QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK THE SCHOOL
is the head’s vision for the school? Many heads will extoll their grandiose plans for the new gym or science lab. What you should be looking for is their views on the curriculum, styles of teaching and how to achieve academic success.
you are sympathetic with the vision of the head – there is another important question – how long are they staying? “I chose my daughters school on the basis of the head's reputation, only to find she left two years later”, says one frustrated father. “After that the whole atmosphere of the school was different”.
does the school foster values beyond the academic? Your child is more than just a machine who takes exams. You want them to grow into a fully rounded adult. Personal, social, health and good citizenship education should also be considered. Good schools will have a well thought out integrated programme.
I sit in on a lesson and talk to the current pupils? Not all schools will let you sit in on a lesson but seeing a lesson plan can also be helpful. Talking to current pupils will give you another perspective. It is also worth talking to parents of current pupils, too, if you know any. If not, ask the school to put you in touch, VOLUME 8 2017 bearing in mind school recommendations are likely to be more biased.
considering boarding should ask what they do on weekends. Good schools should have a programme of activities and options. When you tour the school see if you can meet the coordinators in charge of the boarding house. Are they efficient? More importantly, do they deal with their charges sensitively and sympathetically?
Armed with these key questions you should be ready to tackle the school system and win. Don't let the league tables overly influence you and remember to look beyond the words of eloquent heads and do your own research.