Visiting and asking lots of questions is the best way to compare schools and find the most effective and suitable for your child.
Research shows that an effective school will be well-ordered, with good leadership from the head, enabling other staff both to teach well and to take part in development of the school.
The head should be accessible and accountable, and meeting him or her is key to understanding what the school is about.
Go along to as many relevant open days as you can with your child who’s due to start primary or secondary education next September.
If any aren’t convenient, make your own appointment to look round on a school day.
Some points to look out for:
l Do you get an impression of a purposeful working environment?
l Do students you meet seem secure, happy and engaged?
l Are they encouraged by praise rather than punishment?
l Is the school well-maintained?
l Is it usually over-subscribed, and does it have plans to change its size and/or structure in the future?
l How often each week do students do PE and what sporting opportunities are open to them?
l How many are there in a class or teaching group?
l How is school transport arranged?
l What out of school and lunchtime opportunities are there?
l Is there a supervised after-school club where children can go if you don’t get out of work to pick them up straight away?
l Are there good facilities for music and drama tuition?
l Are policies in place to deal with bullying and anti-social behaviour?
l How are special needs catered for?