Tips on choosing a secondary school

1. The results achieved by the school — but don’t forget these can depend on a range of factors, such as the attainment of pupils on entry to the school, the numbers who have English as an additional language or who have special educational needs.

1. The results achieved by the school — but don’t forget these can depend on a range of factors, such as the attainment of pupils on entry to the school, the numbers who have English as an additional language or who have special educational needs.

2. Think about the journey your child will have to undertake if they get into the school you want. Can they cope with leaving home so early, arriving home late and then doing homework?

3 Look at the staff turnover – is it a stable workforce or is there a high turnover? If there is high movement of staff, ask why.

4. How long has the head been in charge – too long, not long enough? Try and get a chance to hear him talk at the open days, get an understanding of his expectations and ethos and how hands on he/she is.

5. Look at the extra-curricular activities the school offers – are there thriving after-school clubs and weekend events or does it look like an enquiry about whether they run the Duke Of Edinburgh Award will be met with blank expressions?

6. Does the school have a well-supported, active and successful Parent Teacher Association? You may be hoping to wave goodbye to the PTA at the end of primary school, but think again – successful schools depend on parents just as much as ever to help them go the extra mile.

7. Look at the wider curriculum – will there be good opportunities for your child to develop or foster other skills in areas such as sport, the arts and work-related learning?

8. Don’t be put off by shabby premises, look beyond the paintwork. Is there a “can do” ethos in evidence? Equally don’t be blinded by state-of-the-art premises. A school may have fabulous grounds and you may be blown away by the space – but by the time your daughter is 13, she won’t be running around in them, she’ll be huddled on a bench chatting.

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