For many parents, deciding which school their children should go to – be it for primary, secondary, state-run or independent, can be one of the hardest choices that they will encounter; after all each child is different and of course, we all want the best possible start for the brightest future. As well as perusing the glossy brochures, chatting with fellow parents and going along to open days – we’ve put together a definitive list of questions to ask prospective schools, which will hopefully make that all-important decision easier.
Does my child need to go to the nearest school?
This may come as a shock to parents – but, you can actually apply for your child to attend, whichever school you prefer; even if it is not the closest one to home. With state schools, this could lead to an appeals process, if there is over-demand at your chosen school, however, it doesn’t mean that this isn’t a possible option. If you are considering sending your child to private school, many will organise their own transport to ensure children can get to and from school.
How will my child be graded?
Recently, changes were made to how our current GSCE system is graded, with A*-G marks disappearing, in favour of the new 9-1 grades (9 being in comparison to an A** grade and 1, similar to the lowest G grade). This will affect children going into years 7, 8, 9 and 10, with those in year 11 keeping to the current A*-G system.
Are there any extra-curricular activities?
Whether your child enjoys sports or is more interested in ICT; extra-curricular activities are an important part of school life, for pupils; physically, academically and socially. All schools, regardless of their ownership (government or private) will offer after-school clubs, just be sure to chat with them about your child’s individual needs. Many will also offer out-of-hours homework clubs too, for students struggling with subjects.
Do they offer a breakfast club?
We all know how stressful mornings can be, with the whole family rushing around getting ready for a busy day, so the introduction of breakfast clubs has become a lifeline for many families. It’s estimated that 85% of schools in the UK run breakfast clubs to ensure, that for a small fee, our children enjoy a hearty and healthy breakfast – proven to boost concentration and memory levels!
Will my child be safe?
From behavioural to on-site health and safety policies, schools have responsibilities for children, whilst in their care. Of course, each school’s policies will differ, so don’t forget to discuss any security worries you have with prospective schools.
Are bursaries available?
In recent years, the Independent Schools Council has started offering £780 million worth of fee deduction, benefitting over 160,000 pupils, with 5,000 of these children receiving a full bursary. If you are considering a private school for your child, it may be worth talking to them about sports or gifted and talented bursaries that may apply.