Moving 350 miles away at short notice - How do I choose the right school?(8 Posts)
I posted earlier today in the Forces Sweethearts but it'srather quiet over there,so am posting the same here, in the hope I may get some replies.
We have just received a short notice posting for January some 350 miles away.
This will be our umpteenth move but the first with teenagers. I have been reading up on the schools in the area we are moving to and sussed out that all 3 have availability.
My son is in Yr 9 and we will stay at this posting for about 3 years - so he should complete his GCSEs here so it is important to choose the right school. How the hell do you choose the right school from such a long way away?? I have obviously researched online. I have asked on FB wives pages and its all the same answers as usual - everyone saying the school their kid goes to is OK. Nothing Wow or OMG either way,so nothing to help swing a decision there. Transport wise - all 3 are easy to get to as well.
We dont have time to visit the area this side of Xmas as my husband is away now for 3 weeks and my other child is due in hospital for an operation the week after next.
I am considering keeping my son out of school for the first week or so we move, to give me and him time to visit all three schools and choose then which one we feel is right. Is this madness? Will I be breaking any laws? We are scheduled to move the week of 5th January, so the first week back after the Christmas break.
Has anyone been in this situation before? Normally I am quite happy to make a judgement from Ofsted/a few opinions in wives groups etc. and have never been that worried (and we have moved alot) but as this is a crucial stage, I dont want to get it wrong this time.
I daresay it is illegal, but when I moved at short notice (2 weeks!) to a completely different location I didn't know, I kept my children at home with me until I had had a chance to suss out the local schools (and apply for places for them). They were all at primary school then though so I didn't feel there was quite the urgency to maintain their formal education as I might have done had it been secondary.
I checked out websites and ofsted before moving, and rang the schools to see which ones had places, but I really feel you can only properly judge a school by visiting it and it sounds like you won't be able to do that until you actually move.
Do you know the details about GCSE options? If you read past threads on here you will find that schools approach it in different ways: some will insist that you take so many compulsory subjects that there is little free choice left; some may insist that you take their specialism (sport, say) which is not your DC's thing; some may not be able to offer sufficient spread (eg only one MFL, don't allow two).
Have you looked at the Dfes performance tables. Here's an example school. Look at "best 8 value added" this tells you if the school does well by its children. A score above 1000 means the school improves on what you would expect from looking at Year 6 SATs. Below 1000 means they are letting them down. However, it is dangerous to generalise across the whole school so look more closely at the data for whichever ability category your DS falls into - high, medium or low.
Pupils are allocated schools at Year 7; parents may express a preference but do not have the final say. However at sixth form pupils do have a free choice. What is the data like - is this a school that pupils join or leave?
As ever, I think if you are specific, i.e. name the schools involved, then you might get more useful advice.
Name the 3 schools in a thread on Secondary Ed to get more feedback, ask about GCSE options, how many MFL, how do they handle science (triple science across two lessons, or what?) , anything specifically of relevance to your DC.
Then yes, I would visit all 3 schools in the first week of term and get a feel for them before deciding.
Thank you for your tips and advice. I will do some more reading on Value added etc.
Shall I name the 3 schools here or start a thread in secondary schools?
Really, really depends on your kids.
Do they do a particular MFL? Not all schools offer the same one (or sometimes the kids might do a different one from year 7 even if the same one is available later on, so the level would be very different).
Has your year 9 son started any GCSE courses - if so what board, and is there a match available with one of the schools?
Mad keen on hockey / rugby / rock climbing / some other sport which might be available at one of the schools but not others?
Mad keen on a particular type of music, participation-wise? Some schools have orchestras, some have brass bands, some have jazz groups, some have choral societies - most don't have everything.
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