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School Visiting

Whether you are visiting a primary, secondary and or private school there are certain basic questions to ask and some important things to look for, expect and find out. Before doing so we recommend you obtain a school prospectus which the school is obliged to send you upon your request.

Questions to Ask on a School Visit

  • Qualifications of staff especially in key subject areas, e.g. mathematics, science and languages.
  • Class sizes: do over-large junior classes subsidise small sixth form groups?
  • Curriculum - at each age level. Range of subjects at GCSE and A level.
  • Streaming or setting - the latter is generally preferable.
  • Examination results, % passes A-C in GCSE, A-E at A level.
  • Internal examinations - how frequent? Records of achievement?
  • Extra curriculum activities. Range of clubs and sports. % of pupils who represent the school in sport.
  • Homework - do all pupils have it? How much per evening? All marked?
  • Forms of assessments/reports. Grading system?
  • Counselling - systems of pastoral care. House organisation.
  • Discipline: forms of punishment. What is the heads personal philosophy?
  • Rewards and systems of commendation?
  • Links with parents: through PTA? Informal? Freedom to come into school?
  • Lunch arrangements. Freedom of pupils to be in school at all times?
  • Transport arrangements. Pick-up points for buses?

To Look For

  • The way that pupils conduct themselves around the school. Levels of noise.
  • Is uniform neatly and correctly worn?
  • The state of notice boards. Evidence of vitality; displays.
  • Standards of cleanliness; litter; state of buildings.
  • The way teaching staff address your child - their personal interest and concern.

To Expect

  • To be seen by the head but, to be fair, this is not always possible.
  • To look around unescorted.

To Find Out

All you can locally. The vendors of properties you are inspecting will have personal opinions about local schools but remember the best judges of a school are the pupils themselves. Local reputations are far more important than glossy prospectuses.