Choosing a school for your child is one of the most important decisions any parent or carer will make, but with so much information out there, how can you be sure you’re making the right one? Here are some tips to help with the process from our Headteacher, Mr Barton who has recently gone through the process with his own children.
Before you start, spend some time thinking about what you want for your child. Focus on the aspects which will matter in the longer term including educational ethos, gender mix, religious denomination, and any particular facilities or expertise your child will need. Jewellery Quarter Academy is an inclusive school and there is something for everybody here. We are proud to welcome children of all abilities and talents and support each one to aim high and achieve their best through our rich and varied partnerships. We work with UCB and have access to their superb facilities, some of our students perform on stage at the Hippodrome and Birmingham Conservatoire and our potential athletes join Birchfield Harriers.
Ask your child for their opinion – but don’t be surprised if they just want to go to the same school as their friends! And be practical – secondary school is all about independence, and it is important to choose somewhere your child can travel to confidently on their own.
Do your research
Your child’s current school will also have a good impression of their strengths and needs, as well as useful insights into local secondary schools, so ask for their advice. We work closely with our local feeder primaries as we believe having these community links is important and will help our new Year 7 students settle quickly when they join us.
You can also speak to neighbours, friends and family – but be careful not to be swayed by one opinion, as many schools will have the occasional unhappy family. Ofsted reports are useful – but make sure they are recent. Our last report was in May 22 and tells you a lot about the school. Avoid focusing too heavily on the single word rating though, which can sometimes hide a school that is on a really positive journey. You can also look at exam results and the post-16 destinations students leave for.
Many schools hold open evenings and this is a great opportunity to visit, and meet staff and students. Facilities are important – but so too are opportunities, and overall environment for teaching and learning. At Jewellery Quarter Academy we offer something for everybody and have an active Student Parliament. We work with music specialists such as the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on our COREus choir programme and also Birchfield Harriers for our talented potential ‘gold medallist’ athletes.
A good way to understand a school and its ethos is the headteacher’s talk – listen out for the topics they raise and whether that is exam results, pastoral care or sporting success, it will give you an insight into the school’s priorities and culture. Many schools will also include presentations from students. It’s really important to allow for nerves, but even so, you should still be able to get a feel for how confident, proud, happy the students are. And look out for the interaction between the staff and students – do they appear to know one another, are they easy in each other’s company?
Following an open event, I would always urge parents and carers to arrange a personal meeting, when you can explore in more depth the style of teaching and learning, academic approach, sense of community and ask about any particular requirements your child may have. Register for newsletters and follow the school’s social media, to get a better picture of what everyday life could be like for your child. And don’t be afraid questions – this is a key decision, and we want to help ensure you feel confident in your choice.
Don’t miss the deadline!
Once you have identified your preferred school, you will need to apply online via Birmingham City Council. Give yourself enough time to create an account and explore the application form. You can access free wifi in your local library and translate the Council website into 60 different languages. The really important thing is to get your application in on time – the deadline for secondary school admissions is Tuesday 31 October and if your application is late, you may not get your preferred choice.
Choosing your child’s secondary school is an exciting time and with the right preparation you can make the right decision for your child.