Kensington, like Notting Hill to the north and Chelsea to the south has a remarkable variety of schools across the state and independent sectors. From charming prep schools to tough academies, it may not look like it at first but they all have one thing in common and that is a high demand for places. And so, every year, there is a scramble by parents to get their children into the schools they like most. For this reason, good preparation in the form of investigating and researching your options is of paramount importance when selecting a school.
Through our school reviews and education consultancy services, The Good Schools Guide has been helping parents make informed decisions about their children’s education for more than thirty years. It’s worth remembering that not every school is the perfect match for every child but if you do find a school which is a good fit, your child will thrive. Take a look at what we think are the most important things to consider when choosing a school.
Top 10 tips for finding the right school for your child
- It may seems obvious but before your embark on your search, make sure you know exactly what you are looking for. Do you want a state school or fee-paying school (also called private, independent and sometime public)? Day or boarding school? Single sex or co-education? Selective or non-selective? It helps to have these things in mind, even if you change it at a later date.
- You want a school which is ideal for your child, with great teaching and possibly good facilities to match. It is crucial you decide what is really important to you and your child. And be realistic: a not-very-academic child will be much happier in the top half of a non-selective school than bumping along at the bottom of a league table topper. Be honest with yourself about what you hope your child will gain from their school.
- Outside of lesson time, what kind of features might interest your child? Some children love a library full of books while others want lots of outside space in which to run around. Find out whether schools offer any particular activities or if there is a strong emphasis on reading or writing, art or sport.
- Is your child very sporty? Do they live to kick a ball or wield a racket? Maybe you want to find a school which plays the sports your child loves, provides top level coaching and offers competitive sporting fixtures against other schools throughout the year.
- Does your child have special interests which you would like to see supported at school? Perhaps your child is a gifted musician and you would want them to have music lessons at school or join the school orchestra. Is your household bilingual and you would like your child to have the opportunity to further their language skills at school?
- The geography of where your child goes to school is important. At junior level, perhaps you will be taking your child to school. Do you want a school to be within walking distance of home or work? At senior level your child may go to school alone using public transport. Ask yourself how convenient the routes are and find out whether the school lays on a bus service.
- Think about a boarding school. There may not be a wealth of boarding options on your doorstep but within an hour of London there are plenty of schools offering places for flexi, weekly and full-boarding, with some taking children as young as 7. Such schools often have beautiful settings with much more space for sport and activities than many London schools. Boarding is also a good option for parents who travel a lot or with long work days. The idea may horrify you at first but for the right child, boarding means constant stimulation and having your friends around all the time.
- Many schools in the UK, both state and independent, have a religious ethos. Often this is hardly noticeable but in some schools this means regular school church services and daily prayers. Ask yourself how you feel about your child attending a religious school and whether it is compatible with home life.
- Inspection reports (from OFSTED – or ISI ) and school performance indicators are worth checking but will only tell you so much. Talk to parents who already know the schools you’re considering and see if the school has a review in The Good Schools Guide.
- Visit the school. All schools have open days which provide a chance to look around and meet the head teacher. No end of reading exam results and inspection reports can help as much as seeing a school in the flesh. Are the pupils happy? Are the teachers happy? Is there children’s artwork on the wall? Ask yourself whether it feels like the right school for your child.
Choosing a school for your child can be an incredibly difficult decision. There are a great many things to consider and some of them you have no control over. Particularly if you are applying to state schools, there is an element of luck as to whether you end up with a place at your favourite school. The Good Schools Guide Education Consultants are on hand to offer advice and support to any parent who is struggling to find the right school for their child.
The Good Schools Guide is the leading, independent source of information on schools in the UK, helping parents with every aspect of choosing the best education for their children. Visit www.goodschoolsguide.co.ukor call 0800 368 7694 to learn more.