As a parents we want to do the right thing for a children, make the right choices. One of the biggest choices is schools. Ever felt a bit overwhelmed when it comes to your child’s education? School Reviewer is a new website that aims to take some of the angst making the big decisions about schools. Statistics on every school and nursery at every level in the UK in one place and with added layers of advice and resources to support parents in their child’s educational journey.
It is difficult to find a parent who hasn’t obsessed about schools. There is the whole gaining a place anxiety; choice of schools, catchment areas. A place is secured, the first day comes around, you hand over a your tiny tot in an over-sized uniform and try desperately not to cry. On pick up, a smiling teacher propels your child towards you before moving quickly on to the next one. In reply to gentle queries most children “can’t remember” what they did.
And so it begins; reading levels, how regular is PE, SATS, lunches. Our situation may have been exasperated by initially applying for a school outside of our catchment, then moving to a city with many over-subscribed schools. My son has worn the uniform of 3 different schools. As a parent I’ve agonised over finding the ‘right’ school for him. Because, of course I want him to be happy and in an environment in which he can thrive. We’ve found that school, but it’s been a journey. We moved to a new city with a school age child and had the experience of finding an appropriate school at a distance, with few people to ask and only school website and Ofsted reports as resources, maybe that has made me more obsessive than some.
It’s hard not to obsess, in the ever-changing landscape of education. A few months ago the big eduction news was academies, currently it’s grammar schools. Enter School Reviewer aiming to help parents through education journey and every journey is unique as a your child.
When we lived in the North, we lived in a mapped catchment area for a specific school. In Bristol there are no specific catchment areas for school, applications are managed on a distance basis. Catchments vary from year to year, but it’s good to get an idea how your address fits. Go to School Reviewer pop in the name of school into the catchment area tab and a heat map appears. It’s fascinating, based on Department of Education data, it details the catchment for the previous year’s intake.Red indicating where the majority of children lived and green for fewest. I’ve looked at local schools, I’ve looked at our old address in the North. Hell, I even googled some outstanding schools swanky area’s of London.
What school to pick
School website’s vary, local council information differs. Ofsted reports give a professional assessment of the school. A tour by the head teacher may give you, as a parent, a very different view, even a simple gut feeling. I found myself seeking out the views of parents who already had experience of the school. When moving cities – that was the difficult part – finding other parents to ask. The very useful element of School Reviewer is that all the schools and links to Ofsted are all on one site.
Your child is unique and each school has something different to offer. As parents we can feel that our choices are limited by the affordability of housing in certain areas. We can feel hugely disappointed if we don’t get our first choice school and many don’t. When making choices or managing disappointments, the views and support of other parents matter. School Reviewer forums will give the opportunity to ask questions of other parents. Over time School Reviewer aims to build up a resource of parent contributions. Providing those additional layers of information to inform and reassure parents.
SATS are undoubtedly controversial area of eduction. On School Reviewer you’ll find a support and guidance to SATS with downloadable video’s that walk you through the questions from last year’s papers. Whether you are for or against, information is key.
Over the next few months, the site will develop to include a nationwide database of qualified and DBS checked tutors, see who is offering tutoring in your area.
Information on Independent and Grammar schools
In this sector each school sets its own entrance exams, if this is a path you are considering then School Reviewer can help, with bespoke information that gives an idea of the types of questions to expect.
GCSE Maths content
Maths is a compulsory subject, information created by an experience Maths teacher and GCSE marker will give helpful extra insight.
Things you might not have thought of yet
For parents of older children a you’ll find Guides to ‘social media a for parents’. Want to sell out-grown uniform or the book bag that is no longer ‘cool’? Click on the ‘buy & sell’ tab.
As a parent, having played around on the site (apart from obsessing over catchment areas) it’s easy to navigate. I can see myself returning and adding reviews which I hope will be useful to parents, who like me, have at times felt completely at sea with the education system. There is no one magic formula for guiding your child through education, good, useful information really helps, School Reviewer is a great resource, as much as making a good relationship with your child’s teacher. Give School Reviewer a browse here.
Disclosure: I was asked to review School Reviewer. All words and opinions are, of course, my own.