As a parent, I’ve been through the process of applying for secondary school places three times and appreciate that there’s a lot to consider. First of all, there’s how the decision is made: my children, my wife and I were not always looking for the same things in the schools we were comparing but we all had a vested interest and a stake and had to a lot of talking to find the ‘best fit’. Then there’s the broad range of things to consider:
Will the school provide the right type of environment and support?
Will my son/daughter be treated as an individual, so that their abilities will develop and flourish?
Is the school’s record of academic achievement strong over time?
Is there a breadth and flexibility in the curriculum and a full extra-curricular programme?
There are also the practical issues:
How will they get to school and how much will it cost (transport, uniform etc.)?
What are the chances of getting in and how should I order my preferences?
We considered each of these points carefully, read the Ofsted reports, checked the DfE performance tables and browsed through the websites. However (at the risk of sounding clichéd), in my opinion, there really is no substitute for getting into the schools and getting a feel of what they are like. I’d encourage all parents making this tough decision over the next few weeks to take any opportunity you can to visit the schools you’re considering in good time before the deadline (31 October). Best of luck!