It’s that time of year. If you have a 10 year old, like me you are probably puzzling about which is the right secondary school to choose. I’ve been talking to other mums at school about this and reading blog posts from mums of 10 year olds too, so here are my thoughts!
Something that came up when I was talking to a journalist for a piece in the Times a couple of weeks ago is that we put so much pressure on ourselves (and sometimes our children) to make the perfect choice… but actually no school is perfect. A school that can appear great on paper, and fit all your criteria when you visit for the open day might be the best school for your child … but it might not. I’ve had personal experience of this. We were really pleased to get D into a certain school when we moved to Sussex. It had a great reputation, lots of competition to get in, but it didn’t work out for her.
This leads on to my second thought: moving schools is OK. If your first choice of school doesn’t turn out to be right for your child, it is fine to look around at other options, even mid-way through the school year. We moved D, and she’s been very happy and done really well at a school that we’d barely considered when we first looked. We thought moving school would be traumatic, particularly coming on top of a house move and just 2 terms at the previous school, but in fact it made things much better for everyone.
Bearing this in mind can really help at this time of year. Check out the available secondary schools. Take your child round on Open Days. Read the Ofsted reports, check the stats, talk to the teachers and see what kids who go there already say. But remember that no school is perfect, some kids don’t like what appears to be a great school, and you can always move them somewhere else. These things can take the pressure off trying to find a perfect place.
Antonia Chitty is author of What to Do When Your Child Hates School: How to see your child off to school with a smile again which looks at helping your child at school, and finding other options. It costs £8.99 from Amazon at time of writing.