The school you choose for your child is one of the most important decisions about their future you will ever make - particularly if you're choosing the school that will be guiding them through their GCSE exams.
Selecting the right school isn't as easy as it sounds, and if you pick the wrong one it can hinder your child's education. Here are a few tips that you may like to consider when it comes to decision time:
1. Learn from your own experiences. Think back to when you were at school. What was it like? Do you want your child to go to a similar school or would you like a different experience for them?
2. Write down what your expectations from a school are then turn them into a checklist, ordered by priority. Then when you visit local schools, measure up the facilities they offer against your checklist.
3. Draw up a shortlist of two or three different schools. Consider all of their pros and cons separately, and discuss which ones will be most important to your child. For example, if there's a great school in East Sussex but your family lives in Greater London you may decide it's in your child's best interests to attend a local school even if its academic record isn't so impressive.
4. First impressions can be misleading, so try and visit your shortlisted schools more than once. Make friends with parents whose children already attend and find out as much as you can about each school.
5. Finally, ask your child which school he or she prefers. If they have come to the same decision as you, that's great. If not, consider their reasons and discus with your child which school will be best for them to attend.
Always remember, the choice of school may ultimately be yours, but your child is the one who has to walk through the gates every day. Make sure they're happy with your choice.