Secondary school choices

This week has been one of my worse nightmares come true. Yes, I have to find a suitable secondary school for my daughter in year six. We have pounded the corridors and the playing fields on four consecutive evenings and I am really not sure that either of us are any the wiser in the qualities that define a “good school”. Larger schools have larger budgets and so appear to have better facilities. Smaller schools are more welcoming and so appear to have better pastoral care. Well behaved students inside the school are found smoking outside the gates on the way home. And as for the statistics…… “we are in the bottom 10% of the top 25%” – I missed the next two sets of statistics as I was still trying to get my head around that one.

One young lady proudly told my 10 year old daughter about the dissected heart laid out for all to see. “You can put your finger right up through this blood vessel” she excitedly exclaimed as she demonstrated with a gloved hand. “You can see the two chambers” she told us next. “I thought it had four” retorted the young daughter of a biologist.

Do you look at academic standards or extra curricular opportunities? Do you rate pastoral care over the ratio of computers to students? Do you consider where the existing school friends are going – or not? I have a pile of glossy brochures to read this weekend, and no doubt I will dissect the figures and look at the websites as I try to make some sense of all of the information. I’m not sure I will be any the wiser at the end of it all. It’s a bit like studying Biology tutor Herts/Beds – there is information aplenty but is it an accurate reflection of what is actually happening? Is the source reliable? Or are you being influenced to believe something that isn’t actually true?