The try-before-you-buy aspect of Independent schools flinging their doors open to prospective parents is great for both experienced and non-experienced parents alike. With the school open day season beginning as soon as schools return from the summer break they have become an essential part of the process of looking for an Independent school.
Schools are becoming more and more flexible and the term ‘school open day’ has become a fluid concept. Prospective pupils and parents are now invited to interactive classroom sessions, school tours, music evenings, lunch with the head as well as a host of activities designed to show the school at its best.
Open days are great at giving a ‘flavour’ of the school in order to help you decide if it’s right for your child. Many schools will even allow current pupils to give tours around the facilities, and you can use this as an opportunity to see the sort of young person that your child will grow up to be. Current pupils are a great advert for any school and they’ll give honest and frank answers to any questions you might have.
It is a good idea to visit schools well prepared and having a list of questions in mind to ask when viewing the school can give you an idea of the type of school it really is. Some examples of the types of questions you should be asking when visiting a school are:
Typically, how many students are in a class?
What access do boarders have to the facilities after lessons have finished?
How much direct contact will we, as parents, have with teachers?
Do you cater for pupils with Special Educational Needs?
Open days are also the perfect opportunity to discuss curriculum with the school. Independent schools offer an array of choices for parents when it comes to curricula and qualifications and it’s up to parents to do the research and pick the one that will best suit their child.
The one-size-fits-all approach to education is long gone in the independent sector and it’s now up to the parent to choose the right school for their child. Schools are always happy to discuss with parents how the curriculum on offer will benefit your child so don’t be put off from asking valuable questions:
How many pupils go on to Oxbridge?
What is the percentage of school leavers that go onto university?
What support mechanisms are there for those who struggle with maths and English?
Why have you chosen the exam boards that you have?
Why have you chosen the teaching staff and the attitudes towards revision?
Are you considering offering any other curriculums in the future like the GCSE?
Maths is a vast area for a child to learn so it is vital that they progress throughout their school years. Even if you don’t necessarily believe that pupil performance is directly dependent on maths and English, it is well worth considering for the long-term benefits of your child:
Will the Independent school offer progression to allow the child to join other pupils and continue their education with those from the same school?
Will the Independent school offer places to carry out gap year activities?
Will the Independent school offer help with job hunting?
In this constantly changing environment, with new educational resources, new teaching methods and concepts, the world of independent schools is very diverse and offers great opportunities for your children. They offer a wide range of choices in the type of school they will be in: boarding or day pupils, self-governing or disciplined, Montessori or traditional. The OFSTED reporting will indicate the quality of schools in England and the regions they lie in according to the OFSTED grading system.
Boarding schools in the UK act on the principle of self-government for pupils’ welfare. At present, there are no strict or defined rules that dictate how a pupil must behave during the school day.
In the UK, there are three distinct school Leaving Cert subjects – English, maths and mathematics. These are vital to a young pupil’s future, and it is important for their future that the schools offer a full curriculum which includes entrance to all three subjects at grade level. It is often possible for pupils to lie a couple of grades below the school they want to attend, but it is important for their future education that they have the opportunity to take these subjects at grade level.
If you want to talk to somebody really, really knowledgeable about independent schools or any schools for that matter, the best way to get in touch with somebody is to email them or use the contact details on the website. You may also find the contact details for these people on Facebook, where you can also find their locations and what services they provide.
The location of the school is one of the most important pick factors, simply because it can make or break their overall standing.