Carly Raby (Participation Manager) gives expert video advice on: What happens if I go to my new school and I don't like it?; If I am expelled from school will I be able to go to another one straight away? and more...
What happens when my parents and I have a difference of opinion on schools?
I think it's really difficult if you have a difference of opinion from your parents about which school is right for you. I'd say, essentially you're the one who's going to have to go there every day, day after day for 7 or 8 hours a day. It's really important that you're going to feel safe, comfortable and happy there, otherwise you're not going to learn as much as you could learn, and you're not going to get on as well as you do. It's important that you sit down with your parents, maybe make a real list of pros and cons of things you liked about it, and things they liked about it and things where you disagree. Try and get them to have a discussion with you that ends in some sort of decision that you're both happy with.
Should the teachers be an important factor when I'm choosing a new school?
I think the teachers will be important when you're deciding on a new school, and when you go to look at the school and you meet some of the teachers, it will feel important to you that you get on with them. It is very important when you're at school that you get on with your teachers and you feel comfortable and happy, and that they're easy to communicate with. However, teachers do move around and change jobs. What you don't want to do is decide on a school purely because you get on really well with a teacher who might leave a couple of weeks after you start. Teachers should be one thing that you take into a count, but they should not be everything.
Should subjects be a deciding factor when I'm choosing a new school?
It's important to look at the subjects the school is offering and having some certain understanding about how they teach the subjects, because the subjects that you're interested in now might well be the subjects you want to study in the future, and you want to make sure that you'll be given the opportunity to learn as much as you possibly can in subjects you're already interested in, because that's going to make your time at school help you.
Who can I go to for advice when choosing a new school?
It's really important to get advice when you're starting a new school. Something that a lot of people like to do when they're going around a new school is to take not only parents but another relative or another sibling or a friend from a different school, so that they're having a wider discussion when they get back about what everybody thought of it, what different people liked about it, and the pros and cons?. I really think talking to the people at the school when you're going around and looking is an opportunity to get some sort of insight into what they think of the school, because they're right at it, there're going there already, and they will tell you honestly what they think of it and you can see whether that matches with what you're interested in.
I'm thinking of changing from a day school to a boarding school - will it be very different?
Changing from a day school to a boarding school will be very different. Day schools are very different from each other, and boarding schools are very different from each other, so it's difficult to answer that question: every boarding school will be completely different to another boarding school. I think the most important thing to do is to visit the boarding school that you're interested in swapping to and get a real feel for what the boarding school is like. Talk to the other pupils, talk to the teachers, because you will be moving away from the support that you may be used to having at home. When moving away from friends and family, either during the week or for a whole term at a time depending on how old you are, it's important that you feel safe, happy and secure there because you won't be coming home to the environment that you're used to. Some boarding schools offer a weekend where you can go and test it out, and I'd really advise that, because you'll get a sense of what it's like to be living there, rather than just going somewhere during the day.
What happens if I go to my new school and I don't like it?
If you go to a new school and you don't like it, the most important thing to do is to talk to someone about it quickly; to really have a conversation with someone about the things that you don't like and decide really whether there are any solutions to that, or whether that school is really not the right place for you for whatever reason. Talking to your teachers or people who you are really comfortable with, or with your parents, about some of the issues that you are finding difficult early on, is really essential, because the longer that you leave it, the more difficult that conversation is going to be. So, just sit down and go through the things you like and don't like, and thankfully people will help you to feel more comfortable there or think of moving.
Can I change schools halfway through the year?
If you did want to change schools halfway through the year then that is something that you can do. It depends whereabouts you live and what places are available in the school's new year as to whether that's an option straightaway, or whether you'll have to leave and spend some time at home before that's possible. Your local education authority will be able to advise you on that. If you are very unhappy, the best thing to do is to talk to your parents, and they can phone somebody up within the early year to see whether that's a possibility for you and whether there are places available in the local schools so that you don't have to travel too much.
Can I change schools halfway through a term?
If you want to change schools halfway through the term, it is possible, but it depends on whereabouts you are and whether there are places at other schools, for you to move from one school to another. If you are really unhappy at school and you want to change schools halfway through the term, the best thing to do is to speak to your parents, or whoever is at home with you, to get in touch with the LEA as soon as possible and see whether they can advise you and whether there are places available at other schools. This will mean you're not having to travel too far and be away from home for too long.
If I am expelled from school will I be able to go to another one straight away?
If you're expelled from school, depending on where you are and where you live, there are lots of different things that might happen. Another factor if you're expelled from school is why you were expelled, and people need to know why you've been expelled before they can advise on what options are available. The best thing to do if you have been expelled from school, and the local education authorities should advise you on it, is to find out what places are available, whether there are places in the PRU - pupil referral unit - or whether you can transfer to another school. The local education authorities should be able to advise on that.