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Sorry - what am I meant to be looking for in a secondary school?

(85 Posts)
ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 14:57:23

We are touring schools.

I don't even know what I'm meant to be looking for.

Facilities? Happy pupils? Are teenagers happy though?

What else?

It's VERY hard. I went to a school with no rules but a lovely staircase. I don't feel qualified.

Tips would be welcome.

TheFallenMadonna Sat 04-Oct-08 14:58:15

Well, Xenia likes parents who look good on Sports Day. So that would be a start.

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 14:58:50

Oh and I did remember something MB had said once. So I proudly walked up to someone in the biology lab and said 'Do you do combined science at GCSE?' and she said 'how do you mean? There are two options' and I smiled nicely and said I didn't know what I meant. blush

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 14:59:24

Crikey. I don't think they'd especially good FM. I don't think i would either.

wonderstuff Sat 04-Oct-08 14:59:35

Happy, polite pupils is good. Most teenagers are fairly happy. Does the school feel calm? MartinBishop is very good at answering this sort of thing!

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:00:59

Oh yes, well calm and purposeful.

Rather serious though.

They seem to do much harder work than we ever did. I picked up an A level essay on The Great Gatsby and it had lots of references and Ibids at the end. I NEVER did that at A level.

wonderstuff Sat 04-Oct-08 15:01:47

I like my school (where i teach dd is not 1 yet) because its quite small, the teachers know all the pupils, SEN is good, value added is good (much more important than %A-C imo)

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:05:27

Okay. Thank you.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:05:51

dont laugh

go in the loos


TheFallenMadonna Sat 04-Oct-08 15:05:51

Work out what you want. What are you sending your children to school for? See, I think Xenia has this spot on. She knows exactly what she wants. She wants only bright children, People Like Us, fabulous exam results. All that narrows down her choice.

Details of exactly what science curriculum they follow is less important than overall philosophy if you've got proper choice.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:06:31

also try and observe staff ineteracting wiht kids
how do they talk to them

and also how much repsonibility do the kids have to run the school

also look at the kids

wheresthehamster Sat 04-Oct-08 15:07:29

And a lake FM. You forgot the lake grin

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:08:49

Right. Will check out loos.

I asked boy this morning if he liked the school and he shrugged and said 'It's okay'. Then I thought perhaps that was a good answer because any 14 y-o who said 'Oh I LOVE it' might have been a bit suspicious? Don't know.

Thank you FM. I wish I knew what I wanted. I think I want a good all round education. I don't know. As a product of 'alternative' education I've always dismissed it a bit. But all these white boards and EXCELLENCE and TARGETS and ENDEAVOUR made my head hurt tbh.

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:09:22

[scribbles furiously]

Thank you Cod. This is exactly what I need to be told.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:10:05

ask him what he woudl change

woudl he recommend it( off record)

the loos


TheFallenMadonna Sat 04-Oct-08 15:11:52

I did indeed. And a lake. Naturally.

Seriously though. She has the right approach. If you have limited choice, then checking out the loos and the GCSEs on offer is what you do. But if the educational world is your oyster then you look at the bigger picture.

I think less "do the children look like your child" than "is this how I see my child in 6 years time".

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:11:54

Okay. Thank you v. much.

It's a different weld these secondary schools. Completely different to mine.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:12:22

but if oyu r kid is 10 its nto a big leap is it

ahundredtimes Sat 04-Oct-08 15:13:53

No, both good ideas.

I think the younger ones DID look mine, I thought he'd like it actually. The older ones all looked like estate agents imo.

wonderstuff Sat 04-Oct-08 15:14:34

The loos at my school are nice, its a new school and they were awful in the last building, but so was the behaviour, was a grotty school, is now fab.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:14:35

yes we had a terribel urbane 6 th former at the grammar school
he dirves to pe fgs!!

all he was missing was a monocle.

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:15:12

me "ho long does it take to walk to playing fields"

" ah well i cant rememrb now we drive"


pointydog Sat 04-Oct-08 15:15:18

Ask 'Does you learn 'em good?'

NotCod Sat 04-Oct-08 15:15:39

do some fast mental maths

SorenLorensen Sat 04-Oct-08 15:16:28

We looked at four. Two we just hated from the headmasters' speeches onwards - just got a bad 'feel' - non starters. The other two we really liked - the students showing us around were friendly (hand picked though, obviously - I think they send the scary ones home early on Open Evenings grin), the staff were approachable, the heads' speeches were good. We were torn between the two but opted to put the one with better results first on our 'choices'. He didn't get in so ended up at our second choice.

I think a lot of it depends on your child - look at class sizes, size of school (our first choice was enormous and a friend's dd who did get in has felt completely overwhelmed thus far - whereas ds1 seems to have slotted into his smaller school straight away and has only got lost once grin). Another plus for our second choice was distance - it's a 10-15 minute walk.

But, tbh, for us it did come down to 'feel' - and we were lucky enough to get a good vibe from two. At the one I really hated (good results though) the students seemed sullen and resentful at having to show us round. The head talked a lot about how strict they were on uniform - yet most of the girls' skirts were indecently short. What the head said and what I saw didn't seem to tally.

It's hard - and you can look at results and Ofsted reports but they really don't give you the full picture.

I've probably not been much use - oh, I'm glad we're done til ds2 goes (5 years...hopefully time to know if we made the right choice for ds1 grin)

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