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How to choose a high school

PUBLISHED: 10:56 12 October 2018

I realised I was being particularly indecisive when I started comparing school lunch menus. Picture Getty Images

I realised I was being particularly indecisive when I started comparing school lunch menus. Picture Getty Images

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How can we decide the next five years of education - and what about little sister?

The pastoral care and student support at one school appeared outstanding, but did I research properly at the others? Picture Getty ImagesThe pastoral care and student support at one school appeared outstanding, but did I research properly at the others? Picture Getty Images

The shops may be counting down to Halloween before it’s all out for the Christmas countdown, but October 31 has a different significance this year.

It’s deadline day in Norfolk. The final day for submitting applications for children’s three chosen high schools, in priority order.

While it’s still a little unsettling to realise that our little goody-two-sparkly-shoes middle daughter Keola will be at high school next year, it’s indecision that is causing more concern.

We’ve looked at three schools in our area. We’re lucky; they all say they support their pupils to be well-rounded, capable individuals ready to be useful workers of the future who’ll earn enough to pay my heath and pension bills. Maybe the prospectuses don’t say exactly that but it’s what they mean. There’s talk about sparking curiosity and creativity, responsibility and all those elements us parents expect from a prospectus.

The deadline for applying for high schools is fast approaching in Norfolk. Picture Getty ImagesThe deadline for applying for high schools is fast approaching in Norfolk. Picture Getty Images

These three schools have excellent exam results and good reputations locally – so how to choose a favourite?

One has amazing sports facilities and PE teachers and masses of school teams. One has cut the PE staff and has barely any teams or extra-curricular sport.

The maths teacher at one enthused even me about his subject – and I forgot all about Pi years ago. But the English syllabus started with year seven’s translating Middle English and, and I can’t remember after that as the teacher’s lack of enthusiasm was more memorable than anything.

Two schools are very large, one is half the size but with plans to significantly increase pupil numbers – although I couldn’t see where all the extra pupils would fit.

It's not that long before our little Year 6 children will be off to high school, but which one? Picture Getty ImagesIt's not that long before our little Year 6 children will be off to high school, but which one? Picture Getty Images

We’ve seen the same bewildered parents at the same open evenings. For those with younger children we’re trying to decide if one school will suit all, or if it’s wrong to expect a younger child to follow their sibling to make our life straightforward, or could we manage the logistics if not?

I know I’m indecisive when I start comparing lunch menus and school trips. On has geography trips to China; the other goes to Norwich and north Norfolk.

But twinkle-toes Keola might not even like geography.

Do we put the school she likes best as our first choice? Has she chosen it because she liked the pupils who showed us round and because the open day biscuits were good?

I am looking at extra curricular activities when I don't even know if my children will be interested. Picture Getty ImagesI am looking at extra curricular activities when I don't even know if my children will be interested. Picture Getty Images

One school seems ideal for little sister with excellent pupil support, or did we just not ask the right questions at the other two?

What if we decide and she doesn’t get our first choice? Would we appeal? If not, why not?

I know we’re lucky to have such a choice, but how to choose?

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