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Learning To Live In The Real World” – why you should be maximising your Parent Power
November 30, 2018

This month, the Influential Sunday Times Parent 2019 survey was published, a guide to the best secondary schools in the country.

Two local schools Queen Elizabeth and Henrietta Barnett were named as the top state schools in the country, based on the number of pupils achieving A* to B grades in this summer’s A levels and the percentage awarded A* and A grades at GCSE.

A number of other schools in the local area, state and independent are featured in the rankings, including St Michael’s RC Grammar School, Latymer in Edmonton, Dame Alice Owen, St Pauls (boys & girls), City of London, Haberdashers Askes, North London Collegiate and St Albans (boys & girls).

Do these performance tables really matter to parents looking at school options of 2019 and beyond? The short answer is yes. Realistically not all pupils and parents can ever achieve a place at these top ranked schools, which are heavily oversubscribed. For example, more than 2400 boys sat the entrance test for QE Boys for 180 places. Not getting into such a selective school should not be seen as a failure, indeed, nor would these school be the best option for many pupils.

Nevertheless, we would recommend all prospective parents read the Parent Power supplement, because it drills down key reasons why the top performing schools are successful, regardless of the academic ability of their intake. Not all the 600 schools in the rankings select their intake on the basis of early academic achievements or situated in the most affluent catchment areas.

The guide will give you an understanding of the recent reforms in state education; demonstrated in progress being made by good secondary schools, relative to the independent sector. Most importantly it might help you to clarify what kind of education will best suit your child.

The heading in the Parent Power supplement sums it up very succinctly “Learning To Live In The Real World”.

The article stresses that ability is not enough, a good school also equips pupils with the knowledge that hard work and kindness matter too. When you are starting to consider a secondary school for your child, here are some of the key points to consider, stressed in the Parent Power article.

You should be seeking a school where child will blossom regardless of academic ability; whether they will feel nurtured, motivated and valued for their achievements.
A good school isn’t just about a pathway to a good university and then a good job (whatever that means in this rapidly changing global workplace), but it should have a balanced curriculum, where creativity is fostered and valued; where pupils grow in confidence and learn that co-operation is as important as competition; often referred to as ‘soft skills’.
A ‘good school’ should have a strong mental health ethos, where pupils are encouraged to talk about their feelings, in a non-judgemental way; which invites parents in and treats them as co-educators.

League tables have merits but have also been blamed for turning schools into exam machines. Nevertheless, they have been invaluable in identifying weaknesses in certain pupil cohorts and schools which are not giving their pupils the education they deserve.

Overall, the school league tables can be credited for raising standards in our country’s education; but there is no room for complacency. As a country we are facing serious skill shortages and need to equip our children to compete in a global jobs market, where demand for labour is rapidly changing.

The old adage that ‘knowledge is power’ holds true, so understand the limitations of these one-dimensional league tables; don’t harp back too much to your own school days but use your ‘Parent Power’ to understand how education and the workplace is evolving. Help to equip your child for success in the twenty first century.



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