The search for the right secondary school for your son or daughter can be a difficult process. It can be straightforward, you may be fortunate enough to have a primary school which acts as a feeder school and all the details are arranged for you, but what if that isn’t the case, what if you need to make your own arrangements and do your own research. Where do you begin and what can you do to help yourself?
1. Keep an open mind – it is really important when you begin your search for secondary schools that you keep an open mind. You may well have preconceptions about certain schools based upon their reputation, children you know that currently go there, or the quality of their sports teams. The first thing to remember is that none of these preconceptions matter. What matters is that your child gets the best possible education and to do that you need to start off by being open minded and considering all options. Don’t discount anything from the outset!
2. Talk to the primary school – the next phase of your search for secondary schools should be to consult with your child’s primary school. They will already have schools which their children are recommended to go to, but even if these are not on your list of options (you may be leaving the area or considering an independent school) your primary school will still help you. It is their sole task to take children in at a young age, and prepare them for the next stage of their education, so they will always assist you to search for a secondary school.
3. Consider what your child wants to do at GCSE/A-Level – it may seem a long way off, but it really isn’t. Your child will start their GCSE studies three years after they start at the school, and so will need an idea of their subject choices after about two and a half years. When you begin your search, remember that some schools obtain better results in some subjects than others, and indeed some schools offer different subject choices if your child’s ambitions are a little less mainstream!
4. Talk to your child – don’t forget that it is your child who will attend the school, not you, so make sure they join in the search for a secondary school with you. What you think is an important factor may not be as important to them and vice versa, so it is important that you each come up with a list of key points and discuss them properly. They may be inclined to follow their friends but wherever they go to school, they will meet new people – they are joining a year group with about 3 – 5 times the number of children in it whether they follow their friends or not.
5. Visit as many schools as you can – search for a secondary school by actively going to visit them. It sounds obvious, but few people take advantage of this. All secondary schools have open days or open evenings, and even if you can’t make it to one, contact the schools anyway and make your own arrangements, they will always be happy to see you if you are considering applying to go there.
The search for a secondary school can seem like a lonely process, but it needn’t be – talk to others, talk to your children, talk to their current primary school – there is more advice available than you think!