Deciding on the high school you send your child to is one of the most important decisions you will make so it’s hardly surprising that it can be a concerning time for parents and carers. When your child starts in year 6 you may already have a firm idea of the school you’d like to send them to, but with the deadline date for applications looming (you must apply by 31 October) where do you start if you’re still undecided?
Talking to parents who already have children at a school, and indeed the children themselves, can be a great way to alleviate any fears you may have. Finding out which subjects a school offers as well as the clubs and extra-curricular activities on offer is important in terms of deciding how well-suited your child will be to a particular school. If your child is particularly interested in a specific area of the curriculum seek assurance the school has the right facilities, well-organised resources and enthusiastic teachers in that area.
To form your own impression you need to visit the schools you’re considering. More often than not you’ll find that you can rely on your gut instinct – you’ll just know if a school feels right. Even if you have your sights firmly set on one high school you should visit a few in order to compare and contrast. Take the opportunity to watch staff interacting with the students, visit the school library, check out the catering provision and even the toilets!
Open Days and Open Evenings enable you to visit the schools you’re interested in and have a good look around. As a school we appreciate that these events are something of a showcase and don’t necessarily allow prospective parents and carers to see what a school day is really like. Although they provide an ideal opportunity for a school to sell itself and give visitors the chance to walk around chatting to staff and students and taking a look at the facilities, often parents want to come and visit when the students are immersed in a school day.
With this in mind, we hope that our recent week of Open Days provided a good general overview of what life is like for students at Our Lady’s. Parents and carers were invited in to look around the school during a ‘normal’ school week, dropping into lessons and seeing the school in action. If you came along during that week then we hope it was useful and addressed any queries you had beforehand. If you were unable to make it along and would like to look around Our Lady’s then please contact Sally Royle (PA to the Headteacher) on 0161 507 9670 and you can arrange a school tour at your convenience.
If you still have unanswered questions then our school website and Facebook page are great ports of call to discover the range of educational and extra-curricular activities available at Our Lady’s. They also reveal how people feel about the school and the events they have attended here. You can read our Ofsted report, have a look at our policies and explore our news items. Get a feel for the encouraging and supportive environment your child will be welcomed in to, the subjects they will study, the sports they can pursue, the trips they’ll go on, the concerts they can perform in and the friendships they will form.
And what about your child? They are the one making the move to a new school so how do you know it will be right for them? Our transition programme ensures that the children joining us from local primary schools feel comfortable in their new high school surroundings. The children respond well to our transition activities and induction days because they offer many opportunities to become acclimatised with their new environment; this makes them feel more comfortable when they start at Our Lady’s.
Teachers and staff from Our Lady’s visit the primary schools throughout the year to get to know the pupils, engaging with them to become familiar faces so that the transition to high school is a less daunting prospect. On their ‘moving up’ days the children experience lessons, have lunch in the canteen and are treated like Our Lady’s students. Once they have visited our school several times the children start to know where things are so it’s easier to find their way around on their first day. They also recognise staff and students so those friendly faces help to put them at ease.
Visit the transition section of our website to read more about our interactive programme of events and the support we offer as your child moves up from primary school. We hope you feel well-informed and ready to choose the right high school for your family. If you have any concerns about applying for your child's high school place, please contact Miss Tkaczuk, Admissions and Transition Manager who will be more than happy to answer your questions.