Choosing The Right Secondary School Place For Your Child
Lewis has just started Year 6 at school and we are now having to consider his application for his secondary school place for next September. I am seriously not ready for this. I feel like my boy hasn’t long started his school education and that the thought of a looking for a secondary school place for him is still a long way off. But the truth of the matter is applications for a secondary school place open in a matter of days and close at the end of October (for my Local Authority anyway).
During Lewis’s time in Year 5, he was invited to visit our local Grammar school, of which he did and even took me along again afterwards to see but he decided he didn’t want to go through the process of applying for there, sitting the entry exam when he much preferred the state secondary school in our town.
When it comes to applying for Lewis’s Secondary school place I have very much followed his lead, but we have discussed the other schools and all their pros and cons.
Here is a list of what we’ve looked for in choosing Lewis’s secondary school place and also what we’ve discussed.
It’s also worth noting here that we live in a small rural town (not a village) where we only have 1 secondary school in our catchment, the next school is some 7 miles away.
Choosing The Right Secondary School
Your child may get invited to visit local secondary schools during a normal school day as part of a year group visit. This happened for my son with the local grammar school, whereas the girls visit the local girl’s school. There were also additional open evenings and day time visits for the schools including the state school which were visitable with parents. Be sure to find out which schools have their open sessions, also try to find a session where the school is open during the normal school day.
For our local state school, my husband took Lewis for the evening visit and I went again with Lewis during school hours. This gave Lewis the best insight into the school speaking with staff during the open evening and seeing the school in action during the day.
If we had other local schools I’d look at doing the same visits to ensure we get the best insight.
I’ve been speaking with other parents recently about our local secondary school as I know very little about it as we only moved here 18 months ago. I’ve had some very positive feedback from numerous parents and also a couple of negative points made too.
I have also been speaking to a couple of the pupils at the school, a sibling of my Son’s best friend is in year 9 and another student who has just left. Both have given positive feedback too.
I feel it’s important to gain as much information from not only parents of the school but also the pupils, see what they think about their school as they are there the most. Make your own opinion.
Listen To Your Child
Earlier I mentioned that I have mainly been following Lewis’s lead on this secondary school decision. At the end of the day, it’s his education and he is of an age where his thoughts and opinions count.
One thing I have stipulated to Lewis during the school hunting process is that he visits and thinks about all his choices. He’s visited all the schools in the catchment to gain a better opinion and then we have discussed each school in-depth afterwards. This has let Lewis think about each school in detail and make his own opinion and decision.
We all feel that Ofsted reports are beneficial when it comes to choosing your child’s school place, but they may not. By all means, go and check out your chosen schools latest Ofsted report but also consider the fact that the report could also be years old, the dates of inspection are all there to see.
If you find your child’s chosen school to be not at a satisfactory level in the Ofsted report as you hoped, challenge the school about it. Schools are very open when it comes to these challenges (I am talking from my governing days), they love being challenged and wanting parents to know more about their schools. Ask the school’s headteacher what they are doing to make those improvements.
Likewise, if you find that the school is of an outstanding level (but the Ofsted report is years old) perhaps voice your concerns to the school about some of the negative feedback you’d heard.
Honestly, schools love these challenges and its what they do day-to-day!
After you and your child have thought about all these options and have a chosen school in mind, the last thing to think about is how your child will get to and from that school.
With your child turning 12 during their time in Year 7, they are at an age where they won’t want taking to and from school, they will want their independence to take their self. How will your child get them self to school? Are they going to walk? Cycle? or even rely on public transport? Is that public transport going to be reliable enough to get your child to school on time? Schools won’t tolerate late attendance.
Last but not least, apply for your child’s chosen school place. The Gov.uk webpage has a great postcode tool which helps you locate the opening/closing dates for applying for school places. Be sure to visit there, and follow the instructions to ensure you have the application in before closing date. Good luck!
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**This is a personal post.