Parents, by now you should have sent off those enrolment forms for your kids to get a place in the independent schools you like the most. Perhaps you are still trying to make a decision as to which is best and are a little overwhelmed by the level of choice out there. In the following article we can help make that choice a little easier by discussing when you should visit prospective independent schools for your children, what you should be looking at and for and what you should be avoiding.
Although it is important when visiting schools like Sidcot School and Loretto School to factor in the school’s academic performance, condition and suitability of classrooms and facilities; there is something that is even more important to look out for. Watch carefully how teachers and pupils interact in the school. After all, while you undoubtedly want your daughters and sons to achieve as much as they can from their time at school, you probably don’t want them in a place that is not nurturing and encouraging.
There can be great benefits to visiting a school on a normal day so that you can see exactly what happens and avoid the PR stunts of many school’s open days. However, if you want to have the opportunity to speak one to one with teachers and get to know them a little better and find answers to your questions; it is still worth visiting schools on open days when there is time set aside for this. On normal school days most of the teachers will be busy teaching their classes.
When you do visit a school, whether it’s at one of the special open days or a drop-in visit during a normal school day, there are some pitfalls you should be aware of such as:
- Never basing your opining on a school on the charming, high achieving pupil who has been tasked to show you round the school.
- If you are going to ask the current pupils what they like and don’t like about a school – wait until the teachers or other staff are not around as you will be more likely to get a truthful answer.
- Don’t just focus on the exam results of the last year, as they could be a one off. To get a better idea of how well the school does in general at exams, ask to see the exam results and where leavers have went when they left over the last 3 years.
- Although you may consider it a waste of time, always take the time to enjoy whatever refreshments and food a school puts on for you as a visitor. Remember that this may be the school that you will be in contact with concerning your children’s education for the next few years, so it’s best to get acquainted with staff and even more importantly, the other parents visiting the school.
Hopefully the above tips and advice will help you in your search for the best independent school for your children.