Making a decision about your children’s education can be difficult, so here are a few key things to keep in mind when looking at prospective schools.
Pay attention to the Ofsted report
One of the first things to consider is how a particular school has fared in its Ofsted inspection reports. The reports are readily available online at the Ofsted site. You can type in the name of an education provider or search by geographical location; for example, if you are looking for Gloucestershire private schools, you could search within a certain radius of your home, local authority or constituency.
The report can flag areas of concern and provide an overview of the school; however, it is just a snapshot and won’t tell the whole story. As such, it is best to treat it as a basis for further research.
Visit the premises and ask the right questions
Schools that actively recruit new students will provide opportunities for the parents/carers of prospective pupils to visit the premises. Open days and tours, such as those offered by https://hopelands.org.uk/, offer a valuable chance to ask questions of the teachers, support staff and pupils.
It is a good idea to make a list of any issues you want to raise. Topics to explore might include the teacher turnover rate; how the school handles bullying; the exclusion rate; and the headteacher’s values. Talk to the pupils. Ask about things such as homework, their favourite subjects, and whether they like the school.
Look beyond academic achievement
Some schools attract the top academic achievers, but this alone may not mean it is the right place for your child. Look at the provisions for other subjects, such as sports and the arts, and after-school activities.
During your visit to the school, pay close attention to the overall mood of the teachers and pupils. Do they seem happy? How do they interact? Do the teachers know all the students’ names? View as many areas of the school as possible, including the cloakrooms and canteen. This will help you to look beneath the surface.
Overall, it is important to look behind the glossy marketing to get the full picture of how the school operates. Only then can you answer the question of whether your child belongs there.