Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Choosing the right school from the start

FINDING the right school for your child can be complex at any age, but arguably even

FINDING the right school for your child can be complex at any age, but arguably even more so when this is the first school you will choose for them — how do you know what to look for? What makes a school good, or great?

Work out what your priorities are; what are absolute essentials and what are the extra things that would be ideal.

Would you prefer a school that takes pupils until 18, to avoid transition to a new one?

Do you need somewhere with childcare over the school holidays?

Do your shortlisted schools offer breakfast and after-school clubs?

Once you have these practicalities agreed, it’s time to see some schools.

Go to open mornings - take your list of questions but also go with an open mind.

The first thing to look for is happy children engaged in play, with staff who interact well with them.

This might seem obvious but there is always the temptation to look first at the facilities, rather than the school that exists within.

Think about the school’s ethos. Is the moral grounding strong?

Is there a sense of order and purpose?

Are older children  courteous and respectful?

Ask how a normal day is structured. What emphasis is put on learning through play? What opportunities are there to play and learn outside the classroom?

The decision you make at this stage will set your child up for their entire education, which is why it is such an important one.

The best start to a lifetime of learning is one of the greatest gifts you can give.

Grace Hope, head of prep, St Joseph’s College

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