Choosing a secondary school.(11 Posts)
I have been to one open Evening and planning to go to another school next week.
I was wondering what were the deciding factor that made you choose your child's secondary school?
DS was adamant he wanted to go there.
We had the choice of three schools, the others had slightly better results, but I liked the feel of the school, and their attitude to pastoral care suited DS.
He was so certain, it wasn't worth persuading him otherwise.
Arrange a viewing in school time. You will get a much better feel for the school.
Using my school as an example - there are four local high schools all with good results. If people do all four they always choose 'my' school as they find the atmosphere more friendly and like what they see.
Go and get the feel of the schools when they are not on show
As an aside where we live there is one school. They don't have to try and despite its fabulous ofsted and results it is way behind the four schools in my area of work that fight to be best for the children!
Ask for a visit during the school day. We attended the open evening for both our local secondary schools and they seemed great. But the day visits showed problems in one of them.
A mixture of things I guess...
How much they wanted to go there
Feel of the place.. how happy the kids seemed .. watching interactions with teachers and pupils
Day visits while lessons were in progress
What their value added score was
Extra curricular opportunities
Our DC wrote a list which included:
Type and size of school & number of students/class.
Some academic & creative subjects DC loved, extra-curricular activities and clubs of his interest: swimming club, photography, creative arts and instrumental lessons etc.
He chose a selective school based on the extra resources offered and also he liked the 'vibe' given by existing pupils & staff during discussions he had during the visits.
I stand back and allowed him to make the enquiries.
Ultimately I think it will be where she wants, the schools are much of a muchness in terms of results really. We have done one school so far. Her primary covers the catchment for two different secondaries, so we've had the whole 'you can't put first where your friends want' She loved the one we saw so far, but the building is new and shiny, I have reservations though, Ofsted is good, Progress 8 pretty high, high pass rate for the area (doubled in 3/4 yrs) but they seem to spend a lot of money on extras (perhaps unnecessarily in my eyes) and I've heard a few negative reports.
I am at the mercy of over subscription criteria, though I think we do have a good chance of our catchment school. However it has gone from being under subscribed to over in a very short period of time, so who knows.
Our main considerations
- Pastoral care
- 'Whole child' approach (rather than exams factory)
- Good GCSE results for my type of child (eg low, middle, high attainers)
- Sensible homework policy
- who gets to do triple science
- language offerings
- extra curricular activities
For my son it was down to the interaction (or lack of it) from the teachers. In some schools, the teachers just couldn't be arsed talking to the kids nor parents - they just stood around in huddles talking to each other and trying their hardest to avoid eye contact with any visitors - well that's how they came across anyway! Not a good omen!
For a couple, the teachers were really good. In one school in particular, they went out of their way to talk to kids and parents and took the kids to do activities - we later found out it was head of maths who sat down with my son for ten minutes playing a maths board game! A tech teacher sat my son down and showed him how to take apart a meccano model a student had made and let my son make it again. He came out absolutely certain it was where he wanted to go - even though the school's appearance was austere and dark with it being very old.
My son's instincts have been proved right - he loves the place, despite the buckets collecting rain water from the leaky roof and the cracked windows - it's the teachers that matter and most are really supportive and nurturing and go the extra mile. (unlike the other schools visited where they could barely bring themselves to talk to you!).
Despite being in an area where it is virtually impossible to get into other than your catchment school (or the badly failing school) we went to 2 open days.
At one open day the headteacher spent his talk talking about statistics that supposedly proved how great their results were. Most of the parents (never mind the Y6 children) completely lost interest.
At the other open day, the headteacher talked about education being more than academics and that it was important to educate the whole child and support them in whatever their individual strengths and weaknesses were.
The school is of course more than a 30 minute talk, but I thought this gave an interesting insights into what the HTs felt were the most important points!
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