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Choosing a School

There are now a range of different types of secondary schools that you can apply for such as Free Schools, Academies and Private Schools. You must consider the best school for your child!

Free Schools – are the newest type of schools which are set up by teachers, parents, communities, charities, faith groups and are funded by the state. A Free School is usually set up as a result of a demand by the local community.

Academies - are independently run schools set up by sponsors from business, faith or voluntary groups in partnership with the local authority and the government Department for Children, Schools and Families.

Private Schools – are independent schools which parents choose to pay for their child’s education. Parents pay towards the fee to run the school.

Specialist Schools – State secondary schools often specialise in a subject area, this is based on the exam results. Schools can specialise in: the arts, maths and computing, business and enterprise, music, engineering, science, humanities, sports, languages, and technology.

Voluntary Schools – voluntary aided schools are usually faith schools, they are sometimes funded by the local authority, but the building or land is owned by a charity or church.

Community Schools – are schools run by the local authority, they will employ staff and set the entrance criteria.

If you want to know more about the school you want to send your child to, call them up and ask them to send you a prospectus, call them to arrange a visit or visit the BBC website to look at their past exam performance, remember to consider the value added.*

*The value added score should give you a sound understanding of how well students progress from when they start the school until they leave. A score of 1000 shows good progress.

Supporting your child through secondary school:

  1. Making sure that your child is well equipped for school is a simple task, yet one that ensures that they have a productive day. Make sure your child has packed their bag from the night before, mornings are always a rush, so don’t wait until the morning. Create a checklist for the week with your child, so you can tick everything off as they pack. Uniform should be hung up and ready to put on the night before, clean shirts available if necessary.
  2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Everyone is familiar with that saying. Don’t allow your child to get into bad habits like not eating breakfast before school, it will lead to them being hungry, losing concentration in class and eating high energy foods at break time.
  3. If you want to keep in the loop about your child’s progression and events taking place at school, be sure to check your child’s homework diary and any letters they bring home. You can also use the homework diary to communicate with teachers!
  4. The amount of homework increases when your child attends secondary school, they will also need to be more independent and meet homework deadlines. This does not mean that you cannot support them in completing their homework; actually it is probably better if you do support them. Make sure that they have a quiet place to do their homework, away from distractions such as the television, younger siblings. Speak to them about their homework and look for opportunities to help them, when they have finished check it for them and give them advice if it needs to be improved.
    Years 7 & 8 – students in this year group should be spending 45-60 minutes per subject a week.
    Year 9 - students in this year group should be spending 60-90 minutes per subject a week.
    Years 10 & 11 – students in these year groups should be spending 120 – 150 minutes per subject a week.
  5. If your child appears to be spending less time than this on their homework it is worth bringing it to the attention of their form tutor or Head of Year. It could mean two things, firstly that they are not getting a sufficient amount of homework that is challenging enough for them, or secondly that they are not spending enough time on their homework and it is of poor quality.
  6. You can make learning fun, by arranging educational days out during school holidays, you can visit museums, art galleries, and even holidays abroad can be educational. Encourage your child to read and discuss what you are reading; it might encourage them to read.
  7. GCSE exam time will be the time when your child most needs your support, these are major exams that they have not experienced before and will need guidance on how best to study. Help them to create a revision timetable, make sure it is realistic and allows them some time out. If they need extra support with subjects try to find out what supplementary schools are available in your area or tutors. Provide them with healthy food and snacks that will help keep their energy levels up. Most importantly make sure that they get a good night’s sleep before exams, there is no point cramming it all in in one night.
  8. GCSE results day! The GCSE results usually come out in August, your child will know as it will be posted on the school website. If you can go along with your child to collect their results that would be great, but they may not want you to, so just be available on the other end of the phone! Whatever the results they will most probably want to speak to you. Try to be supportive whatever the outcome, there are many options available to young people post 16. Remember that all your support and encouragement will help them to make the right choices to lead onto progression and not give up. If your child has not done well encourage them to talk to their teachers about what steps they can take next.

The National Curriculum:

The National Curriculum is the content of education taught to children aged between 5-16, this is used to ensure the same standard of teaching and learning across all schools. The National Curriculum sets out the content coverage for all subjects taught, the knowledge and skills that need to be taught, how a teacher can measure your child’s progress and what targets need to be set. This is set out by the government and subject to change.

According to your Child’s key stage the curriculum will change, at secondary school there are two key stages: three and four. Years 7, 8, 9 will be key stage 3 and Years 10 and 11 are key stage 4. At Key Stage 3 your child’s progress will be measured according to levels of progress whereas at Key stage 4 your child’s progress will be recorded according to GCSE grades.

Download a guide to the new GSCE grading system

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