child, should they want to go down this route?
- What do the latest news reports and social media posts tell you about the school on a personal level?
When doing your research, you’ll likely have a gut instinct about the best options, but don’t forget to pay the schools a visit, just to be on the safe side.
Attend Open Events
Most schools provide open events for prospective parents and their children to have a look around and meet some of the staff. However, everyone will be on their best behaviour during these events, so it might be beneficial to arrange a visit during regular school hours so that you can see how it is run on a normal day. During your visit, these are some things you should consider:
- Do the staff seem friendly and welcoming?
- Do the current students seem well-adjusted?
- Are the school facilities clean, modern, and safe?
- Do you think your child will fit in at the school?
- What are the playground/breakout areas like?
Of course, you’ll have your own thoughts and questions, so try and make the most of the experience and don’t be afraid to inquire as much as possible.