The day has finally arrived, the day that we prepare to choose what secondary school our daughter will be attending. It doesn’t seem like nearly six years since we took our little girl to her first day at primary school.
We have been thinking about secondary schools for a little while and have decided that there are really only two options that we wanted. We also (as we thought we should) asked our daughter what one she would want to go to.
For those who don’t live in Canterbury, this won’t mean a thing, but we chose Archbishops School and St Anselm’s. Both are church schools, although whereas Archbishops is Church Of England, St Anselm’s is Catholic.
We wanted a faith school because we wanted our daughter to learn about faith. This may be a controversial point for some, but we are all church goers and this is an important part of our life.
The First Open Day
Our first open day (or evening actually) was at Archbishops. It is amazing that even though I never went to this school, the moment you walk through the door, you are immediately transported to your childhood.
After a nice cup of tea, we assembled in the hall to listen to a chat with the head boy, new pupil and the Head and deputy head of the school. I should mention that there were also biscuits and cakes on offer as well as tea.
One by one, they all took turns to tell us about the school and what it had to offer for the prospective pupils. They spoke of trips abroad, aspiring results and a determination to make the whole experience fun and educational. As a parent, they were telling us everything we wanted to hear but we still needed to tour this 1950’s building.
The Tour Begins
After the talks, we were split into groups of 15 and assigned a pupil to act as our guide. We were taken to each classroom where there were displays of work, demonstrations, and teachers for us to interrogate. Not that we really felt we needed to ask too many questions, as they were very good at showing the best the school had to offer.
We started at History and wound our way around the school going up and down lots of stairs. One of the highlights of the tour was the science classroom. There were pupils giving demonstrations ranging from setting fire to popcorn, to testing the ph of liquids. This part of the tour took the longest, as the faces of the children lit up and gazed at the experiments.
When we eventually left, we went on to the languages classrooms, CDT and Geography. Along the way was another highlight, home economics or cookery for those old enough. The smell of baking cakes carried us up the stairs like a lift to the top floor. There were students working hard making small cakes and pastries that were delicious.
Across the hall was Religious Studies, where our friend from church was busy showing people around her classroom. It is a long day for all the students and teachers and I didn’t envy them at all. However, they were all magnificent and showed just how proud they were of their school.
Ticking the Boxes
After the tour, we left feeling as though we were buzzing. My daughter was really excited about her experience and felt that she would love to go there next year.
Despite this reaction, we are going to the open evening at St Anselm’s to see for ourselves what they are doing as a school.
I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to go and visit schools that you are planning to consider for your children. I am sure most people do, but if you are thinking that it doesn’t matter, then I urge you to reconsider. This is a decision that could change your child’s life for better or worse, you need to go into it with all the information.