School gate and dinner party banter can make the senior school choice process confusing for parents. We are fortunate to have diversity of choice across both state and independent sectors, but how do parents decide on the school that is best suited to the needs of their child? Informal advice is great but can be subjective and emotionally based and because every child is different, it is no match for impartial, informed and expert advice that takes into account your child’s individual needs as well as your own.

Here are some tips to help choose the right school for you

Decide on your school search area
It must fit with family and work commitments. Draw up a list of schools within this area which meet your criteria; state or independent, day or boarding, single sex or co-ed, academic strengths and interests of your child, any additional support your child may need.

Review websites
Attend a school fair to talk to schools face-to-face and seek independent advice.

Make a short-list
Select no more than 4 schools to visit and take along a list of things you need to ask while you are there. Get a feel for atmosphere, ethos, educational philosophy of the Head, staff-pupil relationships and check the curriculum supports your child’s strengths and interests.

Discuss each school after your visits
There may be a couple of front-runners that you feel need a second visit. Remember gut feeling is usually the right one. Stick to your decision and don’t allow further school gate and dinner party banter to confuse or change your mind later.

Country Life Future Schools Fairs have a host of Fairs planned for 2015 and 2016 and will be coming to your area, bringing together schools, tutor companies and other education providers to offer free informed advice to parents on making the right school choices at age 11+, 13+ and 16+. Find your local fair here.