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 Post subject: Making the decision
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 11:21 am 
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Joined: Tue Jan 26, 2016 9:40 pm
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Now this is all over for us (thank goodness) I thought it might be helpful to have a thread where we discussed what were the key influences in our decision making processes (with regards to choosing schools to sit for and accepting a place).
In retrospect we hadn't really thought too much about which school was our preferred, until the offers came in. Then it all felt a bit rushed. I think this was a self preservation strategy- didn't want to get too attached in case then rejected.
We chose schools to sit based on how we found them on visits and where we felt our child would best 'fit', ease of travel and having local friends, what would suit our child best, breadth of interests offered, and lastly academics. I thought the league tables would factor higher in our decision making but as we went through the process we saw it was (for our schools, who were all selective) largely reflective of how selective the schools were in weeding out children after prep, pre and post GCSE. So that mattered less.
I was quite shocked to hear at interviews (and on an offer holders day!) that some families hadn't visited in advance. I could not make sense of that at all. Nor the fact so many hadn't considered the practicalities of journeys in their decision making.
In the end it was a 'gut' decision more than anything, which surprised me as am a logical type.


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 Post subject: Re: Making the decision
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 5:27 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:41 am
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Location: Essex
OldBean wrote:
Now this is all over for us (thank goodness) I thought it might be helpful to have a thread where we discussed what were the key influences in our decision making processes (with regards to choosing schools to sit for and accepting a place).
In retrospect we hadn't really thought too much about which school was our preferred, until the offers came in. Then it all felt a bit rushed. I think this was a self preservation strategy- didn't want to get too attached in case then rejected.
We chose schools to sit based on how we found them on visits and where we felt our child would best 'fit', ease of travel and having local friends, what would suit our child best, breadth of interests offered, and lastly academics. I thought the league tables would factor higher in our decision making but as we went through the process we saw it was (for our schools, who were all selective) largely reflective of how selective the schools were in weeding out children after prep, pre and post GCSE. So that mattered less.
I was quite shocked to hear at interviews (and on an offer holders day!) that some families hadn't visited in advance. I could not make sense of that at all. Nor the fact so many hadn't considered the practicalities of journeys in their decision making.
In the end it was a 'gut' decision more than anything, which surprised me as am a logical type.


How sensible and normal your decision-making process sounds - even down to the 'gut feeling' bit :) . Your child has to feel happy at the school and you have your way of trying to make sure that they will be, but if you spend much more time perusing the forum you will probably come to the conclusion, as I have, that there is a sub-section of parents whose children apparently will be happiest knowing that they have got a place at the most 'prestigious' school, seen or unseen, logistically sensible or not :roll: . One can only hope, for the children's sake, that their belief is confirmed by reality.

(I would add, that for each of our three we did the sounds of all the local - all but one of them state - schools which we felt would be suitable, but DD ended up at one of the ones we hadn't looked at. However, had we visited it, it probably would have been one of our preferences :) ).

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 Post subject: Re: Making the decision
PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2016 6:24 pm 
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We applied to selective indie schools, state grammars and filled up the rest of the CAF form with local comprehensives.

Our first-cut list of schools was based on ease of getting there. Anything that would involve a long and complicated journey to school or one of us ferrying DS back and forth on a daily basis was out. The second stage was visiting the schools, which we started in year 4 and repeated in year 5. Early in year 6 I went round again, just by myself, to smaller-scale open afternoons on normal school working days.

Generally, we liked all indie schools we saw, although I would struggle to pin-point what exactly it was that we liked most. We chatted a lot with the boys who showed us round, asked teachers some questions and it was the 'general vibe' sort of thing. DS had a strong preference for one of the schools, followed closely by another and wasn't too bothered about the remaining two. One of those he wasn't too enthusiastic about, was clearly academically strongest, but it catered primarily for prep-school children, which had an impact on the languages aspect of the curriculum in year 7, so, coming from a state primary, we thought it could put some pressure on DS. Having discussed the issue with the Head of Lower School, we were assured boys coming from a state sector would be well supported in getting up to speed with their languages, so we decided it could be a viable option, although not our first choice. DS ended up sitting for three schools - the two he liked and the top-performing one as a back-up.

In terms of state schools, we ordered our local grammars on the CAF form based on the ease of getting there and the feedback re. pastoral care. We talked to DS about where he thought he would like to be and went with that. We didn't have much choice regarding comprehensive schools to list on the CAF - realistically, we only had a chance to get into two local schools based on their catchment areas, one of them rated 'good' and the other 'requiring improvement', so the worse one went on the bottom of the list.

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