Your priority is pastoral care...

You know how important it is for your child to feel loved, cared for a supported. You know that any academic success rests on the foundations of caring teachers, school and culture. 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 out for in the school...

  • Are there different spaces for students to access through the day? For example, a cosy library, a sensory space or smaller rooms for small group teaching?
  • What are the school values?
  • How do the teaching staff interact with you, your child and other children? Especially notice how they interact with any student volunteers.
  • Can you find the Head of Year 7 or any information about the tutor groups?
  • Can you find and speak to the SENCO?

What to listen out for in presentations...

  • Does the head mention being an ‘inclusive’ school?
  • Does the head mention personalised learning?
  • Does the head talk about the type of support offered to new students as they move into Year 7?
  • Does the head mention anything about ‘building crew’ or how tutor time is used?
  • Is the SENCO/Head of Year 7 involved in the presentation?

What to ask teachers...

  • Is this school a happy place to work?
  • Is there a well-being programme for students?
  • How are students with special educational needs supported to ensure they thrive?
  • Are students’ individual circumstances taken into account?
  • Is this a strict – ‘zero tolerance’ – school?

What to ask students...

  • Are you happy here?
  • What kind of things do you do in your tutor time?
  • Are teachers friendly and open here?
  • Do you have a teacher you trust?
  • If a student here feels stressed or overwhelmed, is there support? What sort of thing happens?
  • What do you learn about in assemblies?