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What to look for in a secondary school?

(5 Posts)
teacherwith2kids Wed 08-Jun-11 20:52:36

OK, but of a broad one this one. I'm visiting local (state) schools for my pfb son (academically able, sporty, but quirky / ASD depending on which way you look at it).

I teach, but only lower KS2 and I find I don't know quite what to ask as I go round (all data on results etc is published and in the prospectus). I mean, I gawp at facilities, ask mum-type questions about food and behaviour, ask various questions about SEN / G&T/ team sport...

Any hints? (And is it unreasonable to dislike the 'best' school on paper just for being insufferably smug??)

AMumInScotland Wed 08-Jun-11 21:00:47

I'd be interested to know how/when they "set" pupils, and how they deal with the more/less able - not so much that there's a right answer, but I like to hear how they justify what they do to see if they have confidence in it themselves!

And what pastoral arrangements they have - how do they help pupils settle, how can they get help and support when they need it. Again, the tone of the answer is important - do they seem to recognise it as important, or treat it as an afterthought.

CarrotsAreNotTheOnlyVegetables Thu 09-Jun-11 10:07:22

Not at all unreasonable to dislike the "best" school on paper - if they are super selective they are always going to get good results because they start off with the most able. Doesn't mean they are particulary good at getting the best out of a DC.

I rejected the local uber-selective super school because I felt they were smug and complacent and didn't cater very well to my DD's particular needs.

I felt that if I ever had an issue with this school that their attitude would be "if you don't like it then ship out, plenty more desperate for the place".

IndigoBell Thu 09-Jun-11 11:13:34

You describe him as quirky or ASD. Does he have a dx? Is he on the SEN register? Does he need a lot of extra help / support at school?

I'm rejecting the 'best' secondary school for my (very academic) ASD son - because I found the 'best' primary school was way worse with his SN then the 'worse' one down the road......

Look at the number of kids on the SEN register. If it's below average, then that rings huge alarm bells for me......

Basically, I think you should talk to the SENCOs and decide based on which one you think is the best SENCO......

enidroach Thu 09-Jun-11 16:45:09

Ask on MN local for any views on the local schools especially regarding the ASD. Do a stakeout once or twice at getting out time to see the "real"school kids and not the ones that are well dressed and feel they have to be positive at the open evening. Like other posters I would ask about pastoral care and look at past school newsletters, especially the head's letter to get a feel of the ethos and what the ofsted report thought were the good and/or outstanding features and consider if they are important to you.

If you are concerned about getting very good GCSE's make sure you know the numbers or percentage of a and A* Gcse's the school gets. Two schools I once had to choose between had fairly similar A-C results, so I thought there was not much in it but later discovered the other school got a much higher proportion of A+ grades - the school I picked was quite happy with C grades as they ended up high in the league tables but were not pushing for the higher grades - which can be important to certain unis and for certain courses.

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