How to choose your child’s school
As a parent, there is nothing more crucial than choosing the right school for your child. Whilst every school will not suit every child, I am a firm believer that there is a school out there that will suit your son or daughter. The independent sector prides itself on offering variety. Schools come in all shapes and sizes and it’s important to find a school that will deliver for your son or daughter.
At The Elms, this term is one of our busiest for showing prospective parents and children around. Some parents are choosing the first Nursery or School for their child. For these parents, small class sizes, flexible drop off and pick up arrangements, warmth of the adults working with the children, high adult to child ratios, outdoor space for learning are all crucial in choosing the right Nursery or School.
Some children are moving schools for a variety of reasons and joining the juniors (Year 3 upwards). There are a variety of reasons for wishing to change schools at this age. Perhaps a child has attended a smaller, more local pre-prep or infant school and they have simply out-grown the facilities or opportunities that are limited by the size and shape of their current school. Children grow up so quickly and their needs change with their appetite for challenge. Learning a musical instrument, longer school days, after-school clubs, specialist sports facilities and specialist teaching are all reasons why parents move their children to The Elms in the juniors.
Many parents are far-sighted when it comes to choosing a junior school for their children. Competition for places at the best schools, like Trent College our senior school, are limited and parents recognise the value of bringing their children to the junior school to settle in and prepare for transition to Trent. The vast majority of our children transfer from The Elms in Year 6 to Trent College in Year 7, making up over half of the new intake each year for Trent. Whilst they still experience the excitement of new teachers, facilities and new subjects, our children benefit from the security that comes from knowing over half of their year group from day one. This confidence translates into a very quick settling in period at Trent, allowing children to focus on their studies and the demands and opportunities that a senior school such as Trent can provide, with its focus on the whole child.
The school website and prospectus are very important, as too are inspection reports, and these all help set the ethos and vision of a school. News items and newsletters help prospective parents understand what it would be like for a pupil at the school. They give a flavour of how rich the curriculum is, the opportunities for sport and music and class visits. But nothing is more important than visiting a school in person. We all have ‘gut’ feelings as adults and so do children. Feeling happy and secure in any learning environment is key to a child achieving future success. It is important that parents know that school is responsive to their needs and can be flexible enough to work with parents and children through any difficulties that arise from time to time.
At The Elms, prospective new children come and spend a day with us with children of the same age. We don’t believe that sitting a formal exam brings out the best in young children or gives a fair assessment of their ability or potential. Visiting for a day gives us the best chance to see a child both in formal and informal settings to gain a picture of the whole child, which is what we are about.
And finally …
Whilst it is important to take into account the child’s views, the decision is one to be made by parents. If moving schools, most children when asked would prefer not to move schools and stay where they are! This is only natural, but in my experience, children soon settle well into The Elms when they start here.