What kind of school is right for your child?

http://kynect-guide.org/wp-json/oembed/1.0// Every parent asks this question as their child approaches school age or prepares to move from primary to secondary education. Teachers ask themselves a similar question, although in their case they are likely to ask, “What kind of school is right for me?”

purchase Levetiracetam These are good questions. No two schools are exactly the same and it is essential to ask what kind of school will best meet the aspirations you have for your child – or for yourself.

Proscalpin without rx Finding the answer to your question is not as difficult as you might think. Most schools describe the kind of school they are in a “guiding statement” that you will find published on their website, in their literature for prospective parents and teachers, or both. Many schools call this statement their mission, but there are other names including aims, philosophy, and ethos. Some schools also use the term vision, but this is more likely to describe what the school aims to be in future, not what it claims to be doing now.

The mission is the promise that the school makes to the community – students, parents, teachers and others. Some schools promise to deliver academic excellence, others emphasize strong human values, while yet others may focus on sporting prowess or education for environmental sustainability. Of course, many schools offer several of these and more besides! As a prospective parent you should look for a school whose aims match those you have for your child.

buspar buy online How can you be sure that the school is keeping its promise to the community? Here are four ways to look for evidence:

1.    If the school promises academic excellence you should check appropriate ‘performance indicators’ such as public test and examination results and university placements. The school should make this information available to you upon request.

2.    You should ask parents of children already in the school if, in their opinion, the school keeps its promises. It’s important to ask specifically about things that the school claims to do in its guiding statement. For example, it would not be helpful to ask about the success of the school’s sports teams if it does not claim that high sporting achievement is an important aspect of its educational program.

3.    Of course, you may visit the school and see for yourself. As mentioned in earlier posts you should look and listen for evidence that the school does what it claims to do. For example, if a school claims that children ‘learn through inquiry’ you should expect to find evidence that students are actively engaged in age-appropriate work based on research and investigation. If a school claims to be ‘inclusive’, ask what this means. Look and listen for evidence of diversity among the students and teachers, and for evidence that the school is open to new ideas and different points of view.

4.    Finally, you can ask to see reports from organizations that provide objective, external evaluation of the school’s performance. In the case of international schools ask for the latest “Accreditation Report”, and for state schools in the UK ask for the most recent “Ofsted Report”. All schools in all countries should be able to offer a report written by an external evaluation agency, often the local or central government. If a school is not able to offer a report to you, please ask why it is not available.

Evidence that a school keeps its promises can turn up in unexpected ways! To illustrate this, here is a personal anecdote about a school close to where I live. A few weeks ago I was shopping in the neighborhood mini-market. Halfway on my walk around the shop I looked in my basket and remembered that I should have selected some fruit from a shelf near the entrance. I walked back against the flow of customers and as I approached the entrance a group of about ten very tall teenagers in school uniform came laughing through the door. I felt sure I would be pushed backwards by this large and unstoppable mass of young people. To my joy, however, they greeted me, parted to let me through, and even asked if they could help me find what I was looking for.

When I reached home I went straight to the school’s website. Its mission statement included the following words: “Through … a strong focus on pastoral care, we aim to prepare young people for their lives as citizens in the community, and to enable them to serve as examples to moral and spiritual values in the world.”

The behavior of the students in that mini-market told me that the school is keeping its promise.

Thank you.

Next time: What kind of education will prepare your child for an uncertain future?



Three questions that will tell you how well your child is being taught.

I remember a conversation I had with my father long ago. At the time I was a young child attending a primary school in the English Midlands. In those days the UK used “imperial” rather than metric units, so schoolchildren learned to measure distances in inches, feet and yards, and shopkeepers sold cooking ingredients in pounds and ounces.

One day I was talking with my Dad about the heights of my family members and friends.

“Do you know what a centimetre is?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “it’s a sort of little inch”. We all had a good laugh at my childish response – including me, although I didn’t know what I was laughing at!

But now, looking back as a grey-haired educator, I can see that my teacher was doing an excellent job. My apparently naïve definition of a centimetre showed that I understood two broad truths: that a centimetre, like an inch, is a unit of measurement, and that a centimetre is a smaller unit of measurement than an inch. Not bad for a very small boy! That level of understanding did not happen by accident. I had a very fine teacher.

So here are three questions that will tell you if your child is being well taught at school. First, however, just a small warning before you start interrogating your child! Most children, just like most adults, are wary about being questioned at home about their ‘day job’. If your child seems reluctant to discuss her learning with you, try again  gently another day when the signs are more favorable!

The first question is: What are you learning in history* at the moment? (*or whatever subject or project may be under discussion). Your child’s answer to this question – and to your follow-up questions – will reveal a great deal. If all your child tells you is a repetition of historical (or scientific, or mathematical…) facts or formulae then it is possible that she is being taught only to learn and repeat by rote. This is not enough. Whatever your child’s age she has a right to learn subject knowledge within a broad context that has relation to wider understandings and to her own life. You would expect her to be able to explain connections between her current learning and other areas of knowledge and how it relates to her personal experience. Teachers call this, “learning in an authentic context” and it is the teacher’s responsibility to ensure that it takes place.

The second question is: For what reasons are you learning this? (Note that there is never one reason alone for learning anything, so please use an open-ended question such as this in order to give your child the opportunity to answer in her own way). Learning must be purposeful, so hopefully your child will give an answer such as, “Because it will help me to…” or, “So that I will be able to understand…” or even, “Because it’s really, really interesting!” On the other hand, if your child responds with answers such, “Because my teacher says we must learn it” or, “Because it’s in chapter 3 of the book” or anything like that, I’m sorry to say that your child is not being introduced to either the purposes or the joy of learning.

Please do not think that your child’s answers are simply an indication of the level of her intelligence. All children are naturally curious learners, and all children have brains that respond positively to intellectual challenge and rich learning experiences. It is your child’s teacher who creates these challenges and experiences, and the child’s parent who complements these challenges and experiences with a stimulating life at home. Both the teacher and the parent carry great responsibility for their child’s learning and they must work together as a team. In future posts I will introduce some of the research that justifies the statements in this paragraph.

Schools used to talk of helping your child “reach her potential” but such an idea is out of date for two reasons. First, the concept of “potential” cannot be measured. Secondly, we know that the human brain is malleable and can be stimulated to attain levels of achievement beyond what would previously have been considered feasible. If your child’s teacher or school talks about the level of achievement that your child may be expected to reach, then I am sorry to hear it. Pre-determined levels of achievement can become self-fulfilling prophesies, and that is never in the child’s best interest. What the child needs is the self-expectation of academic (and other) success beyond what today may seem possible for her to achieve, together with the intellectual and social tools to achieve it.

The third question for your child is this: What do you think you will learn next? I’ll leave you to think about that!

Thank you.

Next time: What kind of school is right for my child?