Read the latest magazine... Download

What To Consider When Applying For A School Or College

Many of us will already be thinking about next September when youngsters will be embarking on the next step of their school journey, or starting school for the first time.

While the excitement seeing kids take their first big independent step is tangible, it can also be a stressful time for parents.

Here are some dos and don’ts for picking the right school for your children.

DO attend the open days. It’s easy to gloss over an establishment’s flaws when looking at a fancy brochure, which is why attending a school’s open day is essential.

Upon arriving, pay attention to how the school feels – what’s on the walls, how organised are the classrooms, are the teachers friendly and, if it’s a daytime opening, how engaged are the kids?

DO look for convenience. We may consider that selecting a school that’s a 10-minute walk away is acceptable, even when there’s an ‘almost as good’ alternative three doors down. Yet when factoring in the walking speed of a four- or five-year-old, and the reality that you will be walking to and from the school twice each day, that 10-minute walk could easily become an hour or more. For parents keen to return themselves to work and productivity while their children are in school, location and proximity are key factors. If you're choosing a secondary school, you will want to consider how your child might travel there alone. Are there good bus routes and safe walking pathways?

DO pay attention to the Ofsted report and league tables. Official statistics will tell you test and exam results for the schools you’re looking at, offering a pretty reliable snapshot of how each is performing, while the Ofsted report will offer a broader understanding of how the curriculum is taught and the pupils’ overall wellbeing.

But DON’T base your decision entirely on that. If an institute has an ‘outstanding’ Ofsted rating, but you’ve heard of bullying or disruption at the school, it’s important to bear both in mind. Similarly, if a school has a ‘satisfactory’ rating but seems to have got its act together since the report, it may be worth giving it a second look.

DO go with your heart. Whatever the facts and figures, the most important barometer is how you and your little one feel about the school, and that feeling normally comes from the heart.

DON’T obsess over friends. While it’s tempting to want to surround our kids with the buddies they have made in pre-school and primary school. Our young ones are true social sponges and encouraging them to make new friends at every opportunity is only a good thing

Get Social