Online House Hunter: Finding the right school
THOSE looking to move to England’s “prosperous Shires” probably thought life was fairly rosy – until they picked up their newspaper this morning and found that David Cameron was putting Shire schools in his sights. Apparently schools in such affluent areas – and he included market towns – can rest on their laurels and not help children to realise their full potential, “just as much as inner cities”.
I’m not sure everyone understands what a Shire might be (something out of Tolkien’s land of hobbits perhaps) but it raises once again the problem of choosing the right school. For those moving house, being close to the right school can be a crucial factor in choosing a property. It gave me a chance to surf the web and update my links on finding a school.
I’d start with the DirectGov webpage which gives a good general overview of the subject and links to key websites. It includes details of the types of schools available in Britain today, along with advice on how to choose the right one for your child. Key is the Schoolsfinder direct search engine to pinpoint schools in your new area.
Your starting point is likely to be the local authority in the area to which you are moving. If you’re not sure which authority that is, you can type in your postcode on DirectGov’s local authority search page to find out. This page at Southwark Council is typical of the council information available and Southwark goes one step further by including these top tips in plain English.
Instinctively, most people will head to Ofsted for reports on the various schools in an area. You can search for the latest Ofsted reports but it’s also worth reading previous reports to see how the school has changed of late. In particular, watch the date of the Ofsted report and see if there has been a recent change in head teacher. For primary schools, the letter to pupils is a good at-a-glance and jargon-free summary.
The government launched an addition earlier this year: the chance for parents to post comments about their school’s performance. Parent View is still new and may not have many comments yet but it’s worth keeping an eye on. But in fact Schools Net had been running a similar feedback service for some time and you’re likely to find more comments about potential schools on that site.
Finally, for those thinking of an Independent School, there is the Independent Schools Council available online.
Remember to use the map view on the Independent Property Search Engine to find a home in the right catchment area.
- Independent Property Search
- Independent Education Section
- Independent Schools Section
- School performance tables
- Schoolsfinder direct
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