As the UK takes its first tentative steps out of life under lockdown, attention is turning from navigating the next 24 hours at home, to what the future holds. With nothing left to watch on Netflix and home-schooling testing our patience, news that restrictions are being eased couldn’t come soon enough – including the government’s announcement that Primary schools will reopen on 1st June for pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.
But what about the school search process for anyone relocating to London with their family? Unfortunately, this will still be impacted by the need to guard against a potential second wave of Covid-19. Ongoing social distancing restrictions will prevent physical visits from happening for a while yet, meaning the ability to make informed decisions will depend on online resources. Thankfully, there’s plenty out there.
Here is the best way to find a school in London currently:
1. School website
The school website is always the best place to start. This will provide a wealth of relevant information, including:
- Vision and values
- Gallery and videos
- Inspection report
- School menu
- Term dates
Most schools operate a Twitter account, which will provide a flavour of its various activities – from achievements, projects and fundraising to examples of trips, lessons and assemblies.
3. Zoom or phone meeting
You might not be able to visit a school to look around and ask a few questions, but you can still phone the admissions officer and arrange a Zoom or phone meeting (in particular with private schools).
4. Ofsted inspection report
These provide detailed information about how a state school is performing, what its strengths and weaknesses are and what steps need taking to improve the achievements of those who attend. Ofsted is responsible for regulating and inspecting children’s services, including schools, throughout the UK – and their report, which ranks schools as inadequate, requires improvement, good or outstanding, must be provided on the school website.
5. The Independent Schools Inspectorate report (ISI)
The ISI is responsible for the inspection of independent schools in England, which are members of organisations affiliated to the Independent Schools Council. Inspections seek to improve the quality and effectiveness of pupil’s education and welfare. You can find reports for relevant schools on the ISI website: https://www.isi.net/reports/
6. Find and compare website
This useful government resource (https://www.compare-school-performance.service.gov.uk/compare-schools) allows you to compare academic results, attendance rates, pupil population, workforce and finance of schools in the areas you are considering.
7. Virtual tours – the next best option to a real school visit
Some independent schools offer virtual tours of their facilities, so you and your kids can check out everything from the classrooms to the canteen from the comfort (and safety) of your home.