When I think back to the time when we had to decide which secondary School we wanted Miss Frugal to go to, I remember stress, sleepless nights and even the odd tear or two (and that was just from me). It was genuinely the hardest parenting decision that I’d made up until that point and even after the decision was made, I doubted myself countless times and almost changed my mind at least once a week between applying in the October and her starting in the following September.
You can read about the reasons why it was such a hard decision for us here in more detail but it was basically down to the fact that the school all of her friends were going to had a very poor reputation and we really didn’t want her there. After a lot of searching online we decided to apply to the faith school in our area because of the excellent reputation it had – both for the care of the students and for the academic results and honestly, we’ve never looked back
It wasn’t easy though because we found it quite difficult to get our heads around comparing the schools in the area as they all present their information in different ways and they do all try to big themselves up as much as possible. In the end, I wrote a list of the schools in the local area and graded each one out of ten for things like academic results, out of school activities, location, friends, subjects offered, and a couple of other things.
The school we chose came out top in our own rankings for almost every category we were considering so in the end it was a no brainer and luckily she was offered one of the few non-faith places offered each year. I couldn’t be happier with the decision now, especially now that Master Frugal is following in her footsteps and loving it as much as she does.
It shocks me that some parents don’t even consider the other schools in their local area and just accept apply for the same school as everyone else is going to from their junior school. If I’d done that, Miss Frugal would be in a school with a recent ‘needs improvement’ OFSTED report rather than one that is classed as ‘outstanding’ in their last review.
I do kind of understand why though, it’s such a struggle to find the information and without having the facts to compare all the schools in your area then it’s by far the easy option to just go with the flow. But, now there’s a way to compare all of the schools in your area in minutes with School Reviewer.
School Reviewer is a new website that allows you to simply enter your postcode and as soon as you click submit there’s a list of the schools in your area to help you determine which school is best for your child. You can select the type of school and other parameters to narrow it down but for the purposes of this, I just selected secondary schools. This is a snippet of the info I got for secondary schools in a 3 mile radius of where we live:
Honestly, If I’d seen it in black and white like this then there would have been no deliberating at all – it’s crystal clear which which school is best looking at this.
You can look further at each school with facts about catchment areas, exam results, links to the school’s own website and even a downloadable OFSTED report and there’s even a section for reviews – kind of like tripadvisor for schools. You can even buy and sell used school uniform on there which is brilliant considering some of the uniform my two have grown out of has been immaculate.
It goes a step further though with a great search system for tutors in your local area and walk through videos to show you how to master exams.
There’s a great video on the home page from Karren Brady who explains the site and it’s ethos much better than I can so it’s well worth a quick watch but basically it’s a website designed for parents by a parent and you can absolutely tell. Everything I want as a parent is right there at my fingerprints.
We were lucky that we went with our gut instinct and it all worked out brilliantly but other parents made the wrong decision and have since applied for a place in our school after being disappointed with the other school for various reasons. They’ve all been turned away unfortunately as the school is full to capacity and they’re stuck at the other school now which is such a shame.
Sites like this really need to be shared in schools when decisions are being made about which school is best – I know I’m sharing it with anyone I know who has the big decision coming up this year.
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This post is in association with School Reviewer but I’m such a fan that if I’d seen it before they emailed me I would have told you about it anyway. Having been in the position of having to make such a life changing decision for my children, I really would have valued something like this.
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This post first appeared on The Diary Of A Frugal Family - Living A Fabulously Frugal Family Life, please read the originial post: here