How to choose the best school for your child

How early should you start watching school?

We’ve all heard make-believe stories about parents naming their kids a school before they’re even born – but what would the experienced? Jane Lunnon, head of Alleyn’s, a four- to 18-year-old day school in south-east London, advises parents to be aware that some admissions processes can take up to 18 months. She recommends starting thinking about a 4+ place when your child is a toddler and for a middle school place by the end of year 4.

Chris Searson, principal of Beaudesert Park School, a preparatory and cram school in Gloucestershire, warns that “times change dramatically for prep schools” so organization is key. “It would be good if you were pre-arranged in your mind,” he said. “But sometimes circumstances mean you can only make decisions in the short term before your child starts. Find out if places are oversubscribed so you don’t miss out. ”

How should you choose your shortlist?

The head advises parents to make a realistic shortlist of schools, based on advice from your child’s current school. This is important in a competitive market like London, says Jane Lunnon. “The best way to continue applying is to have a really strong, open and honest conversation with your child’s current school and reach out to three or four really strong candidates,” she said. .

Is it important to visit schools?

At Stamford All-Boys School in Lincolnshire, principal Nick Gallop said the visit was “an important component of the selection process, if only to ensure that expectations are rooted in reality”. Helen Harrison, head of Fettes University, a co-taught day and boarding school in Edinburgh, points out that although the pandemic has shown that it is possible to choose schools without going in person, it does not necessarily is ideal. “A 360-degree video movie can never replace a field visit filled with buzz of cheerful students and inspiring class visits, but it has its place,” she said. .

Is it best to visit on an open day or a normal business day?

Visiting on an official open day gives parents the opportunity to see a school at its best, but, for a clearer view, request a one-day private visit Learn normally. Chris Searson of Beaudesert Park believes that a good open day gives visitors an idea of ​​”normal school life” but that personal visits have the benefit of “allowing you time to absorb and Ask questions in your own time.” Meanwhile, at Fettes University, Helen Harrison says open days and private visits can yield “different insights” and recommends trying both.

Should you bring your child with you?

The chief warns that children can be inspired and reassured by selective school visits but it is best to avoid taking them to multiple schools – or too early in the process -. Nick Gallop of Stamford said: “For most children, visiting more than three schools can turn the transition into a chore and can be confusing and complicated.

What if a child is nervous or reluctant about transferring schools?

For many parents, an anxious or reluctant child can make the process more difficult. “Some kids may be reluctant to go to any school — or worry about a particular school after a school visit,” says Alleyn’s Jane Lunnon. She recommends managing the conversations to get your child involved in the process. Also, to help ease any concerns, take them in for a second visit if you still think the school is a good fit.

Rugby at Fettes College in Edinburgh

What are the important things to keep in mind when choosing a school?

Practical considerations like boarding or day, shared or single, location, facilities and curriculum will help you make a list of potential schools before you do your research, says Helen Harrison of Fettes College. deeper. “It was an important decision and required a lot of research and planning; Think of it as a project. Stamford’s Nick Gallop advises parents to look closely at “the extent to which a day school and day school is geared towards its boarding community”, with minority students being asked to “fit in”. “. At Alleyn’s, Jane Lunnon says you should also consider the values ​​of the school and whether the school is fun. “The synergy of values ​​is so important and that is why understanding the ethos of a school is so important.” She recommends that parents ask themselves: “’Is it fun?’ ‘Are they laughing?’ Education is about having fun and if that doesn’t sound like it, maybe that’s something you need to consider.”

Is meeting the leader important?

Most parents expect to meet the headmaster but this can be more difficult in large and over-enrolled schools. Chris Searson of Beaudesert Park says it’s best to meet with the leader if possible, but if not, parents should “ask people who know what kind of person they are.” Stamford’s Nick Gallop agrees. “If the head teacher is not present, you should ask how often they meet with students,” he says.

How do you decide between schools?

This is where the important “gut instinct” comes in, say the heads. Jane Lunnon advises: “Listen to your advice. “Ask yourself: ‘What makes my spirits soar above all else?’ Be really honest with yourself. Think to yourself: ‘Where is my child happiest? Where have I seen their eyes light up? ‘”Chris Searson has a similar view. “If you do what your gut is telling you, you won’t make a mistake,” he said. How to choose the best school for your child

Fry Electronics Team

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