So, you’ve decided to go and visit a few schools, but what should you be looking for? It’s stating the obvious, but every child is different. What suits your neighbour’s child – a math whiz – may not sit well with your bouncing bundle of energy who’s a footie fanatic. Maybe your child is particularly talented in one area or needs some extra guidance in others. Does the school cater to that? To make sure you don’t come away with that, ‘Oh, I forgot to ask…’ feeling, refer to Time Out’s school quiz, developed by educational consultant Francesca McGeary.
• Do the students look happy and interested?
• Are staff treating and speaking to students with respect?
• Is the decor welcoming, clean and attractive?
• Is there evidence of children’s work around the school and classroom?
• Is there a designated, shaded outdoor play area for the younger children?
• Is there a field area for sports or other outdoor games and activities?
• Is there an auditorium for assemblies and drama/music productions?
• Is there a swimming pool?
• Is there a designated canteen area offering a healthy menu?
• Is there a well-stocked library with books for different ages and purposes?
• What is the admission policy? Is there a test?
• What criteria will determine if a child can attend the school?
• Is there a waiting list?
• What is the curriculum?
• Is the school accredited/affiliated with an organisation that controls standards/teaching practices?
• How is technology used to support student learning?
• Are there services for students with special learning requirements?
For all ages
• Do children have the same teacher for all their subjects? If not, which subjects are taught by specialist teachers?
• How many breaks do students get in the school day?
• How much homework is expected per day?
• What’s the maximum number of children per class?
• Is there a teaching assistant in the classroom?
• What after-school activities are available?
As they get older
• What approaches are used for teaching?
• Are classes streamed for ability levels?
• How often are students tested? Are there standardised tests and/or exams?
• What are the obligatory subjects for them?
• How many electives can a student take?
• How does it prepare students for university?
• How many students go on to further education?
• Is there a guidance counsellor/adviser who
directs students in the course and university selection?
Need more educational advice? Call Francesca McGeary on 050 323 1251.
Samantha Buxton says: ‘Visit the school at 8am in the morning. If the traffic is horrendous, you may not be able to face the school run every day!’
What they’ll need from you
When enrolling your child at school, you’ll need the following:
• School application form
• Copies of student’s and parents’ passports, including both the information and residence visa pages
• Passport photos (at least six, usually eight)
• Copies of student’s birth certificate (English or Arabic)
• Current vaccination record and student’s medical history documents
• School reports for the last one or two years (signed and stamped on the last school’s letterhead)
• Copies of any diagnostic testing or educational assessment (if applicable)
• An official transfer certificate from the student’s previous school
• Registration fee and possibly an assessment fee (both will be non-refundable)