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Two headteachers make sure you are not lost in the maze when choosing a school and keeping linked in

Choosing the right school is a little like playing a game of Russian Roulette. So often, parents make probably the most expensive choice in their life, second to buying a house, either by listening to friends who have themselves been whipped up into a frenzy by peer pressure, or by taking a whirlwind visit around the school.

With so much investment on something as important as your child’s education, it is essential to get as much information as possible about the school and its ethos. Only if you get under the skin of a school will you find out if its philosophy relates to yours. The worst thing that you can do is to choose a school and then try to change it to suit you or your child. You will end up upsetting teachers, feeling frustrated and your child will not feel secure in the belief that you value the place that you have sent them to spend much of their daily life.

You will often hear the professional advice urging you to look at every aspect of the school. Your first important task is to take time to consider what sort of character your child is, what sort of person you want your child to be and what values you as a family hold


dear. It goes without saying that a tour is absolutely vital, as is talking to the headteacher. But no-one has time to visit every single school, so your search has to somehow be narrowed down.

In the past, people used to say that the commercial presentation of the school was not relevant to the teaching and there were many schools that refused to have any prospectus at all, for this reason. However, this is no longer legally possible as policies for safeguarding children have to be presented in some form of communication.

We now live in a highly commercial world in which we expect high standards for services we buy in to and the way in which they are sold to us. In the same way, standards that schools use to present themselves can be seen as a representation of the standards that they hold in other areas in their school community. So, for example, high standards in the presentation of children’s work show that there is respect for that work, that the teachers value the children, and that there is a celebration

of achievement. What kind of message to the child does it send if a piece of work is left blowing in the wind, hanging precariously by one pin on the wall? In the same way, a website that hasn’t been updated, or poor quality marketing and advertising, show a school that isn’t feeling very good about itself.

Communications with prospective parents through the prospectus and the website, and current parents through the now amazing array of technology available and face-to-face contact – that show that the school has put its heart and soul in to trying to get over to you what they get over to the children, and that show a clear philosophy towards nurturing happy, well-engaged children – reveal how a school values both the children in their care and the parents who are a vital part of their community.

We have explored two ways in which schools not only encourage parents to visit but also, importantly, how they continue to involve them once their children are at the school.

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