Choosing a Secondary School
Going to school is a scary experience. But choosing one is just as nerve-wracking. When you’re younger it’s not so bad. At infant and primary school, there isn’t as much variety to choose from and parents pick the school they feel is the best. But at the age of 11, to have to pick the secondary school you will be attending for the next 5 years is very daunting.
In England, over 2600 (DfES July 2007) high schools have now become involved in the specialist schools programme. This allows the school to choose an area of the curriculum to specialise in and they are then given a large amount of money which is used to buy equipment, materials, etc. This means that if your child wants to do something in the areas of technology such as graphic design, electronics, metal work or construction, the facilities are brilliant and it gives them a good start in their career. However, this means most schools will insist that your child takes the specialist subject as one of their GCSE’s which could disadvantage your child if they need to take certain GCSE’s for college courses.
There are many different kinds of specialist schools. Here are a few examples:
- - Technology
- The Arts
Another factor which may sway your decision is pastoral care. Most schools now have a pastoral care scheme which deals with any school or home related issues. These issues can include bullying, school/homework problems, or family issues. This allows pupils to talk to a pastoral manager confidentially and it allows the pastoral manager to sort any problems or get other adults involved who may be better trained to deal with the situation. This means that more time can be spent solving the problem and regular catch-up sessions can be arranged in case the problem ongoing.
Extra Curricular activities are great for team building and making new friends. They give students a chance to connect whilst doing something they chose and like to do. Most schools offer after school and lunch clubs which are mainly centred around sport and music. However some schools offer trips away. These are normally for specific groups of children who are involved in things such as sports and languages. These trips are fantastic for bringing people together and also give your child a sense of independence. When a child goes on a languages trip they are expected to speak the native language, this helps them pick up the accents, slang, and speed at which the language is spoken, it also helps with their confidence. Likewise with music trips it gives children the chance and confidence to go up on stage and perform. Other extra-curricular activities include NAGTY, the National Academy for Gifted and Talented Youth, which offers many summer courses for the top 5% of academics. It also provides forums and debates on different topics which can be accessed via their website. The Duke of Edinburgh Award is also another extra-curricular activity which is valuable when applying for colleges and universities. This can be offered by schools, and clubs and is a combination of recreational, skills and service and includes camping overnight.
The variety of GCSE options is also a big factor in choosing a high school. For example, depending on which school you choose there will be a different selection of languages, technology courses and vocational courses. The vocational courses are normally situated at colleges so a couple of days a week could be spent out of school. Some schools can also share facilities such as cutting edge technology or design programs which the other school is lacking. This allows schools to offer a wider variety of GCSE options.Most county councils provide a careers advice service in schools to help students choose what they would like to do after leaving school. These include Connexions which has representatives in many schools and helps pupils decide on which form of higher education, if any, they would like to start after school.
The above is an extract from an article by Amelia Hunt, a student at Chapel-en-le-Frith High School and is reproduced with her permission © 2007 .