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How I chose a school for my child: a parent's view

25 July 2016

How a St Andrew's pupil's parents made the decision on which school to send them to.

When we were choosing a school for our children, we wanted to consider all the options available before making a decision. We looked at both state and independent schools, visiting them on their Open Days to get a general overview as well as conducting more personal one-to-one visits. St Andrew's School stood out for us for a number of reasons.

St Andrew's provided a high quality, all-round education which we felt was better than all the other schools we saw. The school had high aspirations of its children and its achievements were reflected in consistently good academic results with a high percentage of its pupils successfully gaining entry into selective grammar schools. Our long term goal for our children was for them to move onto grammar schooling for their secondary education. We felt that St Andrew's provided them with the best opportunity to do this.

St Andrew's has a very good reputation. People in the local community highly recommended the school to us and parents of children who had either been or were at the school gave us positive testimonials. This was backed up by very good reports both from Ofsted and ISI.

One of the first things we noticed when we visited St Andrew's was how well-mannered the children were. Their conduct in class and towards visitors was impressive. The school's promotion of traditional values of respect and responsibility appealed to us.

The class sizes at St Andrew's were smaller than all the state schools, but bigger than most of the independent schools. However, when coupled with the good discipline the school was able to create a very conducive learning environment.

St Andrew's provided nurturing pastoral care. The children were well looked after and their safety and well-being were of paramount importance. Children were happy, confident and enjoyed learning. The Principal and staff we met were warm, welcoming, enthusiastic and dedicated.

The teaching at St Andrew's followed the national curriculum but its independent status allowed it to introduce different subjects with specialists, making it challenging and stimulating. We also like the fact that the school recognised children's individual strengths and weakness. Those who were doing well were stretched and those who needed help were supported accordingly.

One particular area of focus for us was the provision for children with special needs. This varied considerably with units providing highly specialised support to schools with only minimal support. St Andrew's had some children with special needs – the feedback we got from their parents was very reassuring. The school had in place a structured learning support system and it worked closely together with parents as well as professionals involved in the children's care. We strongly felt that the support the school provided would meet our children's special needs.

The facilities at St Andrew's were minimal compared to the other schools we viewed. However, what they had was well maintained and they made good alternate arrangements to use facilities elsewhere. This meant that the fees were very competitive.

Taking everything into consideration, the state schools we saw did not meet our criteria. Of the independent schools we felt that overall St Andrew's was the right environment in which our children would be able to reach their full potential and be safe and happy.

Bhavika Gopal