The choice of Secondary School: Does it go beyond what we think?

Choosing a secondary school for our children might seem a straight forward process, but its repercussion could stretch further than we expect.

Do we really choose a school for our children or does a school choose your child? Well, maybe a bit of both; because it’s up to you and your child to decide which school you will be applying for, and it’s up to the school to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the application.

Obviously, you and your child may have different reasons for picking a school but it’s important to discuss these reasons together and do some discussing.

Student in a labStudent in class

For some, choosing a school which is a walking distance from the house might be a deciding factor. While this decision might have been done in good faith, it might not necessarily be a wise choice. A friend once commented on how her son would invite a group of classmates from his local comprehensive immediately the school closed for the day. Once in the house, they would play music and video games for hours long without remembering the homework they ought to be doing. This created a lot of inconvenience and a source of frequent quarrels in the house. My friend confided that with hindsight, choosing a school with a good travelling distance from her house would have deterred her son from bringing in classmates as almost everyone would be rushing to reach home early after the school closes for the day.

Choosing Grammar schools (which often don’t apply catchment areas), might be a solution for some. It is quite normal for pupils there to get up to 3 pieces of homework per day, which makes it difficult for pupils to muck about after school hours. These schools apply a selection criteria, where pupils have to pass exams before being selected. Daunting as it might sound, through careful preparation beforehand, your child can stand a chance of being selected. There are lots of resources where you can get information on how to go about doing this e.g through the website on this link:

I hear someone asking, ‘what if my child doesn’t get selected even after a thorough preparation?’ The answer is simple; because your child will be used to working beyond the homework already given at school, it will be easier for them to keep the momentum of working above and beyond what is expected. This will enable them to shine and succeed even at a comprehensive school.

Choosing a good school which can be a grammar school, faith school or a good comprehensive school will give your child an opportunity to be surrounded by like-minded, focused pupils who often aspire higher in life. It can also act as a place for making useful contacts and links that will last than a lifetime.

It is also too common that most good schools get more funding from the government to cater for a bigger spectrum of subjects such as Latin and classics which won’t be found in normal schools.

Good schools often have tight discipline and behaviour policy which maximise children’s learning. This can be in a form of strict dress code, uniform checks and a list of different types of detentions. Though this might seem a bit regimental, surprisingly it reduces disruption and talking during lessons. With everyone focusing on lessons, such schools usually produce high grades.

Some would argue that in order to avoid what might seem as an ‘overbearing atmosphere’ with sombre-faced children, walking in line, head bowed, students should be allowed to get involved and have ownership in developing school’s behaviour policies. So, instead of imposing a set of rules, pupils are engaged  in drawing up policies which are manageable and motivating.

Parents who take time to choose a good school for their children are often rewarded by a learning environment whereby their children not only achieve good grades, but also where good behaviour becomes second nature. Pupils learn and build respectable relationships with each other and gain discipline, badly needed to succeed in life.