Your priority is academic success

You know how important it is, in our highly competitive world, for your child to leave schools with the qualifications they need to access their next steps. The following guide will help you to get the information you need when visiting secondary schools.

It is important to remember that the information you get during an open day or school visit, should be placed in context with the other information you have available. Your decisions should not be based on one factor alone. I can’t give advice, I can only provide you with tools to make the best choice for you and your family.

What to look for in the school...​

  • Are there any displays of previous student success?  For example, displays of students who went on to study at prestigious universities.
  • Do any of the school values mention academic success?
  • What is the library like?
  • What type of textbooks are seen in classrooms?
  •  How are the classrooms set out? Rows might suggest more ‘teacher-led’ lessons.
  • Does the school use ‘setting’ to divide students by academic ability?

What to listen out for in presentations...

  • How much does the head / senior leader talk about exam result success?
  • Does the presentation emphasise traditional values?
  • Does the head give examples of the ‘destinations’ of former pupils? For example, the number of students who have gone on to high-performing institutions/professions.
  • Does the head talk about universities?

What to ask teachers...​

  • How many teachers in this department mark for exam boards? Exam boards hire teachers to grade papers – it can help give an understanding of how to get the most marks in exams.
  • What is staff turnover like? Are there many new teachers? Stability and experience can be helpful in passing exams.
  • How does the school stretch the top students? How are they supported to get top grades?
  • What can I do as a parent to help my child achieve a top grade in this subject?
  • For all subjects EXCEPT English, Maths and Science…How many students take this subject at GCSE level?
  • For Maths… what percentage of students enter the higher paper?
  • For Science…Same as above and… How many students do triple-Science?
  • Is this subject ‘setted’?

What to ask students...

  • Do you have many supply teachers? 
  • What grades do you expect to leave with?
  • Which subjects are you doing well in? Why?
  • Which subjects are you struggling with? Why?
  • Do you do many assessments?