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How To Find A Good Secondary School

How To Find A Good Secondary School

Choosing a good secondary school for your child can be a difficult process. Ralph Lucas gives his advice to VideoJug on finding and choosing a good secondary school.

Step 1: Plan ahead

Thinking about secondary schooling as early as possible, even before your child starts primary school, will give you the best chance of getting them into the school you want.

Secondary school will generally come with the primary schools in the state sector. You're looking at schools which will select geographically. Where you have chosen for a primary school will have a secondary school allocated with it. You should, when you have been thinking about where you should live generally, if that's the decision you've taken, have looked at what the secondary schools are like – so you've probably taken the decision some long while before that this is an area we like because the secondary schools are good. So you can look anytime, if it's a question of moving. If you're looking at an academic school, or a selective school in the private sector, then often you don't have to look far in advance. Often you will be able to get onto the list as late as a year before your child is likely to go. Some of the very selective schools, three four years ahead, but not much more than that.

Step 2: Do your research

Make your choice as educated as possible by finding out as much as you can about secondary schools in your area. Your local authority is a great place to start.

Look for the local authority brochure on secondary schools They give you a lot of information about where the school is, how many get in and where they get in from. So that's the basic starting point

You've got lots of ways of finding out if a secondary school is any good, because they're starting to produce real examination results, they're starting to include pupils that you can talk to almost as an adult. So, looking in from a distance – look at the Ofsted reports, look at the exam results, look at the prospectus. You can gather from that, and particularly from analytical sites like the GSG, how well a school is doing – against its peers, against any objectives that you set for the school – are the physics results good if your child is a budding scientist? Has it really got strong drama, is the music enticing? There's a lot more info there to look at.

Step 3: Visit the school

The only way to find out what a school is really like is to pay a visit and get a feel for how the school operates. Most schools have open days, or you might be able to arrange a personal visit.

Go round the school… talk to the children particularly, see whether they are the sort of children you would like your child to turn into; if what they're interested in is what your child is interested in, if they look as if they're the sort of people who will make friends with somebody like your child. And look for the things that you realty care about – whatever it might be. It'll be something that just happens to appeal to you or your child or be important to them. Make sure they're things that are freely talked about, are freely supported. If your child is someone who is likely to be bullied, you want to hear lots of stories about bullying being solved, about how easy it is to tell people how you feel, about how supportive the teachers and the other pupils are – if that's what's really happening in a school, you'll get told those stories without having to prompt too much. So you need to be out there and listening for what you care about and not allowing yourself to be focused by the school on whatever they think their particular high points are.

Step 4: Talk to the children

The pupils at a school are likely to be frank in their opinions, and much less concerned with a sales pitch than members of staff. When you visit a school, therefore, speak to the children and ask them how they feel about the school.

If something it really good, then the pupils will be enthusiastic about it. It's what they will talk about as you go round the school. If you ask them who their favourite teachers are, or