Decision time – which secondary school is right for your child?

If your child is in Year 4 or 5 you’ve got a big decision looming – which secondary school is right for your child? If your child is in year 6 you may be in the midst of a testing time – literally – with grammar schools entrance tests completed and entrance exam tests for independent schools taking place in January.

You may already know that you’d like your child to go to an independent (often called private) school or maybe you’d love them to attend the highly sought after state grammar school or comprehensive. But if you’re still undecided here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

1.       Be clear about the different types of schools and all the costs involved. There are state maintained comprehensive/secondary schools where you don’t pay fees, but if it’s a good school then it’s likely housing costs in the catchment area will be higher. There are grammar secondary schools (164 of them in England) which select pupils based on their academic ability using the 11+ entrance exam or similar. They are funded by the state and don’t charge fees. Finally there are independent (private) schools, they can be called grammar schools but are not funded or run by the state so you can pay substantial fees. They also select pupils based on testing.

2.       Think about hidden costs. In an independent school setting your child is likely to get access to additional sporting and extracurricular activities as part of the fees you pay. By putting them in a state school will you end up spending extra time and money finding out of school sports and other clubs to keep your child occupied? On the other hand private schools often have more expensive uniforms and costly activities.

3.       Remember your child is an individual. You need to visit the schools and get a feel for what would suit your child. You child may need the nurturing, one on one environment of an independent school with smaller class sizes or they may be very confident and flourish in a local comprehensive.

4.       Are you in catchment?  If you are thinking about getting your child into a really good state secondary have you checked that you actually live in catchment? Check with your local authority. It’s also worth asking about admissions criteria.

5.       Does your child have special needs? If so you need to talk to your ideal schools in some detail – how would they cope with your child? Do they have experience with children with the same condition? It can be the case that state schools are better equipped to deal with special needs.

It’s worth remembering that you can transfer between the systems, so if your child has been in an independent primary school (prep) then you can apply for a state secondary school or apply for sixth-form College after a private secondary education. And if you feel like you child needs additional help outside of school then track down a tutoring company who have experience of all school systems.

If you need help preparing your child for independent school entrance exam tests or need extra tutoring support while they are at state, grammar or independent secondary school and you are based in the Manchester, Macclesfield, Stockport, Trafford, Wilmslow, Cheshire areas we can help. Get in touch with us at 121 Home Tutors.

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