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Does it matter which school your child goes to?

Most parents I talk to are naturally very interested in the school that their child goes to. Whether they are choosing state or independent, collectively it seems that they spend hours touring schools, reading Ofsted Reports, discussing assessments, moving house, discovering religion etc. The one common purpose of all these varied activities is to ensure that their child goes to THE BEST SCHOOL POSSIBLE at the age of 5.

But are we mad? Is this middle-class obsession and tenacity barking up the wrong tree ? Should we care so much about which school our child goes to or is our input as parents the most important thing? Within my family, my husband's parents moved from Devon to Buckinghamshire so that their sons could go to grammar schools. My own parents sent me on a hour-long bus journey each day so that I could go to the ?best school' in our area and not the local one. Is it necessary to go to these lengths to ensure your child has the best start in life?

Save The Children estimates that 85% of a child's learning takes place out of school. And they don't mean playing Mozart to them before they are born, taking them around the Tate Modern every Sunday or tutoring them from the age of 4 (don't laugh - this is quite common in some circles!). Their research shows that if you give your child proper attention, have boundaries and love and care for them, they'll do well wherever they go to school.

Gianni De Fraja and Tania Oliveira from the University of Leicester and Luisa Zanchi, of the Leeds University Business School also wrote a controversial report which concluded that parental input is much more important for academic achievement than the school attended. Parents active involvement in their child's education is more valuable to them than going to the the 'best school with the best teachers'.

As a teacher myself, I know that the parents who get involved at home in what we do at class (sing along with the songs, help line-learn, watch them do the dance routine) give the child a very noticeable added boost which really makes a difference in their enjoyment and achievements. So if it works in drama, why not in Maths and English too?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Leave a comment

    From OdessaSaysAbracadabra
    Yes I agree. I am just in process of choosing a school for my daughter and it's sad to see how obsessed some people are with the subject! Quite frankly, nasty as well, especially when they speak about schools with 'nice families' or are paranoid about the number of 'foreign kids'. I just want to find a happy place for my little girl where she can enjoy her childhood like every kid should, and make some good friends.
    From Alice Hall
    I think it does matter, it matters what your teachers are like, what the ethos is, what are other people's expectations, are the other children happy or stressed in other areas of their life?
    If eveybody gave their child good attention, as your blog suggests they should, then it may make a big difference to one aspect of school life but there is still the teachers, of course if the teachers had been given good attention by there parents and teachers they might be better teachers! :)
    By the way I have been home educated, I'm now 16. I tried school a few times, they weren't what i wanted.
    Parents will mostly do as much as they are able for their lovely children! maybe more support from the schools to do so???
    From Mr a jones
    Yes, a good article Lucy, thank you for that. As a home educator of my two children, I've seen them shine since they came out of school, and they were both in private school.
    From Merinda Taylor
    Great article - thanks!!
    From Ruth Abrahams
    I couldn't agree with you more, Lucy. I think a lot of parents woefully under estimate the impact that they have upon the academic performance of their child. Here's to books, art, drama and music (and so much more) in the home. And talk, talk, talk to your children.....
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