Choosing a school for your child is a massive milestone for any parent, whether it’s their first school or they are moving onto secondary education. It involves a lot of thought and thorough research but eventually you will make a decision that is right for your family as a whole, not just the child in question. Here are some tips for choosing the right school for your child from a prep school in the South West.

Start by chatting as a family and discussing your priorities. Think about what sort of environment your child will likely thrive in; do they have special educational needs or a language barrier that needs to be catered to? Perhaps they have a keen interested in sport and therefore require excellent sporting facilities. Maybe you’d like the school to be on a suitable bus route so that your child doesn’t have to rely on you for a lift. Unless you know what you’re looking for, narrowing down your search for the right school will be impossible. 

Once you have listed out your main priorities, then you can start your online research. Most schools will have a decent enough website that will give you a rough idea of their main goals as an establishment, as well as things like previous exam results, the curriculum and any extra-curricular activities that are on offer. You may also want to look into things like league tables and Ofsted reports, to give you an idea of how each school stands against other schools in the area. 

Your online search should help you rule out some definite no’s, and you’ll be left with a list of maybe’s. This is good, because it means you are getting closer to a suitable school for your child. The next step is to book onto some Open Mornings so that you can visit the schools, be given a tour and listen to a talk from the Headteacher. This experience will really give you a good feel for the school’s atmosphere, and you should also pay attention to things like the general cleanliness and safety aspects of the environment. Use it as an opportunity to ask lots of questions and potentially even take your child along to see how they react to their new surroundings.

Bear in mind that the Open Mornings will really showcase the best parts of the school and it might be a good idea to arrange an appointment to visit on a normal day, so that you get a truer reflection. Speak to the students if you can, as well as the teachers, and consider how everyone interacts with one another and if they seem happy and well-adjusted. After the visit, ask your child what they thought of the school and really factor their opinion into your final decision, as they are the one who will have to spend the majority of their life there for the next few years.