Most schools now provide glossy marketing brochures full of superlatives; it can be difficult for prospective parents to look beyond promotional materials and discover what truly lies at the heart of a school. From my experience, it is the pupils themselves who best demonstrate the education that is provided by a school, not just the hand selected prefect or Head girl or boy who may lead guided tours, but those who pass you in the corridor on an open day or are on a trip out in a public place.
When touring a school parents should pay attention to the ambience in the classroom in order to establish the learning environment- is it relaxed but purposeful?
Do the pupils greet you confidently and welcome you even though you are a visitor?
Do they seem engaged in their work?
If your son or daughter is touring the school do they become engaged in what is taking place?
Do you have the impression that they would love to stay and participate? If you do, then that is a very good sign.
Speak with pupils and their parents at first hand. Word of mouth is still the strongest endorsement.
A brochure may state that a school offers excellent pastoral care and teaching of a high calibre, but is that what the students and parents at the school actually think?
Ask to see the exam results of the school, do not rely on overused terms such as ‘outstanding’ and ‘ excellent’ without asking to see the evidence to back up such claims.
When the quality of marketing materials is so high it is essential for prospective parents to focus on substance, looking at the record of achievement of pupils at a school over a prolonged period.
2018 may have been a very strong year for an individual school but how does this compare to the previous ten years.
What are the trends in terms of pupil attainment?
Would former pupils recommend their school?
All of these factors help prospective parents to make an informed choice. The choice of school is a critical one. Essentially all parents are looking for a school that will provide a happy, secure environment which will allow their child to flourish – being able to differentiate between those schools that claim to offer this and those schools that actually do is the key to making the right choice.
Visit our Junior Open Morning on Fri 8th March 2019, our whole School open day on Fri 4th October 2019 – or make an appointment to see myself or Liz Pugh the Head of Junior School. A warm welcome always awaits.