Saturday, November 10, 2007

Choosing the right school for one's child

One of the biggest decisions any parent makes is choosing a secondary school for their child.

We've just been through that particular mill. It was a process which lasted well over a year, involved over a dozen visits to four schools and three hours of one-on-three time with three separate headteachers.

At several points in this nerve-jangling process, I had to remind myself and my loved ones that we are lucky to have the choice of four (or even, if you extend the parameters a bit, six) excellent state schools. Where I come from, Bude, there is a choice of just one excellent school, Budehaven Community School - above (declaration of interest: two close family members of mine work at said school). If you want your child to go to a different school you'd have to send them to a Public Boarding school (further declaration of interest: that's what fortuituously happened to me, before the establishment of Budehaven school, I hasten to add) or conceivably, I suppose, drive fifty miles a day to the next available school, if they'll have you.

So back to West Berkshire and being spolit for choice. We laboured through every conceivable form of research into all four schools. Ofsted reports pored over, headteachers interviewed, open evenings attended, random roaming pupils subjected to on-the-spot inquisitions from my darling wife, other parents' anecdotes exhaustively followed up etc etc. We did the lot.

It was quite clear which is the best school. That's a no brainer from the Ofsted reports and the league tables.

But after over a year of deliberation, the truth dawned on me. It doesn't matter which is the best school. The right school for one's child is the one that they feel most comfortable with. And, after we subjected the chair of governors and headteacher to a Spanish Inquisition, that's where one's child is going.

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